Archive for the ‘Cellular’ Category

FCC orders 2M people to power down cell phone signal boosters

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Devices must be turned off until customers ask for carrier approval.

The Federal Communications Commission today enacted a set of rules governing the sale and deployment of wireless signal boosters, devices consumers use to improve cell phone signals. More than 2 million of these devices are in use across the country, and until now consumers who bought them could just turn them on and let them work their magic.

Not anymore. Anyone who buys one of these devices from now on must seek the permission of carriers. Even the 2 million devices already in use must be turned off immediately unless their owners register them. The FCC states in an FAQ:

Did the FCC recently adopt new rules for signal boosters?

Yes. The FCC recently adopted new rules to improve signal booster design so these devices won’t cause interference to wireless networks. The FCC also adopted new rules about what cell phone users need to do before using a signal booster.

I already have a signal booster; do I need to do anything under the new rules?

Yes. Under the FCC’s new rules, you (1) need your wireless provider’s permission to use the booster, and (2) must register the booster with your wireless provider. Absent your provider’s permission, you may not continue using your booster.

For practical purposes, there is a good chance you could keep using that device without getting any threatening legal letters. But technically, the FCC could issue fines to customers who fail to comply, Public Knowledge Legal Director Harold Feld told Ars. There’s no word yet on what will happen to consumers who fail to register or whether carriers would actively seek them out.

(UPDATE: The FCC has already changed the language on that FAQ, indicating that the onus may not be on owners of existing devices to register with carriers. The FCC deleted the sentence that says “Absent your provider’s permission, you may not continue using your booster.” Instead, it now says, “If a wireless provider or the FCC asks you to turn off your signal booster because it is causing interference to a wireless network, you must turn off your booster and leave it off until the interference problem can be resolved. When the new rules go into effect, you will be able to purchase a booster with additional safeguards that protect wireless networks from interference.” For buyers of new devices, the FAQ does still say that “[b]efore use, you must register this device with your wireless provider and have your provider’s consent.”)

There are good reasons for the FCC to regulate these devices. They could cause interference with cellular networks, even if the ones today generally haven’t been too problematic. Everyone from consumer advocates to booster device makers, carriers, and the FCC agrees that standards to prevent interference are good. But Feld, other consumer advocates, and the makers of these devices say it’s unfair to consumers to make them register with carriers.

Carriers aren’t ready to detail registration policies

Major carriers haven’t said how the registration process will work, but one conceivable outcome is that they could charge customers an extra fee to use boosters, like they do with other devices that improve signals.

Wireless boosters are “saving the carriers money by not making them build more towers, but now they can charge you for improving the holes in their own network,” Feld said.

Requiring a specific carrier’s permission is odd, because a wireless booster can be used to improve signals on just about any network, said Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Project at the New America Foundation. Calabrese helped advise the government on its recent spectrum sharing plan. “97 percent of the boosters sold are wideband boosters, meaning they amplify the signals of all carriers equally,” Calabrese told Ars. “For some reason, the commission has delegated authority to the carrier.”

(UPDATE: After this story ran, we got a more positive take on the registration requirement from Wilson Electronics, a signal booster manufacturer. “We don’t see registration having a surcharge added to it-—or being an end-all scenario,” the company said. “90+ carriers already gave blanket approval to boosters that meet the specs. And the [FCC] commissioners were clear about the registration not being cumbersome. They also mentioned that they suspect few people will actually register the products given that consent will already be given.” Wilson did oppose the registration requirement, but said on the whole the ruling was good and should only affect poorly designed products. Wi-Ex, maker of zBoost boosters, said “consumers do not have to power down the zBoost consumer products. Our Boosters do not interfere with the wireless providers’ networks—consumers can continue using them and look for the notice their provider will send them regarding registration of the product with them.”)

If carriers are stingy with device approvals, households with subscriptions to multiple carriers could have to purchase one booster for each carrier—even though there’s no technical reason preventing a single booster from covering phones from multiple carriers.

Even though consumers have to register devices they already bought, booster manufacturers were given one year to clear out existing inventory before they have to sell new hardware that meets the interference rules. If they can keep selling existing devices, it’s difficult to imagine they’ve caused cellular providers too much trouble.

FCC commissioner Robert McDowell said, “wireless service providers have experienced some harmful interference with boosters interacting with their networks.” McDowell also lauded boosters for improving signals, even in tunnels where cellular connections are often disrupted.

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said for millions of people, cellular service disruptions “are more than rare, trivial annoyances.” Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said that 41 percent of children live in homes served only by cell phones and not landlines, making boosters one option for ensuring that emergency calls and doctor’s calls can be completed.

In addition to consumer-strength boosters for homes, small offices, and vehicles, there are industrial-strength wireless boosters designed for airports, hospitals, stadiums, etc. Industrial-strength boosters have to meet stricter interference standards because they transmit at higher power levels than consumer-grade ones, and anyone who operates an industrial-class booster will need an FCC license.

Carriers both large and small have reportedly assured the FCC that they won’t be unreasonable in providing approval for use of consumer-grade boosters.

We’ve asked Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint to provide information on how the registration process will work and whether consumers will have to pay any extra fees when using wireless signal boosters. We haven’t gotten any specific answers, but that’s not surprising. AT&T pointed out to us this afternoon that the FCC hadn’t even released the text of its order yet. (The FCC has since released the order.)

The FCC booster FAQ we mentioned earlier says, “Most wireless providers consent to the use of signal boosters. Some providers may not consent to the use of this device on their network.” In other words, carriers generally allow it, but they’re not legally required to.

AT&T told us that it’s “pleased that the FCC has adopted technical standards designed to protect our customers from interference caused by signal boosters while allowing well-designed boosters to remain in the marketplace. For these standards to be most effective, however, it is important that they are coupled with appropriate enforcement and consumer outreach.”

Similarly, T-Mobile said it “supports the FCC’s decision today to facilitate the deployment of well-designed third-party signal boosters that can improve wireless coverage, provided they meet technical criteria to prevent interference and that consumers obtain consent from their service provider. T-Mobile will have more to say on this topic once we’ve had a chance to review the FCC’s Report and Order.”

Sprint declined comment today, but has publicly supported the FCC rules. Verizon told us “Our goal is always to make things as simple as possible for customers, and will work to do so here as well.”

