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FCC on Ultra-Wideband, DSL Services 137

ibirman writes: "According to Yahoo, the FCC has approved limited use of Ultrawideband (UWB) technology above 3.1 gigahertz. The article states that Sprint PCS among others has been campaigning to keep the minimum above 6 gigahertz claiming "interference". From what I have read, interference is not an issue, so I wonder what their real agenda is? Funny that the article does not mention that UWB could revolutinize high speed wireless networking." There's a Newsbytes story that decribes an upcoming ruling on DSL providers, which would exempt DSL carriers from the open-access requirements in place for most telephone services. There are a few links to statements on the front page of, but I don't see the actual orders for either of these yet.
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FCC on Ultra-Wideband, DSL Services

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  • Considerable concern (Score:5, Informative)

    by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Thursday February 14, 2002 @05:48PM (#3010161)
    In fact, there is considerable concern in the GPS [] and radionavigation worlds that UWB may cause severe interference with pre-existing services - many of which are directly related to life saftey. Tests sponsored by the UWB industy to prove that such interference would not occur showed the exact opposite - that it did in fact occur. I am surprised that the FCC gave the go-ahead on this.


    • by cyberformer ( 257332 ) on Thursday February 14, 2002 @05:56PM (#3010217)
      A filter can remove the UWB signal from the (relatively narrow) bands used for GPS. This still leaves a lot of bandwidth, which is currently used by cell phones, TV stations, etc.

      It's possible that a UWB system could interfere with these, but your UWB transmitter would have to be very close to your cell phone or TV. It's only been approved for very short distances, so there shouldn't be much risk of interfering with other people's cell phone reception, just that in your own home or office. Still, it's an interesting loophole for people who want to block cell phone signals. ("No officer, this isn't an illegal cell phone jammer, it's a UWB network!")

      • It's possible that a UWB system could interfere with these, but your UWB transmitter would have to be very close to your cell phone or TV.
        Until 10-20k UWB devices are installed in an office park next to the airport.

        Also, the signal strength as received by a GPS unit is incredibly low - very close to undetectable. It doesn't take much to disrupt them. In fact a month or so ago there was a NOTAM for a GPS outage in Phoenix AZ over a three day period. No reason was given but it is assumed that a new satellite was being tested at Motorola's satellite assembly facility - enough to shut down GPS in the entire county.

        Here's a more complete article: GPS World [].


    • Someone needs to say it, just to thrash out the issue.

      But, with how much money has been going into EM spectrum auctions, I would venture to say that some interests would be very protective of such investments.

      There, it's done. Call me a conspiracy theorist!

    • After reading that article, it would seem to me that there would need to be considerable constraints put on the service providers and the frequencies that they use.

      From the article @ gpsworld: Of the six carriers with national operations, three -- Sprint, Verizon, and Nextel -- are incorporating network-assisted GPS (A-GPS) into their implementation of E911. [snip]
      Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz expressed the Department of Defense's "deep concern that, unless properly controlled, proliferation of UWB devices intended to be mass-marketed to the public could cause harmful interference" to GPS and other critical national security and safety-of-life systems.

      I'm all for high speed wireless connections... but not at the cost of public safety. Using frequencies that are not going to interfere seems to be the best way, and I would hope that in the end, that is the way it ends up

      • umm...the whole point of UWB is that you use ALL frequencies at once. increases the noise floor for everyone but doesnt intefere with any ONE frequency.
        UWB aint gonna make anything worse other than increase the local noise threshhold slightly.
    • Cell phone providors currenty have to do testing to ensure that their antennas don't interfere with with other bands - such as AM, and their are companies that do the needed engineering. Thetesting would have to be expanded to ensure new installations don't interfere with GPRs or radio-navigation.

      My guess is cell phone companies:

      1. - covet the frequencies for their own expansion, and or

      2. - are afraid of comeptition, especially from VoIP across wireless networking. Your Palm/PocketPC could do data and voice, all without the cellphone company.

