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Ctia_logo_2010 Was expecting this for a while and it finally got done. Yea! If you have followed, I have written about the universal SKU device a lot, from a roaming perspective, UIM perspective and device engineering perspective. See here for some history. There was only the action piece to get through, so this post has lots of PDF documents to get through but the CTIA recommended Consumer Code for Wireless Service is the topic, so I’ll just summarize the 6 new points to add to the Consumer Code below. Below that I will put the FCC and CTIA documents and just above that my take on it…

breaking-newsNew stuff:

1. Disclosure.

Each carrier will post on its website its clear, concise, and readily accessible policy on postpaid and prepaid mobile wireless device unlocking.

2. Postpaid Unlocking Policy.

Carriers, upon request, will unlock mobile wireless devices or provide the necessary information to unlock their devicesfor their customers and former customers in good standing and individual owners of eligible devices after the fulfillment of the applicable postpaid service contract, device financing plan or payment of an applicable early termination fee.

3. Prepaid Unlocking Policy.

Carriers, upon request, will unlock prepaid mobile wireless devices no later than one year after initial activation, consistent with reasonable time, payment or usage requirements.

4. Notice.

Carriers that lock devices will clearly notify customers that their devices are eligible for unlocking at the time when their devices are eligible for unlocking or automatically unlock devices remotely when devices are eligible for unlocking, without additional fee.

5. Response Time.

Within two business days after receiving a request, carriers will unlock eligible mobile wireless devices or initiate a request to the OEM to unlock the eligible device, or provide an explanation of why the device does not qualify for unlocking, or why the carrier reasonably needs additional time to process the request.

6. Deployed Personnel Unlocking Policy.

Carriers will unlock mobile wireless devices for deployed military personnel who are customers in good standing upon provision of deployment

In my view this is a very good step forward in general. It took too long and it is being spun into a huge ‘favor’ to us for my taste but it’s getting done. This is completely voluntary so companies can not comply or stop without warning without any consequences. In my opinion, the end destination is for us to all have the ability to have any device go anywhere on any network, allowing us to vote with our $, whom we think is doing the best job for us at any time. Equipment OEMs need to keep pushing for universal RF front ends to make this a reality. Remaining challenges are: Embedded UIM vs removable and roaming agreements for LTE. This also will make Public Safety LTE trials easier too…. ha….Overall, a thumbs up!.

spock

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving if you are US based, else hope everyone enjoyed having the US off. Happy ThanksgivingI have a number of big, urgent and interesting projects going on that each have NDA type of agreements and so between the time and the mouth shutting agreements, it is severely putting a damper on my ability to bring attention to events going on in our world. This too shall pass and I will sputter out some tidbits here and there for the next few months.

Interesting things catching my eye with respect to (wrt) the wireless world include:

eSRVCC is an improvement to the SRVCC where instead of having the home network be the voice anchor, the visited network anchors aspects of the voice calls. This will streamline network-network communications and reduce latency, thus improving end user experience.
Here are before and after network diagrams.
I think the debate about LTE vs FTTH pricing is an interesting one. The intuitive answer is there is a competitive advantage to wireless however in the US there is a major premium on wireless data pricing. This is a very interesting thing that I’m hoping globalization can help. If there were true price competition (assuming identical services) then I bet the pace of change would be astonishing. Can’t wait to see how this goes in Japan.
The FCC is debating allowing DISH use the PCS band adjacent to the G block (H block) for LTE and this is, in and of itself is mildly interesting. But more interesting is the impact it could have on DISH’s plans to use their adjacent spectrum for LTE. Remember DISH came up with 20×2 MHz channels with the acquisitions of DBSD and TerreStar earlier. The FCC is open to DISH’s use but they are looking to add adding power restrictions in the UE TX band…to me limiting DISH’s opportunity, for example to deploy TD-LTE. I’m not sure why the filtering requirements cannot be sharpened on both sides of the spectrum but they never seem to do this. (Band 12 and Channel 51) 
The transformation of the mobile ecosystem is under our noses. See this chart.

Finish and Irish auctions of 800MHz are interesting just to help ecosystem for infrastructure add low bands…hopefully that ends up adding 700MHz capability to everything too.

