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Music coalition takes on Microsoft, Google and pals

You are entering my white space

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A coalition representing the American music industry has petitioned the FCC - with typically understated claims - to prevent exploitation of white-space frequencies, claiming that such use will interfere with wireless microphones.

"The white spaces proposals being considered by the FCC could turn 'Music City' into a silent city," claimed Steve Gibson, music director for live country music broadcaster Grand Ole Opry.

Google, Microsoft and others want to make use of the spectrum allocated to TV stations but not being used in every location, by producing equipment that can sense which frequencies are unused. However, the music and entertainment industry is already making use of that space for wireless microphones, and doesn't want to let it go.

The coalition includes various country music broadcasters and MTV Networks as well as sound engineering companies. It reckons that trying to get more value out of white space will disrupt their business, and won't work, in any case.

The devices so far presented to the FCC, to prove white-space utilisation works, have singularly failed to do so, but Dow Jones is reporting that Motorola will present an updated device to the FCC today that is intended to address just such concerns.

Their previous efforts were based on a database of TV broadcasters, so the device simply had to work out where it was to establish which frequencies were unused. Now they've complemented that with a system to listen on those theoretically-available frequencies, to be sure no one got there first.

This is unlikely to address concerns from the music industry, or hospitals, but if it works it might help convince the FCC that such devices should be allowed to exist.

If that happens the US entertainment industry will be facing similar problems to our own, which has happily been squeezing its microphones between TV channels for years. Ofcom, the UK regulator, gave our industry a stay of execution thanks to lobbying by Andrew Lloyd-Webber - so if the Americans would like to borrow said maestro for a while (say, a decade or two), that would be absolutely fine by us. ®

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