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FCC Unanimously Approves White Space Wi-Fi

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the think-of-the-possibilities dept.

Television 156

Smelly Jeffrey writes "With the release of this whitepaper, the FCC unanimously approved plans for a new technology with strong supporters and even stronger detractors. White Space Wi-Fi effectively allows manufacturers of wireless devices to incorporate transceivers that operate on unused DTV channels. Although the deregulation is new, the idea seems to have caught Google's interest recently as well. It seems that this has been rather rushed through the normally stagnant channels at the FCC. While some view it as interference in the already crowded spectrum, it seems the FCC Chairman really likes the idea of re-purposing dark parts of the newly allocated DTV bands once more." Update: 11/06 18:15 GMT by T : You may want to look at Tuesday's mention of the decision as well, but the additional links here are interesting.

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156 comments

the market continues to slide (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25663519)

we have four more years of this to go, but thank god we've finally elected a black man.

Good grief (5, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663535)

They'll deregulate use of the spectrum, but if you say "blow job" on television, they'll fine you into oblivion. Sounds like they've got their priorities straight.

Yeah (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25663735)

I was watching the behind the scenes of "Family Guy" and they were talking about making up swear words. Seth said that when a made up swear word that was OK to say on TV becomes part of the language, the FCC will then consider it off-limits to say on TV.

People can be so weird about words.

Then you have the cry babies who have to bitch to the FCC over every little thing. But if you actually mention that there's an off switch, somehow, you're the moron.

Re:Yeah (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25664437)

Fracking FCC needs to frelling get over it.

Re:Yeah (0)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25664755)

Well I can understand some people's viewpoints. My 75-year-old mom often complains "there's nothing decent on television anymore; too many bedroom scenes". She wants it to be sanitized to her tastes, otherwise she has nothing to watch.

It can be especially difficult if you have kids watching.

Re:Yeah (5, Insightful)

Limburgher (523006) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665207)

Odd how your position conflicts with your sig.

I have young children, and I have a simple method for determining what they see. I hold the remote, and I change the channel if something fails to meet my approval. If a show or channel repeatedly crosses a line, we just don't watch it.

This way, I can make sure my kids don't see really graphic violence, but are allowed to see healthy expressions of affection, within reason.

I even have a name for this method: parenting. :)

Re:Yeah (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25665485)

Yes, but what do you expect us lazy/stupid/uncaring people to do?

Re:Yeah (5, Funny)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665653)

Yes, but what do you expect us lazy/stupid/uncaring people to do?

Keep breeding more little monsters.

Re:Yeah (5, Insightful)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665215)

You do realize that there are other activities that one can partake of aside from watching TV, right?

Re:Yeah (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665403)

Lets see, there's netflix, cable, satellite, community programing, religious programing, kids channels, ethnc channels, foreign channels, digital delivery, tv ratings, parent controls, etc? What else do you want? Do we need to set society's course by the whims of retirees and children? You should pay more attention to your sig as you are advocating a nanny state.

Re:Yeah (1)

mordred99 (895063) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665623)

What? You mean there are people like Ned Flanders who reported Kent Brachman for swearing on the news when Homer Simpson spilled coffee on his crotch. I thought that was made up !!!!

Re:Yeah (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666393)

Then you have the cry babies who have to bitch to the FCC over every little thing. But if you actually mention that there's an off switch, somehow, you're the moron.

Jesus told them to start a crusade over words that didn't exist in Jesus' time. They're allowed to guess what he considers a swear word and then make sure no one says it.

For you see being a hard-core Christian is like being a hungry hungry hippo and all the sinners are the white balls. If you want to make it into the most exclusive part of heaven (because no one in heaven is equal, there are levels) then you have to be the hungriest hippo and consumer the most white balls (ie save the most sinners). Otherwise Jesus will put you in hell for allowing people to have freedom of choice.

Re:Good grief (3, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663893)

Reminds me of an old (yes I'm dating myself) LA Law episode that was explaining a photograph of a man and mistress in a particular sexual act.

".... a position commonly referred to as a number"

It didn't fool anyone about anything, but they were obviously censored from saying it.

Re:Good grief (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25664351)

It didn't fool anyone about anything, but they were obviously censored from saying it.

More likely they were censoring themselves so as not to offend their advertisers.

Re:Good grief (1)

timothy (36799) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665901)

I dunno if they were *censored* from saying it; maybe. I think it's a funnier, more titillating, more in-crowd way to say it -- and since many lawyers are uptight and priggish (not all, of course), it might also be a realistic depiction of how they might talk about it in court. (And by 'it,' I mean the numerical sexual position which shall not be named.) It makes the audience smirk happily to know they "get it," even when it's not a high burden to meet.

If this were on Boston Legal, I think they would have played it up even more ;) Imagine other jokes / running conversations that could be based on this obfuscation.

