Shure Inc. says recent “white spaces” plans offered by major technology companies will create overwhelming havoc for users and audiences of wireless microphones, and the company urges the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) not to be “distracted” by efforts by Microsoft, Google, Motorola, and others to downplay the role of continued FCC technical testing as an important input to the Commission’s policy decisions. “If reliable interference protection cannot be demonstrated in the FCC spectrum sensing tests, the Commission should once and for all state that it will not approve new portable devices in the television band,” Shure’s filing states.
“Neither the recent beacon plan proposed by Google, nor the one submitted by Motorola will provide solid protection for wireless microphone users,” says Mark Brunner, Shure’s senior director, Global Public Relations. “These unacceptable proposals would pull the plug on wireless microphone users everywhere.”
In its filing, Shure asserts that Motorola would have the FCC believe that its combined geo-location, disabling beacon, and spectrum sensing plan “is a comprehensive approach” that would protect white space incumbents like wireless microphone users. “But that couldn’t be further from the truth,” counters Brunner. “None of these approaches is a practical or even currently technically feasible solution to reliably protect wireless microphone users from damaging interference.”
“Wireless microphones are vital to broadcast, news, sports, music, theatre, and many religious services—if the FCC fails to protect wireless microphones, news broadcasting will be hampered, modern sports coverage will suffer, and live music and theatre will take a giant step backwards,” he adds.
Noting that the Google beacon plan before the Commission isn’t “fleshed out,” Shure’s filing focused on the Motorola proposal, stating that the plan suffers from a host of unresolved technical issues. According to Shure, the FCC must recognize that the proposed beacon is just a concept and must be fully tested. In addition, the filing points out that the beacon system relies on spectrum sensing technology, which has encountered significant problems in the FCC’s labs. If devices that rely on spectrum sensing cannot detect a wireless microphone, then they won’t be able to detect a beacon, the filing states.
“The plan is completely impractical—it requires wireless microphone users to purchase and deploy disabling beacons, then access a database and enter in a litany of information in order to be ‘legitimate’ in a given geographic location,” Brunner explains. “This would be the kiss of death for news teams covering breaking stories who have only minutes to deploy their cameras and microphones. Users would also be required to install a beacon for each TV channel used, a requirement that would actually result in a waste of significant spectrum when multiple different operators are covering the same event.”
Instead, Shure recommended that the FCC focus on evaluating the prospects of new fixed services in the TV band. Specifically, Shure asked the FCC to give serious consideration to the fixed service/adjacent channel protection plan proposed by FiberTower and Rural Telecom Group, and supported by Sprint and T-Mobile. “With appropriate power limits, this fixed/adjacent channel approach could go far toward providing increased broadband access for Americans while maintaining much needed protections for wireless microphone services,” the filing asserts.