White Spaces Coalition, NAB at odds over Microsoft device failure

The FCC began its second round of testing on proposed white space devices (WSDs) on Jan. 24. Prototypes from four manufacturers are undergoing a regimen of RF detection and avoidance tests, first in a laboratory setting then later under field conditions. The FCC has stated that a successful device must operate without interference to both digital television signals and wireless microphones.

In early testing, one of two devices supplied by Microsoft experienced an operational failure related to its power supply. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which has been a strident opponent of this proposed spectrum usage, seized upon the opportunity to press its point on the issue. NAB VP Dennis Wharton said in a statement, "By failing two out of two tests at the FCC, Microsoft and the Wireless Innovation Alliance have demonstrated that unlicensed devices are not ready for primetime.”

The Wireless Innovation Alliance (WIA), which represents consumer products companies intent on using the spectrum to develop low-cost wireless networks, countered with their own interpretation of the tests, noting that the Microsoft device funtioned correctly prior to the power failure.

"To be clear, the Microsoft device successfully tested both digital TV signals and wireless microphones," said WIA spokesperson Brian Peters.

The FCC Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) is still in the early stages of its process, which is open to public observation to ensure a transparent process. Bench testing is now nearing completion, with field tests set to begin shortly.