FCC says it took the best deal it could get

After the FCC unanimously approved the new rules today, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski was asked why the carrier-consent provision became part of the final order. He said that carriers have agreed to play nice, so the FCC let them decide which devices consumers get to use. He said the FCC could revisit its decision later on if carriers end up acting unreasonably.

“One of the things that helped facilitate an outcome here was the commitment by a number of carriers to provide that consent,” Genachowski said. “Our goal is to put in place clear rules of the road that enable and authorize signal boosters for consumers as quickly as possible, but as part of a framework that prevents interference. We all said, ‘You know what, this is the fastest way to get from A to B. Meanwhile, we’re going to monitor this.’ We expect it to work but we haven’t ruled out other options for the future if for some reason it doesn’t.”

Feld accused the FCC of rolling over for carriers by giving them the right to reject wireless boosters that customers want to use. Calabrese called it “profoundly anti-consumer.” Besides charging monthly fees, Calabrese said carriers could strike exclusive deals with device makers to make sure they get a cut of each device sale.

“They could change their mind at any point, and enter into a royalty agreement with a particular booster maker,” he said.

Feld explains that the boosters take your cellular signal and increase its power so that it reaches a cell tower (whereas femtocells work by taking your cellular signal and dumping it onto your home wireline network). Wireless boosters could be particularly useful in rural areas and in emergency situations, when one tower is down but the booster allows a connection to a further tower, he said.

“What’s particularly irritating is we’ve got about 2 million people who bought these devices in good faith,” Feld said. “The FCC is requiring them to go and register with their carriers and get permission [to keep using them].”

Prior to the FCC decision, the CTIA Wireless Association said the commission should take the stance that “commercial wireless providers must consent to the use of signal boosters on their networks prior to their operation.”

“For the past decade, manufacturers of signal boosters have marketed and sold these devices without properly informing consumers of the need to work with affected licensees prior to operating devices,” the CTIA said.

Wireless signal booster maker Wilson Electronics pleaded its case with the FCC too, arguing that the registration requirement is nonsensical, given that new devices won’t even hit the market unless they meet interference requirements. Wilson’s boosters are designed for use in the home, offices, and vehicles, with devices costing anywhere from $140 to several hundred dollars.

“Now that the Commission is on the verge of adopting network protection standards that were collaboratively developed by carriers and manufacturers to safeguard wireless networks, it would defeat the purpose of the rulemaking for the Commission to decide to empower carriers to deny consumers access to robust boosters that have been designed to meet those very standards,” Wison wrote in a letter to the FCC on Feb. 12.

Expanding Wi-Fi

The FCC today also approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to expand the amount of spectrum available to Wi-Fi in the 5GHz band by 195MHz, or about 35 percent. While the wireless booster decision was a final order, the spectrum one was preliminary and generally uncontroversial. The FCC is just beginning what might be a two-year process to expand the 5GHz band. Some interference concerns will have to be addressed. Read our previous coverage for more details.

Source:  arstechnica.com

Ericsson: Cellular data demand doubled annually the last five years – Are you ready for ’13?

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Global cellular data traffic has doubled in the past year, according to a report released by Ericsson, attributable in particular to an increase in 4G and LTE devices.

This increased demand for mobile signal is expected to at least double again this year, as it has in each of the past five years (see Ericsson graph above), which begs the question:  Is your facility equipped to deal with the continued surge in cellular signal demand?

Knowledge workers, sales staff, and others have come to rely almost exclusively on cell phones as they spend less and less time at their desks, to say nothing of clients and visitors who expect a reasonable level of mobile connectivity at your site.  Additionally, new workspace philosophies such as activity-based workplaces, mobility centers, hotelling and hot desking will only increase reliance on cellular connectivity.

Yet, even within the same office, hospital or university campus, warehouse or other facility, cellular signal can be drastically different, allowing some users to maintain acceptable mobile voice and data connections while other frustrated users drop calls and apps fail to connect to data sources.  Whether the fault lies with structural interference or inadequate cell network coverage in your area is irrelevant to your end users, as decreased productivity and morale can often result from an inability to communicate as expected.

These problems can be identified and remedied, however, with a cellular repeater/amplifier solution created specifically for your facility by qualified Gyver Networks RF engineers.

Gyver Networks will survey the location to create a complete picture of your RF environment, then engineer and install the optimal system to provide 3G, 4G, and LTE cellular signal to your building or campus, whether you require a DAS (distributed antenna system) or cellular base station.

Ensure that the continued increase in mobile demand doesn’t have a negative impact on your continued growth.  Contact Gyver Networks today for a free consultation.

 

Sports Stadiums and Wi-Fi Connectivity: Will It Ever Get Better?

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Reliable, speedy, in-stadium wireless connectivity is what most sports fans dream of.

The roar of the crowd rips through the stadium as the last shot clinches victory for the hometown team. You let out a triumphant hoot, embrace the people around you in the stands and relish the joyful delirium as it sets in.

Right then and there, in that moment of bliss, you decide you want to share this moment with the world, so you whip out your smartphone to post a status update to Facebook. But when you open up the Facebook app, you’re hit with the non-connectivity message of doom: “No Internet Connection.”

If you’ve ever gone to a professional sporting event — an NBA, NHL, NFL or MLS game for starters — you’ve probably run into this frustrating scenario a time or two. And you’re not alone.

Connectivity inside stadiums was a hot topic among sports executives and technologists at the On Deck Sports & Technology Conference in New York City.

“Right now we’re not meeting the fans’ expectations,” said Matt Higgins, CEO of RSE Ventures, a sports and entertainment venture capital firm, during a session. “In most venues, you can’t even send a text message. Fans expect to be able to interact with content in venue as they do at home.”

But why haven’t we figured out wireless connectivity yet? After all, Wi-Fi was born in the late 1990s, and we’re now on the fourth iteration of the mobile broadband standard so what’s the hold up? It turns out that the answers to this technology mystery aren’t so easy to unravel.

What’s to Blame: Inadequate Funds or Technology?

When it comes to pointing fingers at what, exactly, is gumming up the Wi-Fi in stadiums, people cast blame on either the lack of money invested in connectivity or the inadequacy of wireless technology itself.

Higgins believes that teams investing in wireless technology by themselves isn’t going to cut it. The leagues need to band together to make more substantial investments, he argues.

