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Television White Space Spectrum Approved For Use By FCC

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the new-wireless-acronym-time dept.

Wireless Networking 107

New submitter ptmartin01 writes "The unused spectrum now assigned to television broadcast has been made available for public use by the FCC. This is going to be used for wireless applications (PDF) with implications that it will generate as much investment as the previous Wi-Fi spectrum. It also happens to be the last available spectrum to be exploited."

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First! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38487486)

Oh yeah.

TFS, it sucks (4, Informative)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#38489816)

The unused spectrum now assigned to television broadcast has been made available for public use by the FCC.

No. It hasn't. It's been made available for commercial use, following the long standing tradition at the FCC of giving the public nothing or next to nothing, and corporations everything.

Re:TFS, it sucks (0)

Achra (846023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38492700)

The unused spectrum now assigned to television broadcast has been made available for public use by the FCC.

No. It hasn't. It's been made available for commercial use, following the long standing tradition at the FCC of giving the public nothing or next to nothing, and corporations everything.

Are you kidding me? You're honestly complaining about the lack of spectrum that is available for public use?
http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Hambands_color.pdf [arrl.org]

Re:TFS, it sucks (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#38497996)

Are you kidding me? You're honestly complaining about the lack of spectrum that is available for public use?

Oy. Unbelievable the level of confusion and misunderstanding here. Look: The ham bands cannot legally be used for broadcast. Believe me, I know -- I'm a ham, have been for decades, and I currently hold the highest class license as well as having held a first class FCC broadcast engineer license.

What I'm speaking of here is the lack of bands that the PUBLIC, by which I mean everyone/anyone, can use to broadcast to the PUBLIC, by which I again mean everyone/anyone. For instance, the ability to set up a small AM or FM or TV station and broadcast a program on [FITB] to your community. There's nothing like that. NOTHING. Every speck of broadcast space of that nature is awarded to corporations; should you somehow brave the incredible morass of licensing and FCC type requirements and the associated horrible expense, and manage to put up a "low power" station, you will find that you are, in fact, an organization of considerable heft, as opposed to a citizen who wants to put on a program about [FITB].

The fact is, however, FCC aside, the effort required to put up a *technically* rules compliant FM or AM station good for your local community is negligible. $100 would do a fine job, even less if you were a technie type and built it. Maybe $200 if you want to go with TV. We're facing government requirements as the blocking issue here. Nothing else.

The ham bands can be used by licensed hams talking to one another, about a specifically limited range of subjects, can't be used to play music -- even if it's original music YOU wrote and own all the rights to -- and so on. There's zero provision for broadcast in the ham bands, they're no more useful for that than are the "public" wifi frequencies a modern DSL modem occupies or the "citizen's band."

There's plenty of spectrum available for you and yours to talk to each other, or the plumber to talk to his plumbing vans, etc. The issue here is BROADCASTING. Get it now?

Re:TFS, it sucks (1)

Achra (846023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38499312)

The issue here is BROADCASTING. Get it now?

Oh! You were talking about BROADCASTING. It's too bad you didn't mention anything about broadcasting in your original post. I hold an extra class ticket too. It looked to me like you were mindlessly ranting about how the government doesn't give spectrum to the public, which it in fact does (in spades). The whole silly idea of letting every unlicensed idiot broadcast is nonsense. How in the world would you keep them from interfering with each other? How would you regulate these unlicensed broadcast stations _at all_? I've seen how much the FCC polices GMRS.
Yes, you're right. You can't setup a radio or TV broadcast station out of your house without considerable difficulty. If, however, you'd like to setup a point-point internet over radio service, you're welcome to do that over the ham bands. Folks do it all the time. You can't use them for commercial use, you can't transmit music (although you _can_ transmit video). In actual fact, you can setup a _very_ QRP FM broadcast station according to the FCC regs, but I doubt you could be heard more than a block away at the requisite power levels. In the future, try to be more clear about what you are talking about before getting worked up because you've been misunderstood.

That's funny (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487488)

That's funny, all the other nation states will be forced to copy when the subsequent products are released. I also believe there are some very high frequencies out there that are used now but have not been passed to civilians for use, (with lies attached :0) )! 70Ghz+ ish. No one considers these in their calculations but the tech is well understood ...

Re:That's funny (2, Interesting)

LucidBeast (601749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487552)

There is a lot of whitespace activity in Europe. Here is one summary [google.com] .

The last? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38487508)

I don't think so....

There's still all that damm useless FM spectrum. it's nothing but repepating commercials with a little music anyway. the world won't miss it.

Re:The last? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38489708)

LOL. Looks like the RIAA shills are out today.

When you say public... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38487516)

...I assume what you actually mean is "commercial."

Capitalism, ho! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38487532)

It also happens to be the last available spectrum to be exploited.

There has to be a nicer word than exploited to use here.

What it is, I can't think of it off the top of my head, but exploited sounds so dirty.

Re:Capitalism, ho! (4, Interesting)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487712)

it's also a little bit of BS - there is a tremendous amount of spectrum, not only is there spectrum that is inefficiently used there is also spectrum that is just beginning to become useable due to advances in technology. I hardly believe that white space TV spectrum is the last bastion of wireless communications.....

