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FCC Will Test Internet Over TV Airwaves, Again

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the automagic-for-the-people dept.

Television 86

Weather Storm writes "According to MSNBC.com, the FCC will try again to test prototypes on Jan. 24 for transmitting high-speed Internet service over unused television airwaves. The devices were developed by Microsoft and Motorola, among other corporate partners, and will be tested in laboratory and real-world conditions for three months. 'Last year, a high-technology coalition — which included Microsoft, Google Inc., Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp. among others — submitted prototypes they said could transmit broadband Internet service over unlicensed and unused TV spectrum, known as "white spaces." Television broadcasters and the wireless microphone industry say such devices could interfere with programming. The Initial prototype testing failed last July because the devices did not reliably detect and avoid TV programming signals and could have caused interference. If the tests are successful this time and the devices are approved, the coalition plans to introduce commercial devices for sale after the digital television transition in February 2009.'"

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During peak times (3, Funny)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111034)

Innocent TV watchers were bothered by flickering images of the internet appearing on their TV.

Re:During peak times (5, Funny)

weak* (1137369) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111140)

But not-so-innocent TV watchers were pleased to view free prOn.

Re:During peak times (1)

Derek Loev (1050412) | more than 6 years ago | (#22114142)

Why is everybody against the FCC trying to test the internet over TV airwaves? It didn't work correctly the first time...what does?

Detection should be easy (4, Informative)

crow (16139) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111054)

TV broadcasts use a fairly wide frequency band. Just define one small part that is restricted to just TV, and make sure there is no signal on that portion, then use the rest. Of course, you have to recheck periodically, as there may still be some stations that go off the air at night, and you would need to stop using that frequency when they come back on.

Re:Detection should be easy (4, Informative)

Shrubbman (3807) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111174)

Well the last time I checked most stations that 'go off the air' really don't, they just switch from actual programming to some really annoying tone squealing over a test pattern.

Re:Detection should be easy (4, Funny)

Wingnut64 (446382) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111462)

I read your comment twice before I realized that it wasn't a joke about the declining quality of television programming.

Re:Detection should be easy (1)

Silver Gryphon (928672) | more than 6 years ago | (#22114966)

Maybe he was referring to MTV's new series, America's Next Top Banshee.

Re:Detection should be easy (1)

sowth (748135) | more than 6 years ago | (#22114062)

You are lucky. They don't do that where I live. They just play "infomercials" during the time they would normally be off air.

Re:Detection should be easy (1)

StarkRG (888216) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111962)

Analog TV broadcasts are not going to be around much longer. Congress signed the execution order for February 17, 2009. After that there'll be a large portion of frequencies that are no longer in use.

It's like having the really big fat guy in the seat next to you on the airplane getting up to use the restroom and not coming back.

Re:Detection should be easy (1)

zentec (204030) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112164)

It should be *really* easy. HDTV broadcasts in the US have a pilot on the signal, which is there to make it easy for ATSC receivers to find it. As far as the old NTSC signal goes, that shouldn't be all that difficult either since sync is not only repeating, but the largest portion of modulation.

Who cares about tv (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22111108)

"The Initial prototype testing failed last July because the devices did not reliably detect and avoid TV programming signals and could have caused interference."

And? How many people use tv on rabbit ears vs the number of people with laptops. Sorry TV ala 1930s you have been bested no one has loved you for 30years.

Re:Who cares about tv (3, Informative)

aywwts4 (610966) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111798)

You obviously don't have an HD TV.
The best quality HD is all OTA

Re:Who cares about tv (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111936)

Yup, I'm astounded that people even pay for that really crappy over-compressed signal that cable companies try to sell as HD. We were watching a football game at my buddies house last week in so-called "HD" and it was like watching a badly compressed DiVX from usenet.

Re:Who cares about tv (2, Informative)

drsquare (530038) | more than 6 years ago | (#22114596)

The best quality HD is all OTA
There's HD over the air? Oh wait, I live in the UK, where we're lucky to get any signal at all without paying £500 a year to Murdoch...

Re:Who cares about tv (1)

yabos (719499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22116848)

Yeah that's nice but you only get a few channels if you're lucky. That might be good enough for you but there are many channels I wouldn't get from OTA such as movie channels, discovery HD etc. Where I live there's not a whole lot you could even pick up anyways.
http://www.digitalhome.ca/hdtv/idx/0/426/article/Canadian_OTA_HD_Channel_Lineup.html
You can see not many channels in Canada broadcast OTA HDTV and outside of those large cities you'd probably not have much luck picking up any good signal.

Re:Who cares about tv (1)

rs79 (71822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22124500)

"outside of those large cities you'd probably not have much luck picking up any good signal. "

Yup, correct. (looks outside at polar bears).

We get "the channel" and "the other channel" and I have a 75' antenna.

The both have hockey, which I loathe, nearly all the time.

Re:Who cares about tv (1)

ohtani (154270) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112860)

I don't believe this has to do with rabbit ear interference.

Re:Who cares about tv (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113388)

Rabbit ears are vhf antennas-- and pretty poor ones at that. Much of the available atsc programming uses the uhf spectrum.

