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Microsoft Questions FCC's 'White Spaces' Decision

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the it-was-broken-when-we-found-it dept.

Wireless Networking 142

narramissic writes "Late last month a wireless prototype submitted by Microsoft and other members of the White Spaces Coalition was rejected by the FCC because it interfered with cable channels. Microsoft, though, claims that the device was malfunctioning when the FCC tested it. From the article: 'In a letter to the FCC Monday, Microsoft said the scanner in one of two prototypes was damaged and "operated at a severely degraded level. The damaged scanner accounted for the entire discrepancy between the Microsoft and the FCC bench test data," said Ed Thomas, a consultant for the White Spaces Coalition and a former chief of the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology.'"

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Soemthing smells fishy (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20229279)

I find it highly unlikely that a Microsoft product would unexpectedly malfunction.

Re:Soemthing smells fishy (5, Funny)

bobstaff (313564) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229475)

Me too. I expect them to malfunction.

Re:Soemthing smells fishy (4, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229677)

If a malfunction results in a failure of the local TV signal rather than resulting in a failure of the device, the FCCs decision is the right one.

Devices are expected to fail. Given a long enough timeframe, ALL of them fail.

Re:Soemthing smells fishy (1)

slashdot.org (321932) | more than 7 years ago | (#20231067)

If a malfunction results in a failure of the local TV signal rather than resulting in a failure of the device, the FCCs decision is the right one.

Devices are expected to fail. Given a long enough timeframe, ALL of them fail.


Another uninformed piece of FUD.

This was a prototype to prove the concept of sharing the spectrum that is currently assigned for TV with data. The FCC doesn't allow that at all, so a first step is to convince them that it _can_ be done. Of course they haven't built a full consumer product with fail-safes yet because there's a pretty damn fine chance that the FCC won't allow it anyway.

Failure of wireless prototype equipment is not uncommon and says very little about how a failing consumer product would behave.

The FCCs decision should have been to try the backup prototype.

Re:Soemthing smells fishy (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 7 years ago | (#20231329)

The FCC has banned other devices before, solely because they might have been hacked by the owner in such a way as to threaten the television spectrum.

Devices that could fail and make it necessary to send someone around the persons house and make them turn it off are obviously not going to pass these kinds of requirements.

Yes, there is fear, uncertainty and doubt. Which is why it didn't get approved.

Re:Soemthing smells fishy (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229851)

It's not a malfunction, it's a feature!

To the FCC: you have to be fairly incompetent for Microsoft to point out your mistakes.

Re:Soemthing smells fishy (1)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229983)

The guy pointing out the mistake went to MS from the FCC... Does that make it a comedy of errors?

Re:Soemthing smells fishy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20229629)

That's funny, but I think you're forgetting that in premodern societies, including ancient Greece and premodern Japan, anal sex was associated with male-male paederastic relationships. Manuscripts and art from those periods depict anal sex as the main or only sexual activity that occurred in such relationships. In modern times, particularly in Western cultures, anal sex has been popularly associated with gay and bisexual men. In particular, anal sex has been associated with the spread of HIV, especially in early years of the discovery of the disease. This resulted in gay bathhouses in some American cities being shut down by public-health authorities.

Among gay men who have anal sex, some consistently take the top (insertive) or bottom (receptive) role, but this is not always the case: some men who have anal sex act as both top and bottom at different times. This is known as "versatile" or "switch".

Re:Soemthing smells fishy (5, Funny)

eli pabst (948845) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229635)

Yes, in my experience I have never had a Microsoft product set so double the killer delete select all.

/Obligatory

Re:Soemthing smells fishy (1)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230297)

Well, given that Microsoft never says anything but lies, we can assume the device was functioning perfectly when it failed the tests. (Is that a weird sentence or what?)

However, what is amusing is that Microsoft will lie ABOUT THEIR OWN PRODUCTS FAILING A TEST JUST TO BE LYING! I mean, if you were trying to win somebody over, would you admit the product you sent for the test was screwed up? Like it gives somebody confidence in the product maybe actually working if it WASN'T screwed up?

These guys couldn't tell the truth if they were PAID TO!

Re:Soemthing smells fishy (5, Funny)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#20231255)

"given that Microsoft never says anything but lies"

A Microsoft PR guy and a linux kernel developer are standing at the entrance to a cave, but you don't know which is which. The cave contains either a dragon or a treasure. The MS guy always lies. The kernel developer never says anything that you could understand. Think of one question that you can ask which will tell you whether to enter the cave.