Re:Capitalism, ho! (3, Interesting)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487872)

It's a lot like the IPv4 address space.

Re:Capitalism, ho! (0)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 2 years ago | (#38488036)

Yeah, they could probably squeeze another 60 Mhz out of the military's spectrum.

My wish list if they do:

The channels need to be 5 Mhz by default, so there would be 11 non-overlapping channels, instead of 3. The bandwidth would be fine for 99% of the people who just get on the Net with their wireless. If someone needs 100 Mbps, they need to not use this new spectrum. How much freaking bandwidth has been wasted getting people 300 Mbps, when most people are going as fast as their DSL goes!

The power needs to be on low by default, with the ability to log in and turn up the power if needed.

Re:Capitalism, ho! (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38488180)

You do realize that wireless does alot more then get pictures to grandma's computer, right? Its nice to have a wireless LAN technology that can at least keep up with 10/100 Ethernet.

Re:Capitalism, ho! (2)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 2 years ago | (#38488330)

Then use existing tech. 99% of the people only use wireless for surfing the net. Do you not see how much spectrum is doing nothing but giving people less non-overlapping channels?

It's all fine and dandy when you live in the sticks. Go to an apartment and set up a router. Oh, there is nobody on channel one, and everyone else is on 6 and 11...but it seems a couple of idiots set their equipment to channel 3, which interferes with 1 & 6. Who the hell thought that one up. Let's let them think they were getting 11 channels, but only 3 are non-overlapping. Oh, and then let's give them a super turbo mode that uses up half the wifi band!

Try setting up wifi for a hotel with 3 channels and not getting self interference. Try operating a WISP and use 2.4. Wow, you get 3 channels to work with. You can use equipment that has 5 Mhz channels, but you shoot over Grandma's house, who's grandson got her a really fast N router to get her email and do facebook with.

Really, a person would think in America, we could do better, but hey, it is easier to sell wireless equipment when you can advertise it gets 300 Mbps. Now that's capitalism.

Re:Capitalism, ho! (1)

Montezumaa (1674080) | more than 2 years ago | (#38489180)

Talk about pulling numbers out of your ass. Far more than 1% of the population lives in rural areas, which are greatly under-served, in regards to "broadband" internet access. I happen to live in such an area, where we have no landline-based "broadband" access.

I use to consume 10GB to 15GB a day, but I now have to keep my usage to 10GB, or less(though I usually go over 10GB). I pay a lot of money in bills, supporting AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and others, yet no company is willing to provide "broadband" access out here. My street alone has enough potential subscribers to pay any company willing, 10 times over, to run access out here. Yet, these companies(outside of Verizon, which does not offer landline services out here) take our money and invests it in the City of Atlanta, and some of the outlying suburban area.

I do agree that we need to utilize the technology as efficiently as possible. You just need to keep these imaginary figures out of the discussion.

I want "broadband" access where I am able to download games, windows updates, and other functions, without running into paying $80 for 10GB of data usage, plus $10 per GB in overages(thanks Verizon).

Re:Capitalism, ho! (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | more than 2 years ago | (#38489860)

I don't know what service you have but 10GB a day costs me $100 PER DAY. I get 5GB per MONTH with $10 for each 1GB thereafter (10GB per month == $100).

Re:Capitalism, ho! (1)

ogdenk (712300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38491220)

We were lucky enough to be "grandfathered" in on a truly unlimited 3G plan with AT&T otherwise we'd still be using dialup. They tried to start capping us at 5GB/month until we threatened with lawyers. There's no WiMax, DSL, or cable available here. My options are a T-1 at great expense, overpriced bandwidth-capped satellite access with latency issues, dialup (can only connect at 19.2 do to crappy phone lines) or a cell modem.

What pisses me off is Verizon took tax payer funds to run fiber out to last-mile residences and instead of doing the work, they bought a struggling satellite provider for cheap and pocketed the rest claiming they provided broadband.

They don't even care that I have a business need for the access and refuse to run the cable the last 3/4 of a mile to my home. Trust me, I've thought of doing evil things to their equipment in the area. Been going round and round with them for 6 years now with no progress. At least they stopped with the empty promises and admitted they have no intention of providing the access recently.

Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38492864)

Must be nice where your daily routine is to watch 15GB of video a day. Do you even work?

Then start your own company (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495154)

My street alone has enough potential subscribers to pay any company willing, 10 times over, to run access out here.

Including the company you would start?

Re:Capitalism, ho! (1)

ogdenk (712300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38491178)

You know 802.11 (what you call WiFi) is intended to be a substitute for ethernet for LOCAL networks right? You know it's used for more than internet access right? You know there's several business uses for it besides facebook too right?

Nobody ever said you'd get 300Mbps Internet access but I use the hell out of that 300Mbps moving large files around my home network between our server, the PC hooked to the TV, our desktops, our laptops, etc.

If you want wireless access straight to the net, why do you have 802.11 at all, what you want is 802.16 which is intended to provide wireless internet access. Buying an access point and monthly DSL just to use Facebook from your cheap Walmart laptop without plugging into the wall is kind of a waste of money. Get a WiMax card. This White-Space deal is to provide something like WiMax over unused old TV frequencies.

And if interference is that big of a deal, remember you looked at the box and saw it was 2.4GHz, your brain should have turned on and realized MOST cheap consumer gear including your microwave oven uses that spectrum. If you live in a super-crowded area with lots of idiots who don't know how to configure the shiny toy they bought, you're going to have problems. It's not the technologies fault most people can't read a pamphlet and you can't engineer around that.

If interference is really that big of a deal to you 802.11a has been around forever and uses the 5GHz spectrum. b, g and cheap n gear do NOT. And if you don't want to learn anything about wireless tech and find that confusing, maybe trying to play "IT guy" without the experience was a dumb move.

Re:Capitalism, ho! (2)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 2 years ago | (#38491520)

OMG, eggnog must cause reading comprehension problems or something. If you read what I said, I said we need to squeeze 60 Mhz out of military spectrum and do something similar to 802.11 (wifi), only this time, do it correctly. I never once said anything about cutting off anyone's N routers (even though never pushing them to people who didn't need them would have been the correct thing to do for America).

> but I use the hell out of that 300Mbps moving large files around my home network

For every one of you, there are 9 other people who do nothing but surf the Net and cause interference with each other. I would bet good money on it.

> And if interference is that big of a deal

If you think it is not that big a deal, you should go and wire a hotel for 802.11, or you should have to go work for a WISP and work customer support. I've done both. After you do that, get back with me. I'm painfully aware of all the unlicensed spectrum issues. Satan runs a wireless network in hell, and when really bad people die, they don't just go to hell, they are in charge of maintaining the wireless network. Yeah, it's that bad.

Re:Capitalism, ho! (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38489268)

And if you make that the non-default the people who actually need it can still have it and all the Grandmas of the world will still get their pictures without unintentionally wasting local spectrum resources.

Re:Capitalism, ho! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38496136)

"How much freaking bandwidth has been wasted getting people 300 Mbps, when most people are going as fast as their DSL goes!"

If this FCC change will be in effect for the next 20+ years, I would venture to say 300mbps will be a slow internet connection.

Need to think in a bigger and longer picture.

Re:Capitalism, ho! (4, Informative)

Biogenesis (670772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38490004)

I don't have the FCC's spectrum allocation chart handy, but here's the one for Australia: http://www.acma.gov.au/webwr/radcomm/frequency_planning/spectrum_plan/arsp-wc.pdf [acma.gov.au]

The only unallocated spectrum is below 9kHz and above 275GHz. Obviously a lot of overlap can occur at VHF and above (if you allow for the odd tropospheric ducting event to cause interference) but TV is the last of the big chunks of spectrum, everything on the chart that isn't broadcasting (orange/red colour) is hacked up into small pieces.

Re:Capitalism, ho! (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38490046)

What about subspace? Errrrrrr.... Reality .... REALITY.... sorry I'm ok now. Never mind.

Re:Capitalism, ho! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38490576)

nicer

Pussy.

So Is This For Licensed Or Unlicensed Use? (4, Interesting)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487534)

Hopefully someone can clear this up for me.

Throughout the development of the "white space" spectrum, one thing that has never been clear to me is what it's going to be used for. It keeps getting compared to Wi-Fi, but then you'll have articles like this one that talk about commercial uses.

The launch of commercial white spaces services marks a victory for big technology companies

So which is it? Am I going to be able to drop a router in my house and run my wireless LAN on different frequencies, or is this just going to be another segment of licensed spectrum for selling wireless broadband?

Re:So Is This For Licensed Or Unlicensed Use? (4, Informative)

Tx (96709) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487564)

I was wondering the same thing. I guess if there was a "killer app" for white space spectrum, we'd have heard about it. This page [allthingsd.com] summarises it so; "Unlicensed spectrum opens the door to all kinds of uses, but the use most commonly talked about is to provide fixed and wireless broadband Internet services. It could also prove a good technology for moving video and other bulky data types around the home."

Re:So Is This For Licensed Or Unlicensed Use? (0)

wmbetts (1306001) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487566)

unmod....

Re:So Is This For Licensed Or Unlicensed Use? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38487570)

That is the absolute 100% incorrectness right this minuteness with absolutely zero failness.

Re:So Is This For Licensed Or Unlicensed Use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38487848)

I can't tell if you're trolling or not so I'll give a real answer. Public use means unregulated use. Big companies will make use of it in one way or another. Even if it's used to run your LAN someone is going to sell you the gear to do so which will be a big tech company. WiFi was a huge boom for companies looking to offer features on their products and the supposition is that this too will provide that kind of boost.

