Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

LightSquared Wants To Share Weather-Balloon Frequencies for LTE

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the everything's-up-in-the-air dept.

Communications 141

IDG News Service reports (as carried by PC World) that LightSquared, having lost some of the spectrum they'd hoped to use for a nationwide LTE network because of worries it would interfere with GPS service, has a new plan: to use some of the spectrum currently reserved by the federal government for uses like weather-balloon communications. From the article: "The new plan would give the carrier 30MHz of frequencies on which to operate the LTE network. That's 10MHz less than it had wanted but still comparable to the amount of spectrum Verizon Wireless and AT&T are using for their LTE systems, which in most areas use just 20MHz. Wireless network speeds are determined partly by how much spectrum the network uses, so LightSquared might be able to deliver a competitive service for its planned coverage area of 260 million U.S. residents."

cancel ×

141 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Some people (4, Insightful)

mindwhip (894744) | about 2 years ago | (#41508087)

Just don't know when to fold.

Re:Some people (-1, Troll)

arbiter1 (1204146) | about 2 years ago | (#41508417)

Least they are not going down without a fight after the GPS industry screwed them over. They PAID spectrum to start a business on but interference with GPS devices WHICH clearly is the fault of companies that made the GPS devices screwed them bad.

Re:Some people (5, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#41508503)

The GPS industry didn't screw them over. It was there first, and it is far more important to EVERYBODY than yet another carrier building a network on the cheap.

That being said, if weather baloons is all there is in this proposed frequency range, I say let them have it, as long as they provide unlimited sim cards to weather baloon services and let them swap in cheap cellular radios for what ever they are using now.

Somehow, I suspect they have glossed over what other services might be in those frequency ranges.

Re:Some people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41508553)

I don't view public use of GPS as more important than public broadband.

They need to build their kit so it isn't hampered by use of nearby frequencies. It is 100% the fault of shoddy GPS components/implementations.

Re:Some people (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#41508615)

I don't view public use of GPS as more important than public broadband.

Your views don't matter.

The country as a whole, actually, the world as a whole, has decided that GPS location is far more important than yet another boradband provider.

The "kit" in the field was there first, and you can't tell every owner of every GPS equipped device in the world that they have to replace their devices just so this bunch of clowns can make money.

Re:Some people (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41509723)

You can tell them to keep their transmissions from bleeding into the spectrum that someone else purchased, and if they have to upgrade their equipment to do that, then tough titties. Just because there was an empty lot next to your house for years doesn't mean you can keep tossing your trash into it when someone else buys the land and wants to build a house there. Hell, you should've been fined and told to stop that years ago instead of being left to muck it up in the first place.

Re:Some people (2)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#41509757)

You can tell them to keep their transmissions from bleeding into the spectrum that someone else purchased, and if they have to upgrade their equipment to do that, then tough titties. Just because there was an empty lot next to your house for years doesn't mean you can keep tossing your trash into it when someone else buys the land and wants to build a house there. Hell, you should've been fined and told to stop that years ago instead of being left to muck it up in the first place.

Shows what you know.
GPS receivers do not transmit. Therefore they do not bleed.
Seems you are pretty well behind the knowledge curve on this issue.

The problem was also that these clowns bought spectrum specifically designated for Orbit-to-surface transmissions and then decided they were going to skip the whole satellite thing and use the spectrum from ground towers.

Re:Some people (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41510529)

GPS wasn't bleeding into anything. The issue was that LightSquared got their spectrum on the agreement it wouldn't fuck with GPS. Guess what their use of the spectrum was going to do? Oh, yeah. It was going to fuck with GPS since they were going to transmit at a power level many magnitudes more than GPS effectively drowing it out.

Re:Some people (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41508645)

" It is 100% the fault of shoddy deities with poorly thought out laws of physics"

FTFY

You can't here a whisper from 20 yards away if the guy sitting next to you is screaming down his mobile phone.

Re:Some people (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about 2 years ago | (#41510559)

" It is 100% the fault of shoddy deities with poorly thought out laws of physics"

FTFY

You can't here a whisper from 20 yards away if the guy sitting next to you is screaming down his mobile phone.

There there, he has GPS for that.

Re:Some people (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#41509047)

News flash: You are not important at all. your views dont matter to anybody. You also know both of those facts, because you dont have the balls to post under your account instead of responding by using the AC setting.

If you had ANY education at all you would understand why the GPS system is a protected service. I suggest learning how to use a computer and then the internet , as well as a tricky technology called a search engine in order to educate yourself on the subject.

Re:Some people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41509931)

Just because you don't mind giving up your privacy doesn't mean others feel that way. It's bad enough that computers can already link an AC comment to an individual, there is no reason to make it easier for them just because a few people want to be ****'s about it.

Re:Some people (1)

cusco (717999) | about 2 years ago | (#41510073)

If your privacy is so valuable that no one should know how you feel about a topic then you shouldn't be posting your opinions on the Internet to start with.

Re:Some people (1)

nagasrinivas (1700232) | about 2 years ago | (#41510399)

Really? So there are only two states: be silent or tell everything about you.

Re:Some people (3, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41508731)

Least they are not going down without a fight after the GPS industry screwed them over. They PAID spectrum to start a business on but interference with GPS devices WHICH clearly is the fault of companies that made the GPS devices screwed them bad.

