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Top frequency coordinator suggests white space device tests at political conventions

The chairman of the group tasked with frequency coordination during the Democratic and Republican political conventions has suggested to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin that the commission conduct real-world field tests of proposed unlicensed white space devices during the political extravaganzas.

In a letter dated July 9 to Martin, Louis Libin, president of Broad-Comm in Woodmere, NY, and chairman of the Political Conventions Communications Committee (POLCOMM2008), pointed out that there is “extensive use” by “licensed wireless microphones used for news operations” of the same channels white space device proponents seek to share.

Libin proposed allowing tests of the unlicensed devices during pre-convention RF system trials to see if the spectrum sensing or beacon technology white space device proponents say will protect wireless mics from harmful interference generated by the unlicensed devices actually does so.

As of July 30, Libin had not received a response to his offer from the FCC, he told “News Technology Update.” “We have so many interference concerns about these devices,” he said. “We figured this is the greatest venue available to test these devices.”

The conventions prove to be particularly demanding on wireless mic spectrum. Multiple wireless mic-equipped camera crews on the convention floor can be positioned near each other with their transmissions emanating hundreds of feet, he said, pushing the skillful use of wireless mic technology to the limit. Injecting white space prototypes into this environment — even before the day’s events begin while wireless mics are being tested — could prove to be the ultimate test for the unlicensed devices.

“The possibility of FCC approval of white space devices is coming up very quickly,” Libin said. “We just want to know what will happen. We want to know if we are in serious trouble.”