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Government Wireless Networking

FCC Chairman Warns of Wireless Spectrum Gap 300

Posted by timothy
from the congress-from-whom-all-blessings-flow dept.
locallyunscene writes "'We are fast entering a world where mass-market mobile devices consume thousands of megabytes each month,' FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski warned at CTIA Wireless yesterday. 'So we must ask: what happens when every mobile user has an iPhone, a Palm Pre, a BlackBerry Tour, or whatever the next device is? What happens when we quadruple the number of subscribers with mobile broadband on their laptops or netbooks?'"
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FCC Chairman Warns of Wireless Spectrum Gap

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  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Thursday October 08, 2009 @06:57PM (#29687115) Homepage Journal

    Having an organization that is bureaucratic instead of market driven is going to cause the biggest issues. Today, we still are wasting a significant portion of bandwidth on broadcasting when the future is point to point communications along with some form of P2P crowdcasting. Get rid of the public airwaves and work on letting the market come up with standards -- frequency hopping software radios, hive networks, whatever. It'll be more efficient, cheaper, and it'll provide for much more competition.

    Broadcasting is dying.

  • by Renegrade (698801) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:03PM (#29687155)

    Welcome to the real world of physics.

    Wired and optical technologies will ever be superior to wireless, by the simple fact that they're essentially 1D lines running through 3D space, whereas a typical wireless signal is a 3D signal in 3D space - a single frequency gives a fixed bandwidth to a single user in a given ~volume~.

    Advanced tricks allow increased sharing, but the fundamental limitations remain.

    Consider the volume of a typical wifi base station .. now imagine filling that volume with OC192 cabling. As they say on the "intartoobs", "pwned".

  • by NoYob (1630681) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:03PM (#29687159)
    AM and FM radio. Who listens to the radio anymore? It's either over the internet for "radio" or in the car use MP3s, iPods, or CDs for us old farts. Shortwave? Does anyone actually listen to it? I turned on a shortwave and between huge swaths of static, there was Cuba radio, Canadian News (that can be kinda cool), and a few folks praising Jesus and condemning non-believers (everyone who doesn't give them money).
  • by rxan (1424721) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:05PM (#29687193)

    What happens when we quadruple the number of subscribers with mobile broadband on their laptops or netbooks?

    The same thing that always happens: The telecoms cry like babies and the consumers get less for equal or greater cost.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:08PM (#29687209)

    Aren't those both about 100khz of bandwidth apiece? less? I think you're talking about adding a few dial-up modems worth of bandwidth at the cost of destroying something that's reliable/DRM free with something that's not. IP is not, and was never intended to be, a realtime protocol.

  • by snowraver1 (1052510) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:15PM (#29687267)
    The difference is that the internet is more scalable. We didn't run into problems back then because of increases in CPU power that allows for larger routing tables and advances in fibre that allows for more data on the same strand. This is a physical problem. There is only so much spectrum available. Once the air is saturated on the allocated frequencies, we are done. No more room, period.
  • Dynamic Allocation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:20PM (#29687299) Homepage

    > What happens when we quadruple the number of subscribers with mobile
    > broadband on their laptops or netbooks?

    You finally admit that it isn't 1920 anymore and give up on centralized static global allocation?

  • by compro01 (777531) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:31PM (#29687395)

    If you took the entirety of the AM and FM radio space, you'd have about as much frequency space as a single wifi channel, which would be spread over a fairly large area due to the signal propagation properties. Shortwave would be even worse in that respect.

    In short, it would not be very useful.

  • by angelbunny (1501333) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:34PM (#29687413)

    A daisy chain type mesh setup? Oh hell no! There is no way I'm going back to setups like that. Anyone remember apple talk?

  • by NotBornYesterday (1093817) * on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:36PM (#29687419) Journal
    What happens? "Traffic shaping" in the form of more caps and deep-packet inspection. For our own good, of course ...
  • by relguj9 (1313593) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:38PM (#29687425)

    Welcome to the real world of physics.