Why is Microsoft taking on this role? (2, Insightful)

Sergeant Pepper (1098225) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229307)

Unless I've been understanding this wrong, this thing wasn't just a Microsoft prototype. It was submitted by several companies, so why is Microsoft the only one who is questioning it? Are the others backing Microsoft in their complains? Do the others not care enough? Or is there something more nefarious going on - do the others think that the FCC's claims are true?

Re:Why is Microsoft taking on this role? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20229433)

why is Microsoft the only one who is questioning it?

Because they are so used to their products malfunctioning during testing, that they have started to believe that this can be brought up as a valid reason for failing the test.

The others in the group probably do not dare this, as they understand that a device that malfunctions and does not meet test criteria is correctly rejected. The device could malfunction in consumer's hands as well, and cause interference.

Re:Why is Microsoft taking on this role? (1)

ajs (35943) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229529)

Microsoft is, as I understand it, representing the interests of all of the companies involved, here (including Google). It makes sense. Microsoft has some of the best lobbying capabilities and has had the most success in managing policy. These companies need a strong front since they're going up against the cable/telco companies.

Re:Why is Microsoft taking on this role? (0, Flamebait)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229577)

You are a GD moron for assuming there was something ... amiss. Every major player is part of the Open Spaces coalition. Every major playor. But in this case, it was MS who designed and manufactured the device that tested off.

Your comment is so stupid, I'm shocked that the mods with unlimited points haven't swooped in to make you '+5 Insightful.'

-1 Troll here I come.

Re:Why is Microsoft taking on this role? (1)

Sergeant Pepper (1098225) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229883)

Actually, you are the one who is a "GD moron". While you deserve a "-1 something", a "-1 No Reading Comprehension" would be much better.

If you would actually read you would note that I did not give more weight to one option than the other. I asked a question and presented THREE possibilities, only one of which implicated Microsoft in "something amiss". I was genuinely curious why all the other deeds done for this were by all the involved companies while this one is just Microsoft (according to the summary). That's why one of the questions I asked was if the other countries were backing this part too and the summary just failed to mention it.

I can't help but notice that your posting history is riddled with -1 Trolls and -1 Flamebaits. Maybe you weren't actually doing that and you just deserved a non-existant -1 No Reading Comprehension. Either way, you, sir, are the one with an extremely stupid comment.

-1 Epic Fail

Re:Why is Microsoft taking on this role? (1)

deweycheetham (1124655) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229969)

FYI.... Ummm, I looked at his history and I didn't see a single Troll or Flamebait, just 1 Off Topic. (Sorry , had to check.)

Re:Why is Microsoft taking on this role? (1)

Sergeant Pepper (1098225) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230047)

I think you looked at my history - I have one Offtopic. ;)

He has three Flamebaits, four Trolls, and also one Offtopic.

Re:Why is Microsoft taking on this role? (1)

deweycheetham (1124655) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230109)

I errorred and caught the error but /. wouldn't let me reply 2 times to the same post.

I humbly APOLOGIZE.

Re:Why is Microsoft taking on this role? (1)

Sergeant Pepper (1098225) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230583)

No matter. Everyone makes mistakes - I know I sure do ;). I did not know that /. doesn't let you reply twice to the same post - I just reply to my own post when I make a mistake.

Re:Why is Microsoft taking on this role? (1)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230089)

Epic fail? You must play that game with the funny dice.

None of your 'possibilities' suggested you read the article. MS MADE the device that was tested. The coalition is made of people who want to use the channels and also make other devices similar to MS's or devices that use it.

Re:Why is Microsoft taking on this role? (1)

Sergeant Pepper (1098225) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230499)

I never said they were suggested by the article, hence why they were my hypotheses.

You got mad at me for assuming that there was something amiss when I never said suggested anything of the sort. You made a fool of yourself. Admit it and get over with it, you don't need to start coming up with new reasons to justify your anger at me.

Re:Why is Microsoft taking on this role? (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230903)

Do MS design or make the hardware though, or do they simply give some requirements to a subcontractor who then builds the device? I understood that Microsoft's involvement with hardware only went as far as designing the box it came in (unless there's an OS to write, such as for the XBox)

Re:Why is Microsoft taking on this role? (1)

mastermemorex (1119537) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229747)

Unless I've been understanding this wrong, this thing wasn't just a Microsoft prototype. It was submitted by several companies, so why is Microsoft the only one who is questioning it? Are the others backing Microsoft in their complains? Do the others not care enough? Or is there something more nefarious going on - do the others think that the FCC's claims are true?

It is always the same. Microsoft against the rest of the world. I quest they are now working on submiting a new standard for radio waves to the ECMA.

hey... (1)

cosmocain (1060326) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229309)

...great. now the devices are failing in tests - some would wish others would have failed there too instead of...well...at home [slashdot.org] . great step forward, microsoft.

now all we need ist that little nifty step towards working devices!

