FCC’s McDowell Against Hard Date for White-Spaces Devices
Federal Communications Commission Set to Begin Second Round of Testing
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/30/2008 1:10:00 PM
Federal Communications Commission member Robert McDowell said Wednesday that he did not think there should be a hard date for allowing unlicensed devices to use the so-called white spaces between digital-TV channels.
The FCC is in a second round of testing on the devices, and McDowell pointed out that the first round didn't go very well. He said he wants science to drive the decision, adding that the FCC was hoping to move testing out of the lab and into people's homes in the next few weeks and months.
"The first round didn't go well for the inventors," he conceded. Initial testing found interference to DTV signals, which is broadcasters' worst nightmare and the reason why they are pushing back hard against allowing unlicensed, rather than licensed, devices in the space. But "inventors will continue to invent," he added.
"Technology always overcomes these kinds of issues," he said, pointing out that spectrum use is a trillion times more efficient than when Marconi first transmitted wireless waves. "If those [unlicensed] gadgets don't pan out this year, I am confident that ... we will see some resolution, technologically speaking, at some point.”
But he would not put a timetable on it, saying: "I think that would be sort of arbitrary and maybe a little bit capricious on the FCC's part. I think it is an issue we can continue to revisit over time. My hypothesis is that the unused spectrum can someday be use without interference to broadcasters or microphone companies."
McDowell’s comments came during a Webinar sponsored by Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and Harris, Rules of the Game in 2008. A replay of the Webinar will be available beginning Jan. 31 at 2 p.m. (EST).
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