AWS-3 Auction: Nov 2014

Posted by Sam Churchill on

The FCC last week updated rules for use of the AWS-3 spectrum that will be auctioned to commercial cellular operators on November 13, 2014, notes RCR Wireless.

The FCC in late March released its initial AWS-3 rules. The FCC’s Report and Order sets flexible-use regulatory, licensing, and technical rules for 65 megahertz of spectrum in the AWS-3 band, which includes the 1695-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz, and 2155-2180 MHz bands.

The licensed spectrum will include three 5×5 megahertz options, leaving just a single 10×10 megahertz license covering the country. The unlicensed spectrum will use the 1755-1780 MHz bands.

the FCC detailed the AWS-3 rules in mid-May, noting that there would not be any limitations on bidding eligibility. Verizon showed strong interest in the band, while Sprint has hinted that it may skip the AWS-3 proceedings.

The aggregate reserve price for the 1695-1710 MHz band is $580 million with a separate aggregate reserve price for the paired 1755-1780 MHz/2155-2180 MHz bands of approximately $10.07 billion. Some spectrum is being reallocated from federal use in the 1695-1710 MHz and 1755-1780 MHz bands. The FCC will assign new licenses for the AWS-3 spectrum by competitive bidding.

In its AWS-3 transition plan released earlier this month, NTIA estimates total relocation and sharing costs for the 1695-1710 MHz band at $527.1 million and for the 1755-1780 MHz band at $4.576 billion. The spectrum at 2155-2180 MHz is in FCC hands and ready for auction. The 1695-1710 MHz band will be unpaired spectrum used for low-power uplink operations. The 1755-1780 MHz band will be licensed for low-power uplink operations and will be paired with the 2155-2180 MHz band for downlink operations.

As previously included in AWS-3 rulemaking, the FCC also reiterated that companies that gain access to spectrum licenses will have to put up with potential interference from federal users in the 1755-1780 MHz bands that are set to be cleared of federal users as part of the auction process.

The protection zone addition did not go over well with FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who fired off a formal letter stating his objection to the process. Pai’s objections centered on the lack of information regarding the location of the protection zones.

Related Dailywireless articles include; FCC Sets AWS-3 Auction Rules, AWS-3 Auction Rules: Who Benefits?, Dish Wins Everything in H-Block PCS Auction, Verizon Activates AWS Band , DOJ Sets Conditions for Verizon AWS, Verizon Getting AWS Spectrum Says WSJ, T-Mobile Okayed to Test Spectrum Sharing, Verizon’s Spectrum Deal: Tough Nut, AT&T Buys 2.3 GHz from NextWave, AT&T Wants 2.3 GHz for LTE, FCC to Okay Verizon/Cable Spectrum Buy,

Unlimited Voice Not Data, New Normal

Posted by Sam Churchill on

A few years ago, cellular companies charged for each call their customers made and gave most of them unlimited data, notes

Now carriers have effectively flipped their business model, with most people now getting unlimited calling and texting and paying for the size of data plans they want.

That transition in the U.S. is now largely complete, with the industry having managed to keep its profits high, while changing the way it does business, says Recode.

A new study from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners finds Verizon has navigated that shift best, with the fewest customers still on unlimited data. Some 51 percent of Verizon customers play more than $100 per month, including 14 percent that pay upward of $200 per month, according to the survey. The same survey found that just 22 percent of Verizon customers have an unlimited data plan, compared with 44 percent for AT&T and 78 percent for both Sprint and T-Mobile.

According to new research from Allot Communications, 85% of operators across the globe now have some sort of “value-based” pricing plan, whether it be shared data, zero-rating apps (free limited data), or a partnership with an over-the-top provider.

More mobile operators are choosing to collaborate with OTT app and content providers. 37% of operators had at least one OTT partnership, up from 26% in 2012. Facebook is the top free social media access app. It allows operators to attract more subscribers, keep them engaged and reduce churn.

Europe is leading the pack with service innovation, followed by Latin America and North America, according to Allot.

France’s Free Mobile is a good example of potential disruption in pricing that could come to the United States.

More than 8 million consumers flocked to Free Mobile as Orange and France’s two other wireless operators, Vivendi’s SFR and Bouygues suffered steep declines in sales. In April, Vivendi vacated the market altogether by selling SFR to Luxembourg-based Altice in a deal valued at 17 billion euros, reports Bloomberg.