Have a good one…Oh two more interesting tidbits…

Network Planning for LTE-Advanced

2012 LTE NA: What is a “Thinking Network”?

 Lemko managed to get my attention with a PR that teases about demonstrating Band 12 and Band 17 device interoperability. Quick refresher: this Band 17 in Lower 700MHz was created by AT&T to make something unique/non-operable with the existing Band 12 under the guise of interference protection but I have sort of talked through those points before. Anyway, good business for AT&T. So if Lemko has something that allows more compatibility for existing devices let’s see it. Unfortunately, there is no information in the PR nor their web site… Caught my eye though since this is such a big problem (like FCC required 35% geographic coverage by EOY 2012 if you purchased the lower 700MHz spectrum in the auctions) and not a lot of solutions. Would be cool to see some details from Lemko, I will reach out, but all we got is the PR for now. Enjoy…

 

Links: Lemko, sonlte.com, FCC.gov

Full PR;

Lemko Demonstrates 700 MHz Band Class 12 and 17 Interoperability

Schaumburg, Illinois

July 25, 2012

Lemko Corporation, the leader in the development of all IP distributed mobile wireless network architecture, announced today another 4G broadband innovation by demonstrating interoperability between 700 MHz LTE lower band classes. Lemko has successfully demonstrated mobile devices operating between 700 MHz band class12 and band class 17. This provides the critical interoperability to support roaming between the lower 700 MHz bands opening the door for full network build-outs in support of the imminent FCC 2012 build out deadline. Lemko LTE provides a DiMoWiNe (distributed mobile wireless network) solution that is designed to keep network operators profitable by offering the lowest total cost of ownership and superior end-user experience.

 

“This is a very significant innovation achievement for the LTE 700 MHz market since it shows that interoperability is possible for carriers planning LTE network build-outs in the lower A band channel blocks”, says David Dombrowski, Lemko Senior Director of Product Management. “Carriers can now move forward deploying their 700 MHz LTE networks knowing that the technology exists to support contiguous, homogeneous services regardless of band class.”

 

For details about DiMoWiNe please visit www.lemko.com or call 847-240-1990.
About Lemko Corporation

Lemko is the leading provider of DiMoWiNe (Distributed Mobile Wireless Network) solutions that change the way mobile operators maintain and develop voice, SMS and data businesses over 2G, 3G and 4G broadband networks. Lemko provides an entire cellular system powered by an all IP mobile infrastructure which includes radio access equipment as well as virtualized 2G, 3G and LTE core network functionality. The virtualized core functionality (including EPC, IMS, VoLTE, policy control, multimedia telephony and data off-load) sits at each RAN site with immediate connection to the cloud for delivery of voice, SMS, data and broadband functionality.

 

This approach lowers up-front capital expense and dramatically lowers on-going operational expenses. The company’s market leading solutions are deployed with Tier 3 as well as Tier 1 carriers, and government and military private network operators. Lemko is headquartered in Schaumburg, Illinois, USA.

 

More About Lemko Corp.

March 21st FCC kicked off an industry discussion with their FCC Docket No. 12-69

Promoting Interoperability in the 700 MHz Commercial Spectrum

Last Friday, (1st of June), Qualcomm shoots over some comments to the FCC in response. Specifically, a document titled:

Promoting Interoperability in the 700 MHz Commercial Spectrum

Interoperability of Mobile User Equipment
Across Paired Commercial Spectrum Blocks in the 700 MHz Band

12-69 06-01-2012 QUALCOMM Incorporated 7021921420

So normally I see things like this come and go and I don’t utter a word, however I would like to point out a few things about Qualcomm’s position that I feel like should be made more clear.

Below is a diagram of the lower 700MHz spectrum. A key problem for everyone today is there are DTV broadcasts in many urban areas with extremely high power transmitters. The current FCC requirements allow DTV stations on Channel 50 and 51 to spew interference into the lower portions of the 700MHz spectrum (See Channel A, B and C.) Furthermore, there are 2 blocks, the D and E block in the lower 700MHz that also allow high power (think 50KW of RF power) to be broadcast. For LTE this could be a huge issue to both devices and base stations. Fundamentally, this is an unfair situation to those that purchased spectrum in the lower 700MHz areas and ultimately a problem for end users due to the limitations this places on what we can or can’t do now.

