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FCC Petitioned to Restrict 2.4GHz Band 243

Mean_Nishka writes: "Internet News is reporting that satellite radio provider Sirius is petitioning the FCC to regulate and hinder providers of 802.11b based networks. Sirius claims their radios operate at frequencies only 55mhz lower than wifi's range, and fear that Wifi users could interfere (especially mobile and internet service providers). This could effectively kill free networks nationwide..."
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FCC Petitioned to Restrict 2.4GHz Band

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  • But doesn't this affect data networks? I mean over at NerdTreeHouse [nerdtreehouse.com] they are setting up a huge wireless data network that sounds sweet. What would happen if we all just did this?
    • by TheFlu ( 213162 ) on Friday March 15, 2002 @11:10PM (#3171854) Homepage
      Yep, this most certainly would effect data networks. Does Sirius not understand the fact that the 2.4 band has been available for public use for years now? You'd think they would have performed interference tests with their equipment from day one, instead of waiting until the last minute. This is ridiculous...Sirius may have invested $3 billion, but what about the rest of us who have already invested significant amounts of money outfitting out sompanies with WiFi. If money matters in this matter, then my money matters too.
      • by AndyChrist ( 161262 ) <andy_christ&yahoo,com> on Friday March 15, 2002 @11:49PM (#3171965) Homepage
        You've already spent significant amounts of money on WiFi. If your equipment gets outlawed (and that can actually be enforced), They (being whoever Sirius is acting on the behalf of in this lawsuit...either themselves or some big wireless networking company who might benefit) would have an easier time selling a competing standard, since the incumbent technology would be out, and the manufacturers of that equipment would not be ready with replacements.

        And Freemasons run the country.
      • I sent the following e-mail to the CEO of Sirius Radio:

        Dear Mr. Clayton,


        I am astounded that Sirius Radio would petition the FCC to cripple 2.4ghz devices (http://www.internetnews.com/wireless/article/0,,1 0692_992321,00.html), including everything from cordless 2.4ghz DSS telephones to RF Internet/data networks for something as wholly unimportant and unappealing as "satellite radio." Your "service" does not even exist yet! Talk about the tail wagging the dog.

        Your actions are analogous to a moped manufacturer petitioning the government to reduce all speed limits to 25mph to prevent cars from "interfering" with mopeds. Well, it would be analogous if the moped manufacturer had not actually produced any mopeds at the time of the petition.

        Five years from now, long after Sirius Radio is out of business, the 2.4ghz power restrictions you have petitioned the FCC to put into place will, if enacted, still be hurting consumers (including Sirius Radio's former customers) and businesses throughout the United States.

        Sincerely,
        Fred Maxwell
    • I think the problem is out of FCC hand. wireless network is worldwide interest and FCC can't make regulation on other countries who has strong interest on it, so, unless Sirius only care northamerica market, they should find another solution.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Can't Sirius just start transmitting at a different frequency? Surely it would be easier for one company to hop down the band a bit, than to kill off or change every 802.11 device. The FCC should just reassign Sirius to a new slice of the spectrum.

    • Sirius probably didn't plan ahead, and has a fixed transmitter on their Satellites to save a few bucks off the cost of the satellite... They would need to launch new satellite.
      • Sirius probably didn't plan ahead, and has a fixed transmitter on their Satellites to save a few bucks off the cost of the satellite...
        Or they want some free publicity for their upcoming service. Digital radio sounds like one of those 'Do I really need this ?' things.Any publicity, even a filing with the FCC discussed everywere is good publicity.
    • It's not quite that simple. The RF spectrum is very congested, and the FCC has hundreds of applicants all vying for the small pieces of spectrum not alread allocated for some service. The FCC found them a "hole" at the time of their application, and any other nearby unoccupied pieces of spectrum have probably already been sold off.
    • First the satellites may not be able to transmit at another frequency. Second the receivers that people use to listen may not be able to receive on another frequency.
      • First the satellites may not be able to transmit at another frequency. Second the receivers that people use to listen may not be able to receive on another frequency.

        So what? Millions of people are using 802.11b. About 30 people are using Sirius Satellite Radio, and that's likely to go down when the layoffs start.

        Why should those millions have to decommission their equipment just to satisfy some idiotic business model put forth by a company that can't even hire a competent engineer to work out interference issues before launching its satellites?

        <PARANOID>Wait a sec! "decommission their equipment." The WiFi market has already sold to the millions of people most likely to adopt the technology. So now, Lucent, SMC, etc., prod Sirius into this move, and then those customers will have to buy their equipment all over again - and we already know they're willing to! What a brilliant scheme.</PARANOID>

        In other news, I've contacted Sirius to let them know that from this day forward I'll be doing my best to make sure that nobody I know or meet ever uses their service. I encourage others to do the same. Based on XM's numbers, I can't imagine Sirius is overly secure about its prospects, and the chance of losing a whole lot of nerds - their most likely customers, I'd guess - can't be heartening.

  • by JoeShmoe ( 90109 ) <askjoeshmoe@hotmail.com> on Friday March 15, 2002 @10:28PM (#3171745)
    And those frequencys are .2 MHz apart!

    Besides, I was under the (mistaken?) impression that one of the selling features of this satellite radio crap is that it is all digital.

    Thus said, could there ever be enough bleed through to completely wipe out their signal?

    OR is Sirius more afraid people will start driving around town listening to Shoutcasted streams on 802.11 networks? Oh yeah, gee, I wonder.

    - JoeShmoe

    .
    • It's a different problem when you have the data trasmitter right next to the sat receiver. When the transmitter is on, the front end of the receiver will be overloaded even though the signal is from a different band. Look up "desense" with google for a better explaination.
      • Which makes more sense? Getting rid of flourescent lights because putting a flourescent light over a computer monitor makes it flicker, or having some sense and keeping said light as far away from the monitor as possible.