“[The leagues] should bring everyone together and make the investment,” Higgins said. “A team can’t come up with the ROI on that investment. In the venues that are aggressive, like we are in Miami, we have 1,200 Wi-Fi access points. But it’s expensive.”

Scott O’Neil, former president of Madison Square Garden Sports, is of the mind that throwing money at the problem won’t solve it. In his experience, wireless technology can’t handle the demands of a connected sea of fans in a stadium.

“The technology just isn’t there yet,” O’Neil said during a session. Upgrades to infrastructure technology alone didn’t deliver on the same wireless experience that most people get at home when he worked for MSG Sports.

Does this mean technology has left us out to dry? Not quite.

In another panel session at the conference, Gene Arantowicz, senior director of business development in Cisco’s Sports and Entertainment Group, said the technology necessary to deliver Wi-Fi in stadiums “has arrived.”

“It’s [called] a high-density wireless network,” he said. Wireless technology in stadiums is something that Cisco Systems in particular has been aggressive on innovating. They’ve dubbed these wireless-ready stadiums “Cisco Connected Stadiums.” And if you’ve ever been inside one, you’ll be impressed.

Arantowicz does acknowledge, however, that the Cisco experience is not yet ubiquitous in most stadiums.

“Not everybody has it,” he said. It’s been rolled out by Cisco only “in over 100 deployments in 20 some countries.”

Arantowicz cited the company’s recently announced partnership with the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which will allow fans to stream live video in the stadium, as an example of the innovative stadiums that are within reach.

Bob Jordan, senior vice president of the Van Wagner Sports Group, applauds the advances that technology has made, but he also points out that Wi-Fi wasn’t necessarily built for the stadium use case.

“High-density Wi-Fi is good, but [Wi-Fi] really wasn’t designed to do that,” he said.

Using baseball stadiums as an example, Jordan highlighted the infrastructural challenges MLB teams face since the distance from the dugout to the outfield exceeds the range of even the most advanced access points.

“At the end of the day, we have a convergence of the way the buildings are built and [we’re] wrestling with how do we get [wireless] in these venues,” he said.

The Wi-Fi challenges don’t mean anyone in sports is going to give up trying to improve connectivity anytime soon though. It just means the sports industry has its work cut out for it.

For any team operating in today’s market, “technology is a requirement,” Jordan said definitively. And there’s no getting around it.

Source:  biztechmagazine.com

Microsoft suggests fix for iOS 6.1/Exchange problem: Block iPhone users

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

iOS 6.1 hammering Exchange, dragging down server performance.

iOS 6.1 devices are hammering Exchange servers with excessive traffic, causing performance slowdowns that led Microsoft to suggest a drastic fix for the most severe cases: throttle traffic from iOS 6.1 users or block them completely.

“When a user syncs a mailbox by using an iOS 6.1-based device, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Client Access server (CAS) and Mailbox (MBX) server resources are consumed, log growth becomes excessive, memory and CPU use may increase significantly, and server performance is affected,” Microsoft wrote on Tuesday in a support document.

The problem also affects Exchange Online in Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud service. Office 365 customers may get an error message on iOS 6.1 devices stating “Cannot Get Mail: The connection to the server failed.” The Microsoft support article says both Apple and Microsoft are investigating the problem.

Microsoft suggests several fixes, starting out gently, then escalating to the complete blockage of iOS 6.1 devices. Based on the fixes suggested, the problems may be caused when iOS devices connect to Exchange calendars.

The first workaround is “do not process Calendar items such as meeting requests on iOS 6.1 devices. Also, immediately restart the iOS 6.1 device.”

If that doesn’t work, users are instructed to remove their Exchange accounts from their phones or tablets while the Exchange Server administrator runs a “remove device” command on the server side. After 30 minutes, users can add the Exchange accounts back onto their devices but should be advised “not to process Calendar items on the device.”

If that doesn’t work, the fixes get more serious. The next method is for the server administrator to create a custom throttling policy limiting the number of transactions iOS 6.1 users can make with the server. “The throttling policy will reduce the effect of the issue on server resources,” Microsoft notes. “However, users who receive the error should immediately restart their devices and stop additional processing of Calendar items.”

One Exchange administrator who created a throttling policy through PowerShell to solve the problem provides a guide here, but Microsoft also has a page providing instructions.

Finally, the last method Microsoft recommends is to block iOS 6.1 users. “You can block iOS 6.1 users by using the Exchange Server 2010 Allow/Block/Quarantine feature,” Microsoft notes. (See this post for more detailed instructions.)

Businesses of all sizes limiting or blocking iOS devices

We don’t know exactly how widespread this problem is. It’s clearly not affecting everyone, but the impact seems to run the gamut from small businesses to large.

“We’re using Exchange 2010 in a small software firm with about a dozen iOS users (each with multiple iOS devices),” Shourya Ray, chief administrative officer of Spin Systems in Virginia, told Ars via e-mail. “Last week our Exchange server froze (internal mail was being routed, but external mail stopped flowing).”

It turned out that the 300GB VMware virtual machine hosting the Exchange server was full. “You can imagine our surprise when that VM filled up overnight,” Ray said. “If we were running Exchange in a typical hardware-based server with a 1TB drive, it would have taken us a week to realize the problem.”

How did it happen, and how did the company get things working “normally” again? “The transaction log had 200,000 records and was the indication of a problem,” Ray said. “Our temporary solution has been to ask iOS users to switch to manual pull rather than ActiveSync push. For heavy e-mail users, we are recommending an automatic pull every 30 minutes. So far, that seems to have kept Exchange happy with no other issues since last week. Let’s hope that Apple and Microsoft put their heads to together and fix this soon.”

We heard from several other people on Twitter that they have been bit by the iOS 6.1/Exchange problem. One said, “My 22,000+ employee enterprise has blocked iOS 6.1, execs all have iOS.”

A support thread on Microsoft’s Exchange Server site was opened January 31 to discuss the excessive logging caused by iOS 6.1. The server administrator who began the thread identified an iPad that “caused over 50GB worth of logs” on a single database.

The thread got more than a dozen replies. One Exchange administrator explained that “malformed meetings on a device cause the device to get into a sync loop which causes excessive transaction log growth on the Exchange mailbox servers.” This in turn “will cause Exchange performance issues and potentially transaction log drives to run out of disk space which would then bring down Exchange.”

