back to article FCC calls for more frequencies

The FCC has noticed there just aren't enough radio frequencies, and if the USA wants national broadband it's going to have to find more space in which to put it. If the USA is going to have a National Broadband plan, then it's going to have to speed up the audit of radio spectrum usage, in the hope of discovering large swathes …


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  1. Ray0x6

    'not enough spectrum'

    can't we just change the laws of physics? who made those laws, anyway? i didn't elect them...

  2. Anon


    Actually it's quite simple: as everyone knows, the frequencies can be seen to have both real and imaginary components. Currently, only the real part of the frequency is used. If the orthogonal part of the frequency was used too, the amount if bandwidth available would be squared. This may be the source of rumours about governments sending out "mind-altering rays". Of course, metal foil hats cannot work because the imaginary waves won't be reflected/absorbed by something which can only interact with real phenomena.

  3. Ken Hagan Gold badge


    "can't we just change the laws of physics?"

    Well, yes, actually. You can create private universes and use the spectrum in those. This has the added advantage that each universe is relatively secure against snooping. It's called a "wire".

    Now OK, this isn't great for people who need mobile bandwidth, but if the Web 2.0 crowd would just kindly fuck off and die, taking their "all HTML hyperlinks to be replaced by personalised flash applications" mentality with them then most of *that* requirement goes away. If we then exterminate all the people who think social networking is the same as a Life and GooTube videos are Culture, the problem disappears completely.

    Oh, yes, my pills. Thanks.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Take spectrum from amateurs?

    "It is much easier to just take bands away from the amateur radio crowd"

    Yeah right. What the law says and what happens are 2 different things. You can legislate all you like but unless you confiscate all the equipment then people will probably still use it and knowing amateurs they'll go out they're way to use it even more if someone tells them they can't.

    As for military use - I think their use of the spectrum is a bit more vital than little timmy getting better bandwidth on his wifi router to play WoW at 70fps.

  5. Michael C

    here's a few

    - Cut off AM by end of 2012. Move anything capable there. This is the single largest swath of frequency on the chart, and we have plenty of FM stations (including the new digital range) to move them to.

    - Move to enforce a narrower-band FM standard and digital FM. Give folks until 2015 to upgrade radios to carry FM digital and mandate all radios to do it now. Drop 20% of FM frequencies per year after 2015 and squash remaining old FM chanels into that smaller space, eliminating all of them by 2020. These additional chanels in the SAME range should allow 2-4 times the number of stations in any area with a higher quality signal as well.

    - cut Ham radio down to a very small frequency range (about 1/4-1/3 of what it has today). Give folks until 2015 to move emergency radio from HAM to ComSat (which are now not much more expensive than higher end cell phones today, and plans are avaialble at pennies poer minute). HAM is not longer needed as an emergency system, sattelites are not effected by hurricanes and mass scale ground events. It;s not a Hobby-only

    - dramatically enhance the use of white space devices.

    - drop 800-900 MHz for home phones and in-home devices by 2020 and drop 2.4GHz by 2025. Move all home based device user to 5GHz (and 8.1GHz) range. Enforce narrowband frequencies and data network frequency avoidance (let home phones detect wifi and choose alternate frequencies to avoid interference with them).

    - Compact and enhance auronautical radionavigation frequncies, through worldwide cooperation, to a few select bands and go full digital on narrowband signals.

    - cut satelite frequency use by at least half by decomissioning old systems and only authorizing new systems in digital narrow bands.

    Drop all wideband frequencies completely by 2025. That should easily be long enough to add either new radios, or upgrade existing systems to support those frequencies.

    This should clear up more than 25% of the frequency swath within 15 years. If AM goes first within 3 years, we should easily have enough to pull off the rest over time.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    they don't know what it's being used for??? how about looking through the records of that agency that decides what it's used for (their offices are located... well head out of your office, turn around, and knock on the door)

    create a nice simple list of all frequency allocations (with regional ones broken down to the separate allocations in that band), you'll then have a complete list of all frequencies allocated.

    then it's just a bit of work to go through that list confirming if those allocations are still needed (or if they can be reduced/eliminated) etc... which is easy to do if they just require that all license holders must re-apply anually to keep their allocations (stop using it, stop sending in paperwork, the frequency gets recycled)

    however the millitary are major hoarders of unused spectrum, but this is mostly because they need private radio links which won't interfeare with each other for each separate thing (ie. each air base needs a couple of frequencies for air traffic control, as does each carrier, then each squadran needs a frequency for internal use with no 2 squads sharing a frequency because then they might have to re-tune their radios when they work near each other which is clearly unacceptable) - easily solved by a switch to digital systems with automatic frequency selection etc, but that's not going to happen any time soon

    it's interesting to see what sort of things they've allocated channels for - just look at how many channels each countries airforce has been given by ofcom which is reserved for the sole purpose of that specific country carrying out a mid-air refueling within UK airspace - you'd almost think frequency allocations were free! wait think i see the problem...

