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Senators Aim to Wirelessly Jumpstart Broadband 211

JimW writes "Article at Practically Networked...A couple of senators actually have a clue about how broadband might be effectively promoted. Not that I have anything against my tax dollars propping up failing telco's by pushing DSL on areas where it isn't financially viable. Methinks the dark fiber will stay dark." Their plan calls for 255 MHz of spectrum to be allocated for wireless broadband - to compare, the band occupied by 802.11b is 83Mhz wide, with each channel being 22MHz (they overlap).
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Senators Aim to Wirelessly Jumpstart Broadband

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  • Instead of using tax dollars to promote broadband, why not let the private sector handle this and get the government out of legislating technology (CPAA, DMCA, etc).
    • by pknoll ( 215959 ) <slashdot.pk@LISP ... g minus language> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:41PM (#4724717)
      All they're doing is lobbying the FCC to carve out frequencies so that wireless broadband applications are tenable.

      I'm not seeing evidence of tax dollars being used to build the infrastructure; just making it possible for someone (private corp., maybe) to do so.

      • Building the infrastucture but leaving the development to private corps is good in many ways. Tax dollars might indicate a government-run network. A government-run network could easily become a government-controlled network. We wouldn't want the government watching our every move onli... er wait. Well, we wouldn't want it to be worse than it already is, in any case.

        Of course, you'll probably end up facing corp greed Vs gov't invasion of privacy (and greed). Sometimes corps are the lesser of two evils though.
        • Agreed, by no means do I obsolve the corporatation of all misdeeds in dealing with this sort of thing, but I'd like to see the end of mixing legislation and technology. The more the government is comfortable with this, the less rights and more restrictions we will have.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Mr. Aviss, we at the echelon facilities in West Virginia would like it if you'd stop stating that we are watching everyone. We are simply watching you.
      • My comment was in regards to :
        Not that I have anything against my tax dollars propping up failing telco's by pushing DSL on areas where it isn't financially viable

        from the OT.


    • by StormRider01 ( 231428 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:43PM (#4724735)
      With that kind of thinking, vast parts of America would still not have electricity and telephone service...
    • why not let the private sector handle this

      Because they're not doing much about it as it is. Not that I disagree with you in questioning why get the govt. needs to be involved, but the telco's/ISP's/what-ever do need a kick in the ass, it seems. If some of the tax I pay helps me get off my 56k, and gives the telco's a wake-up call, then sure, I'll blow the extra little bit per paycheck.

      But that's just me, of course...
      • by dj28 ( 212815 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:07PM (#4724949)
        If the telcos aren't doing anything about it, then there isn't enough consumer demand to justify the cost. Getting the government involved with this is just wasting more of my hard earned money. I don't want to subsidize the telecommunications industry if they aren't even willing to spend money on it themselves, and if people aren't willing to pay for it.
        • >If the telcos aren't doing anything about it, then there isn't enough consumer demand to justify the cost.

          No, it's just that the telcos are useless at spending money (to them, it flows like water). Case in point: Running about 100 lines 15 km alongside the already existing fibre to my subdivision a decade ago to an old, out of date, and rather overloaded exchange, rather than building some sort of mini-CO there and using that shiny fibre line.

          This is the case with many other companies. Another case in point, I've tried to set up a deal with a few local companies to redistribute their wireless internet to various households here, ensuring they make a profit as well as myself. No interest at all.

          And, last example is the cable co. They also run cable under our town. They decided against wiring the houses here, as they'd have to pull it about 1 km or so. So now 95% of the houses have DSS, and they have zero business.

          What makes this all the funnier, though, is that the telcos, etc. think that areas like mine are full of hick-homes with people that can't afford high-speed, when the reality is that the average home in this subdivision costs $300k (and for this area, that's probably about $100k above average) and there's no apartments, and being that it is a little ways from the city, communications equipment are WELL used.

          Ho hum. More stupid decisions. I'm used to it, and plan to profit on it the moment I get the cash together to put in some wireless 'net.
    • Because the value of a network goes up with the square of the users connected, but the revenue goes up linearly. In other words: it may be more valuable to have everyone connected, but it probably wouldn't happen with just the private sector because they wouldn't make money from it.

      Not that this has anything to do with the article, which is just about opening up spectrum for use.
    • The only way the private sector can get the FCC to unlicense or relicense bands is through graft and corruption. The private sector is essentially excluded and at the mercy of the FCC, all they can do is "lobby". I think the 900MHz and 4.3GHz unlicensed bands are an excellent demonstration of the benefits of relaxing bands for general use.

      I would prefer if only certain bands were considered off limits instead of only certain bands being considered allowed. Setting a band aside only for broadband might not be a good idea. Look at 4.3 which was set up for anyone who needed it, If it was just a little bit bigger it would work pretty damn well for broadband. Many isps are actually deploying broadband on it anyway for rural areas.
    • Ever here of the TVA?
      In the 1930s the goverment spent tons of money getting electricity and phone lines to every little town and farm in the country.
      Was it money well spent? You bet it was.
      You let the goverment build roads and interstates why not bandwidth?

