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FCC White Space Rules Favor Tech Industry 135

Posted by Soulskill
from the evil-lurks-between-channels dept.
holy_calamity writes "The FCC has come to a decision on the rules governing devices that make use of the unlicensed wireless spectrum between TV stations, with commissioner Genachowski trumpeting a new era of 'super Wi-Fi.' Most crucially, the FCC dropped the requirement that devices sense TV and wireless microphone signals. Instead, they can geolocate and use an online database to learn which white spaces are available in their area. That makes tech firms happy because it provides a software-centric alternative to developing complex new sensing hardware."
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FCC White Space Rules Favor Tech Industry

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  • Fucking finally (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gad_zuki! (70830) on Friday September 24, 2010 @06:24PM (#33693004)

    The sliver of bandwidth we get with the ISM band is really not very useful in heavy population areas. The shift to 5ghz wifi didn't seem to help as in all the cases I've used it range was borderline useless and N degrades pretty badly. In a spot where G gave me 3 or 4 mbps, N gave me the same or less.

    I can't wait for the new wifi standard to use these frequencies. Now if we can get rid of broadcast television altogether and just move to an IPTV solution and be done with it.

    • by mjwalshe (1680392) on Friday September 24, 2010 @06:37PM (#33693132)
      the longer wave length and smaller channel size means it has longer range but is much worse at carrying a usable data.

      http://www.martinsuter.net/blog/2009/02/white-spaces-wifi-on-drugs.html [martinsuter.net]
      • (1) It's doubtful these TV Band/whitespace Devices will have much range. The article you quote claims "50 miles" but to achieve that kind of distance on the UHF band requires at least 100,000 watts. That kind of power would drain the battery an iPad-like gadget in about 1/4 minute.

        (2) Cellular phones/internet occupy 600 megahertz of space. TV only 200 megahertz. To say (or imply) that cellular only has a "sliver" while television is hogging space is backwards. Cellular space is already 3 times larger

        • >>>(null)

          I double checked and channels 43 and 48 are open channels. HOWEVER per the current FCC rules they can not be used, because they are adjacent to channels (42/44 and 47/49) with fully-licensed television stations. 43 and 48 are closed.

          So we're back to being unable to use these TV Band/whitespace Devices along the Northeast/Midatlantic corridor (the I95 Megalopolis).

          • P.S.

            I don't want tv shows/movies/news LOCKED UP behind a paywall (where you have to subscribe to Comcast or ATTT Wireless to gain access to the programming). The FCC has a plan right now, endorsed by our president, to shrink TV from 50 to 25 channels. It used to be 83 channels but they keep nibbling-away piece after piece.

            The same way RIAA/MPAA is using the ACTA treaty to nibble-away your right to backup your personal CD/DVDs. In another five years I fully expect broadcast TV won't exist at all.... they'l

          • by Sepodati (746220)

            IIRC, adjacent channels can not be used by fixed stations at 4W EIRP. They can be used by personal devices at 40mW, though.

            People are writing this off before the industry even determines how it will be used. WISP is only one solution that may use these frequencies.

            John

            • by theaveng (1243528)

              Yeah because the industry has no habit (RIAA) of trying to screw the consumers (ACTA) out of their money (overage fees) for the sake of profit (Apple & Microsoft) at the expense of choice (Comcast monopoly). You're right. Let's trust them.

              /end sarcasm

              How much range is 40 mW? What you're basically saying is my 1000-or-so neighbors would have to share (in this example) channels 43 and 48. That's abou4 40 Megabit divided by 1000 == not very fast.

              • by Sepodati (746220)

                How much range is 40 mW? What you're basically saying is my 1000-or-so neighbors would have to share (in this example) channels 43 and 48. That's abou4 40 Megabit divided by 1000 == not very fast.

                No, that's what you're basically saying. What I'm saying is that in reading the report, the FCC concludes that a 40mW power output is low enough to protect edge-of-contour reception at a rooftop antenna 16 meters away. Somewhere else, some comments submitted to the FCC mention a 100 meter range. Do you have 1000 ne

                • Theaveng must live in a densely packed city.