        I understand what you are talking about, but I think everyone understands that whenever possible, keep your radio devices away from each other. I've managed to have a cordless phone and a microwave both work because I don't put the phone's base station on top of the microwave.

        Now, when my neighbor used to have a CB radio so powerful that his voice broadcasting came through on my television speakers...that was overloaded.

        - JoeShmoe

        .
      • Desense with a 500mw transmitter? At 2.4Ghz? The power density at the antenna would hardly be enough to desense the receiver. Further, proper shielding of the antenna feedline and the car body itself should be sufficient to eliminate any harmful radiated power at the receiver front-end.

        This is bunk. Smells as if someone is leveraging Sirius' proximity to the band to force WiFi out of the market. Now - who would want that sort of behavior?

        Further, Sirius can mod its gear to deal with the problem. Its a significantly smaller problem to deal with the 2 people who actually bought XM rigs than it is to retro the hundreds of thousands of existing 802.11* units in the field. Further, the public good done by WiFi and community nets significantly outweighs the possibility that some spread will occur over the 55mhz gap and periodically cause Sirius hardware to get some crap packets.

        Its obviously another case of "The Man" trying to keep us serfs in check. ;) Are you American people (me included) going to let this be another case of the public getting the shaft? Or is it simply another Slashdot moment of catharsis?

        Its up to you.
        -b-
      • But doesn't 802.11b use direct sequence spread spectrum? The power and duration on each frequency is so low interference shouldn't really be a concern at all. The only time I could envision an interference problem between sirius and 802.11 is if you were to have a satellite radio component in your home stereo system and an Internet-capable streaming audio component using 802.11 immediately adjacent to each other.

        Look at PANSAT, a satellite built by students at the Naval Academy that uses spread spectrum. They've promised to open the satellite to use by amateurs (since it operates on amateur radio frequencies) but I don't think it'll ever be handed over. Instead, it's the government's way of settling the dispute within the amateur radio community over whether or not SS satellites will cause interference to fixed frequency operators (mainly repeaters). The military is developing a spread spectrum handheld radio for downed pilots to xmit their lat/long while avoiding enemy radio detection gear.
    • Actualy the .2 MHz is only theoretical, in reality FM stations that are physicaly close are assigned much greater freq differences. FM transmitters have infinite sidebands so they transmit on all frequencies, but the power levels drop off quickly as the freq moves away from the center freq.

      The part of the article I found interesting is that microwave ovens operate in the 2.4Ghz band, just think about canibalizing on old oven and building an 802.11 xmitter with 1.3 Kwatts of DC input power! I bet that would really light up the old pringles can.
  • Three Questions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rayonic ( 462789 ) on Friday March 15, 2002 @10:30PM (#3171750) Homepage Journal
    1) Which is more important, satillite radio or wireless internet access?

    2) Which is the FCC most likely to understand better?

    3) Which side has more money?

    I think it's obvious which side will win out (if there can be only one, that is).
    • Re:Three Questions (Score:4, Interesting)

      by namespan ( 225296 ) <[namespan] [at] [elitemail.org]> on Friday March 15, 2002 @10:46PM (#3171795) Journal
      Which is the FCC most likely to understand better?

      This is what I don't understand. The FCC should (in theory, at least) have all the technical nuances of communication issues down, with a fair bit of serious in house expertise. If someone tries to deceive them, you'd think they'd know the difference.

      The FCC's stance on low power radio was at least more inspiring than congress's. The NAB propoganda was pointing to two stations in DC whose closer-than-third-adjacent-channel seperation caused interference. They neglected to report that these two stations were broadcasting at over 30 KW, and proposed power restrictions LPFM were 100 Watts. One of my senators (at least, the staff member I talked to) was fooled... the FCC didn't seem to be.

    • Re:Three Questions (Score:2, Interesting)

      by eggboard ( 315140 )
      Actually, the good news is that Microsoft and Intel, Apple and Agere (Lucent spinoff), Intersil and Texas Instruments, Sprint PCS and VoiceStream, and others, all have a vested financial interest in keeping 2.4 GHz open for unlicensed use as they sell, resell, or charge for billions of dollars of equipment or service.
      • Don't forget wireless companies such as Ericsson, Nokia, etc, who are promoting their bluetooth standard. They also have a vested monitary interest in 2.4GHz...
        • by Moonwick ( 6444 )
          Companies that produce Bluetooth equipment don't stand to lose under the petition; Bluetooth operates at pwoer levels way below even the proposed limit.

          As lame as this may be, it can only accelerate adoption and subsequent lowering of prices of 5GHz 802.11a. :)
    • Re:Three Questions (Score:3, Informative)

      by satanami69 ( 209636 )
      3) Which side has more money?

      One of the largest partners with Sirius radio is Ford. I looked into Sirius back when they called themselves cdradio [cdradio.com]. Basically, Ford, Chrysler, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Volvo, Mazda, Dodge and Jeep® will all be installing AM/FM/SAT radios using Kenwood, Panasonic, Clarion and Jensen satellite receivers. Ford will be the first company to include the satellite recievers as the stock recievers in newer model cars. So, it's pretty easy to see who has the most money behind it, but moreso who has the most politics to shuffle.

      I hope that the satellite pay-per-month with no ads model fails, or at least is not popular enough to not have a free version. I'd much rather recieve free radio at the higher quality signal and deal with some adverts.
    • 1) Which is more important, satillite radio or wireless internet access?

      Which is more important, spectrum auctioned off for use by Big Business or unlicenced bands for use by The People(TM)?