Re:So Is This For Licensed Or Unlicensed Use? (4, Interesting)

Trip Ericson (864747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487878)

When spectrum is unlicensed, it can be used for both commercial and non-commercial uses. My ISP operates its end-user links on 900 MHz unlicensed spectrum, but its backhauls are on highly-directional 2.4 GHz unlicensed links. That, of course, does not mean that 2.4 GHz cannot also be used for wifi in the home, or that 900 MHz cannot also be used for cordless phones. (In fact, I had to replace one of my cordless phones when I got my Internet connection because the two would interfere badly. If the phone was on the exact same frequency as the Internet, it'd knock the Internet out, but if it was merely adjacent, I would hear modem sounds on the phone.)

Re:So Is This For Licensed Or Unlicensed Use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38488162)

That's why you should look into DECT digital phones that uses licensed 1.9GHz.

Re:So Is This For Licensed Or Unlicensed Use? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38488260)

So which is it? Am I going to be able to drop a router in my house and run my wireless LAN on different frequencies, or is this just going to be another segment of licensed spectrum for selling wireless broadband?

You really need to ask this question? Of course its not "for" us, except for us to buy products based on it.

Re:So Is This For Licensed Or Unlicensed Use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38490704)

Possible uses include peer-to-peer internetworking that isn't under the control of an ISP, is free (as in speech and as in beer), isn't easily regulated by the government, and could be useful for all sorts of disruptive, subversive, and/or anonymous information sharing. The low end of the allocated spectrum (~54 MHz), even at one watt, should provide a range of 1-10 miles or more.

Re:So Is This For Licensed Or Unlicensed Use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38493330)

Commercial means that companies will be licensed to be able to use that portion of spectrum, and you'll end up paying a monthly fee to use it -- much like cellular.

Public is like the ISM portions: go buy yourself an AP and use it as you see fit. Fight amongst your neighbours.

My money is on this being commercial -- ISM does not bring revenue (although it probably helps the GDP more)

White space (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487670)

Are they talking about the guard bands?

Can I watch these new applications on TV . . . ? (5, Interesting)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487672)

So what if I haul that old, dusty analog TV out of the attic, switch it on and tune it to one of these new applications? What will I see? Strange, weird pulsating patterns? Or garbled snow and fuzzy sounds?

Will I be able to tell the difference between that mess, and usual broadcast television content?

Maybe the old TV can be used as a Lava Lamp effect light? It would be interesting to see how the television circuitry tries to interpret these new application coded signals as television signals.

Probably like something SETI is trying to do.

Re:Can I watch these new applications on TV . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38487690)

That is incredibly interesting.
I really want to try this out and find out.

Re:Can I watch these new applications on TV . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38487880)

It'll be like the early days of scrambled pay channels. If you stare long enough, you'll see the occasional butt or nipple.

I remember that on analog cable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38488072)

I remember that on analog cable some times the sound came in as well. Also I remember the day when the cable co messed up and had analog PPV unscrambled and I saw some movies for free to bad it was not adult movies.

Re:Can I watch these new applications on TV . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38488204)

If you stare at anything long enough, you'll see that anyway.

Re:Can I watch these new applications on TV . . . (4, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487886)

So what if I haul that old, dusty analog TV out of the attic, switch it on and tune it to one of these new applications? What will I see?

I Love Lucy.

Re:Can I watch these new applications on TV . . . (2)

Megane (129182) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487894)

Probably nothing. If you tune that analog TV to a digital channel, you see nothing but snow, just like a channel with nothing on it. That's because an efficient use of the channel would look as random as the data in a zip file.

Re:Can I watch these new applications on TV . . . (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38488102)

Yeah, the higher the data rate, the more like snow it'll look.

For an example of this, listen to a fax transmission (or other phone line modem). The tone dialling at the start is simple enough for a human to learn to decode. Once the connection's made, the two modems start off at very low rates, producing clear, recognizable tones. Then over a few seconds they'll negotiate progressively faster protocols, which sound more and more complex until they're indistinguishable from white noise.

Re:Can I watch these new applications on TV . . . (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 2 years ago | (#38488530)

So what if I haul that old, dusty analog TV out of the attic, switch it on and tune it to one of these new applications?

I have no idea but you just made me think, instead of recycling all of these old televisions, if somebody has one in great condition and keeps it, it would probably be worth something major decades from now. Or at least it would make an interesting museum piece. Or maybe it would just be old crap. Never mind.

Re:Can I watch these new applications on TV . . . (1)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 2 years ago | (#38488608)

If they can last decades without growing tin whiskers or having the capacitors fail the next time it's used is a different story. Up until earlier this month, I was using an old CRT had thad faithfully served me daily these last 10 years. All of a sudden, there was a loud POP and the TV shut off. When I tried to turn it on again, there was only a loud sparking noise and no picture so I unplugged it real fast. I'm guessing a capacitor blew. All I can do is guess since there's no way in hell I'm opening up a CRT... too dangerous.

Re:Can I watch these new applications on TV . . . (2)

ogdenk (712300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38491454)

I think the tin whiskers issues are a little overblown.... power supply issues and occasional dead caps can be a problem. Every antique piece of electronics I've resuscitated usually had power supply issues or blown caps near the power supply.... or unseated chips.

Some things surprise you though.... my old Atari 400 fires right up.

