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Broadband from World's Tallest Building

CmdrTaco posted more than 13 years ago | from the leaning-out-my-office-window dept.

News 195

StarPie writes "The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Sprint Broadband will be broadcasting DSL from the top of the Sears Tower in Chicago. The range is said to be 33 miles -- a lot better than wire DSL. All you need is line of sight from the Sears Tower." I've spent the last couple minutes straining my eyes but try as I might, I can't see it. I'm stuck with 128kbits.

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What about the upload? (1)

natefaerber (143261) | more than 13 years ago | (#335552)

Is the upload still limited like other dish type Broadband?

Not the world's tallest building. (5)

Dacta (24628) | more than 13 years ago | (#335553)

Since 1998, the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia have been the world's tallest building [] (not including tower structures like broardcast towers) - 1,483 feet vs 1,450.

How will this work? (1)

gss (86275) | more than 13 years ago | (#335554)

How does it send requests, the article only mentions a pizza sized receiver but doesn't mention anything about a transmitter. If you still need a phone line that would kind of suck, you wouldn't get a very good ping in Quake!

Line of Sight (2)

eudas (192703) | more than 13 years ago | (#335555)

Just because you can't see the thing with your naked eye does not necessarily indicate that your location does not have 'line of sight' with the transmission tower.


Line of site ? (1)

CBoy (129544) | more than 13 years ago | (#335556)

I'm skeptical. I'm in Chicago (hence "CBoy") and about 12 miles from the sears tower. 90% of the time I can't see it because of low lying clouds or weather. Otherwise theres nothing blocking it.

I don't put a lot of faith in this if it's line-of-site visibility

It's part of a roll-out to skip the last mile. (3)

dr.thundr (228407) | more than 13 years ago | (#335557)

I just finished that project out at Sprint 2 months ago. What is sad, is that the system was running on a Linux box, with the provisioning system running perl/php with MySQL. The consultants I was working with (one a USMC Lt. Col) decided that it would be better if it ran on a Sun Sparc station with C++, tied to an Oracle database. Its part of the Broadband wireless group there. Each city has a cybermanager that maintains connections to and from the antenea in 30 degree radian chunks. It has only been rolled out in six or seven markets, but I think its the way of the future.

Broadband on the water (1)

jaciii (152053) | more than 13 years ago | (#335558)

Great!! Now I will be able to sail on Lake Michigan and still get a broadband contection. I will not have to go home to read e-mail and check /.

My experience w/ wireless microwave internet (3)

psocccer (105399) | more than 13 years ago | (#335559)

We have wireless internet at work because it was available 2 years ago. That's 2 years before we got DSL access here, so it's all we could get for high-speed internet without grabbing a T1 or frame relay.

Anyway, it was more like $150 a month or something and was still line of site, and I think it's 2GHZ. All I can say is, it sucks. A lot. I think we get about 80% uptime with it and the latency is horrible, dare I say it, even worse than a modem. We're talking anywhere from 30 to 300ms ping time to the first hop on the other side, usually in the mid 100's.

The thing was though, the through put was still like 80K/sec or so, so as long as I wasn't streaming anything or playing games it was OK, say for like the web, except for that 80% uptime thing. Think about that, it doesn't sound too bad, but that means 1 in 5 times that I sit down to use the internet that the route is down.

It was also tedious to program over the link since our webserver was co-located on the other side and with the link going down so much I spent lots of time banging on my keyboard waiting for my cursor to move again, only to see like 5 extra lines deleted in vi or something.

We're getting a T1 now. I'm going to be very happy. :)

PS: About the streaming thing, I stream video with real server to work from my house with DSL, and the best I can get is using the 56.6K setting, and usually that gets all out of sync so I actually use 33.6K. How's that for "High Speed?"

Re:What about mobile? (1)

mechtoad (4078) | more than 13 years ago | (#335560)

just as long as it isnt MLB :)
Just one man beneath the sky,

Re:No you are still wrong (2)

bradmajors69 (144135) | more than 13 years ago | (#335561)

The Petronas Towers are *not* taller than the Sears tower. If you were standing on the top floor of the Sears Tower, and the Petronas tower was next door, you would be looking down on the people on the top floor of the Petronas Tower.

Its only by a quirk in the architectural definition of what is part of the building and what is not which makes some people think the Petronas Tower is taller. The decorative spire on the top of the Petronas tower, which is defined as being part of the building, rises above the roof of the Sears Tower, but it's merely decorative. However the Sears Tower's antennas which have a functional purpose for the building, including for the use mentioned in this article, but are not considered architecturally to be part of the building, top the Petronas Tower's spire.

So there you have it. A useless piece of ornamentation hardly makes Petronas taller than the full functional height of the Sears Tower.

Re:Not the world's tallest building. (5)

bbillian (19067) | more than 13 years ago | (#335562)

This is not entirely true. The Petronas Towers are the tallest buildings in one of the four categories for tallest building.

The four categories are:
  • highest spire
  • highest observation deck
  • highest top floor
  • highest antenna
The Sears tower holds the title for all of these except highest spire (which is held by the petronas towers in KL.)

Re:Not the world's tallest building. (5)

bink (87998) | more than 13 years ago | (#335563)

Actually, the Sears Tower was dethroned by the Petronas Twin Towers in 1996, but regained the title in 1997. The way the Petronas Twin Towers gained the title was by putting decorative spires on top of the top floor of the buildings. In 1997 the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat met and declared the Sears Tower the tallest building again. You can read about it at this link [] .

If it is anything like their PCS network (3)

joshv (13017) | more than 13 years ago | (#335564)

It will be too cheap and oversold - resulting in shitty service, low bandwidth and spurious connections.

Sorry, I will never ever ever buy a Sprint product or service every again. 'Crystal clear calling' my ass.


What about security? (2)

ClassExport (323284) | more than 13 years ago | (#335565)

Wireless DSL is good and everything, but what sort of security is being put on this link? From what it sounds like, it isn't a directional link like most Microwave/Sat links...its more like radio.

