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Communications Government

FCC Proposal To Limit Access To 5725-5850 MHz Band 112

New submitter thittesd0375 (1111917) writes New rules adopted by the FCC will greatly limit the amount of bandwidth available in the unlicensed U-NII band used to deliver internet to rural areas. The filters required to comply with the new rules would shrink the available frequencies from 125MHz to only 45MHz. Petitions to reconsider this ruling can be submitted here and previous petitions can be found here.
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FCC Proposal To Limit Access To 5725-5850 MHz Band

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  • Comcast? AT&T? Someone with deep pockets wants to restrict competition and availability.

    • by Joe Gillian ( 3683399 ) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @02:07PM (#47378315)

      According to the FCC's ruling, they did it to stop Wi-Fi signals interfering with Doppler radar systems that use the same frequencies. This doesn't sound like Big Telco or Big Cableco are behind it.

      • Okay, but don't forget to blame Big Weather!

        And BTW, I've noticed on my local cable system, The Weather Channel has been replaced by the lamer WeatherNation... could you guys check your TVs to see how big a region that is?

        • ... on my local cable system, The Weather Channel has been replaced by the lamer WeatherNation...

          There's something lamer than the Weather Channel? Hard to imagine. It was ok (exception noted below) before they tried to be the next Today show, now it's approaching worthless. I don't want endless moronic, idle chitchat, I want the weather.

          Exception: whoever thought it was a good idea for the Wx Channel to broadcast all the idiotic reality crap needs to go back to the janitorial crew.
      • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @03:46PM (#47379159)
        Yep. And the summary completely misses the part which is likely to upset most /. users:

        Accordingly, we are adopting the proposal in the NPRM that manufacturers must take steps to prevent unauthorized software changes to their equipment in all of the U-NII bands

        That may effectively put an end to all the Linux based APs (DD-WRT, Tomato, OpenWRT, etc.)

        • Presumably only on the U-NII bands, to 802.11a. Other devices would be unaffected by a rule affecting U-NII

          I guess this is to prevent software modifications that may be able to increase the power output of a device beyond that permitted by the FCC?

          • by msauve ( 701917 )
            U-NNI (5 GHz) bands aren't just "a," they're also "n" and the only option for "ac." Want to run open source on an 802.11ac AP, better get one quick.
            • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @07:55PM (#47380683)

              No, no need to rush.

              They just stop the radio from being modifiable by software in such a way the violates the rules. The radio firmware for radios sold in the US just won't let you use those bands at too high of power.

              Guess what, they ALREADY WORK LIKE THIS.

              Your OSS router software can't make random changes to the radios currently, never has been able to as there are already laws in effect governing these issues.

              Some devices allow you to get buy with more than you should, but thats generally an oversight, and easily fixed in the next hardware revision ... as already happens.

              This isn't going to take away your precious, no need to get your panties in a knot.

              • This isn't going to take away your precious, no need to get your panties in a knot.

                You say this as we watch a train wreck of unintended consequences fall out from a 21 year old law.

              • by BillX ( 307153 )

                In principle I would agree, however, the idea of parking this nuanced distinction on the desk of a regulatory bureaucrat makes my neck hairs stand at attention.

        • Seems it is about operating beyond the permitted frequency and power:

          13. The Commission’s investigations found that most 5 GHz devices are manufactured to enable operation across a wide range of frequencies, extending down into the 4 GHz bands and up to almost 6 GHz. The devices are controlled by software that manages the specific parameters used in the
          equipment. In most of those cases for which a specific cause was determined, the harmful interference was the result of third parties or users modifyin

          • by msauve ( 701917 )
            It would also require notching out the TDWR frequencies, instead of allowing them to be used with DFS. I suppose someone could create a fuse controlled radio chip which could be used worldwide, and fuses blown during manufacturing to limit the hardware as required, but somehow I don't think the market is big enough for that to happen anytime soon.
      • So if one guy uses a gun in a crime, we should limit all gun owners? This smells of big business crushing the little guy.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, if you read the document, there was a pretty substantial pissing match between Globalstar (providers of satellite cell service) and the device manufacturers, over technical details having to do with harmful interference to Globalstar's uplink and downlink.

      The whole thing started when it was noted that there were devices in the field interfering with doppler weather radar, and that those devices could transmit outside their assigned frequencies by altering parameters through software.

      Among other th

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Um, no. Amateur radio people were also having trouble with this, too. If you needed a good reason, however, interference with radar is a really good reason to limit use of this part of the unlicensed spectrum. Freebies are one thing, but we have to play together or we'll start jamming each other.

    • by Goody ( 23843 )

      UNII isn't even on Comcast's or AT&T's radar. It's viable competition only where other Tier 1 providers won't go.

  • We can't have you proles using the available spectrum out in the boonies where no one else is using it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They are actually trying to improve performance by reducing channels.

