inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #51 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Sat 23 Nov 02 15:17
Gail -- absolutely, when it comes to political decision-making, time for 
deliberation makes for better decisions. That's why I think some proposals 
for "instant electronic democracy" by enabling citizens to vote on issues 
in real-time are recipes for disaster. We already see that instant polling 
enables politicians to tailor their messages to the local audiences on a 
day by day basis. And as we've seen from Nigeria, not all popular 
demonstrations are non-violent or necessarily democratic.

However -- I keep stressing this -- I think we need to see collective 
action in a broader and longer-term context than flash-crowds and mobs. 
Science, money, democratic nation-states, stock markets, the web, eBay -- 
these are all examples of institutions that started grow only when certain 
thresholds were lowered -- in terms of trust, breadth and speed of 
communication, affordability of communication, and other factors. 

Jon -- yes, that's the Benkler essay that Phred pointed out.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #52 of 280: Dave Hughes (dave) Sat 23 Nov 02 18:38
Be careful of your terms, Howard. Electronic democracy is NOT, to be,
just the act of voting. From the git go, after I set up the Rogers Bar
BBS in Colorado Springs in 1980, in the place where democratic union
politics had always been discussed in the Republican town, I conceived
it to be a place where anyone could come on line and DISCUSS, and
DEBATE the issues, and then act as they would, individually - vote,
lobby, organize, whatever.

For to me the American political process consisted of at least three
phases - getting or distributing information, discussing and/or debating
the issues, then voting, individually.

What I felt had diminished greatly in America was the 'discussion/debate'
(outside the narrow circle of ones acquaintences) part where (1)
individuals by discussing, have to think, and by listening (reading)
what everyone else has to say, make up ones own mind (2) become even
more informed on the facts, as others bring in facts not disemminated
by media.

As one 'student' of mine (publisher of a newspaper) said "Its the
New England Town Hall over an Electronic Back Fence in Colorado"

For it (the BBS) obviously had several advantages over the 'traditional'
political processes. (1) it was convenient to the individual to come
into the discussion, just as all you do here, asynchrously, at YOUR
time schedule not the schedule of announced, face to face meetings or
debate (2) it is in the written, not oral, form - with operates at
a higher level of cognition than verbal jousting, speaking, listening
(and forgetting) (3) EVERYONE can have their say, which never can
happen in any but the smallest f-t-f meetings. AND since people can
read 10 times faster than other people can type, and at least 3 times
faster than other people can talk, there is more 'discussion' per hour
online than f-t-f. All there has to be is a light handed moderator
(the most overlooked requirement in every online discussion I have
ever been in - including on the Well - to keep order, keep the
discussion shaped to the general purpose of the online meeting, to
prevent one 'personality' from dominating everything, and even ask
questions or stimulate discussion on related topics. Freeform
discussions without moderation are usually failures, or do such
topic drift that nothing comes out of it. (4) THROUGH the discussion
it is easier for many individuals to make up their own minds. (5)
the obvious disadvantages of media - one way, often slanted, very
selective, and most recently dominated by those with the greatest
war chest, is finessed. Bypassed.

I could go on. There are many more aspects to this. The 'communications'
commons, wireless or wired, can support this kind of process. Which
can and will give rise to new forms of 'representative' government.

But the core of what the new ubiquitous connectivity can bring, is
a restoration of the 'discussion/debate' element of democracy, by
which consensus, or clear divisions, or the oft observed phenonomon
in online either-or debates of someone not heard from, but observing
and thinking, steps in with a new idea that may 'bridge' apparent
irreconcilable difference between the <exhausted> debaters, and
bring things to a new level of agreement. While the number of those
who won't agree (left or right) will diminish.

For this nation, at least, operates on Great Consensuses. Enacted
by majority vote.

It all goes down to the most basic fact. Two can bargain or argue.
But it takes three to politic. Each trying to get one other to
agree with him. Which three now, can be spread across the world,
while the process proceeds electronically.

This is much different from the 'mob' action I observe. Or the
tyranny of the majority, or minority.

