Hopefully our readers have not been sleeping. While much of the world has been watching WiMax deploys stall. (Bad economy, bad decisions, bad deploys.) Another tech has creped up next to WiMax — Super WiFi.
Background. sWiFi is WiFi with longer range and newer frequencies. The FCC granted approval to use the `white spaces` between the old analog TV channels now that the TV industry has transitioned to digital on different frequencies.
On the equipment front the first moves by most of the WiFi providers has been a boost in wattage in the current 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands. Thats the same frequencies that the a/b/g/n ranges use today. The extra power has been able to boost range from a practical limit of a few miles to 25 miles in some cases. Longer term, the equipment providers will come to the front with devices that will utilize the longer distance TV frequencies. With multi antenna polar installs ranges of 50+ miles could be entertained.
This still on the drawing board stuff? Nope. Rice university has already trialed a deploy here in Texas. More here. Fact this could be something any average ham or electronic hobbyist should be able to do. An existing WiFi AP fed to a 1-5w power RF amp on existing frequencies could be utilized. The trick is to select an appropriate amp for the frequencies.
Upsides. Everything you know about WiFi is the same. The usual tools, tricks, and security schemes apply. That is a large savings in educational ramp up.
Downsides. All the problems associated with security on WiFi still apply too. Be cognizant of that fact. The other of course, with the longer ranges it is quite possible for ad hoc set ups to step all over each other.
Futures. For rural, low density locations this may well be the solution for them. Permitting is not an issue. With WiMax stalled, sWiFi may take over. When it is possible for a community of people to erect their own community AP’s and buy high gain receivers off the shelf it will take off.
What triggered the creation of this Blog may well be at hand in the next couple of years.
Remember the coveted 700 MHz band that was auctioned by the FCC with the requirement that the network be open, and work on devices other than those sold exclusive by the winner of the auction? It also required competitors access to the network at a fair price. It appears that Verizon has forgotten. It’s representatives have been talking up the network and devices, but no mention of anything from outsiders. Who is willing to bet the FCC will also forget?
“Our goal is that in about 18 months from today we’ll have 200 million pops [points of presence] covered,” McAdams said on Wednesday. That would serve about two thirds of the United States population. “And by the end of 2013, we’ll have virtually the same coverage that we have on 3G today.”
The plan is for the network to support 5-12Mbps on the download, and 2-5Mbps on the upload, Verizon CTO Anthony Malone told the audience. These new phones will move data via the carriers’ new 4G LTE wireless system. Voice will still transmit over 3G.
But for pricing, it looks like consumers should expect some changes over the next few years.
“We think there’s a place for unlimited plans,” McAdam noted, “but we think that over time, because we have finite resources, our customers are going to have to shift to a pay-as-you-use” mode. “I would say that clearly over time we will be migrating to a bucket-of-megabytes” approach. (Ars Technica)+
There was no mention of third party devices or open access for competitive service. At the risk of sounding like a looped recording, let me remind you that the telcos never keep their promises. They make promises to get a concession, and then get concessions to avoid fulfilling them.
Here’s how I think this one will play out: Verizon will ask the FCC to declare a competitive market in 4g access because Clear holds enough license and also plans to build coast to coast coverage. If you think this sounds crazy, it’s the same argument the telcos made about telco / cable broadband duopoly constituting a competitive market. The FCC agreed and the telcos were able to ditch their prior promises including providing competitive access to last mile lines and to cover 2/3 of the country with fiber to curb by the year 2000.
The buffoons in Washington have made such a mess of the economy that no one is likely to force the issue before Verizon undoes all of the promised open wireless rules. Unfortunately, the continuing stagnation in broadband access is also stifling economic growth. If we can learn anything thing from this, it is that big government acting in concert with big telecom and cable never acts in the public’s interest. Going forward, we need a strong law that will end any exclusive licensing of spectrum. Spectrum is public property, and should be open exclusively for public use. Technology can enable commercial use of open bands without exclusive licenses. Open bands will insure a competitive market.
It what has to be a positive move the FCC has released a query for suppliers for a database platform and service that will be part of the whole infrastructure. —
On November 4, 2008, the Commission adopted a Second Report and Order and Memorandum Opinion and Order (Second Report and Order) in ET Docket 04-186 that established rules to allow new, sophisticated, unlicensed wireless devices to operate in broadcast television spectrum at locations where that spectrum is unused by licensed services.1 This unused TV spectrum is commonly referred to as television “white spaces.” The rules will allow for the use of unlicensed TV band devices in the unused spectrum to provide broadband data and other services for consumers and businesses.
To prevent interference to authorized users of the TV bands, TV band devices must include a geo-location capability and the capability to access a database that identifies incumbent users entitled to interference protection, including, for example, full power and low power TV stations, broadcast auxiliary point-to-point facilities, PLMRS/CMRS operations on channels 14-20, and the Offshore Radiotelephone Service. 2 The database will tell a TV band device which TV channels are vacant and can be used at its location. 3 The database also will be used to register the locations of fixed TV band devices and protected locations and channels of incumbent services that are not recorded in Commission databases.4 The Commission decided in the Second Report and Order to designate one or more database administrators from the private sector to create and operate TV band database(s), which will be a privately owned and operated service. Database administrators may charge fees to register fixed TV band devices and temporary broadcast auxiliary fixed links and to provide lists of available channels to TV band devices.
Why a database is needed for a broadband low power spread spectrum channel? Well multiuse. The band(s) in some cases will have public service users in some areas. So any smart device must be able to discern that they reside in the same locale with say a fire dept siting on the open band between formerly CH 10-11. With that knowledge a smart device can map around and use other channels.
