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The Future of Wireless Broadband?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the fortelling-where-we-go-from-here dept.

Wireless Networking 48

Adroit Ape asks: "The FCC is scheduled to begin auctioning the radio spectrum salvaged from analog television by February 28, 2008. Public interest groups are calling for auction rules that give new entrants a fair shot at the spectrum, which includes 60Mhz in the 700Mhz band. Are we likely to see groundbreaking innovation in wireless broadband? Who do you foresee to be the major players in the auction and subsequent technologies?"

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Of course not (3, Interesting)

cephalien (529516) | more than 7 years ago | (#19048485)

Because big telcom will pay off the FCC to make it as hard as possible for small-time operators to get their hands on any of that; why do you think they pushed so hard for that spectrum to be reallocated in the first place?

Re:Of course not (1)

mattydont (849321) | more than 7 years ago | (#19048537)

That is exactly what telstra has done in Australia, the plans them self are horrible for anyone who actualy has a high volume of downloading or needs to be on constantly, and its called NextG over here.

Re:Of course not (1)

datafr0g (831498) | more than 7 years ago | (#19048697)

The plans are horrible for anyone who wants to do anything!

$114.95AUD ($95USD) per month gives you 1GB of data with a minimum 12 month contract.
Or if that's too much, $84.95AUD for 400MB...
$0.30 per MB if you go over the limit.

Diabolical.

Re:Of course not (1)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 7 years ago | (#19049291)

For that kind of money, we get a 2GB/month "fair use policy" (no specified rate above 2GB) here. But that is HSDPA (UMTS).

Re:Of course not (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 7 years ago | (#19050533)

10 mb/s down and 2 megs up in Southern Oregon for 70 dollars a month. Last month we downloaded 70 Gigabytes of data, mostly educational videos my GF uses.

Re:Of course not (1)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 7 years ago | (#19052355)

I try to educate my girlfriend with videos from the internet too.

Re:Of course not (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 7 years ago | (#19057049)

Sprint SERO (google it--lots to read about it)

$30/mon and you have unlimited data for your phone.
$50/mon for unlimited broadband card for computer

EVDO (1)

Torrey Clark (877454) | more than 7 years ago | (#19048567)

It's called EVDO [evdoinfo.com] . EVDO uses cell phone signals to deliver broadband access to laptops etc. Speeds up to 2Mbit/sec. I've personally seen about 80KByte/sec or about 768Kbit/sec (0.7Mbit/sec). Speeds may have improved since I last used Verizon's service in 2006.

Re:Of course not (2, Interesting)

Linagee (16463) | more than 7 years ago | (#19048803)

I think the FCC should sell bandwidth in small chunks of time. Say, for a week at a time. This would allow more down to earth pricing. If someone was smart with the space, they would resell it for internet connections and price compete with EVDO/etc.

Re:Of course not (2, Funny)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 7 years ago | (#19050629)

Perfect. Then they could offer the carriers free vacations, with the condition that they attend a short presentation about the spectrum chunk under auction.

If it is a auction... (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 7 years ago | (#19049171)

...as in "highest bidder gets the spectrum", big telecom will get it anyway. Like when the UMTS channels were auctioned off in Germany, with the large telecom companies placing bids in the billion Euro range.

At least the treasury got a very nice boost out of it, in fact I think the companies overpaid in their fear of being cut off from an important future market ;-)

Why an auction...? (2, Interesting)

bitrot42 (523887) | more than 7 years ago | (#19057911)

The radio spectrum is a public asset. Shouldn't companies submit proposals for what to do with unused spectrum, and the FCC would then grant it based on the "highest and best use"?

[tinfoilhat]
What burns me is that it seems the whole purpose of switching to DTV was an excuse to squeeze the remaining broadcast channels into a smaller space, so they could sell off the rights to the rest. Couldn't they have just reassigned the analog channels?

People who still watch over-the-air TV aren't exactly the ones asking for higher quality, or buying new sets to get it.
[/tinfoilhat]

That said, wideley available WiMax service, or something like it, would be a great thing.

