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Obama To Nearly Double the Available Broadband Wireless Spectrum 194

Posted by Soulskill
from the build-us-more-airwaves dept.
suraj.sun tips news that the Obama administration announced today plans to free up roughly 500MHz of the wireless spectrum for commercial broadband. From the Washington Post: "The commitment backs a proposal by the Federal Communications Commission to auction off broadcasters' and government spectrum to commercial carriers that envision their networks running home appliances, automobile applications, tablet computers and other wireless devices. White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers said in a speech outlining the president's plan that freeing up more spectrum will spur economic growth through auctions of the airwaves and investment in wireless networks and technology. ... The FCC has proposed that 280 megahertz of spectrum come from broadcasters and other sources, 120 of which would come from broadcasters. The other 220 megahertz would come from the federal government's holdings managed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration."
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Obama To Nearly Double the Available Broadband Wireless Spectrum

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  • by ka9dgx (72702) on Monday June 28, 2010 @03:21PM (#32720782) Homepage Journal

    It doesn't give any specifications about what frequency ranges. 500 Mhz is a lot, if it starts at 0Hz, it's pretty much priceless... if it starts at 60Ghz... not worth very much at all.

    As far as freeing it up.... if it's for commercial use, instead of for networking peer to peer, what good is it for any of us? The monopolies will buy it up, and fight over it, and bill us with a profit margin along the way, while we get crap.

    Free up what used to be the UHF TV spectrum for peer to peer use, and we can do a lot to fix the last mile problem.

    That's my 2 copper cents worth.

    • by sribe (304414)

      It doesn't give any specifications about what frequency ranges. 500 Mhz is a lot, if it starts at 0Hz, it's pretty much priceless... if it starts at 60Ghz... not worth very much at all.

      ??? A 500mHz band has the same data capacity regardless of whether it starts at 0Hz or 60gHz. Or did your comment have to do with range and penetration into buildings? Or practicality of building transmitters & receivers?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It doesn't give any specifications about what frequency ranges. 500 Mhz is a lot, if it starts at 0Hz, it's pretty much priceless... if it starts at 60Ghz... not worth very much at all.

        ??? A 500mHz band has the same data capacity regardless of whether it starts at 0Hz or 60gHz. Or did your comment have to do with range and penetration into buildings? Or practicality of building transmitters & receivers?

        I've got some primo YHz frequencies for sale. It's like 15 better than GHz.

        Also selling some oceanfront property in Kokomo, Indiana (You hear that Beach Boys song, right? Way down in Kokomo?) and a large San Francisco bridge.

        Reply if you are interested.

      • by evilviper (135110) on Monday June 28, 2010 @04:12PM (#32721690) Journal

        ??? A 500mHz band has the same data capacity regardless of whether it starts at 0Hz or 60gHz.

        At ~2.5Ghz you hit the resonant frequency of water mollecules, and any signals you send through the lower atmosphere are guaranteed to be attenuated in a rather short distance. At 60GHz, you actually hit the resonant frequency of OXYGEN, which means the signal is going nowhere fast.

        • Nah, water doesn't really start to ruin your day until 24 GHz. Water doesn't do anything special at 2.5 GHz, regardless of the chorus of canard-wielding canaries who will claim that's why microwave ovens work there.

        • by anethema (99553) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:32AM (#32726870) Homepage
          Yeah this is a total myth as the other poster said. Water has several peaks of absorption by frequency. The first peak is over 20GHz.

          Water does absorb 2.4-2.5GHz but not especially more than any frequency around it.

          Here are some charts to stare at for fun, water absorption vs frequency.

          http://www.rfcafe.com/references/electrical/images/atm_absorption.gif

          or

          http://www.e-band.com/get.php?i.72:w.977:h.567
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dan Ost (415913)

        A 500mHz band has the same data capacity regardless of whether it starts at 0Hz or 60gHz.

        Umm, you know that's not even remotely true, right?

        The higher the frequency, the higher the potential data rate. However, the higher the frequency, the further apart the "channels" need to be to prevent them from interfering with each other. Also, different frequencies have different propagation/absorption characteristics.

        So a 500MHz band could be extremely valuable or worthless depending on where in the band plan it is.

        • by sribe (304414)

          The higher the frequency, the higher the potential data rate.

          Uhm, no, that's what's not even remotely true.

