Posts Tagged ‘fcc’

Top News: FCC Initiates Release of 195 MHz of Unlicensed 5 GHz Spectrum

January 11, 2013

          Great news on the wireless front, coming from the FCC: Chairman Julius Genachowski announced at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on Wednesday, January 9, 2013, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) will be working towards freeing up as much as 195 MHz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band, making it the largest block of unlicensed spectrum to be made available in a decade.

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                The move is designed to alleviate heavy Wi-Fi traffic at sites such as airports, convention centers, and large conferences, while simultaneously increasing HD video quality and improving speeds in residences with multiple devices. This action will increase and free-up the unlicensed spectrum available for ultra high-speed, high-capacity Wi-Fi (known as Gigabit Wi-Fi), by up to 35%.  

          Alleviating network congestion and approving use of the unlicensed spectrum is one part of a much larger “technology initiative” ordered by President Obama: to free as much as 500 MHz of spectrum by 2020. Rob Enderle, Principal Analyst at the Enderle Group, states, “Given that National WiFi expansion is a presidential priority, the FCC is likely going to do all it can to free up the spectrum.” Chairman Genachowski has committed the Commission to move hastily in order to complete this process, however, as the 5GHz band is currently used for Federal and non-Federal purposes, the effort will likely require a significant collaboration between multiple agencies. Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge said, “There’s a potential with a move like this to not just look at bands generically, but to differentiate the circumstances where these bands should be put to use as they become available. That can make it become a much more efficient system overall, when we can match the traffic and need with the right spectrum.” ImageThe FCC has not only committed to free up bandwidth, but they have also hinted at putting an increased emphasis on spectrum allocation. Feld continued on to state, “Having more of these bands that are separate from each other allows you more freedom and better setup if you’re at a convention center, for instance. You can dedicate the 5 GHz band to the WiFi for the convention floor, while different bands are being used for services like internal security and credit card readers and other needs for a wireless network.” In addition to more specific allocation, the FCC additionally has taken steps in recent years to employ the potential of next-generation unlicensed spectrum, which operates in a lower frequency than existing Wi-Fi, and would enable wireless communication to travel longer distances, better penetrate barriers such as building materials, and offer improved coverage over varying terrain.

             It is evident that the Commission is better understanding the urgent need for not only wireless service, but improved wireless service, for the enterprise and consumer landscape. This need is only increasing as the population quickly gravitates towards the inevitable use of smartphones, tablets, and the cloud. It is a very interesting time for technology, and the Wi-Fi world as a whole; it is likely that such a massive release of spectrum for National use will spark a total reconstruction of what we now know as a wireless network. For now, we sit back and wait.

Verizon, Google and the Net Neutrality Debate

August 17, 2010
Image: socialsignal.com

Hot on the tech news circuit last week was the Net Neutrality debate which is heating up as more companies begin to take sides.  If you are not familiar with what has been happening in the world of Net Neutrality, here’s a quick synopsis:

About a week ago, Google and Verizon, proposed an agreement that would seal the deal on Net Neutrality (keeping the Internet open), but it had one [not so] small catch.  In the agreement, wireless, mobile broadband would receive an exemption from Internet openness.  This has begun to spark massive debate over what would happen if this “proposal” were actually presented as a piece of legislation (this would need congressional and FCC approval and is not simply a business deal).  You can read the official agreement here. Concern has been label by some as “cable-ization” of the Internet – content that used to be all fair game and evenly accessible would be able to be pushed ahead, eliminated altogether,”premier” Internet content could be made available to those who paid more for their mobile service and certain users might receive “prioritized” content.

Anyone who has read an ounce of technology news in the last year understands that this is a very big deal.  With Smartphones making up for over 20% of the cellular industry and Wi-Fi networks appearing almost everywhere, it is safe to say that the future will be a wireless world.  I find it almost comical that wired Internet openness is protected in proposal…what a perfect distraction from what is really going on here!  Who cares so much about wired Internet when the whole world is becoming mobile?

Companies have begun to choose sides.  For example AT&T, which would obviously benefit from having more control over the content that is delivered and sold to it’s subscribers call the proposal, according to the New York Times, “a reasonable framework”.  On the flip side, companies that were born out of Internet openness like those of Facebook, were coming out not in support of the proposal.

Today the debate pot was stirred again as House Democrats “slammed” the proposal, according to PCWorld, in fact the proposal prompted Reps, Edward Markey, Anna Eshoo, Mike Doyle, and Jay Inslee to write a letter to the FCC chairman urging him to act on broadband regulation.  The letter referred to Internet doomsday prophesy such as, “closing the open Internet”, “inconsistent principals”, and creating demographics where users who need content the most would not be able to obtain it.

According to PCWorld, Richard Whitt, Washington telecom and media counsel for Google defended the proposal, stating, “No other company is working as tirelessly for an open Internet”.  That being said, the writing on the wall is very real and does present a future in which the, Internet-as-we-know-it, may suffer greatly.

For more on The Net Neutrality Debate, check out these articles:

NYT

PCWorld

Fiercebroadbandwireless.com

Obama works to add broadband spectrum for commercial use

June 28, 2010

According to the New York Times, President Obama will sign, today, a memorandum that will allow for 500 megahertz of broadband spectrum to be auctioned off.  The majority of spectrum will be available for commercial use – this addition spectrum will almost double what is currently available and is a necessary addition given the prediction of expected mobile device usage in the coming years.

Some of the plan, which will allow for the freeing up of spectrum which is owned by both the government and private companies, will need to be approved by Congress.  The plan comes in the wake of a March recommendation by the FCC in its “National Broadband Plan”.

Read the NYT article