DTV Transition Update [Updated]

Posted in TV Bands, white space at 6:35 pm by JamesNeel

Following up on the earlier news that Obama wanted to delay the DTV transition, there’s been a couple major events the last two days.

First, on Monday, the Senate passed a bill delaying the transition to June 12. Then yesterday, the bill failed in the House.

So we’re back on schedule. For now.


(link) Off again. Probably until at least June 12 now.

Congress yesterday approved a four-month delay in plans to halt analog television, the latest chapter in a troubled effort by the government to clear airwave space for emergency responders and wireless services by moving millions of households to digital television.


Potentially really bad white space news (and a little good) [Updatedx2]

Posted in regulation, TV Bands, white space at 3:09 pm by JamesNeel

(pdf) First the good news. Today, the FCC announced that they were starting a white space fellowship program to help regulators around the world get up to speed on the FCC’s experiences.

Washington, D.C. – Federal Communications Commission Chairman (FCC) Kevin J. Martin today announced the creation of a new International TV White Spaces Fellowship and Training Initiative. The use of TV white spaces has the potential to improve wireless broadband connectivity and inspire an ever-widening array of new Internet-based products and services for consumers. International experts and fellows will have the opportunity to interact directly with FCC staff through in-country interaction, structured educational dialogue, a dedicated interactive website, online training videos, and an annual conference.

Coupled with 802 starting up its study on white-space issues, it looks like things are falling into place for a global standard in the next few years.

(link) Now the potentially really bad news. The Obama team is looking to delay the DTV transition. Here’s the AP story, but I prefer the ranty goodness in this link.

In a letter to key lawmakers Thursday, Obama transition team co-chair John Podesta said the digital transition needs to be delayed largely because the Commerce Department has run out of money for coupons to subsidize digital TV converter boxes for consumers.

Obama officials are also concerned that the government is not doing enough to help Americans – particularly those in rural, poor or minority communities – prepare for and navigate the transition

“With coupons unavailable, support and education insufficient, and the most vulnerable Americans exposed, I urge you to consider a change to the legislatively-mandated cutoff date,” Mr. Podesta wrote.

For technical clarity (for those that don’t know): Analog TV broadcasts (54 MHz – 806 MHz) are (were?) to shut down next month. All broadcasts then switched to DTV in the bands from 54-698 MHz (channels 2-43) and that’s when white-space services (around the DTV transmissions except for channels 3,4, and 37) are (were?) supposed to start.

But if the transition gets delayed, then 1) there’s less spectrum available (as there will be both analog and digital TV signals in band), 2) individual white space device approval / fielding might also have to wait (testing was for detection of DTV and impact to DTV, not analog TV).

This would also screw up the 700 MHz auctions (Verizon and AT&T) as the bands wouldn’t have cleared and  a MediaFLO deployment (Qualcomm) and some reallocated public safety spectrum.


(link) On Saturday, Martin spoke out at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics show against delaying the DRV transition:

I’m concerned about the confusion that could be created,” FCC chairman Kevin Martin said during an on-stage chat at a premier Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.


“We spent a lot of time making sure everyone knows about February 17. What kind of message will that send if we are telling people that is the date and then we don’t do it?”

To answer Martin, the economics term for the kind of message being sent is “regime uncertainty.” Hopefully that’ll get cleared up shortly after the 20th (preferably in a way that keeps the Feb 17th DTV transition date).

[Update 2]

(link) Writing for Ars Technica, Julian Simon thinks the DTV delay is being pushed at ClearWire’s behest – basically to muck up Verizon’s LTE deployments to the benefit of ClearWire’s WiMAX networks.

AT&T now supports the delay, but wants compensation. It also appears that they weren’t planning on rolling out as fast as Verizon claims they were going to.


Quick Links 11/19/08

Posted in business, cognitive pilot channel, collaborative research, TV Bands, white space at 12:06 pm by JamesNeel

(link) NAB to push Congress to overturn FCC white space ruling (I’m 99.9% certain it won’t be overturned, but it may impact the non-geolocation-enabled devices).