      Currently, less than 5% of the spectrum below 3GHz is available for unlicensed use.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      People often raise important concerns on slashdot, and people here are many of those most impacted by a change to FCC rules. So... post your comments somewhere they will make a difference.

      Read Sirius' argument. Think about how they may be exagerating or mistating any problems. Think about how changes would impact you and suggest what should be done to correct any real concerns.

      Then give the FCC your input and "file a comment" to the proceeding.

      The FCC talks about WIFI and others in terms of where they come in their rules, eg. Part 15 & 18. You can track the proceeding on the FCC's website by looking for Sirius' name, date they filed (Jan 23), that it's "Part 15 & 18", and by the docket number (when it's issued). This is probably something the office of engineering and technology wwould look at. You can also track the proceeding through the website.

      In the meantime read the petition Sirius has filed at:

      http://svartifoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/retrieve.cg i? native_or_pdf=pdf&id_document=6512980637
  • I hope, willmake siruss show how exactly this will break the signal. I cannot immagine my microwave disrupting my Satelite radio.
  • Okay...how long ago did people start using 2.4Ghz for things - perhaps at that point Sirius should have thought things out.

    And even then - they are complaining they have spent sooo much money on something not even in place yet, so everyone else with stuff out there already should spend money just because it might interfere with the Sirius stuff.

    Hell...I'll hook my AP antenna up to 220V to see if I can knock out the whole southeast for sat radio :)
    • Can I watch? -- You'll light yourself up like the top of the Luxor! - The antennas are usually a DC short circuit, but to high frequencyy (RF energy) they look like a resonant tuned load. Your 220 mains are low enough in frequency to look like DC to the antenna - Bzzzzzt.
  • No Biggie... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by EricKrout.com ( 559698 ) on Friday March 15, 2002 @10:36PM (#3171767) Homepage
    This isn't that big of a deal.

    "Besides being limited in size by FCC regulations, the 2.4-GHz band in which 802.11b products operate is becoming overcrowded. This is the same band that the long-awaited Bluetooth products, microwave ovens, some wireless speakers, and the latest wireless telephone handsets call home. Today's products already eke out all the performance they can within the band's regulatory structure, leaving very little bandwidth to accommodate next-generation needs such as video broadcasts and voice channels.

    The most likely place for wireless expansion is the 5-GHz band. Its comparatively wide- open space could provide increased speed and better control over the quality of transmissions. Plans are afoot on both sides of the Atlantic to devise a suitable protocol for the 5-GHz band. Not surprisingly, the U.S. and Europe are pursuing two different and non-interoperable 5-GHz protocols."

    Read the rest here [doubleclick.net].

    m o n o l i n u x :: The Critically Acclaimed New Linux Site. Ads Not Included. [monolinux.com]
    • Are you attempting to be the first person to get paid to karma whore? I admit, your scheme is brilliant, but .. jeez. Can't you get a job or something?
    • by dnoyeb ( 547705 ) on Friday March 15, 2002 @11:01PM (#3171832) Homepage Journal
      This is HUGE. Many wireless ISPs already functioning with the 2.4GHz range. Plust free networks are springing up like www.seattlewireless.org and www.houstonwireless.org, there are tons. And you say its no big deal that they will have to scrap their equipment? All of them??

      Protocols will not eliminate interference. 5GHz has different transmission properties than 2.4 GHz. It a different frequency. Many WISPs were already bracing for this and expect to have to move into 5GHz, but 5GHz is handled just the same as 2.4 so far. 802.11a is already out there at 5GHz.

      If the FCC wants to do somethign they need to give a unlicensed range for specifically data communications only.

      Honestly, who gives a damn about satellite radio. More people are using wireless internet that satellite radio.
      • sort of (Score:3, Informative)

        by Skuld-Chan ( 302449 )
        do you know how spread spectrum technology works? If set up properly only recievers with a certian psuedo random sequence would recieve their transmitters that frequency hop with the exact same sequence - which is probably why the usaf claims their awacs network is un-jammable. No the protocols won't save it - but spread spectrum will.

        The beauty of spread spectrum is on narrow band recievers the only interference you hear is low background noise. I have no idea if 802.11 is spread spectrum or narrow band - but either way there's room for more devices on there.
      • That's the risk you take if you use unlicensed spectrum. If it works, great, if it doesn't, tough shit. Any ISP that bets their business on the use of unlicensed spectrum deserves to lose.

        The ISM (Industrial, Scientific, Medical) bands (900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, 5.8 GHz) are the toxic waste dumps of the RF spectrum. Anyone can use them. There is no protection from interference.

  • As I recall, XM Radio and Sirius did pay a good deal of money to broadcast in the 2.4GHz band, so obviously satellite radio is the winner in this case. :-P (which is quite fine with me, 'cause I love my XM radio)
    • Radios are all well and good, but I don't use them anymore. I've got every song I could ever want on my iPod, and it plays crystal clear music all the time in my truck through my Alpine (which happens to be XM capable - the irony of it all).
  • A few thoughts. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SagSaw ( 219314 ) <slashdot@mmosDEGASs.org minus painter> on Friday March 15, 2002 @10:49PM (#3171801)
    1. I don't know the nature of either signal, but 55MHz is a decent amount of seperation. If there are pieces of 802.11 equipment which are really transmitting 55MHz too high, their manufactures deserve a bitchslapping from the FCC.

    2. If satelite radio receivers are having a hard time dealing with a signal 55MHz away, their manufactures need to send the design teams back to school.

    3. If someone is running 802.11 equipment at power levels which overwhelm nearby satelite receivers listening 55MHz away, they probably need to re-engineer their setup to use less power and/or use an antenna with a different pattern.

    4. If none of the above scenarios are true, this is probably Sirius looking for a little extra elbow room. If granted, their next move (a few years from now) will probably be to pettition the FCC for use of the now underutilized spectrum.