      As such, I would expect them to push for regulation that drives the cost so high that the freqs go unused, so they later can "claim" them based on their lack of use.
      • The other reason is that CDMA cell networks (used by Sprint and Verizon) require GPS signals which, as other posts have pointed out, may be drowned out by unfiltered UWB.
      • Considering I work for one of these companies I can tell you right now they aren't worried about palms at all. In the end people generally wish to combine thier devices cell phone palm etc. So we actually endorse it.. for instance take a look at the Springboard module for the Handspring Sprint made, or the Samsung I300 another palm phone.. Not to mention the Treo.. etc.. Even if you don't use the phone companies directly the provider your pulling the signal from is more than likely renting tower space from one of us anyhow *shrug*. So either way the money for the most part comes this way.
        • Or from teh tower companies that actually own the towers, having bought them from the cell phone companies. Right now, towers are owned by providers as well as seperate "vertical real estate" companies. I doubt though, the money to be made from renting an antenna matches that from having a significant number of subscribers, meaning the cell phone companies could see their return drop drasmatically.
    • has anyone pointed out there in the process of launching a new, more powerfull, more accurate GPS system to replace the one currently in opperation? just because some decade old technology doesent work with UWB interferance doesent mean the new system will. course, if it doesent, then theyve just wasted there money on a new, useless GPS... (i think this was posted on slashdot. coulda just been in new scientist or summin) and hell, the third generation of GPS will prolly work on a UWB pulsed radar system anyhow. and the US military seems to like UWB pulsed radar. seeing as they've made a few "look through this here wall" devices and a more accurate then current GPS can hope to be tracking system using UWB. (this was in a slashdot post about half a year ago... linked to fullertons homepage too.) UWB has more uses then just damn fast wireless networking.
    • There is so much concern over existing infrastructure. What I wonder is this: If you set out today to determine the perfect use for each part of the entire radio spectrum, what would you come up with? What amazingly cool applications would suddenly become possible? (Broadband for everyone, GPS only better, etc).

      How much is our dependence on legacy technology really holding us back?

    • You should note that GPS is not permitted as the only form of positioning in critical system. You don't see civil aviation that use only GPS without at least an inertial guidance system. There are good reason for this, as GPS can never be considered as a 100% reliable system that you'd want to trust your life to.
      UWB will just lower this percentage reliably slightly.

      In any case the UWB emission limit (in terms of EIRP) in the GPS band is at -65dBm (averaged over 1MHz I believe) which is -25dB under the current Part 15 limit for unintentional radiator. So you see the FCC took concerns about UWB's effects on GPS very very seriously.....


  • pure vindictiveness (Score:5, Informative)

    by Perdo ( 151843 ) on Thursday February 14, 2002 @05:57PM (#3010234) Homepage Journal
    Larry Fullerton, now of Time Domain, invented a radar and wireless system based on pulses of energy less than a billionth of a second in duration. The scheme is known as ultrawideband. Although ultrawideband pulsed radar has been around for decades, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decided in 1987 that Fullerton's system was original enough to be patented.

    In the early 1990s, however, Thomas E. McEwan, then an employee at the Livermore lab, came up with a related idea for a "micropower impulse radar" that employed different circuitry and worked at much lower power. His device can function for years on a couple of penlight batteries, he states. He got patents, too, and assigned them to his employer, which started licensing the invention to manufacturers. But McEwan failed to cite Fullerton's invention as "prior art" in his original patent application.

    Sprint backed the wrong horse and spent millions in licensing fees to Livermore lab. Their opposition to UWB is pure vindictiveness.

    Now Time Domain refuses to license UWB to sprint, putting them at an extreme disadvantage to ATT and other competitors.

    Beautiful technology though... this is one of those real "could change the world" technologies like the step from Analog to Digital signaling
    • by vivekb ( 111127 )
      And here's a link [] to the Scientific American story you "paraphrased". :)

      But there's no mention on Google of any links between Sprint and McEwan, or Sprint and Fullerton.

    • I don't know if you are a technical person or not. If you are not then please ignore this.

      The amount of interference this technology will cause depends on the amount of power used in signalling. This technology is not anymore peak bandwidth efficient then say CDMA, TDMA or FDMA. It is rather a random access version of TDMA, so it does share some random access efficiencies with say CDMA. But I don't know where you come up with:

      > this is one of those real "could change the
      > world" technologies like the step from Analog
      > to Digital signaling

      The only potential advantage that this has over say CDMA is in some multipath interference scenarios. It also has many disadvantages.
      Statements along the lines of "this technology will never cause interference" are pure rubbish. Can you lay off the bull and explain why this is such a revolution?

      BTW, I am not from Sprint nor do I dispute your statements regarding the "vindictiveness" issues.

      • it wont cause interference because its spread over the whole spectrum just like noise. the interference to any *one* particular frequency is negligible (it just raises the noise floor slightly) although if you add up the interference over the whole EM spectrum it is not negligible (i.e. one UWB device will interfere with another UWB device but both of them wont interfere with a normal cellphone). sprint is just whining.
        • I think with one company you can perhaps make
          an argument but what if 100 companies want to do
          do the same thing? Sure if everybody in the world each gave me a buck it wouldn't kill them. But I hardly think I am the only guy with this smart idea. Shit piles up.