To solve the problem, this admin simply “disabled all iOS 6.1 on our Exchange system.”

iOS 6.1 was released on January 28. iOS 6.1.1 came out a couple of days ago, but for now it can only be installed on the iPhone 4S and is designed to fix cellular performance and reliability. Apple didn’t mention anything about Exchange fixes when releasing this latest version. Last year, iOS 6.0.1 fixed an Exchange problem that could lead to entire meetings being canceled when even a single iOS user declined a meeting invitation.

The iOS 6.1 problem isn’t the first time iOS has caused Exchange servers to perform poorly. An Apple support article from 2010 describes sync problems in iOS 4 and says, “Exchange Server administrators may notice their servers running slowly.” At the time, Microsoft noted iOS 4 led to “Exchange administrators… seeing heavier than normal loads on their servers from users with iOS devices.” Microsoft got in touch with Apple to fix that problem.

We’ve asked both Apple and Microsoft how many users are impacted by the latest problem, and when a more permanent fix is coming. We also asked Apple if it agrees with the workarounds suggested by Microsoft. Microsoft told us it has nothing else to say, as the “support article contains the latest.” Apple has not responded to our request for comment as of yet.

UPDATE: Apple posted a support document of its own today, describing the problem thusly:

When you respond to an exception to a recurring calendar event with a Microsoft Exchange account on a device running iOS 6.1, the device may begin to generate excessive communication with Microsoft Exchange Server. You may notice increased network activity or reduced battery life on the iOS device. This extra network activity will be shown in the logs on Exchange Server and it may lead to the server blocking the iOS device. This can occur with iOS 6.1 and Microsoft Exchange 2010 SP1 or later, or Microsoft Exchange Online (Office365).

Apple’s suggested fix is to turn the Exchange calendar off and back on again within the iPhone’s settings. An operating system update to fix the problem is on the way. “Apple has identified a fix and will make it available in an upcoming software update,” Apple said.

Source:  arstechnica.com

Wi-Fi expansion could harm smart car wireless network, automakers say

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

FCC wants to expand Wi-Fi in spectrum used by future vehicle-to-vehicle network.

A government plan to add spectrum to Wi-Fi’s 5GHz band might interfere with vehicle-to-vehicle wireless networks that would improve highway safety, dozens of auto industry representatives said in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission today.

The FCC’s planned Wi-Fi expansion would result in the 5GHz band stretching from 5.150GHz to 5.925GHz, improving wireless Internet access in homes and public areas. This requires sharing airwaves with Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) in the 5.850-5.925GHz part of that spectrum. As we’ve written, DSRC could eventually enable wireless mesh networks on highways, allowing cars to cooperate and thus avoid accidents.

“The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), along with major automakers, safety advocates and transportation officials from across the country, are joining together to urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to protect the 5.9 GHz band of spectrum set aside for connected vehicle technology—which is expected to save thousands of lives each year—from potentially harmful interference that could result from allowing unlicensed Wi-Fi-based devices to operate in the band,” the trade group said in an announcement.

The actual content of the group’s letter shows that industry players aren’t taking a hard line against the Wi-Fi expansion. The letter asks the FCC to perform “due diligence” on the issue of possible interference, and that a final decision on the Wi-Fi expansion come after a US Department of Transportation decision on implementing a connected vehicle network.

In addition to automakers such as Volvo, Chrysler, and Hyundai-Kia, the letter was signed by various researchers and even government officials, such as state transportation officials in Texas, Washington state, Michigan, and California.

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) has also said the potential interference must be studied closely. The ITSA letter echoed the NTIA’s position, saying “We share NTIA’s concern about the potential risks associated with introducing a substantial number of unlicensed devices into the 5.9 GHz band on which connected vehicle systems are based, and support NTIA’s conclusion that further analysis is needed to determine whether and how the multiple risk factors could be mitigated.”

The vehicle concerns by themselves may not be a deal-breaker in the plan to expand Wi-Fi spectrum, but they are indicative of how complicated and lengthy the process could be. The NTIA has said it won’t finalize its recommendations to the FCC until December 2014.

The FCC was certainly aware that its proposal requires the use of spectrum already dedicated to other uses, and has acknowledged that significant cooperation with federal agencies is needed. Ultimately, sharing this spectrum between Wi-Fi and other uses might require a database similar to the ones used for White Spaces networks. Such a setup will probably also be used for the FCC’s plan to share government-controlled spectrum with cellular providers.

A sharing system may well be good enough to prevent interference between cars on the roads and Wi-Fi users in buildings, particularly as 5GHz airwaves don’t travel as far as the ones in the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band, or the ones typically used for cellular networks. Given the nearly two-year timeline for the NTIA to do research and report back to the FCC, there’s little reason to think anything harmful will happen to the future smart car networks, but the process may impact how the Wi-Fi expansion is implemented.

Oh and just in case you were wondering, this is completely unrelated to the false “free Wi-Fi everywhere” story that we had to debunk last week.

Source:  arstechnica.com

4G to affect TV reception in two million [UK] homes

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Filters will be provided for Freeview televisions which experience reception problems following the roll out of 4G later this year.

Ofcom estimates that the TV viewing in up to 2.3 million British households could be affected by 4G but only 40% of them have Freeview.

Satellite receivers will not be affected, the watchdog claims.

A fund provided by the 4G auction winners will be used to pay for filters for those who need them.

At the moment only mobile operator EE is able to offer customers the 4G service, which provides faster mobile internet connections.

The other operators are currently bidding for licences in an auction run by telecoms watchdog Ofcom.

Up to £180m from the auction will be used to fund the filters, a spokesperson from Ofcom said.

However, around 1% of affected Freeview households will be unable to use them and will be offered an alternative instead.

Ofcom estimates there may be fewer than 1000 homes in the UK who will not be able to access those alternatives either and will be left without television services.

A not-for-profit organisation called Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited (DMSL) has been created to tackle the problem.

“I look forward to working closely with broadcasters and mobile network operators to ensure everyone continues to be able to receive their current TV service,” said newly appointed chief executive Simon Beresford-Wiley.

“DMSL plans to pre-empt the majority of potential interference issues caused by 4G at 800 MHz and existing TV services. We’re focused on being able to provide anyone who may be affected with the information and equipment they’ll need to ensure they continue to receive free-to-air TV.”