    Wired and optical technologies will ever be superior to wireless, by the simple fact that they're essentially 1D lines running through 3D space, whereas a typical wireless signal is a 3D signal in 3D space - a single frequency gives a fixed bandwidth to a single user in a given ~volume~.

    Advanced tricks allow increased sharing, but the fundamental limitations remain.

    Consider the volume of a typical wifi base station .. now imagine filling that volume with OC192 cabling. As they say on the "intartoobs", "pwned".

    Superior in bandwidth and security, inferior in about 100 other ways, mainly the fact that there is a wire involved.

  • by randy of the redwood (1565519) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:44PM (#29687473)
    I think GP is probably correct. When we have problems, we tend to find solutions to them. Certainly with today's approach we are going to run out of bandwidth. Perhaps tomorrow's technology will stop sending signals in every direction, but somehow negotiate direct paths over the air using directed antennae from one or both transceivers. Then the 3D space starts becoming your friend instead of your enemy.
  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:47PM (#29687493) Journal

    >>>technology will evolve to give you more bandwidth.

    No. There's a limit to how much technology can do. That's why phone lines are maxed-out at 56 kbit/s - there's no more room for expansion since it's already at the physical limit. Same applies with wireless.

  • scale (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eil (82413) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:48PM (#29687509) Homepage Journal

    'We are fast entering a world where mass-market mobile devices consume thousands of megabytes each month,'

    Which is not as bad as a few gigabytes a month. But definitely far, far worse than millions of kilobytes per month.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:59PM (#29687589)

    'So we must ask: what happens when every mobile user has an iPhone, a Palm Pre, a BlackBerry Tour, or whatever the next device is? What happens when we quadruple the number of subscribers with mobile broadband on their laptops or netbooks?'

    Isn't the answer obvious? The providers jack up the price because the resource is "scarce;" all government sanctioned and perfectly legal.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @08:02PM (#29687617) Journal

    If there's no radio in my car, what am I supposed to listen to? And before you say "iPod" I don't want to hear the same music over and over. I want to hear new stuff. Also traffic and weather reports ("warning: tornado coming") are nice to have. I like my radio and if they take away both AM and FM, then I'm going to hurt somebody. :-| At the very least leave me AM.

    >>>I turned on a shortwave and between huge swaths of static,

    What? You need to get rid of that old unit, because they have digital shortwave now. It sounds almost as good as a CD, and still remains popular in Europe, Asia, and Australia.

  • by spinkham (56603) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @08:44PM (#29687935)

    So you're saying it wasn't a physical limitation of the broadcast medium at all, it was a hardware limitation of the receiver.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @09:42PM (#29688257) Journal

    >>>So you're saying it wasn't a physical limitation of the broadcast medium at all, it was a hardware limitation of the receiver.

    No it was an EXAMPLE to illustrate what happens when bandwidth is limited. Imagine that every cellphone user is assigned 4000 hertz of space for his usage. How much data can be sent over that width? The answer is not "as much as we want". The answer is defined by the physical limits of the universe.

    In the world of telephone modems 4000 hertz hits that universal maximum at just 56k. In the world of Digital AM radio, it's a mere 20k. QED the comment "technology will evolve to give you more bandwidth" is flat wrong because bandwidth is a fixed quantity, and how much information you can send in that fixed width is limited by the universe.

    (And I really wish people would stop modding me "troll" when I am trying to EDUCATE you. No wonder my old Physics professor is sick of teaching - the students don't listen, he said.)