Better wireless coverage (2, Interesting)

TheSpengo (1148351) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111150)

That's a really neat idea. If properly implemented, that would significantly expand wireless internet coverage to just about anywhere in the nation. It would definitely help for people who travel a lot. Still, the initial test failures such as not recognizing normal TV signals makes me wonder. If they could figure out how to properly detect regular TV and avoid it, this could be a definite advance in connectivity.

Re:Better wireless coverage (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22111856)

...so, you're saying you agree with the article?

"+2, Interesting"?! Hey, Mods, I agree with the article too!

Re:Better wireless coverage (0, Offtopic)

ascendant (1116807) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112866)

LoL it worked! He now has a +2 interesting! I know I want a + interesting... what should I do to get it?

Re:Better wireless coverage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22113444)

Try saying something interesting, dumbass.

Mostly benefits rural areas (1)

MacarooMac (1222684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111154)

So using 'white space' will provide better internet services to cows and stuff?

Re:Mostly benefits rural areas (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111202)

So using 'white space' will provide better internet services to cows and stuff?

More likely it will provide some Internet service where there isn't any now.

But yeah ... I fully expect to see wireless-laptop-wielding cows the next time I pass through a rural area.

Re:Mostly benefits rural areas (4, Funny)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111434)

But yeah ... I fully expect to see wireless-laptop-wielding cows the next time I pass through a rural area.

But will they run Hurd?

Re:Mostly benefits rural areas (1)

Wireless Joe (604314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111640)

I fully expect to see wireless-laptop-wielding cows the next time I pass through a rural area.
That's how you know you're in Gateway country.

Rural internet is sort of a joke anyhow (5, Informative)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111220)

A lot of companies in rural areas won't bother running what really amounts to the last mile of lines needed for DSL and cable. The reason is simple -- they will never recover the cost of running the line.

Presently, asynchronous satellite service is the only rural high speed internet available.

A ground-based synchronous wireless system circumvents some of that trouble, but the TV signals are sitting in the only bandwidth useful for reaching down into valleys. The truth is, VHF channels 7 and 8 are the plum spots. They have great range. They are at a low enough freqeuncy that they curve with the shape of the earth, while being high enough that they don't just suck in nearby electrical interference.

TV sits in the coveted spot.

Re:Rural internet is sort of a joke anyhow (5, Funny)

MacarooMac (1222684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111342)

Point taken.

Over here (in "Little Britain") a large 'rural area' probably equates to a small city park in N. America - so net accessibility in remote regions is not such a big issue: we simly don't tell them the internet exists.

Re:Rural internet is sort of a joke anyhow (2, Interesting)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113158)

Have you ever looked at the TV reception issues in an area like Alaska? That's some fun.

There are parts of the rural mountainous US where you have to use a 10' satellite dish to get anything, and that's from local channels that are rebroadcast off of satellite. There's an old joke that the state bird of West Virginia is the C-band satellite dish.

Re:Try you local cellular providers (2, Informative)

Jewfro_Macabbi (1000217) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112072)

Satellite internet has horrible terms of service - and serious latency issues. Cellular providers cover many under-server rural areas now - I was pleased to learn of the option. It doesn't have the inhibitive installation cost of satellite service either. I'm connecting with speed between 700 and 1000kbps - with downloads speeds around 120kbps/upload speeds around 20kbps. The service is 29.99 unlimited (doesn't count against airtime minutes/no caps) using a tethered phone or 59.99 per month unlimited using a wireless USB modem. It's performs well - I've experienced no outages in over a month of use. Anyone more knowledgeable - the cellular broadband is a type of radio service? Is this something more like a "mesh" network?

Re:Try you local cellular providers (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113936)

Cellular telephones use digital radio signals divided into "channels". One channel gets you a cellular-quality digital voice signal. Cellular broadband is just transmitting IP over 2 or 4 of those same channels.

Rural internet is sort of one-way anyway. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22112280)

"TV sits in the coveted spot."

The only problems I see with using the TV bands is that the internet is bidirectional and there's the issue of total bandwith. Tv works because it's one to many. Internet works because it's many to many and scalable. WiMax is suppose to address the last mile anyway.

Re:Rural internet is sort of one-way anyway. (1)

gotzero (1177159) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112816)

The frequency is what is needed. You would have to have more repeaters for a two way system, but it could still work very well. I have a aircard on the CDMA network and I have been stunned with the speeds I get through the mobile provide with the Rev. A hardware. A purpose-built system not piggybacking off of the mobile network would likely be much better.

Re:Rural internet is sort of a joke anyhow (5, Informative)

Kaeles (971982) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112304)

Not true, The ISP I work for offers a wireless connection to last mile customers.

Towns of 300 - 400 people is what we mostly aim at, and We offer decent speeds at least.

Anyways, I used to work for a satellite based ISP, and it just doesn't cut it quite the same.
I know we can do a 20 mile link with 20mbps throughput and recover the cost within 6 months if we have 20 customers.

The big companies aren't even worried about the customers or trying to recover money, they just don't care to take ANY time to spread broadband to rural areas. Its too much of a pain for them.

which ISP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22112960)

Which ISP is providing this service?

