Archive for the ‘Spectrum’ Category

Experimental Radio Applications at the FCC

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

This summarizes a selection of applications for the Experimental Radio Service received by the FCC during June 2010. These are related to aircraft systems, WiMAX, sports telecast support, public safety communications, tactical cellular service, medical telemetry, satellite, antennas, radar, white-space devices, weapons telemetry, spacecraft communications, and broadcasting.

  • AAI/Textron Systems Corporation filed an application (with supporting exhibits) for experimental license. The company wants to test its Shadow 200, Aerosonde, Orbiter and other unmanned aircraft systems. This is related to work for the United States Marine Corp. Operation is to be on 310-390 MHz, 902-928 MHz, 1090 MHz, 1350-1390 MHz, 1700-1859 MHz, and 4400-4999 MHz. Transmitting equipment is manufactured by Microhard Systems Corporation, Free Wave Technologies, Advanced Microwave Products, Global Microwave Systems, and Microair Avionics.

FCC staff has asked for several items of information before approving the application. The FAA operates in the frequency bands 328.6-335.4 MHz, 1090 MHz, and 1215-1390 MHz; FCC staff asks for coordination of these bands with the FAA Regional Office. In addition, the frequency bands 225-328.6 MHz and 335.4-399.9 MHz are used for military purposes, and the applicant was asked to coordinate with NTIA’s Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee (IRAC).

  • AAI/Textron Systems Corporation also filed an application (with supporting exhibits) for special temporary authority to operate on 420-450 MHz and 2000-2400 MHz for a government project apparently involving the Orbiter miniature unmanned aircraft system. There is not much information about the proposed operation, and FCC staff has asked for more details.

In correspondence to the applicant, FCC staff notes that the “Aerospace & Flight Test Radio Coordinating Council (AFTRCC) oversees the frequency bands; 1435-1525 MHz, 2310-2320 MHz, and 2345-2390 MHz. These frequency bands need to be removed or need to be prior coordinated.”

  • Sportvision filed an application (with supporting exhibits) for special temporary authority for testing of an automobile race track wireless data system that is to provide data communications between vehicles in a race track and one or more fixed base stations installed along a track. Operation is to be on 2395-2400 MHz.

One application seen for this system is video image enhancement for television broadcasting of automobile racing events. The would allow television viewers to see, displayed on screen, the real-time location of cars during a racing event.

The vehicles would be equipped with GPS receivers and other sensors that generate a data packet every 200 milliseconds. The wireless system would collect those packets and deliver them to a control station in real time. “The radio itself is a direct sequence spread spectrum unit, using production radios for 2.4 GHz. The system may ultimately be deployed on an unlicensed basis in the 2.4 GHz band or elsewhere, but the high noise levels in that band in the test locations (commercial automobile race tracks) are unsuitable for development and testing of the product.”

“An Intersil baseband processor performs the Direct Sequence modulation and demodulation. It is part of a five-chipset developed for the 802.11b standard. It uses 1/4th of the standard 802.11 speed resulting in a narrow occupied RF bandwidth.”

The frequency band requested is allocated on a primary basis to the Amateur Radio Service, and coordination is to be performed with the ARRL. This application was granted on June 4.


The FCC’s Broadcast Engineering Forum

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

The FCC held its Broadcast Engineering Forum on June 25, 2010.

As background, the National Broadband Plan recommends repurposing 120 MHz of from the TV bands to mobile broadband. On June 14 the FCC released an Omnibus Broadband Team Technical Paper that describes some of the analyses supporting this repurposing. Chairman Genachowski asked the Commission staff to hold the Forum to consider ideas in the Paper.

At this Forum there were four areas discussed:

  • Advancements in Compression Technology
  • Cellularization of Broadcast Architecture
  • Improvements in VHF Reception
  • Methodologies for Repacking the TV Band

Each area had been the subject of discussion by groups in workshops earlier in the day. At the Forum each of the four groups reported  preliminary findings and recommendations.

After hearing the Forum, which is a preliminary effort, I”d say its gist is that technical changes in the TV industry aren’t going to free up significant TV spectrum for mobile broadband.  There are no advancements in compression technology that can be implemented in a timely manner (i.e., less than 13 years). State-of-the-art in compression technology, and market realities, makes channel sharing by different licensees impractical. Cellularization of broadcast architecture is seen as not practical nor economical. There is room for improvement in VHF reception, perhaps through higher transmit power levels and better, smart receive antennas. An examination of methodologies for repacking the TV band shows no scenarios where stations can avoid sharing channels, unless some stations voluntarily go off-the-air. (And, as we heard in the presentation on compression, sharing is seen as impractical.)

3G Americas Workshop Focuses on Latin American Mobile Broadband

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

The Mobile Broadband for the Americas Workshop was held in Rio de Janeiro on April 26, sponsored by 3GPP and 3G Americas. Presentations may be downloaded.

A marketplace update provided facts about the Latin American market. At the end of 2009, Latin America had 509 million wireless users. Average ARPU is US $14. Data as a percentage of service revenues in Q3 2009 is 17% compared to 28% in the US. In December 2009, GSM-UMTS-HSPA had a 91% market share, up from 88% in December 2008.

A 3GPP Technology Standards Roadmap provided an overview of 3GPP and key 3GPP issues. It is a good snapshot of where 3GPP stands today.

Operators Vivo, Claro, and NTT DOCOMO presented their strategies for mobile broadband. The Vivo presentation is more market-oriented and is written in Portuguese. The Vivo and NTT DOCOMO presentations include more technical content. Vivo seems concerned about the backhaul-capacity issue.

Ericsson Brazil discussed HSPA evolution in terms of bit rate, latency, MIMO, and multicarrier; related RAN backhaul improvements were also addressed.

Deployment of mobile broadband was addressed. Nokia Siemens Networks discussed migrating from HSPA to HSPA+ and LTE, and noted it has 11 commercial LTE deals, six of which have been announced. Huawei discussed some of its products.

A presentation on spectrum policy by 3G Americas identified some Latin America issues. There is no spectrum for advanced mobile broadband services. Governments are promoting new entrants by using spectrum caps. There are high taxes for wireless services and equipment. Likely bands for 4G will be 2.5 GHz, 1.7/2.1 GHz and 700 MHz.

An analysis by 3G Americas shows that spectrum aggregation limits impose serious costs on existing providers, which are paid by consumers. In markets with constrained providers, consumers may pay twice as much for LTE if spectrum is limited to only 2×5 MHz as compared to 2×10 MHz, and four times as much as compared to 2×20 MHz.

The Broadcast and Wireless Industries: Latest Spectrum Arguments at the FCC

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

The FCC is working under a Congressional deadline of February 17, 2010 to develop a National Broadband Plan. That work includes looking for additional spectrum for wireless broadband services.

On December 2, 2009, the FCC issued a Public Notice asking for more comment on spectrum licensed to broadcast TV stations, and on market-based mechanisms that would encourage broadcasters to make spectrum available for wireless.

TV broadcasters generally like their spectrum as it is. They argue that over-the-air TV is a public service. It is the only source of video programming for some. A large investment was made in the recent DTV transition. They are working on advanced technologies including Mobile DTV and other content delivery platforms. Multicasting provides greater choice in programming without the need to subscribe to a cable or satellite service.