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TV Airwaves To Deliver Internet? 115

Posted by kdawson
from the net-neutrality-counterstrike dept.
roscoetoon directs our attention to a proposal from an odd assortment of tech companies — Google, Microsoft, H-P, Intel, and others — to reuse TV wavelengths to deliver first-mile connectivity. The Washington Post article is subtitled "Cable, Phone Companies Watch Warily." As well they might. One of the big content companies that the incumbent duopolists propose to soak by dismantling network neutrality, in company with some powerful allies, is striking back at the heart of their business.
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TV Airwaves To Deliver Internet?

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  • Terrestrial DTV?
    • Re:Can you say... (Score:5, Informative)

      by AvitarX (172628) <me.brandywinehundred@org> on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @02:11AM (#18328481) Journal
      Right now each station has 2 channels (one analog and one digital) I believe the idea is to free up spectrum when the analog broadcast is shut off. I am not 100% sure though. It also appears to me that frequency has less to do with channel with DTV.

      For example a line from antennaweb.org (my notes in parens)

      * yellow - uhf WPSG-DT 57.1(channel) CW PHILADELPHIA PA 263&#176; 2.7 32 (frequency)

      Though I guess the station would need something in the proper frequency slot to tell the TV where to look.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by arodland (127775)

        Though I guess the station would need something in the proper frequency slot to tell the TV where to look.

        Nope. You can't do the whole terrestrial DTV thing without an "auto scan" sort of deallie. Your tuner scans through the frequencies, checks for signal power, and figures out whether it sees something that looks like ATSC. If it doesn't, it moves on; if it does, it starts demodulating, and listens for a little table that says "MPEG streams 1003 and 1004 are channel 57.1; streams 1009 and 1010 are 57.2" etc. and it stores that information away, then later when you tune to channel 57(.1), it goes ahead and tu

        • by AvitarX (172628)
          That's cool. It is quite fast too, way quicker than changing channel on digital cable (which I hate).

          What I really like is that I get perfect reception from channels that were VERY snowy on my old TV.
        • by AvitarX (172628)
          Don't mean to double reply, but is it likley/possible that DTVs will end up crashing when non DTV data is sent on frequencies they are scanning, or will it no be an issue because it will just look like static to them?
      • by iamhassi (659463)
        Um... how would you send a signal back? How would you upload? Wifi works because you're usually in close proximity of the router and your PC has enough signal strength to send the signal back.

        Wireless internet works through cellphone towers similar to cellphones sending and receiving calls, would this work in a similar way? Seems like that'd be a major cost to upgrade all the towers when cellphone providers already offer the service.
  • And there's not much to be found, but tv technology website has a little more info in this article [tvtechnology.com].
    • What's the point of 0 gain? How it it better than the input signal be decreased by the same amount as the gain?
  • I didn't think a company like Microsoft would be so deeply entrenched in something like this. Its a bit of a stretch from thier core business model. I'm just curious how they plan to market this.
    • Re:What??? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sumdumass (711423) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @12:28AM (#18327785) Journal
      If net nutrality is dismantled, Microsoft has some problems. This is more likley a CYA deal.

      Microsoft has live and everything comming from there. PLus they have service packs and the such. Most people are satisfied with them on providing updates and service packs from the web. But if net nutrality goes out the door, they will be in a situation were they will have to pay for this too or suffer an angry mob of customers wanting to kow why they patch to fix the whole left in windows that jst caused the last virus infection they had to pay someone else to get rid of is taking as long as it would on dial up.

      It just makes sence for them to make sure there is a way around it.
      • by paganizer (566360)
        That really made me think about something.
        I was reading recently about Microsoft SPOT; essentially, what microsoft has been doing since around 2002 has been rolling out these cool watches that get news & weather from FM subcarrier data transmissions; they have made available a 3rd-party SPOT development kit, which contains "the Ollie SoC, the ".netcpu CPU Module" integrates 4MB of nonvolatile Flash memory, and a number of I/O ports".

