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White spaces proponents suggest cooling off period

Though pressure has been building for an October FCC vote on the controversial white spaces spectrum issue, proponents are suggesting that the FCC take its time and complete comprehensive testing before making a decision.

In light of poor results from early testing of a prototype, the coalition of high-tech companies wanting to use vacant television spectrum for unlicensed wireless communications are now asking the FCC to consider new data from more recent field tests.

“TV Newsday” reported that the coalition believes the new data, which includes the results of field testing on devices in New York and California, will refute allegations that the unlicensed devices will cause interference to digital TV reception

“Hopefully the commission will accept that data as verification that the Coalition’s proposal is a good one,” said Ed Thomas, a former FCC chief engineer who now represents the coalition, which includes Microsoft, Google, Philips, Intel, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard. “But if the commission doesn’t accept it, our preference is that they be given the time in order to do their own independent justification and validations as opposed to ruling just because they said they were going to rule in October.

With television broadcasters gearing up a public campaign against the unlicensed use of the white space spectrum, the FCC set a timetable for a decision in October. So far, that timetable hasn’t officially changed.

It is hard to predict how an FCC vote might go next month. When the proceeding began last year, three of five commissioners — Michael Copps, Jonathan Adelstein and Robert McDowell — were clearly leaning toward approving the devices.

In a speech last week, McDowell continued that support, saying that he has “long advocated vigorous promotion of unlicensed use of the white spaces.” Though he understands the interference concerns, McDowell said “at the end of the day, we will have a resolution. Inventors will continue to invent, and a workable technical solution will develop.”

Following the speech, McDowell told “Communications Daily” that the broadcasters won’t give up the spectrum easily — not until “it is pried from their cold dead hands.”