Sprint - Nextel (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 7 years ago | (#19048561)

As I peer into my crystal ball I see through the fog .... Sprint-Nextel [slashdot.org]

ooooh scary.

Wait.. (1)

FMota91 (1050752) | more than 7 years ago | (#19048565)

They're auctioning parts of the electromagnetic spectrum?! WHAT?!
I thought they didn't own that...
Who gets the money?

More importantly, who should get the money, and why don't they?

Re:Wait.. (2, Informative)

c4colorado (1097179) | more than 7 years ago | (#19048907)

The Federal Communications Commission is a department of the US Government that regulates RF transmissions in the borders of the USA.

The money collected for this goes to the government and is used for administrative costs such as issuing licences, tracking down violators and other general expenses.

Over the years since we first started modulating RF energy to send encoded data and voice transmissions the FCC has grown to regulate many other aspects of broadcast media. As it relates to your question, the various frenquency bands need to be regulated because, as we all know, you can't just trust people to "do the best thing".

The FCC allocates frequencies for radio stations, commercial, H.A.M Radio, various consumer technologies such as 802.11x, CB, walkie-talkies (usually implemented on the CB bands), cell phones, and just about anything that transmits a radio signal of any kind. These frequencies can become very crowded and oftentimes overlap (for example H.A.M Radio operators are allowed to transmit on 2.4 GHz in the same band that wireless networking is allocated).

At one point the bands were allocated according to what they determined to be the "Best Public Use" (or something like that). Now they just auction it off to the highest bidder. Some qualifications and guidelines are set out for both who can bid and what the frequency can be used for, how much power they can transmit on that frequency, etc.

FCC Aucitons Website: http://wireless.fcc.gov/auctions/default.htm?job=a uctions_home [fcc.gov]

TV (4, Funny)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19048661)

Id like to see the spectrum used for more broadcast TV channels. Im sick of paying $50+ a month for the delivery of a TV signal that is full of advertising.

Re:TV (1)

c4colorado (1097179) | more than 7 years ago | (#19048937)

The funny thing is... I get commercials on my broadcast channels too. It seems Fox, et. al. are just as bad over the air as they are on the coax and/or dish.

I'd like to see the frequency go to ... well I guess it doesn't matter since it won't. Some big company will grab it up and use it for something stupid like out-of-band bank password verification devices until someone realizes that all you need is an old TV set and some 128 bit hex string to MITM the system and it will be up for auction again before you know it.

Re:TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19049929)

F9090211749D5BE341D8C5565663C088 [slashdot.org] , there's the HEX String it's encoded with, just don't tell Byte Swapper!

It depends! (2, Insightful)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 7 years ago | (#19048689)

Wireless broadband in the sense of wifi is very likely to be stopped or at least slowed down. Because there's no money there for companies and lots of problems for governements as it's possible to everyone to build (and grow) a public free abd uncensored network.
If the sense is that of Wireless Local Loop [wikipedia.org] , then it's very likely that it will succeed as the natural evolution of the . That is, lower cost for deployment, no digging and no cables.
There can also be the possibility of the so called 4G [wikipedia.org] networks as the evolution of the 2.5G [wikipedia.org] and 3G [wikipedia.org] wireless networks. I think companies have to first get their money back from investments, huge investments.

Groundbreaking or not... (1, Insightful)

Genocaust (1031046) | more than 7 years ago | (#19048753)

I'm not a fan of wireless broadband. Maybe I'm old fashioned (though I don't see how at only 22...) but aside from casual web surfing, I'd never trust anything to a wireless signal. Too much of my life depends on conducting online transactions: banking (all of it, I've never been to a branch office with this bank), investments, paying bills (all of them), etc etc. While certainly no encryption is unbreakable, I still believe I fare better odds placing my data on hard wires, where individuals would have to be specifically targetting it, rather than letting it flow free and open into the air for all to capture and (attempt to) abuse. Just my $0.02.