The heart of Electronic Democracy is discussion and debate between
individuals. Facilitated by technology, and governed, even on
a 'nobody-owns-or-controls' commons.

If I run for County Commissioner of El Paso County here surrounding
Colorado Springs, as a Democrat (to break the 30 year stranglehold
the Republicans have had on the offices) which I have occassionaly
thought of, I will employ the grass roots tools of Electronic
Democracy, and the insights from the original (1980-84) Rogers Bar
BBS in spades.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #53 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Sat 23 Nov 02 21:39
I think you'll see that I was commenting on some people's ideas of instant 
electronic democracy, Dave. And I have no dispute with you that debate and 
discussion and deliberation are fundamental. I do go into detail about the 
role of the Internet in the public sphere in the new chapter I wrote for 
the 2000 MIT Press edition of the virtual community: 
<>. I think any discussion is 
better than sitting slack-jawed in front of the tube, but I agree with the 
critics of this notion that the jury is still out on whether discussions 
like these have had or will have a significant impact on the public 

But we drift. What's new on the wireless front?
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #54 of 280: Tim Pozar (pozar) Sun 24 Nov 02 06:56
Just a couple of comments.  Earlier HLR wrote:

> Radio waves don't physically interfere with each other -- they 
> pass through each other.  But the radios of the 1920s were "dumb"
> insofar as they lacked the ability to discriminate between signals
> from nearby broadcasters on the same frequencies.

It is true that radio waves don't interfere with each other.  The
problem happens at the antenna and the receiver.  Once the
electro-magnetic radio signal is collected at a point (antenna) and
converted into electrical energy, destructive interference will
occur if you have two signals you are trying to recover at the same
frequency.  New radio modulation technology, such as Ultra-Wide
band and to some extent spread spectrum (such as Direct Sequence)
will try to recover from interference.  Protocols such as 802.11
has some "collision avoidance" built into it. Using additional error
recovering schemes such as redundant transmission of the data and
error checking and recovering will add to the robustness of the
transmission of data to interference.  

Solutions for the "signal point" antenna system have been proposed
and even implemented.  Diversity reception is a common solution to
the problem.  Using two or more antennas, a receiver can determine
that if one antenna can't recover the signal, try using the other.
This works particularly well with "multi-path" conditions where a
signal is bouncing around and may be received at the antenna as
multiple signals with different time delays.

Active phased-array antennas are the next step in antenna technology.
Phased-array works by having two or more antennas feeding or being
feed by an delay/phase network.  What this means, the signal being
received by the antennas or transmitting to the antennas can be
delayed say anywhere from 0 to 360 degrees or some very small
fractional of a second depending on the frequency.  This changes
the pattern of the antenna.

For example, phased-array antennas have been around for a long time.
For transmission, AM radio stations have been using them since the
30's to "directional-ize" there coverage area.  If a station has
only one tall tower for an antenna (and assuming their ground system
and soil conditions are the same in all directions) they will have
a pattern that looks like a nice round circle.  By putting up two
antennas at a particular distance away from each other and then
feeding each antenna the transmitter's signal at some known phase
difference and even power level, they can create patterns that look
like a daisy flower.  One or more "nulls" in the original circular

With the new antennas the key word here is "active".  Active means
that you can change the phase delay of the signal on the fly so you
can very quickly change the pattern of the antenna.

So why is this important?  Let's look at the example where you have
two signals you want to recover on the same frequency.  Very likely
they are coming from two different directions.  With an active
phased-array antenna, you can discriminate between the two signals
based on direction.  You would change the pattern of a section of
your antenna to listen to one transmission and ignore the other and
at the same time, have a different section of your antenna listen
to the signal you are ignoring with the first section.  

This is the key here... You have just increased the bandwidth of
this area by twice if you can recover two signals at the same time.
A big win!

Recently active phased array antennas are started to be manufactured
and deployed for 802.11. Vivato is just one of the companies that
is spear-heading this phased-array antenna deployment.  

