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Television Wireless Networking

FCC Unanimously Approves White Space Wi-Fi 156

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the think-of-the-possibilities dept.
Smelly Jeffrey writes "With the release of this whitepaper, the FCC unanimously approved plans for a new technology with strong supporters and even stronger detractors. White Space Wi-Fi effectively allows manufacturers of wireless devices to incorporate transceivers that operate on unused DTV channels. Although the deregulation is new, the idea seems to have caught Google's interest recently as well. It seems that this has been rather rushed through the normally stagnant channels at the FCC. While some view it as interference in the already crowded spectrum, it seems the FCC Chairman really likes the idea of re-purposing dark parts of the newly allocated DTV bands once more." Update: 11/06 18:15 GMT by T : You may want to look at Tuesday's mention of the decision as well, but the additional links here are interesting.
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FCC Unanimously Approves White Space Wi-Fi

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  • Good grief (Score:5, Insightful)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @01:22PM (#25663535)
    They'll deregulate use of the spectrum, but if you say "blow job" on television, they'll fine you into oblivion. Sounds like they've got their priorities straight.
    • Yeah (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 06, 2008 @01:39PM (#25663735)

      I was watching the behind the scenes of "Family Guy" and they were talking about making up swear words. Seth said that when a made up swear word that was OK to say on TV becomes part of the language, the FCC will then consider it off-limits to say on TV.

      People can be so weird about words.

      Then you have the cry babies who have to bitch to the FCC over every little thing. But if you actually mention that there's an off switch, somehow, you're the moron.

      • by S-100 (1295224)
        Well frack that!
      • Then you have the cry babies who have to bitch to the FCC over every little thing. But if you actually mention that there's an off switch, somehow, you're the moron.

        Jesus told them to start a crusade over words that didn't exist in Jesus' time. They're allowed to guess what he considers a swear word and then make sure no one says it.

        For you see being a hard-core Christian is like being a hungry hungry hippo and all the sinners are the white balls. If you want to make it into the most exclusive part of heaven (because no one in heaven is equal, there are levels) then you have to be the hungriest hippo and consumer the most white balls (ie save the most sinners). Othe

      • by theaveng (1243528)

        Well I can understand some people's viewpoints. My 75-year-old mom often complains "there's nothing decent on television anymore; too many bedroom scenes". She wants it to be sanitized to her tastes, otherwise she has nothing to watch.

        It can be especially difficult if you have kids watching. You might have to tell the "Sorry you can't watch tv" because there's nothing clean enough for their age bracket.

    • Re:Good grief (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Archangel Michael (180766) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @01:51PM (#25663893) Journal

      Reminds me of an old (yes I'm dating myself) LA Law episode that was explaining a photograph of a man and mistress in a particular sexual act.

      ".... a position commonly referred to as a number"

      It didn't fool anyone about anything, but they were obviously censored from saying it.

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @01:23PM (#25663541)

    The explanation I read sounded like this could be a good thing but whenever I see something like this come sailing through an approval process, I always have to wonder whose money greased the skids. The worse it is for the public, the quicker they push things through so nobody gets a chance to notice.

    • What on earth could be wrong with it anyway? So you have 50MHz of spectrum doing absolutely nothing because the license owner is making out with untold millions by spoon feeding their wares over existing stations - who cares if they hold the license, if they aren't going to actually use the spectrum then it should be open for everyone. Squatting on the spectrum is just as bad as squatting domains or houses.

      • by ClosedSource (238333) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @01:42PM (#25663779)

        "Squatting on the spectrum is just as bad as squatting domains or houses."

        Actually, it's much worse. The unallocated spectrum for communications is much more limited.

      • by theaveng (1243528)

        What on earth could be wrong with it anyway?

        I'm glad you asked that question. Thank you. My friends: Let's assume that an Ipod or Ipod-like device gains the ability to broadcast wireless internet over the television bands. There are a number of things that could go wrong (from worst to best case):

        - Person hacks their Ipod to use any damn channel they please, thereby blocking my local weather/news channel WGAL8 because they are broadcasting directly overtop of it.

        - Person uses Ipod normally, but Ipod database does not list nearby cities stations

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by fyrewulff (702920)

          How are you going to lose access to channels that will not exist in 2 1/2 months?

          • by theaveng (1243528)

            How are you going to lose access to channels that will not exist in 2 1/2 months?