Re:Groundbreaking or not... (1)

steelcobra (1042808) | more than 7 years ago | (#19048899)

Not just that, but Wireless is also slower and less reliable than cat5e. Plus, you can't put your computer with default equipment 100 meters away from a standard wireless router and expect the same signal quality (or even a connection). Whereas with cat5e the signal is just as good whether the cable is 1 foot or 100 meters.

I'm 22 as well, and I live in barracks, so all my stuff is in the same room. But even in a full house I'd put in the effort to run ethernet ports everywhere.

The biggest thing I have a problem with is the usefullness of WiFi on stationary devices (game consoles, desktops, etc) unless they are remotely located. And to make the Wii wifi only was a bad choice IMHO. Because how often are people taking their huge tvs and game systems out in the backyard to play?

Re:Groundbreaking or not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19050879)

I am very glad the wii has wifi. Not because I can't run ethernet to it, but I would need to buy a new router.

I'm using a WRT54GL with openWRT on it. There are 4 lan ports

Port 1: Mythtv HD-Backend
Port 2: Mythtv HD-Frontend
Port 3: Work Server
Port 4: VOIP Adapter

Now the HD-Frontend does sit next to the wii, so I could put a switch there and plug both devices into the switch but why waste the power on another router?

Not only that, but they do offer USB ethernet adapters for people who don't want to use wifi with the wii.

Re:Groundbreaking or not... (4, Informative)

popeyethesailor (325796) | more than 7 years ago | (#19049365)

Maybe that's just a lack of understanding? Most banking websites rely on transport-layer security(SSL-TLS). The transmission medium hardly matters here. Even if someone is eavesdropping on a wireless signal, they'd need to break SSL-TLS to get yer data. you are far more susceptible to phishing and spyware attacks compared to wireless hacks.

Re:Groundbreaking or not... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19059645)

....and if you're a non-techie user, you're far more susceptible to phishing and spyware attacks running wireless compared to wired setups. It's not the encryption or the transmission protocol that's the question here, it's the inherent visibility of wireless networks (and easy/low risk identification of misconfigured access points). If I had my wish, routers would ship from the factory 3/4 bricked (no open ports, no wireless, no NAT, etc.) and you'd have to put in a random password (included in the packaging like a CD-Key) to get in and set it up for what apps you intend to run (again, a standard list of programs and their needs could be included). If you then wanted to make the password "superman" or turn on every auto-network opener protocol in the firmware or whatever, that would be your business. If it slowed botnets even an iota it would be worth it in the long run...

And, yeah, I dare to dream. Making computer peripherals turn on like toasters is too damn lucrative, regardless of whether that means shipping them with a fork pre-inserted...

Re:Groundbreaking or not... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#19049977)

I still believe I fare better odds placing my data on hard wires, where individuals would have to be specifically targetting it, rather than letting it flow free and open into the air for all to capture

If I wanted a 100 port router for a wired network I would buy cisco routers or some such and have relatively little control over what passes through them. For my wireless lan I built a router using NetBSD and it gives me 100% control over everything it routes.

So for me the wireless lan is more secure. I don't encrypt it at all but anything important goes through ssh or https.

Re:Groundbreaking or not... (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#19050081)

> While certainly no encryption is unbreakable,

Apart from One-time pads, of course, which are proven to be unbreakable.

Re:Groundbreaking or not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19057335)

> Apart from One-time pads, of course, which are proven to be unbreakable.

Heh, apparently you don't really know what either of those words (prove, unbreakable) mean...

Re:Groundbreaking or not... (2, Informative)

AlXtreme (223728) | more than 7 years ago | (#19050293)

While certainly no encryption is unbreakable, I still believe I fare better odds placing my data on hard wires, where individuals would have to be specifically targetting it, rather than letting it flow free and open into the air for all to capture and (attempt to) abuse
Don't forget about Van Eck [wikipedia.org] phreaking. Even by using a computer monitor, you are already sending out data than can be captured without having to tamper with any wires.

