- ISIL creates all-female brigade to terrorize women into following Sharia law
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- Obama to Latin leaders: Help with border
- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring ‘God’s Rescue Squad’
- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
Crowded ‘white space’
Question of the Day
At most sporting events, wireless microphones have become about as ubiquitous as beer and foam fingers. They're used to allow for communications involving everyone from coaches and quarterbacks to pit crews and play-by-play men.
But the introduction of communications devices that operate using so-called "white space" could threaten the ability of those wireless networks to operate flawlessly, sports leagues and broadcasters said last week. The NFL and ESPN, in particular, have called for real-world testing of the new devices at live games as soon as this summer.
The Federal Communications Commission is examining several communications devices that would operate using the available spectrum typically used by over-the-air television. The spectrum, known as "white space," is generally seen as underused and could be used for wireless Internet or portable television service.
Google, Microsoft and other major technology companies are developing devices that would work using white space, and they claim the devices would not need to be licensed or coordinated.
But sports leagues and broadcasters said they would like to see evidence showing the devices will not interfere with their own wireless microphones, which use the same spectrum.
"We just think they have to prove these devices don't interfere," said Ken Kerschbaumer, executive director of the Sports Video Group - a trade group that promotes the distribution of sports content. "You can't just go on promises."
The NFL and ESPN last week wrote a letter to the FCC requesting "real world" testing at FedEx Field in Landover and M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
The FCC performs its own field tests but has not committed to examining how the devices work during games.
"We received the invitation and will consider it," FCC spokesman Robert Kenny said. "We certainly remain optimistic that the field testing will start well before the NFL season."
The use of wireless microphones at sporting events requires heavy amounts of coordination. A prime-time NFL game, for example, requires 135 wireless microphones, and all must be registered on specific frequencies to ensure there is no interference.
The FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology last year reported tests of white space devices had trouble sensing so-called "incumbent" users of the space. But since then, several companies, including Microsoft and Phillips, have disputed the test results and have continued to work on prototype devices, claiming they can operate without interference.
A coalition of the companies has proposed a beacon system that would alert devices about occupied spectrum. But sports groups cautioned that the beacon system remained unproved.
"If the devices are unlicensed and uncoordinated and there's interference, then there's no recourse, no one to go to," said Jeff Willis, coordinating technical manager for ESPN Productions.
About the Author
- First Down: Best weekend bets
- SportsBiz: What the next decade holds
- Shifting sands for NCAA
- Monumental sports year will connect fans on a global scale
- SportsBiz: Selling a new career
Latest Blog Entries
By Mark Davis
The nation founders, the Lone Star State thrives
- Rahm Emanuel: Send illegal immigrant shelter kids to Chicago
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- CURL: Obama, staffers not even pretending any more
- Family of Marine killed in Afghanistan pushes back against cover-up
- Pentagon running out of time to find mass of missing weapons in Afghanistan
- Washington Times strikes content and marketing partnership with Redskins
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- Obama family set to buy $4.25M desert home in California: report
- ORTEL: Note to Janet Yellen: The American bubble is popping
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq