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Television White Space Spectrum Approved For Use By FCC 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the new-wireless-acronym-time dept.
New submitter ptmartin01 writes "The unused spectrum now assigned to television broadcast has been made available for public use by the FCC. This is going to be used for wireless applications (PDF) with implications that it will generate as much investment as the previous Wi-Fi spectrum. It also happens to be the last available spectrum to be exploited."
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Television White Space Spectrum Approved For Use By FCC

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...I assume what you actually mean is "commercial."

  • by rsmith-mac (639075) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @07:03AM (#38487534)

    Hopefully someone can clear this up for me.

    Throughout the development of the "white space" spectrum, one thing that has never been clear to me is what it's going to be used for. It keeps getting compared to Wi-Fi, but then you'll have articles like this one that talk about commercial uses.

    The launch of commercial white spaces services marks a victory for big technology companies

    So which is it? Am I going to be able to drop a router in my house and run my wireless LAN on different frequencies, or is this just going to be another segment of licensed spectrum for selling wireless broadband?

    • by Tx (96709) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @07:19AM (#38487564) Journal

      I was wondering the same thing. I guess if there was a "killer app" for white space spectrum, we'd have heard about it. This page [allthingsd.com] summarises it so; "Unlicensed spectrum opens the door to all kinds of uses, but the use most commonly talked about is to provide fixed and wireless broadband Internet services. It could also prove a good technology for moving video and other bulky data types around the home."

    • by wmbetts (1306001)

      unmod....

    • by Trip Ericson (864747) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @09:59AM (#38487878) Homepage

      When spectrum is unlicensed, it can be used for both commercial and non-commercial uses. My ISP operates its end-user links on 900 MHz unlicensed spectrum, but its backhauls are on highly-directional 2.4 GHz unlicensed links. That, of course, does not mean that 2.4 GHz cannot also be used for wifi in the home, or that 900 MHz cannot also be used for cordless phones. (In fact, I had to replace one of my cordless phones when I got my Internet connection because the two would interfere badly. If the phone was on the exact same frequency as the Internet, it'd knock the Internet out, but if it was merely adjacent, I would hear modem sounds on the phone.)

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      So which is it? Am I going to be able to drop a router in my house and run my wireless LAN on different frequencies, or is this just going to be another segment of licensed spectrum for selling wireless broadband?

      You really need to ask this question? Of course its not "for" us, except for us to buy products based on it.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @08:16AM (#38487672)

    So what if I haul that old, dusty analog TV out of the attic, switch it on and tune it to one of these new applications? What will I see? Strange, weird pulsating patterns? Or garbled snow and fuzzy sounds?

    Will I be able to tell the difference between that mess, and usual broadcast television content?

    Maybe the old TV can be used as a Lava Lamp effect light? It would be interesting to see how the television circuitry tries to interpret these new application coded signals as television signals.

    Probably like something SETI is trying to do.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday December 25, 2011 @10:01AM (#38487886) Homepage Journal

      So what if I haul that old, dusty analog TV out of the attic, switch it on and tune it to one of these new applications? What will I see?

      I Love Lucy.

    • by Megane (129182)
      Probably nothing. If you tune that analog TV to a digital channel, you see nothing but snow, just like a channel with nothing on it. That's because an efficient use of the channel would look as random as the data in a zip file.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, the higher the data rate, the more like snow it'll look.

        For an example of this, listen to a fax transmission (or other phone line modem). The tone dialling at the start is simple enough for a human to learn to decode. Once the connection's made, the two modems start off at very low rates, producing clear, recognizable tones. Then over a few seconds they'll negotiate progressively faster protocols, which sound more and more complex until they're indistinguishable from white noise.

        • by Megane (129182)
          What you hear at the start isn't data. It's both modems synchronizing with each other and doing a test of line quality. (Well, there's a little data there, but not data that comes from the data terminal ports of the modems.)
    • So what if I haul that old, dusty analog TV out of the attic, switch it on and tune it to one of these new applications?