*runs to grab his tinfoil hat*

Re:Groundbreaking or not... (1)

Workaphobia (931620) | more than 7 years ago | (#19072441)

I'm not a fan of wireless, period. Provided the driver / management software is good enough to reconnect transparently, it's useful for web surfing. But it's worthless for gaming, and what's the point of having a "high-speed" (quotations used to illustrate my disdain for the term) connection if that's the case?

Just let them keep the power down (2, Informative)

mrcaseyj (902945) | more than 7 years ago | (#19048889)

The beauty of 802.11b is that the power is low enough that the spectrum can be used by many people at once. If you need long range you can use a high gain antenna. If you use an omnidirectional antenna, your signal wont go far enough to screw up too many other people. Also don't make the 802.11g mistake and make the whole spectrum one big channel so that just one user can screw it up for everyone. Also don't let the channels overlap like they do with 802.11b so that one user can ruin two of the three available bands.

Re:Just let them keep the power down (2, Informative)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 7 years ago | (#19050659)

802.11g uses the same channelization as 802.11b.

Re:Just let them keep the power down (1)

mrcaseyj (902945) | more than 7 years ago | (#19050881)

802.11g uses the same channelization as 802.11b
Oops, I was under the impression that it used the entire 2.4GHz band simultaneously to achieve the increased bandwidth. But Wikipedia confirms I was mistaken.

Re:Just let them keep the power down (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 7 years ago | (#19054117)

There are some fancy a/g adapters which can do channel bonding, I think up to 2 channels at a time. That would let you stomp on 2/3 of the spectrum in the case of g. I'm not sure if any adapter out there can bond 3 channels.

Re:Just let them keep the power down (2, Informative)

nuintari (47926) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053121)

Also don't let the channels overlap like they do with 802.11b


Yes they do.

802.11anything is poorly suited for broadband delivery. It was designed for roaming around your home or office with a laptop, and performs steadily worse the more customers you add to the access point. Omni directional antennas tend to have problems with the "invisible neighbor," which is a well known 802.11 problem that occurs when two client radios off the same AP cannot see each other, and as a consequence do not receive "clear to send" packets with any reliability, and end up transmitting at the same time. Even sectorized radios with long range customers eventually develop the problem. The timing used for 802.11 is completely useless, allows one radio to monopolize most of the timing slots without any special tweaks, it just happens.

The beauty of 802.11b is that the power is low enough that the spectrum can be used by many people at once.


Yeah, that is why I can't use 2.4 ghz band for anything, because 802.11 is noisy in its own little tiny voice way, there is a shitload of it deployed, and there are a dozen wisps in every city who seem to think that the solution to all the problems they are experiencing with 802.11 for long range delivery is "more power!" Yeah, people amp the living hell of of their gear, which causes more problems when their competition has to amp their gear to compensate, so they amp their client side radios, more problems, competition amps their clients, more problems, I could go on and on.

Re:Just let them keep the power down (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 7 years ago | (#19060065)

Unless you are a HAM with a class specification for ISM you are NOT allowed to attach any type of amp to 802.11 equipment. If you are a HAM with said license you already know what to do and are aware that you can't use any encryption on your equipment. Attaching an amp to 802.11 equipment is a clear violation of the rules and if anyone in the area complains about interference the FCC can stomp on your bigtime.

The Future of Wireless Broadband? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19049851)

For gaming? None. Wireless is useless for anything but the most trivial of web browsing. Want a stable connection over a distance? Coaxial copper or fiber are the only solutions, it's simple physics.

Wireless broadband has no future. Sure, the kiddies can browse mobile versions of sites on their cellphones at absurd charges to their parents, but other than that it is completely useless.

Re: The Future of Wireless Broadband? (1)

penp (1072374) | more than 7 years ago | (#19050669)

I get ±20 ping on most HL2:DM servers, on a wireless connection.

Re: The Future of Wireless Broadband? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19052575)

not too feed the troll but there are decent points in this post. Wireless connections in a 'dirty' environment will never provide the quality of wired connections. The simple fact that my neighbor can turn on their microwave and or cordless phone and screw up my 11g connection is proof enough of that.