Free offers 20 GB/mo 4G service along with unlimited voice and messaging for $US27/month. The Freebox Revolution router, which delivers a triple play of broadband, TV and landline telephone calls to Iliad’s 6 million subscribers, is a big reason Iliad’s stock returned 151 percent in the three years ended on June 24.

France owns 28.4 percent of Orange, previously France Telecom, which is Europe’s fourth-biggest telecom operator. Some in the government were concerned that Iliad did NOT charge higher prices. Orange has decided not to pursue a merger within the marketplace despite encouragement from the French government.

Orange and Bouygues Telecom, France’s third-largest mobile provider, had discussed partnership to buy SFR, but now Altice will merge SFR, France’s second-largest mobile provider, with its French cable unit Numericable.

GoAntenna: 10 Mile Cell Communications – Without Towers

Posted by Sam Churchill on

GoTenna has developed a 6-inch-long antenna that connects to iPhones and Android phones via Bluetooth low energy. The antenna then transmits the data to other GoTennas through proprietary protocols, at 151-154 MHz. You can send text messages up to 160 characters as well as share your location on offline maps.

The gadget is available for preorder at $150 for two devices, since it takes two devices to form a peer-to-peer network.

It uses the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS), an unlicensed personal radio service in the 150 MHz band. The goTenna is dependent on FCC approval and is currently undergoing FCC testing. If it doesn’t pass, money would be refunded, says the company.

According to the company, you can send & receive messages for free:

  • Share locations on detailed, offline maps (also for free!)
  • Instantaneous transmission within range
  • Automatic message retry & delivery confirmation
  • Individual & group messaging
  • “Shout” broadcasts to anyone within range
  • Proximal friend map & location pinging
  • Emergency chat
  • End-to-end encryption (RSA-1024) & self-destructing messages
  • Compatible with iOS & Android devices

When cell towers and wifi aren’t available, goTenna makes the phone you have in your hand useful. CEO and co-founder Daniela Perdomo told GigaOM that GoTenna’s range is limited only by the horizon, or up to nine miles in open environments. In a heavily wooded area, the signal would travel a shorter distance, but still about four miles. A goTenna can only be paired to one phone at a time.

The part-95 radio services (FRS/GMRS/MURS) is available for unlicensed use in the United States. It is intended for short-range local voice or data communications.

The 150 MHz VHF band, used by the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS), propagates better outdoors. The 450 MHz UHF band is used by the Family Radio Service (FRS) has a maximum output of 500 mW while the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS uses the lower 7 channels of FRS, in the 462 MHz range, with a maximum of 5 watts ERP. It requires a valid GMRS license, but propagates better in buildings and urban areas.

In Portland this Saturday cargo biking was utilized in the Disaster Relief Trials. Cell phones were turned off. Cyclists used paper maps and pedal power to move supplies.

Riders were required to haul 100 pounds of cargo over a 30-mile, obstacle-strewn course. In the more family-friendly Replenish Class, riders will be required to carry one passenger on a 15-mile “post-disaster household supply run.”

The Portland Bureau of Emergency Management and Multnomah County Emergency Management agencies were on-site at the Oregon Museum of Science to track the riders via radio. Representatives from the FEMA Region 10 staffed checkpoints.

Maybe next year goTennas and smartphones will enable real-time tracking and messaging.

Satellite Capacity Report: Supply & Demand

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Northern’s Sky Research has released their 2014 Global Satellite Capacity Supply & Demand report, which projects that over 3,000 new transponders and 2+ Tbps of High Throughput Satellite capacity will far outstrip demand growth over the next decade.

Despite the reality of oversupply in a few regions and bands, NSR projects the market will grow by 76%, from about $11.8 Billion currently to $21.1 Billion by 2023.

On the supply side, NSR expects that nearly 3,000 transponders will be added based on satellites entering service between now and 2023. “Nearly every satellite being launched will carry traditional Ku-band, thus adding 1500 transponders of just Ku-band by 2017. This continues until the effect of HTS supply begins to eat into the broader demand, a phenomenon not expected until the end of this decade”, says the report.

Global demand paints a cautiously optimistic picture, with over 1,300 transponders of new demand for traditional C, Ku, and Ka-band capacity arising by 2023, supplemented by nearly 1 Tbps of new GEO-HTS demand. “Looking at global demand, the hype surrounding HTS is indeed justified, with a demand growth rate of over 30% annually, compared to less than 2% for traditional FSS C, Ku, and Widebeam Ka-band capacity,” reports Blaine Curcio, Analyst and report co-author.