    • legitimate concerns (Score:3, Interesting)

      by markj02 ( 544487 )
      Concerns about UWB interference are legitimate. Sprint is not alone in them. Amateur radio operators and many others are also concerned about interference from UWB.

      In fact, there is no question that UWB interference occurs. The question is whether one can allow UWB to be used at any power level without seriously disrupting normal radio traffic when it becomes widely adopted.

      Of course, UWB is no threat to other UWB systems. Therefore, UWB licensees would not be opposed to it. In fact, one might well interpret UWB to be an attempt at doing an end-run around current channel allocations, and, ultimately, an attempt at forcing anybody who wants to have some sort of reliable radio communications to buy proprietary UWB technology. Whether it actually is or not depends on the level of interference it causes when deployed widely, and that is still an open question.

      In other words, there is no reason to rush UWB to market--we can take our time testing the technology. In fact, there is no real reason for the FCC to approve UWB before the patents run out--why should we increase the noise floor of all our channels for the benefit of a single patent holder? If UWB is still interesting after the patents run out, great.

      • Everyone's so concerned about their uber-leet GPS devices MAYBE being disturbed by this new technology, when the SB4100 completely OBLITERATES the entire AM radio spectrum for about 300'. I'm going to get modded to hell and back, I know. But perhaps we should look at the devices we have, and how they affect the radio spectrum.
        • I'm not concerned that much about GPS, I'm concerned about amateur radio. And, yes, computer equipment is a big problem, both poorly designed cable modems, as well as people who run their computers with the case open. But UWB could end up being much worse.
          • My case is closed. Granted, the screws aren't in it, but the case is closed. And it's not just interference on the power lines, I get it in my car, too. And I can imagine what it does to amater radio, seeing as the eq under my desk(which DOESN'T claim any specific FCC compliance on the nameplate, which is IIRC in violation, but says "sutible for home and office use") drowns out the 50kw radio staion 3 miles away, line of sight.

            It wasn't so much a post directed at this thread, either, it was one of those things where I'd "had enough" and hit [reply] at the easiest possible moment

  • by MattRog ( 527508 ) on Thursday February 14, 2002 @05:59PM (#3010247)
    According to my frequency allocation chart, the 4.2 to 6GHz band is reserved (dually with some other things) for 'Experimental PCS'. Perhaps they're worried about people running amok in 'their' band?
  • Wait one minute... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NOT-2-QUICK ( 114909 ) on Thursday February 14, 2002 @06:00PM (#3010254) Homepage
    In reading the story at yahoo, I found the following quote:

    However, companies like mobile telephone service provider Sprint PCS and the powerful lobbying arm of the airline industry, among others, had urged the FCC to prohibit the use of UWB technologies below 6 gigahertz.

    Now, I can certainly understand how a mobile phone service provider such as Sprint could have less-than-credible reasons for not wanting to move forward with this initiative... However, I do not understand what the airline industries motivation would be to get involved here except for a genuine concern for unsafe interference.

    Personally, I could careless if my cell phone has a little bit of static as a result of leveraging UWB, but if my plane crashes due to interence then I may not be quite so understanding...

    Then again, perhaps I am missing something obvious. Anyone have any thoughts on what ulterior motives the airline industry may have here?

    • The only things I see that high are:
      Aircraft radionavigation from 900MHz to 1350MHz(with a gap from 1215 to 1300MHz), then again from 2700 to 2900 (Aeronautical Radionavigation Meterological Aids).

      I assume the latter would be weather reports which could be VERY important (think microbursts downing planes).

      There's also 2900-3000 which is labeled "Maritime Radionavigation" which I'd assume wouldn't be terribly affected (not to many cell phones in the middle of the Atlantic. :D)
    • by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Thursday February 14, 2002 @06:11PM (#3010335)
      Anyone have any thoughts on what ulterior motives the airline industry may have here?
      It's not really "ulterior". Airline traffic today flows, for the most part, along the Federal Airways layed out in the 1920's for airmail pilots to follow. These consisted of towers with rotating beacons at 100 mi intervals between big cities (almost all are gone but every once in a while you spot one out in the countryside). In other words, with the entire sky to fly in airliners are following the equivalent of railroads in the sky.

      As you can imagine, this introduces some inefficiencies in routing! The airlines would desperately like to go to "Free Flight", which would allow them to route airplanes as more or less as desired (this is a vast simplification for you aero-nauts out there, and leaves out the problem of hubs entirely).

      But Free Flight depends not only on GPS, but the advanced location services that the FAA and other GPS consumers would like to roll out over the next ten years. Those services will require absolutely pure signals on the existing allocated freqs, and possibly more freqs as well.