They paid for spectrum that was specified for satellite to ground communication. They obtained a waiver to use that spectrum for ground-ground on the condition that they not interfere with adjacent satellite to ground users. They failed to do that, and so their conditional waiver doesn't hold. They are still free to use the spectrum they bought on the terms under which they bought it, they just don't have any business model there because their entire business model hinged on the gamble that they failed to pull off.

At this point, they seem to have moved to plan B 'Act injured and demand that the feds give them a handout because they deserve to succeed'.

Re:Some people (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41509025)

Says the idiot that knows nothing at all about the whole story.

Please Stop with the fox news rabid idoit responses, you sound like your IQ is as low as a presidential candidate.

Re:Some people (3, Funny)

Glendale2x (210533) | about 2 years ago | (#41509433)

That's an outright lie. Your comment is bad and you should feel bad.

Re:Some people (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41511137)

Least they are not going down without a fight after the GPS industry screwed them over. They PAID spectrum to start a business on but interference with GPS devices WHICH clearly is the fault of companies that made the GPS devices screwed them bad.

They knew they would screw with GPS before they started . they are just a bunch on no goods out to cause as much hassle as possible there is plenty of spectrum they just want to use what is already in use they need to go away and fold or start behaving like a company that has sanity at it's core look for vacant spectrum . If they keep this game up they will be railroaded out of existence
bye bye trash & Co ..

Re:Some people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41509375)

The power line signal is going to be used for the black helicopter coordination and mind control rays, so they've got to find some spectrum somewhere.

Betcha the mortality rate among ham radio operators is above average, now that the hams successfully stopped Plan A for using power line signaling.

No, I'm not paranoid, I just take dictation and type it here.
What, like you can't hear the same voices?

Amazing Resilience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41508091)

In the face of a failing business model, this company's management displays a remarkably creative "stayin'-alive" style of character. Too bad disco is dead and they will most likely follow. At least the venture capital behind it all will be able to claim that they backed a workhorse with a never-say-die, can-do mentality.

Range of that Weather-Balloon's WiFi (0)

epSos-de (2741969) | about 2 years ago | (#41508093)

I swear, I first thought they were going to enable the Weather-Balloons to offer LTE to customers. Imagine the mess when the balloon leaves your reception area. And also, Why would Weather-Balloons need that much frequency juice in the first place ?

Re:Range of that Weather-Balloon's WiFi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41508115)

Using weather balloons would have been a better idea then their original business plan.

Re:Range of that Weather-Balloon's WiFi (5, Informative)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41508215)

And also, Why would Weather-Balloons need that much frequency juice in the first place ?

Its older, cheaper, disposable tech. Might only be 400 baud downlink but usually a pretty wide signal. Simple FM/FSK modulation maybe. The problem is you launch 10 to different altitudes, due to frequency drift from being cold (cheap, remember?) you might find that a struggle to make them all fit without interfering with each other. On a boring fall day you don't launch 10 at a time, but for all I know in a hurricane (literally) you might drop 10 at a time.

Congress already told NOAA to stop using the bottom half or so of the band. The problem is radio allocations are done by the ITU... This is the usual american arrogance problem where it turns out the FCC only regulates inside the US. If someone in Canada wants to launch at 1770 MHz, which is well within ITU regulations, short of bombing the Canadian weather station I'm not sure what they intend to do about it. Just accept the interference I guess.

Also the 1700 MHz band has coprimary with radiosondes and met satellites. The weather satellite people are going to be pissed if their frequencies are reallocated only over the USA.

Re:Range of that Weather-Balloon's WiFi (1)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#41508527)

Meh, give NOAA sim cards and get off those old hand built single purpose radios and let then use cheap cell radio chips.
If this tech is cheap enough for every speed camera in the country its cheap enough for a throw away baloon radio.

Re:Range of that Weather-Balloon's WiFi (5, Informative)

FrostedWheat (172733) | about 2 years ago | (#41509019)

You don't realise how cheap the sondes are. There are hundreds launched every day, and they don't get them back. They have to be incredibly cheap and there are no GSM technologies cheaper than a simple FM radio.
There are technical limitations too - GSM only works up to about 5km, above that they will likely fail. Sondes usually fly to about 30km.

Re:Range of that Weather-Balloon's WiFi (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41509037)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phones_on_aircraft#Cell_tower_channel_re-use

The technology may be cheap enough to use in a speed camera, but then again a speed camera is not hovering a thousand feet or more off the surface of the planet. There are other issues at play here, the cellular networks unsuitability for use at high altitudes is one of them. I've worked with weather tech up north (in Canada) before and all their equipment was through-hole with lead based solder specifically for in-field repairability and general durability. I no longer work with those guys, but I can imagine they'd all freak out if they had to switch to BGA (not even surface mount!) just to support a 3G modem and all the support hardware that requires.

Remind me why everything needs to change because LightSquared believes they're entitled to profitability again?

Re:Range of that Weather-Balloon's WiFi (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#41509057)

Meh, force AT&T and Verizon to make Cellphone towers to beam the signal UP instead of down to the ground to satisfy a bunch of whily rich guys that dont know anything about technology. I'm sure they will do it for free and not pass the new fees along to the consumer.

Re:Range of that Weather-Balloon's WiFi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41509195)

While we are at it, lets give ham radio operators free cellphones with unlimited minutes. The FCC can recoup the ham spectrum allocations and auction it off to corporations that could use it more effectively to make money. The upside is, those unsightly antennas and towers in my neighborhood, which ruin my view of the skyline and interfere with my soaps, will be gone forever.