So, interference just doesn't go away with the new technologies,
it just is mitigated to being a small problem.  Of course this
ignores the legacy systems out there that don't have these new
technologies to avoid interference.  This continues to be a problem
and will be one for some time as changing out legacy radios and
systems will take 100's of billions of USD to replace.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #55 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Sun 24 Nov 02 07:20
Thanks, Tim!
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #56 of 280: Tim Pozar (pozar) Sun 24 Nov 02 08:38
But wait there's more! :-)

HLR wrote:
> So the regime we now know emerged -- broadcasters are licensed
> to broadcast in a particular geographic area in a particular frequency
> band. For the most part, licenses to chunks of spectrum are auctioned,
> and the winner of the auction "owns" that piece of spectrum.

Currently, broadcasters do not go through an actions for their
spectrum.  They originally go through a "beauty" contest if there
are more than one applicant for the channel.  At one point,
broadcasters had to keep going through these "beauty" contests
every time their license renewal came up.  Beauty contests were used
since the standard broadcast bands (AM/FM/TV) where seen as a "public
trust".  Broadcasters had to show how much time there were going
to dedicated to things like news and public affairs.  They were
required to do "assertainments" every three months and interview
various organizations and individuals to identify local issues that
they should address.

Broadcasters have been deregulated so they don't have to jump through
these hoops any longer.  This is a very large loss to the public
as a major community outlet is now not available.  

De-regulation has also hurt community access in other ways.  At one
point, companies were restricted to the number of stations it could
own in a market.  When I started out in broadcasting in the early
seventies, a company could own one station on each band (ie one FM,
one AM and one TV).  With the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (SEC.
202. BROADCAST OWNERSHIP) now, depending on the size of a market a
company can own up to 8 radio stations in a market.  This ended up
creating less "diversification" of programming in market (see:  

Since broadcasters are in effect "own" their licenses now thanks
to de-regulation, it also had the effect of increasing the price of
radio station properties.  The company I was working for (Brown
Broadcasting) bought KDFC, a classical station in the SF Bay Area,
for $15 million in 1993.  KDFC and KFCF were sold by the Browns
after the Telecom Act of 1996 and just a couple years later, for
over $100 million dollars.  Station prices all over have jumped up
with the demand to own as many stations as possible by a small group
of companies (ie. Clear Channel, Infinity, etc.).  This has put a
significant "debt load" on the companies and with stock holder
pressure to increase revenue it has forced stations to look into
cutting costs.  (This is ignoring the problem stations ran into in
over estimating their revenue and budgets after the technology bubble

Cost cutting has been a prime factor to the popularity of syndicated
programming.  You don't have to pay for talent on each station, as
you just need to pay (or barter) for a proven syndicated show like
Rush or Howard.  (Premier Radio who is owned by Clear Channel is
raking in the bucks syndicating these and other shows).  Of course
with syndicated programs, you don't need to produce local programming
to fill you air with.

This is why other communications media solutions such as LPFM,
community wireless, the Interent, etc. are so important to open to
low-cost, democratic (aka, bi-directional) communication.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #57 of 280: Dave Hughes (dave) Sun 24 Nov 02 08:53
What is new in wireless? The Leopard Changing his Spots!

FCC Chairman Michael Powell, Republican appointee, who declared when he
assumed the Chairmanship that he didn't know what 'the public interest'
meant when applied to spectrum (or other regulated matters), pretty much
took the position that the 'marketplace' - and as unregulated as possible -
would solve all problems, recently did 180 degree turnaround about Spectrum
regulation and management!!!

While the story is long and a bit convoluted, as those of us who follow FCC
closely, it appears that, behind closed doors in his office, with Dale
Hatfield the outgoing Chief of Technology and *maybe* a bleeding edge ARPA
wireless guru, he got a very technical education on how digital radio works
and how, IF the rules were changed, how it COULD work to greatly expand the
number and variety of users, while greatly minimizing interference. So in a
VERY important speech at the University of Colorado just three weeks ago,
Hatfield in the audience (whom he thanks) he made the most important
spectrum management policy speech in memory. I have hidden its full text in
the next item below. Read it carefully. Then I will amplify on what its
leading to which is in the DIRECT interest ofthe growth of the 'wireless
commons' and the open software movement!
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #58 of 280: Dave Hughes (dave) Sun 24 Nov 02 08:53
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #59 of 280: Dave Hughes (dave) Sun 24 Nov 02 09:20
You KNOW this is a huge switch when (1) his fellow Republican Commissioners
are stunned and object to what he is doing (2) CTIA, the Cell Phone
Association representing an industry which has bid BILLIONS for spectrum are
objecting because he is going to GIVE AWAY (expand no-license spectrum
available) more spectrum!