OK so Qualcomm didn’t create this problem but they are aware of it as they have been working on providing components to handset OEMs that utilize this spectrum. So they are trying to facilitate the use of multiple radio bands into the devices we love so dearly but it’s complicated. See their list of spectrum’s they are interesting in building to:

  • 700 MHz 3GPP bands (Band Classes 12, 13, 14, 17);
  • 850 MHz cellular band (Band Class 5);
  • Original PCS band (Band Class 2);
  • PCS Block G (Band Class 25);
  • AWS-1 band (Band Class 4);
  • Potential AWS-4 band (Band Class 23);
  • Original 800 MHz iDEN band (Band Class 26); and
  • BRS band (Band Class 41). 
So Band 12 is the original band plan, that is channels A, B and C of lower 700MHz that 3GPP put into their specification to allow the use of this portion of the spectrum. ATT later came back and requested/received a different plan. The just happened to purchase mostly B and C channels in the auctions, so their proposal was to create a band around B and C called Band 17. The 3GPP approved it so it’s part of the build specifications in the devices. Unfortunately it’s not fashionable to support Band 17 and Band 12. Qualcomm’s document to the FCC explains their logic on why this can’t happen. Therefore, components from Qualcomm today support Lower 700MHz Band 17 (ATT), Upper 700MHz (VZW) and now Band 25 (Sprint), with AWS support (Band 4) for others like Metro etc… If you are not ATT, VZW, Sprint, or AWS spectrum holder, you are not supported for LTE essentially.
Qualcomm developed more stringent filter requirements for Band 17 than Band 12, partially by utilizing the Channel A/Band 12 as a guard band of 6MHz, but there is more to it than just that. 
Their justification looks like this:
Qualcomm’s tests and analyses demonstrate that consumer devices operating on the Lower B and/or C blocks using the Band 12 filter will suffer harmful interference from E Block and Channel 51 signals, while the Band 17 filter provides these devices with an effective defense. More specifically, these comments will show that without the Band 17 filter:
  • High-power E Block signals would cause blocking interference to consumer devices seeking to receive a 5 MHz signal on the B Block or a 10 MHz signal on the B and C Blocks;
  • High-power E Block signals would cause intermodulation interference to consumer devices seeking to receive a 5 MHz signal on the B or C Block or a 10 MHz signal on the B and C Block; and
  • Channel 51 television signals would cause reverse intermodulation interference to consumer devices seeking to receive a 5 MHz signal on the C Block or a 10 MHz signal on the B and C Blocks.

…blah blah…

In fact, Qualcomm’s innovations and ongoing work with carriers and manufacturers demonstrate that there is no need for any FCC mandate.7 Because of the difficult interference challenges described herein, the fact that existing technology does not offer a solution to these challenges, and Qualcomm’s ongoing innovation and collaboration with all carriers and manufacturers, the Commission should not require mobile equipment to be capable of operating over all paired commercial spectrum blocks in the Lower 700 MHz band

In reviewing their document it’s clear that they are protecting their interests, that is they are developing and have been shipping products around Band 17 and Band 13, where their orders have been coming from. I read it as they (QCOM) are not interested in the 700MHz Band 12 spectrum holder issues as much since these smaller interests represent a greater deal of complexity and will have less payback than serving the larger operators. The issue they hold up as the big fish is the fact a large signal from Channel 51 or D/E block causes blocking and IM at the device receivers.

Sooo naturally

 part of the American experience (IMHO) is the fight for the little guy. If Qualcomm is allowed to ignore Band 12 issues and only sell to the big guys then big business wins and the little guy loses. 

It doesn’t have to be this way, there is a way to get what you want but some things will have to change. 

Let me take a moment to crow, and eat crow. I wrote a series of posts deriding Apple for its design choices regarding the Qualcomm transceivers. I only went off of publicly available information to keep everything on the up and up. 

Apple, I’m sorry for putting it all on you. It wasn’t all your fault. My last post I did say you needed to get off your duff and fight for the little guy by making your own transceiver and or doing some band stitching solutions but it’s not all your fault.
My original Posts:

On the other hand, I was right about everything I said in the corrections on the Qualcomm parts. My assertions are backed up in Qualcomm’s document. The reason I say that is because this story is possible to resolve amicably and my assumptions are built on some truths.

