Dolly doesn't want to share white space

Dolly doesn't want to share white space

Summary: Dolly Parton joins the chorus of entertainment type fighting against white spaces, even though research shows Internet devices would not interfere with wireless mics. Does the entertainment business's opposition have to do with something other than tech concerns? Perhaps there's a reason TV and music don't want there to be widespread, ubiquitous Internet?

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Now that Dolly Parton has thrown into the white spaces debate, it is unfortunately full-blown silly season for a crucial telecom issue. In a letter to FCC commissioners, Dolly wrote:
As someone who uses the white spaces and knows the value of them for the work that I and many of my friends do around the country, I ask the FCC to recognize the entertainment industry’s valuable contribution to the cultural life. I can unequivocally confirm that the importance of clear, consistent wireless microphone broadcasts simply cannot be overstated. This industry relies on wireless technology and is in jeopardy of being irreversibly devastated by the commission’s pending decision.

But the argument is completely specious, the Wireless Innovation Alliance's Jake Ward says. In an email, he explained:

Wireless microphones are white space devices. They receive and broadcast on vacant broadcast spectrum, often illegally and in violation of part 74 rules. That said, WIA and its partners have no interest or intention of disrupting their business. The FCC has found that the two technologies can absolutely coexist with minimal precautions and we are confident in their findings.

Meanwhile Bill Gates and Microsoft's Craig Mundie have taken to lobbying in favor of white spaces.

"The testing has been extensive," Mundie said on a conference call. "No one has any basis for claiming that they don't know what was tested or how it was tested."

Also Monday, a half dozen Representatives wrote to FCC chairman Kevin Martin to praise the timing of a vote next Tuesday.

This proceeding has been underway for over four years. There have been hundreds of comments filed and the Commission has been testing devices since last year. The opposition has raised concerns which have been addressed time and time again in the comment process.

...Given the importance of broadband access, the length of this proceeding, and the fact that there has been ample opportunity to submit comments, we respectfully ask the Commission to hold to its schedule and adopt final rules at its November meeting.

Topics: Government US, Enterprise Software, Government, Networking, Wi-Fi

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17 comments
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  • You'd Think Ms. Parton Would Know!

    Ms. Parton's present stand appears to be based on specious understanding of the science available. There apparently is no disruption threatening her wireless mic use. You'd think she'd be all for it, as this is the major key to rural internet access development.
    I say this in light of her coming from Small Town America, where she spent her childhood.
    PreachJohn
  • RE: Dolly doesn't want to share white space

    I think Ms Parton is confusing the white space between her ears with the other white space.
    (I'd like to know what her "take home" was for this position?)
    If she is really scared of interference, she should be devastaed to know that her performance could be legally drowned out by a new TV transmitter being turned on without her knowledge.
    Look at what happened to the unlicensed patient monitoring devices in the Dallas area hospitals when the new HD digital transmitter were first fired up several years ago.
    kd5auq
  • This is a serious issue

    People don't seem to realize how big of an issue this really is. Wireless microphones are in use in nearly every sporting event, every music event, every broadway and off-broadway show, every political rally, every church/religious service, etc.

    The impending reallocation of wireless spectrum has reduced the amount of "white-space" that these microphones can operate in. Now big companies are wanting to take over the remaining "white-space" for their devices that will undoubtedly make them lots of money.

    I have been following this issue for a while and a lot of what was stated in the above article is untrue. For example the FCC has not found that these new devices can "coexist with minimal precautions." It is quite the contrary. The new devices have failed to interact without causing interference to existing wireless microphones in every single FCC test to date.

    I work in industries on both sides of the issue and both sides have good points. This is not "silly-season for a crucial telecom issue." This is a crucial issue on both sides of it. The only "crucial issue" for telecoms is that they won't be able to make more money on future devices until they either fix their devices so they don't interfere with existing wireless microphones or until they overrun the people and companies that are fighting against this issue for their survival. It is quite unfortunate that the author/compiler of this article has clearly chosen the latter stance instead of reporting on this issue from an unbiased perspective.
    jeff92k7
    • I am serious about it

      The lack of ubiquitous Internet is a serious, serious
      gating factor in US innovation and competition. It
      limits people in rural areas, it limits education, it
      limits business people, it limits entertainment
      possibilities. Compared to Asian nations, Internet
      access in the US is a travesty. White spaces is an
      excellent opportunity to exponentially speed up
      innovation and information society. Yes, Google
      benefits. It serves to break the gridlock of telecoms
      on our telecom infrastructure.