        What I'm thinking that THEY might be thinking, is to embed these device
        • by prencher (971087)
          That tinfoil hat must be outright painful to wear.
          • by paganizer (566360)
            I just use Aluminum foil wrapped around my ball cap; seems to work.

            I'm Curious: was that a joke, or do you actually think (from what I posted) that I'm paranoid & delusional? I'm not saying that I'm not or anything, it's just that my sarcasm detection unit and my troll-o-meter seem to be on the fritz.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by blackest_k (761565)
              look at what your suggesting pretend somebody else wrote it and see how paranoid it seems? After all we have cable modems ethernet and dialup to report on windows users already.

              All this is, is just another method of data transmission. Satellite (SKY) has been broadcasting data down to customers for years. A digital terrestial broadcast is no different, there isn't really that much difference between packets of video data, and data.

              I believe upstream is provided by a phoneline. Interestingly and perh
      • by dwarfking (95773)

        Your comment makes I pointed that I had totally missed regarding Net Neutrality legistlation.

        Imagine this scenario:

        Background: A new worm was released that exploits a hole in a popular software product that locates suggestive information on a persons hard drive, sends it and identification information on the hard drive owner to an off shore website where it is displayed for all the world to see. This worm has infected many senate and congressional representatives and staffers computers leading to much

    • by suckmysav (763172)
      You clearly have no idea as to the motivations driving Microsoft these days.
      • by GregPK (991973)
        I see what they are doing at the retail levels. Its interesting to see them moving into this direction as more of a cost cutting manuver. I could see it teaming up with MSn and providing the last mile service if it were absorbed under that group. I just think MSFT is spread way too thin these days. It would make sense to add a little staff to create more focus among the divisions.
        • by suckmysav (763172)
          Microsoft have built a business around ever increasing revenues coming from the the only 2 products that they have that make any significant money for them, those being Windows and Office.

          They have come to realise that this unchecked growth cannot continue ad infinitum. Not on that, but both those products are now under very serious threat from more nimble competitors and a market that is becoming increasingly hostile towards them.

          Because of that, they are desperate to find alternate revenue streams to repl
    • Its a bit of a stretch from thier core business model.

      MS's core business is undergoing a process of commoditization & attacks from all directions. In case you haven't noticed, they're wildly flailing about in all directions (MSN, xbox, phones, etc) trying to find new markets to expand into.

      Unfortunately for them, (but fortunately for consumer choice), everything they've tried that they can't leverage their monopoly in productivity software & operating systems to expand into has been a financial fail
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @12:19AM (#18327687)
    But choking on the unwieldy sentence in that write-up made up for it.
  • well (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mastershake_phd (1050150) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @12:22AM (#18327739) Homepage
    Id like to see more independent TV stations. Of course once there is enough bandwidth everyone can have their own TV station...
  • Little Sebastians grandmother would have a fit over this.
  • by suckmysav (763172) <suckmysavNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @12:36AM (#18327865) Journal
    That might alleviate the forecast bandwidth shortage that is due to occur when TV over the internet is rolled out in force!
    • don't worry (Score:3, Funny)

      by game kid (805301)
      It's just an infinite loop. It's not like they'll emulate the full experience of the internet by introducing blue screens to the telev--oh wait...
  • by Ant P. (974313) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @12:37AM (#18327875) Homepage
    Satellite bandwidth with only the lag of the distance to a local TV transmitter. Now that would be interesting. Even more so if they could get a two-way connection going over the air...
    • The impression I got was that it was a two-way link like WiMAX but using a different frequency. In fact what isn't clear to me is how it is different from WiMAX.
      • by walt-sjc (145127)
        As I understand it (and I may be wrong) it's different in the frequencies used, and the fact that it automatically uses a wide band of frequencies, detecting which frequencies are already in use by television stations so that it doesn't interfere with them. TV frequencies are great as the lower frequency signal goes through obstacles better than high-frequency bands (walls, trees, etc.)

