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MSTV, Motorola Clash on Latest White-Spaces Test

The latest unlicensed wireless device (from Motorola) to be tested by the Federal Communications Commission again failed to detect a TV signal when there was another signal nearby, according to the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV), while Motorola said that was not the case.

Motorola submitted a device for testing this week that it said was improved from a previous prototype that failed to detect the presence of a TV signal when there was a strong adjacent-channel signal.

The FCC is testing the devices to determine whether and how to allow spectrum-sensing unlicensed devices to operate in the digital-TV-spectrum band being used by broadcasters.

If a device cannot tell when a broadcaster is already using the channel, it could mistakenly start transmitting on the channel and create interference to those beautiful new DTV signals broadcasters' future depends on.

"The device is likely to turn on to channels consumers are trying to watch," MSTV president David Donovan said in an announcement about the testing, which is open to the public. "This device fails to protect consumers and has a long way to go before it can be released into the real world."

"We all learn from our failures," Donovan said Friday in a statement, "but it is becoming painfully obvious that the FCC lacks sufficient evidence to draft a rule that can protect tens of millions of consumers from harmful interference."

Donovan also said the Motorola device did not detect analog signals, which low-power TV stations and translators will continue to broadcast after the Feb. 17, 2009, switch to digital by full-power stations.

"Unfortunately, MSTV recently issued a release with inaccurate information regarding Motorola as it continues to misrepresent the test results and the performance of the devices," countered Steve Sharkey, senior director of regulatory and spectrum policy for Motorola. "The release claimed that our device failed testing. However, the device test was fully successful and did detect DTV signals in the presence of strong adjacent channels at levels that will fully protect viewable television signals."

He concluded, "MSTV's release focused on sensing technology only and Motorola's device provides protection primarily through use of a geolocation database, as well as sensing and beacon detection. We are very confident that our multitiered approach to protection is extremely reliable and will fully protect the television viewing public."