Last month Freeview homes in South Wales had to retune their TVs and boxes following technical changes to a transmitter in order to make way for 4G.

Source:  BBC

Mobile’s dawning signal crisis

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Telecommunications tower (Copyright: SPL)

In April 1973, Marty Cooper made a phone call that put him straight into the history books. As he strolled down Lexington Avenue, New York, the Motorola executive (CK) whipped out an enormous prototype handset that he had built and placed the first public, mobile phone call.

The brief chat – and the photograph that immortalised the moment – marks the start of the mobile phone era. But Cooper’s legacy extends far beyond just that first conversation.

Along with a host of inventions, the engineer also formulated – and lent his name to – a mathematical law that captures the inexorable progress of our communications. Cooper’s Law, as it is known, shows how our use of the ether has grown since Guglielmo Marconi first transmitted radio waves 2.4 kilometres across the streets of Bologna – eight decades ahead of Cooper’s own historic transmission.

It has been estimated that the technology available when Marconi made his first transatlantic transmission, radio techniques were able to support just 50 simultaneous conversations worldwide. Since then radio capacity has grown by a factor of a trillion – doubling every two-and-a-half years. That’s Cooper’s law.

As well as describing progress, the law also become the mobile industry’s ruthless master: providing an aggressive roadmap for the rise of mobile culture.

The industry met this challenge thanks to advances in technology.

But now the game has changed. Although few in the industry acknowledge it publically, Coopers Law, which has stood for more than a century, is broken. And it is all down to the phone in your pocket.

Bin there, sent that

To understand the scale of the problem, you only need to look at the numbers.

For example, the mobile giant Ericsson has been tracking the growth in mobile traffic for years. But 2009 was a landmark year, according to the firm’s Patrik Cerwall: “That year saw more data traffic than voice traffic over the mobile networks”. And the data traffic has been doubling every year since – far outracing Cooper’s law.

The big accelerator was the smartphone, which suddenly made the data-carrying capacity of 3G networks attractive. “People didn’t really understand the benefit of 3G until the app concept changed everything,” Cerwall elaborates.

Data-hungry video is also driving demand. Networking firm Cisco has just reported video downloads last year crossed the 50% threshold, accounting for half of all data transferred over the mobile networks.

At the moment, there are around 1.1 billion smart phones across the world; by 2018 (the horizon for the Ericsson forecasts) that will treble to 3.3 billion. If you think that in 2012, smartphones represented only 18% of total global handsets, but represented 92% of total global traffic, you begin to see the problem.

And the growth will continue relentlessly, according to the Cisco analysis. In 2012, for example, global mobile data traffic grew 70% from 2011, to 885 petabytes per month – that is 885 million gigabytes of data. And in the next five years, it is expected to increase 13-fold, eventually reaching 11.2 exabytes (11, 200 million gigabytes) per month by 2017, according to Cisco.

These dramatic hikes will in part be driven by more people switching to smartphones, particularly in emerging markets, as well as new features on phones and in apps.

The impact of simple changes in an app was dramatically demonstrated in November 2012 when Facebook released new version of its mobile app for Android and Apple phones. Prior to the release, according to networking firm Alactel, the social network already accounted for 10% of the signalling and 15% of the airtime load on 2G/3G networks, respectively. But, as users around the world updated and started to use this new version, the firm noticed a dramatic increase of almost 60% in the signalling load and 25% in the airtime consumed by new features in the app.

However, data hikes will not just be driven by consumers. Firms also predict a rise in so-called machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, that will connect the mobile networks to an array of inanimate objects – from bins that will signal when they are full to electricity meters that will constantly call in to the utility company.

By the end of this year, Cisco predicts that the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on earth, and by 2017 there will be more than 10 billion.

No wonder the chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission recently declared: “The clock is ticking on our mobile future.

Running out

The illusion is that the airwaves, like the atmosphere they pass through, are effectively limitless. We can’t see them, they can travel in any direction and link any two points – why should they be limited? Yet, in practice they are as hemmed in as a motorway through a city.

Radio spectrum is a limited resource, strictly farmed out by national and international regulation. At the moment it is all spoken for by the military, mariners, aviation, broadcasters and many more – all the way up to the very extreme of useful frequencies at 300 gigahertz.

No-one can get more bandwidth without someone else losing out. The 4G spectrum auction that recently began in the UK, for example, is the equivalent of adding a new six-lane motorway to the existing wireless infrastructure (itself already running at 10-lanes), built on virtual land vacated by old-fashion TV broadcasts.

It helps, but will only keep the expansion going for a certain time. Which is why mobile operators, and their rivals, are gearing up for major spectrum negotiations at the International Telecommunications Union in 2015. The so-called WRC-2015 conference aims to carve up the available spectrum amongst different competing uses. But an overriding priority is identifying and allocating additional frequencies to mobile services.

Already, the stakeholders are preparing their positions. Ericsson’s Afif Osseiran, project coordinator for the European consortium Metis, says the ITU conference “will be a crucial moment for laying out the spectrum needs for the 2020s.”

But industry will not just rely on these delicate negotiations to secure its future. Much of the advance in the past 20 years has not been about how many of these wireless “lanes” we have, but how efficiently we use them.

Like a newly built motorway that’s used by just a few cars, the first generation of phones were incredibly wasteful of the spectrum they used. Capacity was wasted in the same way as the gaps between vehicles represented lost transport opportunities.

In going from 1G to 2G, there was a 1,000-fold increase in capacity, mostly not because of the new radio lanes added in, but because more traffic was squeezed onto those lanes.

And in going from 2G to 3G, capacity rose another factor of 1,000: digital techniques managed to squeeze out yet more of the empty space.

But with the latest generation of tricks being rolled out in 4G (actually described as 3G Long Term Evolution by developers), the industry is running out of ways to improve the efficiency further.

These limits that determine how much information can be transmitted were established in the 1940s by the American engineer Claude Shannon. Although his employers, the Bell Labs of AT&T telephone, were interested primarily about the limitations of telephone wires, Shannon’s equations can be used equally for radio transmissions.

And mobile experts generally accept that the limits to data flow revealed by Shannon’s formulae are close to being reached.

Data crunch

So how will the mobile industry meet this challenge and keep satisfy out appetite for data?