      In the end it will help the US economy.
      • --the tva had good and bad parts to it. the public observable good, hydro power and the ac electricity 'standard" to a lot of areas. downsides where it helped squash independent home electrical generation in favor of the big picture big guys, even going beyond the co-ops. Back in the 20's and 30's there was a blossoming and successful rural "alternative energy" industry, it got squashed. jacobs windpower for example. Here's a short history:


        Aceytelene generators and efficient small home diesels. There where a variety of DC appliance makers to serve that industry. I'm sorta too lazy right now to go dig up a slew more links, but the gist of it was that alternative energywas reallystarting to take off, in a variety of directions, and including solar in heating at least, and, well, it got squashed. There always seems to be lurking behind big government projects a few fatcats with their hands out, and it's always sold as "good for the people". funny how it works out like that. Hmm, need a new war, who can we hire to build war stuff... wow! we got the same old cast of characters conveniently ready to go into triple overtime and build war stuff. Energy, same deal. Communications, same deal. These social government programs also helped establish this mindset and legal precedent that "the government" can just constanly kick people off their land to do "something". The something always seems to eventually become a basic subsidy, not for the little guy, but for some big international "deal". Sort of like what the stealth mega corps/greenie orgs/ government cartel does now with creating "willing sellers" in the rural areas by first using some "law" like the ESA to knock off a class of rural workers by virtually outlawing what they do for a living, usually based on extremely coercive and faulty junk science (spotted owl, klamath suckers, etc), this then bankrupts the people when they can't work, despite the fifth amendment of the constitution saying they need to be paid for lost whatever when government seizes their stuff, so they sell their properties "willingly". They even give grants to so called "not for profit" orgs, who turn around and use bogus created "laws" and sue people, who then get harassed by government.

        I'm saying there's usually always payoffs going on and wheels within wheels with these happenings. Been going on a long time too.

        Same deal in a lot of matters with the FCC, supposedly they serve the public good with their regulations, but sometimes it doesn't work. They go out of their way to bust micro broadcasters saying they cause "harm", but they rubber stamp the more or less very monopolistic and extremely lucrative "licenses" given to the major networks and broadcasters year after year, despite mega thousands of complaints they have received, and the harm they cause by mass propogandizing the news shows and by the social engineering they do with "entertainment" shows. Ya, you can complain,and it goes on record for public viewing in the circular file receptacle.

        It's not an either / or, there's good and bad in these quasi socialistic experiments they do with manipulating how humans do their work and what happens with industry in general.

        I think a better first step is to make null and void the local telcos and the cable copmpanies monopolies, and to rein in the FCC to it's constitutional limits set for the federal government, and that is to regulate interstate commerce as it pertains to broadcasting, and commerce isn't "all" broadcasting, and not all broadcasting or delivered/sent data services.

        Just a few points. I sort of agree with you on some good coming from the standards and public works, but I also see the other side of the coin. Basically I want "government" in general to be put on a severe hold right now, as in a total stoppage of any "new" laws, a "cease and desist" order in other words, and a ten year or so campaign to review and remove the bulk of the "old" laws, keeping only the extremely necessary and constitutional ones. I know that's a wish, I'm just wishing is all, heh.
    • The problem is that the private sector only cares about robbing and looting for quick and massive profits. Building a broadband network is a long-term thing that won't pay for any executives' Jaguars, yachts, vacation homes, call girls, and cocaine in a single quarter, or even a single fiscal year, so greedy businessmen won't bother. Since this network would be such a valuable public service, it should be publicly funded. After all since we elect our officials, and pay taxes, we collectively are the government.
  • by PhysicsGenius ( 565228 ) <physics_seeker AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:40PM (#4724705)
    The way to "effectively promote" technical stuff is to run an ad in Wired. No legislators need apply.
  • if Ican carry my laptop anywhere in the city and use this anywhere it is a total winner.
    • I'd imagine there's be a huge demand for bandwidth if just about everything had wireless networking capabilities. Laptops and phones are obvious, but imagine a coffee cup that serves web pages! Um...yeah.
    • Uhm... (Score:2, Funny)

      by jeroenb ( 125404 )
      if Ican carry my laptop anywhere in the city and use this anywhere it is a total winner.
      Has this ever been not possible? :)
  • Hmm.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:42PM (#4724722) Homepage Journal

    When all that wireless Kazaa traffic gives me a brain tumour, who do I sue?

    • Re:Hmm.. (Score:2, Funny)

      by Ponta-kun ( 468922 )
      More importantly, what are you going to do with the summons the RIAA gives you for all the illicit mp3s you get exposed to?
  • Wow QWZX (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm amazed Barbara Boxer is behind this. If you've never heard her speak, it's -- interesting. I'm convinced that she is literally a moron. I'm serious: this woman is one of the stupidest human beings I've ever heard.