            What an incredible moronic and idiotic question. Broadcast television is NOT ending. And any engineer/technician who naively believes broadcast TV is ending is a stupid moronic shit, who should tear-up his engineering or science degree for being so clueless about technology. /takes a break and drinks coffee

            WOW. Did I just say that?!? Man, I can be a real bitch in the morning before I have my first cup. I sincerely apologize. Still my pre-caffeine alter ego is correct. Broadcast television is not

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I see a picture, but it's just unwatchable garbage.

          You should be modded offtopic. The programming is a seperate issue from the spectrum.

          • by theaveng (1243528)

            Excellent point. Although I think Heroes and Supernatural are worth watching, I will nevertheless revise my previous statement:

            "I see a picture, but it's severely pixelated due to the adjacent-channel interference."

        • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @09:42PM (#25670205) Homepage

          jesus christ, do you have to repeat the same specious arguments every single time the white-space spectrum is brought up? what do hacked iPods have to do with FCC approval of wi-fi over the white-space spectrum? a hacker can modify their wireless devices to broadcast over any frequency they want regardless of federal regulations. the FCC regulates commercial equipment manufacturers, not renegade iPod hackers.

          besides, the white-space spectrum that is being opened up to wi-fi applications is what's being freed up by the switchover to digital television. whether wi-fi uses this spectrum or not, you're not going to receive any TV signals over it. that's why it's being classified as white-space. and you keep whining about some perceived threat all of this is based purely on blind speculation. the FCC tests have found that such use of the white-space spectrum won't interfere with any existing applications, so unless you can have evidence of the contrary, you're just talking out of your ass.

          opening up white-space frequencies for wireless broadband applications serves public interest much more than reserving this band for terrestrial TV broadcasts would. the usable radio spectrum is a limited public resource that is currently being monopolized by TV/radio/cellular networks. right now only a handful of media & communications corporations are allowed to make us of this data transmission medium. opening up the spectrum, even partially, to wireless broadband would allow everyone to benefit from this shared resource instead of it just being hoarded by a rich & powerful minority.

          frankly, terrestrial broadcasting, of both TV and radio, is soon to become a technological anachronism anyway. the internet is an open public communications network. what's more, it's a generalized digital communications network, meaning it can transfer video, audio, text, or any other data. so why waste radio bands on specialized closed communications networks? it won't be long before ubiquitous open wireless access subsumes all cellular/radio/tv networks.

          i'm sorry to say this, but your Luddite paranoia is really just a knee-jerk reaction to societal progress. it's like complaining that wireless routers are going to interfere with your teletype machine.

          • by theaveng (1243528)

            do you have to repeat the same specious arguments every single time the white-space spectrum is brought up?

            I don't know.

            Was it necessary for Barak Obama to call me every single day for the last two weeks? Was it necessary to call me no less than *four times* on election day? I guess Mr. Obama thought it was necessary, because he wanted to win Pennsylvania. Similarly I want people to understand that WSDs are going to interfere with over-the-air television & harm the people who can least able to afford to lose their OTA TV (the poor and lower incomes).

            You probably already read my previous posts, but many ot

          • by theaveng (1243528)

            besides, the white-space spectrum that is being opened up to wi-fi applications is what's being freed up by the switchover to digital television.

            Now you see? You STILL don't understand. That's yet another reason I keep repeating myself. The channels are NOT being freed-up. These white-space devices are broadcasting ON EXISTING TV channels 2 to 51. Channels where I watch Baltimore, Philadelphia, Lancaster, and Harrisburg news and weather and sports. The WSDs and DTVs will be sharing the SAME channels. Clear?

          • by theaveng (1243528)

            i'm sorry to say this, but your Luddite paranoia is really just a knee-jerk reaction to societal pro

            Thanks for the insult.

            I will now insult you back.

            On second thought, no I won't. I don't have to bend-down to your level. The facts support my case:

            - broadcast television WILL continue on channels 2 to 51.
            - white space devices will be sharing the exact-same channels
            - this will cause interference with television reception
            -
            - broadcast television transmits the equivalent of 2 million gigabit/s bandwidth to 110 million households
            - no internet, wireless or otherwise, can handle that load; internet cannot replace the simplicity that is wireless tv.
            - nor can internet access be free, as is the case with wireless tv

    • by Ron_Fitzgerald (1101005) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @01:36PM (#25663691)
      If Bill Gates/Microsoft [reuters.com] and Google [arstechnica.com] really pushed for this then you KNOW it is for the good of the people and not some attempt at corporate financial padding.
      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        Sometimes, Google is not evil...
      • by Twinbee (767046) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @01:51PM (#25663903) Homepage
        Joking aside, Google sums up the change on their web site Free the Airwaves [freetheairwaves.org]. From what I gather, devices will only be able to be sold as lnog as they keep to a restricted set of wavelengths.

