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FCC Chief: 300MHz More Spectrum By 2015 60

itwbennett writes "On Thursday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski laid out plans to make 300MHz more spectrum available by 2015. Among the blocks that will be auctioned in the AWS (Advanced Wireless Services) band is a band between 1755MHz and 1780MHz, where a commercial user would share the spectrum with current government users." Genachowski's full speech (PDF) is available online.
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FCC Chief: 300MHz More Spectrum By 2015

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  • by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <atd7.cornell@edu> on Friday October 05, 2012 @12:41PM (#41560073) Homepage

    How is it that Europe has no problems using their existing spectrum allocations, while the USA seems to be resorting to insane band fragmentation?

    The European 2100 MHz band isn't THAT big...

    • by ThatsMyNick ( 2004126 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @12:48PM (#41560145)

      Well, band fragmentation benefits the carriers. Phones made for one carrier cannot be used on the other, and hence discourages customers from switching to another carrier. No wonder the carriers are keen on spectrum fragmentation.

      • by alen ( 225700 )

        every carrier has free on contract phones and cheap phones. and there is a used market for every carrier's phones

    • by Anonymous Coward
      There are two ways to clear up spectrum for cell phones.

      One is, obviously, add more spectrum.

      The other is add more towers and reduce transmit power, to reduce noise, crosstalk, and the band in other locations.

      Europe has much denser populations than most of the US, and other areas very sparse.

      The US, on the other hand, has vast areas of middle ground that is suburb hell.
      • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )

        Problem with your argument is, the places where the carriers are bitching about insufficient spectrum (and the first places they roll out new bands) are densely populated cities.

        • With a given spectrum allocation, densely populated cities with more customers need more towers. So how should a cell phone company acquire the land and permits for such towers over the complaints of NIMBY types? Is there a difference between the European countries and the United States as to utility land acquisition practices that would explain this?
          • Cell towers can and are cleverly disguised, and its easy to put them on tall buildings in ways that don't make them super-obvious.

            • by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <atd7.cornell@edu> on Friday October 05, 2012 @01:48PM (#41560885) Homepage

              Yup. It's next to impossible for anyone (even a person that knows they're there) to identify the antennas for Verizon's cell site on top of Cornell's Barton Hall.

              Of course, the rather distracting Force12 HF antenna belonging to W2CXM helps a bit... But even without the Force12, the Verizon antennas (sector antennas painted to match the stone of the building) are nearly impossible to spot.

              In any built-up area it's really easy to hide a cell site.

            • Yea, and oil wells too...

              Go out to Fl and Ca, and you can find cell towers designed as cacti/church steeple, or an oil well in what is in effect a shell designed to look like a small office building.



          • They stuff 'em in church steeples. The church gets a new roof, and desperately needed cash, and the churchgoers get a better connection when texting with God.

            • Actually the church would have the worst coverage, as the antennas are directional. I guess like theaters, not having coverage in a church is a good thing.

  • This is all good policy. I wish the FCC were being more aggressive about reallocated spectrum but at the very least this is a step in the right direction.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      This is all good policy. I wish the FCC were being more aggressive about reallocated spectrum but at the very least this is a step in the right direction.

      Or is it? It's "government primary, commercial secondary" spectrum, which means the commercial use has to give way to government use. (A lot of the lower spectrum is like this - very little is actually dedicated to one entity or sector).

      So the government has a right to the band (it's the government's to begin with) and they're letting commercial interests

      • by jbolden ( 176878 )

        The government under the Communications act of 1934 can grab any spectrum for national defense reasons: 47 U.S.C. 606 (c), (d) . All of it is under ultimately government control, with commercial use being secondary. That isn't a change.

      • by Rob Riggs ( 6418 )
        The airwaves belong to the people of the United States and we *lease* spectrum to those that provide the citizens and our country with the best value. It is a natural resource which is managed on our behalf by our government. Don't for a minute think of the RF spectrum as anything but that. It is not "the government's to begin with" -- it is the peoples to begin with, and we delegate to our government the right to grant exclusive or shared use for a limited time to other entities.
  • Why? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 05, 2012 @01:16PM (#41560481)

    640 KHz ought to be enough for anybody.

  • This is just more and more balkanization of the North American mobile market [].

    Why don't we see this "different network, different frequencies" problem elsewhere in Europe and Asia?

  • All major EU and US (and Canada I think) campuses are getting Internet 2 secure wifi 802.1x ... but not you.

    Tell me when you get more than 1000 mbps baseline. You're playing catchup.

  • by Erich ( 151 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @01:59PM (#41561019) Homepage Journal
    It's the law!

    And you're getting very close to the Shannon limit with turbo codes. LTE isn't much more spectral efficient as compared to HSPA+, but it has wider frequency bands and so can get more peak speed to customers.

    So you can increase the amount of spectrum you have, with the current infrastructure, to get more capacity. That will buy you a few years of network traffic increase.

    But eventually you have to figure out how to get less capacity demand and more SNR. There's really only one way to do that: change the infrastructure topology. And that has lots of problems.

    It's kind of like we're near "Peak Bandwidth".

    • The cell co's have tons of licensed, dedicated bandwidth, yet and they can't even match the speeds of WiFi access point scattered all across the country. Sounds like cell co's are being EXTREMELY inefficient when it comes to spectrum reuse.

  • Why haven't we repurposed the obsolete AM Radio band for long-range wireless Internet access? It's been technologically obsolete for many years; FM is far superior in terms of sound quality (though even it is getting long in the tooth) and FM is just as widely supported, if not more so. All it contains now is talk radio, and that kind of stuff can just as easily be done with webcasts or podcasts.

    • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @03:02PM (#41561791)

      The AM band is very small.

      FM VHF isn't very big spectrum either. You don't need a large carrier to move voice signals.

      The fact these systems carry a long way works against them too. The line of sight / local bounce propagation from the microwave bands allows for a much higher density of cells that are all synchronized. More transmitters means more bandwidth / spectrum re-use. If the transmitters see each other with stronger signals, your noise floor and interference go up, and your throughput goes down.

      Physics is a bitch sometimes.

    • Because everything below 30 MHz (and sometimes above) can go around the whole world, which is way too long, and because the band is so narrow that it might only support one customer. My ATT U-Verse DSL, with two pairs, uses more bandwidth than all of the frequencies below 30 MHz.
    • Why haven't we repurposed the obsolete AM Radio band for long-range wireless Internet access?

      What obsolete AM band?

      All it contains now is talk radio, and that kind of stuff can just as easily be done with webcasts or podcasts.

      Spoken like a true city dweller where there are lots of FM stations ready to serve your every need, and a fast network connection to serve everything you can't get off the FM.

      1. Band allocations are based on international treaty. Certainly any band that has the potential for international coverage is. One state cannot just decide to use a chunk of spectrum for whatever it wants.

      2. The "obsolete" (but still actively used) AM radio band is only 1.2 MHz wide, about. 530kHz to 1.7MHz.

  • And guess that AT&T and Verizon manage to get about 290MHz of the 300MHz. At least after this they'll be rasing their data caps to 2.1GB.
  • why does the government have the right to 'auction' (sell) bandwidth? do they own it? if so, from whom did they get it? could guns have anything to do with it? I wonder who gets the money and what they will do with it.