DENNY CRANE: "Doesn't *everyone* refer to their sexual positions by number? I've got more than 400! One for each successful date of my life ..."

---------

DENISE BAUER: "Alan, what you mean I look 'about 70'?"
ALAN SHORE: "Oh, that's a good thing: I was rounding up. And I really mean it, too."

-------

Haven't you ever heard the punchline to the joke about sexual innuendo / slang terms, something like "Well, your honor, that's a peculiarity of screwin' with which you obviously need not concern yourself"? :)

timothy

 

Welcome to Open Spectrum and Freedom. (2, Informative)

right handed (1310633) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663949)

Government censorship of broadcast was a scary and unAmerican experiment justified by judicious use of scarce frequency space. Technology has removed that scarcity [reed.com] and the censorship can no longer be justified.

This is checkmate for traditional broadcast and telco by Google, M$ and other tech companies. Watch for all manner of new cellphones and free internet to flow from this decision. When those companies die, the rest of the spectrum will be liberated too.

Yes, M$ should be mentioned here. Given the federally approved success of their Slog against Yahoo, we should know who really carries influence in Washington. The result, this time, is good as long as everyone gets fair access to these newly unlicensed frequencies.

Re:Welcome to Open Spectrum and Freedom. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25664321)

> Yes, M$ should be mentioned here.

No surprises here [slashdot.org]

How are we getting screwed on this one? (4, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663541)

The explanation I read sounded like this could be a good thing but whenever I see something like this come sailing through an approval process, I always have to wonder whose money greased the skids. The worse it is for the public, the quicker they push things through so nobody gets a chance to notice.

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (1)

greenhuey (1401575) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663637)

You down with FCC (Yeah you know me) Who's down with FCC (Every last homie) You down with FCC (Yeah you know me) Who's down with FCC (All the homies)

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (1)

surefooted1 (838360) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663859)

For the nerds, FCC means something different...The first two letters the same, the last means something different...

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (1)

Hork_Monkey (580728) | more than 5 years ago | (#25664043)

Just how long have you been waiting to use that one?

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665117)

Just how long have you been waiting to use that one?

The trick is to write them up in advance and drop them when appropriate. :)

banner ads from eharmony
Dave drop a load on 'em

P2P, how can I explain it
I'll take you packet by packet
To have y'all nattin' while we be seedin' it
P is for peer, 2 is l33t for "to"
The last P...well...that's kinda simple
It's sorta like another way to call a client an equal
It's the server that be missin' here
You get on a torrent and be leechin' from the swarm
And your movies and shows appear gotta start to explainin'
Bust it

Hosting movies direct will get the feds to say hello
They get your IP and address and your knees feel like jello
And if not for feds, the hosting costs will eatcha alive
There's gotta be a better way to distribute and survive
Imagine there's no hardware, hosting or bandwith fees
just a torrent to download and and trackers to see
Every peer has a piece to share with every other peer
Reducing the burden and increasing redundancy without fear
Who thinks it's wrong 'cos I'm downloadin' and uploadin' at
Well if you do, that's P2P and you're not down with it
But if you don't, here's your membership

Chorus:
You down with P2P (Yeah you know me) 3X
Who's down with P2P (Every last IP)
You down with P2P (Yeah you know me) 3X
Who's down with P2P (All the IP's)

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (1)

greenhuey (1401575) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665613)

It just came to me when I noticed that FCC rhymes with OPP. I know, a stroke of brilliance!

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663663)

What on earth could be wrong with it anyway? So you have 50MHz of spectrum doing absolutely nothing because the license owner is making out with untold millions by spoon feeding their wares over existing stations - who cares if they hold the license, if they aren't going to actually use the spectrum then it should be open for everyone. Squatting on the spectrum is just as bad as squatting domains or houses.

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (3, Informative)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663779)

"Squatting on the spectrum is just as bad as squatting domains or houses."

Actually, it's much worse. The unallocated spectrum for communications is much more limited.

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665007)

What on earth could be wrong with it anyway?

I'm glad you asked that question. Thank you. My friends: Let's assume that an Ipod or Ipod-like device gains the ability to broadcast wireless internet over the television bands. There are a number of things that could go wrong (from worst to best case):

- Person hacks their Ipod to use any damn channel they please, thereby blocking my local weather/news channel WGAL8 because they are broadcasting directly overtop of it.

- Person uses Ipod normally, but Ipod database does not list nearby cities stations like WBAL11 (Baltimore) or WPHL17 (Philadelphia). As a result of this oversight I lose channels 2,3,6,10,11,12,13,17,29,35,57,65 because the Ipod is broadcasting directly overtop of them.

- Person uses Ipod normally, and Ipod decides to broadcast on channel 7, directly adjacent to WGAL8. The "spillover" from channel 7 confuses my television receiver and I can't tune-in my local weather/news. I see a picture, but it's just unwatchable garbage.

