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FCC Rejects Cheap/Fast Internet Device 194

Posted by Zonk
from the recycling-the-packets dept.
Tech.Luver writes "ABC News reports that a group of technology companies including Google, Microsoft, and Dell, have failed to convince the Federal Communications Commission of the utility of high-speed internet access via television airwaves. The FCC concluded the potential to disrupt consumer image quality was too high, in a statement released Wednesday. 'The technology companies say the unlicensed and unused TV airwaves, also known as "white spaces," would make Internet service accessible and affordable, especially in rural areas and also spur innovation. However, TV broadcasters oppose usage of white spaces because they fear the device will cause interference with television programming and could cause problems with a federally mandated transition from analog to digital signals in February 2009.'"
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FCC Rejects Cheap/Fast Internet Device

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  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tttonyyy (726776) on Friday August 10, 2007 @07:48AM (#20181379) Homepage Journal
    Interesting the timing of this article given Ofcom's recent approval of Ultra Wide Band for consumer devices in the UK.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6938941.stm [bbc.co.uk]
    • I'm guessing you need a phone-line sos yer requests can be transmitted?
      • by Intron (870560) on Friday August 10, 2007 @08:49AM (#20182039)
        The downlink speed using UHF is quite fast. They didn't mention that the upstream link uses USPS. The rate increase makes this pretty high cost/bit. Secure TCP (letter rate) is 0.41/packet and insecure UDP (postcard) is 0.26/packet.
        • by MrNaz (730548) on Friday August 10, 2007 @08:54AM (#20182117) Homepage
          When you first said "USPS" I thought "nah, he couldn't be talking about the postal service" but then you said "letter rate", and now I just have to say that I don't fancy the idea of printing all my ACK packets and sending them back. What happened to the paperless office? Obviously it's only paperless if you're using UDP!
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by utopianfiat (774016)
            I'm commenting on your reply, but you'll have to wait for about a day- please read it, stamps are expensive!
        • by HTH NE1 (675604)

          Interesting the timing of this article given Ofcom's recent approval of Ultra Wide Band for consumer devices in the UK.

          The downlink speed using UHF is quite fast. They didn't mention that the upstream link uses USPS.
          Maybe they'd get better latency if they used the UKPS.
      • Thats the way the first Sattilite Internet systems worked. The response time was acually faster than the current 2-Way systems.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by radl33t (900691)
      This ABC article title says a device failed an FCC test. The actual article reads that broadcasters simply "fear" interference. Which is it? Do they fear signal interference or ubiquitous broadband at the expense of their decaying empire?
      • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2007 @08:04AM (#20181535)
        This ABC article title says a device failed an FCC test. The actual article reads that broadcasters simply "fear" interference. Which is it?

        Let's brush up those reading comprehension skills, shall we? The second paragraph from the aforementioned ABC article: The Federal Communications Commission on July 31 said the devices submitted by the technology coalition could not reliably detect unused TV spectrum, and could also cause interference.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by tttonyyy (726776)
          Exactly. It doesn't mean that this device will never see the light of day, only that more development is needed to bring it up to the standard where it'll pass.
        • by LWATCDR (28044)
          Yes I have to admit that I find this article seems to have an FCC is evil and blocking progress slant. The device failed testing and could cause interference. So they need to improve the device.
      • by Intron (870560)

        This ABC article title says a device failed an FCC test. The actual article reads that broadcasters simply "fear" interference. Which is it? Do they fear signal interference or ubiquitous broadband at the expense of their decaying empire?"
        Yes. But the FCC can sense fear.
  • no problem (Score:4, Funny)

    by mrjb (547783) on Friday August 10, 2007 @07:49AM (#20181383)
    Ignorant as I am, I'd say all they need to do is to just up the frequency until outside TV spectrum. As an added bonus, all you'd have to do to cook your food would be to place it near your wireless router.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Ah yes, let's put it in the public safety usage bands. What a wonderful idea.
    • Re:no problem (Score:5, Informative)

      by Phreakiture (547094) on Friday August 10, 2007 @08:23AM (#20181729) Homepage

      Ignorant as I am, I'd say all they need to do is to just up the frequency until outside TV spectrum. As an added bonus, all you'd have to do to cook your food would be to place it near your wireless router.