We have pasty.com here in very rural Michigan, they're using WiFi and a RADIUS server for stationary wireless customers. Each transmitter covers, at most, 100 houses. It works great with a cantenna if you're within a half mile of the antenna. Farther than that, the cube function kills it.

What technology are you using?

Re:Rural internet is sort of a joke anyhow (1)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113106)

Verizon is doing nothing of the like in western PA, nor is Comcast. Them and a few Atlantic Broadband customers represent the whole target.

Only only one company, Alltel, is running any decent rural service.

When I moved into the new house, part of picking the house was making sure I had at least DSL.

Re:Rural internet is sort of a joke anyhow (2, Interesting)

Jewfro_Macabbi (1000217) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113310)

Yep - Alltel - their voice packages are a bit higher than their competitors - by about ten or fifteen bucks a month - but their service does have this great advantage of working - even in remote, rural areas.

Re:Rural internet is sort of a joke anyhow (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#22114266)

Similarly, cellular broadband isn't a half-bad solution for rural areas, considering that you don't have to worry about overloading individual towers (which are both ubiquitous and cheap)

The economics of wireless telecom are so much more favorable that developing nations without an established telecom infrastructure are skipping landlines entirely, and installing cell towers all over the place instead.

Re:Rural internet is sort of a joke anyhow (1)

Silver Gryphon (928672) | more than 6 years ago | (#22115038)

Funny thing about towns of 300-400 people is that they're likely 30+ miles from each other, with 2,000 more people out of radio range, spread out on thousands upon thousands of acres of farmland, pasture or just tree farms. My in-laws live 20 miles from town, 5 miles from a paved road. Something like 20 families in a one-mile radius, and only one to my knowledge has upgraded past dial-up, to satellite. Half would use the net if the cost were $20-30/mo and reliable, but the phone lines can barely hold a 9600bps link.

If you can get wireless internet (>500kbps down/30kbps up) to Smithdale, MS, I know you'll have a loyal following.

Re:Rural internet is sort of a joke anyhow (1)

Kaeles (971982) | more than 6 years ago | (#22130140)

Well, our lowest package is 35/month. but thats for a 512down/128up, so I don't think its too badly priced (that, and we actually take a loss on the install to buy the CPE). Anyways, with a slightly better antennae I know that we have pushed a link from a customer to the access point from 15 miles away.

Re:Rural internet is sort of a joke anyhow (1)

Kaeles (971982) | more than 6 years ago | (#22130162)

Oh, and I forgot to mention that we have pushed links 45 miles from access point to access point, but, it limits the uplink to 15-18mbps, so its harder to do that and provide service to loads of people

Re:Rural internet is sort of a joke anyhow (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112588)

This is the exact situation my parents (and thus me, when I visit them) are in. They are currently on dial-up, with an average connection speed of around 26 kbps for $10/mo. That is abysmally slow, but satellite access is significantly more expensive. I've heard rumors of long-range wireless becoming available in their area, but again, the price is steep. DSL and cable are not available; they've lived there for 11 years, and it doesn't look as if the situation is going to change.

On the other hand, with a properly mounted antenna, they get less than a dozen TV channels. Here's hoping that all that empty space can be put to use.

Re:Rural internet is sort of a joke anyhow (1)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113136)

The TV channels available depends on a lot of factors. In the right spot here in western PA you can pick up channels from five markets. I can easily get three markets.

The wireless service would be a huge leap forward for internet service. Also, I suspect that Google would like to liberate itself from the entire net neutrality issue.

But, the TV spectrum is a bad place to have this fight. It's hard to pick up signals in some areas, and it will be even harder for devices to figure out that they're causing interference when they can't detect signals that should be there, but maybe an apartment complex or a big rideline is blocking.

Re:Rural internet is sort of a joke anyhow (2, Interesting)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113908)

Have you priced out just fixing the problem by buying a real connection?

T1 lines are damn cheap now - I frequently see prices around $400/month. Optical lines start in the low thousands. All it would take is a couple neighbors and setting up a WiFi or even DSL co-op becomes competitive with what you'd expect DSL/Cable to cost.

Now, that may not be the right answer for getting internet access occasionally at your parents house - but it absolutely is for anyone personally lives somewhere where the telcos won't provide service (or won't provide good service).

Re:Rural internet is sort of a joke anyhow (1)

dupup (784652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22117358)

Have you priced out just fixing the problem by buying a real connection?
This country-mouse has priced out a real connection. I currently get my broadband over wireless DSL, bounced, I crap you negative, off a neighbor's barn across the valley. We're lucky to have it, but the ISP is very flaky, sometimes leaving us without service for several days until they get around to rebooting their router, or whatever the problem-du-jour is.

Some neighbors and I spec'ed out a T1. The base cost is less than $400/mo if you live within a provider's "footprint", which typically matches the wired DSL service area. Outside of that footprint though, you pay per mile essentially on a monthly basis. The cost for us would top $1000/mo, just for the line. The ISP would charge us another $250/mo or so.

Even so, that cost might be justified if we could get enough neighbors interested. If you figure a reasonable cost for highspeed for less tech-dependent neighbors would be about $50/mo, then you'd need to get 60 or so households involved. That's certainly doable, but then you run into the second problem, IMO.

