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Wireless Networking Government Hardware News

Free Wireless Band Gets FCC OK 77

Posted by kdawson
from the hear-me-now dept.
narramissic writes "Last month the FCC conducted tests to determine whether mobile devices using a new US radio band (2,155 to 2,175 MHz) with free wireless service would cause significant interference with cell phones using a nearby band. Now, the results are in and in a report released Friday, the FCC concluded that 'the analysis shows that an AWS-1 and AWS-3 device operating in close proximity does not necessarily result in interference.' Still, T-Mobile accuses the FCC of basing its conclusions on new assumptions that weren't used when the tests took place. But at least one party is happy: M2Z praised the report, saying 'There is no longer any need for American consumers, the public interest and the FCC's regulatory process to be held hostage as it has been for the last five months by incumbent carriers... who have used unfounded claims of interference to disguise their intent to prevent the introduction of new broadband competition in the AWS-3 band.'"
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Free Wireless Band Gets FCC OK

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  • by cosmocain (1060326) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @07:23AM (#25367167)
    ...well that's one concrete result. in other words:

    rain does net necessarily result in getting wet. (see here [wikipedia.org] for methods of not getting wet.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Yeah. Upon reading that phrase 'does not necessarily result in interference', I actually thought 'well, straight sexual intercourse doesn't necessarily result in the female getting pregnant, either, but it happens often enough to cause people use protection.'

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by blindd0t (855876)

        Yeah. Upon reading that phrase 'does not necessarily result in interference', I actually thought 'well, straight sexual intercourse doesn't necessarily result in the female getting pregnant, either, but it happens often enough to cause people use protection.'

        So are you saying we should wrap condoms around wireless microphones to prevent interference? =P

      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by electrictroy (912290)

        That's the problem - interference. I'm afraid I will lose over-the-air reception. I can easily imagine the girl next door going for a jog with her whitespace-enabled Ipod streaming Miley Cyrus radio. As a result some of my Washington D.C. stations will disappear, since her Ipod incorrectly believes those are open channels. Lousy decision.

        Since OTA viewers have already given-up channels 52 to 83, let the white space gadgets use that space. There's no need to interfere with channels 2 to 51.

        • Here's a video produced by the National Association of Broadcasters that shows what happens when somebody uses a "white space" gadget to connect to the internet on-top of an existing station:

          http://broadcastengineering.com/hdtv/video-show-congress-white-space-interference-1014/

          • by hedwards (940851)

            Right, because an extremist link by people with an incentive to not share is completely valid.

            It's FUD, there are a number of assumptions that they made in making that which weren't justified, and at the very end they left a loophole so that they'd still be right even if it never happens.

            What you don't seem to understand is that the FCC has for many years required devices to meet certain criteria to be allowed. It's rather arrogant to suggest that the small portion of the public that chooses not to have TV

            • Clearly you don't understand a very simple concept:

              If WBAL in Baltimore is broadcasting on channel 11, and somebody's white-space-enabled Ipod *also* starts broadcasting on channel 11, then there will be interference with one another. The FCC should not allow Ipods or any other devices to be overlapping channel 2 to 51. Those should be reserved for television, and nothing else.

    • They tested on lots of phones but found only the iPhone to not work correctly. For some reason, your music will all come out sounding like DEVO remixes.
    • by Eil (82413)

      ...well that's one concrete result. in other words:

      rain does net necessarily result in getting wet.

      Sorry, I'm not sure I follow completely... can you try it again with a car analogy instead?

  • All competition is good but really its not really that great. Their internet will be censored and it will only be 300kb/s. It certainly can't hurt but really there is two sides to this story. It really wouldn't be worth the hassle for this somewhat mediocre internet if it causes interference with cell phones.

    • by theaceoffire (1053556) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @07:43AM (#25367271) Homepage
      Yeah, but most people don't even need fast dial up for the amount they do online.

      Give all of those "Login, check email, login tomorrow" users free internet, and the only people left with these asshole IP companies will be us real users.

      ^_^ THEN the IP companies will have to start treating us like we matter, instead of just disconnecting our service if we complain/try to use our service/whatever.