      In particular, we noted that enhanced spectrum use may be possible when devices use a very high bandwidth and the number of usable channels is small. We also noted that the trend for U-NII devices is to operate with ever wider bandwidths such as contained in the new 802.11ac standard.

      By reducing channels the spectrum can better accommodate high speed protocols like 802.11ac, which can achieve 500 Mbps in single link systems.

      The same thing happened in 2.4GHz 802.11. The radios that prevail today emit over many of the legacy channel numbers to achieve contemporary throughput with "N" systems. There are only 4 non-overlapping channels used in N; 1, 6, 11 and 14. That's why most N radios won't let you pick "3" for insta

      • >The FCC is the honest broker here.

        In my dealings with the FCC, I've found them to be anything but an honest broker.

      • That's why most N radios won't let you pick "3" for instance.

        Which is a silly restriction. If you have neighbors on 1 and 7 on 802.11G. 3 or 4 are just about your only hope for a clean enough signal.

    • We can't have you proles using the available spectrum out in the boonies where no one else is using it.

      Yeah, those rubes have no need for weather information from Doppler radar systems. They should just stick to using their weather rocks and suck it up.

  • OP vs Reality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2014 @02:11PM (#47378351)

    OP said:

    > to deliver internet to rural areas

    Article says:

    > the Commission’s Enforcement Bureau found that certain models of devices certified for use in these bands were designed in a way that users were able
    to disable the DFS mechanism. With the DFS mechanism inactive, the device could transmit on an active
    radar channel and cause harmful interference.


    > Early field studies performed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA’s) Institute for Telecommunications Sciences (ITS) and FAA staff indicated the interference sources were certain unlicensed U-NII devices that operated in the same frequency band as these Federal radar systems. This interference was occurring despite the Commission’s rules that require U-NII devices operating in this band to incorporate an interference mitigation technique called dynamic frequency selection (DFS).

    Oh look, people buying illegal 1Watt emitters from China and attaching them to bigass antennae to "deliver internet in rural areas" on fixed channels without DFS when regulations strictly say "nope", now crying that they're being "stepped on".


    • Or just old 802.11a devices that pre-date the Dynamic Frequency Selection requirements.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Or just old 802.11a devices that pre-date the Dynamic Frequency Selection requirements.

        I think DFS was mandatory for 802.11a in order for it to even use the band - otherwise no one would approve the use of it. There's even a bit in the management frame to be used when radar is detected and for everyone to switch channels.

        All the FCC did was find it was possible on some devices to disable it to force it to use a specific frequency.

        • 802.11a was released in 1999; DFS in 2003. While it was blocked in Europe before DFS, it was legal in the US.
  • by poptix ( 78287 ) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @02:11PM (#47378353) Homepage

    They're trying to protect Terminal Doppler Weather Radar, they've added restrictions on the upper band but removed the indoor restrictions on the lower (5.2ghz) band. A fair tradeoff in the opinion of someone that used to work at a WISP.

  • That doesn't travel very far, right? At least not with acceptable power. It's almost microwave!

    • by poptix ( 78287 )

      With appropriate directional antennas you can actually go quite a distance (easily 5 miles) while observing all the regulations.

      • ...until it rains or snows.
        • by poptix ( 78287 )

          Rain and snow definitely cause a fade in signal strength but if you've properly engineered the link you'll stay within acceptable signal levels. The WISP I worked for in Minnesota had to deal with plenty of rain and snow..

          Anyone setting up commercial wireless links should know that they have to engineer for worst possible scenarios.

    • We've gotten 14 miles on a ptmp sector with line of sight.
    • I was thinking exactly the same thing. 2.4GHz has trouble getting through multiple walls. Television is much lower frequency (800MHz-ish I think) and it can't handle buildings or hills. FM radio can't handle large solid areas either (and I think that's 90-100MHz). They think 5GHz is going to get internet out to rural areas? It wouldn't even get it out to my patio from my office. Rural people had at least 10 years to move back to civilization so if they want internet so if they're still acting like it'
      • Rural people had at least 10 years to move back to civilization

        So you think increasing overpriced real estate in the city and leaving more of the country underutilized is a good solution?

        There are no walls outside if you go high enough (at least here in the plains states). Water vapor, rain, and snow, but no walls.

        • You and the other replier apparently aren't aware that cities with 50,000 people exist. To drive from our inner city urban area to our suburbs takes 15 seconds, sometimes 30 if you hit a light. A 2000 sq ft house costs about $150,000 brand new and in an ideal zone. To drive out to a wooded area or farming area takes about 6 minutes from the center of the city. A street hot dog costs about $2.50-$4. The standard $38/mo internet connection is 15 megabits and you actually get 15 on a test (unless you're w
          • I'm aware that cities of 50,000 exist. You're apparently unaware that farmers need Internet access in the modern age, too. Specialized weather data that a lot of them rely on has moved online-only for just one example.