Most country-mice out here with me are not as technology-literate as I. If I got myself in the business of supplying highspeed (via wireless, I guess, from my house) to my neighbors, it seems I'd also be in the business of fixing the multitude of problems that seem to strike Windows boxes (not turning this into a flame-war, if they used Linux, there'd be a multitude of Linux problems for them), all with the same symptom: the internet don't work. What if the power fails in the middle of the night? Am I responsible for getting service back up within a certain period of time? Can I go on vacation? What if one of my neighbors decides to host a warez server? Am I liable?

In the end, we decided to skip the T1, though the whole idea is strongly tempting. Perhaps the price will moderate somewhat over time.

Re:Rural internet is sort of a joke anyhow (2, Funny)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113866)

Satellite internet is hardly a solution for those of us who don't want to live in overcrowded, noisy, polluted areas of the world. Even the best satellite internet has poor upload speeds, annoying lag (it does have to travel to and from space, after all), bandwidth limits, and flaky service during rain and snow (and sunspots). Besides, if you live in a valley or on the wrong side of a ridge, your line of sight could be less than desirable and ruin any chance of having even that kind of connection. If you're one of those people that like to watch television however, I'd always recommend satellites over cable, despite some usability issues during bad weather. :P

Companies won't run the extra bit of line because they are lazy and don't want to put out what amounts to relatively insignificant amounts of money for eventual profits. That is exactly why we need laws passed to force cable and telephone companies to remedy the problem, instead of avoiding it altogether. Saying that "hicks don't want internet" is ridiculous. We have electricity and telephone access, which were thought to be relatively unimportant outside of urban areas not too long ago. Heck, most of us even have county water nowadays (though I still prefer my well for safety purposes)! Yet some places don't even have cable television, let alone any sort of broadband.

Re:Rural internet is sort of a joke anyhow (1)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22115550)

I don't disagree on any one point. But, considering cable still hasn't been forced into a la carte channel packages, we're a long way from the political will to make cable do anything.

Re:Rural internet is sort of a joke anyhow (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22127340)

A lot of companies in rural areas won't bother running what really amounts to the last mile of lines needed for DSL and cable. The reason is simple -- they will never recover the cost of running the line.

No, they'd recover the costs eventually. They just don't want to wait as long as it would take.

Re:Rural internet is sort of a joke anyhow (1)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22130062)

I gotta disagree. Look at the current business environment. If they ran decent DSL, how long would it be before DSL became the ugly little brother to fiber? The technologies need to settle down for a while before the telecoms are going to commit the effort to the lines.

I'm not aiming to defend the telecoms. I'm just stating their rationale, which is better than it is in many instances.

Detection is a nightmare (4, Informative)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111172)

Can you even imagine handling TV signal detection in an are like the Northeast Corridor? Anywhere from Richmond, VA to Portland, ME there are so friggin many channels that when you include out-of-DMA channels there simply is no real white space.

Understand that a channel in the eastern US can be reasonably expected to be detectable up to 100 miles away. For example, I live in central Pennsylvania, and even without atmospheric effects with a decent antenna I can get channels from eastern Ohio.

Point being that the device is going to pick up a lot of channels. Also, since it is presumed to be mobile, that device will have to shift channels.

Channel-shifting is where the real nightmare occurs, especially in cities. With path interference, you have total signal dead zones that are three feet away from strong signal. The device could pick a channel, celebrate and start transmitting right into a zone where there would be perfect TV reception and never be able to detect it because of a dead zone.

Trying to avoid this sort of interference in a practical application is impossible.

Re:Detection is a nightmare (1)

huckamania (533052) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113376)

Not really, but I can imagine using it where I live. If they can achieve last mile quality, it would be a real boon to people who don't live on the Eastern sea board or where ever there is already lots of channels. I would wager that people living there already have some broadband choices.

Re:Detection is a nightmare (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22127450)

Perhaps you're forgetting the analog TV shut off in 2009? That will free much space in the TV spectrum.

What, no revenue? (2, Insightful)

Wireless Joe (604314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111252)

Isn't that basically what the upcoming spectrum auction is about, transmitting data over unused TV licenses? Except in this case, of course, the FCC doesn't get to collect $billions for the privilege, and Microsoft et al get a free pass to use basically the same resources that the teclos are getting ready to write big checks for. Sounds like the FCC is not meeting its fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders, uh, I mean constituents.

Re:What, no revenue? (2, Informative)

zoltamatron (841204) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111730)

Not exactly....The FCC is about to auction off all the analog broadcast TV bandwidth when all stations go digital in early 2009. The bandwidth avoidance that these internet boxes will have to do will be greatly reduced when all the analog TV is gone.

Re:What, no revenue? (1)

Ken_g6 (775014) | more than 6 years ago | (#22114046)

Try again. The FCC is about to auction off a small portion of the UHF band of analog TV broadcast bandwidth, namely 52 through 69 [voip-facts.net] . I believe there's also a small swap between some VHF channels and some emergency channels.

Digital channels actually occupy the same space as analog channels, and each digital channel occupies the frequency space of one analog channel. The differences are that they can be on neighboring channels without interference (my digital channel equivalent of 11 is on channel 10), and that they can each carry up to six subchannels.

