Motorola on White Spaces: We’re Good



Motorola’s technologies performed well in FCC “white space” testing, reports E-Week. Google, Microsoft, Motorola and other IT companies hope to exploit the digital television transition by delivering wireless broadband in the empty spectrum between digital television channels.

Motorola said Aug. 7 its geolocation device operated successfully in the Federal Communications Commission’s ongoing white spaces field trials.

The spectrum between the channels will become available after Feb. 17 when broadcasters make the switch to digital broadcasting. The FCC began testing white spaces devices with mixed results in January using a prototype device supplied by Microsoft. In July, the FCC tested prototypes built by Philips and Motorola as well as Silicon Valley start-up Adaptrum and Singapore-based Institute for Infocomm Research.

“It worked as well as we said it would,” said Steve Sharkey, Motorola’s senior director of regulatory and spectrum policy. “It went really well.”


Motorola’s device was the only one using both geolocation and sensing technologies, while devices from Philips, Adaptrum and InfoComm relied only on sensing to detect existing TV channels. Motorola primarily relied on combining geolocation with an FCC database of channels to find spectrum in the white spaces that would not interfere with existing TV channels.

“That was one of the key things for us,” Sharkey said. “It knows what’s in the area and what channels to use and picks out the best channel. From our point of view, geolocation has to be part of the solution.”

The testing was conducted in a variety of conditions including a regional park in the Washington-Baltimore area, BWI Airport, downtown Washington and Ellicott City, Md.

Motorola will not be involved in the next stage of outdoors testing, when the FCC begins testing for interference with wireless microphones.

When the FCC concludes the outdoors testing, the agency will then prepare a report and make overall recommendations on the use of white spaces devices. If the FCC supports the use of white spaces, device makers like Motorola could start manufacturing technology for laptops, smart phones, PDAs and set-top boxes that can utilize the white spaces. All of the devices would have to be certified by the FCC.

“It’s really ideal spectrum for rural broadband and we see uses in land-mobile applications,” Sharkey said. “We view white spaces as somewhat similar to Wi-Fi. When it was first approved for use, no one knew all the applications, devices and form factors that would evolve.”

Opposition to the use of white spaces is led not only by sports leagues but also the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters), which fears interference, and some lawmakers who want the white spaces spectrum to be auctioned off the highest bidder.

Broadcasters have a website called “Interference Zones” that borders on the moronic.

The broadcasting industry is opposed to white spaces, insisting that the use of spectrum will lead to harmful interference. Google, Microsoft and other tech firms disagree and have submitted both licensed and unlicensed devices to the FCC to test.

Broadcasters are concerned that FCC rules may not be sufficient to protect TV viewers from interference, says TV Technology. The Association for Maximum Service Television announced a paper, “Why Unlicensed Use of Vacant TV Spectrum Will Cause Interference to DTV Viewers (pdf),” by Victor Tawil and Bruce Franca.

It counters claims made by the New American Foundation Issue Brief on July 2006 titled, “Why Unlicensed Use of Vacant TV Spectrum Will Not Cause Interference to DTV Viewers (pdf).

According to Mark Brunner, PR director at Shure, “The FCC’s tests of prototype white space devices at FedEx field prior to Saturday’s game between the Redskins and the Bills conclusively show that spectrum sensing white space devices will cause harmful interference to wireless microphones during live events. Simply stated, the prototype devices were unable to consistently identify operating wireless microphones or distinguish occupied from unoccupied TV channels. The devices failed to detect the presence of wireless microphones when switched on – an occurrence that takes place multiple times during any NFL game”.

Google hopes to use the unused TV frequencies for internet access.

Related White Space articles on Dailywireless include; White Space Field Testing, Google Pitches White Spaces, White Spaces: Now It’s GE, CTIA: Unlicensed White Spaces Bad, 700 MHz Resurrected in White Space, White Space War Continues, White Spaces Prototype: Dead Again, Sprint and T-Mobile Support “White Space” Use and White Space Gets Hot

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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