        Other than that, it's a 'free for all', which should in theory allow cheaper wifi, broadband, free mobile phone calls (as they would communicate directly with each other), and healthy competition in the overall communication sector.
        • Joking aside, I am excited for this for a 'public' broadband that doesn't have to rely on the big names that are starting to filter content, DPI and usage capping. If we can circumvent these companies at least enough to let them know that what customers want does matter, then maybe it will change their policies as well and get back to a 'free' internet.
    • by rpmayhem (1244360) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @01:48PM (#25663873)
      Well, for those of us who use wireless microphones (like you see at concerts, conventions, sports stadiums, or churches), we are the ones who might get screwed. They FCC says they are putting measures in place to prevent this, but we'll have to see what happens. There will be another ruling to finalize all this. Here's a decent summary from Shure [shure.com][PDF] (they make wireless mics).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Hey, just a heads-up, this means that those of you who use wireless microphones are no longer illegally transmitting on licensed channels, so even though it might cause some interference you should think of it as a good thing.

        • This is actually a very important point. The wireless mic crowd has been a big opposition to the deregulation of these airwaves. The problem is they don't have a leg to stand on and the parent mentions why.

          These mic manufacturers are using a low power transmitter on licensed bands illegally and just hoping they will do ok. The thing is, the theatre companies and others using these devices are risking fines for the illegal use of this spectrum, because you are supposed to license a frequency if you intend to

      • by interiot (50685) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @02:42PM (#25664585) Homepage

        There's several hundred megahertz of open spectrum in between the TV channels. Wireless mikes have had sole use of that empty space for a long time, and they're complaining because things are changing. In some cases, they may have to buy more equipment, but the idea that they should continue to get sole use of this huge amount of spectrum is ridiculous.

        What's needed is a way for wireless mics and the new whitespace devices to properly share the spectrum. The reason this is difficult is that wireless mics are manufactured many different ways, and don't have a standard transmission pattern. The "cognitive radios" will be able to detect digital TV stations automatically, but won't be able to sense the presence of wireless mics. So one possible solution is for wireless microphones to have an extra box that transmits a beacon that indicates to whitespace devices that "hey, there's a wireless mic here". That's an extra expense for each existing installation, but again, wireless mics shouldn't get sole use of this extra space.

        • by nabsltd (1313397)

          There's several hundred megahertz of open spectrum in between the TV channels.

          There is no "open" spectrum in the US TV channels:

          • VHF Lo: 54-72MHz, 76-88MHz
          • VHF Hi: 174-216MHz
          • UHF: 470-806MHz

          All gaps in that table are filled with some other official allocation.

          Now, there are places where there is no local TV channel assigned to a particular chunk of that spectrum, but this is not "open"...in many places it is not assigned because it would conflict with another TV transmitter that is close enough to be received.

          The problem with this "white space" vote is that devices won't have to avoid

      • by Z34107 (925136)

        My understanding is that none of the manufacturers of wireless mics had actually licensed the spectrum - they were illegally squatting on it, broadcasting interference, and making a bunch of money in the process.

        If that's true, it seems fair that nobody else should have to license it, either.

        • by anethema (99553)

          Actually, it is up to the USERS of the devices to license the spectrum. You can manufacture anything you want, but it is the transmission of RF that requires a license.

          A lot of companies make wireless networking gear (Enterprise class) up in the 5GHz licensed spectrum, it is up to us (the installers and users) of this equipment to pay for and obtain the proper licenses.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It was unanimous. Corporate bigwigs are such penny pinchers that they would only buy the smallest number of people to get it to pass, not everyone on the committee. I have some small amount of faith that this isn't entirely bad.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pilgrim23 (716938)

      Follow the Money someone once said... The whole reason analog Television was killed was spectrum. Lovely lovely spectrum. A TV channel takes up a lot of room. The entire AM dial would fit inside Channel 2 with room to spare for ship to shore radio. The advantage of this is that even marginal signals will come in with a little fuzz. On the other hand, Digital takes up far less room. The disadvantage is that marginal channels just simply drop, pixelize or freeze. White space is the room around the digital cha

      • by russotto (537200) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @03:04PM (#25664911) Journal

        On the other hand, Digital takes up far less room.