The industry is clearly optimistic. It already confidently speaks of 5G – a further generation of technology that will roll out as current ideas have run their course. What exactly they mean by 5G is poorly defined, but a host of tricks are being discussed that it’s hoped will keep past trends going well into the next decade.

Which is just as well, as the lure of being immersed in a seamless flow of data will only become more compelling, says Rich Howard, formerly head of wireless research at Bell Labs and now with Winlab at Rutgers University.

“Mature technology is invisible – and that’s the direction we’re heading,” he says.

Howard looks forward to a day when phones begin to make intelligent decisions by themselves.

“What you want is a digital assistant that, while you’re having a call with somebody, will be busy looking at options for actions relevant to that call and have them available,” he says. So, if you are talking about a train journey, the phone could begin to check your calendar, ticket prices and connections. By the time you hang up, it would be able to present you with a list of available options. “Everytime you start to say something, you turn around and it’s already done, the way you want it done.”

It is a vision that is a world away from Cooper’s first call forty years ago and one that is only going to add the coming data crunch.

How the industry plans to keep up and deliver this future will be explored in the next article in this series.

Source:  BBC

Microsoft and Google push for FCC’s public Wi-Fi for free networks

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Microsoft and Google are working together to support the FCC’s free Wi-Fi proposal that might mean you could dump that monthly cellphone bill.

How sweet would it be to dump that monthly cellphone bill in favor of making calls over free Wi-Fi networks, so powerful it would be like “Wi-Fi on steroids“? Microsoft and Google are working together to support the FCC’s powerful Wi-Fi for free proposal. As a bonus, Super Wi-Fi is also “super for improving how we transmit and distribute energy in America.” However, as you might imagine, wireless carriers are fit to be tied and doing their best to put a stop to providing such free access.

Of course, it’s not the first time that the Microsoft-Google team — now there’s a phrase you don’t see very often — joined forces. In 2007, Microsoft, Google, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Philips came together to give FCC officials a “free phone” prototype device built by Microsoft. The FCC later rejected the white space device. Microsoft had wanted to be named an administrator to rule the white spaces, but so did Google. Microsoft came up with Wi-Fi over narrow channels which the company called WiFi-NC last year. In February 2012, Microsoft, Google and hundreds of other nonprofit groups and companies urged Congress not to restrict the FCC’s authority to structure proposed spectrum auctions.

Now, the Washington Post, which has jumped on the “Chinese-hacked-us-toobandwagon, reported that Google, Microsoft and other tech giants “say a free-for-all WiFi service would spark an explosion of innovations and devices that would benefit most Americans, especially the poor.”

The airwaves that FCC officials want to hand over to the public would be much more powerful than existing WiFi networks that have become common in households. They could penetrate thick concrete walls and travel over hills and around trees. If all goes as planned, free access to the Web would be available in just about every metropolitan area and in many rural areas.

The new WiFi networks would also have much farther reach, allowing for a driverless car to communicate with another vehicle a mile away or a patient’s heart monitor to connect to a hospital on the other side of town.

Meanwhile, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and chip makers Intel and Qualcomm are lobbying hard against the FCC’s proposal. In fact, AT&T announced that it, Verizon and T-Mobile had entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Defense “to test the viability of sharing 95 MHz of spectrum that is currently used by DoD and other federal agencies. This spectrum is located in the 1755 to 1850 MHz spectrum band, which NTIA has analyzed in great detail for potential clearing and sharing opportunities.” These wireless carrier companies are opposed to using the spectrum for free Wi-Fi to the public and insist that the airwaves should instead be sold to businesses.

But FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has designed the free Wi-Fi plan. If you are interested, you can read Genachowski’s Presentation on White Spaces for Wireless Broadband and Genachowski’s remarks to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science & Technology. He told the Washington Post, “Freeing up unlicensed spectrum is a vibrantly free-market approach that offers low barriers to entry to innovators developing the technologies of the future and benefits consumers.”

As Neowin pointed out, Microsoft and Google want more devices connecting to their cloud services such as Microsoft’s new Office 365, dubbed as “Your complete office in the cloud.”

It would seem as if law enforcement would be vehemently opposed to such free Wi-Fi. After all, law enforcement has a gold mine when it comes to spying via wireless carriers. In 2011, the cops collected a staggering 1.3 million customer records. Innocent Americans get caught in dragnet surveillance via cell tower dumps. The ACLU has warned that location tracking is out of control. Additionally, the ACLU uncovered “new” law enforcement/mobile carrier spying deals, such as “voicemail cloning, copying existing voicemail to a different account, resetting voicemail PIN, or the Verizon smorgasbord for law enforcement mobile/landline spying.” It seems the feds hope to replace warrantless GPS tracking with warrantless cell phone surveillance. But on the other hand, even with free and powerful wireless networks, cell phones wouldn’t go away entirely.

Besides, as it stands now with ECPA, the cloud is the cloud and any info stored there is not private, but is a favorite surveillance hunting ground used by law enforcement. Also, keep in mind that when an online service is “free,” it is because you are the product. Just the same, let’s hope the Microsoft/Google “team force” can help bring on the free Wi-Fi on steroids!

Source:  networkworld.com

AT&T buys Verizon spectrum for $1.9 billion

Friday, January 25th, 2013

http://www8.pcmag.com/media/images/335535-cell-tower.jpg?thumb=yVerizon Wireless and AT&T continued to dance the spectrum shuffle today, with the companies inking deals for the transfer of licenses in the 700 MHz and AWS bands.

Verizon agreed to sell 39 lower 700 MHz B block licenses to AT&T for $1.9 billion. In exchange, AT&T will hand over 10 MHz of AWS spectrum to Verizon in western markets like Los Angeles, Phoenix, Fresno, and Portland, Oregon.

Verizon also sold 700 MHz B block licenses to Florida-based private equity firm Grain Management for $189 million in exchange for leased access to Grain’s AWS spectrum in Dallas, Texas – which Grain is buying from AT&T.

The sales are part of Verizon’s April 2012 promise to sell its 700 MHz spectrum if regulators approved its $3.6 billion purchase of spectrum from U.S. cable companies. That deal went through in August, and Verizon is now ridding itself of its 700 MHz licenses.