Opening up a CRT is only dangerous if you are careless. If you discharge the tube properly, the danger is minimal or non-existent. CRT repair used to be expected of techs. My money is on the DC power supply failing in your TV. Probably not worth repairing unless it was a really cool TV. I still repair CRT VGA monitors if they are really nice and the repair isn't very expensive. Solder and caps are cheap. I replaced a couple caps in my big Sony Wega HD CRT TV. Why? Because I can watch newer HD content AND my wife can play super mario brothers without it looking like badly upscaled garbage.

For a run-of-the-mill TV, I may not bother. If there was something special about it I might have a go at it. I actually find soldering and prodding at electronics relaxing. Especially old through-hole stuff.

Re:Can I watch these new applications on TV . . . (1)

dfries (466073) | more than 2 years ago | (#38489788)

So what if I haul that old, dusty analog TV out of the attic, switch it on and tune it to one of these new applications? What will I see? Strange, weird pulsating patterns? Or garbled snow and fuzzy sounds?

I would expect it to be similar to the channels that are now carrying digital tv channels. Both an unused channel and a channel that is now broadcasting digitally display a snow pattern, but the digital channel is distinct, still snow, but a different enough pattern that if you see both you can visibly identify the difference. That is unless the analog decoder replaces the snow with a solid color (like blue).

Frequency ranges??? (3, Interesting)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487730)

I'm certain someone knows exactly what frequency ranges are being discussed, but apparently no one (including the FCC) really want to make that information available. "White spaces" is a marketing term that doesn't inform.

Re:Frequency ranges??? (4, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487786)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TV_Band_Devices [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_spaces_%28radio%29#FCC_decision

Re:Frequency ranges??? (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 2 years ago | (#38490198)

Reading your wikipedia links, it appears that the term "white spaces between channels" does not describe what is being used. Instead, channels that aren't being locally used for TV are being made available for non-TV use. "Fixed devices may use any of the vacant US TV channels 2, 5-36 and 38-51".

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38487796)

I would say everybody here who has questions should start with researching The Telecommunications Act of 1996. Go from there...

It's not the last (2, Insightful)

Garybaldy (1233166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487820)

The FCC could try to take away some of the amateur radio spectrum. Every now again they try to take some away. In so far they have not been successful. It is only a matter of time though. What with the number of new hams decreasing every year.

Re:It's not the last (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487876)

There is actually a lot of individual interest in ham radio. At least the frequencies. Most, if not all, is for private packet networks. Unfortunately, people are finding serious road blocks. I hate to say the "r" word; but, it is being so heavily regulated many have lost interest. The fear is that people will create what they had in Mexico, an encrypted grid network set up by the cartel for communication.

Re:It's not the last (1)

Garybaldy (1233166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487932)

I can't speak for any numbers. One thing that I hope will give the FCC pause. Is the thought that hams like me will continue to operate in any spectrum they take away. I am not some company that can write off the useless gear I would possess. Or just as easily replace it.

Re:It's not the last (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38488078)

Did you ever consider. Learning when to use periods?

Re:It's not the last (3, Funny)

morethanapapercert (749527) | more than 2 years ago | (#38488292)

You. Should. Bemoreunderstanding. Shatner Syndrome is a...crippling disease.

Re:It's not the last (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38488842)

My gf skipped her periods. Now I've been married for 20 years.

Re:It's not the last (1)

Garybaldy (1233166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38493680)

Sorry your so offended by my literally skills or lack there off. Worse things to be offended off. You know like spelling Nazis.

Re:It's not the last (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38489352)

Nah, the real fear is that we might create a cell network with free texting, no dropped calls, operated at cost in the public interest and leave DHS and the major carriers high and dry.

Re:It's not the last (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38493656)

Correct. Like the one they had in Mexico.

Re:It's not the last (3, Informative)

the coose (171981) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487930)

Actually, see here [slashdot.org] . Also, amateur radio bands exist in almost all parts of the spectrum from HF up to UHF but taken collectively [arrl.org] it doesn't amount to much when compared to the whole spectrum.

Re:It's not the last (1)

Garybaldy (1233166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38487952)

Oh I am aware. 33 KF6FJQ

Re:It's not the last (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38488006)

The FCC could try to take away some of the amateur radio spectrum. Every now again they try to take some away. In so far they have not been successful. It is only a matter of time though. What with the number of new hams decreasing every year.

You might want to check your facts. The number of licensees in the U.S. is actually at an all-time high. It's been climbing since 2007, when the FCC dropped an outdated Morse Code proficiency requirement. See graphs [ah0a.org] and some additional stats [arrl.org] for the details.

Re:It's not the last (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38488222)

Mod parent up!
Posting AC because I moderated already and ran out of points.

Re:It's not the last (1)

rgbrenner (317308) | more than 2 years ago | (#38488560)

so there are 1.8% more licensees than in 2003. bfd

Re:It's not the last (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38491598)

There's only been about 10k new licenses a year since the 2007 change. I don't really disagree with you but the numbers are hardly that strong.