I know that there are a lot of good encryption techniques out there, and that they're widely adopted, but I still like the idea of having the privacy of a wire line, which not every freak-with-an-antenna can pick up.


Re:Not the world's tallest building. (1)

RAruler (11862) | more than 13 years ago | (#335566)

Bah, thats semantics. The Petronas has the highest point off the ground basically. You could have an incredibly tall building, minus and observation deck, but no one would question whether or not its the tallest.


Re:NtWTB - This has been argued (3)

Cerlyn (202990) | more than 13 years ago | (#335567)

This has been argued actually; note there is only 33 feet difference between the two. Those measurements, if memory serves me right, do not include the antenna tower on top of Sears Tower, yet include the pinnacle* of Petronas. The logic here by the official raters is that the antenna tower can be easily removed, while the pinnacle is a permanent feature of the Petronas towers. Granted, I do not quite see the logic here; if you have a better explaination, please chime in.

If you include both the pinnacle and the antenna tower, Sears Tower beats Pentronas by a foot or so, and the same holds true if neither the antenna tower or pinnacle is counted. Note I am recalling all this from memory, so I might have something incorrect.

Still, the link you provide is intresting. Looks like something (two somethings, actually) may shortly beat Petronas.

* A pinnacle is a fancy top piece for a building, typically with a large point on top of it. The concept dates back to at least Medival times.

Available now in AZ (3)

return0 (23978) | more than 13 years ago | (#335568)

Sprintbroadband already offers service in Phoenix and Tuscon. $40/month for 1 Mbps bi-directional. The technology is called MMDS (multichannel multipoint distribution service) and it should work up to ~38 miles using a "pizza box" sized onnidirectional antenna. Very cool. Wish they offered it in Las Vegas.

Re:My experience w/ wireless microwave internet (1)

dr.thundr (228407) | more than 13 years ago | (#335569)

What I have found with the wireless internet is that the provisioning and antena controlers are out of sync 20% of the time. People get de-provisioned becuase of the a faulty billing system, and then have to be reprovisioned by the call center.

Re:Line of Sight (2)

Ryandav (5475) | more than 13 years ago | (#335570)

o for gods sake, lighten up :)

He was actually being funny for once...

Hopefully better than Sprint PCS... (1)

pafein (2979) | more than 13 years ago | (#335571)

...though that wouldn't be hard. Sprint's Chicago cellular service was awful. I'd rather get a landline from Ameritheft than use those guys again.

I'd be screwed without AT&T. (Hear that, RCN?)

Just to set thing straight (1)

bink (87998) | more than 13 years ago | (#335572)

I've posted this once in reply, but I think it bears repeating since there's already 10 posts concerning this topic... the Sears Tower IS the tallest building in the world. The Sears Tower once again became the tallest building in the world in 1997, when the Council on Tall Buildings met and announced new standards upon which the tallest building would be judged.

The Petronas Towers were previously the world's tallest building, but only because of a decorative spire on top of both of the towers, the Empire State building is the tallest including the antenna, the Sears Tower is the tallest in the other two categories (highest occupied floor and highest to the top of the roof). You can read all about it here [] .

Re:Available now in AZ (1)

dr.thundr (228407) | more than 13 years ago | (#335573)

It is also in CA, Seattle, Chi, and three other markets in New England (don't remember where). How long did it take you to get someone out there to hook it up after you ordered it?

Re:What about security? (1)

pyite (140350) | more than 13 years ago | (#335574)

Yea, any freak with a pair of kleins can get into your wire line. Security is relative. Crime rates are higher in cities. Vandalism is higher in cities. The air is something your run-of-the mill vandal can't touch. In that facet, it's somewhat better.

The real story... (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 13 years ago | (#335575)

... is that SBC is freezing out co-locaters -- and getting away with it.


This is the acid test for MMDS data (5)

isdnip (49656) | more than 13 years ago | (#335576)

Sprint is already doing this in a few other cities, such as Phoenix, where they have the MMDS license. Worldcom is doing it in Jackson, MS and a few other cities, and will be expanding it too (they have the NY and Boston licenses).

Note that "line of sight" for MMDS is much better than optical; it means "not over the horizon". Since Chicago is basically flatland, hills aren't the problem they would be in, say, New England. Which is why this Chicago rollout is so important; it could give the technology a real boost. MMDS operates around 2.5 GHz. It is not subject to significant rain fade, and passes easily enough through trees. (Contrast this to LMDS at 29 GHz, which has a typical reliable range of around 2 miles, because of rain fade, though it goes much farther on dry days.)

Each market has one MMDS licensee. This was the FCC's last pre-auction lottery, nicknamed "wireless cable". It was intended for pay-TV broadcast distribution. A bunch of shady operators took fees to enter people into the license lottery ca. 1993. The MMDS companies who bought up the licenses from the lottery winners discovered that there wasn't much of a market, so they went bankrupt or sold out to Sprint and Worldcom (who between them have most of the country's population covered by their licenses, but are just starting to offer service). Now it's viewed as a DSL alternative. Some other operators are also in business; Oxford Telecom, for instance, does MMDS data in Portland, Maine.

This is mostly two-way radio, something the FCC authorized a couple of years ago. (Early systems were dial-up return.) I don't really think there's enough bandwidth there to replace DSL or cable modems in urban areas, but it's a good alternative for people who are out of range of those services. Alas, with only one license per city (spectrum being a scarce resource), it's not totally competitive.

Re:Hopefully better than Sprint PCS... (1)

igbrown (79452) | more than 13 years ago | (#335577)

Amen to that , brother. I ditched thos e jerks last month after four months of "All Circuits Busy" messages to anyone who tried to get ahold of me on my cell. I pity the fool who tries to get decent service of another Sprint wireless servce.