Re:Range of that Weather-Balloon's WiFi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41508537)

Was the "arrogant American" comment really required to make your point?

poor chicken (-1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 2 years ago | (#41508145)

Keep fucking that chicken

Just pay for proper spectrum already! (5, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#41508157)

Second verse, same as the first. LightSquared just doesn't want to pay for spectrum. First they tried muscling in on satellite frequencies, claiming to the FCC that they'd primarily be satellite-based while telling everyone else that they'd be terrestrial only. And of course, they got caught because pretty much *any* terrestrial-strength broadcast is going to swamp out any satellite-based stuff on the same frequencies.

So now they're trying it again, trying to squeeze in on some pre-established frequencies. I don't claim to know any technical details of weather-balloon communication, but I do know this: if it *were* possible to safely share those frequencies with LTE-like communications, it would likely have been done already. Given their prior track record, LS is going to have to argue pretty effectively to convince me.

Look, LightSquared. You should've just paid for actual spectrum you could use before. You acted like a cheap bastard and tried to use the wrong parts because it was cheaper, and then you cried when it didn't work.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (1)

Nethead (1563) | about 2 years ago | (#41508201)

Reminds me of those trying to get the DOD, et al to give up their legacy IPv4 space, so they can make money, of course.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41508225)

Although I don't have much respect for Lightsquared, they do bring up an interesting issue - making sure that the available radio frequency spectrum is being used for the 'best' purposes. Of course, 'best' as defined by Lightsquared is what makes money for them, but it could be argued that given advancements in radiotechnology and lessening importance of weather balloons, this switch might be advantageous to society at large.

I'd feel better in the FCC agreed and auctioned the spectrum rather that give it to the ol squeaky wheel.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (4, Informative)

DarthBart (640519) | about 2 years ago | (#41508389)

It'll be a long while before something will "lessen the importance of weather balloons". Unless you can figure out a way to measure air pressure, humidity, temperature, and wind direction from 0-70k ft regularly without launching balloons or dropsondes, they'll be needed. And if you can figure out a way to do it, the folks who fly the Hurricane Hunter aircraft would like a word with you so they can stop flying in and around tropical cyclones.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41508549)

Drones?

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41508813)

Lol, single-word owned.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41508857)

at 70kft?

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#41508885)

A weather balloon is what a drone for this purpose looks like.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 2 years ago | (#41508935)

Drones?

You expect a drone to fly through a hurricane? That's not easy even for large multiple-engine jet aircraft with skilled and experienced pilots in the cockpit.

Strat

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41508567)

Launch, record, recover. No sense they need to be broadcasting in real time.

I tak it you don't (1)

publiclurker (952615) | about 2 years ago | (#41508893)

spend much time in the country. Recovering these tings in any reasonable amount of time is not always practical.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41509283)

IMO the world just needs to standardize on LTE (like it previously nearly standardized GSM to just 4 bands) and not use any other damned frequency. Figure out what else is on those frequencies worldwide and do a spectrum swap. Then when LTE advacned, and whatever 5G, 6G tech comes out, they can easily be told to re-use 1/2 to 1/3 of the spectrum they already own without adding more stupidity to the process.

The "discount" carriers right now are failing (including t-mobile) because they made business decisions pre-iPhone that made it so that the device won't work on their network, arrogantly believing that any old phone is good enough. "Any" phone was good enough because they were all equally crappy until iPhone changed the game. Now you're paying into a losing business model if you don't support the iPhone.

So I don't see Lightsquared getting anywhere. If anything they were screwed the minute they tried to make a satellite system.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (3, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#41508395)

Uhhh...BAD analogy friend, because if the DoD is sitting on a class A and only using a couple of thousand addresses you could redistribute all of their unused ones and not change a single thing about how they work whereas with their first idea Lightsquared bought MUCH cheaper than normal priced communication frequencies because it was SAT ONLY and thus cheaper because you had to pay 100s of millions for the bird and launch, only Lightsquared didn't want to actually USE them for sats, they want to use them on the ground which would wipe out those that had already put up their sats" by overpowering their signals.

Now here we see them again, wanting to pay little to nothing for a band ALREADY IN USE by balloons and weather sats which would again lose their ability to communicate while Lightsquared makes out like a bandit on their new franchise. With those sitting on millions of IP addresses redistributing the ones they aren't using while leaving them...ohh lets say 10,000+ extras in case they have huge growth down the line, would not affect what they are doing now one little bit, Lightsquared would royally fuck over the ones that paid to actually use that bandwidth correctly, only for them to again make out like bandits by getting the spectrum at fire sale prices.

Please die already Lightsquared, nobody wants you, you're just trying to fuck people for your own gain, you're another VC funded leech on the ass of society and you needed to be burned off and disposed of. Either get your VC cronies to cough up the funds to buy spectrum legitimately, which of course they won't because the whole way they planned to make mad monies was by getting spectrum at fire sale prices instead of paying fair market value, or go the fuck away.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (1)

godel_56 (1287256) | about 2 years ago | (#41508321)

Look, LightSquared. You should've just paid for actual spectrum you could use before. You acted like a cheap bastard and tried to use the wrong parts because it was cheaper, and then you cried when it didn't work.

You don't have to pay for spectrum, just pay for congressmen. It's much cheaper and more effective.

I'll bet that's what LightSquared are doing right now, behind the scenes.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | about 2 years ago | (#41508653)

Look, LightSquared. You should've just paid for actual spectrum you could use before. You acted like a cheap bastard and tried to use the wrong parts because it was cheaper, and then you cried when it didn't work.