A statement by NAB suggests that the group may be considering asking Congress to either reverse or substantially alter the FCC’s white-space decision. According to NAB, a large number of lawmakers “publicly expressed opposition or concern over the FCC’s proposed white-space action.”

Among the more notable names listed by NAB are House Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.).

“There was and continues to be immense concern from a large bipartisan group of lawmakers,” Wharton said, “who recognize the important role that free television broadcasting plays in the daily lives of all Americans. Whether it is for emergency information, AMBER Alerts or news and entertainment, free TV is a service used more than eight hours per day by more than 100 million American households.”

(link) A podcast on who will build the white space network. As opposed to, say, DSRC, I don’t think this is as much of a problem for WISP service. Maybe for other use-cases.

(link) However, Clark Howard (more of a personal finance guy, so that’s how broad white space is now) touts white space for free Internet. If that’s the business model, then there will be deployment issues (see muni WiFi).

(link) Clearwire may use white spaces for added capacity. Since that was news to me, here’s a key excerpt:

The vote was passed 5-0 and will allow Google and friends – including Time Warner, Comcast, and Intel – to pour their $3.2bn into the venture and take 22 per cent of the company. That leaves Clearwire shareholders with 27 per cent and Sprint Nextel with a controlling 51 per cent ownership.

But even that infusion of cash isn’t going to be enough to build the 140 million points of presence New Clearwire is expected to need for national coverage. That’s going to set the company back another $2.5bn at least – possibly a lot more, which explains the sudden interest in white space spectrum.

“I think that presents some interesting opportunities for us, and we’ll be looking at how we might leverage it in the rural areas,” said CEO Benjamin Wolff, in a conference call following the filing of Clearwire’s Q3 results, as reported by Information Week. This fits in well with how Motorola sees white-space spectrum being used: medium-distance fixed connections for telco backhaul, rather than the “Wi-Fi on steroids” that some have been promoting.

(link) Making money coming and going (from both the air interface in the preceding and the content via ads), Google said of the expected boost in internet usage by 25-30%. I think that’s a bit high in the near term, but here’s the nut graph.:

Page predicted the free use of white space will boost Internet use so much, his firm’s online ad revenue will rise 20% to 30% a year.

(link) Dell to include white space capabilities in their laptops.

And for more general cognitive radio…

(link) PicoChip looking at cognitive radio for femtocells. It’s not called as such, but:

picoChip Designs Ltd (Bath, England) has released three reference designs for femtocells that deals with one of the major problems and concerns surrounding the emerging technology.The software designs are said to provide the first integrated ‘network listen’ (or ’sniffer’) capabilities for femtocells.

“A femtocell needs to control itself and fit in with its network environment and ensure there is no interference. This diagnostics capability is hugely important for cell planning, synchronization and handover within networks, and these designs provide the algorithms needed for the necessary measurement and reporting information,”, Rupert Baines, VP of marketing at picoChip told EE Times Europe.

The ‘network listen’ functionality also enables the implementation of the self-organizing network (SON) techniques that will underlay the operation of future networks, and can be used to support timing and synchronization.

Baines notes that currently, most of this diagnostics and interference management is supplied by the femtocell OEMs, often using proprietary algorithms and computational techniques.

(link) A brief overview of the E2R effort.


Google: The Kid that Gets Your Side in Trouble

Posted in TV Bands, white space at 10:16 am by JamesNeel

Google has started a propaganda promotional campaign to get public opinion behind opening up the TV Band’s white spaces for unlicensed devices. The website is here where you can sign a petition urging the FCC to open make unassigned TV bands officially unlicensed, if you’re so inclined (I’m not yet at this moment).

According to Fierce Wireless

Google is hoping public pressure will help it in its campaign to get the FCC to make white space spectrum available for unlicensed wireless Internet devices. The company today launched a campaign called “Free the Airwaves” that will target rural and Native American communities across the country that have inconsistent or no Internet connections.

Google has been lobbying to get this spectrum, which sits between the airwaves currently licensed to TV broadcasters, to be used to develop new mobile communications devices. However, the initiative has raised the ire of the National Association of Broadcasters, which argues that white-space devices may interfere with existing television broadcasts.

Since broadband over TV bands is already authorized for rural spaces, but for fixed devices (802.22), this will likely be counter-productive as the ostensible reason has already been (or is being) addressed via a less contentious route.

