Below is a link to the comments I filed yesterday on proceeding 12-268 about the FCC's incentive auction.
Tuesday, March 12 2013
By Trip Ericson on Tuesday, March 12 2013, 13:27
Monday, June 18 2012
By Trip Ericson on Monday, June 18 2012, 14:54
RabbitEars and I are in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press today.
Wednesday, April 4 2012
By Trip Ericson on Wednesday, April 4 2012, 08:00
(You're not having deja vu; I've changed the date so this post appears at the top of the page.)
For the first time, I will be in Las Vegas this year for NAB. I will be there with Luken Communications, who is exhibiting there for the first time this year, so my visit won't be the only first. =) I suspect I will be away from the booth much of the time, between meeting with vendors and trying to find people who I already know will be there.
Are there any users of RabbitEars who will be in Las Vegas for it? Can't promise anything regarding my availability outside of the show floor, but I would love to meet many people, both those who use RabbitEars and those who send me the data and updates that make RabbitEars possible.
I am very much looking forward to this show!
EDIT: One important note, for those who may not know me too well, the name "Trip Ericson" is a pseudonym. Confusingly, Luken Communications has hired a new Director of Sales, who will be at NAB, whose real name actually is Tripp. My real first name is Mark, and as such if you come to the booth looking for me, that is who to ask for, not "Trip." I hope to have a RabbitEars button or tag to pin to my shirt in time for NAB which should make me easier to identify.
Sunday, April 1 2012
By Trip Ericson on Sunday, April 1 2012, 03:00
In a surprise move, the FCC and the wireless industry today announced that they had "come to [their] senses" and have discontinued their pursuit of television spectrum.
While the FCC and the wireless industry still intend to try to clear most stations off of channel 51 for a guard band, no further reclamation will take place.
"We looked at the name of the service we provide, 'cellular telephones,' and realized that's the answer," said a high-ranking engineer at Verizon Wireless. "Clearly, making the cells smaller, and thus making more efficient of the spectrum we already have, is the best way to improve our service and solve our issues with speed and throughput for 4G Internet connectivity. In addition, having more tower sites means people will be closer to any given tower and have better service as a result."
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski acknowledged that the National Broadband Plan was never about rural broadband. "It's plainly obvious that spectrum availability is not the reason for low availability of broadband in rural areas; there is a ton of unused spectrum in those areas. Service issues for those in urban areas were the main reason for this push, and we now realize how much more sense it makes to use smaller cells and existing spectrum allocations."
The sudden about-face came as a shock to members of the broadcast industry, including broadcasters who had been buying up stations to sell in incentive auctions. A high-ranking official at one such company, who wished to remain anonymous, commented on the situation. "I can't believe that I now have to provide actual programming people want to watch in order to serve the public interest instead of simply filling my own pockets at the public's expense!" His statement continued, but used language that could not be published in this article.
Most other broadcasters breathed a sigh of relief. One station owner was very pleased with the situation. "Stations which were afraid to invest in equipment to add additional channels are now going to feel secure enough to make those investments and make free over-the-air television a more viable competitor to cable and satellite. Having 30 or more channels available over the air, even if many of those are not in high definition, makes it much easier for people to cut down one of their largest expenses every month: cable television."
One industry was predictably upset with this turn of events, the cable industry. An official for the National Cable and Telecommunications Association told us, "I am disappointed that our largest competition is not going to be killed off. We're going to have to cancel the big party we had set up." He went on to note that, "now we can't jack up prices on our customers because they will continue to have free competition to jump to. If we can't collude with all our competition to raise prices, how will we ever make money!?"
The cellular companies have already begun working toward making upgrades in accordance with their new upgrade strategy. It is expected to be completed shortly after the US Congress attains a positive approval rating.
Happy April Fool's Day, everyone. =)
Sunday, March 18 2012
By Trip Ericson on Sunday, March 18 2012, 12:23
I know this really isn't relevant to RabbitEars overall, but it's tangentially related in that it's about spectrum policy. I am sick to death of reading stories about LightSquared that do not address the technical issues. I want to republish a post I made on ArsTechnica yesterday to explain the physics of the situation to any who may not know, which seems to be just about everyone who reads these stories because they tend to be so poorly written. Here's a link to the original comment.
The interference problem is due to the laws of physics, which is, in fact, why spectrum next to the GPS band is set aside specifically for satellite usage.
There is no such thing as a perfect filter. You can achieve certain amounts of roll-off over certain amounts of spectrum, but never reach zero outside the pass-band. You have to make trade-offs between the width and sharpness of the filter and the amount of signal the filter ultimately passes through.
Since GPS does not use a high-gain parabolic dish antenna like a satellite TV service would, the receiver needs to be able to gather as much signal as possible. A filter that doesn't have as sharp of a roll-off allows more signal to be passed through in the pass-band to the receiver circuitry, and so the FCC purposely put only other satellite transmissions in the adjacent bands. This means that since adjacent signals are going to be roughly the same strength (0 dB difference), the filter does not have to be as sharp, allowing as much signal as possible through.