        Widely held misconception. A digital ATSC channel takes up 6MHz, same as an analog NTSC channel.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 06, 2008 @03:34PM (#25665321)

          However, ATSC can transmit multiple SD sub-channels in one 6MHz band and use MPEG compression to save bandwidth, making it more bandwidth-efficient than NTSC. (So I would say that you and GP are both correct.)

        • by pilgrim23 (716938)

          actually HDTV takes 20mhz compressed and squirted in a 6mhz stream. thus pixelization and dropped signal if it comes in at all, which it does not where I live. My options are 1 cable 2 no TV. I choose option 2. Why pay for dreck?

        • by smoker2 (750216)
          While your words are correct, the definitions have changed.
          I realise this refers to DVB-T but the principle remains -
          These are the frequencies [digitalspy.co.uk] in use.
          These are the "channels" [digitalspy.co.uk] per mux.
          Each geographical region has its own range of frequencies to provide the muxes. ie I am in the Band iv channel (21 to 38), while my parents 20 miles away are in the Band V channel (39 to 68). I have reason to believe that different areas use different parts of their respective "channels", ie Band V but only 52 to 68.
          It's a bit
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 06, 2008 @01:31PM (#25663635)
    This was posted to the front page just a day ago: http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/11/05/0016251 [slashdot.org]
    • by dattaway (3088) *

      This is one of those rare moments of government deregulations that its good enough for a repost.

    • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @02:27PM (#25664387)

      This is rather offtopic, but I'd like to say it anyways...

      It used to be that the Slashdot frontpage was riddled with dupes. We complained every time that the editors were idiots, that they should have a system in place to recognize dupes. Many people even said that they emailed regarding the dupes while they were in the mysterious future, and yet the still hit the front page. Thus was born the Slashdot meme about every story being eventually duped.

      But, I have to say that over the last while, the number of dupes is way, way down. The firehose and tagging seem to have alot to do with it--dupes are flagged earlier in the process, giving the editors the feedback they need.

      Dupes are not entirely eliminated, but the frequency is down. So I'd like to say: thanks to the Slashdot staff for fixing the issue that we complained about. We are a whiny bunch, and it's too easy for us to complain but then forget to appreciate the things that are fixed (or have always been good). So, again, good work on the dupe reduction.

  • by GiMP (10923) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @01:37PM (#25663703)

    Existing Wifi uses channels open for use internationally (more or less). It sounds to me that this might not be true in this case. That is one reason for alarm.

    • That would be why the equipment checks to see if anything is radiating before it arcs up its own transmitter good sir. While this might not fly in a whole range of countries for what ever reason, it seems ok to me given that the television spectrum isn't exactly a hotbed for channels coming and going. It's more or less exactly the same day in, day out.

    • by interiot (50685)
      TV whitespace devices work in unused digital TV spectrum. Digital TV tends to use similar frequencies around the world.
      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        No, it doesn't.

        As an example, the US uses 6MHz channel steps, the UK uses 8MHz, and Australia uses 7MHz steps on UHF and varying steps on VHF.

        In addition, the modulation methods are different among the different countries. Building a device that would successfully identify a digital carrier for all TV systems worldwide so that it could avoid that frequency block would be a non-trivial and expensive task.

  • How much bandwidth was in this spectrum?
    • It covers the US broadcast television spectrum, so several hundred megahertz potentially - VHF through UHF. There's a whole boat load of stuff in there that is not 'television' so it's understandable a lot of people are uneasy about it.

  • New Resources (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Selfunfocused (1215732) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @01:53PM (#25663929) Homepage
    By opening up this spectrum, the FCC has given Obama a gift. The Obama technology plan talks about the need to "deploy next-generation broadband" among other things, but with a weakening economy he's going to find a lot less money to back such initiatives. Thankfully, with a simple restructuring of the rules, the FCC has created space for new innovation that might prove easier to fund than laying cables throughout the country. Not that I don't want more cables. I love cables.
  • by John Jamieson (890438) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @01:57PM (#25663975)

    I think it is good for everyone if unused parts of the spectrum are utilized.

    But my goodness... what is the rush that it could not wait a few more months while they tweaked the prototypes so they did not stomp on weak TV signals or wireless mics?

    A few more months devoted to getting a succesful trial is nothing.