This is the latest example where I like Google and in general agree with their direction, but fear that they’re hurting the white space cause by 1) being way too combative, 2) not having a solid technical grasp of what they’re proposing, 3) showing really bad timing (last week’s news on wireless mic detection was not countered, so I’m assuming it was relatively accurate).

Since they’re making their positions so very public and stridently before all of the technical issues are worked out (and I think they will be, primarily via geolocation and transmitter registries ala 802.11y), I fear cognitive radio and white spaces will be tarnished thus making later deployment of cognitive radio into other bands and the deployment of new applications more difficult.


Quick Links – July 18, 2008

Posted in military, quick links, regulation, research initiatives, TV Bands, white space at 3:41 pm by JamesNeel

Or all white space, all the time! But first, some non-white space links… 

(link) Call for more dynamic spectrum policies. Not a lot new there for those active in the policy arena. Key graphs:

“Traditionally, spectrum policy has been all about exclusive licensing for specific service, during extended time periods. The considered opinion now is that static long-term licensing of spectrum hinders fast innovation cycles, and across the board. The fact of the matter is that new technologies tend to diffuse faster than regulations, especially in dynamic sectors like telecom. Already, the considerable strides made in digital technology, such as spread spectrum, software defined radio and mesh networks, do call into question the policy of administrative allocation of exclusive-use licenses.

With novel software, coordination amongst service providers in real time can allow umpteen secondary devices to transmit even while providing the right quality of service and non-interference for cellular customers. The bottom line is that we need proactive spectrum policy to fastforward growth of the most desired applications, as they evolve and take off.”

(link) The US Air Force is funding Finnish cognitive radio research. (I don’t know which Finns. I assume CWC @ Oulu, but I don’t see confirmation on their research page)

Officials from the Air Force, Army and Navy are now funding a Finnish research program that explores new approaches for improving telecommunications network management. 

The ultimate goal is to build on this basic research and create a cognitive network that will use rational decision-making methods to improve the speed and quality of information delivered via Defense Department networks.

(link) Ars Technica has a nice overview on the current round of white space testing.

(link – pdf) The current white space test schedule. Note a sports and entertainment venues are on the schedule.

(link) There was a complaint filed with the FCC on interference from unlicensed wireless microphones. Mmmm politics. I thought I went into engineering to avoid that. (FYI, the Public Interest Spectrum Coalition is not completely new as the article implies; they also were active in the 700 MHz block – see link1 & link 2)

A group calling itself the Public Interest Spectrum Coalition (PISC) and the Media Access Project have filed a complaint with the FCC regarding the unlicensed use of wireless microphones. The Media Access Project has filed a proposed “pathway to authorisation” for existing users that would help to protect new public safety and commercial wireless services operating on UHF channels 52-60 from 17 February 2009.

Michael Marcus has much more on this.


Notes from Lary Alder (Google) at White Space Workshop @ SDRF

Posted in TV Bands, white space at 5:15 pm by JamesNeel

Notes below the fold

Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from (Paul Greenis) Adapt4 at White Space Workshop @ SDRF

Posted in cognitive pilot channel, devices, TV Bands, white space at 2:47 pm by JamesNeel

Notes below fold

Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from TDK RF Solutions (instead of Carl Stevenson from 802.22)

Posted in TV Bands, white space at 1:31 pm by JamesNeel

Didn’t find very much interesting in this talk. Kinda high level view of what cognitive radio is and the associated regulations (there was a nice summary slide of all the FCC activities with SDR, CR, and white space devices). 

Basic point is CR will be important, but it’s not easy, and regulations will be changing over time.

Question: John (Vanu) asks how you do interference measurements for new devices using radically different devices. TDK suggests you work with all parties and find ways to make them happy with the testing

Notes from Bruce (MSTV) at White Space Workshop @ SDRF

Posted in cognitive pilot channel, TV Bands, Uncategorized, white space at 1:24 pm by JamesNeel

Unfortunately wordpress ate my post and this was where I was taking my notes, so highlights from memory (take the numbers with a grain of salt). It’s really a shame as it was quite a detail-rich presentation. I might supplement this later after I get a copy of the slides.

Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from the White Space Workshop @ SDR Forum in Portland

Posted in TV Bands, white space at 12:10 pm by JamesNeel

Probably going to be a long post, so it’s below the fold. Typed in real time, so forgive the fact that there’ll be more typos than usual.

Kicked off by John Chapin (Vanu, Chair SDRF) – noted rapid projected growth in spectrum demand (an extra 500 MHz required under 5 GHz perhaps in the next 15 years). I’ll try to gather my notes from each talk in a different post.


Google suggests wireless mics should switch to CDMA

Posted in shameless self-promotion, TV Bands, white space at 9:23 am by JamesNeel

Google has a combative white paper up arguing that wireless mics should switch to CDMA (with cognition to adapt spreading codes). Here’s a direct link to paper (pdf)

My comments:

1) I don’t think implicitly arguing that wireless mics should switch to spread spectrum will advance the white space cause. Comes across as a bait (no interference to legacy systems!) and switch (legacy systems must change!).

2) I think you can get very close to what Google wants with pseudo-noise codes or fast frequency hoppers as opposed to adaptive codes which could have some significant stability issues with 300+ uncoordinated adapting mics all in close vicinity unless done right.

3) I do think it would be a good thing to use digital spread spectrum mics instead of analog mics, but Google (and this applies to me as well) is the wrong one to be making the case. Because of the messenger, it’ll likely slow the transition.


White Space News Roundup (May 17, 2008)

Posted in TV Bands, white space at 9:43 am by JamesNeel

On the Google public policy blog, there’s a link to a Google white paper (pdf) describing their geolocation proposal in more detail (though not a lot more). As opposed to earlier reports, they appear to be deemphasizing the aspect of having existing mics upgraded to include a beacon and are going more for a pure geolocation / database method (I think that’s preferable).

They’re also engaging in a little bit of the “cure for everything” mentality that is an unfortunate trait of the cognitive radio community. Specifically, Google is also touting the ability of unlicensed mesh White Space devices to aid the public safety community after a natural disaster. While the combination of mesh networks and cognitive radio is frequently touted for those purposes, I think it’s an unneccessary distraction in this case.

Specifically, what the unlicensed White Space community needs to focus on is just demonstrating non-interference with incumbents – which unfortunately hasn’t gone as smoothly as it could have. As additional features creep into these prototypes, the chances for bugs will neccessarily go up and any error at this point is being seized upon by the incumbents as proof of the infeasibility of DSA & cognitive radio.

Other notes:

In the last post on Google’s white space proposal, I mentioned that theaters and churches were also objecting, but I did not have links to support that assertion. Finally, here’s some news articles to support those claims.

Grand Ole Opry (along with CMT and MTV) complains about White Space.

A church audio blog following the controversy. It’s a short link roundup, but the Shure link is interesting to follow (they’re against it). While I’m on the topic of Shure, Michael Marcus rightfully rips into them in this post where he points out that frequencies suggested for use by Shure for wireless microphones, often unlicensed, interfere with licensed public safety incumbents! (Someone once said something about motes, beams, and eyes that seems apropos.)


Won’t somebody think of the professional athletes?

Posted in TV Bands, white space at 8:20 am by JamesNeel

In Reuters earlier this week, the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL collectively issued a statement as the Sports Technology Alliance in opposition to the use of the White Space (unoccupied TV bands), and particularly singled out Google’s plan.

We are deeply troubled by the very serious disruption and harm that portable device interference will cause to sport broadcast programming, whether prerecorded or live, and the conduct of the games themselves,” the Sports Technology Alliance, said in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission.

“We are deeply troubled by the very serious disruption and harm that portable device interference will cause to sport broadcast programming, whether prerecorded or live, and the conduct of the games themselves,” the Sports Technology Alliance, said in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission.”

Basically, they think that the wireless mics will be excessively interfered with. Google responded by basically calling the Sports Technology Alliance a bunch of Luddites (probably not too helpful).

“It’s really too bad that some people prefer the comfort of the past to the promise of the future, and defend the status quo instead of working to bring the Internet to more Americans.