                  In my 100 meter zone (basically a 2 football field-wide circle), I have 7000 people per square mile. I have no clue how that translates to a circle two football fields wide, but even if it's only 100 people, it would still be two channels == 40 Mb/s == only 0.4 Mbit per person's TV Band/whitespace Device

                  • by Sepodati (746220)

                    Now that you've amazed everyone with your math skills, go back and read my last sentence.

                    You also assume that 6MHz == 20 Mbps because that's what digital television uses. As far as I can tell, there are no restrictions on modulation schemes for these devices. I doubt they'll stick to 8VSB.

                    -John

                    • >>>there are no restrictions on modulation schemes for these devices

                      Yeah nice try, but there ARE real world limits ("You cannae break the laws of phyiscs!" to quote Scotty). Just as 4 kilohertz phone lines have a real-world limit of 56 kbit/s so too does wireless communication have a limit.

                      The FCC tried a 16VSB modulation that doubled the bitrate to approximately 40 Mbit/s, but it failed. There was too much noise and it corrupted the broadcast data. And even if a miracle occurred and you did m

                    • by Sepodati (746220)

                      It failed because it was for broadcast television. High power, long ranges, etc. The devices using whitespaces will not all be the same nor try to replicate the broadcast television coverage.

                      No shit there's practical limits. Get your head out of your TV.

                    • I notice I've sited number-after-number-after-number. In other words I backed-up my opinion.

                      Where's your backup to prove that these 6 megahertz channels can carry more than 40 Mbit/s datarate? Yeah I know. You don't have anything - meaning your OPINION that it can carry more is worthless. I and other readers can reject your claim that 6 MHz can carry more than 40Mb/s as fiction.

                    • P.S.

                      And here I am again, posting more numbers. The UMTS (3G) cellular network squeezes ~2 Mbit/s per 1.25 megahertz wide channel. So that would be only 9.6 Mbit/s in a 6 megahertz wide TV channel.

                      Where is this supposed "speed" you kept harping about?
                      That's only 1/4 what a theoretical 16VSB TV broadcast does.

                    • by Sepodati (746220)

                      Where's your backup to prove that these 6 megahertz channels can carry more than 40 Mbit/s datarate?

                      I never made any such claim. I said that there's no restriction (afaict) on modulation schemes so 6MHz doesn't necessarily mean 20Mbps. They could stick with 8VSB or move to 16VSB, OFDM, QAM, who knows. The devices are barely even out there yet and the requirements are not the same as broadcast television. I don't know the modulation scheme used by the Microsoft trials up in Washington, but I'm sure it could

        • Copied from another forum: "I checked the showmywhitespace database for my location and then found that it doesn't show correct results for my son's location North of Temecula CA (70-mi SE from Mt Wilson, N of L.A.), which is his ONLY source for network programs. It shows ALL channels being "free" for WSD, even though they aren't. First tip-off the database is hozed..."

          Continued here: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1048951&page=7 [avsforum.com]

          Same with my results showing a bunch of channels as "f

          • by theaveng (1243528)

            The Whitespace Database claims these channels are "free" for my location but they are NOT free:

            22 WNJS at 70 miles
            27 WGTW (TBN48) at 50 miles
            31 WPPX (ION61) at 50 miles
            39 WLVT (PBS29) at 60 miles
            44 WMCN (ind.44) at 70 miles
            45 WOLF (FOX45) at 70 miles
            49 WGAL (NBC8) at 45 miles
            50 WNEP (ABC16) at 70 miles
            50 WDCW (CW50) at 60 miles
            51 WGAL (NBC8) at 10 miles

            For most of these stations I don't care if the kid next door turns-on his iPad and starts broadcasting over top of them, but if he did over NBC-8 or ION-61 o

            • >>>I would lose 3 stations but a total of 10 channels

              Based on the stations you listed, you would lose the following programs due to TV Band/whitespace Devices broadcasting on channels 27, 31, and 51. And yeah that does suck.