Back in 2008, Verizon spent $9.4 billion on 109 licenses in the 700-MHz band during an auction run by the Federal Communications Commisison, ending up with spectrum in the A, B, and C blocks. Verizon said last year that it has used spectrum in the upper C block to deploy its 4G LTE network, and plans to use the cable-owned spectrum to continue that rollout. As a result, Verizon is selling the 700-MHz spectrum it purchased in the A and B blocks to the highest bidder.

In the past few months, Verizon has inked 700 MHz spectrum deals with five small and regional telecom carriers, as well as one minority-owned firm. Today’s AT&T deal, however, completes the sale of its lower 700 MHz holdings.

A list of the markets covered by the 39 licenses being sold to AT&T is available on Verizon’s blog. The deal must be approved by the FCC and Department of Justice.

Carriers like Verizon and AT&T are snapping up spectrum left and right in order to deal with the increased bandwidth demands of smartphone- and tablet-hungry consumers. Both carriers are also building out their 4G LTE networks, which boosts speeds but includes even more bandwidth strains, resulting in the need for more spectrum.

Earlier this week, AT&T paid $780 million the U.S. retail wireless operations of Atlantic Tele-Network Inc. (ATNI), which operates under the Alltel brand in several markets. That includes wireless properties, spectrum licenses, network assets, retail stores, and about 585,000 subscribers.

The FCC, meanwhile, is planning to auction off more spectrum – specifically, unused broadcast spectrum. In a blog post, AT&T said today that it is also wants 600 MHz spectrum from the auction. “Freeing up more spectrum is critical to U.S. economic growth and technological leadership,” the company said.

Source:  pcmag.com

Cisco to buy SON software vendor Intucell for $475M

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Intucell’s self-optimizing network software can decrease the number of dropped calls and lessen congestion, it said

Cisco Systems is planning to acquire Intucell in a bid to make its products more attractive to mobile operators as traffic volume on networks continues to grow.

Cisco said Wednesday it will pay approximately $475 million in cash and retention-based incentives to acquire the entire business and operations of Intucell.

Headquartered in Ra’anana, Israel, Intucell provides advanced self-optimizing network (SON) software, which enables mobile carriers to plan, configure, manage, optimize and repair cellular networks automatically, Cisco said in a statement.

Intucell’s software can detect coverage, overload and other issues in real time and automatically adjust the network to respond, according to the company’s website. For example, when too many users are connected to one base station, the system automatically adjusts coverage by getting assistance from nearby towers, the company said.

For users, that means fewer dropped calls, better network coverage and less congestion, according to Intucell. For operators, it is another tool as they face a growing volume of data, according to Cisco.

In addition to Intucell’s technological prowess, Cisco also highlighted the fact that the company’s software works with hardware from multiple vendors.

When the acquisition closes, Intucell employees will join Cisco’s Service Provider Mobility Group.

The acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter of Cisco’s fiscal year 2013, and is subject to the usual closing conditions, including applicable regulatory approvals.

Source:  computerworld.com

Google testing new wireless network, asks FCC to keep details secret

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Experimental network at Mountain View given “confidential” status.

Google is building a wireless network at its headquarters in Mountain View, California, using spectrum owned by Clearwire that’s suitable for LTE cellular deployments. The project is described in an application to the Federal Communications Commission, but many of the details are secret. In a letter accompanying the application, Google “respectfully requests confidential treatment.”

“Google has not made the information subject to this request available to the public or to any third parties, does not routinely disclose such commercially sensitive information to the public or to third parties, and has established procedures to protect such information internally,” the company wrote.

So what’s going on? What details we know are in Google’s application for an experimental license and a two-paragraph description accompanying it. “Google plans to test up to 50 base stations and 200 user devices,” wireless engineer Steven Crowley wrote yesterday in a blog post summarizing the application. “Base stations will be indoors and outdoors, with the range of each 100-200 meters, and 500-1000 meters, respectively. Both directional and non-directional antennas will be used. The experiment is to take place within a two-mile radius, so this is a quite dense network, which could have very high capacity for carrying data.”

Google requests use of frequencies 2524-2546 and 2567-2625 MHz, which are used by Clearwire for mobile broadband. “The only reason to use these frequencies is if you have business designs on some mobile service,” Crowley told the Wall Street Journal. Google has not revealed the output power of the devices used in the test, though, deeming the information “not applicable” in the application form. That “doesn’t make sense,” Crowley wrote. “The power is a fundamental quantity that should be disclosed so others may independently assess the potential for interference from the experiment to their services. FCC staff should ask Google to supply this information.”

The types of base stations and end-user devices used in the tests are also confidential.

Google, of course, has become an Internet provider with Google Fiber in Kansas City. There have also been rumors that Google is talking to Dish Network about offering cellular service. And just days ago, Dish offered to buy Clearwire, whose spectrum Google is using in this test.

Google’s previous requests for experimental licenses have used unlicensed frequencies such as those in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands used by Wi-Fi. “This appears to be Google’s first experimental radio application using mobile broadband bands,” Crowley wrote.

Source:  arstechnica.com

Android to beat Windows in 2016: Gartner

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Google’s Android operating system will be used on more computing devices than Microsoft’s Windows within four years, data from research firm Gartner showed on Wednesday, underlining the massive shift in the technology sector.

At the end of 2016, there will be 2.3 billion computers, tablets and smartphones using Android software, compared with 2.28 billion Windows devices, Gartner data showed.

That compares to an expected 1.5 billion Windows devices by the end of this year, against 608 million using Android.

Android, which reached the market only in 2008, has risen fast to be the dominant smartphone platform, controlling two-thirds of that market. It has taken the No. 2 spot in the fast-growing tablet computer market.

The proliferation of the free software gives Google its edge on the search market – its key profit generator.

Worldwide shipments of personal computers fell by over 8 percent in the third quarter, the steepest decline since 2001, as more consumers flock to increasingly powerful tablets and smartphones for more basic computing.

Microsoft’s Windows has dominated the personal computer industry for decades, but the company has struggled to keep up with shift to wireless, and in smartphones its market share is around 3 percent.

Source:  Reuters

New security threat at work: Bring-your-own-network

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Even as IT pros wrestle with the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, corporate security is being further complicated by another emerging trend: bring your own network (BYON).

BYON is a by-product of increasingly common technology that allows users to create their own mobile networks, usually through mobile wireless hotspots. Security professionals say BYON requires a new approach to security because some internal networks may now be as insecure as consumer devices.