- Person uses Ipod normally, but the cable connector hanging out of the wall picks-up the Ipod's broadcast, and several channels became "staticy" or "pixelated" as a result of the interference on the line.

"Time's up!" - Tom Brokaw
"But I'm not finished..."
"Oh yes you are. These are the rules you agreed to."
"Drat."

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (2, Interesting)

fyrewulff (702920) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665147)

How are you going to lose access to channels that will not exist in 2 1/2 months?

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25665891)

All existing channels will continue to exist. As it stands now, in our friend's example, WBAL transmits its analog signal on channel 11 and its digital on channel 59. Well, channel 59 is in the 52-69 range that was auctioned off as the 700 MHz frequencies everyone was all excited about a few months back. For this reason, when the analog signals go away, they will be moving BACK to channel 11.

There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 stations which will be moving to other digital channels, be they their old analog channels or completely new channels. (Example, WFUT in New York had an analog on 68 and a digital on 53, so they have to move to channel 30 after the transition)

With channels 52-69 gone and channels 2-6 being virtually useless, and parts of the country being unable to use 14-20 due to police radios being there, the digital TV spectrum has fewer and fewer white spaces.

Los Angeles has no white spaces at all.

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25665231)

I see a picture, but it's just unwatchable garbage.

You should be modded offtopic. The programming is a seperate issue from the spectrum.

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (4, Funny)

Ron_Fitzgerald (1101005) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663691)

If Bill Gates/Microsoft [reuters.com] and Google [arstechnica.com] really pushed for this then you KNOW it is for the good of the people and not some attempt at corporate financial padding.

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (4, Informative)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663903)

Joking aside, Google sums up the change on their web site Free the Airwaves [freetheairwaves.org]. From what I gather, devices will only be able to be sold as lnog as they keep to a restricted set of wavelengths.

Other than that, it's a 'free for all', which should in theory allow cheaper wifi, broadband, free mobile phone calls (as they would communicate directly with each other), and healthy competition in the overall communication sector.

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (1)

Ron_Fitzgerald (1101005) | more than 5 years ago | (#25664377)

Joking aside, I am excited for this for a 'public' broadband that doesn't have to rely on the big names that are starting to filter content, DPI and usage capping. If we can circumvent these companies at least enough to let them know that what customers want does matter, then maybe it will change their policies as well and get back to a 'free' internet.

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (5, Informative)

rpmayhem (1244360) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663873)

Well, for those of us who use wireless microphones (like you see at concerts, conventions, sports stadiums, or churches), we are the ones who might get screwed. They FCC says they are putting measures in place to prevent this, but we'll have to see what happens. There will be another ruling to finalize all this. Here's a decent summary from Shure [shure.com][PDF] (they make wireless mics).

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (-1, Flamebait)

cryophan (787735) | more than 5 years ago | (#25664009)

who cares about stupid wireless mikes....

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (3, Informative)

MadChicken (36468) | more than 5 years ago | (#25664469)

Uh, how about anyone and everyone at at concerts, conventions, sports stadiums, or churches?

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (1)

sperm (916223) | more than 5 years ago | (#25664983)

There are better technologies suited to this already. Without even searching, I'm pretty sure bluetooth offer better quality already!

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25665225)

Oh my LOLs.

I mean, seriously, bluetooth has a 100 ft. maximum distance for a reliable connection. That's only the width of a medium sized stage. You'd better hope nobody needs a wireless mic while talking to audience members or anything.

And BT just doesn't have the bandwidth to even 44.1khz stereo (although it does have enough for mono, but A2DP, the only non-shitty spec, specifies stereo). A2DP using SBC still doesn't give as accurate a rendition as an analog mic signal ever will. Maybe some of the other specs would come close, but they're optional and therefore may as well not exist.

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25664027)

Hey, just a heads-up, this means that those of you who use wireless microphones are no longer illegally transmitting on licensed channels, so even though it might cause some interference you should think of it as a good thing.

Parent makes important point! (2, Informative)

anethema (99553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666333)

This is actually a very important point. The wireless mic crowd has been a big opposition to the deregulation of these airwaves. The problem is they don't have a leg to stand on and the parent mentions why.

These mic manufacturers are using a low power transmitter on licensed bands illegally and just hoping they will do ok. The thing is, the theatre companies and others using these devices are risking fines for the illegal use of this spectrum, because you are supposed to license a frequency if you intend to use it. If they get interference from a licensed transmitter, they don't have a leg to stand on.

Now that the airwaves are going unlicensed (Like the ISM band we all love so much) they STILL don't have a leg to stand on. That they have been illegally using frequencies without an FCC license is no argument to prevent the FCC doing ANYTHING with this spectrum.