And how is he doing it? In a VERY fast track public process, he hired,
temporarily (or borrowed) Dr. Paul Kolodzy, a leading spectrum guru in
ARPA (the defacto R&D arm of the Defense Department) to head up an
unprecedented 'Spectrum Management Task Force' at the FCC. Formed in late
June, its work done, and its report made to the full FCC last week (or two)
THATS blinding speed. And Powell, mindful of the foot dragging that the full
Commission can do, let the staff anounce ANOTHER unprecedented (though
perfectly legal) procedure, a STAFF announced 'Public Notice' inviting,
fast track, public comment on a list of provocative ideas.

Normally, the staff recommends to the Commissioners the text of either
an NOI (Notice of Inquiry), or an NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making)
and the COMMISSIONERS request the comments in public (mostly online)
ways, followed by formal hearings. Even the other Commissioners objected
to THIS method! For the Task Force was ONLY staff, augmented.

That was fast track too. Only 200 of us were alert enough to post our
comments, which the Commissioner MUST consider, during the open period.
Then the comments were studied by the task force, which then made a
report to the full Commission. And NOW, Powell intends to put out
an NPRM - proposed new spectrum management rules - (which requires a
majority vote of commissioners to even put out) very soon. And I am
betting that you will be seeing NEW, more unlicensed spectrum, but
even more importantly, new methods to technically deal with 'interference'
AND to overcome what Tim mentioned, the Billions in Legacy 'dirty
radios' by stopping the practice of grandfathering their licences in.

(not to brag too much, but both the official advent of 'smart radios'
and the idea of NOT giving unlimited term licences, were proposed by
me and Dewayne Hendricks in our Scientific American article on
spread spectrum April of '98)

More in the next post, about what technical-regulatory changes are
making this possible.

So you can have all the gee-whiz technical advances in digital radio
you want, but UNTIL (just as occured in 1984 when the first rules
for spread spectrum unlicensed were promulgated) the FCC changes its
rules, you have nothing, legally, you can capitalize on.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #60 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Sun 24 Nov 02 10:02
Tim, in regard to auctions, you refer to television and radio broadcasters 
and beauty contests; what about the auction of licenses for "advanced 
wireless services" such as "third generation (3G)" broadband services by 
telecommunications operators? Was not the auction of certain parts of the 
spectrum adopted by the FCC, largely upon the advice of Nobel Laureate 
Professor Ronald Coase? As I understand it, beauty contests and auctions 
are BOTH used for different aspects of spectrum allocation.

The point of all this for my book is that mobile Internet devices and the 
wireless technologies that support them are the locus of conflict between 
existing regulatory regimes and new, disruptive technologies.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #61 of 280: Dave Hughes (dave) Sun 24 Nov 02 10:09
Now why did - or as I cynically say 'could' - Michael Powell, a lawyer
'get it' in such boundary-busting ways? (for, with the except of
a handful of lawyers, such as Larry Lessig, who required a tutorial
by David Reed, before he *really* understood how digital radio
contributed to the wireless commons) few of them as policy makers
(including Congressperns AND the legal side of the FCC house) could
get beyond traditional ways of thinking about spectrum as real estate,
which, if you own it, I can't.

I can only recall that Powell was a commissioned officer in the Army,
armored corps. Armor officers have to be damned technical and they
must master and use a bewildering array of radios (including ones
with spread spectrum modulation). That made him more than a lawyer
in technical grasp, before an accident ended his promising military

But why did he made such a bold policy switch? For one, the pressures
on the FCC for the use of spectrum were getting enormous. SOMETHING
had to be done. And the only solution, if you think of spectrum as
only unsharable real estate, is to allocate it to the highest bidder.
The traditional 'economics' solution. Powell himself, less than a
year ago, in commenting on the exploding 802.11b Wi-Fi sales phenomon
said we were heading fro a spectrum 'melt-down!' (if you view view
interferece wrongly) His epiphany came after that statement.