      The science shows there is little risk to wireless
      mics or broadcast TV. Yet, broadcasters and
      entertainers cling to the notion that spectrum handed
      to them years ago should trump a national Internet
      infrastructure, even though the FCC data clearly show
      minimal risks.

      It's not about the technology, is it? Must be about
      control.
      rkoman@...
      • I would be interested to see this FCC data

        Could you please provide links to this FCC data that shows there are minimal risks to existing wireless mics? Especially ones operating in the 700MHz range?

        This link here seems to suggest that more serious issues are at foot: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-08-188A1.pdf

        Item number two clearly states the FCC is considering amending its rules to force use of "low power auxiliary stations" in the 700MHz band (such as wireless mics and wireless in-ear systems) to be terminated after the DTV switchover.

        I realize that these systems may be using unlicensed spectrum, but if they were sold by (apparently) legitimate companies for legitimate reasons, the stance you take is puzzling. Clearly you would be very upset if you were told that the 10s of thousands of dollars of professional grade equipment you purchased legitimately is longer usable. That is exactly the position our church is in, along with many, many others. For Dolly or most big acts, this purchase isn't a big deal, but for non-profits and schools, this really hurts!
        Sammy_JR
        • I agree, but more strongly

          Actually, it is a big deal even to the larger entertainment acts and venues. The systems they run are enormously expensive and designed with much investment in preventing temporary or permanent interference with their business venture. Not unlike what the opponents state as the main reason that the spectrum should be appropriated away from current uses. Whether you are Dolly Parton, a member of a church, or a sound engineer for several community theaters, as I am, having to find alternatives to the ever-shrinking white spaces is a daunting, and in some cases, impossible task.

          As a side note, just because the slice of spectrum being used isn't licensed, that does not necessarily make it illegal, as many in this forum seem to be intimating. The FCC approves every commercial wireless microphone system I have ever encountered, with perhaps the exception of the toy FM band devices that are out there. A license is only needed when the transmitted power exceeds a certain threshold.

          The argument that wireless access in rural areas (the only place that universal wireless is really an only-option alternative) will spawn wonderful new innovation and competencies is specious. That isn't from where the largest bang for the buck has come at any time in history. We are talking about spectrum usage everywhere, rural and urban. Deploying broad coverage wireless simply competes against wired access with local low power wireless technologies that already exist in urban settings. Corporate providers want wireless deployment because it is cheaper to maintain, not because it provides more bandwidth, more capacity, or cheaper service to its customers. To suggest that universal wireless will provide the incentive to bring us to competitive parity with some mythical overseas entity is speculative, at best. We would be far better off taking the wired infrastructure into municipal hands and leave the providers to bid on bandwidth needs.

          I have watched as my $8000 wireless system investment has become more and more limited as, first local TV, and then HDTV have encroached on system frequencies in a building which is already relatively shielded from EM interference and cell phone signals. I must and do accept the needs of other services to occupy the same space as I am using. That is the nature of shared bandwidth. We have been doing that for decades in amateur radio, radio astronomy, and many other less-than-mainstream services. But to be told that I will not be able to use my own rather costly investment (one that is likely not to be funded again) because someone needs to access whatever it is they want to get to on the internet while sitting in my parking lot is silly, and, quite frankly, angering.

          I agree. Point me to this magic data that says I have nothing to worry about. Put my mind at ease. Please.
          always-a-geek
  • RE: Dolly doesn't want to share white space

    Broadband and White Spaces. I know there is a joke here somewhere. But, here is the thing, why doesn't someone create a microphone that packets its info digitally via Broadband in real time. Maybe the solution here is to integrate several disciplines in a radiohistronicbroadbandophone device, instead of everyone trying to keep their creative domain untouchable. Nobody makes buggy whips anymore guys, just evolve or be left behind.
    SlapHeadless
  • Sounds like the entertainment industry doesnt want to spend any money.

    upgrading their stuff.

    They buy proprietary devices from companies who have no licensed the space and use it illegally. They cant now say that the space should be restricted since they have been using it for free for years.

    If you use something for free that is impossible to own... dont claim its yours when someone else trys to use it.
    Been_Done_Before
    • Not just Entertainment Industry

      What about our wireless mics at work (small company), at church (we have 9), my former church who buying 1 wireless mic was a major decision, colleges, schools who use the same wireless mics? What about my 1 man wedding filming business who charges 1/2 the competition so people on a very tight budget can get wedding videoed? I barly come out even every year (i have a day job, i do that because i like it) and don't want to have to buy 2 new mics because the frequency is gone.
      bjs_z
    • Unlicensed...not Illegal

      There is a difference between 'unlicensed' and 'illegal'

      Portions of the 900mhz spectrum were set aside for unlicensed use by wireless mikes, cordless telephones, walkie talkies, etc.