You don't have to pay for spectrum, just pay for congressmen. It's much cheaper and more effective.

I'll bet that's what LightSquared are doing right now, behind the scenes.

At&T and Verizon beat you to it. There're isn't much if any spectrum left.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#41510149)

They thought owning a white house was enough. Too bad for them.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (1)

alostpacket (1972110) | about 2 years ago | (#41508381)

Eh? They bought spectrum but were not allowed to use it for interference with neighboring spectrum...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2011/12/21/falcones-lightsquared-faces-enemies-on-all-sides/ [forbes.com]

He thought he’d cleared the last hurdle standing between him and the trade of his life in January 2011, when the FCC granted LightSquared permission to operate a combined cellular/satellite communications network in the so-called L-band, adjacent to the frequencies GPS uses. That theoretically made Falcone’s 56 megahertz of radio spectrum, purchased for about $2 billion in a series of transactions a few years ago....

/em mine

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (1)

alostpacket (1972110) | about 2 years ago | (#41508411)

Ah never mind -- I missed your point, sorry -- you are saying they are playing a two-faced game. They very well may be.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (1)

Forever Wondering (2506940) | about 2 years ago | (#41508501)

Second verse, same as the first. LightSquared just doesn't want to pay for spectrum. First they tried muscling in on satellite frequencies, claiming to the FCC that they'd primarily be satellite-based while telling everyone else that they'd be terrestrial only. And of course, they got caught because pretty much *any* terrestrial-strength broadcast is going to swamp out any satellite-based stuff on the same frequencies.

IIRC, LightSquared wanted to use spectrum adjacent to satellite GPS frequencies (e.g. they wanted to use channel 2 and GPS was using channel 3). This should have been fine. But, because most GPS receivers are so cheap/poorly designed/non-conforming they are susceptible to cross-channel interference. It was the GPS manufacturers that messed up. But, because there are already a host of non-conforming GPS units in the field, the FCC, as a practical matter said [in effect], you can't do this because of current reality.

This is a problem that radio amateurs used to have. They would be transmitting on their assigned frequencies. But, their assigned frequencies would interfere with an intermediate stage of a cheap/unshielded TV set (because the TV set was misdesigned) and the amateur's neighbor would be complaining. In this case, any complaint to the FCC would result in a "fix your TV set" and not action against the ham operator.

The only difference here is the safety factor. Too many misdesigned GPS's and the FCC erred on the side of safety.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41508655)

We've been over this 100 times every time this comes up.
The spectrum they licensed was intended for satellite use only.
They wanted to use it for terrestrial broadcast.
The neighboring spectrum was also allocated with satellite use in mind.

You aren't allowed to build a factory in a residential area either.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#41508919)

No, that entire block is allocated to satellite use. GPS uses one of those channels, but all the rest are used (or designated to be used) by satellites. Using any of them at terrestrial power levels would basically cause problems for *any* satellite communications in that range.

The whole "cheap GPS receivers" response is just more LightSquared PR bullshit. It would take an absurdly good design to filter out a signal that is a) only a few MHz away, b) is being pumped out far closer, and c) is being pumped out orders of magnitude higher than any satellite can manage.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (1)

Forever Wondering (2506940) | about 2 years ago | (#41509475)

No, that entire block is allocated to satellite use. GPS uses one of those channels, but all the rest are used (or designated to be used) by satellites. Using any of them at terrestrial power levels would basically cause problems for *any* satellite communications in that range.

The whole "cheap GPS receivers" response is just more LightSquared PR bullshit. It would take an absurdly good design to filter out a signal that is a) only a few MHz away, b) is being pumped out far closer, and c) is being pumped out orders of magnitude higher than any satellite can manage.

Uh, try reading the Forbes article cited by another commenter (I had read it back in the day, and just reread it now, amongst others).

The filter isn't all that difficult, regardless of power level. The GPS receivers are deliberately trying to receive out-of-band spectrum that was not licensed to them to compensate for their cheapness. Even Garmin and Trimble knew there were problems with their equipment and had been cautioning investors about the problem since 2001 (before LightSquared).

Also, the FCC had licensed parts of L-Band for terrestrial transmission use years earlier to others. It's also used for terrestrial cellular. So, it's not strictly "for satellite downlink only" as some have suggested.

I have no association with LightSquared whatsoever. Regardless of how unsavory Falcone may seem in general, it begs the question: If it's all PR, why is Congress now investigating the FCC's conduct in this matter (e.g. LightSquared's $3-4B investment going down the drain) when the FCC granted various approvals along the way. If the FCC had been more awake, it might have stopped this after $50M down the drain instead of $4B. That's what Congress wants to know [and I do, too].

Currently, two wrongs are making a right: GPS's initial screwup and the FCC not ordering a massive recall/retrofit of all non-conforming GPS receivers (a bit impractical, I realize) to be paid for by the GPS manufacturers (who caused the problem in the first place). It seems fair to give LightSquared some alternate spectrum that they can use to compensate them for the $2B lost on the spectrum that they already paid for.

The currently proposed weather balloon spectrum is but one option. If that entails retuning weather balloons to use alternate spectrum that they could use that LightSquared could not, the FCC (with "help" from Congress) might just do that. It's a far more pragmatic solution to redo a few hundred devices than to retrofit 100M GPS receivers.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41509703)

The filter isn't all that difficult, regardless of power level.