      • by NayDizz (821461)
        This article is pretty lacking on facts. It's called 802.22 [ieee802.org], or WRAN [wikipedia.org] (Wireless Regional Area Network). The AP's use GPS linked to an FCC database to determine which frequencies (between 54 and 862 MHz) are available. It sounds pretty promising, supposedly 25,000 simultaneous users over a 10 mile radius at 1.55 Mb. (another link [wi-fiplanet.com])
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      At work we've been using wireless internet. The company calls it "air power". To get it to work we had to build a 100' tower behind the building. The latency is very low, nearly everything comes up faster than I've ever seen dsl or cable. Though the max transfer speed is 6mbps.

      The problem with it though, is the weather. If it's foggy, the connection constantly drops. If it's raining anywhere between our tower and theirs, the connection constantly drops. If it's very cloudy, the connection constantly
  • by dbIII (701233) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @12:40AM (#18327895)
    Rewind back to 1988 - I'm at a community radio station (mostly washed the dishes and played with whatever gear was lying around) and a bright electrical engineering graduate student there worked out how to easily and on a low budget get a fair bit of bandwidth out via the FM signal without disrupting the radio broadcast. The problem then as now is how do you know what data to send? You can't easily get the request packets if your bandwidth the other way is low even if dial-up has improved a lot. That is the main reason you didn't see this in 1988 or proir, and the main reason why people like the engineer mentioned above moved on to two way microwave links.
    • I recall a demo circa 1985 or 1986 at a Usenix of a scheme to send a continuous Usenet feed in the blanking interval of a TV signal. It certainly worked in pilot projects but I guess the broadcasters couldn't figure a way to make it worthwhile (ie profitable).

      Of course the required bandwith for "a continuous Usenet feed" was orders of magnitude lower in those days.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by zcat_NZ (267672)
        this probably evolved into Teletext.
        • by dbIII (701233)
          Teletext was around before the late 1980s and doesn't need much bandwidth. You can carry quite a few megabits on the unused bits of an FM or TV signal and feed extra data via transmitters built in the 1970s - or so I was told at the time.
          • by dwater (72834)
            I guess RDS uses a similar technique? Last I heard, it was very popular in the UK and europe, but not so in the US or Asia.
        • by zcat_NZ (267672)
          Bah, whoever just modded me interesting please read the replies. parent was talking about something quite different; mod me "-1 clueless and uninformed guess"
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        I recall a demo circa 1985 or 1986 at a Usenix of a scheme to send a continuous Usenet feed in the blanking interval of a TV signal.

        When I went to high school we had a box which hooked up to the CATV network and had a serial port on it. Connected to the crap little mac, it provided a partial USENET feed, downloadable programs (not via USENET at the time, at least they didn't carry binaries groups, they had a separate downloader thingy) and some other crap. Problem is that it was one-way. I lost interest im

  • No way... (Score:5, Funny)

    by creimer (824291) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @12:44AM (#18327919) Homepage
    If over the air comes in like regular TV in my area, the internet will be fast and sexy with a Spanish accent.
  • by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @12:55AM (#18328005) Homepage
    Here I was about to lambast the submitter for using "First Mile" instead of "Last Mile", only to discover after Googling that "First Mile" was coined [firstmilesolutions.com] in 1997:

    The term "First Mile" was coined by Titus Moetsabi, a poet/ developmental communications specialist, at a Southern African Rural Connectivity Workshop in Harare in February, 1997. He was the first to turn the "last mile" concept on its head and help us think instead of rural communities from the user perspective -- the first mile, not the last. This term expresses a more equitable and far less top-down approach to the challenge of providing universal connectivity, regardless of location and income.
    The UN [fao.org] has a more detailed account of the coining of the phrase.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Doubleplusgood!
    • That,s the problem with you northern hemisphere folk... you're always looking at things from the wrong side.

      Still WTF is a Zimbabwean poet doing coining Geeky Computer terms? Fuck off buster! I don't try making clever terminology about poetry.