      So they don't want anything messing with the GPS signal.


      • by thogard ( 43403 )
        The airways are how the system remains safe if the radio in the plane stops working. A simple look at graph theory shows they can not provide the level of redundancy that exists now and allow free flight but they are going ahead anyway. The problem is that you end up with an exponential growth in the data set size and you have to solve that in real time. Its just too complex for moden computers to deal with no matter how good the rigged demos look. If you force the problem into the realm of comptuers, you must depend on them and we all know thats asking for trouble.

        When I fly in the US, I use airways but since I'm flying VFR (visual flight rules), I could go direct. The last flight over about 1/2 the US would have resulted in a savings of less than 15 nmi (25km) over a course of over a thousand miles.
        Here is a small picture [] of airways near salt lake city. The airways are grey lines, airports are circles and the triangles are VOR (radio beacons)

    • The airlines are worried on a number of fronts:
      1) GPS: Airports are located in congested areas which already have to deal with skyscapers, illegal parking garages, etc. Now with UWBs which walk right on L2 (GPS signal band) perhaps not individually but in aggregate it's likely there will be interference issues.

      2) The Microwave Landing System widely used in Europe has a 5Ghz signal. This is also reserved band but may be interferred with by UWB. Like GPS this is used for bad weather landings. Not a time you want interference.

      So, yes the airlines are rightly concerned and no it doesn't matter in the face of greedy telecoms. Until someone gets hurt...
  • by xX_sticky_Xx ( 526967 ) on Thursday February 14, 2002 @06:04PM (#3010293) Homepage Journal
    This is going to make radio astronomy more difficult. There are several spectral lines [] that lie between 3 and 10 GHz (I'm assuming that 10 is somewhere near the upper limit). As if light pollution and Iridium satellites weren't bad enough for visual astronomy, now radio astronomers are going to have to deal with elevated noise levels in a few interesting lines.

    It looks like business wins out over the quest for knowledge once again.
    • Calm down. This technology is much more efficient than conventional broadcast technology. Far less energy is needed to transmit a signal, which is why it can coexist with existing radio infrastructure yet cause no interference. The signal is just too weak, and there is no carrier wave at all. It presents no significant threat to radio astronomy.

      It does however, present a threat to users of licensed radio bandwidth, because it eliminates the need to assign freqencies for specific uses. It can coexist with existing radio applications. The potential for competition with traditional broadcasters and spectrum users is what has Sprint, et. al. worried.

      It is as if someone figured out how to piggyback signals on the PSTN without needing the cooperation of the Bells, and without any impact on existing applications of the cable plant. Only Sprint does not own the air, like the Bells own the wires.

      I guess now we get to see who owns the FCC. This has been a long time coming. I first read about nano-pulse radio almost 10 years ago, when TimeDomain first began petitioning the FCC for permission to conduct tests.
    • It looks like business wins out over the quest for knowledge once again.

      I symphathize with you, but I think its kind of unrealistic to expect valuable tech (and I don't mean just this one) to go unused because a very small group wants to do some pretty abstract science. It'd be one thing if we were holding a conversation with another galaxy and deploying a new tech would stop it, it's quite another for basic sciences which has no short term payoff.
    • Which direction are radio astromoners looking. "Up" I hear you say. This puts a very large average attenuation on those pesky UWB transmitters.

      What you say you're looking "sideways". Well I say don't those things Astronomies look at move
      so that your telescope never points in the same direction if it is tracking something. So you might breifly be looking at a UWB transmitter straight on (though even that's very unlikely). However, you integrate over several hours of time don't you. So that brief bit of crappy data will be lost in your good data.

      Frankly, I think the astronomy community whines about everybody else who uses the radio spectrum.
      For me the people who will be the most effected by UWB aren't astronomers, and aren't GPS people either (due to the emission masks). The one who are likely to be most hurt are the satellite remote sensing people. Particularly the synthenitic aperture radar people. As opposed to astromoners, remote-sensing SAR looks down from a satellite to the Earth and could potentially see a huge number of UWB terminals. The combined interference of terminals will add significant noise to their data.

      Its a shared resources, and please believe that the people who design communications systems are equally aware of this and try and take the measures necessary to avoid interference to others


  • The reason Sprint probably wanted the band at a higher frequency is because higher frequency = high power needed to transmit, higher power needed = higher power batteries (AKA higher cost batteries for mobile devices), power supplies etc. With high cost of implementation comes slower adoption and therefore less new comers to the market place to compete with their existing infrastructure, services, etc.
    • by Sarcazmo ( 555312 )
      This is totally false.

