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Author Topic: We’re Running Out of Spectrum for Both New and Old Technologies?  (Read 550 times)

Offline ThaDood

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“The iron laws of physics being what they are, we are simply not making more,” says FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.

https://slate.com/technology/2019/05/spectrum-auction-bandwidth-weather-forecasting-fcc-noaa.html


From DC to light, I take a huge spectrum bite!

Offline OgreVorbis

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This is ridiculous. We have plenty of spectrum if only the FCC would open up more of it. There's all that old TV spectrum that's just sitting around. It would also be ideal because it's low VHF which travels farther. And what about all those "Land/Mobile" frequencies that no one uses anymore. Everything is clustered in the high frequencies like 2.4G right now. I heard of a plan to start a WiFi band around 800MHz, but I don't think it went anywhere.

Either way, I wish the government would just step aside and let innovation happen. The only rule should be to not interfere with another signal. Just make the punishment for that very severe. Then you can open everything up and just let business and individuals use whatever frequency they wish. You could argue that this would produce chaos, but not many are going use frequencies that they know others are using because it's just not going to work as well.
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Offline BoomboxDX

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^^^^^ You make some valid points. How many frequencies are allocated to various government agencies and are never, or rarely, used?

The 11 meter government frequencies are an example. I know they're useless for broadband stuff, but the point is that I have never heard a government agency near the 11 meter band, ever. Yet there are allocations for government near that frequency range. It's like they have a bank of channels all over the place they never use anymore.

I'm sure there are similar ones higher up in VHF and UHF and further.
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Offline NJQA

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It is a bit more complicated than that.  Each frequency band has different characteristics.  The 27 MHz frequencies will have poor propagation into buildings for instance, making them less useful for firefighters.  You have to look at what other services are operating on adjacent frequencies and allow for interference to/from them.  Different geographic areas have different users.  A band that seems vacant in Nevada may have many shipboard radars in a coastal area.  You also have to consider the problem of mixing products and whether they will generate problems.  Don’t forget that all the frequency bands are Internationally coordinated.  We try to stay compliant with those agreements.  Also , small chunks of spectrum are less useful than wider chunks.  This is complicated stuff.

Remember when Lightsquared tried to build their system on frequencies adjacent to GPS?  It had the potential of causing severe interference to millions of existing GPS receivers.  It took a huge effort to stop their plans.  Lightsquared’s opinion was that all of these users should upgrade their devices to ones with more robust GPS receivers.  I wondered why their proposal ever saw the light of day.  Didn’t anyone see the potential problems of high power transmitters operating on frequencies adjacent to receivers trying to pick up signals at or below the noise floor?

I worry that the days where hobbyists enjoyed access to large swaths of frequencies are coming to an end.  This latest discussion of changing the status of European hams in the 144-146 MHz band from Primary to Secondary is a prime example.  The people pushing it want to use the band for aviation telemetry services.  I suspect if this comes to pass, hams will be forced off completely due to “safety of flight” concerns.  It may seem like this is a European problem, but if it takes hold in Europe, it will come home to the US eventually.


Offline Josh

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The fcc will have to learn how to auction subharmonics and negahertz.
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Offline R4002

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The 26.48 MHz to 26.95 MHz and 27.54 MHz to 27.99 MHz bands have been allocated to government use since the 1950s, and there are frequencies in these bands in the channel plans for military, government and other users...if they use them or not is another question.  Of course, the freeband CB crowd has become the “primary” user (de facto) for this band and probably make the best use of it considering the propagation characteristics.  Like the VHF low band, it is still used, quite heavily in some parts of the country.  The military still uses 30 to 50 MHz (30 to 88 MHz) as its primary tactical air to ground/ground to ground combat net radio band.

Ireland recently allocated 30-50 MHz for amateur use (secondary allocation, with military still as the primary user) since other land mobile (private land mobile) users are completely off that band in Ireland. 
« Last Edit: July 05, 2019, 1238 UTC by R4002 »
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Offline Pigmeat

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In the words of the great Boris Yeltsin when told his Presidential campaign was running out of money, "Print more!"

It's time to drop inefficient modes like ssb and band hogging ones such as FM stereo and go back to AM and CW. If it was good enough for Marconi, it's good enough for us.

Offline Josh

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A friend bought spectrum at an fcc auction years ago and is still living off the proceeds today.
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Offline R4002

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I believe the old VHF low MTS/IMTS frequencies (paired 35 MHz and 43 MHz frequencies) are empty and available for very cheap purchase in most, if not all markets. 

They’re slowly re-allocating the VHF high (152 MHz and 157 MHz) and UHF (454 MHz and 459 MHz) IMTS  frequencies to land mobile uses...but basically everywhere outside large metro areas these three sets of paired frequencies are quiet.  At least in my area, the 152 MHz IMTS channels are used for both POCSAG paging and trunked land mobile (P25 trunking) systems. 
« Last Edit: July 07, 2019, 1624 UTC by R4002 »
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Offline Radio Boogie

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As far as our *broadcast* spectrum is concerned, the FCC blew it by allowing companies such as EMF to drop in K-Love frequencies all over the land. Many markets have K-Love on as many as 6 FM channels. This carpetbaombing is flat-out wrong, and a real stretch of FCC rules (if they haven't been overturned while I speak). Then, they wonder why people are PO'ed about interference on FM. Then, why do they not extend the band down to 76MHz? I'm sure "well nobody has radios for that band". Okay, I'll buy that. However, some of the same voices stating that argument are the ones pushing for sunset of analog and full IBOC. Wait!! There are so few radios around! Did you just not contradict your concern for "no radios"???

And should I even mention the handling of analog TV sunset??? People are STILL having issues receiving many of their favorite OTA signals.

Then, there is AM band. IMO, a LOT of these broom-closet automation trainwrecks *need* to go dark. How many AM signals does a market need with evangelists or hate-talk? I could hear Rush on NO LESS than 8 signals, all of which come in clear, in Flint. There is duplicate sports-talk on FOUR signals. To me, this is a waste. Granted, I'm an old-school radio guy who has despised automation since the days of Drake-Chenault reels.

The other major issue I have with AM band is the general lack of engineering "quality". I hear AM stations, using Optimods, Arianas, etc, that sound absolutely horrible, because the tubes in the transmitter haven't been changed in five years or more. Stations are blowing off pattern changes, sitting in dead air (or, more commonly, +125% line noise) running onmi, patterns FUBAR or TX on low power for months on end with no STA filed. If I pulled this kind of BS if I owned a station, I'd be "zorched" in days!! Oh, and I know of at least 4 translators that somehow remained on the air YEARS AFTER the AM's license was deleted. How exactly does *that* happen?

I'll even go out on a limb and say this. A lot of the spectrum was repacked to sell to cellular. Fine, the demand is high, so it doesn't really bother me. But then, I watch as the infrastructure is left to rot in place. Covers and RF shields missing, unlocked doghouses, you name it.

I suppose a lot of this boils down to the entire "profit matters, nothing else does" attitude of American businesses, especially the bigger radio groups and major cell/internet providers.

And I cannot even begin to count how many dedicated, talented engineers have simply bailed out of the business because of low pay and benefits coupled with workloads which triple every few months. Almost anyone who took pride in their work left radio/TV for greener pastures long ago. A few had opportunities to go to work for smaller groups or Mom & Pop stations where their expertise was appreciated. Many others, myself included, went to work on the line in auto plants, machine setup and repair in plastic factories or even sales gigs. It's heartbreaking to see the loss of talent in the field, and even on-air and management suffered from this.

Indeed, spectrum management and corporate engineering nowdays is something I am glad I do not have to be involved in. I can say I certainly do not miss grueling 70 hour weeks with no overtime and stupid "the lamp burned out in the bathroom" calls at 4:26AM on a Saturday. It was already the scenario for me when I left radio in 1998, for a job on the line at Jeep for $36 an hour with good benefits. I hated the monotony of it, but that check was more than worth it. I'd come out of retirement in a heartbeat for a *real* chief engineer job involving a few stations for a decent local owner. Something tells me that's not going to happen soon though. 
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Offline Josh

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I have long had a suspicion that all analog terrestrial bcasting, tv, am/fm, will be replaced with sat and cell service.
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Offline JimIO

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$100 says you're wrong.

Offline Josh

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Oh also innernets too.
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Offline R4002

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I have long had a suspicion that all analog terrestrial bcasting, tv, am/fm, will be replaced with sat and cell service.

In some places probably.  The UHF spectrum currently occupied by TV is prime real estate for cellular service.  First they took 800 MHz, then 700 MHz, now 600 MHz.  Re-organize the TV channels yet again.  Will streaming television/video services eventually replace broadcast TV?  Maybe.  The FM band(s) are another story (maybe).  It would make sense for the FCC to open up 54-72 MHz and 76-88 MHz for broadcasting or something similar.  Isn't Australia doing that with the 76-88 MHz band?  "Narrowcasting" I think is what its called.  Analog FM (narrowband though, the frequency steps are smaller) for particular target audiences.  That, or re-assign those bands for land mobile.  66-88 MHz has long been a land mobile band in Europe and other places, although, like 30-50 MHz here, a lot of users have moved to higher frequencies.  I do know that in France the 66-88 MHz band is used by the military/government with a wide-area digital trunking network.  There are portions of that band (72-73 MHz, 75 MHz and 75-76 MHz) that are already in use for other services, 75 MHz is used for marker beacons at airports and the 72/75 MHz bands are used for remote control, telemetry, fixed links for land mobile radio and dozens of other purposes.

I think eventually the FCC will require all users in large metro areas to vacate the 470 MHz to 512 MHz UHF-T band (which is heavily used for public safety purposes in basically every major city in the USA) and move to 700 MHz or whatever they're calling the nationwide public safety broadband LTE network they've been talking about for what seems like forever now.  The lower part of UHF (400-512 MHz) has excellent propagation characteristics in urban areas and is pretty much perfect for police/fire/EMS radio (which is what its used for in many places). 
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Offline Σ

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Moving New York City out of the T band won't be easy. They refused to narrow band when the requirement came out which is why no other licensee in the T band had to narrow band. They are a huge user with a bit of clout.
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