      Yes, that is ignorant.

      If you up the frequency until out of the first block of TV channels (2-4), you interfere with wireless hearing aids.

      If you up it out of the second block (5-6), you interfere with FM radio.

      If you up it out of the third block (7-13), you interfere with the military.

      If you up it out of the last block (14-69), you interfere with cell phones.

      Of course they are dropping channels 60-69 from the dial. This is the "700 MHz" band we have heard so much about lately.

      The trouble is that while you could probably use the 700MHz band for this, it performs poorly in hilly, rural areas. VHF frequencies (like those around channels 7-13, and especially around 2-6) perform really well in such areas.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by vigmeister (1112659)
        OK! So if upping frequency doesn't work, why don't they just lower the wavelength?

        Damn you knowledgeable types... Always finding fault in EVERYTHING. I bet you were standing right next to Orville whispering "It's gonna crash..ssss.." right in his ear.

        Freaking luddites...

        Cheers!
        --
        Vig
      • by kabocox (199019)
        If you up the frequency until out of the first block of TV channels (2-4), you interfere with wireless hearing aids.
        If you up it out of the second block (5-6), you interfere with FM radio.
        If you up it out of the third block (7-13), you interfere with the military.
        If you up it out of the last block (14-69), you interfere with cell phones.
        Of course they are dropping channels 60-69 from the dial. This is the "700 MHz" band we have heard so much about lately.
        The trouble is that while you could probably use the
        • by enjerth (892959)

          Actually, we could throw out FM, AM & cell phones if we had a nice handy dandy wireless internet ready to go.

          You may have something there. If we could just convince the RIAA that radio would be moving from FM to the internet as we dispose of the use of the FM band for radio, we could have them on board to lobby for the use of the FM band for wireless internet. Imagine how much more money they could grab if all radio stations were moved to the internet and had to pay the new SoundExchange rates for 'net radio.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        For more information, this (pdf) chart [doc.gov] is pretty nice (US only). It's a little outdated (Oct 2003).
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by kestasjk (933987)
        TV will be delivered over the internet in the next decade or two, so this problem will sort itself out in due course.
      • by babyrat (314371)
        Apparently if you up to into any region at all the wave will interfere with the humour centres in the brains of geeks everywhere.

  • Deadline (Score:2, Funny)

    by asudhir (987272)
    And we all know that that "February 2009" deadline is actually going to be upheld.
    • by tonsofpcs (687961)
      The February 2009 deadline has been given and it is repeatedly cited that it will be upheld. Do note that the Feb. 2009 digital transition deadline does not apply to all stations.
      • by rhartness (993048)
        I'm hoping it will be upheld. I'm tired of holding out on getting a High-Def so I can get my government subsides (SP?) for the two analog TVs that I have.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by MrNaz (730548)
          As a non-US citizen, I too hope your government subsides.
          (Not a spelling Nazi, just poking you coz you pointed it out :P )
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by tonyquan (758115)
          You won't get a subsidy to buy a Hi-Def TV. All you'll get is a $40 voucher to buy a convertor box that will let you watch digital TV signals on your analog TVs. Of course, this won't magically make your TVs hi-def.
    • *COUGH*BULLSHIT*COUGH*
  • BPL contrast. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by auroran (10711)
    It's interesting to see that th FCC is taking the stance that they are with this one.
    They're pushing ahead w/ the BPL approvals despite the known and measured interference that the ARRL has presented to them. (They've shown that it's not just the hams that are effected too.) Yet they are concerned about interference on a new system before it's even tested because of the possibility of interference.

    It's sounding like the power companies using BPL and media companies may have purchased a few FCC employees t
    • by Chyeld (713439)
      Think of it more like this: who is more likely to have a more powerful lobby with the FCC?
      • TV Broadcasters who purchase licenses from the government for outrageous sums of money.
      • Amateur radio operators [wikipedia.org] who pay little for their ability to use the airwaves.
    • The difference is how many people care about the two. Ham radio operators are mostly obscure hobbyists that most of the people in charge of the FCC may have never had any encounter with. Terrestrial broadcast TV watchers are a bit more ubiquitous, and so the FCC cares about them more. Plus, they tend to be from an elderly demographic that's a bit more politically active, especially in terms of contacting officials and donating to campaigns.