            Complain about no Internet for good reason? Phone companies are already ripping out copper anywhere that's not super profitable. The Universal Service Fund was created to guarantee them telecommunications access. It seems that Internet access isn't considered to be telecommunications by t

            • You're apparently unaware that farmers need Internet access in the modern age, too.

              You are apparently unaware of the meaning of the word need .

              No one needs the Internet. Using the wrong words utterly destroys any point you might be trying to make by showing how you don't actually know what you're saying or are just being ridiculous in your statements.

          • by unitron ( 5733 )

            "To drive from our inner city urban area to our suburbs takes 15 seconds, sometimes 30 if you hit a light."

            Seconds? Not minutes?

            We aren't even big enough to have an inner city urban area and it takes 15 to 30 minutes to go across town.

      • by unitron ( 5733 )

        Back in the day before the digital conversion, when analog TV channels were actually on the channel number by which they called themselves, Channel 2 started at 54MHz, and Channel 83 had an upper edge of 890MHz.

        A channel 2 signal would wrap around a pine tree in the line of sight from transmitter to receiving antenna and keep going, but said tree would stop Channel 83 stone cold dead.

        (It's kind of like how you can run both channels into a single sub-woofer because those frequencies are so non-directional,

    • It's almost microwave!

      As far as I'm concerned "microwave" is 2.4 gig. (And maybe lower, but your microwave oven operates around 2.4 gig.) 5 Gig is over twice that. How do you justify the word almost? Where do you think microwave starts???

      • Microwave does not mean microwave oven. Microwave is at the very least a range from about 1GHz to 300GHz.

        And this is where you reply and tell me I missed the joke.

        • Microwave does not mean microwave oven. Microwave is at the very least a range from about 1GHz to 300GHz. And this is where you reply and tell me I missed the joke.

          No joke, just that you've fallen for the old "all A is B means all B is A" logical fallacy. He said that microwave ovens use 2.4GHz and thus microwaves must be at least as low as 2.4GHz, not that the only microwave frequency is the frequency used by microwave ovens. I.e., "microwave means microwave ovens" is your backwards interpretation of what he said, which was, in essence, "microwave ovens means microwaves" are used.

          You also missed the context, which was that the OP said that 5.8GHz was "almost microw

          • I interpreted it as him saying 5GHz is double what a microwave puts out - not almost, but way beyond microwaves. Missing that it goes way beyond 2.4GHz. And he also said "maybe lower" than 2.4GHz, which kind implied to me "maybe lower, but definitely not higher"

            Your reading of it makes more sense, but you certainly didn't know what I was saying because you read his post differently.

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @02:43PM (#47378635) Homepage
    This spectrum was introduced in 1997 to augment the "last mile" cost for rural subscribers, particularly schools and libraries. It doesnt come with license fees and as such is widely used by private industry to provide internet access to paying customers who live in the middle of nowhere (many of whom dont even have cellular service.) the existing bandwidth peaks at a blistering 25mbit.

    as an amateur radio enthusiast, U-NII band reform is a long time coming and private companies have a huge incentive to get you to oppose it. thittesd0375 doesnt say it, but these arent petitions you're filing either, they are official FCC proceedings and considered a complaint, which is very different than the crap that shows up on slashdot one a month. holding on to this band plan and its users is an easy way for telecom companies to quietly interfere with projects that would actually help citizens like wimax and municipal gigabit/wireless. If you have any respect or concern for the people being screwed over for 25 megabit service initially intended for public education around the same time AOL was all the rage, you should probably avoid this slashdot article entirely.
  • Most of my 2.4 GHz links have been removed from service since the band is so crowded, that even with -50dBm signals the throughput was crap, but one is almost by themselves on 5.8 GHz (almost no 802.11a, a few TDMA stations, mostly AirMAX, around), and can get great throughput and reliability with weaker signals...If I were starting a WISP now, I would do only 5.8 GHz and 24 GHz links.
  • I looked at the petition, but all it says is:

    Dear Federal Communications Commission:

    Stop governmenting, you motherfuckers!

  • by cat_jesus ( 525334 ) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @03:24PM (#47378969)
    My father in law is in a rural community. He has hundreds of acres of land and he has to use a wireless provider for internet. But he's also got dark fiber running up to his mailbox. After the cable was laid all over the county, nothing was done with it. How about taking the opportunity to push ISPs to light up that dark fiber for rural areas. If you have telephone service you should also have broadband capability.
    • by swb ( 14022 )

      Citizen! When Comcast is ready, they will terminate that fiber with high quality coaxial cable and make available to you a quality entertainment bundle with hundreds of television channels and the opportunity to purchase many more. You will also gain a generous, metered Internet connection at only a small additional expense and Comcast will do its best to make sure you have just enough bandwidth to watch your Netflix in 240P with only a minimum of buffering.

      Until then, Citizen, do not talk of this dark fi

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal