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Networking United States Wireless Networking

1st 'Super Wi-Fi' Net Goes Live In North Carolina 60

Posted by samzenpus
from the greased-lightning dept.
alphadogg writes "Lucky residents of Wilmington, N.C., will be the first in the nation to have access to a 'Super Wi-Fi' network. Officials from New Hanover County, N.C., announced Thursday that they had become the first in the United States to deploy a mobile data network on so-called 'white spaces' spectrum that the FCC first authorized for unlicensed use in 2008."
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1st 'Super Wi-Fi' Net Goes Live In North Carolina

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  • Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:50AM (#38836687)

    Boy! How were they able to do that without some cable / telecom lobby dumping stacks of 100$ on the state political whores to block it? Amazing.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I made the mistake of reading the article which provided no informations whatsoever about using un-licensed spectrum for wi-fi.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      Because Apple, Microsoft, Google, et cetera spent billions of dollars lobbying for the "whitespace" channels at the FCC. (Technical term: TV Band Devices.)

      The good news is the wireless internet.

      The bad news is that residents of Wilmington NC will soon see TV channels disappearing as the devices broadcast over existing stations. (The distant stations from neighboring cities.)

      • Re:Wow. (Score:4, Informative)

        by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdotNO@SPAMworf.net> on Friday January 27, 2012 @12:55PM (#38840845)

        The bad news is that residents of Wilmington NC will soon see TV channels disappearing as the devices broadcast over existing stations. (The distant stations from neighboring cities.)

        Actually, that's what keeping whitespace devices (which have been talked about for years prior to the digital TV transition) from taking off - how to keep from interfering with regular TV.

        The initial proposal was to simply have the devices scan for free channels, but that lead to the hidden node effect (just because you can't detect it doesn't mean that someone in your transmission range can't detect it).

        The next proposal was a GPS receiver and a database lookup. Which had the chicken-and-egg problem - you need to get online to get the free channel list, but you can't get online until you get on a free channel. Google proposed to run this database (for free), and proposals were made to have that database available in offline form so devices could embed it in. But then there are "freshness" problems.

        The current solution seems to be manually mapping out the free channels, and isolating the devices to within the surveyed geographic area. But of course, that's led to the current very slow deployment of white space devices. On the plus side, it means there's a very low chance of interference (it's been surveyed) and if a new station wants in, the existing devices can be updated to not use the channel over the air, while new channels get the new updated channel list on setup.

        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          And since that "mapping" doesn't include TV stations outside of the city of Wilmington (like Trenton and Myrtle Beach), that means those stations will be disappearing off of local people's TVs due to whitespace device interference. As I said. :-)

          >>>isolating the devices to within the surveyed geographic area

          What if I sell my used device on Ebay to some other area? They'll have the wrong map. :-( IMHO FCC handled this very poorly. Where I live every TV channel (from 7 to 51) is occupied, so the

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RapidEye (322253)

      It helps that Wilmington has their own Battleship sitting in the Cape Fear River.
      Run a pirate flag up that sucker and dare AT&T and Verizon to unplug that network =-)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They did have an Orwellian-named "Broadband Freedom Act" sponsored by Time Warner go through last year. Basically the cable cos got upset that the towns that they ignored for years had the nerve to create their own broadband infrastructure that was ten times faster at about one-tenth the cost to residents. So in true free-market, bootstrappy Republican style, they lobbied the legislature to make it illegal.

  • I will just hold off for championship edition, or even maybe turbo as they will be much better

  • WTF? (Score:5, Funny)

    by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:54AM (#38836705) Journal

    From TFA: "The county was able to make a quick transition in using the spectrum for a mobile data network because it was the first to successfully transition from analog to digital television."

    It was at this point that I stopped reading.

    (In other news: The orange harvest was great this year because of our success with the apple harvest of a few years ago.)

    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by artor3 (1344997) on Friday January 27, 2012 @02:00AM (#38836715)

      You didn't miss much. The article contains none of the information that would actually be interesting.

      What is the cost to residents? Is it going to be a public service like a utility, or is there a private company running it?
      How much bandwidth do they actually get? The 802.22 spec says 22 Mbps per channel, but what does that mean for users?
      Are they in a 40 mW area or in one of the spaces authorized for the full 100 mW? If the former, how long will the range actually be?

      This has the potential to be very good, and I'd really like to get some info on how it works out.

      • by grumling (94709)

        It's not a wireless ISP. It's just a new RF band for data use. I doubt there's even an equipment manufacturer yet.

