The federal government wants to create super WiFi networks across the nation, says the Washington Post, so that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month.
The proposal from the FCC has apparently rattled the $178 billion wireless industry, which has launched a fierce lobbying effort to persuade policymakers to reconsider the idea, analysts say.
The CTIA, in its comments to the FCC, “urges the FCC to first place a high priority on making any reclaimed broadcast spectrum available for licensed use”. The commission should then develop a band plan “that maximizes the amount of spectrum made available without inhibiting or interfering with existing systems,” the CTIA said.
An equally intense campaign from Google, Microsoft and other tech giants, say additional unlicensed spectrum would spark an explosion of innovations and devices that would benefit most Americans, especially the poor.
The major wireless carriers own much more spectrum than what is being proposed for public use by the FCC, say advocates. Carrier-controlled spectrum allows more power and is available more universally. It can be used by many devices and is available exclusively to the carriers.
Wireless carriers are also planning to “usurp” the “free” Wi-Fi band by using roaming-enabled, Hotspot 2.0 technology. That could eliminate public hotspots that were once free, say advocates of more unlicensed spectrum.
The FCC band plan would maximize the amount of paired spectrum made available for the forward auction by offering equal amounts of uplink and downlink in paired 5×5 MHz blocks, with the paired uplink constituting the upper channels adjacent to the lower 700 MHz band to minimize interference problems.
The FCC proposes 6-MHz “guard” bands to prevent interference between mobile broadband services and broadcast TV services, spectrum that would be made available for unlicensed use.
Fully four years after adopting rules for unlicensed TV Band Devices (TVBDs), also called “white spaces”, the FCC has authorized (pdf) roll-out beyond the two small test areas previously approved.
Touted by advocates as “Wi-Fi on steroids,” unlicensed TV Band Devices can now boot up in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, and North Carolina.
The FCC was expected to extend authorization nationwide by mid-January.
The first commercial White Spaces network in the U.S. launched in January, 2012, in North Carolina. So far, the FCC has only approved one white spaces device — a 1.5-lb. rectangular-shaped radio from Florida-based KTS Wireless.
The KTS device, used in the Hanover NC network, is a small, last-mile, transmitter. It uses the company’s frequency agile radio. It received FCC approval Dec. 26, last year, making it the first unlicensed transmitter allowed to operate in the TV band.
Cognitive radio chips are used by the two major white space standards groups; IEEE 802.11af and IEEE 802.22. The maximum possible data rate per 6-MHz channel ranges from 18 to 22 Mbits/s. The 802.22 spec was designed for fixed rural use, operating on 6 MHz wide channels. In contrast, the 802.11af standard can aggregate channels into 5, 10, and 20 MHz bandwidths, and is designed for both mobile and fixed devices.
But “super wifi”, occupying unused broadcast television frequencies, seem unlikely to challange the big carriers. The channels are only 6 Mhz wide and limited to 100 milliwatts for mobile devices. Machine to machine communications might be a large user of the unlicensed spectrum since the 600 MHz spectrum could penetrate foliage and walls, but don’t need high speed connections.
The commission also seeks to free up 195 Mhz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band, the largest block of unlicensed spectrum to be made free for WiFi expansion since 2003, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski revealed.
In related news, the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, recently advised the administration that some 1000 MHz of federal spectrum, especially between 2.7 GHz and 3.7 GHz, may be shared using similar White Space interrogation technology.
The 3550-3650 MHz band is mostly used by Navy radar. Devices will be able to share the frequencies with the government if they incorporate geographic location information and interrogate data bases before they transmit. The Navy’s SPY-1 phased-array radar, used for missile tracking, uses 3.1-3.5 GHz.
Related Dailywireless articles include; War 2.0 for Unlicensed Spectrum, Congressional Battle over Unlicensed Spectrum, FCC: TV Auction in 2014, Spectrum War: Unlicensed, Shared and Auctioned, White Space Radio using 802.11af Demoed, FCC: TV Auction in 2014 , FCC Dishes Dirt, Talks Up 3.5 GHz, Spectrum Bridge Partners with Carlson Wireless, Incentive Auctions: Going Nuclear, AT&T Fears FCC’s Incentive Auction Plans, FCC Moves on TV Frequency Auction, Google and Microsoft Want UK White Space?, Microsoft Announced Narrow Channel Whitespace, Microsoft Announced Narrow Channel Whitespace, FCC Authorizes White Space Service in Wilmington, Genachowski Lobbies for Unlicensed White Spaces, Universal Service Reform Passed, Microsoft Announced Narrow Channel Whitespace,