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Communications The Internet Wireless Networking

New Rules From the FCC Open Up New Access To Wi-Fi 64

CarlottaHapsburg writes: White space — unused channels in the VHF and UHF spectrum — is already part of daily life, from old telephones to going online at your coffee shop or plugging in baby monitors. The time has come to 'permit unlicensed fixed and personal/portable white space devices and unlicensed wireless microphones to use channels in the 600 MHz and television broadcast bands,' according to the FCC. One of the ramifications is that Wi-Fi could now blanket urban areas, as well as bringing it to rural areas and machine-to-machine technology. Rice University has tested a super Wi-Fi network linked by next-generation TV or smart remotes. Carriers are sure to be unhappy about this, but consumers will have the benefit of a newly open web.
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New Rules From the FCC Open Up New Access To Wi-Fi

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  • I'll Wager (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2015 @07:34AM (#50321519)

    $5 says that the 600MHz spectrum gets sold to cell companies.

    You plebs don't need a $50 WiFi router that can reach a mile away.

    • $5 says that the 600MHz spectrum gets sold to cell companies.

      You plebs don't need a $50 WiFi router that can reach a mile away.

      If it was for sale, then you'd get your $5. But it's not. "Whitespace" spectrum is unlicensed, limited use of existing licensed spectrum which will not change hands. This is what Google has been after since the 700 MHz auction in 2008. The existing licensed users (OTA TV stations) stay in place, and maintain priority. But they're not using all of the spectrum in every major market, and there are very few licensed users in rural areas. All of that empty spectrum (minus guard bands around the licensed u

    • by RingDev ( 879105 )

      I just chatted with Carlson Wireless about their Rural Connection platform (http://www.carlsonwireless.com/ruralconnect/).

      ~$6k for a base station that hosts up to 10 clients (1 client included w/ the base station). Not exactly cheap, but if you can get 5-9 other folks to join you on it, a 1-time $700 investment and then dirt cheap payments (depending on what you can get for an up stream provider) monthly.

      Each channel maxes out at ~1.5Mbps, so even if you fully load the base station, you're still no where cl

  • At 400-700Mhz what kind of bandwidth can they accommodate?

    Since the article tells us neither the number of channels they'll open or the width of those channels, I'm not sure that's knowable yet.
    I think the formula is 2.5bits/s/hz/cell under perfect conditions.
    • If it was a quarter of 2.4ghz it would still be about 13Mbps, which is generally enough for most tasks. I would far prefer a reliable 13Mbps that covers a while multi-acre lot than 54Mbps that I can't even use at one end of my house.
      • Re: Bandwidth? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday August 15, 2015 @08:30AM (#50321663) Homepage Journal

        I would far prefer a reliable 13Mbps that covers a while multi-acre lot than 54Mbps that I can't even use at one end of my house.

        It doesn't matter because if they open up a new band with more range then you'll just have more stations to compete with because you can fight for spectrum with people who are farther away.

        • Re: Bandwidth? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Saturday August 15, 2015 @09:37AM (#50321885)

          I would far prefer a reliable 13Mbps that covers a while multi-acre lot than 54Mbps that I can't even use at one end of my house.

          It doesn't matter because if they open up a new band with more range then you'll just have more stations to compete with because you can fight for spectrum with people who are farther away.

          You are correct. While in principle this is a good idea, RF does not always act like most people think it will act.

          Any system that has longer range actually means less people can use it, and then there is that propagation - great fun for experimenters and Amateur radio operators, when a thermal inversion or electromagnetic solar activity makes for much longer than normal contact distances. Not so much fun for digital data.

          That 2.4 GHz neighborhood is actually about the best compromise for range, and immunity from weird propagation we can get.

          The UHF white space utilization isn't exactly a bad idea, but I smell another BPL fiasco could be made from it.

          BPL, was that batshit crazy idea of sending DSL speed internet to consumers by way of their power lines.

          It ultimately failed because of what the boys down at the shop call a SFI (Stupid Fsckin' Idea). The wires acted just like an antenna, and spewed radio interference all over the place, the signal could be interrupted by kids with CB radios, and the best part was that the signal going into your house couldn't survive the trip through your power pole transformer, so they put a little bypass device to "inject" the digital signal, which was carried on the High Voltage lines, not your puny 120 or 240 lines - better hope those injectors always fail open!

          If this turns out to be another bureaucratic faith based technology implementation - should be fun.

          initial issues are going to be getting any efficiency out of the antennas - they will be bigger, and that longer range issue will be an issue as well. Proponents need to take a look at the UHF antennas on some houses in the country to get an idea.

          • The electric company owns a right-of-way to everyone's house (telephone, cable, power, water, sewer). This is immensely valuable, as nobody else can afford to obtain one(natural monopoly). But run fiber to the house along the power lines, not EMI over them.
            • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

              Cookson hills electric company has run fiber between their electric substations but when I asked if they were going to run ftth they said their board had made the the decision to keep their business streamlined by only selling electricity.