Still, it's true that bandwidth avoidance may become easier when all TV channels are digital, since digital should be equally detectable from this box or from a TV.

Re:Revenue from Sprint and T-mobile? (1)

Michael Talbert (1224388) | more than 6 years ago | (#22131376)

While the WSC wants to use the white space for wireless broadband, Cellcos Sprint and T-Mobile want whites spaces for wireless backhaul [voip-facts.net] , and are willing to pay for a fixed license. In todays economy, will the FCC be pressured by Congress to get some money for this spectrum? Seems like it would be a waste to use this valuable spectrum for a cellco's backhaul.

Mmm.. BBS over HAM (4, Interesting)

eyenot (102141) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111290)

I wish there was more information about all of this. Specifically, I wish the FCC would be able to give us a template for the upcoming changes to all forms of bandwidth and how they are intended to be used in the future.

I remember something a fear years ago about the switch to HDTV somehow opening up a range frequencies on the FM dial, and the FCC talking about maybe loosening restrictions on licensing for broadcast in the FM spectrum. I haven't re-heard any of that since.

I also remember, while I was studying the use of power lines as FM transmitters (apparently the signal is periodically flattened, though, by the transformers), the FCC mentioning something about using the power lines to double as internet. This was just after the DSL market leveled off, I remember. Anyways, there was a lot of talk about how to get that done, and special switches to go around transformers, or something. I haven't re-heard any of that, either.

I never liked DSL, btw. It seemed like the public was being duped into agreeing that they have no business using modems that fast without paying the phone companies for compensation. That's my impression based on the way the phone companies handled 14.4s and 28.8s. With 14.4s they started saying "you need to tell us if you are using your phone line for data communications; there's an extra fee." They tried to justify that by saying the fee paid for keeping the line more free of noise, which simply wasn't true. I remember a number of SysOps actually letting the phone companies know they were running BBSs off their low-calling-plan phone lines: they still had just as many checksum errors as they ever did, usually because they lived in the rural areas. Then when 28.8s came out, the phone companies started it all over again, except this time their gripe was that the higher throughput was a drain on the company's resources and they needed proper compensation, and threatened that if they found anybody was using their phone line for data without telling them, they would automatically flip you into the higher-paying mode. My impression then was that enough businesses and day-traders had told the company they were using their lines for data and ponied up the extra charge, but found that their signal wasn't any less noisy than usual, and got pissed and complained. Anyways, then DSL came out, and it was the same thing all over again, except that this time the phone companies had the jump on the technology and the right to use it on their lines. They were especially tight-fisted with who's allowed to so much as own a DSL modem, or if they couldn't manage to monopolize that market they were working out exchanges that required the company's leased and serialed modems. I have a question about that; when everybody's onto coaxial and the phone lines aren't being used for data any more, what will all of the "extra bandwidth" there be used for? Not voice: too many people are using cellphones for even their most casual home use, it's just more practical. What good will the phone lines be to us once they aren't getting used?

About the TV band again. I started reading up on it and learned that Japan had gone digital TV quite some time ago, but was still using the same airspace; they just managed to use compression to fit around two digital channels into the same bandwidth as one of our analogues. Why didn't America ever go into that same system, given how much Americans love both television and varieties? It seemed obvious to me, some time later, that twice as many channels are twice as hard to corner and monopolise. Some may say that deals couldn't be worked out so that manufacturers believed Americans would go out and buy replacement sets; but I still say any deal with a lucrative outcome eventually gets made by somebody, and it was simply obviously more lucrative to keep things tight-gripped rather than allow the market to be widened. We still have our "Big 3" today even though things have changed oh-so-much; when the hell are those disinfo mouthpieces going to fail and just go away?

Anyways, there was some neat stuff that was being talked about since the first mention of switching all TV over to HDTV, all of it involving different uses of variously freed-up radio bandwidth, and some of it involving (I suppose because the think-tanks were up and running over the bandwidth issue) how to use various other things like the power lines and so on. But every time I hear of one of these things, the next time I hear about it it's somehow greatly diminished in cool-factor (like going from "a little bit" being used for emergency and military, to a bit more) or else I just don't hear about it again.

What's the deal? Could anybody actually sit down and write out some sort of template for what we can expect out of the future?

And another thing, has anybody here ever done BBS-over-HAM? I haven't owned a HAM radio, but I saw the BBS-over-HAM stuff: it sort of sucked, even compared to using a noisy landline with a 2400bps modem! Who wants to go back to that? Has anybody figured out the logistics, yet, of having millions of people somehow use the same radio space for bidirectional communication and error checking? Or is the radio internet going to be black and white, faxes, and back to 8-bit pong?

Re:Mmm.. BBS over HAM (1)

arodland (127775) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111818)

About the TV band again. I started reading up on it and learned that Japan had gone digital TV quite some time ago, but was still using the same airspace; they just managed to use compression to fit around two digital channels into the same bandwidth as one of our analogues. Why didn't America ever go into that same system, given how much Americans love both television and varieties?
Uh... what do you think we've been doing? If you said "the same thing", you'd be right...

Re:Mmm.. BBS over HAM (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111874)

I don't know why you were modded off-topic.

