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Bloomberg reports that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has voted to open up unused portions of the television broadcast frequency spectrum, known as white spaces, for unlicensed uses, paving the way for the development of technologies such as cellular communications and broad-range Wi-Fi networks to take advantage of the frequencies.
The radio waves travel in the spectrum between television channels known as white spaces, and like TV signals they carry far and penetrate walls. Uses may include wireless Internet connections, remote monitoring of industrial systems such as power plants, and taking over some mobile-phone traffic to ease sluggishness for users of devices such as Apple Inc.'s iPhone.
PC World takes a look at the potential for white space usage for Wi-Fi networks, calling the possibilities "Wi-Fi on steroids".
Compared to standard wireless networks today that have a range of about a football field--assuming no obstacles are obstructing the signal, the white space networking is like Wi-Fi on steroids. Like television signals, the white space networks will have a range of several miles and can travel through walls.
Many observers are optimistic that the possibility for usage of the television frequencies without requiring FCC licenses will stimulate significant innovation in new technologies for wireless access. Several companies, including Microsoft and Google, have already embraced the new spectrum availability and are quickly pushing forward to deliver new options for wireless data access, beginning with test projects on their own campuses.

Article Link: 'White Space' Airwaves Opened for Future Cellular and Wi-Fi Enhancements
 

r.j.s

Moderator emeritus
Mar 7, 2007
15,026
51
Texas
What kind of antenna will you need to broadcast in those white spaces? Given that current TV antennae (xmit) are quite large ...
 
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Mr. Chewbacca

Contributor
Apr 27, 2010
876
85
Dallas TX
Can you imagine the size of the wifi list if you were in a big city, I guess your device would have to pick the top 100.

Can you filter to only looks for open networks?
 
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ShiftyPig

macrumors 6502a
Aug 24, 2008
567
0
AU
About time the FCC quit worrying about boobs during the Super Bowl and did something useful.
 
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baryon

macrumors 68040
Oct 3, 2009
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2,135
Yeah, I never understood this: you can receive radio broadcast signals anywhere you are, so why can't the same technology be used for WiFi and mobile phones? We're constantly struggling because of bad WiFi and mobile signals. Is it because portable devices would be unable to send such long distance signals back (uplink) due to their limited power, thus limited range? Because radios and TVs only receive data (downlink), but don't send anything back.
 
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r.j.s

Moderator emeritus
Mar 7, 2007
15,026
51
Texas
Yeah, I never understood this: you can receive radio broadcast signals anywhere you are, so why can't the same technology be used for WiFi and mobile phones? We're constantly struggling because of bad WiFi and mobile signals. Is it because portable devices would be unable to send such long distance signals back (uplink) due to their limited power, thus limited range? Because radios and TVs only receive data (downlink), but don't send anything back.

Yes, partially. Those devices are receive only, for one, and two, the bandwidth required is really small.
 
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Flipstar

macrumors member
Jun 21, 2007
63
0
Definitely a bad day for people (me) who work in tv/film/broadcast/theatre.
 
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jpyc7

macrumors 6502
Mar 8, 2009
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Denver, CO
What kind of antenna will you need to broadcast in those white spaces? Given that current TV antennae (xmit) are quite large ...

I didn't confirm the calculation, but a quarter-length wavelength antenna for 54 MHz would be 52 inches long.
 
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jayducharme

macrumors 601
Jun 22, 2006
4,026
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The thick of it
I've been waiting for this announcement for years. There's been so much behind-the-scenes haggling. I know that Verizon and AT&T were trying to buy up a lot of that spectrum. Hopefully there will soon be devices that can take advantage of it, with multiple data providers to compete with the monolithic telecom companies. It will be nice to have another option for accessing the Internet in my area besides Verizon and Comcast.
 
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LethalWolfe

macrumors G3
Jan 11, 2002
9,368
119
Los Angeles
Yeah, I never understood this: you can receive radio broadcast signals anywhere you are, so why can't the same technology be used for WiFi and mobile phones? We're constantly struggling because of bad WiFi and mobile signals. Is it because portable devices would be unable to send such long distance signals back (uplink) due to their limited power, thus limited range? Because radios and TVs only receive data (downlink), but don't send anything back.
The white space is used as a buffer zone between broadcast frequencies to help reduce the chance of station A's signal interfering with station B's signal. Now that the white space is going to be 'populated' the buffer is gone so the chances of devices interfering with each other will be much higher. Interference is the number one concern of people that don't want the white space to disappear.


Lethal
 
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jpyc7

macrumors 6502
Mar 8, 2009
276
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Denver, CO
The white space is used as a buffer zone between broadcast frequencies to help reduce the chance of station A's signal interfering with station B's signal. Now that the white space is going to be 'populated' the buffer is gone so the chances of devices interfering with each other will be much higher. Interference is the number one concern of people that don't want the white space to disappear.


Lethal

Although you are correct, this is why this change was approved by FCC after US TV has transitioned to digital transmission. The TV signals are using error correction that was not available when the spectrum was used for analog transmission. Mind you, the TV broadcasters are/were still complaining, but clearly they lost the vote.
 
