Because Motorola's device cannot detect wireless mic signals on its own, "we've been a proponent of developing a beacon," says Steve Sharkey, senior director of regulatory and spectrum policy for the Schaumburg, Ill.–based company, "and plan to demonstrate that for the FCC later this month." Such a beacon would emit a signal more powerful than a wireless mic that Motorola's white space–sensing devices would detect.
The FCC's planned move from analog to digital television broadcasts on Feb. 17, 2009, will open up more white spaces than ever before. White spaces exist in-between analog signals, but because digital TV signals are more compressed and take up less space, there is expected to be more unused spectrum, which wireless technology providers covet for its ability to allow faster downloads.
The NAB is concerned that makers of wireless devices inundate the broadcast spectrum in search of white spaces. "If the wireless companies don't license their devices," Wharton says, "then those companies don't have to pay for the use of the spectrum."
Motorola is confident that the FCC tests will work out any kinks in the technology. "The FCC's goal is to gather enough information so they can write the rules that will be used to protect incumbent spectrum users (such as TV stations)," Sharkey says, adding that Motorola and the other wireless technology providers will ultimately develop their next generation of products based on these rules.