I was going to post on what you did, so let me paraphrase you, maybe that mod will change - and karma aside, you make good points, indirectly addressing other comments. So, here goes:

TV is mandated to go all-digital soon. All the broadcasters in my market already have. So they're broadcasting VHF TV and UHF DTV (with and without HD variants).

So what happens to all that VHF and those crowded Eastern corridors when the mandate takes effect? I should research before answering, but in any case, I predict FCC-supported shutdown of the unnecessary VHF broadcasting expenses will be approved and VHF TV will go away. Unused bandwidth, in the far-reaching channels 7 and 8 sweet spot as another poster mentioned, the high population corridors uncrowded - that makes sense.

What will that nice, uncrowded VHF be good for? If you think outside of the box, like BBS-over-HAM guys, or like Microsoft is doing, you repurpose VHF for internet delivery.

Please see my post in this thread, "Don't kid yourselves" for what I choose to post instead.

HTH, compadre.

Re:Mmm.. BBS over HAM (1)

oncehour (744756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112938)

I believe the powerline internet you're talking about is called Broadband over Power Lines or BPL. As I recall there was a lot of opposition to BPL because it interferes with the HAM radio spectrum. Hopefully someone more knowledgable can chime in on the discussion soon.

Re:Mmm.. BBS over HAM (2, Informative)

jimrob (1092327) | more than 6 years ago | (#22114646)

As I recall there was a lot of opposition to BPL because it interferes with the HAM radio spectrum.

Acutally, it interferes with the entire radio spectrum. When the plan was first announced, the military was one of the most vocal opponents of the plan. I don't know if they still are or not, as I haven't heard much about their opinion lately.

The ARRL, a sorta-NRA of ham radio, has recently filed a case with a federal court over BPL. The gripe is that the FCC relaxed their rules regarding Part 15 emissions (radiations from unlicensed transmitters) to allow BPL to operate.

Here's a page at the ARRL about BPL: http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/HTML/plc/ [arrl.org]

Here's a couple YouTube videos demonstrating the type of RF garbage these things emit all over the RF spectrum:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=HDSQJ8zOnhQ [youtube.com]

http://youtube.com/watch?v=pdcY0Eetvsw [youtube.com]

Re:Mmm.. BBS over HAM (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22114390)

I remember something a fear [sic] years ago about the switch to HDTV somehow opening up a range frequencies on the FM dial

It's nothing inherent to HDTV... It's just that broadcasters are now abandoning VHF-low (CH2-7) en-masse, and CH6 happens to cover the lower end of the FM spectrum. CH5 was just below the FM range, so it could potentially be extended (downward) as well. I really don't expect either...

I never liked DSL, btw. It seemed like the public was being duped into agreeing that they have no business using modems that fast without paying the phone companies for compensation.

The DSLAM (head-end of a DSL connection) inherently needs to be on the physical phone line, ie. in the telco's switching center.

You may, instead, be confusing DSL with ISDN, where you pay the telco extra for a higher-speed (64kbps) switching connection, rather than the lower quality/bitrate voice connection.

I started reading up on it and learned that Japan had gone digital TV quite some time ago,

"ISDB-T was adopted for commercial transmissions in Japan in December 2003."

but was still using the same airspace; they just managed to use compression to fit around two digital channels into the same bandwidth as one of our analogues.

It's said that ATSC can fit up to 6 SD signals on a single 6MHz broadcast, though 4 is the more accepted number. ATSC uses the same 6MHz bandwidth as old analog TV transmissions.

But every time I hear of one of these things, the next time I hear about it it's somehow greatly diminished in cool-factor (like going from "a little bit" being used for emergency and military, to a bit more) or else I just don't hear about it again.

You keep talking about what you "hear" as if you're on an abandoned island, with a radio broadcasting slashdot as your only source of information...

An hour on Wikipedia, or searching the web, would quickly answer any questions you have, and clear up the misinformation.

Could anybody actually sit down and write out some sort of template for what we can expect out of the future?

I'm going to say, no. Nobody can tell you what is going to happen in the future.

I saw the BBS-over-HAM stuff: it sort of sucked, even compared to using a noisy landline with a 2400bps modem! Who wants to go back to that?

HAM radio is very noisy and unreliable, since it depends on the ionosphere for propagation. HAM radio is also used over extremely small bits of bandwidth, barely enough for one-way, intelligible speech.

TV broadcasts (and, in fact, the vast majority of the radio spectrum) is the polar opposite of HAM/Shortwave.

I don't have a clue why your comment got modded up. You're just complaining about what you don't know.

Re:Mmm.. BBS over HAM (1)

jimrob (1092327) | more than 6 years ago | (#22114580)

HAM radio is very noisy and unreliable, since it depends on the ionosphere for propagation. HAM radio is also used over extremely small bits of bandwidth, barely enough for one-way, intelligible speech.

Have you even used a ham radio? I suppose if you're expecting a high-def audio experience, a 2.2kHz bandwidth voice signal may seem "barely intelligible." That's only for SSB, however. FM has 5kHz audio bandwidth, AM has 10kHz bandwidth. All are comperable to what you'd get on a landline telephone. (Unless you count PSK-31 with it's miniscule 31Hz bandwidth... but that's another thing altogether.)