Line of sight is line of sight, but dont give up.. (4)

human bean (222811) | more than 13 years ago | (#335578)

That which RF folks call "line of site" is a constantly shifting and variable thing. At microwave frequencies many different facets of physics come into play.

For example, where I'm located there is a ring of mountains directly in front of a satellite (Telstar IV). There is no line of site. Yet, I can get decent reception in some parts of town because the mountains form a knife edge and the resulting diffraction pattern alters the signal strengths in some spots.

In other places I have turned dish antenna at ninety degrees to the normal signal path because the reflections off a group of office buildings were stronger.

The only practical way to know is to get the guy with the field strength meter to come and see. Remember, higher is usually better, so now maybe there's a reason to get that apartment on the top of the building.

Re:Just to set thing straight (2)

minusthink (218231) | more than 13 years ago | (#335579)

I find it hilarious that there is an actual Council on Tall Buildings.

Once again, I'm finding life more and more like a monty python skit.
minusthink [Code poet or super hero? (you decide)]

Wait a sec... (3)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 13 years ago | (#335580)

Now just wait a gosh-darned minute here!

You can't beam DSL! Don't they even know what it stands for? It's a Digital Subscriber Line!

I'm having visions of streams of thousands of cables shooting out of the top of the Sears tower...

A tourist attraction? (1)

Jucius Maximus (229128) | more than 13 years ago | (#335581)

With a 33 mile radius, the service would cover an area of over eight thousand square kilometeres. This is about the same size as the Sibayi Lake Lodge [] eco-tourism spot in Zululand, South Africa. If one of these towers was built there, then all the people who come to experience ecological wonders will be able to get wireless DSL while at the same time! It could be a tourism revolution!

Re:Available now in AZ (1)

return0 (23978) | more than 13 years ago | (#335582)

>How long did it take you to get someone out there to hook it up after you ordered it?

I live in Las Vegas where it isn't available yet. Worst part is that Sprint owns the FCC license for MMDS in my area so I'm screwed. Well not exactly screwed. I have a cable modem and DSL is available and Ricochet2 (128Kbps) is "comming soon" to LV.

Re:What about mobile? (1)

Tobold (255466) | more than 13 years ago | (#335583)

Well that's what the 3G mobile hype is all about :)

It's Not DSL (1)

lgas (143053) | more than 13 years ago | (#335584)

I don't know where the poster got the idea that they were broadcasting DSL, but it doesn't say that anywhere in the article. That would be silly anyway.

Re:This is the acid test for MMDS data (1)

dr.thundr (228407) | more than 13 years ago | (#335585)

This is really good for Chicago, my friend out in Naperville was laughed at when he wanted to order DSL. So he is the last one through the zone in EQ, on his dialup. Since he got ISDN (dual B channels) and a ISDN router, he is alot quicker. I hope Sprint takes off with this in Chicago.

Re:wrong (1)

pimpmaster (324278) | more than 13 years ago | (#335586)

it's Canada not canadia, and it's a tower not a building!

Re:Not the world's tallest building. (1)

dhovis (303725) | more than 13 years ago | (#335587)

It is in fact worth noting that the article you linked to is a little out of date. The Sears tower now leads in the highest antenna category too.

This is because the Sears tower replaced one of the two antennas on top of the building recently. The two antennas used to be the same height, but now the west antenna is taller the east one and it is higer than the one on the World Trade center.

Incidently, here in Chicago, we call the spires on the Petronas towers "cheatsticks". :-)

Re:Not the world's tallest building. (3)

dorkstar (318427) | more than 13 years ago | (#335588)

If you're willing to discard the "semantics", then you'll have to call the CN Tower [] the biggest. Right now it's the world's tallest "free standing structure", but it's taller that both the Sears Tower and the Petronas towers.

Cool! (1)

AX.25 (310140) | more than 13 years ago | (#335589)

I once ran 500 watts on 1296 MHz with a 55 element loop yagi from a mountain top in PA. I got a lot further than 33 Miles, but it would have taken days to download a typical /. comment page at 20 wpm cw.

Re:Not the world's tallest building. (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#335590)

We obviously need a new moderation category: (-1, Woo-fucking-hoo)

Mr. AC

Re:Not the world's tallest building. (1)

Fishstick (150821) | more than 13 years ago | (#335591)

That's right - 'tallest building' and 'busiest airport' don't technically belong to us Chicagoans anymore, unless you start arguing semantics. Took my son to the observation deck of the Sears Tower last year when he had a day off school and I decided to skip work to spend the day with him. The people there said that the Sears was no longer the tallest free-standing structure anymore, but it is still has the highest occupied floor of any building in the world.

Just like the airport. O'Hare [] used to be the 'busiest' until Atlanta's Hartsfield surpassed it in number of flights. That doesn't stop Chicago from still claiming it is the busiest, as long as you measure number of people who pass though each year instead of number of flights in and out. (although I thought Alanta passed Chicago for that too now).


Can't see it (1)

logiceight (187269) | more than 13 years ago | (#335592)

Then get a telescope

Re:What about security? (1)

ClassExport (323284) | more than 13 years ago | (#335593)

The point I'm trying to make here is not about vandalism, its about privacy.

Its the difference between having your box hacked by a script kiddie, as opposed to someone breaking in and stealing it.

Its also a pretty serious vandal that would go around ripping up DSL lines....both in equipment and intent. The air equivalent would be someone broadcasting a tone in the DSL frequency range to interfere with transfers.


Re:Not the world's tallest building. (1)

Faies (248065) | more than 13 years ago | (#335594)

The author of the article doesn't says otherwise. The quote specifically mentions North America, which implies that it isn't the tallest anyways.

this is gonna be great (1)

neowintermute (81982) | more than 13 years ago | (#335595)

I can't wait until there's ubiquitous wireless broadband and we all have $50 5Ghz crusoe color handheld computer/cell phone/entertainment systems.

Should be about another 18 months right?

yeah baby.