              But yes they have the right of way and they could do it cheaper than anyone else but for whatever reason they don't want to do it.

              The city of sallisaw also looked into providing ftth service running on cookson hills poles but decided it was too expensive to run service wit

            • Electric company rights-of-way over long distances are easy to reuse by adding fiber. Rights-of-way to the block are usually not too hard to reuse, depending on how the construction's done and what the rules are for using easements. Digging up streets always costs a lot - if you don't have conduit, and the transmission's not on poles, it's not likely to be a winning proposition, but if you have those, it's not bad.

              Rights-of-way to your house are a lot tougher - if they have to run fiber, as opposed to r

        • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

          I would far prefer a reliable 13Mbps that covers a while multi-acre lot than 54Mbps that I can't even use at one end of my house.

          It doesn't matter because if they open up a new band with more range then you'll just have more stations to compete with because you can fight for spectrum with people who are farther away.

          That comment wasn't insightful. It was a small piece of knowledge drowned in Three Stooges-level hyperbole.

          Even if we accept for sake of argument that any band with more range will "just have m

          • 5GHz equipment is not magical simply because it has a lower effective range.

            Nobody but you is invoking magic. If there's longer range, there's going to be more contention for unused space. That's not magic, that's reality. And the reality is that shorter range of wireless transmissions is both a blessing and a curse.

            I live in the sticks, I can see exactly one other AP, and that only since recently and only very occasionally. I only became aware of it at all because I was dicking around with putting a wifi dongle at the focus of a DSS dish. So, I have no contention issues on any of

        • by mysidia ( 191772 )

          then you'll just have more stations to compete with because you can fight for spectrum with people who are farther away.

          Access points that endpoints connect to should be required be minimum power, minimum range, either that, OR providing public network access and equal treatment for all endpoints. Private network APs should be limited to doing dense coverage with APs about range about 50 feet.

          We could use a protocol that allows fair access to the longer-range data channels and Only for endpoints that

        • Double the range, quadruple the number of users in range. That's both good and bad; if you're building a service for which a low bandwidth per user is ok, like messaging or voice telephony or email, it's great; if you're building a service that needs high bandwidth, like unicast video downloading, it's bad. If you've got an application that transmits high bandwidth to lots of users simultaneously, it's great (oh, wait, that's called Television, and this bandwidth is available because we like the Internet

    • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

      A 20 MHz channel is just as useful at 400 MHz as it is at 2.45 GHz or 5 GHz, or more so because it has better penetrating capability. The obvious problem (which I assume is what you were getting at) is that there aren't as many 20 MHz slices to go around between, say, 400 and 460 MHz as there are between 4 and 4.6 GHz. Antennas also get smaller with increasing frequency (decreasing wavelength). When is the last time you actually saw the antenna on your phone, unless you dismantled it to find it? In the UHF

      • Yea, I think the idea that ...

        Wi-Fi could now blanket urban areas

        ...would mean a very thin blanket. Rural applications exist, especially in under-served areas. While I can't believe it would accommodate much more bandwidth than DSL when split into a useful number of channels, some bandwidth is better than none.

      • Yes, I see this as far more useful for fixed installations rather than mobile.

        Think neighborhoods banding together to set up their own Internet Co-op ISP's, installing bulk bandwidth in one central location and sharing it among a few dozen homes. The telecoms are going to HATE it, which means its something to celebrate.

        • Re:Bandwidth? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Saturday August 15, 2015 @10:05AM (#50321977) Homepage

          That is already been kicked in the nuts.

          Back in the early 2000's I helped set up and run a community Wifi. Comcast helped pass laws making what we were doing illegal and within 5 years we had to shut down. It was actually very easy as every customer that paid for full time access was another node for the other customers. As a paying member you got full speed access, and the wifi you broadcast for free was very throttled and had bottom level priority. WE used all off the shelf parts using DISH network dishes mounted upside down and at the end a linksys router in a waterproof box mounted on your roof pointing back to the nearest hop.

          we had to disassemble it as it was now illegal as we were creating a service without paying a franchise license. We asked to buy a franchise license and were told, "there is only one available and it's already sold"

          You will not see community wireless internet spring up not unless city hall is burned down and the mayor and all the council are in stockades on the lawn being pelted with rotten food.

          • You will not see community wireless internet spring up not unless city hall is burned down and the mayor and all the council are in stockades on the lawn being pelted with rotten food.

            Or, we won't see community wireless until the 3 biggest telecoms are broken up into itty bitty pieces and prosecuted for anti-competitive practices.

            Nothing like putting the fear of God into big, shitty companies to make things better quickly.

            • Unfortunately, you just described 'the fear of thousands of unorganized Lilliputians', not 'the fear of God.'

              • Unfortunately, you just described 'the fear of thousands of unorganized Lilliputians', not 'the fear of God.'

                OK, let me be more specific then: the fear of the DOJ.

                And it worked well enough with AT&T until the big push for de-regulation started again.

