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Microsoft explains prototype device failure

It could be a single malfunctioning power supply. Or, from the other side of the glass, it could be a portent of doom for a technology that would make good use of all those TV channels that no one’s broadcasting on, for wireless networking.

One of two prototype devices assembled on Microsoft‘s behalf for the US Federal Communications Commission for testing the ability to select wireless networking frequencies that don’t interfere with TV signals, failed on account of a recurring power problem, three Microsoft sources confirmed to BetaNews today.

That failure alone has prompted the National Association of Broadcasters to proclaim the entire technology isn’t worth pursuing.

“By failing two out of two tests at the FCC, Microsoft and the Wireless Innovation Alliance have demonstrated that unlicensed devices are not ready for prime time,” stated NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton this morning. “This admission by ‘white space’ proponents vindicates beyond doubt the interference concerns expressed by broadcasters, sports leagues, wireless microphone companies and theater operators. Completing a successful transition to digital television ought not to be jeopardized by introducing risky technology that has proven to be unworkable.”

The alliance to which Wharton referred is a coalition of manufacturers, software companies, and advocates, including Microsoft, Dell, HP, Google, and Public Knowledge, who could all stand to gain from the creation of a national standard for so-called white space devices — wireless transmitters that detect where TV channels aren’t in use, and utilize that unused space for data transmission. What the FCC wants to test is the viability of the concept: Can any device be relied upon to detect “white space” for itself?

In a statement this afternoon, the Alliance proclaimed the Microsoft test a success. But that same statement, attributed to spokesperson Brian Peters, also included some cryptic remarks that didn’t appear to have much to do with the subject at hand.

“It is a shame that the NAB has resorted to scare tactics instead of the facts,” Peters stated, “but perhaps that is because the facts are not on its side. Nobody is talking about wrecking Spamalot or the New York Knicks, and no one would want to. That is precisely why we have a very experienced federal agency in charge of authorizing new devices only if they meet rigorous standards of interference protection.”

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Microsoft, Prototype, TV, Channels, Broadcasting, Wireless, Networkingw

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