      I guess you somehow equate computer processors with radio transcievers?
      • It is not totally false. It is a simple fact of Wireless communication design that is illustrated by Satelite communication frequncies. The uplink is always the higher frequency due to easily obtainable power. The downlink from the satelite to the earth is at the lower frequency due to power availability limits. Proof of this is available in any standard wireless communications text book.
        While comparing Geo-synchronus communications to terestrial communications may be different in scale, the principles of their design are the same.
  • by bourne ( 539955 ) on Thursday February 14, 2002 @06:11PM (#3010337)

    "Should the FCC reclassify digital subscriber lines (DSL) as an information service as opposed to a traditional wire-line service, it could effectively loosen federal rules that require Bell companies and other incumbent carriers to offer their competitors equal access to the telecommunications networks they control."

    What the hell? After the Bells displayed their ability to cut of CLECs like they were batting down baby seals within the existing rules?

    What world is the FCC living in?

    • No kidding. It's like watching someone get kneecapped by gangsters and concluding that the local economy must have lots of healthy competition. The reality, of course, is that having bent the rules to within an inch of their lives in order to better kneecap the competition, the bells have basically been told they can use a gun instead.

      I can't believe that Powell knows ANYTHING about the state of broadband in the US; this basically grants the commercial monopoly to the Bells, and the residential monopoly to the cable co's. This will make broadband more expensive and slow its expansion into new areas. He better be following this up with something else (like feds mandating coverage areas) or this is a prescription for failure.

    • The FCC's scope is not limited to RBOC's and CLEC's. The reasoning behind this rulemaking is that it is unfair to impose more restrictive regulation on RBOC's than that imposed on their competitors for comparable services, i.e. MSO's (cable companies) and satellite operators.

      In my neighborhood, I can buy video/data/voice from my cable operator (AT&T). They made a decision to invest the capital to be able to do this because they know they won't be forced to give up space in their cabinets for their competitors' equipment. On the other hand, equipment [] exists [] to give telephone companies the ability to offer video programming (as well as voice and data) over their existing outside plant, but they have dragged their feet deploying it over concerns that they will not reap the full benefits of the substantial capital investment required.

      • my cable operator (AT&T). They made a decision to invest the capital to be able to do this because they know they won't be forced to give up space in their cabinets for their competitors' equipment.

        On the other hand, the phone companies built most of their infrastructure out with financing partially based on taxes ("Universal service fees"), and share infrastructure with the power and cable companies every day. I don't believe the RBOCs should own the COs, period.

        telephone companies... have dragged their feet deploying it over concerns that they will not reap the full benefits of the substantial capital investment required.

        Not at all! Firstly, the telephone companies have not dragged their feet over any development where they had competition (consider DSL vs. ISDN - the latter withered on the vine (no competition), the former they announced record signups as their competition all went bankrupt because they couldn't get wiring orders fulfilled in a timely manner... odd, that.) Secondly, if the phone companies have problems with advanced technologies, it should be kept in mind that POTS is often their preferred area of expertise. Phone companies like phone stuff - it's congenital.

        • On the other hand, the phone companies built most of their infrastructure out with financing partially based on taxes ("Universal service fees")

          True enough.

          and share infrastructure with the power and cable companies every day.

          Can you elaborate on this?

          Firstly, the telephone companies have not dragged their feet over any development where they had competition

          We may be talking apples and oranges. I was speaking in the larger context of "the bits business," which encompasses voice, data, and video. My primary argument is that the MSO's are invading RBOC's core revenue stream (telephony) in an unregulated environment, but that regulation imposed on RBOC's puts them at a competitive disadvantage when they contemplate going after the cable companies by offering video programming -- even though the cost per subscriber to deploy is equivalent (according to recent statements by Qwest, which has a VDSL trial underway). Your points about RBOC's vs. CLEC's are well taken -- my original post was attempting to answer the question of what the FCC is thinking, which was posed by its parent post.

          • >and share infrastructure with the power and cable companies every day.

            Can you elaborate on this?

            Utility poles, specifically. Also, demarc points are often shared between phone and cable at customer premises - even most houses.

            This may sound trivial, but I think it's significant. Not only do they share the poles, but they don't necessarily have personnel on hand to oversee that sharing as they do at the CO. Also, one could argue that poles have overall higher maintenance issues than COs, given their exposure to weather and trees.

            I was speaking in the larger context of "the bits business," which encompasses voice, data, and video. My primary argument is that the MSO's are invading RBOC's core revenue stream (telephony) in an unregulated environment, but that regulation imposed on RBOC's puts them at a competitive disadvantage when they contemplate going after the cable companies by offering video programming...