“We enjoy the Super Bowl and NCAA tournament as much as the next sports fan, and wouldn’t support any plan that interferes with professional sports”

Similar thoughts have been expressed by hospitals, theaters, and churches (sorry, can’t find links for the last two). All of these make some use of the TV spectrum now (wireless mics for the latter two, medical telmetry in Channel 37 for the hospitals), and they don’t want their implicitly-government-provided ox gored.

My two cents. After having a little time to think it over, I think the Google plan (geolocation + database, + beacon for mics) can be improved to handle these complaints in three simple steps.

1) Extend the database to include churches, theaters, hospitals, and sporting venues. They don’t move, so this should be easy enough to add.

2) Add to the database location entries a field (or fields) to capture permissible transmit times. Most of the time an arena, theater or church are not in use, but when they are, it’s not typically something the venues want to keep secret.

3) The protected regions around these venues should be much smaller than for TV footprints.

With these in place, the white space device gets its location information (either directly or indirectly), the time of day (directly or indirectly), logs onto the net (again, either directly or indirectly) and finds out if it’s ok to transmit in its current location and for how long (alternately it can periodically poll the database to make certain it’s ok to transmit).

Hospitals, churches, arenas, and theaters while they’re in use (for hospitals, this means all the time). Further I see no reason why mics in those locations would need to add the special beacon, so all of these guys could continue using their equipment as before. Of course, it would be incumbent on the white space coalition to build / maintain a good working database, but that sounds like something Google would be good at. Plus it would give an excuse to create “Google church” (find out what’s going on at the churches in your neighborhood and when), “Google Theater”, “Google Sporting Events”, and the like.

As an added bonus, with all that venue information and the Google brand, Google could also start to sell event tickets online and break the TicketMaster monopoly.


EDN Article on White Space

Posted in TV Bands at 8:26 am by JamesNeel

is here. I note that Google and I are on the same page.

For the TV broadcasters, Google suggested that white-space devices be required to incorporate both Internet access and  some type of geo-location technology, such as GPS. That way, the devices could check an online database, maintained either by the FCC or a third party, of licensed users of the spectrum at a particular location at a particular time.

My rationale: There’s no need to bite off the whole enchilada in one go. We can quickly get someting up and running and demonstrate feasibility / build confidence for the concept of secondary spectrum use. Later we can begin deploying ad-hoc networks as the technology matures.

Note that in an ad-hoc network of limited size, if at least one device has net access and geolocation capability (caveat being there’s many many more ways to do geolocation than just GPS), then we can still have networks of mostly cheap radios.

I would also note that there should be two different sets of regulations here, one for when the CR knows its location (higher power) and one when the CR does not know its location (lower power).


More Quick Links

Posted in conferences, TV Bands at 1:52 pm by JamesNeel

CrownCom emailed a reminder that their 3rd quasi-annual conference will be May 15-17. (I’m not going – too expensive for my little travel budget to fly to Singapore.)

Slate has an overview of the issues involved with secondary access in the TV band. Nothing that new or insightful, but take this as a measure of how mainstream this issue is becoming.

The SDR Forum will be hosting a workshop on June 19th in Portland to discuss the secondary use of TV Spectrum. More information is available here. It’s part of the quarterly SDRF meeting and costs $350 for the whole meeting which runs from June 16-19. (I don’t know if I’m going. Probably not.)


TV White Space News

Posted in TV Bands at 1:36 pm by JamesNeel

The FCC says they’re resuming testing of white space devices.

Testing will begin Jan. 24 on a number of devices, including ones submitted by Microsoft, Motorola and Phillips. FCC chairman Kevin Martin had said earlier in the week that testing would begin by the end of the month.

The FCC commissioners generally agreed that there is a technological solution that will allow the devices to operate in the broadcast band without interfering with digital pictures. Broadcasters are not at all convinced, and they have lobbied hard against the devices, saying that any chance they could interfere with the  DTV transition is too big a chance to take.

That spat between potential white space vendors and broadcasters is captured well in this article.

A “public misinformation campaign” by the National Association of Broadcasters has “confused the testing process” and misled policymakers, the Wireless Innovation Alliance said yesterday in a letter to David Rehr, president of the broadcasters’ association.