Re:hey... (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229769)

I heard they tested the thing till they were blue in the f... uh screen.
Seriously
The grab for spectrum right now is obscene the way the FCC sells it (since when do they "own" it? I thought they were commisioned to police the airwaves not auction them),
and the way the various companies are attempting to grab it via their lobbys and "influence".

I would rather have a honest government (they stay bought), instead of waffle depending on the bribe of today's higest bidder and next week a better bribe makes them lean the other way....
Imagine if government ran the roads the way they run the spectrum....

Re:hey... (3, Insightful)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230453)

Imagine if government ran the roads the way they run the spectrum....
You should search "us road privatization" -- we are starting to run our roads the way they run the spectrum.

We Need Wireless Broadband (2, Insightful)

grumpygrodyguy (603716) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229315)

Well...I'm rooting for MS on this one. Some 3rd world countries have better wireless broadband access than we do.

The telecom and cable monopolies are holding the FCC in their pockets and stifling innovation.

Re:We Need Wireless Broadband (1)

b4thyme (1120461) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229355)

Indeed, here is to Microsoft *raises glass* go get those evil telcos

Re:We Need Wireless Broadband (1)

krgallagher (743575) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229393)

"Well...I'm rooting for MS on this one. Some 3rd world countries have better wireless broadband access than we do."

Yeah, and it is not just Microsoft. It is a coalition of Dell, Earthlink, Google, HP, Intel, Microsoft and Philips.

Re:We Need Wireless Broadband (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20229841)

Or the axis of Evil.
No, axis of Good!
But it contains Microsoft, so it's Evil.
But it also has Google, so it must be good.

Oh crap, the Evil side has Sharks with firkin' lasers!

Re:We Need Wireless Broadband (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20229967)

We need an acronym! I suggest DIGHEMP, but that's probably just because I dig hemp.

Re:We Need Wireless Broadband (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20230581)

Man you need a +5 funny.

Re:We Need Wireless Broadband (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20231383)

No it doesn't.

White spaces != unused (2, Interesting)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229835)

There is a perception amongst many that white spaces are unused. That is not always correct. These white spaces can serve a purpose.

In some cases, RF automatic tunig circuits need the white spaces as a way to distinguish the signal envelope (ie. the "edges" of the signal it is tracking). If you pack the white spaces with RF then those edges get blurred and some AFC circuitry will malfunction.

Re:White spaces != unused (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230241)

Heaven forbid, but Microsoft should be working with Google and Yahoo to pool their cash for some of that FCC spectrum being auctioned. Then they can simply put these devices on their own channels and be done with it, not having to play around with "unregulated" spectrum!

Re:White spaces != unused (3, Funny)

badc0ffee (969714) | more than 7 years ago | (#20231111)

There is perception amongst many others that /dev/null is unused. They just don't realize you can back up your entire system there without using any media. At least until you get a bit bucket overflow.

Keep the white space white!

Re:We Need Wireless Broadband (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20229899)

Well...I'm rooting for MS on this one. Some 3rd world countries have better wireless broadband access than we do.


Last time I checked the FCC has absolutely no jurisdiction in the 3rd world.

Re:We Need Wireless Broadband (3, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230087)

Some 3rd world countries have better wireless broadband access than we do.

Well, they should. For a small number of users and no existing infrastructure, wireless is completely superior. However, we have copper lines to almost every house. We get broadband to the home, and wireless is only as good as necessary between the billion or so copper lines run all around. The only places with successful wireless are the places where the copper wires aren't being used effectively for high-speed Internet. You can't put the population of NYC on wireless broadband. The density will not allow everyone to have broadband speeds.

Re:We Need Wireless Broadband (1)

tonsofpcs (687961) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230853)

Ummm... I may be missing something here, but since when do cable companies care about the broadcast spectrum?

They must have been running Vista with it. (2, Funny)

deweycheetham (1124655) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229363)

"Microsoft, though, claims that the device was malfunctioning when the FCC tested it."

Yea, if they were running vista that would expalin a lot.

(ding down my Karma again, i think its funny.)

Re:They must have been running Vista with it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20229487)

How do you get the blue screen of death on a wireless device?

So this wasn't (1)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229365)

detected during the testing? And if it was, why was the test not scrapped? This is dumb, when you do testing to certify, calibrate or evaluate something you make sure that the unit is functioning 100% before you begin. At least that's the way it's been everywhere I've ever worked.

