FCC rejects 'white space'-sniffing device

A device intended to operate in the spectrum between channels not used for broadcasts gets a failing grade.

A device made to find and use open areas of the spectrum band has received a failing grade from the Federal Communications Commission.

The companies involved likely don't feel too bad, after all, it was the FCC's idea to begin with. Last December, the commission called for suggestions for wireless devices that would sniff out and use the portions of the spectrum not utilized by TV broadcasters. Thus, the White Space Coalition was born, which includes Dell, EarthLink, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft and Philips Electronics.

Apparently the prototype the coalition submitted didn't cut it. Not only did the test product not detect broadcast signals, it was prone to actually interfering with broadcasts, according to the commission's report.

The FCC does note in its evaluation that the submitted device is just the coalition's first crack at the technology. "Accordingly, we are open to the possibility that future prototype devices may exhibit improved performance," it said.

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