Another bad break for Microsoft, one of a handful of tech companies trying to get the FCC to open up free wireless spectrum for next-gen mobile devices. Last month, Microsoft submitted its second device to the FCC that uses chunks of airspace between TV channels — known as “white spaces” — to transmit data/voice/etc. Today, the WSJ reports that the device failed, just like Microsoft’s first device did last year.
On two consecutive days, after lengthy testing, the device broke down, according to Ian Ferrell, director of wireless incubation at Microsoft. “We’re not exactly sure what the issue is. It seems to be a power thing,” Mr. Ferrell said.
This is a letdown for Microsoft (MSFT), but not the end of the world. The FCC still has devices to test from four other companies, including Motorola (MOT).
And as we said last month, Microsoft’s real long-term hurdle won’t be the FCC or flaky gadgets, but the well-funded telecom lobby. Microsoft, etc. are trying to get the FCC to open up this “unlicensed” wireless spectrum for free. But the wireless industry is in the middle of a FCC spectrum licence auction, which has so far raised almost $20 billion for the government. Why should they invest billions of dollars in wireless networks, they will argue, when rivals could offer similar services for free?
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