            I see your point, but I don't feel that this ruling achieves that goal, because rather than specifically approach the problem of loosening regulatory issues in the specific areas of non-voice traffic, this ruling hands them a huge unrelated advantage in an area they've already made moot by "creative work order fulfillment."

            Of course, I may be biased, as anyone will note having read any of my opinions on the RBOCs.

    • What world is the FCC living in?

      I know I'm being tragically optimisitic, but...

      Maybe they're living in a world where DSL uses privately owned wires -- as opposed to public radio spectrum broadcast all over the place -- therefore making DSL none of the FCC's fucking business.

      (Not that this is real reason they're doing it. More likely, there was some well-aimed bribe.)

    • From the article:

      Later this month, the House of Representatives will vote on the hotly debated Tauzin-Dingell broadband deregulation bill, which would allow Bells to offer broadband data services regardless of whether they open their local phone networks to competition.

      The Telecommunications Act of 1996 currently requires incumbents such as the Bells to prove that they have opened their historical local monopolies to competition before they offer any long-distance services.

      FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who opposed today's decision to publish the proposed rule, said he believed that the agency was going too far down the road toward setting competition policy.

      "I fear we are out-driving the range of our headlights," Copps said. "We are not ready to go as far as this notice takes us."

      So you see, the FCC has more than one opinion but they are being driven by pressure from Congress, specifically that Toe-Zan (might still be a democrat, it's hard to keep up with people who have no priciples) looser from right here in Louisana. So the cycle is comming to completion where a network built under government franchise protection and therefore public is being given to a few large private companies. I suppose that will make it easier for Toe-Zan to collect bribes as he knows where to go every year.

      I should have seen it comming. The local Bell has used it's ownership of those lines to screw would be DSL providers all along. They have manipulated the process very well. They own the database of potential customers and use it to make telephone solicitations while failing to update the one they are forced to share with their competitors. It's funny how I was not available to have DSL when I moved less than a mile and had to kill my Telocity contract. Stranger still when I recieved a solicitation from BellSouth that it was available two weeks later, but Telocity could not sign me up. Finally, it became unavailable before the whole process could be gone through. So, no supprise they would push laws to obliterate those they have been ignoring for the last eight years.

      Consequence: You ain't getting any. Large traditional publishers now own all broadband. Hollywood/TimeWarner own cable, the telcos own DSL and the traditional broadcasters (owned by GE, Westinghouse and Disney) own the airwaves. All of these intities have reasons to keep you from using the internet that should be obvious. Telcos wish to continue raping you per minute of conversation. Opinion control is the reason large companies are in broadcast, and they will not tollerate competition. Not being able to push crap through restricted channels would ruin more than Hollywood. Expect DHCP over all forms of connectivity, and worse forms of "intelligence" being added to networks. The internet is becoming a new form of comercial broadcast faster than I thought possible just two years ago.

    • It's very clear the FCC lives in a world where deregulation solves all problems. You'd think past behavior (S&Ls, Enron, etc) would clue peopel in that self regulation, especially in the case of current or virtual monopolies.

      What's intersting is that Qwest has been accused by my state this very morning of setting sweetheart deals with a small set of businesses. This is anti-competitive, but they want to have long distance and deregulated DSL. Do you think they'd allow competition then? A Qwest rep refused to comment on the case specifically but said since their competitors have acombined *17-20%* market share, that is proof of competition in the marketplace.

      Whether these deregualtors know it or not they are subsidizing the big guys and setting up a future of fewer providers. In a few years after the industry has busted they'll ask for more subsidies (they are already) or declare ignorance as the company collapses around them.
  • I'm sorry, is there any relation between these two items other than FCC involvement?

    It took me a few minutes to realize that UWB has absolutely nothing to do with data communications at all. Sheesh

  • The US military has much of the spectrum that other countries are using for cell-phone related services like text-messaging, simple online games (think 2-player tetris) and limited web browsing.

    Supposedly, the US is mounting video cameras on soldiers' helmets that are transmitting along these frequencies and sending realtime data of the battlefield into the commanding officers' computers.

    The US military will NOT give up this spectrum without a fight. We must lobby Congress to get this spectrum for the public, or be left even further behind than our European and Japanese friends. Think about it people: Snuff films for the military, or on-demand pr0n to my cell phone?