      I have no idea but you just made me think, instead of recycling all of these old televisions, if somebody has one in great condition and keeps it, it would probably be worth something major decades from now. Or at least it would make an interesting museum piece. Or maybe it would just be old crap. Never mind.

      • by pwizard2 (920421)
        If they can last decades without growing tin whiskers or having the capacitors fail the next time it's used is a different story. Up until earlier this month, I was using an old CRT had thad faithfully served me daily these last 10 years. All of a sudden, there was a loud POP and the TV shut off. When I tried to turn it on again, there was only a loud sparking noise and no picture so I unplugged it real fast. I'm guessing a capacitor blew. All I can do is guess since there's no way in hell I'm opening up
        • by ogdenk (712300)

          I think the tin whiskers issues are a little overblown.... power supply issues and occasional dead caps can be a problem. Every antique piece of electronics I've resuscitated usually had power supply issues or blown caps near the power supply.... or unseated chips.

          Some things surprise you though.... my old Atari 400 fires right up.

          Opening up a CRT is only dangerous if you are careless. If you discharge the tube properly, the danger is minimal or non-existent. CRT repair used to be expected of techs. My

    • by dfries (466073)

      So what if I haul that old, dusty analog TV out of the attic, switch it on and tune it to one of these new applications? What will I see? Strange, weird pulsating patterns? Or garbled snow and fuzzy sounds?

      I would expect it to be similar to the channels that are now carrying digital tv channels. Both an unused channel and a channel that is now broadcasting digitally display a snow pattern, but the digital channel is distinct, still snow, but a different enough pattern that if you see both you can vis

  • Frequency ranges??? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mononoke (88668) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @08:58AM (#38487730) Homepage Journal
    I'm certain someone knows exactly what frequency ranges are being discussed, but apparently no one (including the FCC) really want to make that information available. "White spaces" is a marketing term that doesn't inform.
  • It's not the last (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Garybaldy (1233166)
    The FCC could try to take away some of the amateur radio spectrum. Every now again they try to take some away. In so far they have not been successful. It is only a matter of time though. What with the number of new hams decreasing every year.
    • by sgt scrub (869860)

      There is actually a lot of individual interest in ham radio. At least the frequencies. Most, if not all, is for private packet networks. Unfortunately, people are finding serious road blocks. I hate to say the "r" word; but, it is being so heavily regulated many have lost interest. The fear is that people will create what they had in Mexico, an encrypted grid network set up by the cartel for communication.

      • I can't speak for any numbers. One thing that I hope will give the FCC pause. Is the thought that hams like me will continue to operate in any spectrum they take away. I am not some company that can write off the useless gear I would possess. Or just as easily replace it.
      • by sjames (1099)

        Nah, the real fear is that we might create a cell network with free texting, no dropped calls, operated at cost in the public interest and leave DHS and the major carriers high and dry.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by the coose (171981)
      Actually, see here [slashdot.org]. Also, amateur radio bands exist in almost all parts of the spectrum from HF up to UHF but taken collectively [arrl.org] it doesn't amount to much when compared to the whole spectrum.
    • Re:It's not the last (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 25, 2011 @10:32AM (#38488006)

      The FCC could try to take away some of the amateur radio spectrum. Every now again they try to take some away. In so far they have not been successful. It is only a matter of time though. What with the number of new hams decreasing every year.

      You might want to check your facts. The number of licensees in the U.S. is actually at an all-time high. It's been climbing since 2007, when the FCC dropped an outdated Morse Code proficiency requirement. See graphs [ah0a.org] and some additional stats [arrl.org] for the details.

      • by rgbrenner (317308)

        so there are 1.8% more licensees than in 2003. bfd

      • I have been licensed for only 15 years a drop in the bucket to some hams. Still, the code requirements were dropped to reduce the depreciating number of new licenses. Your numbers while technically true. Are marginal compared to a decade ago or the decade before that. All the code dropping really did, Was get most of the technician class to upgrade. Not really the goal we were after.
    • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

      The FCC could try to take away some of the amateur radio spectrum. Every now again they try to take some away. In so far they have not been successful. It is only a matter of time though. What with the number of new hams decreasing every year.