    Despite being a govenment agency, the FCC a knowledgeable technical staff to sort this kind of thing out. Occasionally the FCC even listens to them!
    • by BeBoxer ( 14448 ) on Friday March 15, 2002 @11:57PM (#3171984)
      The fact is that 802.11b channels are only 25MHz wide. And 802.11b equipment is quite capable of working with adjoining 'cells' butted right up against each other. Check out this table [btinternet.com]. The non-overlappig channels are 1,6 and 11. Total center-to-center separation? 50Mhz between channels 1 and 11 with room for a channel in between. If Sirius has a problem with 802.11b I'm going to hazard a guess it's because their receivers are crap. I'll bet that they are receiving part of the legitimate 802.11b signal.

      I've actually run tests to see how well two access points work if you locate them close together (about 4 feet). You can see a writeup of all the tests I did here: Interference Tests [ucar.edu]. When I tried to run two laptops connected to two access points on channels 1 and 6, I found a little interference. Not much. Maybe a 20% drop in total thruput. Once I went to channels 1 and 7 (30MHz separation) the two access points operated with no detectable interference at all. The aggregate thruput was basically 2x the thruput of a single access point. (Note that the 209% and 212% results are because I was using laptop to ap traffic as the baseline, but the equipment I was using produced higher thruput in the ap to laptop direction)

      While the interference at channels 1 and 6 technically shouldn't happen, no body in their right mind puts two access points four feet apart and tries to run them both at full bore. So the radios could be a little better. But even in this worst-case scenario, all interference disappeared at 30MHz separation. And Sirius is complaining about 55MHz separation? Almost twice the distance?

      What Sirius is finding out is that the idea of transmitting from a satallite to a non-directional antenna is extremely hard. That's probably why the other sat radio company XM plans to spend ~$250,000,000 dollars building a system of terrestrial repeaters! It's hard to link to, but check out the 10-Q SEC filing on their web site if you don't belive me. I can't find it now, but another SEC filing in there goes into detail about the need for repeaters because they know their signal can't be reliably received inside a major metropolitan area.

      If Sirius has burned thru $3 billion and still doesn't have a reliable system, well boo hoo. The only reliable sat-based communications I know of use directional dish antenna's. (Please don't use GPS as a comeback because it doesn't have to work in a lot of places that a car radio has to, and it carries almost no information in the signal.) Irridium tried it and failed. Sirius apparently can't get it to work, and I'm going to guess that they will soon be history. As for XM, well, I think they got it to work, but only by spending a fortune on repeaters so most of their customers probably aren't even using the satellites! I think XM is going to go down the tubes anyway since they probably need to get at least 1,000,000 paying customers this year to keep going.

      So I think Sirius and XM are going to follow Irridium down the tubes. And life will go on. As every good capitalist knows, massive failures prove the resiliancy of our system. That's what's know as "The Enron Axiom". ;-)
      • by revscat ( 35618 ) on Saturday March 16, 2002 @12:31AM (#3172101) Journal

        Wow.

        You know, it's guys like you that make me keep coming back to Slashdot. There is that occasional gem shining in the piles of horseshit that makes it all worth it.

        Unfortunately, I am frequently the one delivering the horseshit.

        - Rev.
      • In regards to wireless overlap, I have two access points in my house, a 2.4 Ghz Siemens phone, a 2.4 Ghz X10 Camera, and two laptops running Orinoco Cards.

        When my girlfriend and I sit on the couch (we're great big nerds), our respective laptops have their orinoco cards about 3-5 inches apart, and we have no problems communicating, and talking on the 2.4Ghz phone.

        The only interference we've ever had is the 2.4Ghz phone clobbering the X10 camera. Then again, the X10 Camera and their transmitter/recievers have always been -garbage-.

        I've even seen reports (with data) that make engineers ask, "how the hell is this thing even communicating?" because the signal is so bad, and the reciever so shoddy.

        So much for any theories about interference.

      • I've got one here in my office and it blocks my 802.11b. The wireless network goes down whenever I use the phone. Why aren't they complaining about 2.4GHz phones? Maybe because the phones aren't as big a threat to the powers that be.
      • Sirius: Hey! 802.11*,I wanna play on the swings

        802.11*: Too bad, I was here first... go find your own frequency!

        Sirius: I'm telling on you!

        FCC: Is there a problem here boys?

        Sirius: Yeah, I want to play on the swings and 802.11* isn't letting me!

        (Sirius slips a $50 bill into the FCC's pocket)

        FCC: 802.11*, why don't you go over there and play with the cordless phones in the 900Mhz band, okay?

      • Might I suggest that you write this up and send it to the FCC. At present it might probably be noted but, if it comes down to any rulemaking behavior (I beleive) that they will have a public comment period in which this kind of thing will need to be read and responded to. It's easy enough for all of us to make clver arguments but hard data is something that they can't easily avoid.

    • actualy at tv frequencies 55 Mhz is enough for 6 TV stations, or 9 FM bands combined, but at 2.4GHz it might only be the difference between room temperate and operating temperature or how much the parts are jiggled when your car goes over a bump.
  • ... is there some way I can dial-up my microwave with my cordless phone? I guess they must use different parts of the 2.4Ghz spectrum, but that would be kind of funny. Gives new meaning to "dialing out for dinner".
  • by pyramid termite ( 458232 ) on Friday March 15, 2002 @10:57PM (#3171821)
    The reach of the petition is widespread, affecting industries as relatively small as the fixed wireless industry to everyday industries whose existence is almost ubiquitous in American households -- digital TVs and microwave ovens.