    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Friday January 27, 2012 @03:37AM (#38836997)

      Well, as far as I understand the article, shutting off the analog TV opened up the frequencies to be used for "Super Wi-Fi", so it's not that crazy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hairyfeet (841228)
        But how badly will it be filtered and monitored? because if NC is anything like the rest of the south the busybodies will make sure you can't even look up breast cancer because it has breast in it. that is one thing i'll give you coast dwellers, you don't see to have near the problem with busybodies as we do in the bible belt.
        • by hairyfeet (841228)
          Troll? I take it nobody has actually been to the bible belt [wikipedia.org] here I take it? Think it got that name because people hold their pants up with the King James? its because the preachers have a royal screaming shitfit if little Johnny sees a titty (yet lots of violence is just fine, never understood how that works) and the church can have the busybodies out in force if they sense a "decline in morality'. bet my last buck this Wifi is gonna be more restricted than any college or even business wifi because if its o
      • by grumling (94709)

        Poorly written article. "Super Wi-Fi" sits in unused tv spectrum. Moving to digital modulation (and having a database of television transmitter propagation) made it a little easier to get this going. It has been used by wireless microphones and other devices for years. There's a surprising amount of unused bandwidth sitting out there just because the original TV tuners back in the 1950s had such poor selectivity they needed a lot of guard band to keep interference down. Now that the FCC knows there aren't a

      • by adolf (21054)

        It's a whitespace technology. In this instance, it uses the gaps between TV channels to transmit and receive data.

        Whether those channels are analog or digital is of little importance: For this purpose the RF spectrum does not care about modulation technique, but only bandwidth-per-channel and the quiet space surrounding it.

    • More like they'll have their first orange harvest a year earlier than the neighbors because they tore out the old apple orchard early enough.
  • by Sooner Boomer (96864) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <rmoob.renoos>> on Friday January 27, 2012 @01:55AM (#38836707) Journal

    ...on details. Like exactly what frequencies were used, hardware, networking scheme, etc.

  • by BenSnyder (253224) on Friday January 27, 2012 @02:11AM (#38836749) Homepage

    I live in Wilmington and here's a bit of a better article from the local newspaper, the Star News [starnewsonline.com].

    And for all the tin-foil hat types, you'll love this bit:

    "Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said the white space network enables the city's police department to install surveillance cameras at a fraction of the cost of installing one using cables and other wires necessary to reach a signal."

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said the white space network enables the city's police department to install surveillance cameras at a fraction of the cost of installing one using cables and other wires necessary to reach a signal."
      And that's how we get this rolled out, nationwide: Shout "9/11" | "tough on crime" | "think of the children"!

    • by YoopDaDum (1998474) on Friday January 27, 2012 @05:44AM (#38837423)
      It will also make it easy to jam the surveillance cameras wireless connections to the head end. Grab your pop-corn and sit down to enjoy another round of the sword vs. the shield while providers make their system more robust to this. In the end the only certainty is that the cheap aspect won't last very long, and some people will make money from it.
    • I live in Wilmington and here's a bit of a better article from the local newspaper, the Star News [starnewsonline.com].

      And for all the tin-foil hat types, you'll love this bit:

      "Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said the white space network enables the city's police department to install surveillance cameras at a fraction of the cost of installing one using cables and other wires necessary to reach a signal."

      I used to live in Wilmington and I think it's cool that we get all the goodies. (We, it's my hometown)

      We were the first to try digital TV in the nation... and they just got something else cool a couple
      months ago. Forget what, but it was on /.

      For it to be a 'lil hick town', we had some cool shit before everyone else in the nation.

      -AI

  • I'm glad I'm not a tech living in that area. I can imagine the calls. "My new Dell won't get on the Super WiFi, it says it has WiFi!"

    One more way to muddy the waters, nice job FCC. As it is I get calls from people wanting to get help hooking their new wireless mouse up to WiFi.

    • I'm glad I'm not a tech living in that area. I can imagine the calls. "My new Dell won't get on the Super WiFi, it says it has WiFi!"

      One more way to muddy the waters, nice job FCC. As it is I get calls from people wanting to get help hooking their new wireless mouse up to WiFi.

      I once had to deal with an unsatisfied customer who was returning a Toshiba Satellite M105 notebook computer: She was outraged over the false advertising as the machine did, in fact, have Zero Satellite Uplink capabilities.

  • by MBC1977 (978793) on Friday January 27, 2012 @03:04AM (#38836875) Journal
    While I admit to being a bit jealous (since I live in Jacksonville-Camp Lejeune), this is very cool. What is the average bandwidth speed of this "super-wifi", just curious?
    • by unitron (5733)

      Yeah, we missed it by only 2 counties.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I don't know the exact speed, but

      http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/66587

      points out that the "White Spaces" channels are only 6 MHz wide, while Wi-Fi "needs 20-40 MHz". So if you were doing something like 802.11n, but for the White Spaces channels, you would need more channels to get the same bandwidth.