Broadcasters such as CBS and ABC oppose the plan, saying the gadgets may freeze the screens of consumers who get digital TV over the air. Sports leagues and Broadway theaters also want the devices banned, saying they may interfere with wireless microphones using the same frequencies.

White-space backers “cannot run and hide from the fact that their own technology utterly failed” FCC tests last year, Dennis Wharton, NAB executive vice president, said in statement.

Here’s the referenced letter (pdf).


Quick Link Roundup

Posted in TV Bands at 11:01 am by JamesNeel

Here’s four quick cognitive radio links gleaned from an SDR Forum email.1. Britain’s plan for moving the TV bands. The key graph from my perspective:

Operators will be given flexibility in what they do with the spectrum and by allowing them to decide what services to offer and giving them the freedom to change their use of it over time as technologies and marketplace needs evolve, Ofcom said the release of the digital dividend will help drive tech innovation.

That’s one aspect of the property-rights approach I argued for at this year’s SDR Forum. If that’s coupled with the ability to resell and subdivide, I’ll be a happy man.

2. Google to bid on UK Spectrum? Basically, Google can’t comment because of US regulations (they’re bidding for US spectrum and announcing intent to bid on other spectrum would be considered an attempt to collude), but everyone thinks Google will bid on UK spectrum as well.

3. A report on the potential impact of dynamic spectrum access in Asia. It eventually links back to a market study on DSA which is available for purchase from ABI here.

4. Samsung announces cognitive reception chip? Digging deeper, it’s not so much a cognitive radio as an RFIC for supporting spectrum sensing in the UHF bands. The article also claims that the *circuit* will be adopted as part of the 802.22 standard, but surely this is a reporting error (you don’t standardize circuits, but you could standardize the performance characteristics of that circuit as a minimum performance level). Details are to be published at ISSCC 2008.


Motorola Submits new white space device for FCC testing

Posted in TV Bands at 6:35 am by JamesNeel

As described in this article, Motorola submitted a new prototype for testing by the FCC for secondary use in the TV bands. They plan on applying two approaches to achieving non-interference. For high power devices, geolocation with a database lookup will be used. For low power devices, spectrum sensing will be used (the approach previously prototyped by Microsoft and Phillips).

Personally, I think geolocation will have to be the approach used to provide a high probability of non-interference.


FCC to continue white space prototype testing

Posted in TV Bands at 3:14 pm by JamesNeel

On Oct 5, the FCC announced (pdf) that they will continue testing white space prototypes though the details will be released at a later date. This is good news for the white space consortium who had earlier had a failed prototype submitted by Microsoft (though the Phillips prototype apparently passed muster).

 So, non-802.22 cognitive radio may still be coming to a TV band near you in the near future…


FCC announces revised 700 MHz rules

Posted in 700 MHz, TV Bands at 2:23 pm by JamesNeel

Basically, the joint commercial/public safety initiative is going forward.Relevant excerpts from the news release:

Under the new band plan, 62 megahertz of spectrum, divided into five spectrumblocks, will be auctioned for commercial uses.

The commercial spectrum will be made available at auction in a mix of geographic area sizes, including Cellular Market Areas (CMAs), Economic Areas (EAs), and Regional Economic Area Groupings (REAGs).

Within the 24 megahertz of public safety spectrum, the public safety wideband spectrum is being redesignated for broadband use to allow for nationwide interoperable broadband communications by public safety users.

There will be a single, nationwide license for the public safety broadband spectrum, assigned to a Public Safety Broadband Licensee, which will work with the adjacent commercial D Block licensee as part of the 700 MHz Public Safety/Private Partnership

The Upper D Block commercial licensee and the Public Safety Broadband Licensee will form a Public Safety/Private Partnership to develop a shared, nationwide interoperable network for both commercial and public safety users.

The licensees of the Upper 700 MHz Band C Block of spectrum will be required to provide a platform that is more open to devices and applications. This would allow consumers to use the handset of their choice and download and use the applications of their choice in this spectrum block, subject to certain reasonable network management conditions that allow the licensee to protect the network from harm.

The band plan (pdf) is posted here.

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »