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Amazon Seeks FCC Permission To Run Wireless Tests In Washington State (csmonitor.com) 24

Amazon has filed an application with the U.S. federal government that details plans to experiment with wireless communications technology. The application asks the FCC for permission "to test undisclosed prototypes and their related software for five months in and around its Seattle headquarters," reports Christian Science Monitor. "The experiments will involve mobile devices and anchored stations alike, according to an FCC application made public last week and first reported by Business Insider's Eugene Kim, who noted the project could be part of Amazon's drone-delivery initiatives or something even more novel." From the report: In recent years, Google and Facebook have begun conducting wireless experiments of their own with FCC approval, pursuing a number of innovative projects, such as self-driving cars, as Mr. Kim reported. Amazon, meanwhile, has focused on its aspirations of drone delivery service for its online retail business -- a service the firm has pursued in Britain and several other countries as well. Given the company's wide-ranging interests, it is difficult to anticipate precisely what the tests entail. Last year alone, Amazon unveiled projects to change the way people grocery shop, offer drivers a voice-activated driving assistant, and ship cargo with its own branded planes, as the Monitor reported. Amazon's application to the FCC notes that the tests would begin indoors at the Seattle headquarters then later move outdoors to a customer service site more than 220 miles away, in Kennewick, Wash. The tests would last five months, beginning as early as Feb. 11, 2017, the documents state.
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Amazon Seeks FCC Permission To Run Wireless Tests In Washington State

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  • If this was a drone and was just using the mobile frequencies for communication, it would probably use an off-the-shelf cellular modem module to communicate normally over the cellular network. A special testing authority from the FCC would not be necessary.

    • by MountainLogic ( 92466 ) on Monday January 16, 2017 @09:30PM (#53680137) Homepage
      APPENDIX A - PROPOSED FREQUENCY BANDS
      Base / Downlink (MHz) * Mobile / Uplink (MHz)
      734-746 704-716
      746-756 777-787
      791-821 832-862
      869-894 824-849
      1805-1880 1710-1785
      1930-1990 1850-1910
      1930-1995 1850-1915
      2110-2155 1710-1755
      2110-2170 1920-1980

      * A limited number of channels would be used within the bands specified above, and applicant will change channels when necessary to avoid interference. Amazon will not operate on channels deployed by licensees in the public safety, aeronautical, or public coast radio services. In addition, the company will monitor the operations of other licensees and users before commencing transmissions to avoid interference.
      • Why else would you need so many different frequency bands, to use multiple channels ("a limited number") among them at once, and to change channels to avoid interference? This is almost certainly intended for drone control and telemetry. Of course, they could buy an off-the-shelf solution, but it would look like a whole bunch of little boxes connected by wires, and it would introduce many potential points of failure. They need to logically have a separate radio module for each RX, because the 3-in-1 or 4-in-1 radio modules which can be used to implement multiple protocols only let you activate one radio module at a time. You might be able to switch between them rapidly enough to send messages with lots of different protocols, I don't know about that, but receiving is a different story.

        Background for the uninitiated follows: As it is, right now you can buy a diversity receiver off the shelf, and plug multiple receivers into it. Although this is normally used to use multiple receivers which are all receiving the same signal, simply to get more antennas receiving it to mitigate orientation and blocking issues, there's no reason why it couldn't be different signals even with an off-the-shelf diversity RX as long as your replacements still spoke the same serial protocol. Then you'd put multiple transmit modules into your TX, probably connected to the PPM output if again this is all off-the-shelf, and then you'd bind each RX to a different TX module. In this way you could have e.g. 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz at the same time, and if one band dropped out, the RX would use the other automagically.

        What else could Amazon possibly be doing with this? It's not for providing people with internet access.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What Amazon wants to test is a type of short-range radar which uses a new frequency, for drone collision avoidance and precise
      delivery methods.

      • There are the ISM bands and other bands licensed for radar. Also, the wavelengths of the requested frequencies seem a bit long for short range, high precision radar.
        • The FCC application lists the desired modulation type as 4M14G7D. FCC describes this as a 4.14 MHz (maximum) bandwidth emission that transfers data over a modulated wave using Two or more digital channels signal (wow that really narrows things down).

          Best match I can find to this modulation type is WCDMA, aka UMTS (3G cellular). I didn't verify that all of the requested bands support this signal type, but several of them certainly do.

          My guess is that they are experimenting with WCDMA transmission in othe

          • It's enough for television, but there are easier ways to do that. The only other thing I can think of is Drone based cell site survey.
            • Yes it is, Bruce, but analog TV (NTSC) is FCC emissions type 5M75C3F and digital TV (ATSC) is FCC emissions type 6M00C7W. So I stand by my presumption that the chosen modulation is WCDMA.
              • Modulation designators that state the payload type don't make much sense with digital data transports. You can do digital TV or anything else with 4 MHz bandwidth. Cellular doesn't make much sense unless they have a really long hover time and drone life, in which case it could be a pop-up base station.
  • by MountainLogic ( 92466 ) on Monday January 16, 2017 @09:23PM (#53680101) Homepage
    If you check out the Kennewick address in the FCC application in Google maps you will find a dumpy strip mall and in the back is a small sign labeled Amazon and a big back-up gennerator.

    The address is:
    7011 West Canal Dr
    Kennewick, WA 99336
    Coordinates (NAD83):
    4613'27"N; 11912'54"W

    Maps Image [goo.gl]

    Kennewick is notable for having many more sunny days than Seattle. Perfect for drone flights, has access to PNNL National Labs and the open spaces of the Hanford nuclear reservation in case you drone goes rogue (or are all those plutonium storage takes a bad thing to crash into???).
    • by xlsior ( 524145 )
      If you check out the Kennewick address in the FCC application in Google maps you will find a dumpy strip mall and in the back is a small sign labeled Amazon and a big back-up gennerator.

      It's actually pretty big -- they took over the bulk of an empty Walmart store, and converted it to an Amazon tech support call center.
  • by thygate ( 1590197 ) on Monday January 16, 2017 @11:28PM (#53680617)
    like some sort of local positioning - and telemetry system maybe ?

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