The digital modes created and used by hams are very reliable and able to get through the worst conditions. Digital modes such as PSK-31, PSK-63, Hellschrieber, Olivia, and other "soundcard" modes are able to be decoded even when the recieving station can't hear the signal through the white noise.

Propagation doesn't solely rely upon the ionosphere. Depending on what freqencies you are using, propagation can be groundwave ("hugging" the surface of the earth, as AM broadcast does), skywave (bouncing off the ionospheric), tropospheric (propagated via atmospheric temperature inversions), moonbounce (bounced off the moon), or even relayed via satellites.

By the way... what's with everyone capitalizing ham? It's not an acronym.

73 de w0jrm

fucking faggots (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22111476)

sucking on that linux dick

Makes Perfect Sense (3, Funny)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111674)

I've just signed up for fiber optic to the home. My TV signal is now getting delivered over my internet connection as IPTV - which should free up the TV spectrum to deliver internet - which I can then get IPTV on.

I think my head hurts. But I'm pretty sure we invented perpetual motion somewhere in there.

Re:Makes Perfect Sense (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111746)

Is the TV spectrum fast enough to carry more than just IPTV?

then the FCC would decide everything (2, Interesting)

purpleraison (1042004) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111722)

I hope I am wrong about this, but if the internet gets transmitted over TV airwaves, wouldn't the FCC automatically gain authority to censor anything they dislike or dictate is 'offensive' -- just like they do with television and radio in America?

Re:then the FCC would decide everything (2, Informative)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111776)

Clearwire isn't bound by those laws. This broadcasting will be happening on the same frequencies as TV, but it won't be in a format a TV can make sense of.

Re:then the FCC would decide everything (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111896)

I'm not really clear why the FCC has been given authority over the content that gets broadcast, not just the signals being used. Especially in recent years when you get fundamentalists enraged because content is available for and targeting other groups is allowed on TV. It just seems like a total waste to allow the FCC is promote one set of opinions over others in the most accessible medium available for massive communications.

I suspect that they would require special authority to regulate the internet in the manner that they do broadcast television.

Re:then the FCC would decide everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22112084)

It's not broadcast. The FCC doesn't censor your cell-phone conversations. Same sort of thing.

Don't kid yourselves (0, Offtopic)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111742)

Yes, I know Microsoft makes money on BD, but from recent articles here, it looks like they may well lose and take a bath on HD DVD.

Market associates BD with Sony and Apple, HD DVD with Microsoft.

This isn't about the internet over TV airwaves.

This is about Microsoft leveraging their new HD knowledge to reuse that bath water to one-up the ease of use and delivery of iTMS movies and the Apple TV Take 2. And it's about giving their DRM a new life for a hegemony.

They're never going to catch up (hell, as if I _know_ this), with the iPod because the Zune and their DRM had egg on it. Their HD DVD is going to have egg on it. In any emerging market, you get the opportunity to be early and win big or lose big.

Microsoft does not want to lose big in HDTV like they did and are in digital music.

This is about Microsoft HDTV and Microsoft DRM. Mark my words.

Re:Don't kid yourselves (1)

bommai (889284) | more than 6 years ago | (#22115672)

What are you talking about? Apple is in the BD board, not in the HD-DVD board.

Re:Don't kid yourselves (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22127942)

Yes, Apple is on the BD board.

Apple is making new strides into HDTV w/ iTMS and the newer version Apple TV. They bundle nothing with BD yet.

Microsoft invested heavily in HD DVD, whose future is uncertain.

So, I postulate that Microsoft wants - and is willing to invest - in internet over soon-to-be-used VHF airwaves with a TiVo-like phone-home, to facilitate HD movie purchases, with what they hope would be easier access than Apple's iTMS, perhaps more marketable, with another profit component by having the rights to parts of the internet over TV airwaves technology.

The best I can hope for with online HD delivery gets bottlenecked by DSL, Comcast or whatever. Network delivery of HD content is a big buzz on all fronts.

Putting the network on TV airwaves - for that critical one-way feed, requiring very little uplink bandwidth to complete purchases or make choices - could be a breakthrough.

That isn't even a new technical model. Years ago, when popular broadband was in its infancy, someone was trying to market to us modem users the idea of a satellite dish for download while continuing to use our modems for outgoing requests.

So, combine that satellite/modem technology that never took off, substitute internet over TV airwaves for satellite, substitute porn-surfing (whatever) with HD movies on demand (w/ appropriate business model such as PPV but it only works for the major studios with DRM), expect parts of the TV bandwidth to become free where now crowded (per the digital TV mandate), and now ask yourself:

Who would know how to do that, and who would have already invested in learning about HD content delivery but is poised to lose money on that learning investment?

Microsoft, the lead name in the article, that's who.

Who taught them to pay more attention to the emerging digital-media-content market? Arguably, Apple.

That was my original point. Apologies if touching on the memes at zero-level in my original post was unclear - given the offtopic mod for a thought insanely ontopic proves I just wasn't clear enough.