    • by Chyeld (713439) <chyeld AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday November 06, 2008 @02:56PM (#25664767)

      Conversely, if you have written the spec so that they must not stomp on licensed signals, why drag your feet on waiting on prototypes that are perfect?

      Oh wait, I know... because really the problem is the people who are already illegally using the spectrum (i.e. broadcasters and their wireless mics) and who see this as a threat to their own monopolies want to kill the idea and playing the waiting game gives them more time to do it in.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by John Jamieson (890438)

        Well, that would be one way to look at it. BUT, we all know from experience that if you cannot get a low production prototype working, there is NO way it will work in mass production.

        As for the wireless mics, while we now know they were not explicitly licenced, they have been in use with the full knowledge of the FCC. The FCC said NOTHING for 30 years. As a result, a lot of institutions have innocently invested thousands of dollars in the equipment and rely on them.
        As a result of the inaction of the FCC,

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          As for the wireless mics, while we now know they were not explicitly licenced,

          Which is to say, illegal.

          they have been in use with the full knowledge of the FCC.

          So if you break the law and let the law enforcement agency know, then you get to keep breaking the law? Or, would you think that you'd keep an eye on the situation, try to come up with some other way to do it, and try to actually comply with the law?

          The FCC said NOTHING for 30 years. As a result, a lot of institutions have innocently investe
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by John Jamieson (890438)

            Wow, lets stick to a discussion and not get excited. Please don't put words in my mouth, I did not do that to you.

            You said "there is an entire illegal underground full of people committing felony conspiracy"
            First, if the government is allowing every Radio Shack and Music store to run underground businesses, we have a much bigger issue than wireless mics. lol

            "Given the choice, you'd also rather reward people who conspire to break the law."
            Sorry, where is the conspiricy? The innocent people who bought the

            • by AK Marc (707885)
              The innocent people who bought them are the VICTIM not conspiritors.

              Ignorance of the law is no excuse. They broke the law. They have a contract with a store (all sales are contracts) for gear that isn't properly licensed by the FCC for operation. They have a written contract to buy gear that is illegal to use with the goal of using it illegally. That's conspiracy. All conspiracies, even those to commit misdemeanors, are felonies. That's the way law works.

              I enjoy a good debate, it opens the mind, b
              • I note you avoided addressing the doctine of latches, which not only makes these devices legal, but arguably gives ownership of this RF space to the wireless devices. (but after the tone of the last messages, maybe it is for the better)

                "Given a ruling that makes them legal, you oppose the ruling. That means you prefer them to be operating illegally"
                Wow, after explicitly asking you not to put words in my mouth, you do. Not nice!
                No, I prefer them to be operating legally in a framework that is well designed,

                • by AK Marc (707885)
                  I note you avoided addressing the doctine of latches, which not only makes these devices legal, but arguably gives ownership of this RF space to the wireless devices.

                  The "ownership" of all wireless in the US is by the people and no one else. The FCC organizes and regulates that use for the benefit of all. No "sale" ever takes place, but leases and such that must be renewed by the FCC or they will end. Nothing has ever been held that contradicts that view, and believe me, plenty have objected. As such,
                  • No sorry I will stick with my statement "No, I prefer them to be operating legally in a framework that is well designed, where the engineers have worked out the bugs."

                    If I meant to say something else, I would have. (this goes for the MANY times in this thread where I have been told I mean something other than I said. :) )

                    IF they had been using the space illegally, I would have advocated the FCC giving them a 3 month window of permission while they did further testing.

                    BUT since it is not illegal...

          • Now that I have done even more research, I realize that the Doctrine of Latches does not apply to this case.
            Because:
            This activity was recognized and permitted by the FCC. Thus, this was not spectrum squatting.
            This explains why wireless mics have been sold everywhere for around 30 years without the FCC saying anything.

            Man, as a heavy Google user, and a believer in the mantra "do no evil", I must say that I am dissapointed with the untruths they have been spreading so effectively.
            I look forward to the spectr

      • It seems that some people are assuming the broadcasters have issues with the wireless mics being interfered with. The broadcasters have rights to enough spectrum that they can find new areas to operate wireless mics. (It is the guys who just lost the investment)

        The broadcasters are more concerned with these devices affecting TV signals in fringe areas. While these devices are low power, they will totally overwhelm a weak TV signal if they are close to a reciever.
        (And we have not proved these devices will

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Chyeld (713439)

          Since the devices are specifically designed NOT to do that and the only studies that say they will are the ones published by the companies fighting tooth and nail to kill this dead, I'd say you are talking FUD. It might be well meaning FUD, but its FUD all the same.