Key point is new components such as Qualcomm’s WTR1605L make Band 12 deployment possible, just not supported without changes to the propagation environment of the broadcasters thanks to Qualcomm not wanting to go any further on the solution development.

Recommendations!

  1. FCC doesn’t need to mandate the world to use Qualcomm’s products, much less the WTR1605L, the MDM9615/MFM8930 etc… There’s already a huge challenge getting multiple suppliers in the space and layers and layers IPR issues that haven’t even been made public yet….
  2. The rules on the side skirts of the Channel 51 and D and E block spectrum holders is causing harm to a greater number of people than changes to these rules would. Make the roll off’s sharp such that interference is minimized. Be more fair and only make it an optional mitigation to be whipped out in case an operator actually wants to deploy in the A, B or C blocks (Band 12) and not just for Band 17.
  3. Qualcomm could feel free to improve the Band 12 filter.
  4. Baseband interference cancellation would be a good part of a solution too.
  5. Utilize a small cell strategy to target users very effectively. It’s one thing dealing with interference from a 1000′ tower to the users served by your 200′ tower and another when the device and base station are within 100 meters of each other. I can help you do this if you don’t know how to make it happen.
  6. Lower 700MHz spectrum holders can consider a fixed deployment instead of mobile. It’s less difficult to null out interferers.
  7. If all else fails, just contact me directly. I will sell you TX filters to reduce the transmission of the interference and help you work it out with the broadcasters to boot.

  At the end of the day, it’s up to the little guy to fight the power. People need to voice their opinions on this matter. Do you want better LTE data coverage? Do you want more companies to be able to offer LTE? More devices? Are you completely confident that Verizon and ATT will pass any device savings on to you that they could get from locking out variations?

Contact the FCC and let them know what you think.

 

BTW, Mariam Sorond, VP of Technology Development at DISH networks states that TX filters are sufficient to allow normal operations and no FCC rule changes like reducing TX power of D/E block (DISH broadcast) is required…. See her response.

http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view;jsessionid=f796PTRD1w7bWhL1w1BnJdbpT1jT52XDGhMGQzMqsGvb0QMQxlGj!-1221852939!-1969853125?id=7021921464

Sprint adamantly against refarming existing spectrum, got some relief from having to fit all their LTE hopes and dreams into the PCS G band by a recent rule change by the FCC. The report and order allows re-channelization of the SMR spectrum to facilitate larger channels such as those used by LTE, with exceptions in border areas (US, Canada, PR) that are well documented and they can only use this larger channel capability where the Public Safety guys have already relocated or are beyond a 70Mi boundary, etc etc, yada yada…

So Sprint has been preparing for this day with their infrastructure being open to multiple technologies and spectrums.

Reminder of their ‘any spectrum’ infrastructure under deployment.  

 

The current use of their ESMR/SMR 800MHz spectrum is iDEN based Push to Talk PTT support. As this equipment is all beyond End of Life etc… Sprint is busy upgrading their network to accommodate the next thing.

With this approach and what they currently own, Sprint can use LTE at 800MHz or PCS frequencies in addition to WiMAX at the 2.x spectrum they share with Clear. (Some of it is jointly deployed.)

Back to the FCC, they have been shifting around use of the 800MHz in earnest since 2004 and this latest change sort of seals the deal for LTE in the band. 

FCC release here.

 

Dispatch magazine has a handy chart showing previous 800MHz allocation per initial FCC rules…

  The FCC has a handy chart showing the post July 2004 reconfiguration…

 Difference is everyone gets shuffled like public safety agencies to their own band etc…Sprint gets shuffled into the ESMR section. Note there is a little overlap here between US 800MHz and European spectrum at 791MHz-821MHz but it is a head fake. Due to DL and UL mismatches (The Euro band UL is opposite the US DL spectrum and offset only TDD would be possible so more changes to standards would be required.