If a large number of companies had went through the proper channels and gotten licenses on these frequencies, the vote may have gone another way.

As it is...suck it up buttercup.

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (4, Interesting)

interiot (50685) | more than 5 years ago | (#25664585)

There's several hundred megahertz of open spectrum in between the TV channels. Wireless mikes have had sole use of that empty space for a long time, and they're complaining because things are changing. In some cases, they may have to buy more equipment, but the idea that they should continue to get sole use of this huge amount of spectrum is ridiculous.

What's needed is a way for wireless mics and the new whitespace devices to properly share the spectrum. The reason this is difficult is that wireless mics are manufactured many different ways, and don't have a standard transmission pattern. The "cognitive radios" will be able to detect digital TV stations automatically, but won't be able to sense the presence of wireless mics. So one possible solution is for wireless microphones to have an extra box that transmits a beacon that indicates to whitespace devices that "hey, there's a wireless mic here". That's an extra expense for each existing installation, but again, wireless mics shouldn't get sole use of this extra space.

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665181)

There's several hundred megahertz of open spectrum in between the TV channels.

There is no "open" spectrum in the US TV channels:

  • VHF Lo: 54-72MHz, 76-88MHz
  • VHF Hi: 174-216MHz
  • UHF: 470-806MHz

All gaps in that table are filled with some other official allocation.

Now, there are places where there is no local TV channel assigned to a particular chunk of that spectrum, but this is not "open"...in many places it is not assigned because it would conflict with another TV transmitter that is close enough to be received.

The problem with this "white space" vote is that devices won't have to avoid interfering with anything but the very strong signals, so that means people like me who get TV from DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and sometimes Richmond will fall back to getting only the "local" channels.

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (1)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666133)

My understanding is that none of the manufacturers of wireless mics had actually licensed the spectrum - they were illegally squatting on it, broadcasting interference, and making a bunch of money in the process.

If that's true, it seems fair that nobody else should have to license it, either.

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (1)

anethema (99553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666371)

Actually, it is up to the USERS of the devices to license the spectrum. You can manufacture anything you want, but it is the transmission of RF that requires a license.

A lot of companies make wireless networking gear (Enterprise class) up in the 5GHz licensed spectrum, it is up to us (the installers and users) of this equipment to pay for and obtain the proper licenses.

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (2, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25664049)

It was unanimous. Corporate bigwigs are such penny pinchers that they would only buy the smallest number of people to get it to pass, not everyone on the committee. I have some small amount of faith that this isn't entirely bad.

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (2, Interesting)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 5 years ago | (#25664625)

Follow the Money someone once said... The whole reason analog Television was killed was spectrum. Lovely lovely spectrum. A TV channel takes up a lot of room. The entire AM dial would fit inside Channel 2 with room to spare for ship to shore radio. The advantage of this is that even marginal signals will come in with a little fuzz. On the other hand, Digital takes up far less room. The disadvantage is that marginal channels just simply drop, pixelize or freeze. White space is the room around the digital channel signal. Personally, since I get over the air analog (about 14 stations), and come 2009 will receive about 1.5 stations thanks to this (A big hill between my antenna and the broadcast tower), I think its great becasue I do not watch broadcast TV anyway. Worry about THEM apples Advertisers!

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (3, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#25664911)

On the other hand, Digital takes up far less room.

Widely held misconception. A digital ATSC channel takes up 6MHz, same as an analog NTSC channel.

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25665321)

However, ATSC can transmit multiple SD sub-channels in one 6MHz band and use MPEG compression to save bandwidth, making it more bandwidth-efficient than NTSC. (So I would say that you and GP are both correct.)

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25665953)

One channel can contain multiple programs though (at the expense of picture quality).

Re:How are we getting screwed on this one? (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665965)

actually HDTV takes 20mhz compressed and squirted in a 6mhz stream. thus pixelization and dropped signal if it comes in at all, which it does not where I live. My options are 1 cable 2 no TV. I choose option 2. Why pay for dreck?

The Google Press Release (-1, Offtopic)

syzme (584270) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663595)

Re:The Google Press Release (2, Informative)

gehrehmee (16338) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663645)

Even just from the URL, that's a press release from 2007 and has nothing to do with this whitespace issue.

Re:The Google Press Release (1)

syzme (584270) | more than 5 years ago | (#25664541)

It contains the letter that Google wrote to the FCC chairman in favor of passing the recently approved regulations.

CmdrTaco, read before you post (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25663635)

This was posted to the front page just a day ago: http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/11/05/0016251 [slashdot.org]

Re:CmdrTaco, read before you post (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663729)

This is one of those rare moments of government deregulations that its good enough for a repost.

Re:CmdrTaco, read before you post (5, Insightful)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 5 years ago | (#25664387)

This is rather offtopic, but I'd like to say it anyways...

