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Wireless Networking The Internet Hardware

White Space Plan Would Reuse TV Spectrum 150

An anonymous reader writes "A collection of companies including Microsoft, Google and Motorola are teaming up for a new white space wireless network plan. The White Spaces Database Group, as it will be known, plans on formulating a plan to create, govern and maintain a wireless broadband network on abandoned analog television spectrum. When the spectrum is finally vacated in June, the group hopes that system in place which will allow for the creation of an open wireless broadband network which will be accessible by any device. The FCC officially approved keeping the spectrum open back in November, despite staunch opposition from telco firms."
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White Space Plan Would Reuse TV Spectrum

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  • Re:Govern? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ushering05401 ( 1086795 ) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @05:49PM (#26744551) Journal

    Of the players listed in the summary, one has a history of impeding development in the marketplace to increase dependence on their own products.

    This process will be open you say? So was MS XML standard ratification process.

    905 of my income comes from working with MS products, but I don't want them anywhere near processes like this. Just my .02.

  • by cryfreedomlove ( 929828 ) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @05:55PM (#26744645)
    This could provide critically needed rural access to broadband. It would also create competition for local DSL and Cable Model monopolies. There is no downside here for consumers.
  • Re:Govern? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RCourtney ( 973307 ) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @06:10PM (#26744891)

    I don't like the sound of that.

    Why not? All the companies listed have a vested interest in getting rid of the middle-man (telcos) in order to ensure maximum profit for their respective businesses. Google wants to make sure you can see their ads on any device anywhere. Motorola wants to make a lot of those devices. Microsoft wants to do both. The telcos have done nothing but limit all of these companies (and thus, us, the consumer) with their strangle-hold on the spectrum thus far.

  • by BoChen456 ( 1099463 ) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @06:35PM (#26745201)
    Is the root troll an auto text generating bot? Hmm... It might be an interesting project to write an auto troll feeding bot.
  • by Gazoogleheimer ( 1466831 ) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @07:20PM (#26745707) Homepage
    As both a sound engineer at a theater and an amateur radio operator, I fear that these devices will not be made to the standards required for such...versatile transmitters and that they will not properly 'check' for signal presence. It's not too much of a problem for ham stuff (stay out of my 440MHz, I'm happy)--but UHF wireless microphones in theaters utilize unused UHF television channels. I don't want to come in one day, turn on all of my Shure receivers, and have to rechannelize all of my microphones which I already set carefully. I don't know if my wariness is justified, however.
  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @07:42PM (#26746005) Journal

    >>>There is no downside here for consumers.

    Actually there's one very major downside: A rural viewer might be watching channel 10 to catch-up on the news, and suddenly the kid next door turns-on his TV Ban/whitespace Device and starts broadcasting over the same channel 10. The rural viewer will see garbage just like this: []

  • Re:Govern? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sylver Dragon ( 445237 ) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @07:50PM (#26746077) Journal
    I don't know, the last time a chunk of spectrum was posted with "here there be dragons!" and otherwise left alone, we got Bluetooth and wireless networking.

    Sure, there are some basic rules which keep the different devices from trampling each other, and there are licenses within that spectrum which are allowed to dominate anyone else and may not be interfered with. So, imagine what such a useful chunk of spectrum, without any licenses encumbering it, and left as a playground for anyone to use could result in.

    On the whole, I'd love to see the vacated spectrum kept as a public resource with anyone allowed to put anything into it which they wish. The understanding would simply be that others will operate in that space as well so any device needs to be fault tolerant, and ideally, play nice with others.

    Of course, the Federal Censorship Commission (FCC) being what it is, I imagine that we'd quickly see rules slapped onto it about "indecent" content.
  • Re:Return Path? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ocker3 ( 1232550 ) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:19PM (#26746947)
    you've just disproved your own point. we're Not 100% sure how the human body works, and so we're not 100% sure how radio waves affect it. Just because we understand how to send and recieve radio waves, doesn't mean we always know what happens when we bounce a lot of them off of cells in the human body. Hopefully not much (I carry a cell phone all day), but I try to minimise my exposure if I don't need to have it on me. If we're not sure if something is extremely, moderately or mildly dangerous, or even innocuous, being careful with it until we're sure is perhaps a better plan than simply saying "we're pretty sure this is A-OK, so go wild." We've had problems with technology before, DDT, X-Rays (Marie Curie died from studying them), asbestos, all had/have their uses, but need to be treated with appropriate respect.
  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:39PM (#26747453) Homepage Journal
    Actually, the way I understand digital it is unlikely the rural viewer will get anything at all. In the past, rural areas could get a signal just by mounting a large receiving antenna. Now, with the way digital works, it is unlikely that anyone who did not get excellent analog coverage is going to get nothing without either a station that retransmits content or a satellite service. Even in the city, there are stations that I have trouble receiving. The least of the rural worries are interference. It is seems they will be lucky if there is something to interfere with.
  • by chaboud ( 231590 ) on Friday February 06, 2009 @12:12PM (#26753197) Homepage Journal

    I'll take analog blipping over MPEG dropped-p-frame-ing, but your point that the signal itself doesn't directly denote error-resistance is valid. What that signal causes a broadcaster to do (need to broadcast at a higher power) is the more important thing. It's worth noting that the FCC defines transmission power differently for NTSC and ATSC signals, so we can't be completely apples-to-apples on this.

    The spectrum lets us know what the transmission power looks like (thinking about the integral of the spectral print of the signal), and it just plainly takes more energy to bring the ATSC pedestal up to NTSC luma-carrier levels. This matters for a few reasons:

    1) NTSC is pretty robust to interference that isn't on its peaks.
    2) White-space devices that don't use GPS for market detection are required to have only limited SNR sensitivity. They'll clobber any signal if they want to (they're orders of magnitude closer to the viewer), but they would want to less with NTSC signals (provided that the detection worked at all).
    3) When you step on any piece of an ATSC signal, the house-of-cards MPEG transmission comes apart in a really painful way (over-the-air in inclement weather is a good way to experience this).

    I quite happily welcome the ATSC transition, but white-space devices are going to clobber long-distance digital TV viewing badly. There isn't a big luma-carrier spike to detect and avoid with ATSC signals (see: this [] for pictures). It's going to be ugly.

    At least it will be ugly in HD.

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