Re:It's not the last (1)

Garybaldy (1233166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38493652)

I have been licensed for only 15 years a drop in the bucket to some hams. Still, the code requirements were dropped to reduce the depreciating number of new licenses. Your numbers while technically true. Are marginal compared to a decade ago or the decade before that. All the code dropping really did, Was get most of the technician class to upgrade. Not really the goal we were after.

Re:It's not the last (2)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | more than 2 years ago | (#38491442)

The FCC could try to take away some of the amateur radio spectrum. Every now again they try to take some away. In so far they have not been successful. It is only a matter of time though. What with the number of new hams decreasing every year.

Second thing first. There are not less and less Hams every year.

There isn't all that much spectrum to take away form Hams. And much of it is completely useless for digital work anyhow. The LF and HF bands in various neighborhoods from 1.8 to 30 MHz are prone to atmospheric static, and propagation effects that will occasionally cause microwatt signals to propagate around the world. And varying based on time of day or year. Then there are solar events that simply kill the bands. An 11 year sunspot cycle changes the band conditions too. Just won't work. Do some searching on Broadband over Power Line - or BPL. It interferes with signals at those frequencies, and can be totally knocked out by small transmitters.

We'll be wanting frequencies that are both line of sight around 100 MHz and above, and not prone to propagation. So we're then talking about UHF and up.

But even then we have to be careful, because of an effect called intermodulation. This is when two signals heterodyne together, and produce a third signal. This is not uncommon at antenna sites where all manner of stray signals are produced that are not intentional.

Anyhow, the one thing that Politicians and lawyers and F.C.C. policy wonks - and apparently a lot of digital engineers - don't understand is that the concept of "efficient spectrum use" will make spectrum useless as the various signals mix together and interfere with each other.

There is also the Shannon-Hartly Theorem, which deals with the maximum data rate that can be transmitted over a particular bandwidth at a particular frequency. In general it tells us that the max data rate at a given frequency is enforced by the combination of the bandwidth of the signal, which tends to increase with frequency, and the signal to noise ratio.

There is a way in principle to get around this - sorta. By using certain modulation techniques, such as shifting phase of the signals, you can get around the limit. Say if you split the signals into quadrature phasing, you can transmit x times more than the SH limit would seem to allow. Increasing the number of phase increments - limited only by the ability to differentiate on the receiving end. In principle this allows for infinte bandwidth. Unfortunately SH isn't really violated, and the transmitting power levels needed rapidly become infinite. The only practical future for these systems is to have informed people start to come up with what needs to be where. We need to get as much as possible onto fiber and off the air. We may also need to do some serious frequency shifting if we want to continue to grow the smartphone market. Get their frequencies high as possible. This will naturally tend to make the useable distances shorter - which sounds bad, but actually allows (makes a demand for) for more local towers that will get the signals onto fiber all that much more quickly.

Re:It's not the last (1)

Garybaldy (1233166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38493662)

Yes the number of new hams since the code requirements were dropped has gone up. However the number is so small you might as well consider it a rounding error.

Re:It's not the last (2)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | more than 2 years ago | (#38498386)

rounding error.

Reading the numbers of operators is a pretty inexact task to be sure. But hardly rounding error level.

At this point, there are around 700K amateur Radio operators. Since we've had the ULS system, the number has dipped as low as 655K.

The number of licensees varies by month to month, as inactive or dead hams are removed from the rolls. The license period is for ten years, so that inactive hams will be removed after 2 years after expiration. That 2 year grace period is a courtesy in case the Ham is actually active or wants to become active again and had simply forgot to renew.

To compound the uncertainty, there is no way of telling whether or not any licensee is active.

But what is important to take away from the statistics is the trend, upward or downward.

To have an idea of what the numbers mean in some sort of context, during a previous era of expansion, there were many licensees who we refer to as "Honeydew Hams", they got their licenses - usually the Technician version, before cell phones were widespread. They would use repeaters and phone patches to call home to see if they needed to do anything like stop at the store - hence the "honeydew this, honeydew that" moniker.

After cell phones became more common, they became inactive, and many did not renew their licenses. That was a wave of dropoffs.

Then, there was the Morse code testing issue. Once upon a time, that was pretty important.But as time went on, some serious problems became apparent with that system. With modern computer based modes, low power tiny bandwidth modes became useable by anyone who had a license and a computer. The computer can now even do Morse code. In addition to the technical advances, there was another, less pleasant issue. Many of Amateur radio's older adherents and some of the newer ones, were proud of their ability to send and recieve Morse code, and they weren't terribly welcoming to newcomers, in fact many made it a point to try to scare new Hams away. I'd experienced this nastyness myself, as a so-called "Nickle Ham", only capable of slower Morse code operation because I am deaf.

But eventually, commons sense prevailed, and Morse code operation became just another mode, and not tested for license grant. And at this moment, there are about 50 K more Hams than there were a few years ago

We have actually expanded our spectrum a bit recently. But as I noted before, it is in areas where Computer or smartphone transmission and reception wouldn't be practical.

eat shit, Slashdot editors (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38488118)

and may you get cancer for Christmas

This is a godsend (2)

MetricT (128876) | more than 2 years ago | (#38488154)

My parents live a mile off the main road at the bottom of a valley. No DSL, cable, 3g/4g, satellite, but with the help of a big honking antenna and a couple of amplifiers, they can pick up solid TV signals.