 

Chart via 3g4gblogspot.com 

Ultimately a win for Sprint economically but for end users not so much, as the changes don’t go far enough to help the global LTE roaming situation. Release 10 may help with that situation a bit as operators look at using spectrum aggregation and will bump into hard choices in RF hardware for devices. This limitation will tend to encourage more cooperation globally if RF chipsets go down the path of fewer SKUs as they have been tending to do.

One other point, in reading through the changes, it looks like public safety can use the 800MHz for LTE too if they cooperate and aggregate spectrum.

I admit, I love the chutzpah of Verizon at times. They are offering, for the FCC’s benefit, to sell their Lower 700MHz A/B spectrum in exchange for having their purchase of AWS (2100MHz TX) spectrum from the cable companies (SpectrumCo) approved. They own 24 A block and 54 B block licenses that they purchased at auction for around $4B.These are 6MHz TX and RX (FDD) pairs so with one you could deploy up to 5MHz and with 2 up to 10MHz LTE channels.

and  The flip side of this is they are selling their 12MHz presumably in the $4B range in exchange for 20MHz at $3.6B and simultaneously acknowledging that they have no intention to support their competitors struggles with getting devices for lower 700MHz. Don’t forget about the challenges such as Channel 51 interference for Channel A and some to Channel B spectrum holders that the FCC has not really helped resolve that’s why devices have been nearly nonexistent so far.

If I were ATT I would lobby the FCC to be able to purchase it at the auction prices paid by VZW. By doing so ATT could match it up with their C block holdings and potentially have more lower 700MHz spectrum for current Release 8/9 LTE than VZW, as they are owners of C block, 15MHz channel worthy 700MHz is nothing to sneeze at. 

ATT has also purchased the unpaired lower 700MHz spectrum from Qualcomm so there is a potential of around 20MHz for lower 700MHz for LTE Advanced (Release 10) if they can purchase the spectrum. Funny to me how ATT just gave away their AWS spectrum as a penalty for the failed TMobile USA bid. 

Another thing that strikes me as odd is the fact it will take in the neighborhood of 4X more cell sites for VZW to have equivalent coverage density between 2100MHz and 700MHz. They will be hard pressed to consider AWS outside of urban and hotspot in the suburban areas due to the discrepancy, on the other hand they already have Upper 700MHz C block so this could be a good fit for their LTE – Advanced plans in the long term and mid term a supplement for overloaded urban sites like airports. 

Super regionals like MetroPCS, USCellular and CSpire should be very interested in VZW’s spectrum too. They could get lucky if the FCC doesn’t take back the 700MHz spectrum and forces ATT to deal with VZW, which a deal would be doubtful. Then VZW will be sitting on all the spectrum they promised to sell with no real existing operators willing to pay what they paid…ok except for 1 guy, Philip Falcone at LightSquared/Harbinger Capital

…but other than that, the spectrum could get discounted and that would be good for the super regionals.

Stay thirsty my friends….

Full PR below:

Verizon Wireless to Conduct Spectrum License Sale

BASKING RIDGE, N.J., April 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Verizon Wireless today announced plans to conduct an open sale process for all of its 700 MHz A and B spectrum licenses in order to rationalize its spectrum holdings.  The licenses cover dozens of major cities across the country, as well as a number of smaller and rural markets.

Verizon Wireless obtained the 700 MHz A and B licenses, as well as nationwide 700 MHz upper C licenses (with the exception of Alaska which has since been acquired), in FCC Auction 73 in 2008.  Verizon Wireless is deploying its 4G LTE network, which currently covers more than 200 million people, on its nationwide 700 MHz upper C spectrum.  If Verizon Wireless is successful in acquiring additional AWS (Advanced Wireless Services) spectrum licenses, it will use AWS spectrum in conjunction with its 700 MHz upper C band spectrum to deploy additional LTE capacity.

Accordingly, the sale of the A and B licenses is contingent on the close of Verizon Wireless’ pending purchases of AWS licenses from SpectrumCo (an entity jointly owned by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks), Cox and Leap Wireless. These transactions are at varying stages of review by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) and are expected to close by mid-summer.

The company is announcing the sale plans now and will begin the process of soliciting interest from potential buyers to ensure the process can move forward quickly once the AWS license transfers have been completed.