Uh, you do realize that the GPS signal is already below the thermal noise threshold, right? Furthermore, you do realize that, due to pesky physics, any filter reduces the passthrough signal? No doubt you also realize that, due to pesky physics, the billion-times-stronger-signal LS ground stations would have harmonics dissipating energy in the GPS bands?

The filter isn't all that difficult, regardless of power level. The GPS receivers are deliberately trying to receive out-of-band spectrum that was not licensed to them to compensate for their cheapness. Even Garmin and Trimble knew there were problems with their equipment and had been cautioning investors about the problem since 2001 (before LightSquared).

Damn straight. It was a conspiracy to put LS out of business; a conspiracy so vast and intricate that it started a decade before the innocent, virtuous underdog LS demanded the modification of the terms under which they purchased their spectrum license. Besides, everyone knows that you get a better quality of signal if your receiver deliberately receives on other bands. Occam would be proud of your incisive analysis of the situation.

Or, perhaps GPS manufacturers didn't put tighter bandpass filters on their receivers because those filters would further attenuate the GPS signal that is already below the noise floor. Just a thought. Nevermind, the conspiracy makes more sense.

If the FCC had been more awake, it might have stopped this after $50M down the drain instead of $4B. That's what Congress wants to know [and I do, too].

If only a nanny government would have protected them from their stupidity and lack of undergraduate RF communication theory, they would have saved money!

No, this was the correct outcome: the FCC raised an eyebrow when LS claimed they could make this work (I mean, this doesn't require a PhD in RF to understand there's probably no way this would end in success), but allowed LS to try anyway after they insisted they wanted to do so. Predictably, LS failed to achieve the standard.

I suppose you would prefer a government that prevents possible failure by restricting everything to known, proven approaches, but I don't. The freedom to fail is fundamental.

It seems fair to give LightSquared some alternate spectrum that they can use to compensate them for the $2B lost on the spectrum that they already paid for.

No, that would not be fair. LightSquared thought they could pull a fast one on the laws of physics by acquiring spectrum with the deliberate, ulterior intent to repurpose it for terrestrial broadcast. There's a reason they obtained the spectrum so cheaply: it can't be used by billion-times-stronger-than-GPS terrestrial broadcast stations without interfering. Had they chosen more appropriate spectrum then this issue would be moot. None of the major carriers attempted to do what LS did because the major carriers aren't retarded like LS is.

If a house flipper were to buy an already-condemned house for $50 and then the government fails to rescind the condemnation after they haphazardly attempt to shore up the roof with $10 worth of rotten 2x4's, perhaps you believe the poor house flipper has been wronged. Perhaps, in your mind, they should seek redress from the government for not protecting them from my own stupidity and therefore they should be entitled to receive a different, uncondemned house for free from the government.

BTW, LS already laid off their technical staff. At this point it's likely that all they have left are execs and a legal department whose job it is to rent-seek. They are going to be this decade's SCO.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41509951)

There's a reason they obtained the spectrum so cheaply: it can't be used by billion-times-stronger-than-GPS terrestrial broadcast stations without interfering.

You (or somebody) keeps saying that. So I have a question. Why can't Lightsquared build towers that operate at power levels comparable to GPS signals? GPS receivers demonstrate that it's possible for a handheld device to receive GPS reasonably well, below the noise floor or not (and nearly every smartphone does, already), so why must these hypothetical towers operate at such radically higher power levels?

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (1)

kubernet3s (1954672) | about 2 years ago | (#41510277)

Imagine if your LTE was as reliable as your GPS. Go ahead, I'll wait. You'd get dropped calls on humid days: and you can forget about serving anyone living in a city.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41510321)

You (or somebody) keeps saying that.

Heh, well, I was not the other poster(s?)

Why can't Lightsquared build towers that operate at power levels comparable to GPS signals? GPS receivers demonstrate that it's possible for a handheld device to receive GPS reasonably well, below the noise floor or not (and nearly every smartphone does, already), so why must these hypothetical towers operate at such radically higher power levels?

Okay, I will admit that I am speaking in conjecture in this response. However, it stands to reason that all of this is about coverage. LS' original plan was to use their satellite *only* (which would have been fine), but then they decided they needed all these terrestrial base stations to make their plans viable. Apparently, LS planned for up to 15 KW base stations [gps.gov] (approx. 72 dBm), right in your locale. GPS satellites transmit 30 Watts and are 20,200 km away.

I imagine that it would require, in technical terms, a *metric fuckton* of terrestrial stations to get any sort of decent coverage if their transmission power were dialed back enough to avoid competing with GPS (GPS signal at receivers is typically around -130 dBm).

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (1)

heypete (60671) | about 2 years ago | (#41511177)

GPS transmits at modest powers at the source but the signals are extremely weak by the time they reach the earth. GPS signals can't penetrate building materials thicker than a modest window (and even then signal is attenuated significantly) -- LightSquared transmitting at power levels that would have similar signal strength for receivers on the ground would have no functional purpose for terrestrial transmitters.

Also, GPS transmits at extremely low data rates because it is impractical to transmit at high speeds with very low signal strength where you have to do all sorts of magic to get any sort of signal at all.

LightSquared was issued a provisional license to use terrestrial transmitters on those frequencies on the condition that their signals would not interfere with GPS. Their signals did interfere with GPS, therefore they cannot use that spectrum with terrestrial transmitters. Simple as that.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (1)

Agripa (139780) | about 2 years ago | (#41509885)

Uh, try reading the Forbes article cited by another commenter (I had read it back in the day, and just reread it now, amongst others).