      • by mdielmann (514750)

        I don't try making clever terminology about poetry.
        I suspect you haven't taken poetry from a literature freak...
    • As we all learned in college, words have meanings and deconstructing those meanings is the only worthwhile human pursuit. The UN excels at this. Take the situation in Darfur, for example. A simplistic person such as an American might look at 250,000 civilian deaths and conclude that its a "genocide". Silly American with your black and white views of the world! Learn to see shades of grey! While it is an easy mistake to make to call Darfur a genocide, everyone knows that only white people commit "genoci
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by fprintf (82740)
        Your comment about the UN deconstructing phrases reminds me of Life of Brian [imdb.com] with the People's Front of Judea.

        For example:
        "Brian: Thank God you've come, Reg.
        Reg: Well, I think I should point out first, Brian, in all fairness, we are not, in fact, the rescue committee. However, I have been asked to read the following prepare statement on behalf of the movement. "We the People's Front of Judea, brackets, officials, end brackets, do hereby convey our sincere fraternal and sisterly greetings to you, Brian,

    • Here I was about to lambast the submitter for using "First Mile" instead of "Last Mile", only to discover after Googling that "First Mile" was coined in 1997:
      That has got to be the most refreshing thing I've read on Slashdot in a few weeks. Props to you for bothering to research a bit before flaming someone.

      Now, if only I can remember to always do the same...
  • Light on details (Score:3, Informative)

    by imunfair (877689) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @12:59AM (#18328045) Homepage
    The article is *extremely* light on details, but if they're talking about one way signals like current radio then you'd only be able to cache the internet on a set top box, for instance... say if it rebroadcast a set of sites every 24 hours in a continuous loop. Otherwise it would have to act similar to wifi... but those would be some high power transmitters in both directions it seems - to get the distance you would need for this to work as a conventional wifi sort of link.

    I'm not an engineer or anything, just basing the power off the amount/size tower they need to cover an area. One possibility could be to use regular radio towers to broadcast on their end, and small directional dishes to send user requests?
    • by Bluesman (104513)
      but those would be some high power transmitters in both directions it seems - to get the distance you would need for this to work as a conventional wifi sort of link.

      One of the details the article is light on is the organization of the system. It might not be using high powered transmission at all, but serve a much smaller area similar to cellular. Just because it uses the same frequency as TV doesn't mean they have to build their towers the same way. By virtue of the signal being digital, there is a bit
  • so (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TinBromide (921574) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @01:03AM (#18328081)
    Why would the cable/phone companies be worried about television signals?

    Last i checked, TCP was a 2 way communication for every message. Every packet is sent and gets an acknowledgment or some message if not received (like only go 13 out of 15 packets). Also, last i checked, my computer doesn't currently have the equipment to transmit television signal over a mile. So, how are those packets going to be sent back? Cable? Phone line? Unless google finds a way to deliver the internet via a non tcp/ip format or puts a 1.21 gigawatt antenna in every home, the whole error checking feature of tcp/ip is going to keep a bit of fat for the phone/cable companies.
    • Re:so (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bluesman (104513) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @01:44AM (#18328345) Homepage
      The path a TCP connection takes doesn't have to be the same going forward or backward. It doesn't even have to be the same path between multiple packets.

      Since most people don't use nearly as much upload bandwidth as download, a dial-up upload with a very fast over the air download would be sufficient for the vast majority of users.

      Many people in the U.S. are still on dial-up. If Google offered them a way to dramatically increase the speed of web page loads for an extra $2 a month, they'd probably take that option over the much more expensive DSL or Cable services.

      Pretty smart move.

      • Many people in the U.S. are still on dial-up. If Google offered them a way to dramatically increase the speed of web page loads for an extra $2 a month, they'd probably take that option over the much more expensive DSL or Cable services.