Secondly, after the bitter fights between the secret government body
called IRAC which handles government uses of spectrum, and the FCC
which only has jurisdiction over non-governmental use, even Congress
started to get in the act - calling for more 'ultra-wide band' spectrum.
The LAST thing we want is for wholly political Congress to start
making spectrum policy.

But in the Telecom Act of 1996 Congress decreed 'ubiquitous broadband'
as an FCC Requirement. The evil and incompetant Telephone Companies,
since then have shown their unwillingness AND incapability (within
a sound business plan) do deliver it EITHER 'the last mile' OR to
rural Americans. Wireless had begun to rise as the ONLY solution,
first with weak-kneed 3G (a very costly incremental step toward
cell broadband). But then all those Pringle Cans in Seattle, followed
by big non-telco companies - Cisco, Motorola bringing out unlicensed
wireless devices with ranges (line of sight) out to 20,30,50 miles,
all got the presses attention, some FEW of whose reporters get the
technical reason why high speed non-interfering wireless can work.
And even the myth that all wireless must be insecure is fading, as
wireless encryptian and authentication arts have advanced.

So there were lots of reasons the FCC, rather than just keep rearraning
the chairs on the deck of the Titanic by making tiny changes in the
radio-certifaction rules, had to do something. MEANWHILE tremendous
advances in radio and antenna technolgies, integrating them into
Internet protocols, and the REAL economics of wireless, which is
the falling costs of wireless devices, not the price of spectrum,
offered solutions 'in the public interest.' i.e. grass roots users,
not just corporate, communications-for-a-cost-per-minute (telco)

And not incidentally, DOD and ARPA, whose job it has been for the
past 40 years since the love of my life Hedy Lamarr invented
spread spectrum and gave it to the Navy in an act of patriotism,
has been to push the technical envelope at government national
security expense, to make the best, fastest, most secure, forget
the need for license, radio and data radio communications. So
ARPA is probably 5 years ahead of industry in these matters. And
those advances have been handed to the FCC via Powell, so they
could be integrated into commercial radio systems, with corresponding
permissive rules.

All those combined, to me (this is just my personal theory) accounts
for the Republican leopard changing his spectrum spots in YOUR

(I should not put down fellow Republican Commissioner Copps completely.
For HE is very concerned about RURAL connectivity. And since I have
fought for years to get the FCC to differentiate the spectrum rules
for use (power, especially) for Urban versus Rural, maybe I can
help him see that the new wireless paradigm, UNLICENSED, can go a
very long way to solve the rural broadband connectivity problem.
Hell, I just took delivery on a pair of costly Canadian radios
that, under *current* rules can deliver 45mbps as far as, reliably,
30km, have been clocked at over 70 miles, at a lower rate. But
pure line of sight required (and the lower the frequency the less
line of sight, which plagues Wi-Fi radios, is required).)
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #62 of 280: a man, a plan, and a parking ticket (clm) Sun 24 Nov 02 11:16
Wow. Thanks. This is very exciting stuff. Here's a CNN article
on a commercial product that appears to be very much in line with
what you folks are talking about:

Are there other efforts like this that are underway? What about
the big manufacturers of hi-tech radio products (mostly cell phones,
I guess)? Are they enthusiastic about software defined radio or do
they see this as too disruptive?

And what's the status of grass-roots experimentation with this
technology? Are inexpensive software defined radio transceivers
available? I would think the amateur radio community, for example,
would be having a field day(!) with this stuff.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #63 of 280: Dave Hughes (dave) Sun 24 Nov 02 11:26
Howard, 'Auctioning' of spectrum was ONLY needed if you assumed
fixed, non sharable, spectrum. No matter what Nobel prize winner
Economist proclaimed it as a solution. What is changed, which
you call 'disruptive' technologies, I call 'shared spectrum'

A good 9-10 years ago, Dr. Paul Baran, testified in front of the
FCC Commissioners, that the spectrum allocated to television,
(jealously guarded as if it is 'their' property) was a vast
empty of traffic the very vast majority of time, could have
digital signals passing through it, that would have to be 10,000
times stronger in power, before any interference would be noticed
in analog tv reception.

