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Chairman Martin & Admiral Nelson - Broadcasting & Cable

Chairman Martin & Admiral Nelson

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Comments continue to pour in on the FCC’s open proceeding on just how to proceed with allowing unlicensed wireless devices to operate in the broadcast band.

FCC testing suggests portable devices that are supposed to sense when a channel is occupied don’t do a very good job, though proponents of the devices say the FCC testing was stricter than it need be, and that one of the devices was broken.

One of the latest to weigh in was microphone maker Shure, which is sure spectrum-sensing devices would do a number on its products and the ministers and performers who rely on them.

Nobody seems to mind fixed devices, even unlicensed ones, that apparently are guided by satellites, but the mobile devices have broadcasters, Broadway producers, sports executives, and microphone manufacturers particularly exercised over the prospects of interference to their respective businesses.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin would be happy to approve the devices to spur the rollout of wireless competion and broadband deployment, but has said he wants assurances the devices won’t muck up the DTV transition.

Computer companies like Google and Microsoft say broadcasters are being overprotective and are sitting on a bunch of white space that is being wasted in spectrum that is prime real estate for wireless applications.

The FCC has yet to decide whether to allow unlicensed mobile devices.

It is tough to find someone with a pocket protector and no dog in the fight, but somebody with an impressive spectrum policy resume and some thought-provoking ideas on the dangers of unlicensed devices is Michael J. Marcus, currently a consultant and formerly associate chief for technology in the FCC engineering shop.

Marcus says the FCC does not have enough people monitoring interference compliance and that given how tough it is to get Chinese toy makers not to slather their toys with child-endangering led paint, it is a frightening prospect to think of the same country flooding the market with unlicensed devices that are supposed to meet some FCC standard for not slathering their interfering waves all over the DTV transition.

But rather than try to rephrase his cogent and entertaining argument–Lord Nelson and the blind eye reference was my favorite–I recommend surfing over to Spectrum Talk, for something of an eye-opener.

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