      These are not ILLEGAL devices, and all are submitted to the FCC for type approval, or are certified to operate properly in the unlicensed spectrum.

      Just a clarification...
      becksdark
  • RE: Dolly doesn't want to share white space

    "They buy proprietary devices from companies who have no licensed the space and use it illegally."

    This is untrue

    The bandwidth that these microphones use in not illegal - aside from regulations on state and municipal levels for emergency services this bandwidth is open to the public as long as the signal strength is under a maximum wattage.

    Considering that wireless systems that come with a license are several thousand a unit it is unfair for a multi-billion dollar company to insist that small event companies like the one I work for replace the dozens of systems required to keep in business.

    Google has launched a huge propaganda campaign in order to avoid buying licenses for their own technology - They have the money, make them spend it not the little guy.
    aneeta96
  • Most people missed the fine print ....

    Most people responding against the further use of "white space" seem to have missed the fine print when they purchased these microphones (if legal). Something about "cannot cause harmfull interference and must accept harmfull interference .... from other licensed and unlicensed devices ...."

    It is in EVERY device using or generating RF signals sold in the U.S. unless specifically licensed otherwise by the FCC. If it is/was not with your device then it is not legal.

    This is like the disagreement between the hunters and preservationists over our national parks. It is silly, unproductive, and unnecessary. There is more than enough for all to co-exist.
    kd5auq
  • Why not just use bluetooth mics?

    Really now... Some of these wireless mics can cost a few grand and they use such archaic tech? People need to get with the times and just understand that things change. Those mics suck anyway.
    outpostprime
    • As a musician...

      I haven't got 1k for a top brand digital mic, or $500, or even $100 each if I need 4 or 5 channels (pretty minimal for anything more than a trio) for a venue- I'm still using all wired, but I certainly appreciate the benefits of wireless. Guess I could hack some cellphones on 2-way, but guaranteed the providers would throw up insurmountable blocks to that toute suite (hell, even though we're strictly analog AF with the music, haven't you noticed how much crosstalk there is on stage gear from cellphones?); at this point this all looks like the typical trend of the FCC to rip the public domain to service the highest bidders so they (the bidders) can lock out free access and usage- at a technical level it's pretty easy to share the whitespace flawlessly, until you step out of the lab into the global EM snarl, then all kinds of marginal effects and interactions start to make things weird.
      ticthak@...
      • That's Right, and those harmonics and...

        heterodyning start interfering with Broadcast TV there will be hell to pay such as the FCC blocking ALL use of the white space so it is best interest for everybody to wait until at least 6 months AFTER the DTV cutoff.
        dunn@...
  • Not Until 6 Months After the DTV Cutoff....

    So that broadcasters can verify coverage and get a noise baseline that can be used if and when others start using the white spaces for other purposes.

    This has been Broadcast spectrum for over 60 years and the Broadcasters should be given a much higher priority than any new technology until the dust settles and Broadcasters have all the kinks worked out.

    I know that I don't want to be in a "fringe" area of coverage only to be wiped out by broad spectrum noise or harmonics from a new "white space technology" and neither does the FCC since it is those "fringe" areas that are of most concern since DTV signals don't travel as far without heroic efforts on the user to raise a tower and put up new antenna.

    If the FCC & Congress that mandated this conversion REALLY want it to go as planned they will wait at least 6 months before even thinking about letting companies test their technology in the white spaces.

    Everybody that is scrambling for this spectrum must remember a couple of things:
    1. This spectrum has been the Broadcaster's domain for longer than I've been alive.
    2. if they have gone this long without having to use the white space then companies can wait another 6 months or so.

    Fred Dunn
    And, No I don't work for a broadcaster but neither was I for the mandate of eliminating the analog transmissions either.
    dunn@...
  • Just Wait A Min. Here Sammy_JR, pls!

    You quote a proposed revision to block use of wireless, blah, blah equipment from 700Mz use.
    But, if I read your supplied link correctly, 12 band portions of the spectrum remain open for wireless, blah, blah equipment to operate yet, in Part II of said same proposal.
    Does this further understanding not mitigate the perceived threat somewhat, or am I the one still missing something here?
    PreachJohn