    I can only assume that she had a staff member that thought it was a good idea and convinced her to get behind it. I'm really doubtful that she's understands one whit what she's promoting.

    It's not my intention for this to be flamebait, by the way, although I'm sure it's sounding that way. You really have to hear the woman try and make off-the-cuff remarks to appreciate how stupid she is.

    • You must provide examples:

      Those who survived the San Francisco earthquake said, "Thank God, I'm still alive." But, of course, those who died, their lives will never be the same again.
      - Barbara Boxer, Senator
      Author: BARBARA BOXER

      "We may wind up in this country going to zero tolerance, period."
      - U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

  • by eyegor ( 148503 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:42PM (#4724728)
    It's hard to imagine babs boxer and George Allen getting together on anything, but this seems to be a good first step.

    Last mile is the hardest nut to crack. Around these parts, Verizon hasn't delivered broadband to very many people (I suspect they're waiting for their competitors to die off first) and our cable provider (adelphia) is in chapter 11.

    My only concern is that we need to ensure that nothing will interfere with the wireless data. 802.11 shares spectrum with too many things.
    • by Sc00ter ( 99550 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:47PM (#4724782) Homepage
      "My only concern is that we need to ensure that nothing will interfere with the wireless data. 802.11 shares spectrum with too many things."

      Well to bad all 802.11 devices are part 15 devices. They can not interfere with other device but they must all acecpt it from other devices.. Meaning that if somebody's cell phone tower is causing problems, or the ham down the street is messing around with his 100 watt 2.4ghz setup and you're in his path you're out of luck.

      • the ham down the street is messing around with his 100 watt 2.4ghz setup and you're in his path you're out of luck

        I wouldn't be so sure of this. Most Amateur Radio operators would not want to cause interference with anyone, and all of them that I know, myself included, would do whatever we could to not cause interference if we were notified about it. If you check the laws governing Amateur Radio, you'll see that it's not lawful to knowingly cause interference under most conditions.

        It's been a while since I took my exams but IIRC, knowingly causing interference to someones wireless network could get your license revoked.

        • Ahh, that is true, but part 15 devices must take interference from hams. I thought the same thing being a ham (N1UEV), but hams are higher on the scale then your WiFi stuff. Sure they wouldn't go out of their way to screw you, but if I'm doing work with 2.4ghz trying to design a better antenna and I'm doing testing at 50watts and you're next door with your wireless internet connection and I bump you off, tough titties.

  • Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by grumpygrodyguy ( 603716 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:46PM (#4724771)
    *Jaw drops to floor*

    I'm shocked, but the cynic in me says that they are just opening up more real estate to be sold to private interest, rather than be preserved for the public. Does anyone have a more in-depth understanding of what these two senators are trying to pass?
    • by M.C. Hampster ( 541262 ) <M.C.TheHampster@NoSpaM.gmail.com> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:36PM (#4725213) Journal

      Insightful huh?

      Let's take a look:

      to be sold to private interest, rather than be preserved for the public.

      Ah yes, it would be much better for the government to make that space available and then not sell it to a private corpration. That way, we can all sit around and think to ourselves, "I'm glad that spectrum is open for broadband..... IT'S TOO BAD WE CAN'T USE IT!!!"

      Does anyone have a more in-depth understanding of what these two senators are trying to pass?

      Hmm, how about you read the article? It says quite clearly what they are intending to do.

      Again, how was this insightful?

      • Uh... I don't understand. You seem to be advocating the kind of privatization that is actually *more* gov't control. How would you feel if the visible spectrum were licensed in the manner you prescribe? Are we being socialists by insisting that everyone should be able to use the visual spectrum to communicate?

        If grandparent poster's jaw-dropping conclusion is correct, we'll be able to sit around and think to ourselves: "I'm glad that spectrum is open for broadband..... otherwise I wouldn't be on broadband right now." because *any* private organization will be able to use the spectrum. Please show me how this would be a bad thing. And you could also tell me how this is more restrictive than saying only government-mandated organizations are allowed to use the spectrum.
      • You wrote:
        Ah yes, it would be much better for the government to make that space available and then not sell it to a private corpration. That way, we can all sit around and think to ourselves, "I'm glad that spectrum is open for broadband..... IT'S TOO BAD WE CAN'T USE IT!!!"

        First of all, I think the rest of us are wondering how YOU got modded up?

        Do you even understand how the basics of FCC spectrum licensing, or are you trying to suggest (Very incoherantly) that unregulated radio, like that being used by 802.11, isn't usable because it's unregulated?

        You do understand that the success behind 2.4ghz (802.11) was that is was given to the public and not auctioned to a single corporation.

        It's funny, because everybody else is excited about more unregulated public radio spectrums! Almost the ENTIRE tech industry loves it. Why don't you like unregulated public radio?

        Please tell us, WHY DO YOU THINK UNREGULATED RADIO, like 2.4ghz (802.11), IS UNUSEABLE???

        We're all waiting for your brilliant insight!