I'm salivating at the prospect of getting two of these radios and trying to set up a point-to-point bridge between their house and mine. The 145-225 MHz band out to be a lot more amenable to line-of-sight obstacles than 2.4 GHz.

Re:This is a godsend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38488570)

My parents live a mile off the main road at the bottom of a valley. No DSL, cable, 3g/4g, satellite, but with the help of a big honking antenna and a couple of amplifiers, they can pick up solid TV signals.

I'm salivating at the prospect of getting two of these radios and trying to set up a point-to-point bridge between their house and mine. The 145-225 MHz band out to be a lot more amenable to line-of-sight obstacles than 2.4 GHz.

I'm curious what kind of distance your talking. My parents have the exact same issue only it's only that they are in the boonies. No valley's or anything. What would I need to put a good internet signal to them without running afowl of the feds? How far could I throw said signal?

Re:This is a godsend (1)

s4ltyd0g (452701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38489166)

145-225Mhz right smack in the middle of the HAM bands. These are not the frequencies being talked about in the FA.

regards
p

Re:This is a godsend (1)

hardwarefreak (899370) | more than 2 years ago | (#38499352)

Why wait? Intsall one of these at each house, with a relatively clear line of sight between them, align them, and you're all set, and for less than $200:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833997181 [newegg.com]

11-54Mb/s betweern them which should be plenty of B/W for your use case. For distances up to a few miles the internal antenna are fine. Configure both units for ethernet bridge mode and configure MAC filtering to keep others from abusing the bridge. I'll leave the rest to you, as surely you can figure it out, being a /. member.

Unused spectrum? (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 2 years ago | (#38488442)

"The unused spectrum now assigned to television broadcast" .... NBC ???

Re:Unused spectrum? (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 2 years ago | (#38488688)

No - Fox!

I just wish I could watch TV on it (3, Informative)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38488644)

This DTV shit is for the birds, even with an external antenna and an amplifier the best I can get is 2 seconds of video with unsynced sound before the garbage freezes up for 15 seconds. Thanks Bush, sunk a hundred bucks into your bullshit little boxes and ended up getting fucking cable anyway so I can watch the god damned local news.

Re:I just wish I could watch TV on it (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38489126)

You could have had two of those boxes for free. I let the opportunity slip me by too, but the difference is, I don't care. I want all broadcast television to die, and I want to use at least part of the spectrum freed up to solve the last mile problem, and make the USPS irrelevant once and for all.

Re:I just wish I could watch TV on it (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38489196)

um it was never free ... 2 40$ coupons with 60$ boxes, notice how the boxes jumped up in price when the coupons were announced, and drastically reduced the second the program ended. Then I have 1 more TV, so without even getting into the other bullshit that's 100$ in boxes that don't fucking work. (never-mind those coupons did not get paid for by wishes and unicorn farts)

and lol yea seriously you think this spectrum is going to solve anything on the last mile? its been how many years since its been gone and the best they can do is "wireless applications"? it was already fucking wireless its radio space! They have no plans for it, they have no real use for it ...its going to sit there and be empty for a decade.

lastly I still like the news and I prefer that my physical goods be delivered, a lot of fat fucking good a picture of a celphone on my computer does me.

Re:I just wish I could watch TV on it (2)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 2 years ago | (#38489978)

blah blah blah

You forgot to add, "Get off my lawn!"

Re:I just wish I could watch TV on it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38492496)

My magnavox converter came with a non-functional remote control with no other way to turn it on. Well, there was a power switch that powered it up into standby mode.. so I had to wait a couple of years before I found the code for a universal remote. Then there was nothing but commercials on.

Re:I just wish I could watch TV on it (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38499454)

This DTV shit is for the birds, even with an external antenna and an amplifier the best I can get is 2 seconds of video with unsynced sound before the garbage freezes up for 15 seconds. Thanks Bush, sunk a hundred bucks into your bullshit little boxes and ended up getting fucking cable anyway so I can watch the god damned local news.

I'm in the opposite boat. Unintelligable static on analog gave way to a crystal clear high-definition picture, with a ton of sub-channels, and was directly responsible for my canceling my DTV subscription (900 channels playing repeats of Law & Order, CSI, and a thousand other repeats of broadcast TV shows).

You complain loudly, yet you didn't provide any facts. What city is this? What antenna did you buy? Which amp and why (they usually make things worse, not better)? What reciever areee you using? What's the height above terrain, which direction, and which channels are problematic? This is /. I'm willing to bet if you provided any info, you'd actually get useful responses, in-between the insults...