Re:So this wasn't (2, Insightful)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229541)

While I agree with you, the fact that a malfunctioning unit could cause a major disruption in service to those around you is still a significant problem. The odds of every device shipping (however many thousands or millions) without a flaw is pretty slim. That being said, more work will need to be done to prevent such an outage should there be a flaw or a malfunction before it passes the FCC.

For the record, I am no fan of either MS or the FCC, but in this case, I would probably side with the FCC.

Re:So this wasn't (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229705)

Indeed. Having worked for a company that was the victim of a seriously malfunctioning pager transmitter tower that suddenly started spraying interference over our whole spectrum, I can tell you right now that dealing with such a malfunction ought to be part of the demonstration process, and if your demo box causes unintended but significant interference, then you shouldn't be ready for primetime.

Re:So this wasn't (1)

camperslo (704715) | more than 7 years ago | (#20231095)

Chances are it wasn't a defect in the prototype, but instead one in the design. But if they could excuse the behavior as being a defective unit, they might still push to get a marginal design through.

I suspect that the problem relates to the unit not properly detecting frequencies that it can use without causing interference. At U.H.F. frequencies it is not uncommon to hit dead/weak spots in signal strength due to reflections. Sometimes moving a few inches makes a big difference. Many people that have tried watching a marginal strength analog U.H.F. t.v. signal with one of those small loop antennas has probably seen how sensitive reception is to antenna position, location and local reflections. Even walking around or waving your arms nearby can have a huge effect on the signal.
That sort of high-frequency signal behavior makes it likely that a device looking for a clear frequency may find something that doesn't appear to have much signal present, but is actually in use. Running network equipment in that case certainly would be likely to cause interference problems.

While they might claim the problem was poor sensitivity of a particular receiver, improvement in that specification would likely only help slightly. To really make much improvement the equipment would need multiple antennas at different locations to sense signals. At high frequencies even a fairly small distance can make a huge difference.

The sort of think I'm talking about is referred to as diversity reception. Some WiFi equipment reduces dead spots by this method. Many here have problem seen the Linksys wireless router with two antennas. That is what they are for.

I expect that even better equipment will still cause some problems. Equipment in a somewhat shielded or lower elevation environment will get a false sense of signal use in the area. There should probably be added safeguards such as having a given frequency range disabled if any other device on a network has detected signals to protect. The check should also be on-going, since some signals won't be detect until people walk in certain postions, or reflections occur off of other objects. The hardware should probably build up a growing list of frequencies to continue avoiding over time, behaving sort of like a table of bad blocks for a hard drive. For portable device the table could be broken into sections for connecting to different networks, remembering the locked-out spectrum for each.

There is quite a bit of equipment polluting the electromagnetic spectrum already. Many things coming in from China aren't properly designed/tested/certified. Some of the compact florescent lamps are good examples.
PCs built up and sold by small shops are generally illegal too.

I don't like to idea of spectrum being sold off. I think use should be allocated based on the public (ISP or other type of provider) good. In this case it is good to see the F.C.C. action in performing one of their primary functions and preventing interference.

Let me see if I understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20229377)

Let me see if I got this straight. Microsoft is in a position to handpick the best unit of all their prototypes to deliver to the FCC for testing. They choose to send in the malfunctioning one. They then complain about how the FCC is being unfair due to their own incompetence? Yep, sounds like Microsoft to me.

Re:Let me see if I understand (1)

Trillan (597339) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229565)

Microsoft is in a position to handpick the best unit of all their prototypes to deliver to the FCC for testing. They choose to send in the malfunctioning one.

The only way this makes sense is if the horribly malfunctioning unit they sent in was the best they had. Maybe the others caused rashes on your hands as soon as you opened the box.

White space? Aha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20229389)

So, you mean excessive white space is the reason why Microsoft's code is so bloated? Man, all this time I thought it was something else!

And You Believe... (1, Troll)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229395)

And you believe Microsoft's version of events...why?

Actually this will only be version 2. Everyone knows that with MS it's best to wait for version 3.0 of any product.

Re:And You Believe... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229627)

Because it matches their plan of operation all along. Microsoft has been pretty good at shipping things that break. Windows, in theory, should be a pretty stout and secure operating system but we have seen it break many times over and cause interference all over the place.

It is nothing new here except that MS thinks they can produce something that won't break in the future.

Re:And You Believe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20230645)

Everyone knows that with MS it's best to wait for version 3.0 of any product.

Don't you mean, Apple?

Business as Usual? (1)

FatAlb3rt (533682) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229403)

Except the FCC is now the test ground, instead of PCs worldwide? ;)

When all else fails... (1)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229407)

...manipulate the data.