It used to be that the Slashdot frontpage was riddled with dupes. We complained every time that the editors were idiots, that they should have a system in place to recognize dupes. Many people even said that they emailed regarding the dupes while they were in the mysterious future, and yet the still hit the front page. Thus was born the Slashdot meme about every story being eventually duped.

But, I have to say that over the last while, the number of dupes is way, way down. The firehose and tagging seem to have alot to do with it--dupes are flagged earlier in the process, giving the editors the feedback they need.

Dupes are not entirely eliminated, but the frequency is down. So I'd like to say: thanks to the Slashdot staff for fixing the issue that we complained about. We are a whiny bunch, and it's too easy for us to complain but then forget to appreciate the things that are fixed (or have always been good). So, again, good work on the dupe reduction.

Re:CmdrTaco, read before you post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25666977)

Agreed, thanks to Slashdot for raising the editing bar a few millimeters.

Now fix the fucking Show Tags bug [sourceforge.net]!

Re:CmdrTaco, read before you post (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25665027)

This is rather offtopic, but I'd like to say it anyways...

It used to be that the Slashdot frontpage was riddled with dupes. We complained every time that the editors were idiots, that they should have a system in place to recognize dupes. Many people even said that they emailed regarding the dupes while they were in the mysterious future, and yet the still hit the front page. Thus was born the Slashdot meme about every story being eventually duped.

But, I have to say that over the last while, the number of dupes is way, way down. The firehose and tagging seem to have a lot to do with it--dupes are flagged earlier in the process, giving the editors the feedback they need.

Dupes are not entirely eliminated, but the frequency is down. So I'd like to say: thanks to the Slashdot staff for fixing the issue that we complained about. We are a whiny bunch, and it's too easy for us to complain but then forget to appreciate the things that are fixed (or have always been good). So, again, good work on the dupe reduction.

International compatability? (3, Interesting)

GiMP (10923) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663703)

Existing Wifi uses channels open for use internationally (more or less). It sounds to me that this might not be true in this case. That is one reason for alarm.

Re:International compatability? (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663853)

That would be why the equipment checks to see if anything is radiating before it arcs up its own transmitter good sir. While this might not fly in a whole range of countries for what ever reason, it seems ok to me given that the television spectrum isn't exactly a hotbed for channels coming and going. It's more or less exactly the same day in, day out.

Re:International compatability? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25663877)

Your post is interesting. However, I find it more alarming and interesting to find the GNU Image Manipulation Program posting on Slashdot.

Re:International compatability? (1)

interiot (50685) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663933)

TV whitespace devices work in unused digital TV spectrum. Digital TV tends to use similar frequencies around the world.

Re:International compatability? (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665335)

No, it doesn't.

As an example, the US uses 6MHz channel steps, the UK uses 8MHz, and Australia uses 7MHz steps on UHF and varying steps on VHF.

In addition, the modulation methods are different among the different countries. Building a device that would successfully identify a digital carrier for all TV systems worldwide so that it could avoid that frequency block would be a non-trivial and expensive task.

Spectrum use (1)

komische_amerikaner (1365847) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663807)

Somehow, I see this as a stepping stone to more de-regulation and "stepping on of toes" for other, perhaps more (I hesitate to use the word) 'important' areas of the frequency bands; example being Fire Department, Ambulance Service, Air Ambulances (helicopters), Police, etc. Data telemetry used to send real-time digital information by the various emergency responders also notwithstanding. I do wish to balance my comment with the fact that I am an amateur radio enthusiast, and what the FCC did to allocate digital transmissions in Alaska using the amateur spectrum for commercial use (subsequently blocked by the ARRL and concerned amateur operators). I have a feeling that there are going to be some real problems, not only with manufacturers of sub-standard devices trying to 'cash in' during the rush for market presence, but further deregulation and posturing by regulatory groups forcing the already narrow allocations even further. When you have someone driving FCC that is unaware of how little room there is now, will there be any left when it's all over?

how much bandwidth? (1)

t35t0r (751958) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663833)

How much bandwidth was in this spectrum?

Re:how much bandwidth? (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663989)

It covers the US broadcast television spectrum, so several hundred megahertz potentially - VHF through UHF. There's a whole boat load of stuff in there that is not 'television' so it's understandable a lot of people are uneasy about it.

New Resources (3, Insightful)

Selfunfocused (1215732) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663929)

By opening up this spectrum, the FCC has given Obama a gift. The Obama technology plan talks about the need to "deploy next-generation broadband" among other things, but with a weakening economy he's going to find a lot less money to back such initiatives. Thankfully, with a simple restructuring of the rules, the FCC has created space for new innovation that might prove easier to fund than laying cables throughout the country. Not that I don't want more cables. I love cables.

Re:New Resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25664477)

Hint to mods : Just because a post mentions "Obama" doesn't mean it is offtopic.