          Think about it, your TV is getting a strong enough digital signal that you aren't getting macro blocking routinely already, and yet this signal is suppose to be weak enough that the whitespace device can't see it?

          Even if the TV is between the tow

      • As you already know, broadcasters don't care about unlicenced mics.

        What I want to address is your constant claim that being unlicenced means illegal.

        I've done some more research, and this is NOT the case. Unlicenced is just unlicenced.

        Use of this space is just like my use of FRS radio's, unlicenced but permitted.

        The latest ruling from the FCC acknowldges this as well. If you doubt me please read he FCC ruling on 11/4/2008 named "Unlicensed Operation in the TV Broadcast Bands; Additional Spectrum for Unlic

  • Rural Internet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by synaptic (4599) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @02:01PM (#25664033) Homepage

    Finally!

    Rural areas with rolling hills and trees have really limited options with regard to high-speed Internet access. Line of sight just wasn't one of nature's design goals. It's really difficult to have a cottage high-tech industry without the infrastructure to support it and the population density simply isn't there for the telcos to have any incentive to build it out.

    Your best bet is Wildblue with 750-1500ms latency and 256kbps upload speed. You get used to it but forget sharing say a vmware image or uploading anything of substantial size. If you spend the time to do it, you also face rate-limiting from WildBlue once you pass a bandwidth threshold. Let us not forget wiping the snow off the dish, throwing a trash bag over the lnb when it rains, and wiggling the dish when you lose signal.

    Sure, rural users can try to order a T1 but since the wired infrastructure isn't built out (else the telco would be offering high-speed services), you can bet on "special construction charges" of at least $4k on top of the $500/month service charge. ISDN? Same issue.

    What about getting a ham radio license? That's fine and all, provided you don't ever use encryption, don't mind people intercepting your data, and remember to identify your station periodically.

    The truth is that more than half of the country simply cannot acquire high-speed Internet access for a reasonable rate.

    • by epiphani (254981)

      What about getting a ham radio license? That's fine and all, provided you don't ever use encryption, don't mind people intercepting your data, and remember to identify your station periodically.

      I don't know much about ham radio (or radio in general) but I thought that the frequencies of ham simply did not provide the bandwidth that would allow a reasonable highspeed rate... can you explain how that would be set up? You've piqued my curiosity.

    • > What about getting a ham radio license? That's fine and all, provided you don't ever use
      > encryption, don't mind people intercepting your data, and remember to identify your
      > station periodically.

      And don't mind being shut down, losing your license, and being fined when you get caught.

      • by bendodge (998616)

        No, it's perfectly fine, as long as you do as he said. It's also hideously expensive if you don't have the skill to mod your own Wifi equipment and have to pay for D-STAR equipment. Note that IAAH (I Am A Ham).

    • Your best bet is Wildblue with 750-1500ms latency and 256kbps upload speed. ... you also face rate-limiting from WildBlue once you pass a bandwidth threshold. Let us not forget wiping the snow off the dish, throwing a trash bag over the lnb when it rains, and wiggling the dish when you lose signal.

      My parents use HughesNet, a competing satellite Internet provider. The high ping times are inherent in the design, but the bandwidth is more like 1Mbps. They do have to remove snow occasionally in the winter, but so far as I know haven't had any other signal issues and they don't take any special measures when it rains.

      The real issues, other than the latency, are the daily 350MB transfer cap and the price: ~$70/mo. including the amortized installation and hardware costs. Compared to DSL or cable Internet th

    • The truth is that more than half of the country simply cannot acquire high-speed Internet access for a reasonable rate.

      Meaning half of the terrain, anyway. Not anywhere near half of the population. I think rural America is going to have to take matters into their own hands. Go talk to your county road commission, get permission to use right of way, and trench a fiber cable yourself. I don't see it happening any other way. Buy the equipment to run your telephone over it (if you have a landline), and the savings in phone bill plus what you've been paying WildBlue will eventually pay for it. Might take a while, but who c

    • by Eil (82413)

      What about getting a ham radio license? That's fine and all, provided you don't ever use encryption, don't mind people intercepting your data, and remember to identify your station periodically.

