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FCC Boosts Spectrum Available To Wi-Fi

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the greased-lightning dept.

The Internet 73

bbsguru (586178) writes "Wi-Fi networks will soon be improving thanks to a vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today. The FCC voted unanimously to open 100 MHz of wireless spectrum in an unlicensed 5GHz block . The move will increase the number of frequencies available to unlicensed wireless networks (such as those set up through Wi-Fi routers) by nearly 15 percent, and in turn, allow them to handle a greater level of traffic at higher speeds. 'Today's action represents the largest amount of spectrum suitable for mobile broadband that the Commission has made available for auction since the 700MHz band was auctioned in 2008,' the FCC wrote in a statement. 'Access to these bands will help wireless companies meet growing consumer demand for mobile data by enabling faster wireless speeds and more capacity.' The increased spectrum should mean that Wi-Fi networks will be less congested, and next-gen routers will be able to take better advantage of gigabit broadband speeds that are cropping up all over the country."

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Spectrum Frequency (5, Informative)

Goetterdaemmerung (140496) | about 8 months ago | (#46626099)

The newly available spectrum is 5150-5250 MHz.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (1)

msauve (701917) | about 8 months ago | (#46626365)

Thanks for that, since neither of the linked articles bothered to provide any meaningful details, just "this is more better!"

One of them implied that this was somehow provided for outdoor ISP use - any clarification on that? Is this available for everyone indoors, but limited when used outdoors, or ???

Re:Spectrum Frequency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46626545)

I wonder how much more does that actually gives us.

Channels 36,40,44,48 are already allowed. I guess this gives us channel 32

Re:Spectrum Frequency (2)

beheaderaswp (549877) | about 8 months ago | (#46626581)

As long as they stay out of the Amateur microwave bands... they can have all they want (self interest).

However, this release of spectrum is not nearly enough to mitigate the problems found in urban areas. The bands need to be widened a lot more.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (0)

Lumpy (12016) | about 8 months ago | (#46626627)

I just wish they would get off their butts and figure out how to compress the data better so they can be more narrowband in the existing spectrum.
Honestly, Wifi is allowed to be awfully wasteful with the bandwidth it has.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 8 months ago | (#46626729)

Compressing the H264 most people are pulling down over it? Not going to happen. Unless you mean upping the symbol rate (think that's the right term) for more efficient coding. In which case, well, we're still being pretty damn efficient.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (1)

morgauxo (974071) | about 8 months ago | (#46627299)

Wouldn't increasing the symbol rate also increase the bandwidth used? Or are you sugesting a different kind of modulation too? In that case isn't it the different modulation that is saving the bandwidth, not the increasing of the symbol rate?

Re:Spectrum Frequency (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46627717)

Yes.

What the GP probably means is increasing the constellation size. But increasing the constellation size requires a better SNR in the channel, which typically means increasing power, for example, to go from QAM256 to QAM1024, (8 bits/symbols to 10bits/symbol) requires 3dB better SNR, which in turn means doubling the transmit power, or somehow reducing the channel noise floor, for example, by using higher gain receive side antenna, or a lower noise detector.

Of course, the best advance we have made is MIMO, which is a form of spatial division multiplexing, allowing encoding symbols in space as well as amplitude. Technically it is a partially correlated matrix encoding.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (1)

Phreakiture (547094) | about 8 months ago | (#46629019)

MIMO is a great technology, but it has two problems.

First is that there is a lot of equipment that is too small to implement MIMO (think phones, iPods and other, similarly-sized devices) because there is not enough room to put the requisite multiple antennas in place at a sufficient distance from each other to do the job. This may be curable with another advance in technology, but we don't have this one yet.

Second is the large amount of equipment in which it just isn't being implemented. Look at the shelves of a store (or pages of a webstore) and you will find a gajillion "N150" routers and cards. Naturally, these are the ones with the lowest prices on them, and therefore are the ones that get bought. Band congestion takes that 150 and turns it into a 36 or so, where if you had bought an "N300" or "N600" you might see 72 or 144 respectively.

Of course, this is less of a problem on 5 GHz because there is more spectrum, no channel overlap (unless you bonded your channels) and the signals don't carry as far.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (1)

Larry_Dillon (20347) | about 8 months ago | (#46630013)

"...requires 3dB better SNR, which in turn means doubling the transmit power..."

Or using better antennas.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46630251)

11n cards don't actually do beam-forming on transmit, so no "encoding symbols in space as well as amplitude" is actually happening. The so-called MIMO is just a 16-way receive diversity made from mixing the 3 antenna inputs in various ways. It's pretty dumb technology.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46635415)

No you are completely wrong.

802.11n has several modes that do make use of MIMO on the transmit side. STBC transmit one datastream over two antennas (extensions to >2 antennas exist, but are not standardized). Other modes split the datastream into n separate streams that are independently broadcast via n antennas. Transmit beamforming is (AFAIK) very seldomly done, only if you are transmitting single stream, without stbc, with a device with more than one antenna, and even then most chipsets don't support it and simply only use one of the antennas.