Paul (who invented Packet Switching) just about gave up on the
FCC ever doing anything better. But I have learned he is *delighted*
at the Powell pronouncements.

I say again. Never solve by regulation or law, that which can be
enabled by technology.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #64 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Sun 24 Nov 02 11:26
Intel's CTO claims that future chips will incorporate SDR technology: 
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #65 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Sun 24 Nov 02 11:27
If spectrum is deregulated in an "Open Spectrum" fashion, won't the 
devices be regulated in order to play nice?
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #66 of 280: Dave Hughes (dave) Sun 24 Nov 02 11:39
Craig, (clm) although the telephone companies are desperately trying
to push the cell phone envelope, the Bell Heads are never going to
catch up with the digital wireless + IP radio crowd. And the telcos
are in such financial trouble, there are plenty of predictions many
of not most of them will go bancruptcy under before they can
reinvent themselves - which takes HUGE investments AND the write off
of their legacy circuit switched systems. Even 3G, which to me is just
an incremental advance in cell-phone based data/voice networks is
going to require damned near double the number of cell phone towers
NOW in place, in order to get close enough to 3G consumers to give
them the data speeds they want. Whose going to pay for it?

If you find any 'low cost, software defined radios' for sale, they
are probably illegal, for the FCC has yet to announce (last time
I checked) ANY rules for the manufacture of such type radios. See?
Its the chicken and egg. You can't make, sell, or use radios unless
they are certified by the FCC under rules governing its design.
And no company is going to spend the $$$ to design a radio that
they are not 100% sure will be approved. And if there are no
rules for the design of software defined radios, then they won't
even try to make them, except at the tinkerer level.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #67 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Sun 24 Nov 02 11:47
There's GNUradio:
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #68 of 280: a man, a plan, and a parking ticket (clm) Sun 24 Nov 02 12:07
Thanks, Dave. Isn't there still some radiated power threshold
below which the restrictions don't apply? If a manufacturer
wanted to get a leg up on the competition, couldn't they initially
introduce a very low power product (perhaps with programmable
output power) that would allow them to start selling to early

And isn't the risk of designing a transceiver before the new rules
are established greatly mitigated by the software defined nature of
such a product?

So before the rules are finalized, software limits the device's
output power to whatever low levels are currently legal. Once
new regulations were in place, software upgrades could be released
that would enable transmissions at higher power. Does that seem

> 65

Powell's speech mentions "interference temperature" which, if I'm
understanding correctly, might take the place of power and frequency
when it comes to regulation.

> 67

Thanks. Following that link right now.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #69 of 280: Dave Hughes (dave) Sun 24 Nov 02 12:29
You are absolutely right, (65) Howard. The design, within very
carefully designed limits, will have to be approved (certified)
by the FCC. So they play nice. I don't have a problem with that.
While I have a big problem with spectrum-use regulations.

IF a set of rules are promulgated AND PERPETUALLY UPDATED (every
few years during this time of great innovation> for more
advanced, play nice, radios, then there can be true COMPETITION
between manufacturers and start ups! There is NOT now when
spectrum is controlled by one company, and its legacy radios.

There is a splendid example of this. Its the UNII bands (Unlicensed National
Information Infrastructure) which Apple proposed a long time ago,
and which was duked out between them and AT&T at the FCC.

If you go to

you can see these unlicensed bands in the 5.25 thru the 5.825 Ghz frequency
ranges. Even though there were, and are, a set of bands which MUST
be spread spectrum modulation, radio designers can made radios in
those UNII bands that do NOT use spread spectrum - either direct
sequence or frequency hopping, which 100% of 2.4ghz radios must use.

Now it took years before the first UNII radios way up in those frequencies
(which requires even MORE rigerous line of sight, AND which can't
penetrate walls or trees/leaves worth a damn). And everybody used
differnet methods - within the UNII design rules.

Now, today, there are many manufacturers of UNII radios - Western Multiplex,
Interwave, RF Datacom, Cisco Aironet, Proxim, Tsumani, Resonext, Zcom,
and the latest entry into the marketplace of Redline (Canadian) and
Motorola's Canopy.

What is different is the different modulation they can use. Motorola was
always a leader in FM radio, so their UNII band Canopies, which are
right now hot in the market (for they also do interesting things
with antennas) build on that technological base. And have  brought the
price down.

The latest is Redline AN-50, which has brought the price down from
about $20,000 each end (which I recall the Western Multiplex's were
for a rated 100mbps (a 'real' 60-70mbps), to $6-$7,000 each end for
a 45mbps DS3 speed at 50 miles!!

The UNII radios are mostly used for backhaul, but hey, you wanna go to
a small town from a big town 30 miles away and serve ALL Wi-Fi customers?
Thats a bargain. Care to price out a Qwest DS3 line for 30 miles?
(I'd be astonished if its less than $15,000 a MONTH)

What's the point? With all the attention on the rules for design of
radios so they play nice, REAL competition can begin, where the
best radio, will win, not the highest bidder for spectrum in a
lucrative market. Ignoring the rural, small town, remote ranch,
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #70 of 280: Tim Pozar (pozar) Sun 24 Nov 02 14:16

Unfortunately it is wrong or at best confused.

Part 15.247 actually gives different power limits depending on if
the system is "point to point" or "point to multi-point".

At 2.4GHz, "point to multi-point" is limited to 1 watt (30 dBm)
transmitter output and 6 dBi of antenna gain or 4 watts (36 dBm)
EIRP.  If you reduce the transmitter output below 1 watt, you can
increase the gain of the antenna the same amount.  For instance,
if you reduce the transmitter output by half (-3dB) to 1/2 watt (27
dBm) you can increase the antenna gain to 9 dBi.  BTW you will
always be limited to 36 dBm EIRP with this rule. 9 dBi + 27 dBm =
36 dBm EIRP.

For "point to point" it is a little more complicated.  You are still
limited to 1 watt of transmitter power, but for every dB of antenna
gain over 6 dBi, you only need to reduce the power 1/3 of a dB.  So
if I had a high gain antenna such as a 24 dBi dish that I want to
use to get my signal across town, I only need to reduce my power
to 1/4 of a watt.  Or...

        24 dBi - 6 dBi = 18 dB
        18 dB / 3 = 6
        30 dBm - 6 = 24 dBm or .25 watts.

With this arrangement I would be running 48 dBm EIRP (64 watts) with
24 dBi (antenna gain) + 24 dBm (transmitter power).   If I had an
antenna that had 48 dBi of gain I could run 64 dBm EIRP or 2,511
watts.  There isn't a limit to EIRP.

Part 15.247 also covers operations in 5 GHz, but power has yet
another defined limit here.  "Point to Multipoint" is as defined
above for 2.4 GHz but "point to point" does not require the transmitter
be "turned down" as the antenna gain goes up.  With an antenna with
48 dBi of gain I can run 78 dBm (63,095 watts) EIRP.  Cooking!
Again, no limit for EIRP.

As you can guess, if you engineer your paths right, you can get some 
pretty good distances with these devices.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #71 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Sun 24 Nov 02 14:22
Of course, the wireless conundrum is one chapter in Smart Mobs. I'm 
backing up to a higher altitude to look at the big picture -- what 
emergent social phenomena might we expect when computationally powerful, 
inexpensive, mobile, wireless devices proliferate and mesh via peer to 
peer methodologies, perhaps  using reputation systems -- in an environment 
pervaded by numerous radio-linked sensors and chips?
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #72 of 280: Chris (cooljazz) Sun 24 Nov 02 15:27
 <#45 > ".....that people tend to overestimate risk when making 
decisions. ..." Howard yes, though I believe the Nobel was awarded
because rather than note the problem - the investigators studied why
the overestimation  might happen (hence the involvement of the

 Though I need to segue to discussion of the bigger question you pose

emergent social phenomena...chips?"

inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #73 of 280: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 24 Nov 02 15:43
At a recent talk Bruce Sterling used superballs with embedded modem-squawkers
to illustrate ubiquitous computing - bounce 'em and they squeal like a modem
handshake. The idea was that, in The Future, you have smart devices that
communicate, and they're bouncing around everywhere in your environment.