“Since wireless operators, large and small, have expressed concern about the availability of high-quality spectrum, we believe our 700 MHz licenses will be attractive to a wide range of buyers,” said Molly Feldman, vice president of Business Development for Verizon Wireless.  “Moreover, provided our acquisition of AWS spectrum is approved, our open sale process will ensure these A and B spectrum licenses are quickly and fairly made available for the benefit of other carriers and their customers.”

Stephens Inc., a nationally recognized, independent financial services firm based in Little Rock, Arkansas, has been engaged to manage the offering process.  Interested parties may contact Stephens Inc. at [email protected] or 501-377-8134. Stephens Inc. will later release information about efforts to reach out to potential bidders, including minority-owned and female-owned businesses, to participate in the process.  All sales will be subject to applicable regulatory approvals.

About Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s largest 4G LTE network and largest, most reliable 3G network. The company serves nearly 108 million total wireless connections, including 92.2 million retail customers.  Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with nearly 82,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE, NASDAQ: VZ) and Vodafone (LSE, NASDAQ: VOD).  For more information, visit www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.

 

 

 

 

SOURCE Verizon Wireless

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RELATED LINKS
http://www.verizonwireless.com

 

OK there have been multiple white space/802.22 product announcements recently and I wanted to discuss this market a little.

Whitespace radio gathered a little more momentum recently with Carlson and Neul’s launch of their outdoor whitespace radio. There are now a handful of OEMs with shipping products. Carlson and Neul have what I would call a 2nd Generation whitespace radio announcement.

 Their 802.22 radio is called the Rural Connect and is being marketed as a solution for rural wireless service. The spec sheet is available from their site. The outdoor unit is compact and looks like so. 

 

In their marketing, they are pitching it as an end user rural wireless solution.

Here is their comparison chart they are showing the public pitting Wifi 802.11 (5GHz) vs 802.22 (470MHz.) 

I think white space use is an excellent idea that needs to be taken to a bigger scale. Unfortunately I think these OEMs are focused on smaller markets than is available to them. They are marketing to end users and mentioning sensor/monitoring apps, public safety and so on. I think for SCADA and to some extent public safety there are really good merits to these types of systems. On the other hand, to me, 700MHz LTE makes a lot of sense in rural areas for consumers because if device availability (ok in the future) and the mobility aspect is very convenient. The usefulness is being demonstrated in the urban areas as LTE uptake is accelerating. Compare to the long uptake of WiMAX.

802.22 for consumers seems disadvantaged to LTE as: 

  • 802.22 availability is spectrum limited. Here is a real time tool if you want to look it up? 
  • The FCC licenses are experimental, so there is some risk of near future rule changes that impact compliance of deployed devices.
  • Limited link budget due to interference constraints.
  • LTE device volumes are scaling up dramatically and therefore will be more advantaged than 802.22 end user devices
  • Unknowns in field as structures may require external antennae or conversion to WiFi just based on propagation issues will be more pronounced as the few to few relationship will likely cause consumers to be more active in voicing their opinions of the quality of services.
On the other hand LTE:
  • going to be late to rural areas based on cost of deployment
  • Low (for rural) on focus/priorities of operators rushing to cover the mass population now. 
  • Needs 700MHz interference mitigations for Channel 51 areas, which increases cost/complexity.
I don’t get why don’t these 802.22 OEMs market this solution as a backhaul solution for LTE base stations? The rates are variable and on the low side compared to microwave but the cost advantages are significant enough that rural areas could be more rapidly covered than with wired backhaul or microwave solutions. 
I’m unsure of how big the rural market is but it will be interesting to see how well whitespace radio fills the need…at least until LTE gets rural deployments.
Video explanation of white spaces…

 Things are not going well for LightSquared. The FCC was waiting for the test results from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) with regards to granting LightSquared their right to broadcast from their satellite and 40K node terrestrial network. In the mail back in July was a letter from Lawerence E. Strickling, the Asst. Secretary for Communications and Information at the Department of Commerce, basically stating the interference to GPS from their terrestrial network is a show stopper. The FCC has assembled a working group of LightSquared and US GPS Industry Council folks to try to work it out and has told NTIA they ask for their feedback again if there were any changes from the working group. I think we’re going to go back an forth all year on this so, stay tuned for as the satellite turns…