Most N cards will do something like receive beamforming when receiving an 802.11a signal. Since they have to have 2 (or more) full frontends for MIMO they will do maximum ratio combining on the OFDM subcarriers. This will yield some bit error rate improvement, but not that spectacular. It's something you get for free though with the MIMO receiver so why not.

In n mode they ofcourse use full multi-stream MIMO or STBC.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46630277)

You only need 2 or 3 megabits for H264, so if you are having problems watching video, that is a sign the band is already so trashed I am not sure using these double- and triple-wide channels with insane theoretical data rates is going to help anything. In fact, if you and all your neighbors used much narrower channels or more coding gain, and only aimed for 10Mbit/s, that might make the video work. If video's not working, you're probably limited by TCP cubic because of the crazy amounts of loss from radio interference you're seeing, or perhaps from your station even losing its association for a few seconds at a time.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46626897)

I'm not sure how you can say wifi is "awfully wasteful" with a straight face. Ignoring MIMO (which can double or triple the spectral efficiency), 802.11n achieves 3.61 bits/second/Hz which is right on par with other consumer wireless standards. The real-world efficiency is lower due to packet overheads and SNR, but that's going to be the case with any standard you settle on. Is there room for improvement? Certainly. 802.11ac will use bandwidth even more efficiently than 'n', though because people care more about throughput gains are going to go to improving speed rather than reducing its spectrum usage.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (2)

timeOday (582209) | about 8 months ago | (#46627183)

I'm not sure how you can say wifi is "awfully wasteful" with a straight face. Ignoring MIMO (which can double or triple the spectral efficiency), 802.11n achieves 3.61 bits/second/Hz which is right on par with other consumer wireless standards.

N is new and good. So the only way to do what the GP suggests is forcing older, less efficient devices off the air. [slashdot.org] "Cash for clunker APs!" or something. I'm not saying whether that's a great idea - but this new spectrum allocation adds 15%, whereas 802.11b is up to 100 times slower than ac.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 8 months ago | (#46629049)

Fortunately 802.11b doesn't support 5GHz so there is no chance of it slowing down devices operating in that band. 802.11a is pretty rare.

Hopefully 802.11n was designed well enough to not screw up faster protocols as they become available. I get good speed from 802.11ac but there are no other APs on those channels near me.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46635373)

Many chipsets will actually happily do 802.11b on 5GHz if they detect an access point running in that mode.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46644677)

Just yesterday being closer to the window and playing around I noticed one or two WEP APs in my list of around 20 in this side of the New York building. I didn't notice if it was B, but it is still saddening to see G-only APs being sold this year, to burden people for the better part of half a decade when all new ones will be Dual band N.

That is one reason phones still dare come with G only wifi or N on the 2.4 band. I've owned a high end router for
- 6.5 years, and STILL can't freely use
- 5 ghz band on my 2 year old $800 laptop
IPv6 on the DSL connection. Verizon brags about progress and all, but it's only on their FIOS tier. They're 5 blocks away from here and can't give me more than 3Mbit down either. Tech in the States is so stiffling...

Re:Spectrum Frequency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46627045)

I just wish they would get off their butts and figure out how to compress the data better so they can be more narrowband in the existing spectrum.
Honestly, Wifi is allowed to be awfully wasteful with the bandwidth it has.

Honestly, I wish people who sit on their butts and make stupid statements like this would STFU. Do some research on OFDM and QAM and you will see how ridiculous you sound regarding spectral efficiency. If you mean wasteful with regards to content (pictures of kittens etc), then I agree.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (3, Informative)

morgauxo (974071) | about 8 months ago | (#46627315)

Personally my favorite way to increase efficiency has been around a long time... ETHERNET!! Don't get me wrong, I use WiFi for things that NEED WiFi (ChromeCast, laptops carried to strange places, visiting friends that want to use their Sprint (shitty network) smartphones, etc...). But.. for stationary things that can do ethernet... it's no contest, ethernet for the win!! With a little creativity you CAN find a place to run the cable and it IS worth it!

Re:Spectrum Frequency (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 8 months ago | (#46629059)

2.4GHz is so bad where I live that even opening web pages on 2.4GHz often fails. Ethernet isn't an option for tablets and phones (okay, USB dongles exist, but no).

I used to periodically clear 2.4GHz channels for my own use by encouraging other APs to switch away. These days all channels are so bad that spamming one doesn't make it that much worse than the others and the auto-channel-selection code doesn't seem to bother changing any more. I have to put everything I want to use on 5GHz.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46629137)

In those instances I play hell with the neighbors. a OpenWRT router that spres out hundreds of AP's named "linksys" "dlink" etc... so it screws badly with the people that cant configure their gear. Within a year channel 1 is clear of everything but me. so I shut it down and put my stuff on that channel. Ahhh room to breathe...