Rushing is usually bad (2, Insightful)

John Jamieson (890438) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663975)

I think it is good for everyone if unused parts of the spectrum are utilized.

But my goodness... what is the rush that it could not wait a few more months while they tweaked the prototypes so they did not stomp on weak TV signals or wireless mics?

A few more months devoted to getting a succesful trial is nothing.

Re:Rushing is usually bad (3, Interesting)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#25664767)

Conversely, if you have written the spec so that they must not stomp on licensed signals, why drag your feet on waiting on prototypes that are perfect?

Oh wait, I know... because really the problem is the people who are already illegally using the spectrum (i.e. broadcasters and their wireless mics) and who see this as a threat to their own monopolies want to kill the idea and playing the waiting game gives them more time to do it in.

Re:Rushing is usually bad (2, Insightful)

John Jamieson (890438) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665751)

Well, that would be one way to look at it. BUT, we all know from experience that if you cannot get a low production prototype working, there is NO way it will work in mass production.

As for the wireless mics, while we now know they were not explicitly licenced, they have been in use with the full knowledge of the FCC. The FCC said NOTHING for 30 years. As a result, a lot of institutions have innocently invested thousands of dollars in the equipment and rely on them.
As a result of the inaction of the FCC, the FCC has a moral obligation to make sure the transition goes smoothly.

Thus, and extra 2 - 3 months to get the specs and prototypes working is not an onerous request.

Re:Rushing is usually bad (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665991)

As for the wireless mics, while we now know they were not explicitly licenced,

Which is to say, illegal.

they have been in use with the full knowledge of the FCC.

So if you break the law and let the law enforcement agency know, then you get to keep breaking the law? Or, would you think that you'd keep an eye on the situation, try to come up with some other way to do it, and try to actually comply with the law?

The FCC said NOTHING for 30 years. As a result, a lot of institutions have innocently invested thousands of dollars in the equipment and rely on them.

OK, so rather than a little crime, there is an entire illegal underground full of people committing felony conspiracy. And that's a good thing?

Thus, and extra 2 - 3 months to get the specs and prototypes working is not an onerous request.

Wait, so you are saying that you *want* people to be operating illegally when the change would have made them legal? Given the choice, you'd also rather reward people who conspire to break the law. And why should law-breaking squatters get preference over those that follow the law? I honestly don't get the level of defence I've seen for illegal wireless mic users.

Re:Rushing is usually bad (2, Insightful)

John Jamieson (890438) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666979)

Wow, lets stick to a discussion and not get excited. Please don't put words in my mouth, I did not do that to you.

You said "there is an entire illegal underground full of people committing felony conspiracy"
First, if the government is allowing every Radio Shack and Music store to run underground businesses, we have a much bigger issue than wireless mics. lol

"Given the choice, you'd also rather reward people who conspire to break the law."
Sorry, where is the conspiricy? The innocent people who bought them are the VICTIM not conspiritors.

"And why should law-breaking squatters get preference over those that follow the law?"
Ok, it is interesting you brought up squatting. As a matter of fact, according to basic law principles regarding squatting the FCC has given this spectrum away by inaction. (the concept is called the Doctrine of Laches and when it applies to real estate it is called Adverse Possession)

I enjoy a good debate, it opens the mind, but please don't sensationalize what I say. (eg "Wait, so you are saying that you *want* people to be operating illegally")

John

P.S. I have not found any case law to show the innocent parties that bought wireless systems (because they were allowed by the FCC to be sold), were committing a crime.

Remember, it affects TV reception in fringe areas (1)

John Jamieson (890438) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667079)

It seems that some people are assuming the broadcasters have issues with the wireless mics being interfered with. The broadcasters have rights to enough spectrum that they can find new areas to operate wireless mics. (It is the guys who just lost the investment)

The broadcasters are more concerned with these devices affecting TV signals in fringe areas. While these devices are low power, they will totally overwhelm a weak TV signal if they are close to a reciever.
(And we have not proved these devices will not cause intermodulation issues.)

Not good (1)

IcephishCR (7031) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663981)

I know the general feeling of /.'s are very pleased at these results. Just remember this the next time you are watching TV and the reporter's wireless microphone drops out, or you are at a concert and the singer goes silent.

How is a whitespace device supposed to hear a 50-100milliwatt transmitter from 1/2 miles away?

It could be transmitting a few watts and is desensing the wirelesss microphone's front end or overpowering the channel.

Sure the Pro Audio industry will need to make some changes to adapt, but users such as singers and corporate CEOs tend to get awful angry when their mic doesn't work...

I suppose Lectrosonics will get some additional business as they have a slick frequency hopping TX/RX pair that will help some - but there will still be some dropouts.

 

Re:Not good (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25664513)

I see that you are using the wireless microphone to demonstrate a couple of possible problems. I don't think that you've thought it through completely yet.