Re:I just wish I could watch TV on it (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38499718)

I am not taking a geological survey to get OTA tv that was coming in crystal clear when it was analog, I will tell you exactly what the problem is, the signals are not as strong and I live on the outskirts of the city

the plan worked fine, there is yet one more "happy subscriber" to cable service to fix a once non existent problem

where are the unused channels located (2)

Daa (9883) | more than 2 years ago | (#38489702)

I just looked in the Denver Area using the Spaectrum Bridge system, there is 1 white space frequency available for use, all the others are already blocked by existing TV usage. that single 6Mhz slot means that at least in the denver city area trying to make use of "White Space" for networking is basically useless. I would like to see a map of the US with the number of channels available per 10 sq. miles plotted across the country. I'm guessing that there will be lots of bandwidth available where there are low population densities and little bandwidth available where most of the population is located. .

Re:where are the unused channels located (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38489878)

I agree that metro areas will probably see little benefit. Those of us in the low population density areas need white space wireless networking. Many of us have no fiber, copper, or cable available.

Seven years ago, Verizon (the LATA owner) quoted $275K to run a voice line to my residence. (Whatever became of all those "Universal Access Fees" I paid when I lived in the big metro areas?)

The only option available to me for internet is satellite (I use HughesNet - ugh, what a joke). The latency alone makes my blood boil - never mind the slow speed and ridiculous data usage caps.

Re:where are the unused channels located (1)

user32.ExitWindowsEx (250475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38490182)

$275,000? where do you live?

Re:where are the unused channels located (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38490216)

Rural Crockett County, Texas. Approximately seven miles (by air) east of Iraan, Pecos County, Texas.

Re:where are the unused channels located (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38491652)

Yikes. I honestly don't know how people manage out there so detached from everything. I think I would die of boredom.

Not knocking it, mind you.

Why aren't there more unused channels? (1)

Ken_g6 (775014) | more than 2 years ago | (#38490322)

Elsewhere in Colorado, that system [spectrumbridge.com] shows 4 white spaces for me.

But this strikes me as very odd. I believe there are about 45 TV channels available. Here, I can only think of about six being used. Even rabbitears.info only lists 24 TV channels in use in this market, most of which are repeaters absurdly far away from me. So why aren't there 21-39 white spaces available? Is it a case of interference around other channels?

Re:where are the unused channels located (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38490876)

LA has no whitespace available. Every single TV broadcast frequency is in use, so in one of the nation's largest markets this is a useless technology. Good work, FCC!

Re:where are the unused channels located (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38496366)

What this packed spectrum In Denver means is the consumer electronics industry will sell large numbers of devices which will interfere with local TV signals, further undermining free over the air TV. A big win for CE companies, telcos, cable/sat; big loss for those without money. FCC for several administrations has been hell-bent on destroying free TV.

Why white spaces in the TV bands? (3, Informative)

storkus (179708) | more than 2 years ago | (#38490034)

For the same reason they keep trying to steal the amateur 70cm band (420-450 MHz in the New World, 420-440 MHz elsewhere): the propagation happens to lie in a "sweet spot" of being able to penetrate vegetation, buildings, etc with minimal loss, high power can be generated rather cheaply and easily, and yet there sufficient bandwidth to be able to do high speed data and what-not.

Further up into the microwaves (including mid and high-UHF) you get more bandwidth but attenuation and lower power generation (necessitating directional antennas for most apps) become problematic: witness the differences between the original 800/900 MHz cell bands and the PCS bands at 1700-2100 MHz.

Further down you start needing big antennas to do anything and man-made interference (static and such) starts becoming a real issue. Also, while VHF TV exists where it does for historical reasons, available bandwidth starts getting real scarce as you go down here. Finally, in the low VHF band (FM radio and below) you start seeing ionospheric propagation crop up which can be a nightmare for commercial uses (we hams love it, of course) and will probably be even worse for unlicensed users who will probably be stuck with lower power levels.

My guess is that the interference/big antenna issue will make low VHF (channels 2-6) useless in cities while in rural areas its use will be determined by available channels (a lot of translators are still on VHF even now). Possibly ditto for high VHF (7-13), especially in the number of channels still in use. ATSC has always done better on UHF so in cities where there are a zillion transmitters (half of them low power religious and the like), I can easily see the lack of white spaces being a big problem. In rural areas, the propagation isn't as good on this band, but still far better than 900 MHz+, so we'll see what happens.

One other question I haven't seen answered anywhere: what about Canada and Mexico? If the USA doesn't have some agreement with them on this (and I have yet to see one) none of this may be available in border regions (similar to the Line A and B issues on the 70cm UHF ham band along the US/Canadian border).

I'm glad to hear... (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38490560)

I'm so glad to hear that the first responders now have all the spectrum they need and a cushion for unforseen future needs.

They did take care of that first, right?

Antenna tuning is beyond consumer buyers (1)

speedlaw (878924) | more than 2 years ago | (#38491416)

Im still confused. I'm a ham, and here in the NYC area we have almost zero unallocated space. There are a few blocks of federal space that seem quiet or spread spectrum. How do you come up with a practical antenna that covers all the possible frequencies ? Trolling a cb radio board shows that antenna tuning is too complicated for the great unwashed. Hams spend a lot of time optimizing antennas using tuners and such. Wifi is transparent as antennas are not an issue. I don't see how any sort of efficient transmit antenna is going to spring out of thin air to serve all possible white space possibilities.....
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