              NBC
              thisTV (movies)
              TBN
              Church Channel
              JCTV (music videos)
              Smile of a Child (kids)
              Enlace (more kids programming)
              ION
              IONlife
              Qubo (toons)

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Although many may consider over the air television & radio to be bloated, outdated and unnecessary. One should consider that they offer one advantage over IPTV, etc - there are no constraints upon the quality/availability of the service when there is significant demand. When a tornado is eminent, when a 9/11 happens or something along those lines - people will flock to them en masse. When you have gargantuan spikes in traffic, there can be problems. Meanwhile, over the air media works just fine, even w

      • by timeOday (582209)

        Although many may consider over the air television & radio to be bloated, outdated and unnecessary. One should consider that they offer one advantage over IPTV, etc - there are no constraints upon the quality/availability of the service when there is significant demand. When a tornado is eminent, when a 9/11 happens or something along those lines - people will flock to them en masse

        Tornado schmornado - the real challenge to IPTV is the Super Bowl. You must admit, when over 100 million people (in the

      • by sjames (1099)

        If multicast was decently supported it would help a lot.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Now if we can get rid of broadcast television altogether and just move to an IPTV solution and be done with it.

      What do you have against free TV? I have two choices: Comcast and radio, and their monopoly lets them treat customers like shit. I have better uses for my money than feeding a monopoly, so I get my TV and internet off the free airways (antenna for TV, unsecured wifi for internet).

      As long as cable and internet are monopolies in most cities and towns I can't go along with getting rid of free TV. Give

      • THERE IS NO SPACE BETWEEN CHANNELS. Channel 8 occupies 180-186 MHz. Channel 9 occupies 186 to 172 MHz.

        Do you see any space between?

        Gott in Himmel! Ignorance is fine - but I (and others) have told you time and time and time again THERE IS NO SPACE BETWEEN CHANNELS and still you refuse to hear. God. Your college professor must have been beating his head against the wall, when he was trying to teach you.

      • by Sepodati (746220)

        He said get rid of broadcast TV, not Free TV. Free television _could_ be provided over cable, DSL or satellite, although it's not right now, obviously.

        -John

  • Equal Protection for Black Space!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... free citywide democratic wireless mesh.

  • What? (Score:4, Funny)

    by nebaz (453974) on Friday September 24, 2010 @06:39PM (#33693146)

    The FCC is too intrusive as it is. They can stay the hell out of my code. They can pry my tab key from my cold, dead fingers.

  • Hrm. Sounds evil. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pclminion (145572) on Friday September 24, 2010 @06:44PM (#33693178)
    Geolocation, followed by a lookup in a central server presumably administered by the FCC... So what you're saying is that my device will constantly determine my location and report it to the government. Wow, I'll take fifty of 'em.
    • So what you're saying is that my device will constantly determine my location and report it to the government.

      Yes, it's for your protection. In case of cyber attack, they can take over your PA system and provide "helpful" instructions.

    • by Sepodati (746220)

      Geolocation, followed by a lookup in a central server presumably administered by the FCC

      Next time you want to presume something, keep your mouth shut and do some research instead. The databases (multiple) will be run in individual companies that determine what kind of services they want to provide and what prices to charge (if any). Yes, the FCC has some oversight in determining who runs 'em, etc. but that's it.

      If that still bothers you, you're just paranoid and the government is already watching you, anyho

      • by arth1 (260657)

        I have two service providers in two different cities, and load balance between them.
        Any geolocation scheme I've seen regularly misses by, oh, about half a state.

        And sometimes I VPN, and share my VPN connection over the air with my other devices.
        In which case the geolocation services tend to miss by several states (or countries).

        Clearly geo-location can only be an aid, and not be a required part of a working solution.
        So how can this work without the end-user "volunteering" his coordinates and registering his

        • by Sepodati (746220)

          The geolocation you're talking about is using IP addresses and, as you've seen, is not reliable.

          Whitespace devices will use GPS or a manual configuration (for fixed devices) to set their location. So they'll reliably know where they are located.

          So how can this work without the end-user "volunteering" his coordinates and registering his intent to use that bandwidth at that location?

          I don't know that the exact mechanisms of the database lookups have been sorted out yet. The devices could very well report a

          • by arth1 (260657)

            Whitespace devices will use GPS or a manual configuration (for fixed devices) to set their location. So they'll reliably know where they are located.

