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Topic: INFINITE BANDWIDTH INTERNET?? (1 of 2), Read 1 times
Conf: Vision/Strategy
From: Harel Barzilai
Date: Sunday, June 29, 2003 05:57 PM

Two points before the link to this remarkable information:

1) This is not science fiction, this is by a
DiamondCluster fellow, a visiting scientist at the MIT Media Lab.

2) The thrust of my media democracy project and essay
(See "The Revolution Will Be Webcast, )
does not depend on the content of the following
article being realizable or even true. However
if and when it happens, it would certainly help
contribute to the media democracy vision I have
written about.

The article: "The Sky's No Longer The Limit" at

summaritzed in the subtitle: "Why radio spectrum,
regularted as a precious, scare resource, may
actually be almost infinite"

In particular "interferencde" is NOT a law
of nature but a limitation of the technology
of the past which is now in the process of being

" In fact, the waves sent out by different transmitters don’t interfere with each other at all. They pass right through each other unchanged.

Interference occurs in the receiver, when its antenna picks up multiple signals of the same frequency and has trouble telling them apart. In other words, interference is a function of the intelligence designed into the receiver, not a function of what happens in the airwaves—and receivers can be a lot more intelligent than they were 90 years ago.

Recent advances are enabling radio signals to be coded digitally so they can easily be separated from each other. No longer is there a need to chop the airwaves into distinct regions of frequency and geography.

And this is key, the FCC would need to be convinved
to stop doing this chopping up of the specrum.

"Once we no longer have to reserve certain frequencies for specific services, we can avoid problems such as those encountered on Sept. 11, 2001, when cellphone users couldn’t get calls through because airwaves set aside for mobile phone use were jammed, while wide swaths of spectrum allocated to other uses were virtually silent. Moreover, wireless phones would be able to tap into any network and stay connected as they move around the globe.

It gets better. The airwaves’ capacity can actually increase as we add devices—cellphones, televisions, and other gadgets based on digital technologies—to these networks. Because the number of those devices will continue to explode as new technologies come to market, the capacity of spectrum can increase to accommodate almost any amount of demand

But there are hurdles, in technology and rollout,
as well as political ones, see the article and please
spread the word...

(See also "A Free Decentralized Internet, I,26

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Topic: INFINITE BANDWIDTH INTERNET?? (2 of 2), Read 1 times
Conf: Vision/Strategy
From: Harel Barzilai
Date: Sunday, June 29, 2003 06:25 PM

See also "The Open Spectrum FAQ" by advocates
of open spectrum.

Here are some of the Q/A from the FAQ:

". This sounds like a pretty geeky, technical topic. Why should I care?

Imagine that every American had the same access to the public airways as broadcasters do today.

Imagine everyone living within reach of a radio signal had the ability to communicate with everyone else.

Imagine rather than having to worry about how much "bandwidth" is enough, everyone had unlimited access to bits so that the size of what you communicate simply didn't matter.

You know the effect the Internet has had on how we live and work together? Multiply it by hundred.

Opening the spectrum would turn a federally-managed permissions system into an open market for ideas and creativity. The effects on our democracy and economy should not be underestimated.


"5. What is Open Spectrum (OS)?

An Open Spectrum policy would permit anyone to send signals across any range of spectrum without permission, with the minimum set of rules required to enable the success of a "wireless commons."

This would be in contrast to today's legal framework
of "licenses" given out to particular people to have
exclusive rights to a particular chunk of the

Item #10:

"10. What's changed that now makes Open Spectrum plausible?

Technology has evolved since the Titanic went down. The laws and policies in existence today address limitations of the technology of the early 1900's.

Interference — which we've treated as as law of nature — is an artifact of the way radio were designed 100 years ago. If interference isn't an issue, then the reasons we started to license spectrum become irrelevant.

In fact, the core premise that has undergirded our spectrum policy has dissolved: There is no scarcity of spectrum. It does not need to be doled out. On the contrary, there is an abundance of spectrum.

Our current policies prevent us from benefiting from this abundance.


15. Is unlicensed spectrum the same as Open Spectrum?

No. Unlicensed spectrum refers to spectrum for which the FCC doesn't issue a specific license to a user, but instead certifies equipment that may be used in a segment of spectrum designated for shared use. For example, the 2.4 GHz band is such a area, which is why you may have noticed that that's the only place where innovations such as Wi-Fi and long-range cordless phones operate. (The lesson: opening spectrums enables innovation.)

16. Why wouldn't making more spectrum unlicensed do the trick?

While unlicensing more spectrum would certainly help the development and deployment of new technologies, it would not allow the open and ubiquitous access that could transform our economy and democracy. Merely unlicensing some more spectrum keeps us in a permission economy.

17. Why not be incremental about this and open up some spectrum but not all of it?

The push for increasing the amount of unlicensed spectrum tacitly accepts the current metaphors and paradigms. The metaphors are outdated and the paradigms legitimize anti-democratic power structures that give permission and privilege to a few economic giants. We should instead be reframing the question. And once the question is reframed, we believe that Open Spectrum is the obvious answer.

18. So everything would change overnight?

No. If Open Spectrum is accepted as a policy, open market forces will bring about change at the pace the market finds acceptable. As fast as newer, better technology can be deployed to implement legacy functions, those legacy functions will go away due to competition.

But the market has to be open if this is to work. For example, that means that we should be able to send "TV" broadcasts over the Internet and wireless networks, without attempts by content owners to limit the path by which it gets to users.


23. What is Software-Defined Radio?

You can view a SDR either as a radio with a computer attached to it or a computer with a radio attached to it. Rather than simply assuming that the information coming via radio waves encode sounds, a SDR can treat the information any way that it's programmed to. This makes radios much smarter and it makes computers part of a ubiquitous network of unimaginable capacity.


27. What effect will this have on broadcasters?

They will continue to have tremendous value as producers of content people want to see and listen to. They will lose the advantage granted to them that all others have been excluded from the airwaves.

Smart broadcasters will realize that there is huge potential economic value to being the holder of valued content in an age of connectedness. It is up to them to figure out how to deliver that value.


30. Is Wi-Fi an alternative to Open Spectrum?

No. The Wi-Fi specification enables networks to use slices of spectrum, just as radios and garage door openers do. Open Spectrum would open up all of spectrum for Wi-Fi and other applications.

But Wi-Fi is an important specification because it enables within a narrow band of frequency some of the benefits we'd get with Open Spectrum. Wi-Fi joins people together in networks that can grow and adapt. But Wi-Fi networks are relatively low bandwidth (currently at 54Mbps), are short range, and can't scale the way Open Spectrum permits. For example, Wi-Fi isn't suitable for networking together thousands of people attending a conference. With an Open Spectrum policy, other forms of wireless networking would rapidly emerge.

Nevertheless, Wi-Fi networks are an important development and show the power of networks that grow from the bottom up.

There's also a "for more info" list of links,
and a link to a discussion board (I
haven't delved into the latter)

Investigate further, come back here and share
what you learn with me and others, and spread the word :-)


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