Links: NTIA.gov

 Yesterday Super WiFi launched in New Hanover County, North Carolina! If you’re not familiar with Super Wifi, it’s essentially WiFi re-using the in-between spaces of TV channels below 700MHz and above 50MHz.  This is the first outdoor non trial deployment that I am aware of. This was the result of the FCC, feeling a little silly regarding Light Squared (ok, I made that part up), Spectrum Bridge a venture funded start up (2007), and the county of New Hanover County in North Carolina getting off their duff and deploying on white space capable radio channels using 802.11 Wifi as the Physical Layer protocol .  It looks like Spectrum Bridge provided the channel list and other services while it’s unclear where the county got the radios from, the usual suspects range from Google, Microsoft and Cisco to Neul and Carlson to KTS Wireless. My bet is that since KTS Wireless had the first FCC approved radio, it’s likely to be theirs. New Hanover County is using their WiFi network to surveil on a subdivision and collect telemetry from their water infrastructure although it appears they will provide citizen WiFi at outdoor locations such as Hugh MacRae Park. They seem to be happy with the performance.

In testing white space, Chaney says “We see ranges of up to 1.5 miles on a point-to-point application of the spectrum including signal propagation through vegetation and buildings.  Installing these newly approved radios and appropriate antennas could allow wireless service far beyond traditional boundaries.”

I’m yet unclear if the ranges mean the 2.4GHz WiFi or the <700MHz ‘SuperWiFi’ backhaul. The IEEE standardization effort is known as 802.11af and the timeline, looks to be around 2013 when fully standardized is here. Note, in the past you may have heard that Super WiFi was 802.22 and was touted to have 100KM/62Mi ranges. 802.22 is a cognitive radio effort, a good element of practical deployment for whitespaces, a different animal than 802.11 and WiMAX 802.16, so it looks like logic prevailed and the more practical use of effort was to take a working standard, 802.11 (WiFi) and update it. A good backstory primer is in the Spectrum Broker blog here.

Lastly, the trouble with whitespace radio as the FCC has it today is that there are many places, mainly populated, where there are 0 or 1 channels available. Unless and until there is some relaxation from the FCC this is going to be very limited. I think the obvious connection to LTE and 4G is complimentary when used as backhaul and competitive when offered directly to end users. I suspect that the battleground would be mainly rural stationary users as it’s not a good mobile technology. Progress nonetheless…

Links: FCC, New Hanover County, Spectrum Bridge, MIT Technology Review, Spectrum Broker, KTS Wireless


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The latest media brouhaha started with headlines like, “LightSquared’s 4G LTE network will always interfere with GPS, government says.” That shot across the bow sort of allowed the business guys to go after LightSquared’s different business model in public. (Do we all just wait to see someone fail in public???) Let me be clear about what I think…

I’m not saying that I fully comprehend LightSquared’s business model thanks to the logistics resulting in long latency of sending a packet of data from the ground to the sky and back, but I’m not closed to it either. There is a balance between the hype and the reality of where it makes sense. (Ex: Alarm monitoring!) They must be given an opportunity to participate in the free market….

Anyway seems like there is a group within the government that does not want LightSquared to interfere with their toys and makes no bones about it…just so happens there is a group of citizens that feel similarly. Mostly boaters and some farmers…ye olde’ GPS device users. OK, so the latter 2 groups create reports and send petitions to Washington against the plan with the premise being there is GPS interference by LightSquared transmitters (the emissions mask allows adjacent channel interference for the incumbent high powered DTV TX…) [As an aside, this very same problem exists in Channel 51, lower 700MHz spectrum, where the incumbent is allowed a loosey goosey transmissions mask and it interferes with the spectrum legally purchased in an FCC auction and the FCC has done very little about it.] FCC has said publicly that they will wait for the NTIA report on GPS interference before making any hasty decisions, which is probably a prudent approach. BTW, silly letter was sent to the NTIA from a government group stating National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Executive Committee stated that “no additional testing is warranted at this time.”  Hmmm, and I wonder where AT&T and VZW are with all of this? Politics.

  

Warning, information avalanche ahead…

Sources/Links: NTIA, FCC, LightSquared, Russ’ Space, Bloomberg BNA, PR Newswire

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VoLTE

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