        • >>>The higher the frequency, the higher the potential data rate. However, the higher the frequency, the further apart the "channels" need to be to prevent them from interfering with each other.
          >>>

          I'm curious where you got this info. 500 megahertz is 500 megahertz and carries the same amount of data regardless where you put it. That's why a TV channel, whether it's located at 50 Mhz or 1 Gigahertz, still carries the same amount of data (~19 Mbit/s). The shifting up or down makes no diffe

      • by siriuskase (679431) on Monday June 28, 2010 @05:31PM (#32722952) Homepage Journal
        We should put a notch filter around these people who didn't pass electromag. We need a special place in /. for engineers. The capcha to get in would be to solve Maxwell's equations. I'm relieved that apparently he didn't steal any of the ham bands. The way this country is going, we need our radios. If the internet wants to be free, it needs to get off the wired network controlled by government granted monopoly.
        • Should I dust-off my old Usenet BBS and go back to radio based packet-switching forums? I hear alt.2600 is still active for hackers and other anti-government types. ;-)

          • by thethibs (882667)

            Yes! I still have copies of Waffle and ZModem hanging around. I'm told there are still remnants of the old uucp network functioning--gotta wonder who's on it.

            If it ever gets up again, you'll find me at !tanda.uucp.

      • by timeOday (582209)

        A 500mHz band has the same data capacity regardless of whether it starts at 0Hz or 60gHz.

        That's like saying 5 word per minute typist is just as good as a 60 wpm typist.

        • by sribe (304414)

          That's like saying 5 word per minute typist is just as good as a 60 wpm typist.

          No, not at all. I won't bother responding in terms of your ridiculously bad analogy. I will just restate somewhat more clearly: if you have a 500mHz band in which to modulate, it does not matter what the base frequency is, the band can carry the same number of raw bits whether it is 0x10^9 - 0.5x10^9 or 6x10^9 - 6.5x10^9. (As another poster pointed out, issues of interference and penetration will affect the protocol overhead required in order to get correct bits through, thus there's some variance in the ne

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          More like saying a 5 WPM typist is as good when you make them start from the first page as the middle.

          Because of penetration, range, and practical considerations, there's a big difference between 0 and 60 GHz, but the actual data capacity is the same (assuming identical coding).
    • by toastar (573882)

      ...

      Free up what used to be the UHF TV spectrum for peer to peer use, and we can do a lot to fix the last mile problem.

      That's my 2 ZINC cents worth.

      ftfy

    • by evilviper (135110)

      As far as freeing it up.... if it's for commercial use, instead of for networking peer to peer, what good is it for any of us?

      I don't know about you, but I LIKE having unlimited cell phone + data service for under $50/month. I certainly wouldn't depend on the availability of wifi hotspots for my phone service (at least without a fallback to cell towers).

      I also like that the government is getting money for the spectrum and using them to provide services to all of us, rather than raising income taxes.

      • >>>I don't know about you, but I LIKE having unlimited cell phone + data service for under $50/month

        And then there's me who doesn't use his cellphone at all. It's nice to have when my car breaks-down but given the choice between losing my cell and losing my free TV, I'd give up the cellphone. The TV gives me hours of free shows, movies, and weather/news updates. The cellphone gives me a 20 cent per minute bill.

    • by tkohler (806572)

      That's my 2 copper cents worth.

      Cents (at least US$) are made of Zinc.

    • >>>Free up what used to be the UHF TV spectrum for peer to peer use

      Uh, the UHF spectrum is still being used mr ka9dqx (HAM operator?). Channels 14 to 51 are used for the TV I'm watching right now, and channels 52 to 83 were leased to police, fire, cellphone, wireless, and other services. So that's not available either.

      If you are suggesting I should lose my UHF-TV then I strongly object. It would drop me from ~40 programs downto just 2 programs. If you thought the Tea Parties were radical, wait

    • There are three new papers on this subject on the Whitehouse.gov [whitehouse.gov] site today -- one is a fact sheet [whitehouse.gov], one is the Presidential memorandum on the subject [whitehouse.gov], and one is Larry Summers' prepared remarks to the New America Foundation [whitehouse.gov].

      If one reads them one discovers that, as Larry Summers' remarks put it,

      The President’s plan has four parts:

      First, identify and plan for the release of 500 MHz of spectrum.

      In order to achieve this, we need a two-pronged strategy that focuses on the opportunities to use both Federal

  • by LittlePud (1356157) on Monday June 28, 2010 @03:22PM (#32720820)
    Unless they somehow allow the 900/1800/2100 MHz bands to be used with the existing international standards, new frequencies will just lead to more market/tech fragmentation.
  • $12.50/GB would have been steep in the early 90's, today it's almost criminal (if the criminals weren't running the law it might be).
  • As much as I like the Internet, I don't like this. As a big time proponent of over the air broadcasting, I don't like the rumbles from the FCC about cutting their spectrum even further than it already has been. It serves an important purpose to the poorer people in this country who cannot afford subscription fees, plus allows for some live TV to continue to be available for people who choose to do without cable/satellite. Free over-the-air TV is an excellent compliment to Internet video, particularly for

    • by vlm (69642)

      One other feature of OTA that is little appreciated is the market fragmentation it causes. Which is good for endusers.

      Media and broadcasting is inherently a business that tends toward monopolies, and we need whatever little diversity we can get by having OTA channels owned by some company other than the regional cableco or the national satellite company.

      So everyone benefits from OTA, not just poor/cheap people.

  • One thing that I have found concerning about this and other articles on this topic is that they make no mention of what actual spectrum is on the chopping block to be reassigned. I understand that to most people it means nothing, but I'm relatively both curious (and a little wary) of what exactly they're giving up for this. I guess it's the radio amateur in me that's terrified to lose spectrum (of course, it's not like they're going to be wanting any HF...but 10GHz? 1.2GHz? I think that spectrum might seem
  • I actually heard once that people with amateur radio licenses, if they can broadcast their callsign, such as in the SSID, are allowed to use the higher power outputs allowed to them than to those using simply the unlicensed spectrum. Has anyone else ever heard of this?

    • by Gazoogleheimer (1466831) on Monday June 28, 2010 @03:37PM (#32721054) Homepage
      Yes, and you are correct. We could technically use wifi amplifiers to boost our 2.4GHz signal to a (frightening, costly, and horribly impractical) 1500 watts. However, no encryption is allowed in that case, even HTTPS.
    • by vlm (69642)

      I actually heard once that people with amateur radio licenses, if they can broadcast their callsign, such as in the SSID, are allowed to use the higher power outputs allowed to them than to those using simply the unlicensed spectrum. Has anyone else ever heard of this?

      The term you need to google for is HSMM.

      There are many other limitations to FCC part 97 operations, way beyond the scope of a slashdot post. Its not as simple as "change your SSID and its all good".

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nmos (25822)

      I think you're mixing up a bunch of different things. It's true that amateur radio licenses can operate on different frequencies than the rest of us and can transmit at high power levels on those frequencies. Their call sign is assigned when they get their licence and they are required to broadcast it at regular intervals while transmitting (among other rules). This call sign has nothing whatsoever to do with WiFi ssids.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        No, digitalsushi was correct. There are additional privileges with 802.11.
      • by BenEnglishAtHome (449670) on Monday June 28, 2010 @04:07PM (#32721608)

        ...call sign is assigned when they get their licence ...

        Yes, but.

        It bugs me that call signs are re-used. Olaf Pearson (I will not vouch for the spelling) was a friend of my fathers. He was actually employed, as a kid, in Marconi's workshop. His house in Mobile, Alabama had a room that might as well have been a radio museum when I met him some 35 or 40 years ago. He was absolutely ancient even then but it was a delight to watch him light up as he demonstrated a radio he'd built using a 5-gallon Leyden jar; the discharge of that oversized capacitor (just a burst of static, really) was used to send morse. (After a short demo, he let loose an ominous chuckle and said "We probably just knocked out TV and radio reception for a 5-mile radius!")

        His call sign was W4NU; I still have one of his cards. Olaf is long since dead and someone else now has that call sign.

        It always felt wrong to me that those early call signs weren't retired as the pioneers passed on.

  • I guess that TV broadcasters didn't give the government enough money. I have a better idea! How about if a good sized chunk of that spectrum was made license free, like 2.4 and 5.8 ghz? Why should we give up "public airwaves" to the Verizons of the world to sell back to us by the kilobyte at high prices with data caps, etc. Look what's been done with the crumbs that the FCC has allowed us already!
  • by s122604 (1018036) on Monday June 28, 2010 @03:41PM (#32721136)
    Push em out of that juicy 420-450mhz slice o' spectrum.

    Ok, I'm just trollin.. leave the ham's alone...
  • ... my air conditioning unit A) connected to any communications network and B) to be charged for such connection.

    Give me a fricken break!

  • On parts of the East Coast, the broadcast spectrum is almost full; there's no more room in VHF-Hi or UHF for any stations (there's a bit of VHF-lo left, but VHF-Lo sucks for digital). Taking 20 channels out means a lot of people are going to lose TV. Who is it going to be? I suppose the Comcast-NBC merger will free up a few stations (if Comcast pulls NBC off the air), but even that's not enough.
  • I am not an Obama hater, but why is Obama doing this or at least getting credit for this? When I first read this story I thought "Isn't the legislative branch responsible for guiding what happens with the wireless spectrum?".

    The FCC Website states "The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent US government agency, directly responsible to Congress, and regulates interstate ..."

    Does Obama even have the authority to double the available broadband wireless spectrum?

    • I am not an Obama hater, but why is Obama doing this or at least getting credit for this?

      Because its an administration plan.

      When I first read this story I thought "Isn't the legislative branch responsible for guiding what happens with the wireless spectrum?".

      The legislative branch is responsible for virtually everything that the Federal government has the power to do; often, it exercises its authority by setting broad policy goals and letting executive branch agencies (including so-called "independent" agen

  • I know what would be good.

    A publicly available graph showing time against against frequency usage with coloured company bars over it. We'd see exactly what was going on, and it'd be scientifically educational and informative too.

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

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