    • The 800mhz/900 mhz split was a result of a nato agreement. The idea is one side of the atlantic would use one set for military and the other for comercial and on the other side of the pond, allocations would be reversed. This would allow the US to move its troops into europe with their own radios and not get in the way of the local countries military radios. It would be assumed that should events cause this to happen, the local civilians would have more to worry about than their radios not working anymore. When the split was done, the idea of having millions of hand held mobile radio phones wasn't even considered.
  • RFI (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Thursday February 14, 2002 @06:16PM (#3010380) Homepage
    There are many users of the RF spectrum that don't fall into the category of "evil corporation". As an amateur radio licensee, I'm very concerned that widespread and unregulated use of UWB technology would further pollute the amateur radio bands with noise and interference. Cheaply made consumer electronics equipment, light dimmers, poorly maintained power lines and other "unintentional radiators" are a major source of interference in many places. That includes all of you people who run your computer with the case open.
    • Cheaply made consumer electronics equipment, light dimmers, poorly maintained power lines and other "unintentional radiators" are a major source of interference in many places. That includes all of you people who run your computer with the case open.

      So this is how I can get back at the dork who's racial epithets I keep picking up on my unshielded stereo cables? Cool!
  • NPR (Score:5, Informative)

    by hether ( 101201 ) on Thursday February 14, 2002 @06:19PM (#3010402)
    had a story about this on Morning Edition this morning.

    Here's the audio file of the segment: m

    A commentator on there seemed to think it would interfere with all sorts of things acting like a "layer of jelly" which the poor little GPS device could not operate through.
  • My microwave oven operates at 2.4 Ghz. How safe is a long term exposure at point blank range. Microwave ovens are an intermittant use item and are not operated in your lap, hand or in your ear. The leakage is limited to a few mW per square cM at the surface of an oven. What is the safety of these wireless broadband microwave transmitters that operate in your lap with long duty cycles?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14, 2002 @06:31PM (#3010478)
    A bit of context is in order regarding the potential conflicts between UWB and the Global Positioning System (GPS). Robert Cringely's article [], referenced in the parent post, is a good example of someone who doesn't fully understand the technology in question making assertions that are substantially incorrect.

    First, comparing the two systems' measurement accuracy is apples and oranges. UWB might be usable as a point-to-point ranging source, sort of like a stud finder, but it only tells you how far a given object is from, say, your handheld transmitter. GPS, on the other hand, gives you a three-dimensional position fix anywhere on earth (as long as you can see a reasonable patch of the sky). The two are simply not measuring the same thing. (Furthermore, a properly set up variant of GPS called a "differential" setup can deliver accuracy of better that 1cm.)

    Second, UWB is not necessarily as low-power a system as is claimed in the article. Typical UWB transmitter power levels are around 1 milliwatt (typical cell phones are around 1 watt), which is ten times higher than what Cringely claims. (The idea is that because the energy is spread across a wide swath of frequencies, the power in any one band is relatively low.) Furthermore, UWB power levels are strongly dependent on the desired distance between transmitter and receiver.

    Third, applications are currently being developed for using GPS and its variants indoors.

    Finally, UWB can pose problems for GPS. The nominal GPS signal is, by design, about 15dB below the ambient noise floor -- that is, it's about 30 times quieter than the static you'd receive if you tuned a radio between stations. Thus GPS can be particularly sensitive to even very low-level intereference. I work in a GPS Lab [] and we have been examining the potential UWB-GPS interference issues for about the past two years. The point is, this is a big deal because GPS will likely be used in a number of safety-critical applications (e.g. landing airplanes) within the next 5-10 years. Dismissing the potential objections to UWB out of hand is therefore not only ill-advised, but potentially dangerous.

    The list of publications on the lab's main page includes papers with detailed explanations of the points I've made above.


    • The papers you cite (thanks!) seem to show that UWB interference with GPS signals is quite implementation-dependent. The "5-10 years" you mention seems like plenty of time for the people working on UWB and new GPS-based services to understand and deal with the interference issues, and indeed it appears that working groups have already been formed for exactly that purpose. Is there really that much cause for alarm here? Even if so, how fair would it be to blame UWB for effects on systems that weren't yet deployed when UWB was?

  • Why would they want this? Easy. Higher frequency = more waves per second. More waves per second, (everything else being equal) means the same amount of information can be sent in a shorter time.

    On the other hand, higher frequency means shorter broadcast distance, and gets impacted by things like rain fade.

    Yous get nothing for nothing. ELF signals can go around the world, through water, etc but you're bandwidth constrained, 8kHz of bandwidth (voice) is a lot when you're transmitting between 1-300Hz.
  • Attribution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kindbud ( 90044 )
    According to Yahoo...

    No, it's a story from Reuters. The attribution is clearly given in the byline. This is a common mistake made by Slashdot article writers. Think about it a second: if I saw this article about UWB on Slashdot and posted to Kuro5hin "According to Slashdot..." my attribution would be flat wrong. It is the same with stories posted to Yahoo and other news outlets. The byline gives proper credit and should be cited as the source, not the news outlet where one happened to read the story.
    • This isn't offtopic, it's an important point. News sites should not play a game of "gossip" reporting hearsay. Attribution should be given to the original writer.
  • no one knows if it would interfere with these services? Everyone is so vague talking like "It could disrupt..." or "It may interfere...".