  7. mthornton


    The 2.4GHz band is also shared with microwave ovens because water strongly absorbs this frequency. Thus there is not much point in reassigning this band.

  8. Peter Simpson 1


    "Cut off AM by end of 2012. Move anything capable there. This is the single largest swath of frequency on the chart"

    The AM band is 1MHz (from 550KHz to 1.6MHz). The ch2- ch4 TV band was 18 MHz, freed up by the move of DTV to (predominately) UHF frequencies.

    "HAM is not longer needed as an emergency system,"

    Right. Tell that to the folks in New Orleans. All the fancy networked digital systems went down, as did cell service, and the satellite phones were under water. The hams had radios that were frequency agile, could talk to any other ham radio (local or distant) and ran off available power.

    Perhaps you should do some more research before presenting your plan to the FCC.

    Mine's the one with the HT and spare battery pack in the pocket

  9. Yupa

    cutting AM

    Michael C -

    The entire medium-wave broadcast band (what we think of as AM radio here in the US), is only around 1MHz of spectrum, so it would be insignificant for data use. If you include short-wave stations, you're still only talking about 4.8 Mhz. The low bands are great for long range communications, but pretty much suck for bandwidth.

  10. David Kelly 2

    Michael C is drinking Kool-Aid

    "- Cut off AM by end of 2012. Move anything capable there. This is the single largest swath of frequency on the chart," ... Really? One lousy megahertz is the largest single swath you can find? 800 MHz to 900 MHz is nearly 100 times more than 520 kHz–1,610 kHz.

    Narrower FM? This has long since been a disproven theory. Wider is better, as in spread-spectrum. SS can overlap, FM can not. Digital modes are a good idea but not a cure-all solution.

    As with AM, Amateur Radio has relatively small frequency allocations for significant benefits. One of the things that makes Amateur Radio work is that things are kept simple. One radio can communicate directly to another without an infrastructure between. One doesn't *have* to hire a professional to service or install the equipment. Digital modes are available, but so is plain old CW (which is a digital mode utilizing human brain for processing).

    Frequencies below 150 MHz are not of much use for broadband applications as those above.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    When the phones are down the hams are up.

    To take bands away from the amateur radio crowd would be a mistake.

    They can be of great help with communications in an emergency.

  12. Pat Cook, KB0OXD

    My $.02 Worth.....

    @Michael C. What are you smoking? Taking spectrum away from HAMS? Ham Radio is NO LONGER needed for emergency communications? Tell that to Hams in California who are AS I TYPE THIS assisting emergency workers in their effort in fighting the wildfires.

    Drop 800-900 Mhz. for home phones? Okay. But YOU lead the charge in confiscating every phone from the MILLIONS of homes that have them. I'd LOVE to hear just how many times the REAL cops are called on you and you're hauled off to jail as a result.

    Okay sure decomission old satellite systems in lieu of digital systems. Even I'll go with you on that. But score one for you.

    @Peter Simpson 1 - Michael C must have some sort of hybrid HT antenna that will access the OSCAR satellites that not even the most avid satellite-savvy Hams know about. Same thing with his battery power. I wonder what that source might be.

    @David Kelly 2 - You're right. Digital modes ARE NOT the cure-all BUT there's always such modes as PACKET RADIO. No reason why they can't be made available for commercial use on some frequencies & bands. Given the right equipment, they do have a purpose to serve in emergency communications.

    True Ham Radio doesn't need infrastructure. But it still needs to adapt to change times. If it doesn't, IT WILL DIE. Emergency communications alone isn't enough to keep people interested & the hobby afloat. Hams must be able to be innovative with new technologies. This won't be possible if the Amateur Radio Service is either killed off by a bunch f know-nothing politicians or people in general just simply interest.

    Like it or not - Those are the facts folks. Plain & simple.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Not enough frequency

    Isn't the spectrum infinite in width? It's just that our puny bodies would die at high frequencies/energies. We're the problem - eliminate the human race and we'll be fine..

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Here's a better idea

    tell the military that Michael C thinks they should give up half their spectrum since they're just wasting it anyway. Two birds, one stone.

  15. wv9e

    Child foolers strike again

    Just another "red-herring" from Uncle Sam. Service to rural areas is one thing but to insist that everyone needs 10 meg speed, or whatever they eventually claim we all need is pointless. There will always be "child foolers" , those that claim they know what's best for us or what we need based on what only a select few self interested parties claim, will always get votes / approval from the "gimme more" generation born of the "welfare" world owes me a living left side of reality. Just like health care... if you claim it will be free then most will say "gimme". Children.

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