        Your comments and this plan would have made more sense about 5 years ago. DSL is widely available now and it's not that expensive. Now that the telcos have rolled out the DSL infrastructure and bandwidth prices have fallen, the costs of operating a DSL ISP are pretty much the same as dial up. Eager to grab the dial up users, DSL providers have thus dropped the price on low-end DSL considerably. For example, AT&T/SBC offers 768Kbps DSL for $14.99 a month, which was the price point for dial up for a long

        • There are still a *lot* of areas that have no broadband available at all. Yes they are mostly rural areas, but I'll bet 90% of those people would jump at getting something faster than dialup. I could go anectodal here as I know quite a few people in this situation, but you get the idea.
          • Right, like I said, this could prove to be a real competitor to satellite providers in rural areas (with caveats). The GP was talking about DSL being too expensive, which is a bit odd considering that DSL is the same price dial up was a few years ago.
          • This counts on having empty TV frequencies. Rural areas have fewer TV stations to contend with, anyway. Double the pleasure, double the fun.
      • Since most people don't use nearly as much upload bandwidth as download, a dial-up upload with a very fast over the air download would be sufficient for the vast majority of users.

        Hmmm...High download speed and low upload speed. Sounds like a plot to kill bit torrent (and pretty much any form of file sharing). I'll bet it has the support of the MPAA/RIAA.

      • But then, like cable and DSL, they'll use the large numbers of people who don't need fast upload speeds to justify never rolling out symmetrical connections for the few people who want and would use fast upload speeds.

        I have the option for telecommuting from work and do regular rsyncs to my web host (250GB drive-in-the-sky FTW) but I can only send files at 768kbps, and that's after upgrading to the fastest residential package Comcast offers. And Verizon's upload speeds are the same.

    • many of the bgan satellite solutions overcome latency by spoofing part of the tcp protocol locally; provided the link is reliable it improves performance quite a lot by avoiding the round trip ground-sat-ground. however, try and you might, ssh over a satellite link does not provide a comfortable interactive session!
  • I mean, John Kerry introduced legislation [senate.gov] in January to direct the FCC to do this, and the FCC has been issuing rules last year to get this going for WiMax. The TV frequencies turn out to be really helpful for getting signal to mountainous areas. (gee, big surprise why that range was originally selected).

    I suspect there's more to the story than a bunch of tech firms saying, "me too!", but the article doesn't cover what that might be.
  • Hello? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by no1nose (993082) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @01:23AM (#18328211)
    1999 called. They want their Geocast back... The idea of delivering internet via airwaves is so NOT new. It never got off the ground then, and it won't now. If you want wireless internet, get a $50 router or a $60/month Verizon aircard.

    Done.
    • Oh, so it must be patented then... Say goodbye to 'cheap'.
    • There are _lots_ of places in this country that have neither landline nor even *shiver* cellular data services which are well within the range of local OTA TV transmissions. 200Mbits over VHF3-13 may not sound like much in the big city, but it will sure as hell serve a darned wide area where Telcos wouldn't even bother to ask "can you hear me now?"
  • by sconeu (64226) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @01:25AM (#18328223) Homepage Journal
    HELL NO!!!!

    This opens the door for the FCC to regulate content on the Internet.
    • by Detritus (11846)
      Too late. The FCC already regulates point-to-point microwave data links and satellite uplinks/downlinks used for data transmission. The sky has not fallen.
  • by drkfce (932602) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @01:39AM (#18328327)
    Woah, waoh, woah, woah.... Woah... I thought this area of bandwidth was supposed to be reserved for emergency services, when the analog TV's are shut off in 2009?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by unitron (5733)

      I thought this area of bandwidth was supposed to be reserved for emergency services

      So did I, until I noticed that the new digital television channels are using the same VHF and UHF frequencies that analog television does now.

      I'm guessing that the non-revenue generating character of emergency services radio has a lot to do with this. There's no money with which to buy congresscritters.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      I thought this area of bandwidth was supposed to be reserved for emergency services,

      Emergency services don't need several hundred MHz of bandwidth, and couldn't use all of it if they tried.

      They'll be given a small chunk of it, but the vast majority of the lower TV frequencies will still be empty.
    • After the DTV transition, TV stations will only have channels 2-51 at their disposal.

      Selected channels on 60-69 are to be used for public safety. The rest are being auctioned. For instance, channel 55 across the US is already being used by Qualcomm for their MediaFLO service.