However, proper planning of a spectrum will allow useful wireless connections that don't just drop out for a minute or two in the middle.

I.e. Cell Phones. Exactly the same thing...and yet they do work remarkably well in a vast multitude of environments.


simple answer (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#19049877)

Are we likely to see groundbreaking innovation in wireless broadband?

Maybe. We'll definitely see groundbreaking innovation in the big telcos ability to profit, though. And almost certainly see groundbreaking innovation in the delivery of advertisement.

Consumers getting what they want? Not so much.

Re:simple answer (1)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 7 years ago | (#19052037)

Consumers will get exactly what they want.

Customers will get anally raped.

Ham (1)

Cauchy (61097) | more than 7 years ago | (#19050233)

I don't suppose there is any chance they will give some of this spectrum to amateur radio. *sighs* Hmmm. Perhaps a non-profit could raise some money to buy some for the hams.

The public wont see anything (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 7 years ago | (#19051035)

Years ago the amature radio community petitioned for the rights to a small abandoned band of frequencies that had orininally been set aside for govt use. The hamsters were shot down then when the bandwidth was practically worthless you can bet they will be denied now that its actually valuable.

The major players have had plans and gentlemens agreements on the spectrum that will be freed up for years. The only "benefit" that the public will see out of this is at most faster 3g services. Of course the government is going to be paid billions for it, resulting in the second "benefit" to the public...higher fees for wireless services.

Offtopic question (1)

MHz-Man (1066086) | more than 7 years ago | (#19051471)

Offtopic, I know, but I'm wondering if anybody knows the answer.

I view Slashdot using the RSS feed. However, articles like this one are left out of the RSS feed. Is there a way to get the "less important" articles to show up in RSS? Because, well... having to check Slashdot to see certain new articles defeats the purpose of RSS.

Re:Offtopic question (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19052981)

I got it in mine - are you using the RSS link from the bottom of the page when you're logged in (with your id/key)?

Re:Offtopic question (1)

MHz-Man (1066086) | more than 7 years ago | (#19055193)

Yes I am logged in (with my username/password... don't know what you mean by "key") and am using the RSS link at the bottom of the page, which still leads to the same RSS feed as before. It giving me this link:

http://rss.slashdot.org/Slashdot/slashdot [slashdot.org]

I just read the RSS FAQ here and the only username-associated RSS feeds that I can find are if I want to subscribe to a specific user's journal, or the RSS for their list of friends, foes, etc.

digital television (1)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 7 years ago | (#19052079)

As far as how this will affect television.. I assume the effect of digital broadcast television will be that you'll get a perfectly clear picture, but only on good days. With analog, when the weather is bad you can tune into a slightly fuzzy station, or with an antenna you can pick up a slightly fuzzy station that is broadcast from far away. With digital, I guess it'll be all or nothing. Raining outside? Forget tuning in.

Re:digital television (1)

GURU Meditation 8000 (790934) | more than 7 years ago | (#19056015)

freeview TV is perfectly fine in the worst weather i've experienced since viewing it. unlike satellite. there again. in REALLY bad weather you turn off and disconnect the TV/settop box etc ;-)

Quick, Somebody Bag an Economist! (2, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053089)

The FCC needs somebody to tell them that if they allocate this spectrum for WiMax-style networking, instead of auctioning it, the effect on the economy will be so great, that in its value of an economic stimulus, the revenue collected from higher economic activity through taxation will greatly exceed whatever small sum they hope to collect for the 'rights' to the spectrum at auction.

The proof of this is simple: there will be willing buyers at the auction. They wouldn't be there if they didn't perceive the value of the airwaves to be higher than what they were going to pay at auction - the buyers are in it for the profit.

Now, with a Congress that shrinks in fear at the shape of the Laffer Curve, I don't expect this kind of logic will go over so well, so as an alternate tactic: Rural Broadband really needs VHF allocation to get WiMax out over the hills. Children in rural areas are the ones who stand to benefit most from access to the Internet and right now, on 26.4 dial-up, they're disadvantaged - Won't somebody think of the children?
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