      Second thing first. There are not less and less Hams every year.

      There isn't all that much spectrum to take away form Hams. And much of it is completely useless for digital work anyhow. The LF and HF bands in various neighborhoods from 1.8 to 30 MHz are prone to atmospheric static, and propagation effects that will occasionally cause microwatt signals to propagate around the world. And varying based on time of day or year. Then there are solar events that simply kill the bands. An 11 year sunspot cycle

      • Yes the number of new hams since the code requirements were dropped has gone up. However the number is so small you might as well consider it a rounding error.
        • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

          rounding error.

          Reading the numbers of operators is a pretty inexact task to be sure. But hardly rounding error level.

          At this point, there are around 700K amateur Radio operators. Since we've had the ULS system, the number has dipped as low as 655K.

          The number of licensees varies by month to month, as inactive or dead hams are removed from the rolls. The license period is for ten years, so that inactive hams will be removed after 2 years after expiration. That 2 year grace period is a courtesy in case the Ham is actua

  • by MetricT (128876) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @11:16AM (#38488154) Homepage

    My parents live a mile off the main road at the bottom of a valley. No DSL, cable, 3g/4g, satellite, but with the help of a big honking antenna and a couple of amplifiers, they can pick up solid TV signals.

    I'm salivating at the prospect of getting two of these radios and trying to set up a point-to-point bridge between their house and mine. The 145-225 MHz band out to be a lot more amenable to line-of-sight obstacles than 2.4 GHz.

    • by s4ltyd0g (452701)

      145-225Mhz right smack in the middle of the HAM bands. These are not the frequencies being talked about in the FA.

      regards
      p

    • Why wait? Intsall one of these at each house, with a relatively clear line of sight between them, align them, and you're all set, and for less than $200:
      http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833997181 [newegg.com]

      11-54Mb/s betweern them which should be plenty of B/W for your use case. For distances up to a few miles the internal antenna are fine. Configure both units for ethernet bridge mode and configure MAC filtering to keep others from abusing the bridge. I'll leave the rest to you, as surely you

  • "The unused spectrum now assigned to television broadcast" .... NBC ???
  • by Osgeld (1900440) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @01:15PM (#38488644)

    This DTV shit is for the birds, even with an external antenna and an amplifier the best I can get is 2 seconds of video with unsynced sound before the garbage freezes up for 15 seconds. Thanks Bush, sunk a hundred bucks into your bullshit little boxes and ended up getting fucking cable anyway so I can watch the god damned local news.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      You could have had two of those boxes for free. I let the opportunity slip me by too, but the difference is, I don't care. I want all broadcast television to die, and I want to use at least part of the spectrum freed up to solve the last mile problem, and make the USPS irrelevant once and for all.

      • by Osgeld (1900440)

        um it was never free ... 2 40$ coupons with 60$ boxes, notice how the boxes jumped up in price when the coupons were announced, and drastically reduced the second the program ended. Then I have 1 more TV, so without even getting into the other bullshit that's 100$ in boxes that don't fucking work. (never-mind those coupons did not get paid for by wishes and unicorn farts)

        and lol yea seriously you think this spectrum is going to solve anything on the last mile? its been how many years since its been gone and

    • by evilviper (135110)

      This DTV shit is for the birds, even with an external antenna and an amplifier the best I can get is 2 seconds of video with unsynced sound before the garbage freezes up for 15 seconds. Thanks Bush, sunk a hundred bucks into your bullshit little boxes and ended up getting fucking cable anyway so I can watch the god damned local news.

      I'm in the opposite boat. Unintelligable static on analog gave way to a crystal clear high-definition picture, with a ton of sub-channels, and was directly responsible for my

      • by Osgeld (1900440)

        I am not taking a geological survey to get OTA tv that was coming in crystal clear when it was analog, I will tell you exactly what the problem is, the signals are not as strong and I live on the outskirts of the city

        the plan worked fine, there is yet one more "happy subscriber" to cable service to fix a once non existent problem

        • by evilviper (135110)

          Enjoy the tin foil hat.

