Government // Mobile & Wireless
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9/25/2008
04:02 PM
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Google's Larry Page Calls FCC White Space Test 'Rigged'

The test back in August determined whether a prototype device for transmitting Internet traffic over the unused white space in the TV spectrum could interfere with microphones.

In an address to Washington lawmakers on Wednesday to advocate opening of a portion of the television spectrum for Internet networking, Google co-founder Larry Page charged that a recent FCC "white space" device test had been rigged to fail.

Page, according to The Washington Post account of his remarks, said, "The test was rigged deliberately. That's the kind of thing we've been up against here, and I find it despicable."

The test Page referred to was conducted in August by the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

Its purpose was to determine whether a prototype device for transmitting Internet traffic over the unused white space in the TV spectrum could sense the presence of wireless microphone signals.

Google along with Dell, HP, Microsoft, Motorola, and others have been lobbying the FCC to authorize this use of the TV spectrum. They believe it could be used to connect underserved communities to the Internet at a low cost, to open the door for innovative new services, and to promote the development of an underused resource.

TV broadcasters, telecom companies, and wireless microphone companies are among those that oppose the idea, fearing disruption of their use of the spectrum, not to mention competition from a new form of Internet service.

On Aug. 19, following the FCC test, the White Spaces Coalition sent a letter to the FCC that echoed Page's claims. The letter charged that during the FedEx Field test, wireless microphone operators were broadcasting wireless microphone signals on multiple channels used by TV broadcasts.

Beyond being a violation of FCC rules, this buried the wireless microphone signals inside more powerful TV signals and assured that the Philips white space device being tested failed to detect wireless microphone signals.

Mark Brunner, senior director of public and industry relations at Shure, which makes wireless microphones, refuted Page's charges in an e-mailed statement.

"The FCC's wireless microphone field tests were carefully planned and thoroughly executed based on sound engineering science and real-world operating scenarios," he said. "These tests were open to the public, and those who choose to discount the results -- which have not yet been published -- had every option to be present and to witness them for themselves."

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