  • This article reminded me of a previous slashdot artice that pointed to this Business Week article [businessweek.com]
    "Sure, Wi-Fi has huge potential. But the spectrum could quickly become overcrowded and unreliable if it grows too quickly. Success will take two things: technological improvements and a helping hand from Washington. The Federal Communications Commission will either have to allocate more spectrum for wireless use or overhaul the way spectrum is divvied up -- an unlikely scenario given that the commission is overwhelmed by scandals in the telecom biz."
    They seem to think that an expended frequency range would have huge economic impacts too.
    • The key to making this work is to make sure that this new Wi-Fi is SELLABLE, meaning anybody, with minimal capital, can set up thier own wireless broadband ISP.

      Once there is an industry, with a lot of consumers, then you'll get a big push to open more spectrum for unregulated wireless broadband to meet consumer demand.

      Now THAT's capitalism kicking the government's ass. (Rather than pandering to the FCC's auction process...)
  • by mortal_enema ( 206970 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:48PM (#4724790)
    Make sure the bandwidth is applied to the indended use and enforce reasonable timetables for implementation. No third, fourth, or fifth chances to comply before the bandwidth is realocated to service providers who do have the ambition and resources to make it happen... Recall: Digital TV Bandwidth boondogle.

  • right... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tps12 ( 105590 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:48PM (#4724793) Homepage Journal
    I love headlines like these: "Congress Declares Digital Cable For All!" "President Demands Pollution-Free Energy!" Right.

    Reality check: you can't legislate technology into existence. It takes time, energy, a bunch of smart people, and a ton of money. These guys think they can just write up laws and somehow, through some sort of magic, companies will do as they're told. And if they don't what happens? They're penalized with higher taxes, of course, making them even less likely to innovate, and in some cases putting them out of business altogether.

    If you look at it this way, it suddenly becomes less surprising that most of the innovative companies like Sun, Microsoft, and Linux do most of their R&D outside the US, in countries like Finland, Pakistan, and Europe that have lower taxes. If we want to revive the foundering American economy, we need to stop coming up with voodoo feel-good laws like this one and start cutting taxes for the companies that generate wealth.
    • When you say Europe, I assume you mean Western Europe. What countries there have a lower tax burden than the US?
    • Re:right... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JoeBuck ( 7947 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:02PM (#4724911) Homepage

      Wow. tps12 thinks that Finland and Europe have lower taxes?

      The fact is that government has played a huge role in technology creation, and you're using a lot of that technology right now: the Internet, of course. As you say, it takes time, energy, and a bunch of smart people, and money, but in many cases it's been government programs that provide all that. Government-designed TCP/IP beat all the proprietary network approaches (SNA, DecNet, Novell, etc) because it was technically better, and it got better because of a lot of visionary bureaucrats at DARPA.

      But, of course, the zealots who believe that government is inherently bad, stupid, and inefficient will ignore evidence to the contrary.

    • Reality check: you can't legislate technology into existence. It takes time, energy, a bunch of smart people, and a ton of money.

      Except you forgot one thing that wireless needs: Bandwidth.
    • [..] innovative companies like Sun, Microsoft, and Linux [..] in countries like Finland, Pakistan, and Europe [..]

      Dim people who post to discussion web sites such as Slashdot, LinuxToday and Hotmail, should avoid activities such as listing things, generalizing or summaries.

      Or something. Whatever.

    • Reality check: you can't legislate technology into existence. It takes time, energy, a bunch of smart people, and a ton of money

      What kind of blind eye to history have you turned? Remember the apollo missions? The great aqueducts? The great wall? Thousands of years of ingenious dam and levy constructions? Pyramids?

      Often times it takes a government to declare something as a goal and to commit to it before it becomes a reality, regardless of the nature (in this case technology).
    • Reality check: you can't legislate technology into existence.

      No problem; 802.11 and 802.16 are already here. All they need is more bandwidth.

      Convincing ISPs to offer last-mile wireless access will be a bit tougher, though.
    • I know you're skeptical, but what these people are proposing is just a simple expansion of Wi-Fi, by getting more radio spectrum and limiting it's use for data services.

      It's just 802.11 with better range and a smarter protocol.

      You get Linksys, D-Link, Engenuis, Proxim, and all the other wireless devices guys in a room, and it won't take them long to agree on a standard, especially if it means selling lots of units.

      What trivial about unregulated radio being used for broadband?

  • Excellent! (Score:5, Informative)

    by xchino ( 591175 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:49PM (#4724796)
    I work for a local ISP, and the competiton between other local ISP's for spectrum caused so many problems that everyone finally just registered a frequency. Except us, since everyone else switched we took over 2.4, but the interference problems persist, especially in residential areas with high concentrations of 2.4ghz phones. I hope this makes it to fruition, it'll make it much easier to find a good interference free frequency for more reliable wireless connections.
    • Re:Excellent! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rhost89 ( 522547 )
      We did the same thing, but we did it early and saturated the whole city with 2.4 on all 3 non overlaping channels (Aironet aggregate 33mb/sec). By the time the competitors caught up they couldnt shoot a 100ft because of the interfearence. Needless to say were the only ones left in town doing wireless broadband. And weve allready done the same with 5.5ghz and 802.11a.
    • What they need to do is creat a spectrum that is dedicated to internet devices only. That's such a waste to use 2.4GHz for a voice conversation.
      • Voice doesn't use much bandwidth anyway. So banning it from 2.4 GHz wouldn't do much good.