Now, LightSquared wants to put a signal on the adjacent band that is about 130 dB stronger than what the FCC allows. And remember, that's not a linear scale, that means that the LightSquared signal would be 10^13 times more powerful than GPS. Not only are the filters in GPS completely unsuited for that, I don't think you can make a filter that will work for that in the size profile of a typical GPS.
My experience with filters comes from the TV broadcast industry. In US digital TV broadcast, before a signal goes from a transmitter out to an antenna, it passes through a "mask filter." For a full-service TV broadcaster, the filter is required to have a 47 dB drop by 500 kHz from the edge of the channel, and a 110 dB drop by 6 MHz from the edge of the channel. The filter can be anywhere from the size of a microwave oven to the size of a hot water heater or a refrigerator, is very sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, costs thousands of dollars, weighs tens or hundreds of pounds depending on size, and I don't even know what the insertion loss is on it. And that filter might or might not be sufficient to deal with just the interference from LightSquared's proposal, let alone the fact that you now need a parabolic dish to collect enough signal to get something usable to the receiver chip on the output of the filter. Now, of course, this TV filter is designed to handle huge amounts of power compared to the amount of power a received LightSquared signal will be, since this is coming right off the output of the transmitter, but it's to give you an idea of just what an expensive, professional filter is capable of.
So, how does one design a filter with 130 dB off roll-off over 15 MHz (LightSquared ends around 1559 MHz, GPS is at 1575 MHz) without making the filter large and heavy and/or having so much insertion loss that you now require every GPS device to have a motorized parabolic dish? More importantly, how is this inability to overcome the laws of physics the fault of the GPS industry, who built to the specifications the FCC provided them and which were, themselves, based on the laws of physics?
Monday, December 19 2011
By Trip Ericson on Monday, December 19 2011, 00:32
Given all the recent uncertainly surrounding spectrum auctions, like many others I have been following articles on the issue as best I can. In an Ars Technica article over the weekend comparing the Verizon spectrum buys to the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, a commenter ("doormat") noted he had quickly created a mapping tool to display where the various cell phone companies and other major groups held spectrum. He compared it to the FCC's spectrum dashboard but I think it's better than the FCC's work.
It is rough around the edges, but I found it to be very useful nonetheless. Have a look.
Tuesday, December 6 2011
By Trip Ericson on Tuesday, December 6 2011, 23:40
This is somewhat off-subject, but I'm so thoroughly amused.
My preferred AM/FM radio is my Sony XDR-S3HD. I currently have it hooked to my outdoor TV antenna, which is technically too small for proper FM use. But it definitely works for me, bringing me quite a number of FM stations.
What has me laughing is the fact that if I tune to 96.1, I hear a local translator that sounds pretty clear for about 5 seconds before the IBOC of WKLS-FM Atlanta kicks in. The WKLS IBOC feed is the only reliable Atlanta IBOC feed, with the others fading in and out, but I have yet to hear the analog of WKLS.
On a semi-related note, the big Chattanooga FMs from Signal Mountain, like WDEF, WDOD, and WSKZ, are all getting eaten by multipath, thus confirming my issues with the TV side of things to be caused by multipath.
Thursday, October 27 2011
By Trip Ericson on Thursday, October 27 2011, 12:29
I found myself thoroughly amused with a message board post today on DigitalHome.ca, this post here:
There is no particular reason to think that CBC is going to be up and running at the end of the month. Here [link is in the original post. -Ed.] is their current statement on the matter. As you can see, they are still waiting on the availability of a material called "steel". I think it can be assumed that they require this "steel" to be made into a particular shape. It seems reasonable to think that it would take at least 2 months to find someone to work with this exotic substance even in the case where they could somehow acquire it.
To give context, CBC was supposed to go digital in Winnipeg at the transition date of August 31. However, a week before, they went to the CRTC claiming the tower couldn't support the antennas. Of course, they should have known that MONTHS before the transition, not days before. But the CRTC has allowed them to retain their analog transmission while awaiting tower strengthening.
In unrelated news, I have accepted a job. More on that in another post.
Friday, September 30 2011
Opinion by Irwin Podhajser: Why Would Republicans and Democrats Vote To Confiscate Small Businesses?
By Trip Ericson on Friday, September 30 2011, 02:09
RabbitEars.Info is a member of the Coalition for Free TV and Broadband. This coalition aims to protect the TV broadcast spectrum from being taken by the FCC for auction to wireless companies. Irwin Podhajser is chairman of the organization and has written this essay which I am reposting here unedited. (I really should at least fix the "smart quotes" but I'm extremely tired.)
Sunday, September 18 2011
By Trip Ericson on Sunday, September 18 2011, 16:23
Unknown (Found in 2000) - September 18, 2011
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