Sen. Domenici: Spectrum-Sharing Devices Need More Study

New Mexico Republican Urges Federal Communications Commission to Do More Research on White Spaces

Republican New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici became the latest legislator to express his doubts to the Federal Communications Commission about allowing unlicensed mobile devices to share spectrum with digital-TV stations.

The National Association of Broadcasters has lined up more than 50 members of Congress, with plenty of Republicans and Democrats, to weigh in with comments ranging from not allowing the devices at all, to allowing only fixed unlicensed devices -- the NAB is OK with that -- to making sure that the devices do not interfere with DTV stations before allowing them.

Domenici was in the last category, saying, "The technology needs further development," and adding that he was "concerned about the ability to regulate or remedy this problem without time for more rigorous research, study and analysis."

Broadcasters are unconvinced that assurances of noninterference can ever be made for the spectrum-sensing devices, which did not fare well in a first round of interference testing, and that the risks to DTV reception during the crucial shift from analog to digital TV are too great.

Computer companies looking to use the devices -- laptops, personal digital assistants -- for mobile broadband and other advanced wireless uses said the technology is there and broadcasters are simply trying to protect their turf.

The FCC is currently holding a second round of testing. Chairman Kevin Martin and a majority of the commissioners have expressed confidence that there is a technological solution to allowing the devices to use the so-called white spaces (the NAB so-calls them interference zones).