Additional prototypes of “white space” wireless broadband devices have been submitted by Microsoft and three other companies to the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology for testing. These prototypes are intended to demonstrate the viability of leveraging the “white spaces” in the spectrum currently devoted to broadcast TV for unlicensed wireless broadband use.
The FCC will begin testing the devices submitted by Microsoft, Adaptrum, Motorola, and Philips on January 24. Testing will begin at the FCC’s labs, and after four to six weeks of testing there, will move to the field for another four to six weeks. These prototypes aren’t consumer-ready products; instead, they’re designed to demonstrate the feasibility of using the white spaces for wireless broadband service by demonstrating that they can reliably detect the presence of other signals in nearby spectrum and operate without causing interference.
However, there are concerns in some quarters of potential interference. The National Association of Broadcasters, for example, are running commercials depicting pristine digital pictures being distorted by interference from wireless broadband devices.
GE Healthcare has also expressed its concern that such devices could create complications for medical telemetry applications. It wants wireless broadband providers to adhere to requirements that currently apply to digital TV stations, such as giving advanced notice to nearby hospitals before providing service.
The FCC will perform four to six weeks of lab testing, followed by another four to six weeks of field tests. However, the jury won’t be out for some time, since these prototypes are merely proof-of-concept devices and are not consumer-ready.