      Not to mention, these areas with one provider will actually have competition for the first time.
      • What in the world is "fast" dial-up? That's an oxymoron AFAIK. Whenever I try to use my AT&T DSL freebie dial-up at remote locales I quickly remember that each web page takes at minimum 4 minutes to load properly.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by electrictroy (912290)

          My first modem at 1.2 k is slow dialup. ;-) My current dialup service uses image/test compression to load a webpage in just a few seconds - same speed as my home DSL connection at 700 kbit/s.

          Using dialup is not the great tragedy most people think it is... I even use mine for downloading 70 or 150 megabyte episodes of Stargate Atlantis or Doctor Who. The FCC's proposed "free lifeline wireless" at 300 kbit/s could perform the same task in just half-an-hour.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There are plenty of devices (TiVo, MythTV, cars, internet controlled cameras, internet sensors, and a whole bunch of other devices) that can benefit from a free, always on connection.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sowth (748135)

      I am on dialup and I am ignoring your 'only 300kb/s' statement. Also, why does it seem government officals always want to censor everything? This is against the constitutional idea of the state not estabilishing a religion. It isn't against my religion to view naked pictures or violence. As for the argument to "protect the children", I think the fake violence which is out of touch with reality is more damaging to children.

      The FCC isn't doing this to create free internet access. They are trying to make the

      • by electrictroy (912290) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @09:21AM (#25368561)

        The FCC censors over-the-air television or radio in order to protect children. It makes sense they would do the same for over-the-air internet.

        If you don't want child-friendly service, then go purchase cable tv, satellite radio, or private internet. Those are not censored & offer lots of adult nudity or swearing or sex.

        • The FCC censors over-the-air television or radio in order to protect children. It makes sense they would do the same for over-the-air internet.

          No it doesn't. It censors indecent and profane things during the day (well, and obcenity... but that's only because the Supreme Court has ruled Obcenity as an exception to the first amendment.) That's because there are only so many channels and to not limit the access of children during the day. Since the same constraint doesn't apply to the web, there's no reason

          • I agree the web should not be censored, but if the web is available from, say, your television web browser, then it makes sense to filter the content to protect the children.

            And that's exactly what the FCC decision does - it provides free internet over-the-air, but filters it.

            • I agree the web should not be censored, but if the web is available from, say, your television web browser, then it makes sense to filter the content to protect the children.

              The FCC disagrees with you. They say that since the web is not prodcast, it doesn't have to be censored. It's not about "protecting the children." It's about "not restricting the choices of the children". In other words, there are, what 12 over-the-air channels in VHF, + some number more in UHF. The point is that there aren't that

              • Okay.

                So why did the FCC decide the freebie wireless internet (discussed in the article) needs to be filtered. You did read the frakking article didn't you? Let me quote it for you:

                "Martin's proposal is to auction off the spectrum, with some rules attached. Some of the spectrum would be used for free Internet service, which would have content filters to block material considered inappropriate for children."

          • You know you can go to a church and read porn? The bible's got some twisted stuff in it.

            Having had a religion class every school day growing up, I can say that kids develop a knack for finding the good parts.

        • by zifn4b (1040588) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @11:18AM (#25370385)

          You are comparing two different things. For television and radio, they each have a public and private version, over-the-air television vs. cable tv and over-the-air radio vs. XM satellite radio. In both cases, the two "networks" are for the most part mutually exclusive with the exception that the private networks may carry public content on their networks but not the reverse.

          On the other hand, there is one internet. Whether it's public internet access or private internet access both still connect to the same internet. The other thing is with over-the-air television and radio you are required to have a broadcast license with the FCC. Are you suggesting that every content provider on the internet should have such a license because it can be accessed via public internet access? Or are you suggesting that the provider of public internet access should be responsible for the content of the internet? In the private sector, it has already been determined that network service providers cannot be responsible for the how their networks are used much less for the content on the internet. It follows that one could not expect the same from a public internet access provider for the same reasons. It is simply not possible for the provider to filter their network traffic because clever users will always find a way around it.

          We can take this logic a step further and ask whether all public places of business that have no age restriction and offer free WIFI access have to censor their internet access because a child could potentially view porn through their internet connection.

          Personally, I consider the internet something you use at your own risk. I also think the same responsibility that lies with the parents to be aware of and use appropriate measures to filter the internet using private internet access also applies to using public internet access.