    "We're from the FCC and we have an order forcing you to leave your microwave on thaw."
  • by BlowCat ( 216402 ) on Friday March 15, 2002 @10:57PM (#3171822)
    Just wait until Intel releases 2.4GHz Pentium 4. I wonder if FCC will tell Intel to use another frequency.
    • I actually do remember a guy in the dorms in 1994 who had a P90 that interfered with his FM radio in that range. It's totally realistic, especially if we all start doing silly things like putting our PCs in plexiglass and lucite cases, instead of grounded metal ones.
    • Some motherboards have a bios option, "Spread Spectrum", which rounds off the square wave clock pulses, so that noise from sharp changes is lessened, IIRC. It does decrease performance, and stop some cards functioning altogether.
      • Some motherboards have a bios option, "Spread Spectrum", which rounds off the square wave clock pulses, so that noise from sharp changes is lessened, IIRC.
        No, it modulates the frequency of the system clocks.
        It does decrease performance, and stop some cards functioning altogether.
        Performance is unchanged, and anything that breaks is garbage and should be discarded anyway.
  • 802.11 Interference (Score:4, Informative)

    by SkewlD00d ( 314017 ) on Friday March 15, 2002 @11:00PM (#3171829)
    802.11 interferes w/ the head-tracker we use at our school for 3D stuff. We basically need a TEMPEST-protected room so we can play w/ our 3d toys.

    Maybe sirius should use 3D differential phase decoding to "listen" to a frequency at a location. Basically, two or more antennas allow you to discriminate among different sources, just like how your ears and brain work; as a practical example, using three antennas prevent jamming of GPS by enemy noise sources. The GPS antijam method uses constellation position prediction and real-time kinematic (motion) compensation (doppler shift, etc.) upon the sender's signal and receiver's motion, note this is wholy listener-side compensation, no mods to GPS constellation are needed for antijam technology. If sirius is broadcast-only, then they need to mod their receivers to use this type of technology. Why force restrictions on existing equipment for people trying to be fancy w/ their new toys? Screw em if they can't play w/ others already out on the field.

    We can get alot more bandwidth if we use this type of technology along with CDMA-type encoding. It might be slightly more expensive and logistically prohibitive, but economical use of bandwidth demands it.
  • for example, a person in an office complex tunes into the XM hip-hop station. Because some idiot was using an ibook with a wireless Airport card, Snoop dog is dropped from the ceiling all mutated and deformed!

    Again, serious implications! :)
  • by stevew ( 4845 ) on Friday March 15, 2002 @11:05PM (#3171840) Journal
    First off - Satellite transmissions are orchestrated on a
    an international basis. You don't put one up without
    co-ordinating where it's going to go.

    Sirius is a licensed service. 802.11 isn't. The
    general rule is that unlicensed services have to shut
    down if the licensed service is troubled.

    At the same time - I've got to think that Sirius should
    have seen this coming BIG TIME and don't think they
    have a snow-ball's chance to get 802.11 shutdown. The FCC
    is nothing if not a bit practical about such things.
    How would you enforce shutting down every device already
    shipped???? If Sirius didn't do an adequate engineering job
    to create their service - tough titties.
    • Sirius is a licensed service. 802.11 isn't.

      While this is true, we as a public still have the right to contest a licensee's right to a band. Last time I looked one could contest a license on the context of whether or not it is serving the public interest.

      I would argue that 802.11 serves the public interests much more so then some queer satellite radio service...

      --Jon
    • Blockquoth the poster:
      Sirius is a licensed service. 802.11 isn't.
      No way. As radio transmitters, 802.11x devices have to be FCC licensed, along with every other piece of equipment in your computer (although radio transmitters like wireless net products have different standards than regular electronics equipment!). The FCC licenses every single wireless networking product, along with all cordless phones, and any other radio transmitter/reciever. As such, the FCC had the opportunity to review each device and determine if it causes out-of-band interference (like the satellite radio people are claiming). My guess is that the FCC will say something along the lines of "tough shit!" because of the fact that Sirius is complaining about interference 55 MHz outside their alloted band. That's ludicrous -- if the tuners are that bad, Sirius should never have released their product. Imagine your new car stereo tuned to 88.1 FM recieving interference from 107.9 FM. You would take the stereo back! Even if you were sitting right next to the 107.9 transmitter, you wouldn't expect much interference - and that's an analog signal. Digital has (or should have) error detection and correction built in. Sirius seems to expect special treatment because of a bad product - I hope to all that is right and holy in this world they don't get it.
      • No, what your talking about is certification for electronics equipment (which states that its output in the RF area is within standards) and/or type acceptence (For RF transmitters means that it follows the FCC rules). This is totaly different from the licesening of a radio frequency!

        What is ment by licensed and unlicensed is if a company or a group (in the case of ham radio and CB) has the use of a group of frequencies. The cell companies have a license, radio stations have licenses and even ham radio operators have licenses.
        Do any of the 802.11x companies have a license to use the freq? NO, they don't. They just have to follow certain rules that relate to that band. They have a maximum radiation output and antenna restrictions. The problem with them is that they are allowed a certain amount of overage (out of band signals) and this is what is getting them into trouble. Sirius is asking that the out of band emessions be reduced by 30% and the the wireless people are saying they can't do that.

        And BTW, not all radio equipment has to be type accepted (what your also calling licensed). As an amateur radio operator I can build eqiupment for myself all day long (for the ham bands) and never talk to the FCC.

        BWP
    • My dad (a non-geek person with no knowledge of the FCC's workings) who recently just got an 802.11b card for his laptop to connecto to my own access point, had one of the most violent episodse of incomprehension I have seen since he attempted to argue that giving people access to source code was irresponsibly bad since someone could change something and break it upon hearing this, and the implications you mention. He doesn't quite grasp the FCC's authority to screw over an entire industry in favor of another (considered more important) industry.
  • I would think that XM Satellite radio would have more problems with the 2.4 GHz unlicensed frequency than Sirius. XM's signals are closer to the unlicensed frequencies.