Jim Kunick, an attorney with the Chicago law firm Much Shelist, said BYON represents a more dangerous threat to data security than employees who bring their own smartphones or tablets into the office. “The network thing blows this up completely, because it takes the data out of the network the company protects,” he said. “There’s no way to ensure the security of that data. People are running corporate apps and processing corporate and client data using networks that may or may not be secure.

“I mean, no one is sure the Boingo network is secure,” he said.

Kunick, an intellectual property attorney, said BYON is cropping up in start-ups, particularly at software development firms and entities that rely on cloud services.

“[BYON] allows people to run applications in three different cloud-based environments at one time because they’re on their own network, they’re on a network that they contracted with and they’re on the corporate network,” he said.

Initially, BYON should be seen as a policy issue where a company sets rules that ban employees from running private networks. Employees who use hotspots also have contracts with network service providers, he said, and they need to understand how data on that network may be used or further disclosed.

“In any major corporation, I’d assume they control [access] by means of a firewall. And, I have a medical device client [corporation] that encrypts all of their corporate data so you can’t even bring your own device into the company,” Kunick said. “You have to use a laptop that they provide. So it’s without question that you can’t bring your own network in.”

Ted Schadler, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, said there are even some companies that ask wireless service providers to move their towers.

“I’m aware of certain companies, such as large call centers, asking AT&T and Verizon to move their cell towers from around their buildings because they’re so concerned about unsupervised workers,” he said. “It just exacerbates the challenges.”

Schadler, who spoke at the Consumerization of IT in the Enterprise (CITE) Conference in New York City this week, said that in terms of physical security, there is little companies can do to avert data being shared over hotspot network links.

Steve Damadeo, IT Operations Manager Festo Corp., a producer of pneumatic and electric drive technology, said his first approach with employees who want to use personal technology at work is to educate them. “We try to spend a lot of time talking to employees about why it’s important to make sure when you’re inside our environment that you’re using corporate secure resources,” he said.

Festo hasn’t used wireless jamming or blocking technology because it is trying to keep wireless communications as open as possible.

Like many enterprises, Festo has multiple secure wireless networks, three of which its employees can access. The company’s primary wireless network is used for access to internal systems and data via authorized mobile devices; users of it are managed via custom-built mobile device management software.

A second network is offered to employees who want connectivity to the World Wide Web via their own mobile devices; that one allows access through a VPN. “We’ve not enabled full BYOD within the company, so at this point we’re able to provide VPN capabilities to them,” Damadeo said.

The third wireless network is for guests, and it is made available on a rotating encryption/key basis for visitors.

One other method of controlling how employees use wireless communications is to have them sign contracts, so that they understand they, too, are responsible for any lost data, Schadler said.

They’re “basically requiring employees sign their life away and indemnify the company against damages, and that makes them think twice,” he said.

Source:  computerworld.com

FCC to buy out TV broadcasters to free up mobile spectrum

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Over the last decade, it has become increasingly obvious that America’s spectrum resources are mis-allocated. The proliferation of cell phones, and more recently smartphones and tablets, has given mobile providers a voracious appetite for new spectrum. But a big chunk of the available spectrum is currently occupied by broadcast television stations. With more and more households subscribed to cable, satellite, and Internet video services, traditional broadcast television is looking like an increasingly outmoded use of the scarce and valuable airwaves.

Yet there’s no easy way to re-allocate the spectrum to higher-valued uses. Theoretically, broadcasters’ licenses are subject to periodic renewal by the Federal Communications Commission. But incumbent broadcasters have controlled their channels for so long that they’ve come to be regarded as de facto property rights. And needless to say, the politically powerful broadcasters have fiercely resisted any efforts to force them to relinquish their spectrum.

In February, Congress passed legislation instructing the Federal Communications Commission to tackle this problem using a strategy called “incentive auctions.” The commission began the formal rule-making process for the scheme on Friday.

Step 3: profit!

The plan has three phases. In the first phase, the FCC will conduct a reverse auction in which it asks broadcasters to tell the FCC how much it would take for the agency to buy them out. Presumably, the least popular (and, therefore, least profitable) channels will submit the lowest bids. By accepting these low bids, the FCC can free up the maximum possible spectrum at the minimum cost.

Second, the FCC will re-arrange the remaining broadcasters so they’re clustered together in the electromagnetic spectrum. That will free up contiguous blocks of spectrum that can be put to alternative uses.

Finally, the commission will put the newly-freed blocks of spectrum up for auction. If, as expected, the spectrum is more valuable when used for mobile services than broadcast television, then the FCC should reap significantly more from these traditional auctions than it had to pay for the spectrum in the original reverse auctions, producing a tidy profit for taxpayers.

While the broad structure of the program has been dictated by Congress, the FCC is seeking public input on the details. How should the auctions be conducted? Which broadcast stations should be eligible to participate? How should the spectrum assignments be re-arranged in phase 2? How much spectrum should be set aside for unlicensed uses?

Both public interest and industry groups praised the FCC’s initial proposal. John Bergmayer of Public Knowledge pointed out that many broadcast channels were already being viewed primarily via re-broadcast on cable and satellite networks. “It makes little sense to waste spectrum on unwatched signals,” he argued in an emailed statement. “The incentive auction approach strikes an appropriate balance by allowing some broadcasters to ‘cash out’ while putting their spectrum to better use.” And he expressed support for the FCC’s proposal to set aside some of the newly-liberated spectrum for unlicensed uses.

Bergmayer also praised an FCC proposal to update its “spectrum screen,” a set of rules that prevent any single provider from gaining too large a share of the spectrum available in a particular market. The current scheme, he said, “treats all spectrum alike, even though some spectrum bands are better-suited to mobile broadband than others.” As a result, he argued, it has become ineffective at preventing Verizon and AT&T from gaining enough spectrum to threaten competition. He urged the FCC to revise the rules to ensure the new auctions don’t further entrench the dominance of the largest incumbents.

The proposal also won plaudits from the Consumer Electronics Association. “Additional spectrum is not only key to our national competitiveness, but also needed for creating jobs and spurring economic growth,” said the CEA’s Julie Kearney. She called it a “great step forward toward unleashing countless innovative products and services.”

Source:  arstechnica.com