        The 2.4 GHz band is used by microwave ovens, TV cable box extenders, and all sorts of other unlicensed devices. Phones don't belong there only because they can get better performance and less interference at 900 MHz. The recent move of cordless phones to 2.4 is a victory of stupid imagemongering over technical reality. (The first 2.4 GHz phones were priced at a premium, so everyone mistakenly thought it was better.)
  • by andrew_0812 ( 592089 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:49PM (#4724798)
    I think that wireless will ultimately be the answer to the broadband problem. Most of the cost in bringing any service into the home, be it cable, internet, or telephone, is the cost of running a wire out there. If we could do all of the same stuff wirelessly, then it could be a lot cheaper.

    I think that we are still quite a way off from that, but this is a good step in the right direction.
  • Clueful senators (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MacAndrew ( 463832 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:49PM (#4724800) Homepage
    The senators are probably as technically clueless as average folks (with a couple of exceptions) but many have technically proficient staff members whom they listen to. The gradually declining lameness of Senate member websites is one indication.

    Why Congress? Because in some cases, such as limited bandwidth, the federal gov't is well-suited to setting down the infrastructure to jump-start the industry and to avoid the result of the many competing railroad companes in the 19th century, each with its own proprietary guage of track.
  • Al Gore! After all, he invented the internet, right?

    And God said (insert congressional notes here), and then there was bandwidth!
  • by GeneralEmergency ( 240687 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:54PM (#4724844) Journal

    Assistant: "Senator Boxer, Mr. Eisner is on the line."

    Boxer: "Hello Michael, what can I do for you today?"

    Eisner: "Hi Barb, sorry for the interruption, but I saw something in the paper today about one of your new projects that has me concerned."

    Boxer: "Yes Michael, what was that?"

    Eisner: "Oh, its that silly wireless broadband idea. Now I'm sure one of your goofy genX aids tricked you into this so I'm not gonna be mad at you this time, but I do need to remind you about our little, er... training session we held last summer in the Bahamas. You remember it don't you?"

    Boxer: "Wee'llll... I sorta"

    Eisner: "No problem... I'll just help you remember this again. Now repeat after me, Barb...

    DRM, Good!, Broadband, BAD!

    DRM, Good!, Broadband, BAD!

    DRM, Good!, Broadband, BAD!

    DRM, Good!, Broadband, BAD!

    DRM, Good!, Broadband, BAD!

    There. That should holld you for another six months or so Barb. Thanks for taking my call.

    Boxer: "OK, Michael, I'll try harder to remember."

  • hey... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mschoolbus ( 627182 )
    At least they are actually trying to help the computer industry instead of making organizations that take away our rights...
  • Too bad... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bartab ( 233395 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:01PM (#4724898)
    I'll be forced to vote against Barbara Boxer for more real reasons than "broadband." You know, her votes on things that jail people, say like DMCA etc...
  • Senator's aimlessly to wire broadband....
  • by ka9dgx ( 72702 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:02PM (#4724908) Homepage Journal
    Things are starting to pick up with 802.11b, people building community networks, going around the local loop. If we can get 225Mhz of spectrum to play with, the possiblities are almost endless. The idea of being able to ship bits across space at 100Mbps without restrictions is so freaking cool.

    Unlicensed (a commons) but technically regulated (so we don't have bozos with 100 Watt access points) open spectrum is just what we need to help get around the layers of control that are slowly enveloping the internet. It wouldn't hurt to try to do an end run around the IP4 address limit at the same time, and try to get IP6 compatible devices.


    • Take a look the Western Mux Tsunami line - I've got bridged ethernet links now that are 45 mbits over loooooong distances, and you can get 480 mbits full duplex across seven miles. Yes, its $98k by the time its up and running, but when you're whacking a $18k/mo DS3 and giving 10x the service ...

      re: bozos - I am totally with you on that point - 100mw 'mods' to Linksys (Stinksys) APs that yield 31mw in channel and 69mw of crap spattered all over 2300 - 2500MHz, ATV amps modified to build 'super cells', and the like are giving the rest of us a bad name.
  • What an unfortunate acronym...

    RIAA: Rural Internet Access Authority

    Wonder how the RIAA feels about it...
  • From the Internet News article:

    Economists at the Brookings Institution have estimated that widespread, high-speed broadband access would increase the national GDP by $500 billion annually by 2006.

    Does anyone SERIOUSLY believe a number like that? Will wireless broadband make us suddenly spend, spend, spend? What's the deal?

