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In Florida, a Cell Phone Network With No Need For a Spectrum License 107

Posted by timothy
from the emergent-order-rocks dept.
holy_calamity writes "Technology Review reports on a cell phone network in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, like no other. Instead of paying to reserve a section of wireless spectrum its owner, xG Technology, uses cognitive radios that steer signals through the unlicensed 900MHz band more normally used by cordless phones and baby monitors. The radios in both handset and base station scan for gaps left by other devices in that band and make dynamic connections that constantly hop frequencies to ensure a good link. The network is designed to show off the tech, which the company says could be used in conventional cellphones to access extra spectrum or white spaces devices."
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In Florida, a Cell Phone Network With No Need For a Spectrum License

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  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @06:15PM (#33980492) Journal

    the system could augment emerging networks that operate in the unlicensed "white spaces" recently freed up by the end of analog TV broadcasts

    The only channels "freed up" when US NTSC ended was 52-69 and they've already been designated for Cellular and Emergency Radio usage. These gadgets are verboten from broadcasting in that area.

    A recent study by University of California-Berkeley academics revealed how the density of TV stations in metropolitan areas could reduce the availability of white spaces in such areas.

    That's true. The "whitespace" idea only works in rural regions, not heavily-populated areas like the North, northeast, or mid-atlantic which use every channel from 1-51 (including the FM band).

  • by TheClam (209230) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @06:17PM (#33980514)

    Click the pencil/paper icon on the right hand side of the bar above the first comment. There's a pref for the old system.

    Took me about 15 minutes to find it, since it wasn't in my user prefs.

  • NACK (Score:2, Informative)

    by gafisher (865473) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @06:19PM (#33980548)
    While these phones may very well scan for channels not being used at the moment by baby monitors and cordless phones, said baby monitors and cordless phones etc. aren't as accommodating, meaning your pseudo-cell call could presumably be interrupted at any moment by the sounds of a crying baby or a pizza order. Cheaper isn't always better.

    (I'll stick with my modified 10-meter 1KW CB radio ...)

  • Validity Questioned (Score:5, Informative)

    by philipborlin (629841) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @06:22PM (#33980574) Journal
    This article [ka9q.net] questions the validity of the company.
  • by maxume (22995) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @06:41PM (#33980754)

    They changed the name of a pref from 'Use Classic' to 'Dynamic Discussion', defaulted it to 'yes' and made it so that it can only be accessed (as far as I have found) from the prefs that pop up with the button on the bottom of the comments pages.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @06:42PM (#33980778) Journal

    The ISP I worked for (and managed the network operations of) mucked around with 900mhz band proprietary WiFi and it was, for the most part, a total disaster. The worst came when the guy whose apartment was immediately below our antenna went out and got some sort of 900mhz cordless phone that just splattered horribly over that area of spectrum, taking everything down with it. My boss literally went out and bought the guy a 2.4ghz phone just to stop it. Then the pager tower near one of our other antennas went crazy and started spewing forth over that bit of spectrum too.

    We were told by the supplier that their equipment could pick the holes in the 900mhz unlicensed band, but so far as I could tell, anything beyond fairly mild interference just made the whole system highly unreliable. Hell, the last 900mhz cordless phone I bought when we were stilling living in an apartment was constantly picking up other phone calls.

    I didn't know dick about radio at the time, but asked my boss why weren't going with 802.11b (which had just become available not to long before, and was up in the 2.4ghz range and had a growing number of WiFi devices that could talk to it, meaning we didn't have to rent out custom WiFi units to our customers). He liked the proprietary stuff because it was more secure (true enough, from an obscurity point of view, though I don't think it was encrypted) and because he wasn't relying on the 802.11 access control methods (though he had no problem with a Radius server for our dialups).

    The 900mhz bands are just to bloody dirty and too congested.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 21, 2010 @06:48PM (#33980840)

    Try GE MDS Mercury 900MHz systems. We're getting between around 300-500Kbps average up and down between moving vehicles and the nearest access points almost anywhere in the whole city. Fixed locations such as traffic light controllers with small yagi antennas pointed back to an access point tower site easily hit 900-1000kbps symmetrical bandwidth up and down.

  • Lies, Lies, Lies (Score:3, Informative)

    by tagno25 (1518033) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @07:11PM (#33981068)
    This company lies all the time. The company I work for tested this tech a few years ago in Missouri, but It was a failure. They have been trying to sell their product for the past 6+ years.
  • by jonbryce (703250) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @07:14PM (#33981104) Homepage

    900Mhz is the most popular GSM band in Europe and most of the rest of the world. My mobile operator uses it, and it works very well in my car. I guess that means it would be illegal to use this phone in most parts of the world.

  • by zn0k (1082797) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @07:28PM (#33981242)

    The 900Mhz ISM band is free to use in region 2 (the Americas, Greenland, and part of the Pacific Islands).

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @09:20PM (#33981982) Journal

    >>>There are more than 51 channels, there are 68 (2-69).

    Judas Priest. Can't you read? Quote: "When US NTSC ended was 52-69 and they've already been designated for Cellular and Emergency Radio usage." At one time there USED to be 82 channels (2-83) but everything from 52 up has been deprecated and no longer exist as channels.

  • by TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) on Friday October 22, 2010 @02:55AM (#33983272)
    Then you would need to, well license the device that they indeed comply to the "regulations". The the point of the unlicensed band is that you don't need a FCC (full) license, but you may get interference and its not anyone else problem.

    Also because of the interference problem, IIRC it was ruled that a commercial operator cannot use the ISM bands for a cell network in Canada. This is not the first time its been tried.

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