      It's really no surprise that the FCC can brush one of them off bu
  • It is a case of Big Money vs. Big Money because both sides have huge amount of money to throw into it they figure regecting change will be the easist choice.
    • by Skapare (16644)

      In this case, however, the FCC is making a wise decision.

      It is unclear if this new technology will actually properly protect TV reception. A device in one home might not detect any TV station at all on a given channel even though the next home over is actually receiving one or even two stations on that very channel.

      It is also unclear just how much open space will remain in the TV spectrum. There is a huge backlog of new TV station applications the FCC will begin to process sometime after the analog cuto

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2007 @08:07AM (#20181575)
    -- This is just like broadband over powerline (BPL). The FCC makes sure the requirements are inadequate, such that there is guaranteed interference with somebody (with Congressional influence). The FCC then quashes it, in order to help it's telco friends.
    -- BPL still exists for the moment, as, there is not enough influential pain being relayed to Congress yet. Don't worry, BPL will be quashed.
    -- Gotta protect the telco's, so that the commissioners have lucrative future position and employment.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Skapare (16644)

      BPL will, and should, be quashed because it is a flawed technology from the outset. It inherintly leaks to the air, making it both subject to RF interference and a source of RF interference. BPL is also very bandwidth limited with no growth potential (because the faster it has to go, the higher the frequencies it needs to use, and the more it will interfere because higher frequencies will leak even more from power lines).

      Power companies should, instead, install fiber over their poles, or in the ground al

    • While I'm sure there is "pressure" from teleco lobbyists on the FCC commissioners and I'm sure this does affect a lot of their decisions (lobbyists "affect" read: pay money for every decision in US government today), I don't think BPL is the best case for you to use for your conspiracy theories. BPL is really, truly flawed. Think about it. You're transmitting high-frequency signals over giant unshielded wires. You are basically sending high-frequency data through an enormous antenna. The interference potent
  • by tygerstripes (832644) on Friday August 10, 2007 @08:11AM (#20181603)
    I can see the TV people's point. It's not like those frequencies are a big truck you can just dump stuff on.
  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Friday August 10, 2007 @08:18AM (#20181677)
    Putting wireless internet on the freed-up TV channels is a particularly poor use of the spectrum. Each TV channel is only about 6 MHz wide (4.5 plus some guard space). That would accomodate maybe 50 million bits per second of service, across the propagation range of VHF and UHF, which depending on power and weather, can range from a few hundred meters to several hundred miles. If you use a few hundred watts you could cover a few square miles, but so can the current Wifi channels. Covering a large rural are is impractical as you'd need many watts of power transmitted at the user's end, and only a limited number of users could be handled.
    • by Bluesman (104513) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:23PM (#20185123) Homepage
      "Covering a large rural are is impractical as you'd need many watts of power transmitted at the user's end, and only a limited number of users could be handled."

      Huh? How big of an area are you talking about? Cell phones don't transmit with many watts of power, and they still work in rural areas.

      The UHF TV stations are within 100MHz of commonly used cell phone frequency ranges, so the propagation, antenna length, and power requirements would be very similar.

      Being that the user would be based at home, and not limited by the size of a mobile phone and battery, there would be more than enough power.

  • They'll have to give up their entertainment monopoly in parts of the country that don't enjoy broadband yet. Then those people won't watch Must See TV, which is interference the way NBC measures it.

    Scrap the FCC. Use frequency hopping spread-spectrum devices to avoid interference. Create grid networks for data. Forget telephone, television, etc. Just let me get data. Look, I'd even accept a tiered pricing model: one price for low-latency traffic (voice, games), one price for high-latency traffic (larg
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bluesman (104513)
      "Scrap the FCC. Use frequency hopping spread-spectrum devices to avoid interference."

      You do realize that this would have a snowball's chance in hell of actually working, right?