          I also sincerely hope that you are not suggesting that a separate public internet be created because it would essentially be useless. People would complain about not being able to access their mail accounts and favorite web sites etc. etc. You really don't want to go back to the days of Compuserve and AOL 1.0 *shudder* do you?

        • by GWBasic (900357)

          The FCC censors over-the-air television or radio in order to protect children. It makes sense they would do the same for over-the-air internet. If you don't want child-friendly service, then go purchase cable tv, satellite radio, or private internet. Those are not censored & offer lots of adult nudity or swearing or sex.

          I don't like buying back my freedom. If I have to pay money to be free, then I'm not truly free.

          We really should be saying something like this:

          The FCC mandates that over-the-air television and radio is free and uncensored in order to protect our childrens' freedom. It makes sense they would do the same for over-the-air internet.

          If you want child-friendly service, then go purchase $en$ornet cable tv, $atellite radio, or private internet. Those are censored & allow you to control what your children are

      • >>>We could have networking which could reach miles not feet.

        (1) You already have that - wireless internet over your cellphone or laptop.

        (2) Unless you were talking about networking *directly* between Ipods or Ipod-like gadgets across miles of space??? In that case, you'd need a large 100 watt transmitter, and said transmitter would empty your Ipod's battery in about... 5 minutes. Clearly that's not workable.

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        Simple
        Odds are the majority of the people of the US want this to be free of porn. It is public airwaves so the public can put what ever restrictions on it they want.
        They used to require each channel to provide x amount of educational content everyday. Now that rule is gone we have the infomercial instead of "Natural Gas and You" or Insight. I would like to see more regulation of the airwaves and not less but that is just my opinion.

        I don't really see a lot of value or harm in this but maybe it will mean un

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      As long as they allow SSH, no censorship.

      • What makes you think they'll allow it? Its only used by child pornograghers, terrorists and drugies, you know. Along with that AWFUL NNTP, and torrents. God, I wish I was joking. *sigh* *facepalm* *shootshimself*

    • by mrsteveman1 (1010381) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @09:11AM (#25368405)

      Can't hurt? Yes, it can.

      We're talking about a government approved wireless network they want to reach 95% of the country, while leaving one specific kind of content behind. This is more than just competition, this is a significant force in the market and quite frankly, a transparent attempt to reduce the availability of ONLY porn to a large percentage of the population.

      It's also quite unconstitutional for the government to be granting one company the right to censor users while the government profits from that censorship. They want people to look the other way because "it's free", but it isn't free.

      This is an ad-supported network, so it isn't free for users at all. I'm still paying for it by viewing those ads. And to accomplish this they are either doing DPI, or targeting by location to deliver ads by modifying traffic (even worse than censoring), or they will force users to install specific software on the machine to access the network.

      None of this is acceptable, especially because of the involvement with the government.

      • Where did ad-supported or no porn come from. Neither is in the article as far as I could tell. The condition for buying a chunk of spectrum for cell phones was that a sliver be set aside for free wifi. This seems good.

        • by penix1 (722987)

          "Set aside" != "Used". Worse, when $MEGA_CORP buys that spectrum, they are not only under no obligation to develop it but everybody else is prevented from using it. It has been, and ever shall be a lock-out tactic.

        • The companys name, M2Z, is in the story and at the top of this page. Read M2Zs press releases and their website and those things are all present.

          The plan here is to filter porn (ONLY porn) out of the "free" network, support it with ads by doing (i believe) location based targeting. They say they will offer non-filtered service for a price, but with all that crap setup to screw with users traffic and insert ads, no thanks.

          There simply isn't any way to justify this porn filtering crap. If they want to protect

          • by Starcub (527362)

            The plan here is to filter porn (ONLY porn) out of the "free" network, support it with ads by doing (i believe) location based targeting. They say they will offer non-filtered service for a price, but with all that crap setup to screw with users traffic and insert ads, no thanks.

            So basically your problem is that you're upset you won't be getting free access to porn? Tough. Porn is targeted primarily towards yuppies, and anyone who has money to buy porn, is going to have money for a decent connection to view it over...

