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Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times reporter Sharon Chan.

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March 28, 2008 4:15 PM

'White space' demonstration device, backed by Microsoft, breaks a third time

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft's "white spaces" demonstration device is broken. For the third time.

That's what The Associated Press is reporting this afternoon. And, to be fair, the demonstration device is backed by a high-tech coalition including Philips, Google, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Intel.

The device is meant to show the Federal Communications Commission that opening certain unused and unlicensed portions of the broadcast spectrum for Internet access -- white spaces -- won't interfere with existing users. It first came to light about a year ago.

The device stopped functioning on Wednesday. Previous failures occurred in February and last summer.

Earlier this month, Bill Gates, in Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress for more visas for high-skilled workers, also made the case for opening up the spectrum during an appearance at a Virginia technology forum. And earlier this week, Google filed an open letter to the FCC on the issue.

The National Association of Broadcasters opposes the device, which would use vacant television airwaves. U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, a Democrat whose district includes Microsoft's Redmond headquarters, backed a bill last year to urge the FCC to make a decision on the white spaces.

Microsoft, in a statement to the AP on Friday, said the breakdown was disappointing. But added, "we have every confidence that the FCC has many avenues available to finish gathering the information it needs to develop final 'white spaces rules' and allow a variety of services and devices to effectively use the white spaces."

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