Feeds

FCC tests 'vindicate' white space lobby

Not so fast, says FCC

Boost IT visibility and business value

Supernova Microsoft wants you to know that when its white space prototypes malfunctioned during lab tests at the US Federal Communications Commission, the lab did not burn down.

Last week, the FCC completed tests of devices from several white space-obsessed outfits, and despite the repeated failure of its own engineering prototypes, Microsoft says these tests demonstrated that sending high-speed net traffic over unused TV spectrum is one good idea.

"If you read the press, you would have thought the FCC was in flames and people were running out the door with their skirts over their heads," Microsoft's Ian Ferrell said this morning at Supernova, a San Francisco tech conference.

"But the commission has gotten more than enough valuable and valid data to show that you can use these devices to do spectrum sensing, that you can identify TV channels, and that you can identity them to the level that you're not causing interference."

Microsoft's Ian Ferrell

Microsoft's Ian Ferrell

Microsoft is leading a cavalcade of tech outfits who hope to use America's television white spaces for something they often describe as "WiFi on steroids". If the FCC gives its approval, white spaces - portions of the US television band that don't house active channels - will become unlicensed spectrum. Anyone could grab some off-the-shelf hardware and use these airwaves to get online.

'I'm a bad engineer'

Redmond first submitted a white space prototype for FCC testing last summer, but it broke. So the company provided two more devices this spring. And they broke too.

According to Ferrell - who helped design these devices - one prototype had a defective channel scanner, and the other overheated after twelve hours of operation. "I'm a bad engineer," Ferrell said. "But that's a good thing: I'm really a physicist."

This provided more than a little ammunition for the TV and wireless microphone industries, who think white spaces devices will inevitably interfere with their signals. But Ferrell insists FCC tests have shown that interference is not a problem.

The FCC sees things a little differently. Though the commission has completed its labs tests, spokesman Rob Kenny told us, it's planning a second round of testing in the field. This will likely take place over the next few weeks. Microsoft has withdrawn its faulty prototypes, but FCC engineers are still looking at devices from Philips, Motorola, and Adaptrum, a Silicon Valley white space startup.

"This is an ongoing process," Kenny told us. "We will make a decision to move forward [with this white space idea] if there's a possibility of doing this without doing harmful interference to licensed use of the spectrum."

Space...the Final Frontier

Hopefully, that means the FCC will ignore political pressure to shoot down the white space movement. The TV industry wants to keep all that empty spectrum empty, and the big-name telcos want those airwaves licensed.

The telcos say they need the spectrum for backhaul. But you can bet that Verizon and AT&T also see white space devices as a threat to their own wireless internet services.

Offering significantly better propagation properties than WiFi spectrum - Ian Ferrell estimates that signals will travel a good three miles - white spaces could provide net service to roaming portable devices as well as fixed hardware.

Speaking to The Reg, Ferrell says he views white space devices as an "extension of WiFi". He envisions portable hardware that can seamlessly move among white space, WiFi, and cell networks. That's good for you. Not so good for your cellco.

We applaud the white space movement. But maybe Microsoft should let someone else build the hardware. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
What FTC lawsuit? T-Mobile US touts 10GB, $100 family-of-4 plan
Folks 'could use that money for more important things' says CEO Legere
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.