It's not DSL. It's MMDS. (5)

jeffg (2966) | more than 13 years ago | (#335596)

It's not DSL. It's MMDS -- Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service.

Sprint Broadband [] is one of the largest customers of Hybrid Networks Inc. []

In fact, there's even an interesting little press release [] on Hybrid's site regarding the whole deal in Chicago.

This isn't very new to me, as the majority of my work and home bandwidth is provided by a local ISP that has been deploying these systems since the Fall of 1998. As an individual subscriber I've pulled traffic nearing the 8Mbit/sec mark. Yep, that's something a little more than the equivalent of five T-1's.

MMDS has a lot of advantages over your typical "unlicensed" wireless gear operating in the 900MHz and 2.4GHz spectrum... namely the fact that MMDS is licensed [] by the FCC [] (in the US).

Businesses that build their existance and survival on the fragile structure of "unlicensed" wireless often don't spend the time to properly research what it is that they are getting into... a mess. The first "provider" in an area to deploy "unlicensed" equipment has great success... and then the second "provider" comes along... and things start to slow down a little... and then another provider comes along perhaps... and things start to break (more)...

And then an Amateur Radio Operator/ham comes along and decides to start using the spectrum for Amateur TV, and the FCC comes in and shuts the "providers" down as they are infringing on the rightful license of said ham to use the 2.4GHz spectrum. *poof* :)

Another thing to consider, and one of the other reasons I like my MMDS provider... They don't have that interestingly restrictive TOS [] that Sprint Broadband has.

no one agree with you (1)

tomatocheese (213224) | more than 13 years ago | (#335597)

:: transmission initiated

what is a real asian country? someone tell me? i bet you are someone who has never left your country thinking its the greatest country in the world. well... too bad.

malaysia is not a third world country, and it consists of around 20% chinese (migrated from china), 10% indian (migrated from india), 69% malays (migrated from arab), and 2% natives of the land. their skin colors range from white, yellow, brown, to black.

their factory workers have cell phones. and they have one of the widest selections of food in the world. i was there for almost 18 years and i have to tell you that you are horribly wrong if you think you don't need to leave your country. america is not that great after i discovered asia. we have tech. they have tech. we have little in terms of spirituality. they do. we have such boring food. they'll blow you away with their food, and our food. travel. open your eyes. america is what they want you to believe it is. but there are better, more balanced worlds out there.

:: transmission terminated

Realities of microwave t/r and a factoid on twoway (5)

d.valued (150022) | more than 13 years ago | (#335598)

That's the only real problem with XHF transmissions.. (XHF is basically anything above a gigahertz).. they are all line-of-sight.

Clouds, though, shouldn't realy be a problem unless they're VERY thick. The wavelength of a 2.2 GHz wave (I'm assuming 2.2 GHz because I know 2.4 is occupied, and it's the same drek in a different package) is:

c / freq == 300Mm/s / 2.2GHz == .136 m / Hz.

The wavelength is 13 cm or so. That's mighty small (when you consider that AM 1000 is 300m and FM 100.0 is 3m), but they can pass through anything short of a heavy rainfall or a blizzard. (I have a DBS system and can receive in virtually all conditions. Idiot involvement, though, seems to screw everything up royally.)

The short wavelength dictates the LOS and the power of the frequency will determine the range.

I have to commend Sprint's good timing, since a lot of DSL'rs got screwed when northpoint Comms. went bankrupt.

And now, for the coup de grace that'll get me jacked on wireless broadband: It's two-way. According to this marketdroid page [] , it's completely free of the telephone grid.

However, for you QUAKErs, your ping time may be slightly slower than it would be on a comparable hard-wired connection. This appears (from what little data that's available) to be (at least in part) a party-line system.

According to the site (use zip 60625 if asked) [] , the max d/l is 5 Mbps, and they project 'typical' to be in the .5 to 1.5 Mbps range.

They have an upload cap of 256 kbps.

A few things worth keeping in mind:

1. It's running on RF frequencies, which means that, depending on your paranoia level, you may not want it since quality receivers are available that can receive above 2GHz. And it's not protected by the anti-cell-scanner bills (not like anyone interested in cracking t

2. IP Masquerade is probably the best way to go. They seem to be MScentric [] . (They are intending to charge an additional ten bucks a month per extra rig online. I didn't know IP's were that rare ;)

Ruling The World, One Moron At A Time(tm)
"As Kosher As A Bacon-Cheeseburger"(tmp)

Re:Just to set thing straight (2)

Fishstick (150821) | more than 13 years ago | (#335599)

Oh, yeah... you bet. And don't think the City fathers in KL and Chicago didn't jump up and down a lot when this 'Council on Tall Buildings' met to decide how to measure.

'Mine is bigger than yours!'

'Is not!'

'Is so!'

'Wait, let's solve this objectively... do you measure from the pubic bone or from the base of the scrotum?'

'We need a Council on Large Genitals to come up with a standard!'


According to Guinness... (1)

mikosullivan (320993) | more than 13 years ago | (#335600)

While there are many different properties one could use to decide which is the "tallest building", the people who make it their business to keep track of records, namely the folks at Guinness, say that the "tallest building" is the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada. See their page [] on the subject.

Re:Line of site ? (3)

grapeape (137008) | more than 13 years ago | (#335601)

I am part of the team that got the Chicago system for Sprint Broadband Wireless up and running. There has been a one way service there for some time but the two way in Chicago was just finished market acceptance.

Its uses a fixed dish that connects to an external modem made by a company called Hybrid. The reciever and transmitter are combined and the unit works for the most part like any standard cable modem.

On average you can expect in a fully subscribed market around t1 speeds down and isdn speeds up.

The technology from the tower to the fixed wireless antenna at a subscriberes home is RF based cloud cover and rain fade do not have nearly the affect on RF as it does on satellite based systems, the only time weather really has much affect at all is when there is very heavy ice build up and even then its minimal.