Responsibility (4, Insightful)

kaleco (801384) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229449)

I would imagine it's the applicant's responsibility to supply a functioning prototype. Otherwise it's like retroactively claiming you were feeling unwell when you sat your finals and didn't get the grade you were hoping for.

FUD -- Microsoft needs to prove it works (4, Insightful)

dwarmstr (993558) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229451)

The whole point of FCC testing is to confirm the device works to specifications and doesn't violate FCC rules regarding emissions. It failed, and Microsoft needs to submit their design again. To imply the FCC was somehow faulty as is suggested by the "White Spaces" industry wag man (who also is one of those in-and-out regulatory-to-industry guys) is classic FUD. Fix your prototype, MS, and the FCC will certify it.

Re:FUD -- Microsoft needs to prove it works (1)

Trillan (597339) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229533)

I don't know. That Microsoft's picked prototype did exactly what broadcasters feared, but is quickly explained with "oops, it malfunctioned!" seems to prove the broadcasters' point with a double underline.

Re:FUD -- Microsoft needs to prove it works (4, Interesting)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229567)

Apparently there was a backup device, but the FCC did not use it.

Link [statesman.com]

Re:FUD -- Microsoft needs to prove it works (1)

Mike McTernan (260224) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230837)

They submitted a unit, that when tested failed. Why would you waste time trying a second device? If the second passed the tests, the overall result must still be inconclusive since the first unit failed.

The only case I can think of in which the backup could sensibly be used, would be if some other defect prevented the testing of the first unit e.g. it was physically damaged, had a flat battery or couldn't start testing for some other non-performance related reason.

Sounds like a schoolboy error on Microsoft's part. No big deal though, I'm sure they will be back to retest when the unit is fixed - these things happen.

Re:FUD -- Microsoft needs to prove it works (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229703)

There is some conspiracy to the story as the prior two posters have pointed out. Also, notice that this particular article was cherry-picked as only mentioning Microsoft - the coalition also involves Google, Dell and others. If that were presented, then who would you be rooting for? (OMG! Its google! It must be teh good!)

Re:FUD -- Microsoft needs to prove it works (3, Informative)

dwarmstr (993558) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229763)

I'd still be rooting for the FCC, which enforces the law. Radio spectrum is precious and already suffers enough interference. The FCC already caved on some rules when they approved the horrific broadband-over-power lines.

Re:FUD -- Microsoft needs to prove it works (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229993)

I'm not a fan of BPL (as an amateur radio/shortwave enthusiast) but according to what I've read the FCC had a backup device in case the test article failed, which Microsoft claims it did ... however the FCC did not even attempt to use the backup for analysis! And there have been rumors of pandering to the existing TV service (which won't exist in 2 years... or will it?) again, its a mess and sometimes things just look like the FCC are stacking the cards in profit's way instead of progress'. All I'm saying is give this coalition a fair shake, it doesn't look like the FCC did.

Re:FUD -- Microsoft needs to prove it works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20229729)

I don't see how it's classic FUD. Where's the fear? Now the SCO lawsuit, that's classic FUD.

Re:FUD -- Microsoft needs to prove it works (1)

slashdot.org (321932) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230969)

The whole point of FCC testing is to confirm the device works to specifications and doesn't violate FCC rules regarding emissions. It failed, and Microsoft needs to submit their design again. To imply the FCC was somehow faulty as is suggested by the "White Spaces" industry wag man (who also is one of those in-and-out regulatory-to-industry guys) is classic FUD. Fix your prototype, MS, and the FCC will certify it.

You don't know what the hell you are talking about. This has nothing to do with device certification. They didn't submit a consumer device for certification.

They (the coalition) are trying to prove that it's okay to use this type of wireless in the TV bands. The FCC currently doesn't allow the use of that spectrum for such a device at all. At this stage prototype malfunction isn't all that crazy and says little about how malfunction will be handled in real-world consumer devices.

Re:FUD -- Microsoft needs to prove it works (1)

dwarmstr (993558) | more than 7 years ago | (#20231135)

Hey Mr. Know-It-All, I'd like to know more. All I did was read the article. If you know more, help us all out by linking to some more info. "The FCC on July 31 said a wireless prototype submitted by Microsoft and other members of the White Spaces Coalition interfered with cable television channels and therefore would not be licensed for use. The White Spaces Coalition, including Google Inc., Dell Inc., Intel Corp. and other tech vendors, wants the FCC to approve wireless devices that operate in the so-called spectrum white spaces between TV channels."

FCC's Reply (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20229459)

Don't send us your broke ass shit next time.

Microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20229497)

Aren't they dead yet?

fp Nigga (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20229537)

rather it not be MS (1)

BillOfThePecosKind (1140837) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229607)

While this does sound like a good idea, to weaken the apparent strangle hold the broadcasting companies have on the FCC, I'm just not sure if I really want MS to loosen that grip. After all, what's better? Letting MS control the FCC or the broadcast companies? I guess it's a start though.

Re:rather it not be MS (1)

durnurd (967847) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230571)

While this does sound like a good idea, to weaken the apparent strangle hold the broadcasting companies have on the FCC, I'm just not sure if I really want MS to loosen that grip. After all, what's better? Letting MS control the FCC or the broadcast companies? I guess it's a start though.
I'd rather let MS control the broadcast companies. Then we'd get less crappy soap operas, and more crappy tech-weenie shows. That's probably not what you meant to ask in your question, though. Between you and me, as programmer to whatever you are, that's why grammar Nazis will rule the world. Trust me, I am one.
</sarcasm style="wit:extremely subtle;">

Forgive my apparent ignorance but... (2, Insightful)

Monoliath (738369) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229651)

...isn't this exactly what the FCC wants to avoid happening? Failing devices mucking up other channels?

So what's the point of Microsoft saying 'oh, it was screwing up when you were testing it'...

If it mucks up other channels while it is malfunctioning it's not going to be commissioned...that's the whole point of testing it...isn't it?

If it doesn't mess up other channels while it's working fine, then fine...but the whole idea that when it malfunctions it interferes with other transmissions...is the perfect reason not to pass this thing in my mind.

Cool, Microsoft Inside... (2, Funny)

WindowlessView (703773) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229669)

Every cable system gets a free Phishing Network channel.

MSFT needs to understand "fail safe" (4, Insightful)

SmoothTom (455688) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229813)

With any product that can disrupt other services - in this instance, taking out your neighbor's TV reception or data link if the "scanner" doesn't detect the "channel" is already in use - the product needs to be designed to "fail safe."

In other words, the device should self-test critical functions, and if any do not meet requirements, the device needs to indicate the failure AND NOT TRANSMIT.

Basic rational design.

If the "scanner" fails to detect an "in use" channel properly (self test to ensure it does), the transmitter shouldn't just push ahead and transmit, it should alarm and go to standby.

If the device can just go ahead and transmit, as Microsoft's did, the FCC is absolutely right: The device (and possibly service) should not be allowed.

--
Tomas

Re:MSFT needs to understand "fail safe" (1)

IvyKing (732111) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229979)

If the MS device did have a working self-test, then it would have notified the FCC test engineers that the unit was having problems and the FCC could/would have asked MS for a working unit.


Designing a proper self test for this device will be non-trivial, but I agree that the FCC shouldn't approve the device until such a self test is shown to work robustly.

Re:MSFT needs to understand "fail safe" (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230421)

You are describing every device that passes FCC Part 15 compliance testing - it must not radiate any RF interference, but be able to accept any RF interference that might be present.

Sounds like it failed the first part, and walked all over some other frequency.

Right idea but your proposed test has a bug (3, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230585)

In other words, the device should self-test critical functions, and if any do not meet requirements, the device needs to indicate the failure AND NOT TRANSMIT.

Dead on. But:

If the "scanner" fails to detect an "in use" channel properly (self test to ensure it does), the transmitter shouldn't just push ahead and transmit, it should alarm and go to standby.

Which breaks if you bring it up in an environment that doesn't have any "in use" channels to detect. Like in a remote environment (such as my place in a lightly-settled section of Nevada desert) which has zero detectable TV signals and virtually no daytime broadcast radio - exactly the sort of place you'd want to "wire for broadband" with wireless.

IMHO the right algorithm is not an up-front self-test, but a CYA check during turn-up:
  - Check for in-use channel. If not found:
  - Momentarily make a VERY SMALL amount of signal of your own and see if you detect that, to check the detector. If you do:
  - THEN turn on normal transmitter power.

You'd think by now.... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229893)

...Microsoft would know better then to try to demo their work at an important event.

The FCC Shoulda Waited for Service Pack 1 (1)

Prototerm (762512) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229917)

Hey, everyone familiar with Microsoft products knows that!

It must have been realy badly broken. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20229931)

Recent indications from the FCC have been that they will approve just about any technology regardless of how much spectrum polution it produces as long as it advances broadband availability. A good example of this is acess broadband (power line internet or BPL wikipedia has a good summary on this) which renders almost the entire HF spectrum unusable in areas where it is installed.
For the FCC to have rejected this technology, it must have been broken so badly that it has no chance of working.