      If there are no restrictions on who can transmit what, whoever transmits the strongest signal wins. It's not going to be you.
  • I wonder how many more years it will be before the airwaves are worth more (in terms of dollar value) as a medium for generic data transmission than they are as a medium for a specific technology (TV, radio, cell phone...)
  • by Joebert (946227) on Friday August 10, 2007 @08:24AM (#20181745) Homepage
    Whatpornifpornallpornwhitespaceporninporncommentsp ornwaspornusedpornlikepornthis ?
  • Pick Any Two.

    I know, I know, the "fast" in that old adage refers to how quickly you want it produced, not how fast the device actually is. This is just a play on the article title.
  • It's true, TV spectrum is afforded more protection than in areas right now that are being bombarded with unintended RF from the BPL trials. BPL is given almost a 'do what you want' license right now for testing, when the FCC knows it's causing problems.

    AT&T, Sprint or whomever wins the auction will provide some form of high speed Internet on that 700mhz pie they won. There's already speeds of greater than 1gbps on the gigaherz spectrum, and claims of 54mbps on around 20mhz of 900mhz.

    I'm not going to
    • by smithmc (451373) *

        It's time the radios get smarter, and start talking to one another...

      Everyone mark your calendars - it was/is on August 10, 2007 that TerraNet, the little-known precursor to SkyNet, was born...

  • White Space (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darth Cider (320236) on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:26AM (#20183329)
    Check out how much TV spectrum goes unused across the U.S. [freepress.net], and not just in rural areas. Unbelievable waste. Does this look like a free-market allocation of resources? Does the FCC realize it is making earnest citizens literally sick with disappointment? How many people would welcome a movement to just seize the airwaves, creating wireless ISPs that don't ask for permission to broadcast? Bring on the interference?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ShinmaWa (449201)

      Does the FCC realize it is making earnest citizens literally sick with disappointment?
      A medical breakthrough! I'm really impressed. The FCC is spreading illness throughout the country and using "disappointment" as the disease carrier.

      I just hope that my ex-girlfriend doesn't find out about this, or I'll be a goner.

  • by TheSync (5291) * on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:54AM (#20183757) Journal
    The real problem with "whitespace" devices is intermodulation interference. Just because there isn't a signal in a "whitespace" doesn't mean that if you transmit there that your signal won't mix with other signals in receivers to create intermodulation noise.

    Unlicensed signals on first adjacent channels next to DTV signals may generate third-order intermodulation product noise in DTV receivers.

    There is nothing wrong with trying to set up "intelligent radio" unlicensed systems in their own band, but putting them adjacent to DTV channels is not a good idea.

    More info:
    http://www.tvtechnology.com/pages/s.0072/t.1598.ht ml [tvtechnology.com]
    http://www.tvtechnology.com/pages/s.0072/t.2005.ht ml [tvtechnology.com]
    • It seems like a lot of the problems with wireless spectrum are caused by legacy issues.

      Suppose you were able to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch. Would it not be possible to get a significant extra amount of use out of the spectrum if it were designed as one big network, 100% digital?
  • In the long run it would be better to kill TV altogether, use the spectrum to provide wireless Internet everywhere and then provide "TV" over the wireless Internet connections.
  • by foobsr (693224) * on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:15PM (#20184973) Homepage Journal
    Quote [internetnews.com]: "The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants to let wireless Internet service providers (WISPs) to operate in unused spectrum space currently occupied by TV broadcasters. The proposal is aimed at giving consumers an alternative to cable and telecom broadband providers."

    ???

    CC.
  • Something needs to be done about it. The public and nonspecial interests need to use another strategy like SUING them to open up. The Fcc is definitely hoarding for the gov & $$Wealthy$$ and we are not getting our share. Those airwaves are like air : They belong to us. The interference problem can be handles way better with better smarter radios. We right now are WASTING our airwaves. Another problem with private ownership is what happens when a crisis strikes like the bridge collapse in Minnesota.
  • The National Association of Broadcasters lobbying efforts (read: BRIBERS!) have paid off again for them! It would ahve been VERY EASY to buid in a receiver that listens on the channel to make sure nothing's there before transmitting. Twenty dollar WIFI routers even do this. In fact, this would be a DESIRABLE feature. By doing this there would BE no interference-NOTHING!!

    Instead, the FCC has once again overprotected the big bucks incumbent users of the PUBLIC airwaves from the PUBLIC!

    The FCC needs to be

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