Re:Perhaps, but... (1)

nebular (76369) | more than 13 years ago | (#335602)

Actually, yes it does. Right now Look Communications has been using the CN Tower for wireless broadband internet for quite sometime. However at the moment it's only downstream. They're working on two way wireless right now so that uploading won't be limited to 56k, but I don't know what the status of that is

Broadband will bring about the apocalypse! (1)

Lover'z Arrival, The (323757) | more than 13 years ago | (#335603)

Our doom is coming closer! Run for your lives! The beginning of the end has begun!

Sprint is clearly symbolic for the four horsemen! We must prepare our souls for the war, before it is upon us. The plaque has hit already, and the pestilence is taking a new form... Slashdot Trolls and Crapflooders!

Run! Run far away! Very, very far away!

But don't tell my ex-boyfriend... he's a motherfucking asshole.

Re:If it is anything like their PCS network (2)

garcia (6573) | more than 13 years ago | (#335604)

aren't you confusing them w/Verizon?

try 1000+ pings to your gateway b/c they are daisychaining racks then telling you that it is not them that is causing the problem it is you!

CN is an antenna, Petronas is a rip-off. (2)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 13 years ago | (#335605)

1.) The Canadian National tower is the world's tallest structure. It doesn't have occupied floors all up and down its interior. It's a essentially glorified TV antenna.

2.) IMO, the Petronas Towers is essentially ripping-off the Sears Tower in the World's Tallest category. The Sears Tower has more occupied floors and the heighets occupied floor. As can be seen from a side-by-side to-scale comparison here [] , the only reason the Petronas Tower is considered tallier is that the antenna on top is considered to be part of the art-deco cap, while the antennae on the Sears Tower aren't.

So, now we have proof that architecs (sp?) smoke crack! :)

Re:This is the acid test for MMDS data (1)

cymen (8178) | more than 13 years ago | (#335606)

Someone on chi.internet already posted that the installers wanted to put a 25 foot tower on his roof to get his equipment above the neighbors trees. So what's the deal - is non-optical line of sight true?

Some answers... (4)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#335607)

... to a few of the questions I saw here: - mobile is really hard to do in this band. they're doing good to get fixed wireless working. that said, wireless does lend itself to portability and mobility; it's just a question of technology development. - upload is still limited; I think they claim like 32kbps or something. it should burst to ~200k though. - it's two-way wireless now, though it used to be dial-return back in the day. - it can burn through clouds, smog, rain, snow, etc., without much problem. trees and cars and walls start to cause trouble. - the hardware uses FreeBSD (not Linux) plus some fancy rf stuff from Intel. The vendor didn't ship a provisioning system, so one was written by a few chicago guys in perl/php/mysql on a va linux box and ported to to c++/perl/oracle on a sun e3500 - it's in 14 markets total (phoenix, tucson, san fran, san jose, colorado springs, denver, houston, chicago, detroit, melbourne, fresno, salt lake city, wichita, ok city) - it has nothing to do with pcs technology - the link is still unencrypted but the modems don't bridge, so they're slightly more secure than you'd think. then again, never underestimate the power of a bored ee student with a radio shack. - besides sprint and wcom, bellsouth and a company called nucentrix have a lot of mmds markets - people in most markets routinely get multi-mbps downloads

Ow (1)

HongPong (226840) | more than 13 years ago | (#335608)

That's a lot of RF/microwave radiation! I bet there will be 2-headed pigeons and stuff. Or maybe just cooked pigeons. Oh, yeah, no birds that high.

As long as I am rolling on a stream of consciousness, reminds me of a story, back in the day microwave station operators in the artic used to stand in front of their dishes to warm up. Maybe true, I don't know. Anyone can corraborate?


Re:wrong (1)

Fluxcore (261827) | more than 13 years ago | (#335609)

Recently a company has started construction on a new building in Chicago. When completed it will be the tallest building in the world. Coupled with the Sears Tower. That makes Chicago a pretty impressive area for tall buildings. Sorry, but the name of the new building escapes me.

Re:Available now in AZ (2)

grapeape (137008) | more than 13 years ago | (#335610)

Actually there is Sprint Broadband Wireless service in: Tucson, Houston, Phoenix, Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco, San Jose, Portland, Seattle, Wichita, Oklahoma City, Fresno, Denver, Colorado Springs, Melborne, and Salt Lake City. Sorry no new england states at the a matter of fact the florida pop is the only one on the atlantic coast. For the time being that is it....further launches are at least a year out. Most likely there will be expansion into other markets once the second generation product is available. The second generation product will offer near or non line of sight, better throughput and a cellular deployment...which could theoretically open the door for the mobile broadband wireless discussed earlier in later generations.

Trollicious (1)

Octal (310) | more than 13 years ago | (#335611)


Re:Broadband on the water (1)

UltraBot2K1 (320256) | more than 13 years ago | (#335612)

Dude, if you're going to insist on sailing on Lake Michigan, the LAST thing you should be worrying about is your e-mail. You should be focused on trying to avoid all the industrial waste, fecal matter, and used hypodermic needles floating all around you.

Re:wrong (1)

BluJay (315389) | more than 13 years ago | (#335613)

Actually, there are four standards by which a building is considered the worlds tallest. The Petronas Towers wins out over the Sears Tower in only one category (that which includes spires). The other three (highest floor, highest occupied floor and something else) are still held by the Sears Tower. Speaking of which, I can see the Sears Tower from here. I've got line of site. I think I'll stick with the university's T3 line though.

Re:Trollicious (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 13 years ago | (#335614)

what you say !!

Re:Just to set thing straight (1)

strictnein (318940) | more than 13 years ago | (#335615)

No the empire state building is not the tallest in any category. Sorry, but you're wrong. and the truth.. shall whatever []

Re:Trollicious (1)

Octal (310) | more than 13 years ago | (#335616)

Trollicious, I say.

Re:Ow (1)

musiholic (94408) | more than 13 years ago | (#335617)

Don't know about the arctic guys, but I can tell you about the operators at WLW (AM 700 in Cinci, OH). Before the FCC regulated max wattage at 50kW, they operated at something like 500,000 watts... and according to two guys who are long retired from there, they used to warm up in winter by standing near what they called the "RF stacks", which were cooled by the pond that had prepetual steam rising from it.

Oddly, many of their friends have long since died of cancer. I met these two at a HAM radio/Boy Scout thing many years ago. Couldn't tell ya if they're still around. But just knowing what the WLW tower and the VOA antenna were capable of causing (as in, your stove being hot when turned off, the ability to hear the broadcast on your fence, etc...), I have no reason NOT to believe them.

Re:Not the world's tallest building. (2)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 13 years ago | (#335618)

Since 1998, the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia have been the world's tallest building (not including tower structures like broardcast towers) - 1,483 feet vs 1,450.

Ya really, Taco, haven't you seen Entrapment [] ?

Re:This is the acid test for MMDS data (1)

jeffg (2966) | more than 13 years ago | (#335619)

is non-optical line of sight true?

Think about what you just said. :)

Line of Sight means there must be a more or less unobstructed path from you to the tower. The tower is one point, your antenna is another point, you have to be able to draw a straight line between the two withint intersecting any non-vaporous objects. No trees, no buildings, no Goodyear Blimps, no nothing.

LOS changes in definition at some manufacturer's whim... but when it comes to the Hybrid equipment that Sprint Broadband is working with [] , and when doing RF-return, the above definition certainly sticks.

The world of RF is complex, and often things aren't as simple as pointing your antennas at each other... Just ask any RF engineer about water. Or hills. And the fun beast known affectionately as "multipath".

Go do some research and reading on Multichannel Multipoint Distribution System (MMDS), QAM64, QPSK, and all kinds of other fun acronyms. And for some more information regarding MMDS peek at this comment, below [] .

Re:What about mobile? (2)

FFFish (7567) | more than 13 years ago | (#335620)

I'm sure it's going to head that way. You'll get a life-time IP address, and use it in everything. Your preferences will be able to follow you... and so will your email. (which, given the amount of spam i get these days, may not be so hot...)


Re:Not the world's tallest building. (1)

Quimo (72752) | more than 13 years ago | (#335621)

I sorry to say but you are all wrong. The CN Tower is the tallest building in the world as recognised by the Guinness book of world records. While the counsel of tall buildings may say otherwise The Guinness book of world records has always been the definitive source of this type of information.
| Cunning Pike... Good Guy...

To help settle the "Worlds Tallest Building" debat (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#335622)

Seems that this debate [] has been going on for a while.

Re:It's not DSL. It's MMDS. (1)

AlfaWolph (194087) | more than 13 years ago | (#335623)

aye, MCI is currently been doing a test run of this technology since last year in Memphis atop our tallest building, the Clark Tower. It's not nearly as tall as the Sears so it boasts a range of about 10 miles. It's currently offered to business customers only and can be racheted up to 10 Mbit/sec which is hella bandwidth.

I know what you're thinking now, now I can surf the web from my pda with coverage like that. Well it doesn't quite work that way because this is where the "multipoint" comes in. It requires a line of site recieving antennae to deliver the signal to the desired site and from there a RF coaxial cable is used to channel it to what looks like your typical DSL/Cable modem from guess who- Hybrid.

It's rumored to be soon offered to residential customers but we'll see if the neighboorhood associations will let these antennaes be erected. The business I work for are already not on the best of terms with our landlord since we had put our antennae up on their building. heheheh

Yes the technology is pretty nice since it is yet another broadband provider other than Ma Bell DSL and cable. The difference is that this one has been around for quite some time.


Re:wrong redux (1)

Your Anus (308149) | more than 13 years ago | (#335624)

You know, everybody used to this Canada was spelled CND, and then somebody asked a Canadian to spell it...

Max Range? (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#335625)

Well, depending on the signal strength, the max range might be more that 33 miles. I am assuming that 33 miles is the distance to the horizon from the antenna on the sky scraper.

If you are in an apartment building on a upper floor, you may have a clear shot at the transmitter from more than 33 miles. This is because the horizon is a 5 to ten miles away from the apartment window, and this adds to the horizon distance as seen from the sky scaper.

Not accounting for trees, hills, and intervening objects, etc.

Re:wrong (1)

Cyclopedian (163375) | more than 13 years ago | (#335626)

Sorry, but the name of the new building escapes me.

Take a look at this article [] from the Chicago Tribune [] . It would have been known as the Dearborn Tower, but I guess not anymore. The model of the proposed building is pretty cool.


The way I originally submitted it... (3)

StarPie (411994) | more than 13 years ago | (#335627)

...was with the title "Broadband from World's (second) Tallest Building", in deference to the fact that Petronas in Malyasia is technically the world's tallest, though that's only counting the spire, etc., etc.

I don't think Taco realized the flamefest he was starting by deleting that little word in parentheses. Anyway, I do live in line-of-sight to the Sears Tower, but I'm a tad out of reach of the Petronas Towers, so I guess I'll have to live with the shame of getting broadband from the second banana in the skyscraper world.

Not Semantics (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#335628)

There's more to it than that. The Petronas towers are hardly the tallest thing on earth, manmade or not! There are plenty of manmade structures that have more absolute height, both HAAT (height above average terrain) and referenced to sea level.

The "rules" for tallest building used to be straightforward back when the Empire State Building was the undisputed king. But around the time that Chicago was to become home to not one, but three buildings that beat it out, a group of New York City architects decided to codify the "rules". And guess what? The new "rules" favored the NYC buildings!

Rather than go by the obvious, absolute height, the new "rules" didn't count any structures that were primarily functional, but allowed those that were purely decorative. And since the Empire State Building just happened to have an art deco spire that rose beyond the antennae, well you know... (Yes, I know about the dirigible mooring mast; it was never used AFAIK.)

As a result of the "rules", anybody wanting to build a new "tallest building" could do so at a minimal cost, by tacking on some doodad and calling it art. It's a wonder that it took so long to happen! Call me biased, but as a Chicagoan (and broadcast engineer) I have seen my city's tallest structures with and without their antennae, and I know that they play a large role in the aesthetic impact of the buildings. This is especially true of Sears Tower, with the antennae completely enclosed by white radomes, which contrast with the building's black exterior. The building was "tallest" without counting the antennae! Maybe it's just me; I also think that the Marina City towers look strange without their radomes.

The bottom line is that Sears Tower still has the highest occupied (by people) rooms, and is tallest if you include structures that do something more than just being high.

Re:Available now in AZ (1)

creep (150035) | more than 13 years ago | (#335629)

As one of the first Sprint Broadband customers in Tucson, it did not take more than two weeks after it became available before technicians were at my house installing the antenna. Now, as the one year anniversary of Sprint in Tucson nears, the length of time from when one orders the service and when it is actually installed is about three weeks.

I was particularly impressed with the customer service/technical support offered by Sprint. The first technicians that came to my house informed me that I would be unable to receive service, as there was a tree on the property neighboring mine that was blocking line of sight. That was on a Saturday. Two days later, on Monday morning, a supervisor was on my roof for two hours trying every possible spot to mount an antenna that he could find. It was determined that the only way I could get the service would be to attach the dish atop a 30 foot pole alongside the house. The supervisor told me I would be contacted by the customer service department to reschedule a visit by a technician. Thirty minutes later I received a phone call, and the service was installed and up and running by day's end.

Re:It's part of a roll-out to skip the last mile. (1)

fayd (143105) | more than 13 years ago | (#335630)

Boy this is Deja-Vu. I work at Sprint, and if you're talking about the provisioning software that People's Choice wrote before Sprint bought them, I reviewed that product before it got passed on. I reviewed the PHP code, the hardware specs and the "Sprint" anticipated load.

My recommendation was that the only necessary change be moving from MySQL to Oracle (future growth, it's better/cheaper to be on Oracle now than have to move later). If necessary, to accomodate heavier than expected load, move the Apache/PHP to an Ultra or small E series (say E250). I estimated less than 1000 hours LOE (about 200 development tops + mgmt, testing, etc overhead) to switch from MySQL to Oracle. I could have done the thing in 20, the PHP was reasonably clean. Switching from Linux/Intel to Sparc/Solaris would have been trivial and, at most, doubled the LOE.

Imagine my surprise when two months later I had heard that the consulting firm that did the work had reported 22,000 hours and 60% completed! After that, our department didn't have any input, so I lost track of what was going on.

I don't wonder why my stock options suck right now *grumble*

Knew it was gonna happen (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#335631)

Amateur radio invented the first notion of a 'packet.' The Internet HAD to come back to the radio waves!

Anyway, I wonder how this will interfere with future wireless internet endeavors. They say the 'effective' range is 33 miles from the Sears tower, (lookin out my window at it right now...) but on a clear morning, signals from the top of the Sears tower can be heard from Maidenhead gridsquare EN71ma. (NE Indiana) I should know, when I'm home, I hear bad B96.3 Chicago radio over the top of 96.3, The Extreme out of Ft. Wayne. As the crow files, that's probably 100 miles! But this also means Internet kiosks on the riverboats! So you can send an email home asking for your wife to wire you money cuz you lost all yours...

Um, no (1)

vjlen (187941) | more than 13 years ago | (#335632)

In Chicago, we do not "jump up and down".

We make payoffs, and if those don't work, we send Luigi over with a sledgehammer to make sure your building isn't taller.

Dearborn cancelled (1)

_N0EL (245472) | more than 13 years ago | (#335633)

Construction of that building was cancelled... couldn't get funding (gosh, we need money to construct the world's tallest building). Like Chicago needs more space, I live downtown and it's full of construction cranes. I wonder if any of these developers are considering the space that will free up when all these financial exchanges go the way of the buggy whip and blacksmith?


jsepeta (412566) | more than 13 years ago | (#335634)

I checked with Sprint & they said $40/month if you sign up for their long distance ($50 BYOLongD), $200/month for businesses. $200 equipment fee unless you sign a 2 year contract, then it's $100. downloads to 1megabit/second for residential, or up to 4mb/s for commercial. They're coming tomorrow at 7AM -- less than a 6 day turnaround, as opposed to the 4 month wait i had with Amerishit. why go with sprint? northpoint & flashcom left me high and dry, and ameritech dsl BLOWS no support for macs or multiple cpus (how else to test my webserver?). downside -- there's no hosted firewalls, so feel free to hack away at my IP (just kidding) anyway, ameritech losers have cut my company's T1 service 10 times in the past 3 months, so we're giving them the big HEAVE HO as soon as I feel that Sprint is a tested & true alternative. NOPE, it's not DSL -- it's MICROWAVE

Re:If it is anything like their PCS network (1)

Weffs11 (323188) | more than 13 years ago | (#335635)

I had their old network and it worked great. Then they took my phone and gave me another one. This Pcs "service" droped calls as I was driving in sight of cell towers. I would watch the bars on the phone just drop to zero for no apparent reason and then bounce back up to full strength recption! I am no happy with my Cingular service, thank you very much.

1st Post!

Re:Line of sight is line of sight, but dont give u (1)

RavinMad (412567) | more than 13 years ago | (#335636)

I have installed this service in several cities and Line of Sight for DATA services is honestly Line of Sight, but the twist is its not your Line of sight, but the Antenna's...The Antenna has to be able to see Sears tower and the transmitters basically unobstructed, otherwise your limited power output return to the tower will never make it and you will not get your next request or have a high packet loss resulting in slow speeds.

Re:Ow (1)

HongPong (226840) | more than 13 years ago | (#335637)

That is both mind-blowingly awesome, and terrifying, and, well, obviously difficult to believe. I'll check it out on, an urban legend-debunking site [] , see if there's anything similar. Cool though, man.


YH all BT (1)

xueexueg (224483) | more than 13 years ago | (#335638)

Has there ever been such a flagrant troll in an initial article? The only explanation for calling Sears Tower the world's tallest building/structure/whatever, without qualification, is (-1 Troll) or (-1 Flamebait). Maybe we do need a moderation system for articles themselves.

It fits all the requirements for a masterful troll, as described in trolltalk and on geekizoid. Masterful! Has a single troll ever gotten so many responses? I would call Taco the king of the trolls, but I guess he probably already holds that title.

RF waves controlling your brain! (1)

HongPong (226840) | more than 13 years ago | (#335639)

By coincidence i ran into a ranting lunatic (on the internet) complaining [] about how "invisible laser beams" in the RF band are messing with him. Fortunately he's suing Janet Reno. Yeah...

This isn't really OT, because I say it's a helluva lot of RF radiation coming from that tower. Maybe the raving derelict is onto something!


Re:Not the world's tallest building. (2)

grappler (14976) | more than 13 years ago | (#335640)

Holy Crap - Look at the dates on that list. Empire state building built in nineteen thirty one. And it's still in the top ten! Wow! That must have been an incredible sight at the time it was built.


Scared the $h*t out of me! (1)

rppp01 (236599) | more than 13 years ago | (#335641)

I work on some of Sprint's websites, and I accidentally clicked the link before my browser loaded all the way up. Suddenly I am looking at this Sprint web site. I am thinking "damn! they are following me home now!" Scared the shit out of me.

That's all I have to say.

Re:Not Semantics (2)

howardjp (5458) | more than 13 years ago | (#335642)

I think I heard the mooring mast was used once but I remember none of the details.

Re:If it is anything like their PCS network (1)

intrico (100334) | more than 13 years ago | (#335643)

Yeah, Tthey sold out to some company called "Via Wireless" here in Central California. This company provides unlimited calling for a flat rate, Everyone jokingly calls the company "ghetto wireless," becuase of spotty service. Of course, I'm now a happy AT&T customer - just the laws of supply & demand at work here.

Re:If it is anything like their PCS network (1)

jrockway (229604) | more than 13 years ago | (#335644)

1st Post!

Uh.... No.

Re:I wonder ... (1)

RavinMad (412567) | more than 13 years ago | (#335645)

Distances per FCC And the antenna mfgrs state that a mininum distance of 22 inches for a 17dbi antenna is required for safety, and a distance of approximately 30 inches for a 24dbi antenna are required. It has been my experience to avoid any unnecessary RF into the body as it tends not to like it very well, ask the motor cycle cop in Hawaii who lost a leg and a testicle to Cancer from his old fashion Radar Gun. enough said.

This can be good (1)

cecil36 (104730) | more than 13 years ago | (#335646)

If anyone has LOS to where they live from the tallest building in their city, then they can get wireless DSL. This can be a problem in rural areas, unless the wireless DSL signal can be generated from an antenna tower, then all a person needs is to be able to "see" their house from the top of the tower. Overall, I see this catching on in major US cities, and internationally.

Re:Hopefully better than Sprint PCS... (1)

corey18_70 (304047) | more than 13 years ago | (#335647)

Amen amen. I dropped Sprint on behalf of my fiancee, and Cingular on behalf of me for AT&T. They have great coverage in the Loop and River North. Not only were her Sprint calls unconnected in Chicago, but the problem extended to CA, AZ, and NY. Even weirder, her calls would come to our home Ameritech phones with the correct caller ID number, but would then connect with different callers. WTF is that?

Re:How will this work? (1)

RavinMad (412567) | more than 13 years ago | (#335648)

The Transciver, Made by California Ampflier, houses both the send and recieve equiptment inside of it, this is know as a 17db antenna and are used at distances of less then 20 miles, beyond 20 miles you goto a higher signal gain and more focused antenna that is composed of 3 primary parts, the Grill, the Dipole and the Converter block. The dipole mounts in the center of the grill and attaches via a RG8/U cable with low loss connection to the Converter block which inturn has a F connector on the other side for attachment of RG6/U coax. Latency can be ugly at times and does tend to run a bit higher then copper line times, In all Honesty, This product is great for downloading, some minor uploading, but is not or wasnt intended for fast reaction gaming, I know several Techs who install MMDS based internet who are Big Rogue Spear/ Rainbow Six players and they all have either DSL or Cable to the more stable pings and consistancy, which is a huge factor if you are in CQC or any other fast paced reactionary situation. Take what I say for what its worth, enough said.

I agree (1)

stylewagon (197083) | more than 13 years ago | (#335649)

I can't believe it. This story has NOTHING to do with DSL and everything to do with Wireless Broadband access.

as defined [] by c|net:

Digital subscriber lines carry data at high speeds over standard copper telephone wires. With DSL, data can be delivered at a rate of 1.5 mbps (around 30 times faster than through a 56-kbps modem). Also, DSL users can receive voice and data simultaneously, so small offices can leave computers plugged into the Net without interrupting phone connections. Currently, DSL is expensive because specialized equipment--a splitter--needs to be installed at the subscriber's location

From the article itself:

"...We bridge the gap where DSL and cable can't go..."

"...Being wireless, Sprint's system bypasses the phone network..."

Re:It's part of a roll-out to skip the last mile. (1)

RavinMad (412567) | more than 13 years ago | (#335650)

somebody call Merlin.....

Already done (1)

heinzkeinz (18262) | more than 13 years ago | (#335651)

This service is already available in Toronto, from Look/Idirect [] . Moreover, the broadcast is from the world's tallest freestanding structure, the CN Tower.

CN Tower: 1815 ft, 5 in.
Sears Tower: 1454 ft, 1707 ft. with antennas
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