      Wait, what? Whoever told you ham radio would be an option for Internet access didn't know their ass from a dipole. Ham radio is for non-commercial point-to-point communications in a limited portion of the spectrum only. Anything else is illegal and/or not ham radio.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @02:44PM (#25664595)

    They want to deregulate. Which means there will be no one authority to control these whitespaces. I don't think I need to explain what happens to an unmanaged network resource with multiple authorities competing; Multiple DHCP or domain controllers, etc.

    And no matter how you cut the bandwidth, there will be overhead, which increases as a function of the number of devices. While these devices may be logically separated, they are not physically separated, making the entire spectrum act like a hub-based network. And devices outside the range of other transcievers can still cause interference so long as the the device at the remote can hear that interference.

    So let me say that this is NOT A TECHNICAL PROBLEM. This is a tragedy of the commons problem. And it will be hugely exasperated in dense urban areas -- except on a larger footprint. Whereas before geographies with high densities of wifi devices could only interfere with each other up to a hundred meters or so, now we're talking about metro-wide interference. It'll be like CB radio, but for digital communication. And it will never compete with hardline installations like it could if it were regulated.

    This is the simple truth -- unless the FCC puts some form of regulation onto these bands prior to their first use, it's going to be a nightmare. It would be far better to license these bands for **non-profit use** (note I did NOT say non-commercial) somewhat like Ham radio, where people needed to aquire a license to transmit, and take classes, and have an ID associated with transmissions, and a regulatory body to monitor specious transmissions and revoke licenses or shut down non-compliant equipment as necessary. This plan stands the best chance of achiving a usable public, wireless, high speed network... which incidentally could carry internet traffic. Anything less, and all it takes is a few jerks with high power transmitters in an area to render the entire spectrum useless.

    • by TheSync (5291)

      "So let me say that this is NOT A TECHNICAL PROBLEM."

      This is a technical problem, because high-power large-area live MPEG-2 transport stream broadcasts are apples, and point-to-point TCP/IP (which can retransmit missed packets) is oranges. Whitespace mixes apples and oranges, and the oranges are going to step on the apples. Your neighbors apples.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Way to beat down on that straw man. So impressive. Not.

      Nobody is proposing total deregulation. The FCC has absolutely no intention of throwing open unlicensed TV bands to anybody to do anything. Nobody has asked them to, either. ('cept possible crackpots.) Whitespace devices will have wattage limits and spectrum width limits. Hell, even the TV stations themselves have wattage and spectrum limits. It's not going to be anarchy, any more than Wi-Fi frequencies are anarchic.

    • by anethema (99553)

      It would be far better to license these bands for **non-profit use** (note I did NOT say non-commercial) somewhat like Ham radio, where people needed to aquire a license to transmit, and take classes, and have an ID associated with transmissions, and a regulatory body to monitor specious transmissions and revoke licenses or shut down non-compliant equipment as necessary.

      Hey guess what, we already have a VHF and UHF band where you have to take courses, get a license, and show an ID associated with the conten

    • by Eil (82413)

      somewhat like Ham radio, where people needed to aquire a license to transmit, and take classes, and have an ID associated with transmissions, and a regulatory body to monitor specious transmissions and revoke licenses or shut down non-compliant equipment as necessary.

      Um, if those are the qualifications, I think you meant "exactly like ham radio."

  • FCC Approves Unlicensed Use of White-Space Spectrum

    I'll try this one more time:

    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1018545&cid=25635983 [slashdot.org]

    This (wide open white space) is not a terribly good thing at this time, they're not prepared.
    For those of you that have an understanding:

    It's an intrusion thing.

  • I don't think there's anything gained if they continue to do it like before, selling licenses or giving them for free to companies. I think there is a lot more potential for this.

    I would use it as a meshed network, free to use by everybody who wishes to, owned by it's users.

    Essentially you would have to do the following:

    1. Develop a fault-tolerant meshed routing protocol maybe based on IPv6 which can scale efficiently to a billion nodes. Current systems like OLSR are limited to a few thousand nodes. Maybe y

  • Let's assume that an Ipod or Ipod-like device gains the ability to broadcast wireless internet over the television bands. There are a number of things that could go wrong (from worst to best case):

    - Person hacks their Ipod to use any damn channel they please, thereby blocking my local weather/news channel WGAL8 because they are broadcasting directly overtop of it.

    - Person uses Ipod normally, but Ipod database does not list nearby cities stations like WBAL11 (Baltimore) or WPHL17 (Philadelphia). As a result

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