            Never mind that GPS is on the way out as a reliable system as public-use satellites don't get replaced in the same tempo as they fail (we're down to what, 26 out of 36 now?), but most wireless data use happens where you can't get a GPS fix -- indoors.
            The TV broadcasts you have to avoid have no problems penetrating your walls, while the weak GPS signals can't pe

  • Note specifically the part about "the rules will require devices to be capable of knowing their location and using an online database to find out which channels are active in their area". Seems that presupposes that whitespace devices for all time, or at least until the rules are changed, will need both geolocation ability and WAN connectivity. I seriously doubt that users will ever be allowed to simply plug in the operating location to the device, as that would allow the whole system to be easily circumv

  • Does anyone else see a rush of manufacturers making *absolutely everything* out of cheap leaky components and jamming them into this band? Next you'll have to pay to read the official white list, and pay even more if you want some white space created for you.
    Exactly how much power do i have to pump through my wireless microphone or my guitar hero, or my router to to get it considered as a broadcast device?

    -- cynicism is not something I leave to the optimist.

  • AV Companies (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bigmo (181402) on Friday September 24, 2010 @07:25PM (#33693452)

    We're a small AV company, 8 employees, and even we have 40-50 wireless mics. We got rid of our old ones and bought new ones that were all in the allegedly safe bands. However, even though we don't have to worry about breaking the law, now we will never really be able to know if the mics will actually work in any given location.

    We travel a lot to convention locations around the country. While the databases that the FCC talks about sound nice, in practice they simply do not exist in any meaningful way. There is no one out there asking us to input our frequencies into a DB somewhere, and even if there was, it wouldn't help when we travel.

    We will, of course, invest in spectrum analyzers we can take on the road, but even then we won't know if someone powers up after we've done our sweep and settled on frequencies. This is a big problem because if a mic goes out on the CEO of a big company we may have to comp a portion, or all, of a show to keep them happy.

    I'm happy to have better wireless communications available, but it won't come without a big cost to us and companies like us.

    • by anethema (99553)
      Is it not possible to license your own frequency and get mics with radios on this frequency? Then if someone walks over you, you have a legal recourse. The FCC will actually help you track down who is doing it and punish them.

      If you walk over other people's bandwidth on licensed frequencies that don't belong to you you're making the problem worse not helping it.
    • What do 8 people do with 50 wireless mics?
    • I'm curious, wouldn't it be possible (and reasonable) to switch your mikes to an 802.11 protocol? Seems like there would be no problem with this, and it would be easier to deal with.
      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        um so your competing for all the other devices on that bandwidth? And wired Ethernet ( Let alone wireless) has problems for real-time applications like audio.

        Audio/midi applications normally run alternate layer 2 protocols to provide a reliable delivery ala ciscos rdp.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bradleyjg (68937)

      Do you have a part 74, subpart H license? If not you don't get to register in the database. You were probably committing a crime prior to 2009 (better check that statue of limitations before admitting these things with a pseudo-anonymous handle) and are still committing a crime if your mics broadcast more than 50mW of power. You are lucky we don't throw you in prison.

      The proper thing to do is stop using wasteful analog technology and get on the spread spectrum frequency hopping bandwagon like all the other

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by shentino (1139071)

        The nice thing about laws that make everyone guilty is that you get to pick and choose who you prosecute.

  • So what do you all think are the prospects for this service? Does it hold out the potential to challenge the wireline carriers like Verizon or Comcast? How about providing specialized services for businesses? Will this be a niche business, or does it hold out the potential to become a major player?

  • I wonder how detailed their terrain model will be and the accuracy of their predictions for mountainous areas. One link mentioned using terrain data from NASA. Will they pinpoint the location accurately enough using either GPS coordinates or a precise physical address or or a ZIP+4 version of the ZIP code? Will the software know if someone is near the top of a mountain instead of down in a nearby valley?

    There is a website which predicts what channels I should be able to receive from where I live. My locatio
  • http://whitespaces.msresearch.us/api.html [msresearch.us] Although just a research service, it answers a few questions raised in the comments thus far: 1) Does it support microphones? Yes; microphone broadcasters presumably will temporarily register their use of bandwidth via a service call. 2) Does it take into account geography? Yes; it supports several geolocation databases, and builds a predictive model of coverage based on the user's position.
  • Replacing sensors with a poorly updated database? It almost sounds like they want to nuke everything which is not WiFi based.

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