Its good news though. It means that finally the FCC is looking to see that white space systems are brought online. Personally I hope the Hams get in the act. We could see some wonderfully weird devices using the airwaves that might show commercial usage.
Apple and AT&T have an agreement in principle that neither party would partake of supporting anything that injuries the other party in any material fashion. AT&T is concerned about users foregoing the voice components on iPhone and using the data component via VoIP. Google then shows up with an application for the iStore to do exactly what AT&T does not want. Is it rejected? Welllll, not exactly, but then you can’t download it either –
AT&T and Apple told the FCC that they did have an agreement that Apple would not help iPhone owners use VOIP calling services like Skype on the iPhone. VOIP calls use the data, rather than the voice plan, and would cut into the companies profits. Thus, Apple and AT&T agreed to cripple the Skype iPhone app so that it would only work when the iPhone used a WiFi connection.
The companies say they also agree not to let apps that stream live television, which AT&T says would strain its network.
As for Google and its app store?
Its FCC filing emphasizes that Android phone users can get apps from outside the store — unlike iPhone users. (Users can “jailbreak” their iPhones to do so, but this invalidates the warranty.)
It says only one percent of apps in its online marketplace have been rejected, mostly due to copyright or obscenity reasons.
Google did not, however, mention that it too crippled mobile apps at the request of a telecom.
T-Mobile asked Google to remove apps that let customers use their phone as a modem for a laptop, a practice known as tethering, and Google complied. T-Mobile, like all of the U.S.’s largest carriers, charges customers extra for that service. Google later re-allowed the app, but not for T-Mobile customers.
Is Google the unvarnished victim in this? The maiden for her prince to open the gates? Well not exactly either. Google is doing the same thing for T-Mobile on Android platforms. Google you can pucker up, but wash your shoes first, they reek of BS.
All this jockeying and “where’s the pea” is going for naught too. Wimax is continuing to rollout. The following cities are targeted this year — Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Portland, Seattle. Wimax is already in Atlanta, NYC, Los Angeles and the outskirt of WashDC. So many of the mass market areas are in coverage. The upshot is the Wimax providers are not freaking out that VoIP will traverse their network. Fact some providers are offering bundles that include VoIP. So the cat’s already out of the bag. Fact some are considering using a “netbook-as-phone”.
By the way Who if on first and What is on second and Google is in the outfield. Google still has not understood how damaging their lack of 700mhz ownership means to them over the long haul.
With the Clearwire consortium accelerating new launches in several major cities this year, 4G wireless has arrived. Verizon is sending signals that it will compete in this space with its own 4G offering sooner rather than later.
Verizon Wireless, the largest US mobile carrier, has just announced that it has successfully completed LTE (4G) data calls in Boston and Seattle – which currently have 10 functional LTE cell sites each.
Based on the 3GPP Release 8 standard, the data calls were made over Verizon’s 700 MHz spectrum, and involved file downloads/uploads, streaming video, Web browsing, and voice transmissions using VoIP.
Will two players be enough to create a competitive market? Probably not in wireless alone. But Clearwire intends to take market share from fixed line providers as well as 3G. Don’t expect Verizon to join in that attack until it’s fiber fixed line service has much broader coverage. With the current pace of deployment, that time will not come soon.
Britain that glimmering island that in many ways is the birthplace of both man’s political aspirations and freedom from want is also in many cases the test case for mobile digital. Britain is somewhere around 3-5 years ahead of the US. Not in technology, but in how to deploy, market it and have politicians screw it all up. –
But wait a minute – why would this be? Are telecoms companies salting away billions of pounds of profits in a great offshore lair, somewhere? Or are they merely reflecting the market’s demand for data? Plain vanilla 2G is enough to make a phone call, and that’s everywhere.
If the telcos are hiding anything, it’s the level of their debt. They’re broke, and running on empty (hence the nonstop rounds of refinancing), which explains their renewed focus on mature markets where they can squeeze higher revenues by diminishing competition. The UK is reckoned to be a full 10 per cent less profitable than other European countries, because retailers such as Carphone Warehouse are in the chain, and because of all this pesky competition. It’s true that the 3G auctions didn’t help, either, sucking £20bn into Brown’s piggy bank, and onto quangos like, well… Ofcom.
Which is in a sense reflected in the current apathy of the FCC, irrespective of pending ‘investigations’. But there is more —
What we now know, thanks to the 3G map, is just how expensive building out a broadband infrastructure will really be. What it shows us is that the definition of “rural” is much broader than we supposed. An analysis conducted for the Broadband Stakeholder Group last year put the cost of rolling out fibre to every home at almost £30 billion.
During the media orgy of coverage around Carter’s Digital Britain report two weeks ago, I only heard one journalist ask the obvious question: why tax all of us for something that 70 per cent of people don’t want. That was Jeremy Paxman on the BBC’s Newsnight, apparently waking up from a deep slumber.
But it was a lone voice, and I didn’t hear anyone – not a single one – go any deeper and follow this to its logical consequence. Which is that maybe people aren’t stupid, as the political and media classes suppose, and many find what’s on offer from the internet somewhat wanting. Maybe it’s not offering compelling services.
The US is ramping for a similar head long rush to round one of a universal service offering with $4Bn in taxes to be doled out. Its a known fact that even if available some 30% will just refused to sign up as broadband is NOT critical to their everyday life. What’s worse is that I have yet to hear any voice other than ourselves pose the question — “why tax all of us for something that 70 per cent of people don’t want?” Why indeed?
What Britain is experiencing is like a canary in a coal mine for the US. We face similar questions and much larger expanse of ‘white space’ in the 3G map than they. For the US it is more problematic. We have 10x their real estate and a carrier base loathe to leave the urban centers as they know that is where the profits are.
Read the whole article here.