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al2o3cr

macrumors regular
Oct 14, 2009
210
0
Yawn. Based on the lists here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_channel_frequencies

We're talking about using the empty spaces in a set of channels that's only 432 MHz wide AT BEST. (that's adding up the VHF bands and the UHF bands - note that not all of this will be usable, as there are TV stations)

Yeah, I can't WAIT to share a 432 Mbps connection with my 50,000+ neighbors. This would have been a great technology 10+ years ago, but now it's just going to provide another source of too-limited, too-expensive bandwidth.
 
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Swift

macrumors 68000
Feb 18, 2003
1,777
931
Los Angeles
And One More Thing...

Steve Jobs calls a press conference announcing the Apple HD, which is a series of monitors with iOS, ethernet, and a WiFi home network, which connects to the Internet through these white space frequencies. It shows every form of video possible, and runs iApps for games and video and live. You can, of course, plug cable, optical and satellite into your Apple HD, and of course, it has an antenna. All around the edge, a strip of stainless liquid steel. Great reception of all the frequencies, for networking, Internet and playback, live, recorded and streaming. Watch where you touch it, though.

Make it moderately cheap. Concentrate on the digital sources. Control it with an iPhone or an iPad.

What you have to do is end run around the current networks and IPs, who are playing the monopoly game. That's the only way to market. Otherwise billionaires will just slice-and-dice the Internet and the increased freedom it gives us, and spit it out.
 
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rjohnstone

macrumors 68040
Dec 28, 2007
3,746
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PHX, AZ.
Yeah, I never understood this: you can receive radio broadcast signals anywhere you are, so why can't the same technology be used for WiFi and mobile phones? We're constantly struggling because of bad WiFi and mobile signals. Is it because portable devices would be unable to send such long distance signals back (uplink) due to their limited power, thus limited range? Because radios and TVs only receive data (downlink), but don't send anything back.
That's the limitation.
A WiFi on steroids scenario would require the receiving device to also be able to send a signal back the the base station.
This would require a lot of power if that base station is more than one or two miles away.
Most hand held devices transmitting power is measured in milliwatts.
They are not designed to send a signal long distances.
 
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Swift

macrumors 68000
Feb 18, 2003
1,777
931
Los Angeles
Although you are correct, this is why this change was approved by FCC after US TV has transitioned to digital transmission. The TV signals are using error correction that was not available when the spectrum was used for analog transmission. Mind you, the TV broadcasters are/were still complaining, but clearly they lost the vote.

Yeah, and this technically unusable spectrum would have suddenly been commercially exploited by the stations. If only the FCC had just let them alone. Boo-hoo.
 
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crackermac

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Sep 14, 2007
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hayduke said:
People still receive television over the air? Really?

That's all I have. I'm not paying for TV when I already pay for my Internet service where I can get most of my programs for free (and netflix).
 
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bommai

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May 23, 2003
673
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Melbourne, FL
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That's all I have. I'm not paying for TV when I already pay for my Internet service where I can get most of my programs for free (and netflix).

Me too. If we are still dealing with crappy analog SD signal, I would not be doing it. But HDTV OTA is awesome. Most of the time better than satellite and cable signals. I live in Melbourne, Florida and receive all OTA signals from Orlando (38 miles away). I receive 41 digital channels OTA for free. Great quality.
 
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dolphin842

macrumors 65816
Jul 14, 2004
1,172
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Good to finally see some action on this, but sadly some FCC members are already using this as an excuse to say that net neutrality and ISP competition issues are now 'solved' and don't merit any more discussion :rolleyes:.
 
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Swift

macrumors 68000
Feb 18, 2003
1,777
931
Los Angeles
What kind of antenna will you need to broadcast in those white spaces? Given that current TV antennae (xmit) are quite large ...

I think it would work in a peer-to-peer environment. Right now, if I look on my normal wi-fi and search for others, I come up with about a dozen. Now, you're sending and receiving Internet packets, so you only have to get that to the clearest station within your area. Then the packet would redirect until it gets to the Internet portal. A distributed system, where you're always looking for the Internet -- or, if your buddy wants to share files, tunnel over to him.

As going from town to country, build a couple of relays out on the rural route and Farmer Jones has better access than you do. He has fewer neighbors, so he'd need more than nearby peers, but there's rural Internet, at low prices.

The other thing that should be done is to allow municipalities to get into providing Internet via the power system, by this means, or whatever.

IPs have to lose their monopolies.
 
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transmaster

macrumors 6502
Feb 1, 2010
300
5
This is going to be a disaster

No controls, no band plan, no standards, this is going to be a total cluster Fudge. The FCC is clueless as usual The usual big players will muscle everybody else out.
 
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Swift

macrumors 68000
Feb 18, 2003
1,777
931
Los Angeles
Me too. If we are still dealing with crappy analog SD signal, I would not be doing it. But HDTV OTA is awesome. Most of the time better than satellite and cable signals. I live in Melbourne, Florida and receive all OTA signals from Orlando (38 miles away). I receive 41 digital channels OTA for free. Great quality.

Now, imagine that Internet also came with it. Not the best, I'm sure, but now your IP would be competing against free. He'd have to give more for less than before.
 
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