  • Hello? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by plastick (1607981) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @09:47PM (#29688287)
    The way it's supposed to work is the companies have more customers, which means more money, which means they expand the infrastructures. I mean, it's not complicated. This is business 101 stuff here.
  • by tetsukaze (1635797) on Friday October 09, 2009 @12:22AM (#29688989)
    This then seems to be the same issue that traditional land based providers run into. It costs a good chunk of money to spread out that way. One of the huge gains of wireless being that the last mile is over the air and essentially free. Note: I'm not trying to be a kill joy here but it seems these companies haven't gone this route already and I think this is the reason.
  • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Friday October 09, 2009 @01:20AM (#29689209) Journal

    As someone who is somewhat involved with actually using some (12MHz) of that recently-auctioned 700MHz spectrum, please allow me to say the following:

    It's not vast. And it's not pretty. In fact, it's generally useless for common Internet access on any sort of grand scale:

    700MHz is cool because people can use it at long distances from the central tower without much concern about their own antenna orientation. But once folks actually start to populate the network and, you know, use it, it gets hairy.

    The correct answer, of course, is to ratchet down power and use more (and perhaps smaller) towers. But by the time you increase density enough that it becomes useful for any sort of popular usage, you've got so many towers/picocells/whatever that a mesh of bog-standard 802.11G starts looking far more practical.

    *sigh*

  • by Mr.Radar (764753) on Friday October 09, 2009 @01:26AM (#29689239)
    I can see OTA TV going away (ATSC is horrible for mobile reception and cable/satellite work for almost all other purposes) but I predict an uprising if analog FM radio is ever taken away. Right now if you go to any dollar store you will probably find at least 1 FM radio. My car, alarm clock, emergency flashlight, MP3 players, (dumb last-gen) cellphone, and home theater receiver all have FM radios built in. It is possibly the most ubiquitous mass communications medium if you go by the number of receivers per capita.

    The technology is extremely mature, very inexpensive, not (currently) patented, about as portable as it gets and it doesn't require a $50 monthly subscription to use. Sure *you* might not listen to FM radio but I and millions of other people do every day. Every car built since the 70s has an FM radio and people still listen to it every day when they drive. I get my news, in real time, from public radio between classes on my MP3 player's built-in FM tuner. Other technologies might be able to partially replace FM, but they will be massively more expensive and they will probably never achieve the reach FM has today.

    Bottom line: because of the built-up infrastructure, FM is here to stay.
  • by stephanruby (542433) on Friday October 09, 2009 @02:03AM (#29689357)
    What happens? May be, he should just visit Seoul or Tokyo, and ask them what happened over there. That's the advantage of not being the leader of the pack anymore, we can go to the countries/cities that are leading, and time travel to the future that way.
  • by vadim_t (324782) on Friday October 09, 2009 @07:10AM (#29690555) Homepage

    Er, no.

    There are two different things here: The limit of the line and the limit of the receiver at the end of it.

    The limit of the receiver in an analog line is 56k. You can't dial a phone number on an analog line and then establish a connection at ADSL speeds from one end to the other. It's like this: ("=" is a fat pipe, "-" is a slow one)

    [your modem] ==phone line==(--telco DS0--)==[other modem]

    The phone line might be able to handle 10mbps fine, but the DS0 you get inside the telco has a hard 64kbps limit (of which you get to use 56k) and no encoding technology will change that.

    The reason ADSL works is because it's not going through that bottleneck:

    [your modem] ==phone line==DSLAM==(--telco DS0--)==[other modem]

    The telco samples 8 bits at 8000 Hz, so there are frequencies that won't get through it, ever. ADSL works by sending frequencies the telco won't transmit through the phone line, but the DSLAM can use them. Notice how modems haven't budged an inch since they reached 56k. There's simply nothing left to squeeze out.

    Your phone line also has a very definite physical limit, which is why ADSL performance depends on the kind of line and its length, and the DSLAM is probably located at some junction near your house. This is the reason why people are starting to get fiber at their house. It's also precisely what the FCC is talking about here -- the medium itself has a limit and no encoding is going to change that. Better encodings simply get closer to the ultimate physical limit, and modern encodings are pretty much perfect already.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 09, 2009 @05:02PM (#29698535)

    Already done:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_antenna
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIMO

    No need for gyroscopes though. Digital signal processing of the received signal can accomplish this very well.

    This is a large component of 802.11n

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