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Television Wireless Networking

FCC Unanimously Approves White Space Wi-Fi 156

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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 06, 2008 @01:31PM (#25663635)
    This was posted to the front page just a day ago: []
  • by gehrehmee ( 16338 ) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @01:32PM (#25663645) Homepage

    Even just from the URL, that's a press release from 2007 and has nothing to do with this whitespace issue.

  • 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 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 [][PDF] (they make wireless mics).
  • 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 []. 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.
  • by right handed ( 1310633 ) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @01:55PM (#25663949)

    Government censorship of broadcast was a scary and unAmerican experiment justified by judicious use of scarce frequency space. Technology has removed that scarcity [] and the censorship can no longer be justified.

    This is checkmate for traditional broadcast and telco by Google, M$ and other tech companies. Watch for all manner of new cellphones and free internet to flow from this decision. When those companies die, the rest of the spectrum will be liberated too.

    Yes, M$ should be mentioned here. Given the federally approved success of their Slog against Yahoo, we should know who really carries influence in Washington. The result, this time, is good as long as everyone gets fair access to these newly unlicensed frequencies.

  • by MadChicken ( 36468 ) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @02:33PM (#25664469) Homepage Journal

    Uh, how about anyone and everyone at at concerts, conventions, sports stadiums, or churches?

  • 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 @03:27PM (#25665225)

    Oh my LOLs.

    I mean, seriously, bluetooth has a 100 ft. maximum distance for a reliable connection. That's only the width of a medium sized stage. You'd better hope nobody needs a wireless mic while talking to audience members or anything.

    And BT just doesn't have the bandwidth to even 44.1khz stereo (although it does have enough for mono, but A2DP, the only non-shitty spec, specifies stereo). A2DP using SBC still doesn't give as accurate a rendition as an analog mic signal ever will. Maybe some of the other specs would come close, but they're optional and therefore may as well not exist.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 06, 2008 @03:27PM (#25665231)

    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 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 Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @04:15PM (#25665821)

    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 ) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @04:54PM (#25666333) Homepage

    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 use it. If they get interference from a licensed transmitter, they don't have a leg to stand on.

    Now that the airwaves are going unlicensed (Like the ISM band we all love so much) they STILL don't have a leg to stand on. That they have been illegally using frequencies without an FCC license is no argument to prevent the FCC doing ANYTHING with this spectrum.

    If a large number of companies had went through the proper channels and gotten licenses on these frequencies, the vote may have gone another way.

    As it is...suck it up buttercup.

  • by Chyeld ( 713439 ) <> on Thursday November 06, 2008 @06:09PM (#25667419)

    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 tower and the device, if the device is near enough to interfere with reception it's probably near enough to pick up SOME signal, even if it's not a signal strong enough to play.

    And if we are talking about a long range signal from the device, the specs have already covered encoding your device so it knows what channels are suppose to be in use in the area and therefore will avoid them regardless of detection.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:36PM (#25668731)

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

    Wireless mics require a lot of space for a few reasons.
    a) You need to use up more than the bare minimum to get a very reliable, uninterruptible signal back to the mixing desk. If a wireless mic signal drops out, its usually the sound guy who gets blamed. So he's going to want to use (and should) a system that uses a few channels to guarantee a clean signal. It's annoying if your wifi signal drops out - it's a disaster if your lead's mic drops out for a minute in the middle of a song.
    b) You might have 40 mics + 40 in-ear foldback systems on the one gig. These all need their own space.
    c) You might be in a space with multiple performance spaces - so you not only have your own devices to play with, but the other 2 or 3 shows going on at once. Alternatively, it could be an arena and you're having to work nicely with the broadcaster's equipment, etc etc.

    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.

    There isn't as much money flowing in the entertainment industry as you may think. Most production companies or venues buy their stock with a view to using it for up to 10 years. The FCC has rushed this through with dollar signs in their eyes - if they were really interested in helping wireless mics assimilate towards a smaller footprint they would have provided companies with longer lead times, as well as ensuring that technologies to reduce the wireless mic footprint really worked.

    Plus, systems have kind of evolved using a specific spectrum. As production companies expand their product range, they deliberately buy more equipment using that spectrum, so all the equipment can work together. The replacement bill will be very significant.

    I work in the entertainment industry in Australia (mainly focusing on lighting, thankfully) where a similar proposal is being examined by our government people. They may not let us continue to use all the spectrum we currently enjoy (plus we currently have a class license thing which is working in our favor) - but at least they are listening and talking to us and giving us acceptable lead times on the whole deal. I believe the UK is being fairly reasonable, too.

The best defense against logic is ignorance.