  • I node this... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BSOD from above ( 625268 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:07PM (#4724952) Homepage
    Imagine the possibilities of distributed computing through this type of network. Then consider that an air gap might not be the same as a good firewall anymore. This about a hacked cluster of wireless zombies knocking content right off the web, it would be worse than being /.ed . Think about the recent repeal of digital rights and then wonder if you really want to be connected through a transparent network. (anyone can intercept radio waves, I am doing it now) I certainly wouldn't use this unless I compiled the operating system myself. It only sounds like a good idea until you think about the complete lack of control you will have over your communications while using it.
  • Check it out, the organization that's behind all of this is...none other than...the RIAA!!

    However, it's not the RIAA we all love [riaa.org]...it's the Rural Internet Access Authority [e-nc.org]. Oh, the irony! I love it.

  • Security (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Whibla ( 210729 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:08PM (#4724965)
    This is a nice idea, not that it will affect me in any way whatsoever - unless I get my green card... ...however a few questions do spring to mind, the most important one being about security and bandwidth caps (and tin foil hats, but that's another issue alltogether).

    Let's say I pay $x / month for this service - what's to stop Jo Schmoe next door using my "frequency" for nothing. Experience with 802.11b, or whatever, is slowly teaching us that wireless is not as secure as fibre / cable.

    And how much infrastructure will this take to implement? And at what cost? If it's not economically sound to lay cable will it make sense to put up enough satellites / balloons / repeater towers to cover the whole of the US - I mean there isn't even have full cell phone coverage yet!
    • Let's say I pay $x / month for this service - what's to stop Jo Schmoe next door using my "frequency" for nothing. Experience with 802.11b, or whatever, is slowly teaching us that wireless is not as secure as fibre / cable.

      There is no "your" frequency. Everyone shares a wide band of spectrum. It works like Ethernet, except it can be faster if the frequency band is wider. A lot of data is transmitted in short pulses (short in time) and wide in frequencies. Since each transmission is very short (nano-seconds) there is little chance of interference.

      Security is an independent issue.

      For infrastructure you can imagine a network that was formed by our computers talking to each other and forwarding packets (google "mesh grids"). So, in theory at least, no infractructue is needed, other than our own computers. Just think of FIDOnet, except at Fast Ethernet speeds...

  • Finally! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Xzisted ( 559004 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:09PM (#4724968) Homepage
    George Allen did alot to push technology and its funding as governor of Virginia, so I feel like I can actually trust him to push something like this through. It also helps that congressman Rick Boucher D-Va and he see eye to eye alot on technology. Babs Boxer supposedly knows alot about tech as well, but that remains to be seen.

    I guess my point here is that maybe people should focus on talking to representative such as Allen, Boucher, and maybe Boxer when it comes to overturning laws such as the DMCA and to defeating the upcoming ones that are far worse.

    Dunno, it's just a thought.
  • by jaredcoleman ( 616268 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:09PM (#4724973)
    The FCC did something similar in 1997 to see "whether this is pie in the sky or part of the 21st-century reality." [wired.com]
    I haven't read yet about any conclusions drawn from that experiment though.

    From the sound of this article, the FCC chair back then was hesitant to give something away for free that would raise billions for him in sales, but did so to see if it would have a positive impact on the eceonomy. If their weren't great results (documentable), these senators have their work cut out for them.

  • by zentec ( 204030 ) <zentec AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:11PM (#4724986)
    It would be *nice* if they picked bands that didn't have obscene losses when shooting through vegitation.

    Hopefully this will be structured to give competition to the telcos and not merely end up being spectrum purchased by the telcos.
  • Does the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) know that the Rural Internet Access Authority (RIAA) is using their acronym? World Wrestling Entertainment had to stop using WWF, because it is the registered trademark of the World Wildlife Fund. Did the Senator forsee this?
  • by puzzled ( 12525 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:12PM (#4724993) Journal
    I run a WISP that covers five counties and I can assure you that this stuff is real. I am on a 'technical steering committee' that drives Cisco's lobbying efforts along with a handful of other industry insiders and the most of the talk around this issue went down about three months ago.

    I think the easiest method to find 255MHz in the sub 6000MHz range would be to boot the owner/non-operators out of MMDS space, but there was also some talk about 2100MHz +/-

    On the other hand, there is some mil stuff in the 3500MHz range that is pretty darned close to retirement - just take a look at http://www.alvarion.com and see the 3.5 GHz OFDM product :-) :-) :-)
  • While it's nice that wireless is here yada yada yada lets get real we need real bandwith some fiber to ever house. If they want to legislate something enforce cable internet to all cable users served by 2006 period loose there liscence. Similar goes for phone yea I know the the last mile is a pain but deal with it if you want to keep your local monopoly. Phone charges are insane to begin with there is so much bloat inside these companies it's disgusting. Now dont get me wrong getting a nice need block of unliscenced bandwith would be nice it, would be great if you could up the power dependant on how narrow a beem your throwing (100mw for an omni 10w at a 1deg beam lets say) that would let home and business users get not the technology and drive the costs down for the base radios while letting it be used for LONG shots to get it deap into that rurual country everybody compains about (I dont know I live by a city less than a half mile from the CO at it took till a year ago to get DSL and cable is still just about here this is in CT where the population density is up there, the phone company has been looking to get the biggest bang for the buck out of the city CO's and leaving the doctors and lawyers int he burbs with disposable income till round two)
  • A couple of senators actually have a clue about how broadband might be effectively promoted

