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Broadway League awaits FCC vote

Org to decide on spectrum-sensing devices

The FCC will vote Nov. 4 on the use of “spectrum-sensing devices” — and the potential outcome has the Broadway League worried.

The League, the trade association of legit producers and presenters, has stepped up a public campaign to sway the imminent vote on potential rules for the use of such devices, which the League argues could disrupt the wireless microphones used in Broadway shows and other live events.

The White Spaces Coalition, a group of tech companies including Google, Microsoft and Dell, wants to offer broadband Internet access over unused transmission frequencies, or “white spaces.” Spectrum-sensing devices would, in theory, determine which frequencies are available and transmit only in those white spaces, although, according to the League, an FCC engineers’ report released Oct. 15 detailed repeated failures of prototype devices.

If spectrum sensors don’t work properly, the producers union envisions serious, unpredictable interruptions to the wireless mic transmissions integral to Rialto tuners.

The potential Federal Communications Commission regulations under consideration Tuesday will not be publicly released until after the vote, which is part of the cause for the League’s concern.

“We have a general sense we’re not going to be happy,” said Thomas Ferrugia, the League’s director of government relations. “We’re concerned these devices won’t ever really work properly.”

FCC reps did not return calls for comment.

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