Hope they're quieter, though.

So there's person to person, person to system, system to system... the 
future's a complex web of signals.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #74 of 280: Dave Hughes (dave) Sun 24 Nov 02 15:54
'...system to system.' Bluetooth is just the leading edge of this
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #75 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Sun 24 Nov 02 16:27
My chapter on "The Era of Sentient Things" looks at two opposite-facing 
aspects of ubiquitous computing as it will emerge over the next ten years: 
information-computation-communication embedded in objects, and information 
associated with places. There is an overlap between these two sides of 
chips in everything, located everywhere, communicating with each other and 
with mobile devices: bluetooth or other wireless "beacons" that broadcast 
and receive information associated with a geographic location. But the 
non-overlapping aspects are important, too.

First, the matter of chips in things. The notion, certainly not a new one 
-- I talk about my encounters with Mark Weiser, and his ubicomp research 
at PARC in 1991 -- is that the cost of Radio Frequency ID tags will drop 
low enough (the "penny chips") that they will begin to replace bar codes. 
Within the last week, Gillette announced that they are buying 500 million 
RFID chips, so the penny chip is hardly a far-future projection. 

The importance of chips associated with objects is that every thing has a 
story -- but not everyone knows every thing's story. Labels, for example, 
are highly political objects. 

A story that happened long after I finished the book. In fact, it was a 
couple weeks ago. I was visiting Marc Smith, who was the main character in 
the chapter about the sociology of cooperation. He had connected a $150 
bar-code scanner to a handheld computer with a wireless Internet 
connection and added software that connected the information returned from the Universal Product Code 
database to Google. What the heck? He urged me to try it for myself. I 
took the thing in hand and scanned the first two objects I encountered in 
his kitchen -- a package of prunes and a carton of Kellogg's Cracklin Oat 

The distributor of the prunes, the UPC informed me, via text on the pocket 
PC screen, is something called "Sun-Diamond Growers." I 
Googled the name.  The second link that came up was "US versus 
Sun-Diamond," a Supreme Court document authored by Anthony Scalia, about 
Sun-Diamond's lobbying practices. The first link, from 
Corpwatch, about "bromide barans subvert democratic process," claimed" 
Sun-Diamond's $700 million in revenues funds their lobbying against local, 
state, national, or international controls on methyl bromide, according to 

Try it yourself: Google "Kellogg's Cracklin Oat Bran" and the first link 
will be about a recall"Kellogg USA Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared 
Eggs, Milk, Soybeans, or Almonds in Kellogg's® Cracklin' Oat Bran."

Labels are closed systems, and what they don't reveal is often more 
important than what they do reveal. When RFIDs replace barcodes, that 
information becomes readable and writeable as the product or object moves 
through the world: technically, in the near future,  you would be able to 
point your handheld gizmo at a slab of meat in a supermarket and ask it if 
it sat in the sun for three hours yesterday, or point at a book and ask 
what the Times has to say about it, and what the people in the Well's book 
conference say about it. 

If we carry or wear powerful computers with wireless communications, we'll 
be able to tap into the networks of thing-to-thing communications as we 
move through the world -- and things will sense things about us when we 
draw near them, whether we know it or not.

What becomes possible? Opportunities? Dangers? What is likely. Who will 
move to control, and why, and how? The current open system known as 
Usenet, for example, makes it easy enough for any individual or group to 
publish information about any particular thing: post your opinion of 
Kellogg's Cracklin Oat Bran, and it can be Googled a few days later.

Similarly, it is easy enough to use Usenet to associate information with 
places: Just start a newsgroup: "alt.latitudeX.longitudeY" and postings 
become findable by anyone with a Net connection a few days later. 

"Information in places" has its own set of possibilities, worth discussing 
on their own.


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