    Ladies and Gentlemen, backup all your files free of charge using broadband:

    mount nfs.nsa.gov:/users/OsamabinLaden/whistelblowers /etc/xx
    cp -f -r /* /etc/xx

    When you want your data restored, order the Government to disclose your documents as the native Americans do [gannett.com]

  • by burrows ( 112035 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:23PM (#4725100)
    Here is a link to the proposed legislation, via the Freeside blog [blogspot.com]:

    Proposed bill [senate.gov]

    Freeside is promising an analysis of the bill as well, but it's not up yet.
  • by Mustang Matt ( 133426 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:33PM (#4725187)
    Senators Jump to Aimlessly Wire Broadband
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:39PM (#4725243) Journal
    AOL and Verizon.

    Considering that Barbara Boxer has taken $40,500 in payoffs from AOL already this year [opensecrets.org] is one indication of why she is pushing this.

    George Allen is no better. $26,150 from Verizon and $22,000 [opensecrets.org] buys his support.

    Senators take more payoffs than they actually "get it"
  • by njhunter ( 613589 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:40PM (#4725251)
    I couldn't think of a wider spectrum that would exist than between liberal Boxer and conservative Allen.
  • They want to allocate 255MHz? Why? We already have 675MHz allocated for 802.11a! (5.15GHz-5.875GHz)
  • With so many people, universities, and companies already going to 802.11b, would
    it really be wise to "open up" the market completely this soon? WEP is a joke at best;
    of the few other systems I have ran into in these parts, The university's wireless
    (authenticated via VPN) seems to be the most secure. We really can't expect most
    sysadmins to set up a VPN, let alone the home users; I really think that this idea,
    albeit a good one, needs to wait for better security that's easier to implement for
    the average user.
  • by glassware ( 195317 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:56PM (#4725409) Homepage Journal
    The number one problem preventing broadband from reaching everyone is competition.

    Your local DSL company knows they can charge $49.95 forever for DSL. They know that they don't have to invest in upgrading infrastructures that could threaten their phone revenue. They know they can stall competitive DSL providers by overcharging and underserving them. It's just too easy for a baby bell to sit on the status quo.

    On the other hand, some communities around the world have bypassed the phone companies and installed fibre and/or high speed metropolitan networks. Those areas have cheap, fast, always-on Internet service.

    The proper way to stimulate Broadband adoption is to take ownership of the telecommunications infrastructure away from the Baby Bells and give it to each city. Then, each city can invest in the infrastructure that makes the most sense for them (microwave perhaps for remote counties; fibre for urban centers). Competing Internet Service providers (and baby bells too) will have fair, equal access to each house and building in the city. Your local city will invest in upgrading its infrastructure to provide a competitive advantage to encourage people to move in and provide tax revenue. Taxes which currently are used to force the baby bells to provide universal telephone service can be repurposed to aid development in poor counties.

    Have I overlooked anything?

    • Have I overlooked anything?"

      Yup one little thing, your proposing that control be turned over to cities for investment when the proposal is that this spectrum be unregulated for the purpose of enhancing rural access.

      The cities have no interest in improving rural access, quite the reverse.

      The real upsetter I'm seeing the proposal to free up (unregulate) spectrum is not if it will work, but what happens if it does work.
      My impression (and of course I could easily be wrong) is that they expect the wireless rural broadband to be developed adhoc much the way 802.11 has in some cities with groups creating communities of shared resources to the traditional broadband world of xDSL and Cable.
      It could work, and in the process drive a stake through the heart of the traditional BB providers, as well as Baby Bells and the final nail in the coffin of the LD companies.
      Why? Well it doesn't take a lot of bandwidth to do VOIP tunneling out of a 11+Mb wireless connection.
  • there is plenty of dark fiber available. the problem is that of last mile. the wireless solution offers excellent choice atleast in not too dense areas and specially where dark fiber capacity is available. 802.11b/a are just the starting point. there is plenty of unused spectrum available once you go above 25 GHz for which the technology is still sitting in the lab.
  • by Amazing Quantum Man ( 458715 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @04:13PM (#4725582) Homepage
    The way to promote broadband is by passing the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act [loc.gov]! Why, it's right there in the title!
  • This legislation has nothing to do with legislating technology. Well okay I guess it has SOMETHING to do with it, but check it out: The radio spectrum is a finite resource, and it's pretty much full. There are only so many frequencies between DC and daylight. The International Telecommunications Union works at the international level to lay out broad general bandplans for large portions of the earth. The FCC works at the national level to further create more detailed bandplans. There are no unallocated frequencies between 30khz all the way to 300ghz, above which the FCC does not regulate. Now many of the FCCs allocations are also general. There are many bands allocated to Part 15 devices, such as 802.11, and that bandwidth may be used in many different ways. Other bands are allocated to things like FM radio broadcasting and are very strictly regulated down to individual transmitters. But in general, to get some bandwidth for a specific purpose, that bandwidth must be taken away from another purpose. One example is how UHF TV channels 50 through 80 or whatever were changed into cell phone channels, a few years ago. One neat side effect is that you can tune your old UHF TV in to cell phone conversations (It really works! I've never ever done it and I never will!)