      The real advantage seems to be improved range.

    • by BenSnyder (253224)

      I'm not sure about the uploading speeds but downloading speeds are around what Time Warner offers in their cable Internet package. It's around 15mbps right now on average. I saw that last night in another article while I was googling around on the topic.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://spectrumbridge.com

    The above guys are the ones handling the system here. They have been working on it for quite some time now.

  • You know, Battlestar Galactica had one thing that I really liked, that they used only wired communications. Maybe we should go back to wired communication also, I'm at least getting sick and tired of being blasted by 10-15 WiFI networks all the time. Go back to wires, it's faster, causes less air traffic, is more secure. What's the problem? Do we really need to use our iPads while in the toilet or while flying to another country ?
    • Do not underestimate the power of lazyness. Installing wires takes time!

      Also there are a lot of people like my Mother, who reacts with utter horror to the idea of a visible wire maring her perfectly designed interior with it's tatty carpets and peeling wallpaper.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You really think non-ionizing radiation causes cancer....And you know what, if you are sick of "being blasted with wifi", I hate to tell you this buddy, but don't go outside. You'll get blasted with huge doses of radiation from the sky! People actually *do* get cancer from that too!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    North Carolina is best Carolina

  • by RobinEggs (1453925) on Friday January 27, 2012 @07:07AM (#38837791)
    Don't assume this rollout represents friendliness to municipal internet in North Carolina. The state congress effectively banned it last year; only those existing projects explicitly named in the bill were exempt from the ban hammer. I'm not sure if this project was one of those so named or whether it's simply not covered by the law, but either way North Carolina now officially sucks for public telecom services. It's not actually impossible to start a municipal internet service, but you're required to publish all of your business plans and to hold public meetings at which every private telecom in your municipality or any bordering municipality is entitled to a competing proposal. This is Monticello, MN on steroids: Telecoms don't even have to sue the public project now, they simply wait until someone is actually organized enough to attempt a public option, analyze the completely public business plan for the public option, and at the mandatory meeting pitch a competing proposal that improves their existing service just barely enough to kill that public option.

    The best part is, while every single provision in the bill exists to hamper public options in ways that private companies don't deal with and couldn't survive, the bill was called the "Level Playing Field" act. North Carolina House Bill 129 [state.nc.us]. I now live under a telecommunications policy that was literally written by Time Warner.
  • I have full faith that NC will screw it up and it will be stillborn.

  • by grumling (94709) on Friday January 27, 2012 @09:59AM (#38838769) Homepage

    Why is there no option for a licensed data band for public use? This makes no sense to me. We can't get a public fiber network because that's a little to communistic (and I'm basically OK with that as long as the only barrier to entry is capital), so why can't we get some decent wireless bandwidth?

    The 2.4Ghz band is a perfect example of "when life hands you lemons, make lemonade." It works even though it shouldn't. But other than a few experiments by ham radio operators there's no way it will work over long distances (greater than a mile), at least not day-in day-out, 99.99% uptime.

    But imagine if we could go out and buy a license for, let's say the Upper D block of the 700MHz band (which didn't sell in the auctions), and let regular people buy equipment that would operate in that band, at high (greater than 1Watt) power, from a fixed location, for data service. Also allow ISPs to buy licenses so end users have something to connect to, and allow for groups to form mesh networks if they so choose. The license would be similar to a driver's license, in that you might not need to know how to design a Pi network, but you should know how to use an antenna tuner, for example. The band will need to be policed, of course, but that's not impossible either.

    • by fnj (64210)

      We can't get a public fiber network because that's a little to communistic (and I'm basically OK with that as long as the only barrier to entry is capital)

      You're an easy-going fella.

  • I would research this but I'm in the field and don't always have internet. Does anyone on slashdot have information on what is the cheapest / best way to set one of these networks up? I live on a hill overlooking one of the top 30 cities in the USA and I would really like to set up a Metropolitan Area Network that is dissociated from the traditional internet. Basically for gaming and file sharing. If we can do this and it catches on then we can begin to set up point to point microwave relays between the
  • I had a conversation with the head of the "e-nc" initiative several years back when I was considering a wireless ISP start-up. He told me they had done the research on 3 prior applicants by contacting the local telcos/cable to confirm no planned roll-outs of high speed services. As soon as the start-ups got off the ground Sprint(now Embarq) deployed DSL and caused 2 of them to fold.
    Dirty dealing by old plantation $ is still amazingly well entrenched in this region.......

We don't know one millionth of one percent about anything.

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