          • by Osgeld (1900440)

            what? Ok I am sorry I wont give some random douche my address to "help me" with my DTV, and what other reason could there be? Comcast has been getting a lot of favors from the government the last 10 or so years, and there was no problem with analog TVso they fixed a non existent issue. Here it is nearly 5 years later and the best use they could come up with is "wireless applications" well sorry but no fucking shit, were they going to build a bridge in radio space?

            • by evilviper (135110)

              There were indeed a large number of problems with analog TV, which switching to digital solved. Your blanket denial of this simple fact is what makes you look completely insane.

              Most people get better reception and more channels. Maybe you are one of the few exceptions. Maybe you don't know WTF you are doing. Or maybe your tin foil hat is interfering with the reception, I don't know.

  • by Daa (9883) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @04:22PM (#38489702) Homepage
    I just looked in the Denver Area using the Spaectrum Bridge system, there is 1 white space frequency available for use, all the others are already blocked by existing TV usage. that single 6Mhz slot means that at least in the denver city area trying to make use of "White Space" for networking is basically useless. I would like to see a map of the US with the number of channels available per 10 sq. miles plotted across the country. I'm guessing that there will be lots of bandwidth available where there are low population densities and little bandwidth available where most of the population is located. .
    • Elsewhere in Colorado, that system [spectrumbridge.com] shows 4 white spaces for me.

      But this strikes me as very odd. I believe there are about 45 TV channels available. Here, I can only think of about six being used. Even rabbitears.info only lists 24 TV channels in use in this market, most of which are repeaters absurdly far away from me. So why aren't there 21-39 white spaces available? Is it a case of interference around other channels?

  • by storkus (179708) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @05:32PM (#38490034)

    For the same reason they keep trying to steal the amateur 70cm band (420-450 MHz in the New World, 420-440 MHz elsewhere): the propagation happens to lie in a "sweet spot" of being able to penetrate vegetation, buildings, etc with minimal loss, high power can be generated rather cheaply and easily, and yet there sufficient bandwidth to be able to do high speed data and what-not.

    Further up into the microwaves (including mid and high-UHF) you get more bandwidth but attenuation and lower power generation (necessitating directional antennas for most apps) become problematic: witness the differences between the original 800/900 MHz cell bands and the PCS bands at 1700-2100 MHz.

    Further down you start needing big antennas to do anything and man-made interference (static and such) starts becoming a real issue. Also, while VHF TV exists where it does for historical reasons, available bandwidth starts getting real scarce as you go down here. Finally, in the low VHF band (FM radio and below) you start seeing ionospheric propagation crop up which can be a nightmare for commercial uses (we hams love it, of course) and will probably be even worse for unlicensed users who will probably be stuck with lower power levels.

    My guess is that the interference/big antenna issue will make low VHF (channels 2-6) useless in cities while in rural areas its use will be determined by available channels (a lot of translators are still on VHF even now). Possibly ditto for high VHF (7-13), especially in the number of channels still in use. ATSC has always done better on UHF so in cities where there are a zillion transmitters (half of them low power religious and the like), I can easily see the lack of white spaces being a big problem. In rural areas, the propagation isn't as good on this band, but still far better than 900 MHz+, so we'll see what happens.

    One other question I haven't seen answered anywhere: what about Canada and Mexico? If the USA doesn't have some agreement with them on this (and I have yet to see one) none of this may be available in border regions (similar to the Line A and B issues on the 70cm UHF ham band along the US/Canadian border).

  • I'm so glad to hear that the first responders now have all the spectrum they need and a cushion for unforseen future needs.

    They did take care of that first, right?

  • Im still confused. I'm a ham, and here in the NYC area we have almost zero unallocated space. There are a few blocks of federal space that seem quiet or spread spectrum. How do you come up with a practical antenna that covers all the possible frequencies ? Trolling a cb radio board shows that antenna tuning is too complicated for the great unwashed. Hams spend a lot of time optimizing antennas using tuners and such. Wifi is transparent as antennas are not an issue. I don't see how any sort of efficie

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