    And if the unlicensed frequencies at 2.4 GHz are giving them problems what about XM Radio transmitting at 2000 watts with their repeaters at 2.34 GHz. Is it a problem with harmonics?

    This doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
    • I think the first step in finding the answer to this question is to find out what ties Sirius Radio has with existing DSL and cable Internet service providers; as those companies are the ones who stand to lose the most from the popularity of 802.11 technology.
  • by pedro ( 1613 ) on Friday March 15, 2002 @11:19PM (#3171869)
    This crap is gonna go down in flames even faster than Iridium did.
    Subscription, NON-LOCAL alleged radio, devoid of all of the values that make radio work in the first place? Bleahh!
    Ever turn on AM in the am (giggle) looking for something that's NOT ART BELL? Local color?

    That's what satradio is gonne be like in no time. Kiss of death. Nobody's gonna pay for the kind of homogenised drivel satradio will become within (mark my words) two years.

    Can't wait to see the pretty lights when they deorbit those puppies luminescently.

    THAT, I'd pay money for
    >8->
    • OOPS!
      I forgot to mention that Iridium has/had ACTUAL VALUE!
      And still does.
      So it survives.
      XM or whatever it's called will be dead in two years, and I'm being reeeaaalllyy optimistic about its' lifespan.
      People want their local content back (ClearChannel or whatever they call themselves are taking a major dump)
      and are ignoring the big players by legions.
    • Nobody's gonna pay for the kind of homogenised drivel satradio will becomeHave you ever been to the suburbs? Or, perhaps, watched MTV? There seem to be a whole lot of people that don't mind paying for mindless drivel that doesn't mean anything to them and that they have no way in hell of connecting with. Especially if they can pay even more money to make it appear to other people that they do connect with it. If Sirius and XM market this to suburbia rather than... anywhere else, they have a reasonable chance at survival.

      Just look for one of those places where people have paid out their ass to live in a house that is identical to hundreds of neighbors, and that is who would be willing to pay money for worthless and unnecessary things. Like satellite radio and satellite television.
  • If sirrus is really worried about the "small" gap of 55Mhz interfering with their broadcast, then there are other things for them to do. Since sirrus is a broadcaster, why not invest in a little time and equipment, and then HEY, you could broadcast to all the wireless lans out there with a simple firmware update to recieve it properly. money making oppurtunity (yes, i reach XXXXXXXX # of users (nm that only 5 of those actually listen to it ;))). Cmon honestly, this is digital communication, we can encode bits so many ways that theres room enough for the bandwagon plus some. Stop complaining and look for a profit by adapting 802.11b.
  • Promix tried this last year. Mostly it was a hissy fit over INTEL dropping them. Consider that a lot of the Big Chip manufacturers (INTEL, MOTOROLA, TI, etc) stand to make a bundle in the next ten years from wireless net and related products. I would start looking at who is behind this. Mayhaps the usual suspects? RIAA? AOL Time Warner? RAMBUS?
  • Why worry? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Their business model sucks and they aren't going to survive. I've got 50 channels of radio from DirectTV I never listen to. Who's going to start paying to hear something they've been getting for free already? Besides if I want to listen to continous music coast to coast I'll put my money into a MP3 compatable car cd player and burn my own.
  • by Mean_Nishka ( 543399 ) on Friday March 15, 2002 @11:33PM (#3171909) Homepage Journal
    Here's a thought:

    Since free wireless networks potentially open the Internet to everybody (even without access to a phone), could it be argued that restricting 802.11 networks is a violation of our first amendment rights? Technically a free 802.11 network is a public forum.

    Free wireless are about to become as big as open source, MP3, and even the Internet itself. Let's hope greed will not get in the way.

    But if worse comes to worse I'll buy up a bunch of microwave ovens, trip the door sensor, point a million pringles cans towards the sky, and show them what real 2.4 ghz interference is like :).

    • Did you miss that someone actually has to pay for the internet connection? Unless MCI*Worldcom themselves put up a wireless connectino and just let people leech off their bandwidth, it's not free.

      Just because you don't pay for using your neighbor's broadband via 802.11 doesn't mean that they don't pay for it, or their telco/cable co.

      You say don't let greed stand in the way. That's the problem plaguing us now with MP3s. Everyone says the RIAA is greedy and wants only money. That may be true, but are we not also greedy (and arrogant) for wanting everything for free?

      -- Freedom of information doesn't mean information is free. Just 'cause you can legally read the book doesn't mean you don't have to buy the book.

      • Did you miss that someone actually has to pay for the internet connection? Unless MCI*Worldcom themselves put up a wireless connectino and just let people leech off their bandwidth, it's not free.

        Um, yes but if a neighborhood sets up a wireless lan, it wouldn't cost anyone anything.
  • by FakePlasticDubya ( 472427 ) on Friday March 15, 2002 @11:43PM (#3171940) Homepage
    But isn't the purpose of the FCC to work for the benefit of the general public? I mean that is the point of the FCC, to regulate the airwaves since the current view is that the airwaves belong to everyone...

    That being true, wouldn't it only make sense for the FCC to tell Sirus to go back to the drawing board... 802.11 has been around for a while now, and I would have thought anyone with common sense would have thought to see if this would be a problem. Because Sirus didn't plan around this, I don't see how they can just step in now and demand sweeping changes that will destroy many companies and hinder thousands of businesses and cause millions in losses. How can the FCC protect one company's investment at the expense of so many others?

    Well, then again, this is the FCC we are talking about... not exactly the most efficient or best policy making body there is... what can I say?