            This network is targeted to serve the general public and people won't want their free less than 300kb/s already ad spammed, proxy bombed internet connection to be clogged by addictive high bandwidth content that provides no value in comparison to other high band

            • This isn't about bandwidth. There are other significant, still useless, users of bandwidth they could be blocking and aren't. This is about reducing the availability of porn to the public with the governments permission and blessing.

              As i pointed out it isn't free either, if i'm going to be watching fucking ads to pay for it i better be able to use it for whatever i want. There is no reason to be blocking ONLY PORN.

  • from M2Z website (Score:3, Informative)

    by thedonger (1317951) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @07:44AM (#25367273)

    Since September 2007, the FCC has conducted a rulemaking that would establish rules for the 2155 - 2175 MHz band. M2Z along with tens of thousands of Americans, over 400 state, local and federal officials and a coalition of national organizations have participated in the proceeding and have asked the FCC to establish a free nationwide wireless broadband network with protections against children viewing inappropriate content.

    Price notwithstanding, I guess it won't be entirely free...

  • Due Diligence (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SemiSpook (1382311) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @08:08AM (#25367529)
    Well, I just took a gander at the actual FCC OET report, and I'm not buying it. Here's why:

    1. It was a bench test. Nice, but if you really want to stand up to any REAL interference, the only way you're going to find out what's wrong is to put it up in a live environment (such as what they were doing in Reno).
    2. The report acknowledges omissions of several variables that WILL affect emissions when the system goes live. That's a disqualifier right there.
    3. The speed of publication. I find it very hard to accept such a hastily written report about a bench test coming from OET when they still haven't figured out what's going on with the 700 MHz band.

    And to think, I could have been working with these guys. Glad I decided to look elsewhere for employment. Sheesh.
    • by mdrisser (605168)
      And then there's the track record of these 'tests'. Remember BPL? The carriers and the FCC BOTH claimed that there was no interference to any of the radio bands, until the Amateur Radio community proved them wrong. Time will tell, a live test environment is a good way to test, but even then there are conditions that occur in some areas that do not occur in others, so a live test environment is only a start.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @08:17AM (#25367639)
    Not to worry, poor telecommunications giants! Lobbyman is here to protect you! The evil FCC got you down? No problem, Lobbyman will buy off Congress to step in an save your gravy train! Sure Lobbyman is expensive, but then a great hero always is. So let the money flow and let the consumer be screwed!
    • In this case because of the censorship crap, the interests of free speech and the interests of the other commercial providers are aligned for the moment, so if they want to fight this I'm fine with it.

  • One simple issue is this : there are a stupendous number of wireless devices manufactured and sold. Some are software defined, such that a simple change of firmware will cause the radio to transmit on disallowed spectrum.

    Perhaps these devices should be heavily engineered to deal with interference more than depending on FCC regulations to prevent it. Among other things, two devices on the exact same spectrum are almost always located a physical distance apart. Phased array antennae can be used to distingu

  • Have you heard them? They are loud and awesome! And thanks to the FCC's approval, maybe they will get more air time too! {* Rock Hands! *}

    (uh... no, I didn't RTFA... why do you ask?)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So the new free wireless band is 2155-2175. PCS is 1850-1990. Satellite radio is 2320-2345, marginally closer to the new free wireless band than that band is to PCS. Wouldn't satellite radio have more to lose? Sirius and XM users already have to receive a relatively weak signal broadcast from thousands of miles away in outer space by antennas with built in LNA's. Have sufficient studies been done to prove that nearby operation in the new free wireless band will not desense sensitive satellite radio rec

  • Need more (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357)
    broadband and broadband choices in small towns, and in rural America. While the big companies squabble over market shares in the big cities, Ma and Pa Kettle are left with waving a blanket over a smokey fire. The ISPs really need to look at the idea of nation wide coverage. I am an American, and I can only READ about high speed internet!!
  • From interferencezones.com: If these companies get their wish, you could be watching the big game, your favorite movie or breaking news when your pristine digital picture freezes, pixelates and the sound shuts off. Not exactly the ideal way to watch television.

    My digital channels do that randomly now. Yeah, it's probably a Charter cable problem and not interference, but it's irritating as hell when you're trying to watch something. Are these devices in question going to make it worse?

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