What happens when the mic is turned on/up. It will have to scan. If there is a WiFi link, it will have to move to the next channel and try again. Eventually, like the WiFi devices, it will find a channel and stay there. When WiFi devices are turned on, they will do the same. It's not nearly as bad as you think it's going to be. This type of link establishment is common on every TCP/IP network.

Because the devices are smart, the users don't have to be. Frequency hopping devices have the ability to limit any damage due to packet loss. That is the nature of the technology. It is designed to deal with such issues.

Typically, Tx and Rx are on separate channels, so the transmitter from a WiFi system will NOT desensitize the Mic's front end. This type of arrangement has been in use for decades to protect reception.

Now, if you truly think that this is so difficult and it's going to be fucked up, I would advise you to avoid any job in the radio-communications industry. You are not close to understanding how such things work.

Re:Not good (2, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25664721)

Just remember this the next time you are watching TV and the reporter's wireless microphone drops out

What's not to like?

Re:Not good (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665095)

Sure the Pro Audio industry will need to make some changes to adapt, but users such as singers and corporate CEOs tend to get awful angry when their mic doesn't work...

Dear me, has no one thought of the CEO's and over paid pop stars? The humanity...

I would have more symphathy for them if they weren't using devices which were unlicensed themselves to begin with.

Shall we all bemoan the fate of the black and white TV next? After all, come Febuary, these will stop working unless their owner shells out money for a converter box. And since most BW tv's don't have modern connectors and most converters don't have legacy connectors, it'll even more messy.

That at least, bothers people I'd actually care about.

Re:Not good (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665567)

"singers and corporate CEOs" did fine with wires not so long ago. Perhaps you should be asking yourself why we should give up huge slices of bandwidth that can do incredible things (look at all the things we do with the ISM band right now) just for the convenience of entertainers? Wires aint so bad.

Granted I could see a small exception for licensed microphones, but it would be a slim piece of the pie and everyone would have to upgrade regardless.

Rural Internet (5, Interesting)

synaptic (4599) | more than 5 years ago | (#25664033)

Finally!

Rural areas with rolling hills and trees have really limited options with regard to high-speed Internet access. Line of sight just wasn't one of nature's design goals. It's really difficult to have a cottage high-tech industry without the infrastructure to support it and the population density simply isn't there for the telcos to have any incentive to build it out.

Your best bet is Wildblue with 750-1500ms latency and 256kbps upload speed. You get used to it but forget sharing say a vmware image or uploading anything of substantial size. If you spend the time to do it, you also face rate-limiting from WildBlue once you pass a bandwidth threshold. Let us not forget wiping the snow off the dish, throwing a trash bag over the lnb when it rains, and wiggling the dish when you lose signal.

Sure, rural users can try to order a T1 but since the wired infrastructure isn't built out (else the telco would be offering high-speed services), you can bet on "special construction charges" of at least $4k on top of the $500/month service charge. ISDN? Same issue.

What about getting a ham radio license? That's fine and all, provided you don't ever use encryption, don't mind people intercepting your data, and remember to identify your station periodically.

The truth is that more than half of the country simply cannot acquire high-speed Internet access for a reasonable rate.

Re:Rural Internet (1)

epiphani (254981) | more than 5 years ago | (#25664667)

What about getting a ham radio license? That's fine and all, provided you don't ever use encryption, don't mind people intercepting your data, and remember to identify your station periodically.

I don't know much about ham radio (or radio in general) but I thought that the frequencies of ham simply did not provide the bandwidth that would allow a reasonable highspeed rate... can you explain how that would be set up? You've piqued my curiosity.

Re:Rural Internet (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665057)

> What about getting a ham radio license? That's fine and all, provided you don't ever use
> encryption, don't mind people intercepting your data, and remember to identify your
> station periodically.

And don't mind being shut down, losing your license, and being fined when you get caught.

Re:Rural Internet (1)

bendodge (998616) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665573)

No, it's perfectly fine, as long as you do as he said. It's also hideously expensive if you don't have the skill to mod your own Wifi equipment and have to pay for D-STAR equipment. Note that IAAH (I Am A Ham).

Re:Rural Internet (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665135)

Your best bet is Wildblue with 750-1500ms latency and 256kbps upload speed. ... you also face rate-limiting from WildBlue once you pass a bandwidth threshold. Let us not forget wiping the snow off the dish, throwing a trash bag over the lnb when it rains, and wiggling the dish when you lose signal.

My parents use HughesNet, a competing satellite Internet provider. The high ping times are inherent in the design, but the bandwidth is more like 1Mbps. They do have to remove snow occasionally in the winter, but so far as I know haven't had any other signal issues and they don't take any special measures when it rains.