    In my opinion at least, 802.11 was there first, 2.4Ghz has been in use for a long time before Sirus was even thought about, so I would think it would be Sirus's responsibility to fix their problem, not the FCC and millions of Americans to work around Sirus.
    • The US government already gave the fcc enforcement powers and regulation powers through an Communications Act signed in 1934 - and this has been upheld by the supreme court several times.

      There is an option though - work with tapr [tapr.org] to develope spread spectrum technology using bandwidth allocated to amateur radio operators - at least those are somewhat protected (part of the 2.4 ghz band is for hams only - the rest is shared).
  • Sirius should have thought of this before investing $3bn. Sirius knew beforehand where they ended up on the spectrum and where the unlicensed users were going to be. If the slot they got a license for didn't suit them, they should have picked a different one.

    In any case, I don't think they have much to worry about. Come on, 55MHz is a lot of spectrum between them and 802.11b.

    On the other hand, I also don't think that rampant commercial use of 802.11b is desirable either. If you want to use it at home, that's fine. If some ISP uses it to provide service, I think that's not OK, not because it interferes with Sirius but because it interferes with private users of the spectrum.

  • If the geeks of the world can restrain themselves from buying their sattelite radio garbage Sirius will go backrupt. I personally just find it amusing that yet another tentacle of the entertainment industry is holding back progress.
  • Wasn't it Apple... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rusty0101 ( 565565 )
    who originally petitioned the FCC to allocate a segment of spectrum specifically for unlicenced usage?

    I don't recall if they were part of a group of companies, or acted on their own, but I seem to recall that they were looking for the bandwidth to support products like WiFi.

    I would suspect that they, along with Motorola, Intell, a whole slew of network card manufacturers, Intersill, and many other groups would be interested in the arguments and will probably be responding.

    As far as licenced/unlicenced goes, it could run either way. CB-Radio was a licenced set of spectrum when it was first popularized. When the FCC realized that they had not way to control the spectrum, it became unlicenced. Now you can still find radios, but you generally have to go hunting for them. I don't recall the last time I saw one at my local radio shack to tell the truth. Truck stops are a different matter.

    Even licenced bandwidth is not immune to private interests. LPFM was attempting to licence low power transmitters so that your school, city/county council, or club could set up a radio station for people in the community to listen to as they found it interesting. By low power we are talking in the 2-5 watt range. When NPR came down against it, complaining that the channel separation authorized in the lpfm licences were too low, the possibility faded.

    These are just my oppinions and personal observations. I could be wrong.

    -Rusty
  • Harmonics (Score:2, Informative)

    by jessohyes ( 175502 )
    I used to work on Transmitters and Receivers and I can say that 55MHZ is a lot of seperation. The one thing that we were concerned about was something called Harmonics and Intermodulation Distortion. IE: a frequency of lets say 225 MHZ might also have a Harmonic at 450 MHZ etc... They were normally multiples of the original frequency. But the transmitters that we worked on also had power levels of approx 10,000 watts per transmitter (HF) and very large directional antennas. I'm thinking that these wifi cards are putting out signals in the order of milliwatts so interference should be very localized if any at all. I doubt that Intermodulation Distortion could cause such a wide shift in frequency as well.
  • by myov ( 177946 )
    I came across this page [broadcast.net] in a google search.

    NAB is fighting to get the FCC to require Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio publicize the location and power levels of their terrestrial repeaters to prevent interference to all licensees, not just those who paid for their spectrum.

  • Public interest... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sterno ( 16320 ) on Saturday March 16, 2002 @01:03AM (#3172181) Homepage
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but the FCC's job is to server the public interest by regulating radio spectrum. So can somebody explain to me how a subscription digital radio service is more in the public interest than wireless data networks? With any luck all the hardware manufacturers will go write their lobbyists some checks and keep the FCC out of this.
    • It's quite simple. Economic opportunity is the only "public interest" that matters. The value of free public resources that corporations can't exploit don't always come into the equation. Huge monolithic companies pay employees and sell stocks and give retailers something to sell, contributing to the "economy". It also happens that they paid the FCC a good chunk of money for the frequencies they use. Nobody paid the FCC anything to use 802.11's frequencies, and most of the serious buzz about it is from a bunch of hippies eagerly offering free internet access. No massive opportunities here. (Potential) profit beats parasitic stuff any day.
      • by sterno ( 16320 ) on Saturday March 16, 2002 @01:30AM (#3172259) Homepage
        While nobody paid the government for the frequencies that 802.11, there is a huge amount of business going on it 802.11 equipment. The amount of business thriving off the sale of 802.11 equipment dwarfs what little Sirius has manged to do. Ultimately the FCC doesn't care about the money that comes in from a spectrum sale, it's not like they get to keep it. They care about politics, and what will decide this is who can apply the most political pressure. Can Sirius trump Cisco, Lucent, Intel, and all the other electronics companies making a killing in the 802.11 market? Doubtful.
  • Oh ffs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nihilogos ( 87025 ) on Saturday March 16, 2002 @01:15AM (#3172212)
    <rant>
    Bandwidth licensing annoys the crap out of me. Not only do us poor wireless schmoes have to use the resonent-frequency-of-water-molecule-so-no-bloody- corporations-actually-want it 2.4GHz band anyway now some irrelevent radio twats are complaining that the popular services that make what use they can out of it might interfere with a service they don't even provide yet. And apparantly the FCC will probably rule in their favour. Why don't they just be honest about it and give the vote to large corporations since the vast majority of legislation nowadays seems to be devoted to serving their interests anyway.
    </rant>
    • And the worst part is the irrelevant radio twats are probably going to get their way because of Colin Powell's mouthbreathing puppet son...