Orbcomm Launches Space-based Vessel Tracking Satellites

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched six LEO comsats to modernize Orbcomm’s orbital fleet of messaging satellites. ORBCOMM says the six satellites’ solar panels and antennas deployed properly, and are connecting to their Gateway Earth Stations around the world.

The flight was supposed to take off in early May, but persistent technical issues with the Falcon 9 rocket and the Orbcomm satellites kept the launcher grounded until July.

With the six satellites launched Monday and 11 more spacecraft on the way, Orbcomm expects its 889,000 subscribers will see better service in the coming months. Each second-generation satellite has six times the data capacity and twice the transmission rate of one of Orbcomm’s existing satellites.

The OG2 communications system offer transfer rates up to four megabits per second at VHF frequencies between 137 and 153 megahertz. Each vehicle also carries an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver to track ships in the open ocean. Orbcomm intends to sell this data to coastguard services.

Companies like Orbcomm, exactEarth, SpaceQuest, and government programs like ESA’s ship-tracking satellite program have deployed AIS receivers on satellites, but currently most all AIS is terrestrial-based and dependent on radio towers. Consequently, AIS vessel tracking is available only along rivers or along coast lines, and is not generally available in the open ocean.

The new platforms will join 25 operational first-generation Orbcomm satellites, plus a pair of small ship-tracking spacecraft used by Orbcomm. The new satellites were built by Sierra Nevada and Boeing, and should begin machine-to-machine communications and maritime tracking services within 60 days, according to an Orbcomm press release.

Orbcomm’s messaging satellites, unlike the Iridium Next constellation or GlobalStar’s 32 LEO satellites don’t allow global voice communications with continuous connectivity. They store and forward messaging.

Both the Iridium and GlobalStar satphone constellations plan new M2M services, in competition to Orbcomm, allowing independent contractors to “piggyback” independent hosted services on their satellite platforms.

Iridium NEXT, their second-generation platform, is expected to launch beginning in 2015 and is expected to be fully operational in 2017. The Iridium NEXT satellite network will consist of 66 in-orbit satellites, with six in-orbit and nine on-ground spares. The 48 spot beams from each satellite antenna will collectively cover an area roughly the size of the United States. The constellation will begin launching in 2015 will offer greater bandwidth and data speeds.

Iridium will host payloads designed by other entities. Space is now fully allocated to two companies, Aireon for its space-based aircraft surveillance application and Harris Corporation for additional auxiliary payloads.

Aireon will use the Iridium NEXT hosted payload space to develop the world’s first space-based global aviation monitoring system.

ADS-B will be replacing radar as the primary surveillance method for controlling aircraft worldwide. Enabled by Harris’ 81 space-qualified ADS-B receivers, the system relies on two avionics components—a GPS navigation source and a datalink (ADS-B unit). This allows controllers to guide aircraft into and out of crowded airspace with smaller separation standards than it was previously possible.

Here’s the real-time vessel traffic world-wide posted on, a mashup which was developed and hosted by the University of the Aegean in Greece.

Related DailyWireless Space and Satellite News includes; Cluster of 37 Satellites Launched, Google Buys Skybox Imaging for $500 Million, exactEarth Gets Partner for Space-based AIS , Satellite Swarms Revolutionize Earth Imaging, Google Buying Drone Company Titan, Facebook Announces Connectivity Lab, Iridium Announces Hosted Payloads, ExactEarth Launches 5th AIS Satellite, ExactEarth Launches AIS Satellite, Arctic Technology, Orbcomm: World’s Largest Container Tracker, Space-Based Vessel Tracking, AIS Space Race, Orbcomm’s Space-based AIS Fails,

Senate Passes Unlocking Legislation

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The Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would allow consumers to “unlock” their cell phone, reports The Hill. It will allow phone owners to switch providers once their contract is up.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced S. 517, the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, which would restore an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) permitting consumers users to “unlock” their cell phones when their contract expires.

It’s a process that wireless carriers are usually willing to accommodate. But the process became illegal last year when the Library of Congress opted not to renew a DMCA exemption, which it granted in 2006 and 2010.

The change lead to an online petition that garnered some 114,322 signatures before winning the president’s support last March.

Unlockapedia can help you can find free, impartial advice to help you unlock you phone. Some phones can be unlocked for free, and others may need to be unlocked by an expert unlocker.

Related stories on DailyWireless include; White House Petitions FCC for Unlocking Rights, Unlocking Phones Illegal Starting Tomorrow, Unlocking Petition Hits 100K Goal, FCC May Investigate Unlocking Ban, C/Net Explains Unlocked Phone Issues,