The real issues, other than the latency, are the daily 350MB transfer cap and the price: ~$70/mo. including the amortized installation and hardware costs. Compared to DSL or cable Internet that is a lot of money for a very limited service. However, DSL and cable aren't available in their area, and 350MB is more than they could transfer in a day at dial-up speeds; in practice they rarely come close to exceeding the limit. In return they get an always-on connection with 25x the bandwidth and eliminate the need for a dedicated phone line.

Re:Rural Internet (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665461)

The truth is that more than half of the country simply cannot acquire high-speed Internet access for a reasonable rate.

Meaning half of the terrain, anyway. Not anywhere near half of the population. I think rural America is going to have to take matters into their own hands. Go talk to your county road commission, get permission to use right of way, and trench a fiber cable yourself. I don't see it happening any other way. Buy the equipment to run your telephone over it (if you have a landline), and the savings in phone bill plus what you've been paying WildBlue will eventually pay for it. Might take a while, but who cares. It's not like you'll ever stop using it.

Regulation isn't bad. (4, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25664595)

They want to deregulate. Which means there will be no one authority to control these whitespaces. I don't think I need to explain what happens to an unmanaged network resource with multiple authorities competing; Multiple DHCP or domain controllers, etc.

And no matter how you cut the bandwidth, there will be overhead, which increases as a function of the number of devices. While these devices may be logically separated, they are not physically separated, making the entire spectrum act like a hub-based network. And devices outside the range of other transcievers can still cause interference so long as the the device at the remote can hear that interference.

So let me say that this is NOT A TECHNICAL PROBLEM. This is a tragedy of the commons problem. And it will be hugely exasperated in dense urban areas -- except on a larger footprint. Whereas before geographies with high densities of wifi devices could only interfere with each other up to a hundred meters or so, now we're talking about metro-wide interference. It'll be like CB radio, but for digital communication. And it will never compete with hardline installations like it could if it were regulated.

This is the simple truth -- unless the FCC puts some form of regulation onto these bands prior to their first use, it's going to be a nightmare. It would be far better to license these bands for **non-profit use** (note I did NOT say non-commercial) somewhat like Ham radio, where people needed to aquire a license to transmit, and take classes, and have an ID associated with transmissions, and a regulatory body to monitor specious transmissions and revoke licenses or shut down non-compliant equipment as necessary. This plan stands the best chance of achiving a usable public, wireless, high speed network... which incidentally could carry internet traffic. Anything less, and all it takes is a few jerks with high power transmitters in an area to render the entire spectrum useless.

Re:Regulation isn't bad. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25664707)

Don't worry Obama and his Storm Troopers I mean SS, will just make it a crime so no one else can have a transmitter. Problem solved. All Hail Fauer Obama!

Re:Regulation isn't bad. (1)

TheSync (5291) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665719)

"So let me say that this is NOT A TECHNICAL PROBLEM."

This is a technical problem, because high-power large-area live MPEG-2 transport stream broadcasts are apples, and point-to-point TCP/IP (which can retransmit missed packets) is oranges. Whitespace mixes apples and oranges, and the oranges are going to step on the apples. Your neighbors apples.

Re:Regulation isn't bad. (2, Informative)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | more than 5 years ago | (#25665821)

Way to beat down on that straw man. So impressive. Not.

Nobody is proposing total deregulation. The FCC has absolutely no intention of throwing open unlicensed TV bands to anybody to do anything. Nobody has asked them to, either. ('cept possible crackpots.) Whitespace devices will have wattage limits and spectrum width limits. Hell, even the TV stations themselves have wattage and spectrum limits. It's not going to be anarchy, any more than Wi-Fi frequencies are anarchic.

Re:Regulation isn't bad. (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666339)

Hell, even the TV stations themselves have wattage and spectrum limits. It's not going to be anarchy, any more than Wi-Fi frequencies are anarchic.

Nobody uses overpowered CB radios, and nobody modifies their stock wifi with pringles cans and high power amplifiers to get more range. And in dense urban areas, with hundreds of networks, drive-by hacking, people 'stealing' internet from their neighbors, police arresting people for having laptops in their car...

No anarchy here. Move along, nothing to see here. I don't need to see your identification.

Re:Regulation isn't bad. (1)

anethema (99553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666439)

It would be far better to license these bands for **non-profit use** (note I did NOT say non-commercial) somewhat like Ham radio, where people needed to aquire a license to transmit, and take classes, and have an ID associated with transmissions, and a regulatory body to monitor specious transmissions and revoke licenses or shut down non-compliant equipment as necessary.

Hey guess what, we already have a VHF and UHF band where you have to take courses, get a license, and show an ID associated with the content you put on the air. It is called the Amateur(Ham) band!

Good idea though.

frequency band information ? (1)

cats-paw (34890) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667083)

I've been trying to find the actual frequencies which will be made available with no luck.

Anyone have a link ?

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