Re:It must have been realy badly broken. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20230295)

For the FCC to have rejected this technology, it must have been broken so badly

Ham radio operators have no money. Cable companies do. That's all that you need to know to figure this one out.

Can we get someone else to do this? (1)

hellfire (86129) | more than 7 years ago | (#20229987)

I'm not rooting for MS or the FCC on this one. Why? Because Microsoft will patent the technology to lock it in, fuck it up, and we won't be any better than the cable companies.

Hell, I'll even take Apple over MS. They'll patent the hell out of it too, but it least it will look nice and probably have a lot fewer bugs.

Movie (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230025)

Microsoft should submit a movie of it working properly, like they did for the brouser issues. Just ignore the guy's clothing changing randomly during the continuous demonstration.

Read between the lines people.... (1)

rtechie (244489) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230045)

This is Microsoft trying not to accuse FCC Commissioners of outright sabotage, though this is likely what happened. It's very convenient that the prototype "broke" in exactly the way the opponents of the "white space" initiative wanted. The same interests (TV Broadcasters) that heavily bribed* the FCC Commissioners. Commissioners also had a backup they chose not to use. An earlier (extremely similar) Philips device worked perfectly.

This is not the "MS tech doesn't work" story the submitter tried to spin it as, but a "government screwing consumers" story.

* "Campaign contributions" are bribes. "Above board" donations are made to campaigns and they're married with smaller "under the table" bribes. A $10,000 cash bribe seems a lot bigger if it's married to a $100,000 "legitimate" campaign contribution.

Re:Read between the lines people.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20230369)

And the broadcasters like the FCC why? Remember all of those indecency fines the FCC put on them? I don't hink so.

Re:Read between the lines people.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20231071)

The broadcasters are HUGELY influential at the FCC. The Nat'l Association of Broadcasters carries a great deal of weight there. Remember, these are the guys who control the evening news - screw with them at your peril: "Tonight, on the News at 6 - is FCC Chairman Kevin Martin still sacrificing babies to Satan?"

Re:Read between the lines people.... (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#20231033)

Right, and you are on the payroll of the Illuminati.

FCC commissioners are appointed, not elected.

Another public relations misfire (1)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230063)

More of the typical BS from Microsoft. They submitted a device for testing and it failed, so the testing authority refused to certify it. Nothing special about this.

But then they issue a press release. Somehow it's unfair that their device failed its tests; their device was malfunctioning but if it had been working correctly it would have passed?

It's the same old tune - those mean old government agencies won't dance to Microsoft's tune, so they'll appeal to the court of public opinion. It's worked so well for them in the past, why not give it another go?

When there's a difference of opinion then PR stunts like this have some value. But in situations like this one where a device was being measured against technical standards and failed - that's not negotiable. Trying to use the same old trick here just makes them look foolish - and gives another good look at the man behind the curtain...

Re:Another public relations misfire (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230341)

You're conveniently ignoring that this device was collectively submitted by the entire White Spaces group, which consists of Microsoft, Google, HP, Intel, Philips, and a couple others I'm forgetting.

But feel free to take any excuse to mindlessly bash Microsoft; don't let the facts get in the way of your ever-so-rational opinions.

Re:Another public relations misfire (0, Troll)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230695)

If you'd read the original article you'd find the title of it to be:

Microsoft questions FCC's 'white spaces' decision

While it's true that other companies are involved in the White Spaces project, only Microsoft is using their public relations machine to try for a "do-over" on their test failure.

Anyway, nice try - but your troll-fu is too weak.

Re:Another public relations misfire (3, Insightful)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#20231147)

Right, because of course the other companies involved simply decided that the FCC is all-wise, and have no interest in the decision being appealed. It's utterly beyond the realm of possibility that they collectively decided to use the member with the best PR machine to protest the decision. This is obviously Microsoft branching out on its own hook against the wishes of the other members of the coalition in an evil plot to TAKE OVER THE WORLD, MUAHAHAHA!!

FCC was not supposed to notice that interference (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230099)

with the cable frequencies. Had they not seen it, Microsoft could have pumped a few million into promoting this noisy spec to flood the market with devices laying waste to clean cable signals. Then, its IPTV business starts looking a whole lot better. With an end to end tie-in of Microsoft software in the US IPTV( UltimateTV? ) market, Microsoft gets to own the channels like they currently own the PC OEM channels. Doesn't that sound like fun?

