Feeds

US carriers attack FCC's puritan broadband

Wireless Groundhog Day

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

To the surprise of no one, engineers representing America's incumbent wireless carriers and broadband internet providers have attacked the FCC's plan to grace the country with a free "third pipe."

Earlier this month, the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) told chairman Kevin Martin he could move ahead with his plan to provide ad-supported wireless broadband in the so-called AWS-3 band, saying this could be done without interfering with signals in the adjacent AWS-1 band.

But T-Mobile - the Deutsche Telekom-owned outfit now sitting in AWS-1 band - sees things a differently. This week, it led a cavalcade of carriers, ISPs, and handheld manufacturers in telling Martin that the OET is misreading its own tests.

"The conclusions drawn by the FCC from the tests were way off and based on faulty assumptions," Tom Sugrue, T-Mobile's vice president of government affairs and former chief of the FCC's wireless bureau, tells The Reg. "They ignored some of the data, mis-characterized other parts, and so forth. It seemed to us just to be an effort to reach a result that was pretty much predetermined."

The OET ran its interference tests alongside T-Mobile engineers, at a company lab in Seattle. And the commission stands by its results. "We believe that we can move forward with the proposal and allow for free broadband to be used in AWS-3 without causing harmful interference to users in adjacent bands - namely AWS-1 - in a way that would be beneficial to consumers," says FCC spokesman Rob Kenny.

"Our engineers were out in Seattle. They participated in the testing with T-Mobile. And they told [the chairman] there was a way to go forward."

The chairman unveiled his free broadband plan in June, more than two years after a (very) similar plan was proposed by a start up that calls itself M2Z Networks. Under the plan, the FCC would auction off the spectrum between 2155- and 2180-MHz on the US dial, and the winning bidder would have no choice but to plant a free network on up to 25 per cent of that spectrum.

This free network would offer open-access to any application and any device. It would provide download speeds of at least 768kbps. And it would include some sort of "network-based filtering mechanism...in order to protect children and families."

In May 2006, M2Z asked the FCC if it could license a slightly smaller chunk of spectrum for this sort of puritanical wireless network. After sitting on the proposal for 15 months, the commission said no. But Martin eventually decided - following an M2Z lawsuit - that the FCC should auction off the AWS-3 band (along with an extra 5-MHz from the AWS-2 band) and attach rules that look an awful lot like M2Z's business plan.

In its original application, for instance, M2Z said that its free ad-driven network would reach at least 50 per cent of the US within four years and 95 per cent within a decade. The FCC has now turned this timetable into a requirement for the winner of its auction.

Martin is now awaiting a response to the plan from his follow commissioners. But so far, there's been nothing but, well, radio silence. The commissioners will not vote on the issue at their next meeting on November 4, and even if the plan is approved by the end of this year, an auction isn't likely to occur before the end of 2009.

Like the other incumbent wireless carriers, T-Mobile doesn't like the FCC auctioning off spectrum with such strict requirements. "I don't agree with this as a licensing plan - this is actually a reversal of 20 years or more of bipartisan spectrum policy where you got away from using one company's business plan to set rules," says Sugrue.

In all likelihood, T-Mobile would prefer to fold the AWS-3 band into its own network - without having to serve up a portion for free. But Sugrue insists the main issue is possible interference with the company's existing bandwidth.

The FCC is proposing the deployment of Time Division Duplexing (TDD) technology won't interfere with T-Mobile's Frequency Divisioned Duplexing (FDD) network, and in the Czech Republic, a TDD network has already been rolled out alongside the company's FDD bandwidth. But Sugrue says this is apples and oranges. "The TDD/FDD scenario in the Czech Republic is very different from [what's been proposed] for the AWS-3 band, and thus, any extrapolation of broader lessons from these operations is fundamentally flawed."

And so, the FCC is embroiled in two interference kerfuffles. This month, OET also OKed the use of high-speed broadband devices in the US "white spaces" - unused portions of the television spectrum - and naturally, the TV folk are peeved.

But Tom Sugrue says his problem is worse. "The [white spaces] order that is now before the commissioners to be voted on has a 150-page engineering analysis," he says. "With the OET report they put out for [AWS-3], they spent three days with us and put out a 23 page report. It's a study in contrasts as far as how seriously these issues are being treated." ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
'Serious flaws in the Vertigan report' says broadband boffin
Report 'fails reality test' , is 'simply wrong' and offers ''convenient' justification for FTTN says Rod Tucker
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
Apple Watch will CONQUER smartwatch world – analysts
After Applelocalypse, other wristputers will get stuck in
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.