Coming soon: ‘Super Wi-Fi’ connectivity?

Tapping unused TV white spaces could help bring wireless connectivity at speeds ranging from 15 to 20 Mbps.
Tapping unused TV white spaces could help bring wireless connectivity at speeds ranging from 15 to 20 Mbps.

A new flavor of Wi-Fi, with longer range and better wall-piercing power, could show up in wireless gadgets a year from now if the Federal Communications Commission works out the last details of new spectrum rules that long have been in the making.

Nearly two years ago, the FCC voted to open up the airwaves between broadcast TV channels—so-called “white spaces”—for wireless broadband connections that would work like Wi-Fi on steroids. But wrangling over key technical details, including concerns about interference with TV signals and wireless microphones, has prevented exploitation of these spaces.

On Sept. 23, the FCC plans to vote on rules meant to resolve those issues. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski predicts electronics makers will jump at this “super Wi-Fi” technology, as the agency calls it, and make it just as popular as conventional Wi-Fi.…Read More

IETF: AT&T’s net neutrality claim is ‘misleading’

The head of the internet’s leading standards body said Sept. 2 that it is “misleading” for AT&T to claim that its push to charge customers for high-priority service is technically justified, CNET reports. Internet Engineering Task Force chairman Russ Housley told CNET that AT&T’s arguments to federal regulators, which cited networking standards to justify “paid prioritization” of network traffic, were invalid. “AT&T in their letter [to the Federal Communications Commission] says the IETF envisioned this,” Housley said. “That’s not my view.” This particular debate began earlier this week, when AT&T sent the FCC a letter arguing that telecommunications providers need the ability to set different prices for different forms of internet service. Paid prioritization, AT&T said, was a form of network management that was “fully contemplated by the IETF” more than a decade ago. Everyone agrees that, in the late 1990s, the IETF revised its networking standards to allow network operators to assign up to 64 different traffic “classes,” meaning priority levels. That concept of “differentiated services” is referred to today as DiffServ, which allows high-priority communications like videoconferencing to be labeled with a higher priority than bulk file-transfer protocols that aren’t as sensitive to brief slowdowns. The disagreement arises from what happens if Video Site No. 1 and Video Site No. 2 both mark their streams as high priority. “If two sources of video are marking their stuff the same, then that’s where the ugliness of this debate begins,” Housley says. “The [IETF standard] doesn’t talk about that. … If they put the same tags, they’d expect the same service from the same provider.”

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FCC rejects proposal for free wireless service

Federal regulators have shot down a proposal by a startup called M2Z Networks Inc. to build a free, nationwide wireless broadband network using a spare slice of airwaves, reports the Associated Press. The Federal Communications Commission on Sept. 1 said it has rejected M2Z’s request that the agency demand that the winner of an auction for the radio spectrum provide free internet service to anyone who connects to it. That condition would have mirrored M2Z’s business model of offering free basic wireless broadband access—with speeds of up to 768 kilobits per second—that would be supported by advertising in addition to a faster, premium service. “We gave careful and thorough consideration to the proposal, but ultimately determined that this was not the best policy outcome,” Ruth Milkman, head of the FCC’s wireless bureau, said in a statement. The FCC did not explain its rejection further. M2Z’s plan had encountered resistance from T-Mobile USA and other big wireless carriers, which warned that it would interfere with their own services…

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FCC seeks input on rules for online services

The FCC is seeking public input on what rules should apply to wireless internet access.
The FCC is seeking public input on what rules should apply to wireless carriers and specialized internet services.

In the latest twist in the Federal Communications Commission’s pursuit of “net neutrality” rules to prevent broadband providers from discriminating against certain types of traffic flowing over their lines, federal regulators are seeking public input on what rules should apply to wireless internet access and specialized services that aren’t part of the internet but are delivered over wired broadband connections.

The agency’s move comes a few weeks after Google Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. announced a proposal of their own that would allow the FCC to enforce net neutrality rules for wireline broadband traffic would but exempt wireless carriers. The companies’ plan, which was not popular with public interest groups, also would leave room for broadband providers to charge extra to route traffic from so-called “premium services” over dedicated networks that are separate from the public internet.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, as well as many internet content providers, public interest groups, and education organizations, say net neutrality rules are needed to prevent phone and cable companies from abusing their control over high-speed internet access to become online gatekeepers for content.…Read More