            • Nah, that'll make things worse, not better.

              If the biggest telecoms get split from 3 to 300, that means 100x as many lobbyists. If you look at giant industries in the US that aren't getting their way, you'll notice it's almost always industries dominated by a small handful of players, hopelessly outnumbered by their competition.

              • Actually it means more competition, lower profit margins, higher wages, and fewer lobbyists as none of the firms can afford to pay expensive lobbyists without taking an unacceptable cut in profits. Studies show fewer than 5 companies holding more than 70% of an industry shows no evidence of market competition. No competition means no accountability to consumers, low wages, high unemployment, high prices, shitty service, etc. Almost all industries in America follow this pattern increasing so every year since
          • There's a good chance that it was already illegal, at least under FCC regs, for your town to forbid you to offer those services, based on the regs that applied to cable TV overbuilding; if they'd been willing to sell you a license but wanted an extortionate price for it, they probably would have been fine.

            But yeah, I watched cable TV service evolve in New Jersey in the 80s, and it was very clear that the decision about who got franchises wasn't based on who was the most forward-thinking about visionary tele

    • This is useful in calculating the data bandwidth: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] (The bandwidth in 400-700MHz is...well...300MHz.)
    • by RingDev ( 879105 )

      1.5 Mbps per receiver, up to ~16Mbps max in the US frequencies, ~20 Mbps max in the EU frequencies.

      http://www.carlsonwireless.com... [carlsonwireless.com]

      -Rick

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Saturday August 15, 2015 @09:02AM (#50321763) Journal

    V signals are broadcast as normal and the WATCH system actively monitors whenever a nearby TV is tuned to a channel to avoid interfering with reception

    The TV receiver is a passive device, right. How would they know there is a nearby TV that is tuned to that particular channel? Could they detect a simple VCR or DTR that simply records the over the air signal for the stingy time shifters who balk at paying the monthly fees to TiVO? Or messing up such penny pinching a feature and not a bug?

    • V signals are broadcast as normal and the WATCH system actively monitors whenever a nearby TV is tuned to a channel to avoid interfering with reception

      The TV receiver is a passive device, right. How would they know there is a nearby TV that is tuned to that particular channel? Could they detect a simple VCR or DTR that simply records the over the air signal for the stingy time shifters who balk at paying the monthly fees to TiVO? Or messing up such penny pinching a feature and not a bug?

      Bureaucrats can bend the laws of physics as they please.

      I suspect that they made a sort of typo, and that no nearby station was using that channel?

      Otherwise, the only way I know of monitoring a television's reception channel would be sniffing the IF of the device. Not terribly practical even when possible.

      But yeah, we're seeing the first bit of weirdness to this proposal. I wonder how much power they are planning on running to those wifi transmitters anyhow?

    • It is very easy to detect a receiver. In a superhetrodyne receiver you generate an RF signal to mix with the incoming signal, and that signal can be detected.
    • The TV receiver is a passive device, right.

      No, not even a little bit.

      It does not intentionally transmit signals. It is however filled with RF circuits designed to decode the incoming signal, the laws of physics ensure that these circuits also produce signals of their own. Ideally, these are shielded. Realistically, the shields aren't that useful and the sidebands that are being produced aren't being used by other nearby things that will be overwhelmed by the extra RF output of the TV.

      FCC laws prohibit TVs from transmitting ... but the laws of nat

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        FCC laws prohibit TVs from transmitting ... but the laws of nature still seem to overrule the FCC.

        Actually, they prohibit TVs from emitting a signal stronger than some limit. They don't prevent a TV from transmitting (other than from transmitting INTENTIONALLY), they prevent the RF leakage from exceeding some value.

        It's why your tuner is encased in a metal shield - it keeps interference out, but also keeps internal oscillator noise in.

        In fact, it's more likely the other oscillators in the system (like the o

  • by The Cisco Kid ( 31490 ) on Saturday August 15, 2015 @09:37AM (#50321895)

    will be made using these bands so that individuals can set up their OWN access points to connect to from their OWN client devices, rather than making the "head end" side so expensive only big businesses can afford to buy and run them.

    Unlike how WiMax went down.

  • Of course you guys won't miss cable until its gone.

  • Why would carriers be unhappy? They aren't in the business of selling wifi, except perhaps AT&T, but even so, all of them went into paid hotspots KNOWING wifi was unregulated and effectively open to anyone to use, including advancements that obsolete existing wifi.

    Broadcasters might be upset but this is a great time to remind them and everyone else that the airwaves in the US are owned by the FCC. All the TV and radio stations and cell phone bands and so on are merely licensed to use their assigned sp

  • The paper says this is about using gaps between bands used for TV, but wasn't that bands left unused after analog TV was switched off?
    • A few low-power analog stations are actually still operating in the UHF band. Their cutoff date is Sep of this year.

      A full list of the current [re]allocation for UHF can be found here
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
      According to that, only one auction has taken place.

      Nothing has changed for VHF.

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