    Or are they just FUD?
    • You don't know it is disruptive until you field it. Every new RF technology I've seen falls short of its promises (I'm in the industry). For example, CDMA cellular (a second cousin of UWB) was originally claimed to provide 40X capacity in a 1.25 MHz band over simple analog cellular. When it was actually fielded, it was found to be less than 10X. Significant, yes, but there were other ways to get close to 10x that weren't as complicated or expensive. Once we get past the hype of UWB, I predict a similar disappointment factor.
  • This might not be a bad thing. Currently, with the pseudocompetition going on there is no quality of service guaranty like there is for leased lines. Making DSL the telco's alternative to T1 and related technologies might really be good inasmuch as it makes it possible both for state enforcement officials to pursue regulation of service quality and also for the telcos to make service level agreements possible. With the Covad vs. Verizon vs. whoever else still owns DSLAM thing going on, it's not in the best interest of the telco to make DSL work well and with bulletproof reliability. The other thing that might be good about this reclassificaiton is that there is a very real possibility that telco owned ISPs might not be able to provide data service to DSL as that might be considered providing long distance services.

    I certainly don't think that changing the current mess that is DSL into something else is necessarily bad and likely no worse than the current silliness.
  • GPS uses two channels for positioning (L1 @1575.42 MHz and L2 @1227.60 MHz) and one for nuclear test detection (L3 @1381.05 MHz), none of which are anywhere close to 3GHz.

    So, why do people who use GPS care? Are they worried about accidental emission in the 1.2-1.6GHz band?
    • If you ever lived near a big transmitter you would know. Anything that transmits raises the "RF Floor" of the surrounding area. Things like front end overload are probably not an issue with these UWB transmitters, but a loud signal (near field) on any frequency could easily make it harder to pick up weak signals, even if they are seperated by many Mhz.
  • by SysKoll ( 48967 ) on Thursday February 14, 2002 @07:56PM (#3011037)

    In last week's EETimes, there was a good intro to UWB and its challenges, as well as a discussion about the (considerable) importance of the FCC ruling that just took place (in a front page story). The Web versions are:

    -- SysKoll
  • > From what I have read,
    > interference is not an issue, so I wonder what
    > their real agenda is?

    3 choices:

    1) government oppression of individual freedom.
    2) government campaigning for something besides .NET and therefore oppressing individual freedom.
    3) government acting more powerful than Microsoft, oppressing individual freedom in the process.

  • Given the power levels and band limits approved, this is a very short range technology. Think Bluetooth, not cellular radio.

    This thing is way overhyped.

  • If you were building a system from scratch for wireless internet, how would you do it today?

    MMDS providers seem to be having lots of porblems that might be technical or might be excessive cash burn rate. Its run in the 2.ish ghz range and is line of site using well known technology. Sprint had been offering it in places like Chicago but isn't any more []. From what I can tell MMDS is the lowest cost option right now and most of the others have never been rolled out or are still in the planning stages.

    Some very small towns now have 802.11b systems but thats limited to a very small population and won't work for more than a few hundred people and they don't scale well.
  • I thnk it'd be a neato thing to tinker with. Is this within the reach of the average geek with some piece-parts from the electronis store and a few old desktop computers?

    lets ask the all knowing GOOGLE []

  • The ARRL believes that not enough is known about UWB and that approval is premature. See these two articles: 1 [] and 2 [] (you can find others on the ARRL site using Google).

    In fact, at some point, UWB will inevitably lead to interference. That is a simple fact of how radio works. The only question really is how much power and what UWB applications one can permit before UWB-related interference for non-UWB services becomes a real problem.

  • I don't know the technical details of WHY... but it HAS been proven that UWB interferes with GPS. This is scary to me... as a budding pilot I know how vital GPS can be. Certainly, not an absolute requirement... but hell, IFR flight with VOR's is a bear, and one hell of a barrier to many people learning how to fly.

    I'm not saying don't learn the "needles"... just that an archaic technology like that needs to make way for GPS if general aviation is ever going to stand a chance. VOR's as a backup... cool. GPS is the way of the future and many aircraft are already equipped as such. Even commercial airliners use GPS, they come that way from the factory. I don't want to go back to dead-reckoning unless I have an electrical failure (kills my GPS) AND a vacuum failure (kills my VOR guages) simultaneously!

    Just my 2c worth!

A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.