LightSquared has been advertising some magical RF filter without identifying the price, power required, or form factor. If they have a working model, where is a picture of it? Has anybody independently measured or duplicated its performance?

The filter isn't all that difficult, regardless of power level. The GPS receivers are deliberately trying to receive out-of-band spectrum that was not licensed to them to compensate for their cheapness. Even Garmin and Trimble knew there were problems with their equipment and had been cautioning investors about the problem since 2001 (before LightSquared).

Power level is not a problem in this case but in the more general case it is. High Q filters by their very nature are susceptible to dielectric breakdown at high power levels where high power can be as low as 1/2 watt. In large ones at RF, you usually get a nice blue corona discharge around the tuning structures which may fail. Integrated filters just silently self destruct.

Consumer GPS receivers could have better RF filtering but there is no RF filter that can accomplish what LightSquared PR is advertising within the small form factors that are common today. All direct conversion based receivers have problems with front end selectivity leading to overload but better superheterodyne designs would be significantly larger and require more power.

Re:Just pay for proper spectrum already! (1)

asifyoucare (302582) | about 2 years ago | (#41509913)

Agreed, and EVEN IF some weather balloon frequencies could be freed, LS would have to bid for it at auction like all the other people who'd like to use it. If LS are thrown a bone it will just prove how deeply corrupt the system is.

Nice choice of spectrum (4, Insightful)

vmxeo (173325) | about 2 years ago | (#41508159)

I suspect the request to "share" frequencies with weather balloon transmitters has less to do with available bandwidth and more to do with a relative lack of industry who will be able to stand up this time to object. Weather balloons typically transmit at less than 300 milliwatts [noaa.gov] . If they couldn't figure out how to keep their land based-transmitters from overpowering 50 watt gps signals, I don't see how high-altitude balloons signals will fare any better.

Re:Nice choice of spectrum (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41508233)

It's just a trial balloon.

Re:Nice choice of spectrum (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41508243)

I would agree that the Weather Balloon Fraternity is less economically and politically advantaged as the GPS community, but ground based radio balloon stations could be upgraded with better antennas / receivers and it might well be a better fit than trying to upgrade millions on tiny little GPS receivers stuck in everyone and everything.

Again, it would be important not to take Lightsquared's take on this without some due diligence. They haven't shown much of a grasp of radio frequency physics in the past.

Re:Nice choice of spectrum (1)

Kryptonian Jor-El (970056) | about 2 years ago | (#41508837)

And who is going to have to pay for this upgrade? Lightsquared was shady with their last dealings with the FCC, I wouldn't expect them to be honest this time around.

Met Aids Spectrum Issues (1)

westlake (615356) | about 2 years ago | (#41508375)

The Powerpoint presentation:

Meteorological Aids Spectrum Issues [google.com]

It comes down to this:

Radiosonde transmitters operate in a hostile environment, with strict limits on weight, power and so on.

Most will never be recovered or reused.

Keep it simple.

Keep it affordable.

Re:Nice choice of spectrum (3, Informative)

msauve (701917) | about 2 years ago | (#41508397)

All else being equal, RF signals diminish at the square of the distance. GPS satellites orbit at ~20,000 km. A weather balloon might get to 50 km, max. So 400x. 400^2=160000. GPS probably uses directional antennae (no sense broadcasting outwards), so maybe a bit less. Even with that, the signals from weather balloons can be expected to be very much stronger than that from GPS. Plus, the reason Lightsquared's original plan would never work is that it used frequencies immediately adjacent to GOS frequencies. That issue is avoided by using a different frequency, one not adjacent to satellite frequencies.

Still, Lightsquared should be denied - they acquired satellite frequencies cheaply, because of the known limitations. They then wanted to repurpose them for terrestrial use, vastly increasing their value. But, it was proven that couldn't work without interfering with other satellite usage (GPS). The government doesn't owe them anything - they can still use those frequencies for satellites, which is exactly what they paid for. Because they couldn't get much more value than they paid for, they're now asking for a "freebie." They have an exaggerated sense of entitlement. Screw them.

Re:Nice choice of spectrum (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41508779)

At this point, it's hard to tell whether Lightsquared had some real optimists on their tech team, or whether they understand the value of correctly formatted political whining.

Re:Nice choice of spectrum (1, Interesting)

queazocotal (915608) | about 2 years ago | (#41508467)

Several reasons it's better.
Firstly, weather balloons are a _LOT_ closer to the transmitter than GPS.
300mW@100km is a much, much stronger signal than 50W at 40000km.

Secondly, there are perhaps a few dozen stations that receive weather balloons, and these can be upgraded for well under a few thousand dollars each.
It's not like GPS, where there are literally millions of receivers that may be affected.

Re:Nice choice of spectrum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41510567)

But why should they have to upgrade their equipment just to convenience LightSquared who has proven to be a bunch of con men and bozos.

Re:Nice choice of spectrum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41510621)

I think weather balloons and GPS are about the same distance to the transmitter -- effectively 0...

Re:Nice choice of spectrum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41511665)

Several reasons it's better.
Firstly, weather balloons are a _LOT_ closer to the transmitter than GPS.
300mW@100km is a much, much stronger signal than 50W at 40000km.

GPS is a ~12-hour orbit, not geosynchronous, dumbass.