      /Brian
  • by cmoney ( 216557 ) on Saturday March 16, 2002 @02:43AM (#3172372)
    One of my projects at work was to build a database and web interface capable of distributing across the country every single document filed with the FCC every single day. Well it's finally found a purpose! Enough patting myself on the back...read the original Sirius petition here: http://www.geocities.com/nospamcarl/sirius_fcc.pdf [geocities.com] . (38 pages all scanned and not OCRd so it's 1.6MB) (If this doesn't work, try copy and pasting the URL directly. For some reason, it didn't work for me clicking directly from Slash.)

    It's got some good info in it. At the very least, you'll find out that it's part of a bigger request for comments by the FCC on "whether it [the FCC] should change its emissions limits for the restricted bands above 38.6 GHz, and whether the Commision should apply its emissions limits to receivers that tune above 960 MHz." It's also got some of Sirius' technical evidence in support of their claims.

    And here's a choice quote:

    Impact on Deployment and Service to Underserved Communities
    If the Commission fails in its duty to ensure SDARS [Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service] interference protection from Part 15 and Part 18 devices, the rapid deployment of digital audio radio services will be significantly threatened. As the Commission has noted in past orders, SDARS holds the promise of providing continuous service of digital radio in the form of 200 audio channels that will offer consumers a tremendous increase in choices of audio programming. If protected from harmful interference, SDARS will dramatically reduce the disparity in access to radio by making enormous programming choices available to 45 million underserved consumers in the US, particularly those in rural areas, who currently have access to only a small number of radio stations.
    BTW, this is a public document. I'm not sure if it's on fcc.gov yet but it should be someday...if you can wade through their multiple search engines and multiple data formats. You'll be able to track any replies.
  • "This band is your band. This band is my band..."
  • dumb scare post (Score:2, Insightful)

    The way these things work is that interference of any substantial amount is illegal for all radio operators, including amateurs. You have to prove interference not just wave the possibility around. The FCC has no reason to take any action against 802.11b after allowing this spectrum for this purpose in this first place. Sirius will only gather a lot of ill-will from cluefull would-be customers. Dumb move!
  • This is a Ham Band (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pcjunky ( 517872 )
    The ISM (2.4GHz) band is also for amateur use. If they persist lets all get Technician class licenses (no code needed) and start talking with 200 Watt rigs. Or better yet do moon bounce with 1500 Watts. They think they have probelms now from 1 watt 802.11b equipment! Check this out at: http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/regulations/bands .html
  • The Facts (Score:2, Informative)

    by 6L6GT ( 120348 )
    Here are some things that should be known:
    802.11b devices come under FCC regulation part 15. That means they must NOT interfere with licenced operation, and they must ACCEPT interference from licenced operators. Keeping that in mind. As a person licenced to use the 2.4Gc band (among others) I can put up 1500 Watt FM TV repeater on that band and there is nothing that the wireless internet folks can do about it. Part 15 devices are the lowest of the low (even lower than CB) when it comes to radio spectrum use. With being said, the FCC is likeley to grant Sirius's request.


    BTW Sirius cannot keep crap out of their receivers that is 55Mc away? I've done better than that on the 2.4Gc band, building my own stuff.

  • IANAE - I am not an engineer... But that's never stopped the non-lawyers from expounding on legal matters around here.

    There are several issues that haven't been addressed in this thread. If you haven't read the actual petition (http://us.share.geocities.com/nospamcarl/sirius_f cc.pdf [geocities.com]), you should. (Per the earlier poster, you probably need to copy and paste that URL into your browser for geocities to work.

    First, much of the petition deals with RF lighting and UWB. I'm new to RF lighting, but I remember the last UWB thread on /., and plenty of folks were claiming it was the end of the world for all tranmissions that weren't UWB. Sirius seems to be making the same claim here.

    Has anyone done interference testing with 2.4GHz devices and RF lighting? Would RF streetlamps disable Bluetooth and 802.11b freenets?

    Secondly, Sirius isn't asking the FCC to ban 802.11b. They're asking the FCC to make WiFi manufacturers put stronger filters on their transmitters. Quoting from the petition:
    Because the lower edge of the 2.4GHz band is only 55 MHz from the top edge of the SDARS's spectrum, the filter mechanism that Part 15 and Part 18 devices currently use to limit their out-of-band emissions may be insufficient to satisfy the proposed aggregate field strength limit within the SDARS band (clip).... Petitioner does not anticipate that designing filtering mechanisms to comply with the proposed field strength limitations will be technically difficult for manufacturers of future Part 15 and Part 18 devices to accomodate.

    Obviously, the wireless industry disagrees. But they also claim this would force them to retrofit existing devices, which simply isn't in Sirius' petition at all. The actual proposed rule change is on pg. 26:
    ...Petitioner requests that the Commission establish a rule to limit their [Part 15 and Part 18 devices] aggregate field strength for out-of-band radiated emissions between 2320 and 2345 MHz to 8.6 (micro)V/m at 3m (18.7 dB(micro)V/m) on a free space, co-polarized basis measured in a 1MHz bandwidth. The above limit would go into effect 18 months after the date of final adoption of the rule and apply to all devices
    manufactured thereafter. (emphasis mine)

    So the real questions seem to be: 1) how hard would it be for 802.11b makers to follow that proposed rule change, and 2) Would this mean the end of RF lighting and UWB?
    • From page 2 of the petition:

      "Under the Commission's current rules, the field strength of radiated emissions... above 960 MHz at a distance of 3 meters shall not exceed 500 uV/m"

      They're asking for that to be reduced to 8.6 uV/m. That's a huge amount of attentuation and requires serious filtering, and probably reductions in transmission power which thereby reduces operating range. I don't know if this would kill 802.11b, but my guess is that it would make it useless for neighborhood networks.

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