      This article doesn't even seem to be about that; it's about using empty channels on the TV band to deliver internet service. So if there's nothing on channel 30, for instance, in your area, then they want to provide internet on that
    • 'Cause if you did, and you knew how much they pay for such little bandwidth (there are still places where $45 for high speed internet gets you access to the V.90 modem pool), you would realize that delivering broadband is an emergency service.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This news is really about 6 months old. FCC has been planning to use vacated TV Broadcast Bands for Unlicensed Operation for a while. Looks like the bands will be freed up about Feb 2009. This makes way for 802.22. I think small wireless internet service providers, cable companies and telcos will all look at using this new spectrum to extend broadband internet services in to the rural communities. These lower bands (700mhz) are great for that. This is similar to the 900mhz spectrum some WISP use today
  • interwebs (Score:2, Funny)

    by sc0p3 (972992)
    You guys are so closed mined, they're gunna to send the all the interwebs over the airwaves-tubes. Easy. Brilliant I rekon
  • by Jay Carlson (28733) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @02:01AM (#18328425)
    What a great idea. Maybe there should be a standards track RFC for this? Maybe from Microsoft?

    Oh right, there was:

    RFC 2728: The Transmission of IP Over the Vertical Blanking Interval of a Television Signal [faqs.org]

    This RFC proposes several protocols to be used in the transmission of IP datagrams using the Vertical Blanking Interval (VBI) of a television signal. The VBI is a non-viewable portion of the television signal that can be used to provide point-to-multipoint IP data services which will relieve congestion and traffic in the traditional Internet access networks. Wherever possible these protocols make use of existing RFC standards and non-standards.

    [...]

    Today, IP is quickly becoming the preferred method of distributing one-to-many data on intranets and the Internet. The coming availability of low cost PC hardware for receiving television signals accompanied by broadcast data streams makes a defined standard for the transmission of data over traditional broadcast networks imperative. A lack of standards in this area as well as the expense of hardware has prevented traditional broadcast networks from becoming effective deliverers of data to the home and office.

    Of course, back in 1999 we all knew what Zork and null modems were. Oh brave new Slashdot.
  • wireless tubes or radio tubes?
  • This is actually quite an interesting concept. If memory serves, the typical cable modem, uses the bandwidth within the allocation of a single cable channel (video has quite a high bandwidth demand). So utilizing the over-the-air equivalent for local connections makes an awful lot of sense (adding an extra channel or two for redundancy and error correction, due to the increased noise of radio).

    I used Direcway satellite for a couple of years, and it was good, but pricey and high latency, due to the trip to
    • by tuxicle (996538)

      If memory serves, the typical cable modem, uses the bandwidth within the allocation of a single cable channel (video has quite a high bandwidth demand). So utilizing the over-the-air equivalent for local connections makes an awful lot of sense (adding an extra channel or two for redundancy and error correction, due to the increased noise of radio).

      It's not the same thing. The SNR of terrestrial signals would be so much poorer that you'd need a lot more bandwidth to get the same bitrate. Given that there isn't a whole lot of spectrum freed up by analog TV, the number of transmitting stations would be quite low. Once you get to higher frequencies, you can stuff more channels into each FCC-allocated band, which should be the way to go. Low frequencies should be reserved for stuff that benefits from being broadcast, not for two-way stuff.

  • I hope they're not planning to cache the whole of the www on a reciever, I haven't finished reading my copy from a couple of years ago yet.
  • by vtcodger (957785) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @03:23AM (#18328813)
    ***Several analysts said a TV-spectrum system might make the most sense in rural areas, where high-speed Internet access via phone or cable lines is expensive to deploy. Small companies might build some towers, beam white-space spectrum to farm homes and cabins, and connect it to an Internet provider, they said.***

    A few years ago when we were looking at ways to bring broadband to a rural school in Vermont, I trecked up to the highest point we could reasonably put an antenna. What I saw was trees -- hundreds of trees. Maybe thousands of trees. It was pretty clearly going to take us several intermediate relays to get to a place where we could connect to existing broadband. And each intermediate was going to need power and access and probably a tower to get above the trees. Scratch that idea.