Defining LTE would have been useful (0)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41508205)

LTE (telecommunication) [wikipedia.org] , Long Term Evolution, a telephony and mobile broadband communication standard

Get your own spectrum fuckers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41508221)

Seriously, why the fuck does all of their plans involve using SOMEONE ELSES BANDWIDTH?

Re:Get your own spectrum fuckers. (0, Troll)

osu-neko (2604) | about 2 years ago | (#41508451)

Seriously, why the fuck does all of their plans involve using SOMEONE ELSES BANDWIDTH?

Because the FCC told them they can't use their own. If you're going to deny them the use of the spectrum they own and paid a couple billion for, I would think it would be reasonable to help them with obtaining an alternative.

Re:Get your own spectrum fuckers. (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 2 years ago | (#41508559)

Actually the FCC told them they can use their own spectrum, if they comply with the conditions they agreed to when they bought it. LS's problem is that they don't want to comply with those conditions. It looks to me like they knew they couldn't make their network fly with the original conditions in place, but they went ahead and bought the spectrum anyway betting that once they had it they could weasel out of complying with the conditions by boo-hooing about consumers. The FCC didn't buy it. I've little sympathy for LS, they should've just said up front "We can't make this work under those restrictions." and not bought the spectrum. Then they wouldn't have this problem.

Re:Get your own spectrum fuckers. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41508807)

Seriously, why the fuck does all of their plans involve using SOMEONE ELSES BANDWIDTH?

Because the FCC told them they can't use their own. If you're going to deny them the use of the spectrum they own and paid a couple billion for, I would think it would be reasonable to help them with obtaining an alternative.

They bought satellite to ground spectrum. They can do all the satellite-to-ground their little hearts desire. They just can't set up a bunch of vastly more powerful ground stations and transmit from those.

In other news, my '120db death metal at 3am' plan does not seem to enjoy robust 1st amendment protections...

Re:Get your own spectrum fuckers. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#41508931)

The FCC told them they could use it if it did not interfere. Everyone who understood radio knew it was going to interfere, but LS insisted on going ahead. Don't blame the FCC or GPS for LS's arrogance and stupidity.

Kinda hope they succeed. (1, Insightful)

jacks smirking reven (909048) | about 2 years ago | (#41508247)

As mis-planned as LightSquared's business plans seem, I do really hope they or someone with a similar idea succeeds soon. Competitors obtaining and lighting up spectrum for data seems like one of the few market based actions needed to really put a bit of pressure on Verizon/ATT and even local broadband providers. That combined with some hopeful new ideas for the FCC on how it doles out spectrum and we could see some increased capability in US broadband options.

Again (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41508251)

Here is yet another hair brained scheme to use a public resource on the cheap for private profit. Who needs accurate weather forecasts and severe storm warnings when we could let yet another carrier overcharge us for wireless bandwidth?

Re:Again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41508705)

hare-brained - nothing to do with your barnet.

Re:Again (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41508873)

Both have been in use since the 16th century.

Re:Again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41508993)

In use for a subset of people who used "hair" to spell the rabbity thing [thefreedictionary.com] .

Re:Again (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41509081)

Idiom changes. Get over it.

Re:Again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41509785)

Idiom hasn't changed. People are just too lazy to think through the idiom to figure out why one is right and the other is wrong. Hint: only one of them has a brain.

Re:Again (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41509821)

And the other would seriously disrupt the thought process if it grew in the wrong direction.

Great (5, Funny)

SuperMooCow (2739821) | about 2 years ago | (#41508279)

Another cloud computing business model.

Pythonesque (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41508297)

Not sure if they're the Black Knight or the "I'm not dead yet" character.

Re:Pythonesque (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41509811)

It's the "I'm not dead yet" guy. They haven't yet threatened to bite off any legs. And the FCC already said "You're not fooling anyone."

The Producers (2, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#41508353)

> has a new plan: to use some of the spectrum currently reserved by the federal government for uses like weather-balloon communications.

BECAUSE NOBODY EVER USES THOSE FREQUENCIES FOR ANYTHING USEFUL RIGHT GUISE?

The amount of stupid in this company just really makes me wonder if I should just start my own scam and get away with it for years while burning up investor money in impossible persuits designed to fail.

It's like The Producers. Heaven forbid they actually do something useful and have to pay back their investors by building a useful network

--
BMO

2.4GHz (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | about 2 years ago | (#41508579)

going OT, someone said reason why so many Part 15 unlicensed devices on 2.4GHz (i.e. wifi, baby monitors) is way back when various services were carving up the spectrum (TV, music, amateur, marine, business, police, military, aeronautical, etc.) but there were certain frequencies FCC designated as ISM (industrial, scientific, and medical) where companies want to use RF for materials process, cook food, or certain medical applications. These are chunks of spectrum that has no modulation and/or callsign ID. So everyone's happy until all these innovators in Silicon Valley come along and develop various wireless systems of all kinds of stuff but spectrum is full. "Whaddaya mean we're late for the party and there ain't no spectrum left?" So they put all there stuff on 2.4GHz.

Re:2.4GHz (1)

hpa (7948) | about 2 years ago | (#41509119)

Well, part of the reason it is all there (and other ISM bands like 915 MHz and 5.8 GHz) is because the stuff *can* work with interference. This property is useful both when dealing with other "intentional radiators" and with industrial emissions, so it makes sense to put them in the same area. Pretty much the FCC and other regulatory agencies put an (almost) free-for-all sign up and said "if you can make it work, go for it, just don't complain if it doesn't work at all." However, you wouldn't be able to use the ISM bands -- or, quite frankly, any frequency close to them -- for weak-signal work like satellite. It would be like trying to whisper at Woodstock.