How much power is needed? (1)

LM741N (258038) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112228)

Are they going to have repeaters all over the place or just one antenna. If just one antenna they are going to need a lot of power. Some UHF channels run a megawatt. Plus, where does the uplink go? Through the phone lines?

But over-the-air TV is one way! (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112276)

I must be really dense. How the heck does over-the-air TV broadcast get anything from the home back to the net? Dialup?

Re:But over-the-air TV is one way! (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112814)

Per my insistence that this is really the harbinger of Microsoft HDTV/DRM to come, then yes, the set-top rig or the integrated-into-Dell-TV rig phones home.

Just like TiVo. Proven model.

Re:But over-the-air TV is one way! (1)

Cousin Scuzzy (754180) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113602)

I must be really dense. How the heck does over-the-air TV broadcast get anything from the home back to the net? Dialup?
I was wondering the same thing. How do you "transmit" Internet service over a one-way medium?

Not unused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22112454)

I hate to tell you all, but this space is NOT unused. Wireless microphones have been using this space for YEARS.

FCC Control? (1)

seeker_1us (1203072) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112958)

If internet access goes out over TV frequencies, does this give an "in" for the FCC to control internet content?

"cognitive radio" is the magic term (2, Interesting)

MasterRat (1223392) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113010)

I work in this field for one of the corporations involved in this work with the FCC, and am involved in cognitve radio for TVWS work. If you do a search of the internet using the phrase "cognitive radio" you will get a better idea for how the systems will work. There will be lots of small access points (initial generations of the systems will be about the size of a cigar box). Mobile stations (endpoints such as phones) will function in one of two modes, either tethered or in peer-to-peer.

The trick to make it work cleanly is geo-location information being available to the devices (mobile stations, access points, et cetera) and a map/database of known (authorized) transmitters in the TVWS frequency range in the areas. Its also highly likely that policy-based management and autonomics will come into play to control the mobile stations and the access points.

This is a big deal folks, it will revolutionize the way we comunicate and interact with each other and world around us. Look for papers authored by Joseph Mitola (DARPA Scientist who coined the phrase "cognitive radio") -- the guy is truly a visionary.

So is the is a one way street? (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113692)

It seems to me that they are (still) dying to make the internet a one-to-many model like traditional tv and radio.  Sure, you upload requests, but this technology clearly could not handle a high "up" bandwidth.

Channels 2-6 (1)

Newer Guy (520108) | more than 6 years ago | (#22114010)

TV channels 2-6 will be the biggest waste of spectrum in the history of broadcasting. Within the continental USA, there will be 29 DTV stations in this 30 mHz of prime spectrum. There will not be a single channel six in the entire state of California! There will be five channel sixes in the entire eastern half of the USA! This utter waste of spectrum is appaling!

Your cell phone works, right (2, Interesting)

speedlaw (878924) | more than 6 years ago | (#22114048)

This system will work decently. Spread spectrum radio is common today in your cell phone, your wireless house phone, and every wifi card everywhere. the concept of a defined frequency for a defined service is on the way out. Much like DC electricity, it was used for a lot of reasons, but as time goes on, a smart radio system will become common. The six megahertz needed for an analog signal is today like using a steam engine for commuter rail. You can do it, and it works, but it's not a clean or simple solution. With the advent of microchips and strict time sequences, cognitive radio is an easy deal. It also solves the problems of too many users for a limited amount of discrete frequencies. the idea of frequency allocation is because up until now, you could only be one per frequency. The prime real estate was given to TV way, way back when. It is no longer 1940. TV has some interference issues when the band opens, but you are dealing with megawatt transmitters in prime locations...I can get Philly when conditions are right here in NYC, but that's not "the market". Leaving the white spaces unused is like deciding that Ohio can't grow corn because Wisconsin is.

Re:Your cell phone works, right (1)

inject_hotmail.com (843637) | more than 6 years ago | (#22150050)

the concept of a defined frequency for a defined service is on the way out. Much like DC electricity, it was used for a lot of reasons, but as time goes on, a smart radio system will become common.
You do realize that 90% of the stuff you use actually runs on DC power, right? Let's take a looksie:

your WHOLE computer: yes
your tv: yes
your cell phone: yes
your telephone: yes
your network equipment: yes
your car: yes
your PDA: yes
your game console:yes
your everything battery operated: yes

alright, so that's a lot of stuff...sure, yes, your fridge, stove, and vacuum don't...but they could just as easily...we should all be on DC power, we wouldn't have to use all the power sapping AC/DC converters. Ya know that those things suck up entire watts of power when plugged in and idle, right? yep...whoever designed everything that way should be shot. How many millions of these things are left plugged in? That's millions of watts of power being wasted. Tesla was a smarter man, in my opinion.

Remember the Dirty Channels? (1)

Bushido Hacks (788211) | more than 6 years ago | (#22120696)

Remember how the porn channels came in as that garbled mess that you couls still identify some stuff. Imagine the possiblity that you are surfing the net in the other room and your significant other changes the channel to say channel 69 and finds that you are looking at porn. What do you do?!

We will return to Wow after this word from our Spo (1)

EricTheO (973140) | more than 6 years ago | (#22121144)

Personally, I don't want my gaming sessions interrupted by commercials every 10-15 minutes. ;p
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