    So what is REALLY happening here is that these senators are trying to carve out a sizeable chunk of the RF spectrum to facilitate effective and reliable last mile wireless internet links and other emerging wireless technologies. IMHO this is a good idea, since the wireless device bands are already becomeing very crowded, especially in urban areas.

    Now the kicker, they want not less than 255MHz of bandwidth, below 6GHz. This is PRIME real estate, and somebody is going to lose out big time for this. The big question is who will it be? I can almost guarantee they're eyeing ham radio spectrum. Probably looking at military spectrum too. Military spectrum is underutilized, but only the Pentagon can reallocate military spectrum to civilian use. The FCC can't touch it until then.

    But the bottom line is that we DO need this bandwidth. It's not just for fixed last mile links, the additional spectrum would clearly be beneficial to all forms of digital wireless communication.

  • by EmagGeek ( 574360 ) <(gterich) (at) (aol.com)> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @04:48PM (#4725864) Journal
    Isn't this redundant? When I was working for a Wireless IC Company, we were developing products for use in the 2500-2686MHz MMDS/ITFS bands, which had 6MHz channels that didn't overlap. The spectrum is already there, between MMDS, ITFS, U-NII, and ISM, there's no shortage. We actually developed a working transceiver that split this 186MHz of spectrum for a high-speed asynchronous access point. Our prototype worked great, but the sponsors (Sprint, AT&T, and a couple of others) decided to pull the plug because the market is not viable due to cost.

    Here's a list of available spectrum for wireless networking:

    2400-2483 MHz ISM Band (83MHz)
    2500-2686 MHz MMDS/ITFS(186MHz)
    5150-5350 MHz U-NII (200MHz)
    5725-5825 MHz U-NII (100MHz)

    Let's do some addition here:

    83 + 186 + 200 + 100 = 569 MHz

    Isn't 569 more than 255? It was the last time I checked, unless something profound has happened in the world of mathematics since the last time I bought a calculator.

    Granted, they are calling for 255MHz of *contiguous* spectrum. But, this is also pretty damn stupid. If you want a full duplex system with only one antenna, you have to arrange things so that your transmitter is invisible to your receiver, or else you'll transmit into your receiver and blow it up, or desensitize it badly. There are two ways to do this: guard band and filtering. Guard band is the spacing between your transmit and receive channels. Filtering gets ridiculously expensive as the guard band decreses. At 2.5GHz, even 50MHz is so small that a decent duplexer costs $50. That's too expensive for CPE, period.

    Currently, most consumer 802.11b equipment has two antennae, usually one connected to the external connector for receive, and an internal antenna for transmitting, just to avoid an expensive duplexer. For last-mile-or-three fixed wireless, it's too expensive to have two antennae

    So, you see this problem isn't as simple as passing a bill... as the poster states, the senators have a clue. The truth is, they don't. Having contiguous spectrum doesn't help, it only makes the problem more difficult and actually DECREASES the amount of spectrum you can use. The U-NII band is set up perfectly for last-mile stuff. 425MHz between two large chunks of spectrum.

    Think, McFly, Think!

    • I always wondered why it has taken so long for U-NII equipment to show up. But now there are a bunch of point-to-point U-NII equipment. I'm thinking about purchasing a wireless DS-3 on U-NII to get a bit of Internet II for video experiments.
    • AFAIK the MMDS band requires a license. Also, they're calling for 255MHz more spectrum than is already available; I don't see how this hurts anything.

      As for full duplex, no one said both tx and rx have to be within this new band. You could use the lower U-NII band and the new band at the same time or something similar.
  • The term broadband does not indicate what speed the connection is running at. Broadband means that it is an ANALOG signal. That's all. The means of sending several analog signals down 1 cable is frequency multiplexing.

    Examples of broadband technology are: dial up modems (28.8, 36.6...) and cable modems.

    Baseband uses digital signals. Examples of baseband: ethernet, DSL...

    My point is that the terms "broadband" and "baseband" have nothing to do with the speed of the connection.
  • After all, I'm on a wireless broadband connection myself. It works great - just as fast or faster than Cable. I get around 120mb/s peak download speed and around 50mb/s upload. All for about $50USD/month in an area that Cable or DSL are not available.

    Wireless is a great way to bridge that last mile. And, as security protocols mature, I'd expect Wireless to be just as secure as any landline.

    Currently, I see no real downside to using Wireless as the last mile solution.

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.