This doesn't have to be a bad thing (1)

rabtech (223758) | about 2 years ago | (#41508957)

This doesn't have to be an adversarial process or a bad thing.

If I were in charge, I'd tell Lightsquared "sure, no problem... as long as you supply suitable communication equipment and free bandwidth to anyone affected", where suitable is a low-power modem capable of running for X hours on Y mHA of battery power, and operating between V-Z temperature range.

If they want to give NOAA, Universities, and anyone else involved in using weather balloons free low-power LTE modems and some reasonable bandwidth, why not? You could go even further and make them provide a geosync satellite uplink to make sure they have nationwide coverage for weather balloons just in case they are out of range of ground-based towers.

It would certainly be a more efficient use of the spectrum compared to 400bps transmitters that have to be isolated by frequency from each other. You could launch 1,000 weather balloons in the same area without any interference issues... something not possible with the current system.

Re:This doesn't have to be a bad thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41509451)

I'm rather doubtful that this LTE modem will be of any use at 50km up there in the clouds.

Lightsquare's moral obligation (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 2 years ago | (#41509129)

If this is a go, Lightsquared is morally obligated to allow the license it bought previously to be combined with this new spectrum and "re-auctioned," contingent that it get a full refund with interest and some reasonable costs it has already incurred if it loses the new auction.

Why?

Because other bidders placed their bids based on the usefulness of that spectrum at the time, knowing that GPS was already in use and that other slices, including the weather-balloon slice(s), were already allocated.

If Lightsquared pressures the government into changing the rules of the game, everyone deserves a do-over.

Morally speaking.

Is Lightsquared going to go along with this if they can avoid it and still make their spectrum usable for LTE? I very much doubt it.

Re:Lightsquare's moral obligation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41511727)

If this is a go, Lightsquared is morally obligated to allow the license it bought previously to be combined with this new spectrum and "re-auctioned," contingent that it get a full refund with interest and some reasonable costs it has already incurred if it loses the new auction.

Why?

Because other bidders placed their bids based on the usefulness of that spectrum at the time, knowing that GPS was already in use and that other slices, including the weather-balloon slice(s), were already allocated.

<PHB>And why should those people, with their shortsighted, by-the-book thinking, profit off lightsquared's outside-the-box creativity and regulatory innovation?</PHB>

MORONS (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41509201)

DO these guys actually have any RF engineers on Staff or Just Fucking Lawyers !?

Re:MORONS (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#41510173)

Fired all their techs. All that's left is suits and lawyers.

This is just a symptom of the Steve Jobs disease.. (2, Informative)

tiqui (1024021) | about 2 years ago | (#41510597)

Unfortunately, most average citizens have no understanding of wireless technology, so when a guy like Steve Jobs came along and offered them a consumer gadget that requires loads of bandwidth they buy it by the millions. Now they, and the politicians they elect, and vendors who seek some of their money are locked in a battle for unlimited quantities of something that is limited... bandwidth within the RF spectrum.

The hard truth is that there is a limit to the available spectrum, and that limited resource should only be allocated to uses that can only be performed wireless. It borders on the criminal to have smartphone companies building video and web browsing into phones... individuals filling their vacant cranial cavities with individual streams of Youtube cat videos, Justin Bieber music, and other individualized streams of pablum should not be competing for use of the nation's RF spectrum with satellite communications, GPS signals, firefighters, police, air traffic controllers, national security, TV and Radio broadcasters (who each serve millions with their broadcast pablum) and so on. Broadcast signals (like GPS, radio, and TV) should have priority since they each serve an unlimited number of people with their bit of the spectrum. Signals that only serve a single civilian user should be the absolute lowest-priority in the system.

Want to make a phone call from your home to your office? Use a land line.

Want to make a call from your car? Cell phone is fine... it's the only way to solve the problem

Want your laptop to talk to a printer? Plug in a cable (network, USB, etc)

Want a security camera? Run a wire

Want you pilot to talk to the control tower? That requires wireless

Want to know where you are while hiking, boating, flying or driving? GPS is great, it uses little bandwidth and serves millions of people, and cannot be done with wires.

With hard-wired networks, there is no limit to the bandwidth... you can just pull more cables when and where needed and your use of bandwidth has no impact upon your neighbor's use of bandwidth (he can pull all the cables he wants on his property). With wireless, on the other hand, each user is consuming a slice of a national asset which he/she does not individually own. There is no way to increase the available RF spectrum... if you want more for something then something else must get by with less. Additionally, most people do not understand that some frequencies of RF energy work better for short-range communication and others for long-range... and some frequencies can be used with small-and-cheap electronics while other frequencies require bigger and more expensive circuits (although this latter limit changes over time of course as technology advances).

Unfortunately, as long as carnival barkers like Steve Jobs keep offering consumers new shiny baubles that need more bandwidth, there will be other jerks like Lightsquared who will try to make a buck by promising consumers more of the RF spectrum (and gambling that public pressure from the uninformed masses for more will force the government to allocate more) for stupid shiny objects at the expense of vital things like navigation, public safety, national security, etc.

Re:This is just a symptom of the Steve Jobs diseas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41511575)

I dont think you quite understand RF either, not all frequencies for example can be used for ATC>Pilot communications. Why not use them for more localized uses?(Wireless computing, bluetooth etc).

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?