    I think that using TV frequencies for broadband wireless may be a workable idea in the plains and Great Basin. I've managed to raise a cell phone signal in some pretty unlikely places out in the west. But I don't think it is going to work very well in areas East of the Mississippi since most of the potential users are going to be in valleys and surrounded by trees. And no, cell phones didn't work at the school although there was a spot out at the end of the driveway and a couple of hundred yards down the road where one could raise a couple of bars if you held the phone just right.

    (Thanks to a peculiarity in the local regulatory structure, we were finally able to get a T1 at reasonable rates.)

    • by bcattwoo (737354)
      Trees aren't a big deal for TV signals though. I know several people that live in remote wooded areas that can get decent TV reception with reasonable antennas that don't extend above the trees.
      • by vtcodger (957785)
        ***Trees aren't a big deal for TV signals though. I know several people that live in remote wooded areas that can get decent TV reception with reasonable antennas that don't extend above the trees.***

        Good point. I was thinking of smaller antennae and higher frequencies of course. Silly me.

        Still though, TV coverage often isn't all that good in hilly country with or without trees -- "one and a half channels"

    • Love the Abbey quote in your sig. One of my favorite ISRs is his:

      In the Soviet Union, government controls industry. In the United States, industry controls government. That is the principal structural difference between the two great oligarchies of our time.


      RIP, Edward. Hope your corpse is fertilizing a cactus.
  • by mwvdlee (775178)
    Imagine using the TV Airwaves to broadcast internet TV.
    Now if only they could develop an optimized protocol for this.
  • Digital TV (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JackMeyhoff (1070484)
    This is the very reason why Analogue TV is being cut and the change over to Digital to free up badly needed spectrum for such rich services.
  • Back in 1999 I was hired by a company in Houston, TX known as AccelerNet to come in and rebuild their existing ISP solution, as they had no idea what they were doing on the backend. They literally had an ISP in a box setup, and needed some real infrastructure designed by someone who had actually worked for a large ISP. The owner had made his money in cellular during the late 80's and early 90's, and he saw the Internet as the next big thing. Since he was in Houston, and there is a considerable amount of
  • ...sort of. "Robert X. Cringely" (the PBS one, not the InforWorld one) has been squawking about WiFi and WiMax for years. And he predicted that Google's series of new regional data-centers was part of a secret plan to replace/take-over Internet infrastructure.

    However, I don't think he put all the pieces together in *quite* this arrangement. His idea for the data-centers was more that they would take over the *backbone* side, or at the very least supplant Akamai in the distributed web content/caching busines
  • Why not take back the digital TV channels and let the networks keep the analog ones? The analog ones do get a lot more use.
  • ...They want their technology back: http://www.hauppauge.com/html/wc_summ.htm [hauppauge.com] (or http://web.archive.org/web/19971211230117/www.haup pauge.com/html/wincast.htm [archive.org] for the first occurrance of the proper hauppauge site in the web archive)
  • Broadband over UHF/VHF is covered by the 802.22 specification [wikipedia.org], and use of white space is an ongoing endeavor. (See dailywireless.org, 2006 [dailywireless.org] and 2007", for example.)

    The chief obstacles are political, not technological. The National Association of Broadcasters has tremendous lobbying power and wants to protect its business interests. Most people still get their news from television, and political campaign spending on TV ads is a huge source of revenue for broadcasters. Although they receive their spectrum f
  • I seem to recall an article in Computer Shopper (remember that old tree killing monster of a magazine?) or somesuch about a service where you could plug your computer into your TV and download bits that flowed on a non-visible portion of the TV signal spectrum to get free shareware. This was probably pre-1996 or 1995, but I definitely remember this being offered though I'm not sure if it ever actually worked.
    • There were a number of these systems over the years, ranging from glorified teletext systems (teletext itself is digitally encoded on one of the vertical blanking interval lines, so are close captioning texts) to something more complex. While working at Metabox AG in Germany, I helped deliver a system called BOT (Broadcast Online Television, originated at the University of Dresden) which allowed datacasting from 80kb/s (using just some spare space in horizontal intervals) up to a theoretical 4Mb/s (taking o

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