LoB

Re:FCC was not supposed to notice that interferenc (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230405)

with the cable frequencies. Had they not seen it, Microsoft, Google, HP, Intel, Philips, Dell, Earthlink, and Samsung could have pumped a few million into promoting this noisy spec to flood the market with devices laying waste to clean cable signals. Then, Microsoft's, Google's, HP's, Intel's, Philips', Dell's, Earthlink's, and Samsung's IPTV business starts looking a whole lot better. With an end to end tie-in of Microsoft, Google, HP, Intel, Philips, Dell, Earthlink, and Samsung software in the US IPTV( UltimateTV? ) market, Microsoft, Google, HP, Intel, Philips, Dell, Earthlink, and Samsung get to own the channels like they currently own the PC OEM channels. Doesn't that sound like fun?

[There. Fixed that for you.]

Re:FCC was not supposed to notice that interferenc (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230941)

that's great only Microsoft, Google, HP, Intel, Philips, Dell, Earthlink, and Samsung don't have any advantage in screwing up cable reception. But Microsoft does.

Have you not seen Microsoft join various boards, organizations, and/or committees and constantly nitpick the process, technology, people, etc? There's an old but easy to read book out called "StartUp" which gives a hint as to how Microsoft does business. Meanwhile, back in Redmond, their engineers are busy hacking together their version which only runs on Windows. And in the end, they go off and release their own version while the spend millions in marketing telling the world+dog how wrong/bad/dangerous,etc the standard stuff is and how great their stuff is.

Here's the book link:

http://www.amazon.com/Startup-Silicon-Adventure-Je rry-Kaplan/dp/0140257314/ref=sr_1_1/104-3608395-58 30353?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1187130933&sr=8-1 [amazon.com]

Was Microsoft trying to pull something in this case? It is HIGHLY likely given their history but were they also just inept at building something which worked? Another possibility for sure.

What does Google, HP, Intel, Philips, Dell, Earthlink, and Samsung have to do with this anyways? It was Microsoft submitting the device and it was Microsoft complaining not Google, HP, Intel, Philips, Dell, Earthlink, and Samsung

LoB

This article is biased as hell. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20230371)

The article failed to mention that the FCC did not test the other device Microsoft sent them at all. Let's see... vendor sends us two test devices. One doesn't work. Let's declare that the device design is flawed? Fucking retards down at the FCC are braindead.

I have a new plan (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230455)

Rather than go through all the replies to this story making fun of Microsoft, saying the FCC should wait for SP1, accusing Microsoft of trying to get some sort of patent on the device so they can PWN TEH AIRWAVEZ OH NOES XBOX HUEG LOL!!!eleventy-one! et cetera, et cetera, maybe it will be more effective to point out something the summary only briefly alludes to:

This is not a Microsoft initiative. This device was submitted by the White Spaces Coalition, which consists of Microsoft, Google, HP, Intel, Philips, Dell, Earthlink, and Samsung. If you're about to post some kind of rant about Microsoft taking over the world or whatever else, go through your post once (use the dreaded "Preview" button, if necessary). Everywhere you use the word "Microsoft" or "MS" or "Micro$oft" or "M$" or any pronoun whose antecedent is one of those terms, subsitute in for that word "Microsoft, Google, HP, Intel, Philips, Dell, Earthlink, and Samsung," then see if your post still makes sense.

If not, consider not saying anything.

Just my advice.

Re:I have a new plan (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#20231371)

This device by MANY ORGANIZATIONS interfered with cable TV reception. This device by MANY ORGANIZATIONS was said to be faulty by a leading member of MANY ORGANIZATIONS. The FCC's opinion is that this device by MANY ORGANIZATIONS isn't going to get their go ahead, because when a device fails, it should not puke all over the spectrum. MANY ORGANIZATIONS apparently disagree, for reasons I cannot really fathom.

If it can be done by accident (1)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 7 years ago | (#20230895)

It cam be done on purpose.

Also don't we have bigger fish to fry? Like making sure BPL diesn't go LIVE.

Who is actually building these prototypes? (1)

bugnotme (1138795) | more than 7 years ago | (#20231081)

Does anyone who is actually building these devices for the White Spaces Coalition? Is it in-house? A university? Telecom-equipment manufacturer? Is it based on Microsoft's KNOWS [microsoft.com] ? I never thought I'd be rooting for MS but on this fight I've got my fingers crossed for them.

Limited Resource (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#20231133)

Besides regular broadcast television, the TV spectrum is also used by public safety communications, wireless microphones, low-power TV, TV translators, and medical telemetry systems. Detecting whether a channel is in use is a real problem.

The same thing happened to me yesterday (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20231211)

I took a van I was thinking of buying to a mechanic for evaluation. The mechanic said forget it, it had a bad head gasket, among (many) other problems.

When I told the owner of the car the bad news, he said he didn't think I should trust that mechanic.
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