Re:Spectrum Frequency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46707981)

"Ethernet isn't an option for tablets and phones..."

Yes, that's why I had that "I use WiFi for things that NEED WiFi" bit in there. All the desktop computers, internet enabled DVD players, printers, game consoles, etc... in our house have wired Ethernet. Even the ones that have built in WiFi capability. The internal WiFi is turned off. We also have a spare Ethernet cord that ends next to the couch for laptop use. (usually my wife doing her homework) Our phones have unlimited data and seem to get as good or better service than the fastest our cable provider provides. Plus there is a cap on our cable modem (not that we hit it). So.. wifi for the phones is really only for friends with crappy Sprint cellphone service that want to show everyone some funny video or something on their phone when they come over. Sometimes I connect mine to the wifi if I want to access something that is only available on the LAN but as soon as I can get VPN working I'll be done with that.

Unfortunately Chromecast does not play nice with this setup!

Re:Spectrum Frequency (1)

surd1618 (1878068) | about 8 months ago | (#46627561)

Nothing (that we know of) short of utilizing polarization (which is basically impossible) is going to much increase the data transmitted across a given spectrum. Can someone put this in information-theory-ese?

Re:Spectrum Frequency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46635455)

Using polarization is not impossible. Simply take a normal MIMO transceiver, attach a horizontal polarized antenna to port A and a vertical one to port B. Wether you gain or loose compared to just two horizontal or two vertical antennas will depend on the layout of your room, the location of objects in it, etc.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46635855)

Uh. I have plenty of dual-chain 5km+ wifi radio links that use dual-polarisation. "which is basically impossible" hardly, it's a standard shipping feature from Mikrotik, Ubiquity, etc.

And infact you can get more channels through the same air using spatially diversified coherent receivers aka: MIMO. This comes from the fact that you can coherently downconvert the signal from multiple antennas, sample to IQ pairs, and arithmetically separate the multiple signals appearing at the antennas. This is basically the same as how you can hear sounds from multiple points with your two ears.

Additionally all wifi packets begin with a known preamble, from this it is possible with multiple antennas to decode the start of an interfering packet, regenerate it, subtract it from the signal, recover part of another packet, use that to resolve more of the first packet, then use that to resolve more of the second packet. This is called Zigzag decoding and has been experimentally demonstrated [sigcomm.org] in 2008. It wouldn't surprise me to find out that it is integrated into the 802.11ac standard, though I haven't read it yet.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (1)

morgauxo (974071) | about 8 months ago | (#46627283)

That's the first thing I was looking for too, I wanted to see the frequency range to see if it was an amateur band. This time it isn't (thankfully?). On the other hand, how much activity is there on the microwave amateur bands? Maybe sharing it (with the part 15 services on a secondary basis) would make it less attractive to comercial interests that might take away our access completely? I don't know. Just a thought.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 8 months ago | (#46628961)

Ham radio is already non-primary on 5GHz. In fact it is tertiary use on 5.15-5.25. There are two other services that take priority. Amateur is also secondary on every other 5GHz allocation it has.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46628735)

They really need to take that ham band and turn it over to do something useful for it, like unlicensed wifi. Ham radio really doesn't do anything useful or of public benefit with that band. They use the band, simply so they can talk about radios and ham radio. Sorry hams, 5 ghz has no emergency communications value. You can continue to play wacker cop/fireman on 2 meters.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46635355)

IMHO not true, the HAM traffic on 2m/70cm is not very useful in my eyes for real experimentation. a VHF/UHF transceiver is trivial to operate and relatively easy to design. It is also more or less a dead end for research. The higher microwave bands have a lot of bandwidth, and you will not piss off 'wacker cops' with your test transmissions. They allow effective experimentation with modern modulation and coding schemes.

Of course, since some expertise is required to use the microwave frequencies these bands are almost completely quiet (you will almost certainly not be able to make a QSO without asking a friend to come on-air and aim his dish at you). Therefore sharing space with ISM would not be a problem at all.

Almost all ISM products listen if the channel is free before transmitting. Furthermore they almost all transmit in bursts making interference minimal. They do transmit relatively broadband, but typically with low power and outdoor links often have directional antennas.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46628943)

Oh god.. not another ham radio wacker. When are you idiots going to finally admit that your hobby is useless and doesn't serve any public interest anymore? Ham radio doesn't accomplish anything that can't be accomplished with a pair of walkie talkies from Walmart (and in fact the FCC rules say that the only communications allowed on ham radio are those that cannot be delivered using another available radio service - 47CFR97.113(5) Prohibited Transmissions). It's a complete waste of spectrum that would be better used to expand wireless access, especially in rural communities where there is no wireline infrastructure that can deliver a usable Internet experience.

Why can't you guys just get together at a diner to play wannabe cop and talk about your hemmorhoids?

Re:Spectrum Frequency (1)

eclectro (227083) | about 8 months ago | (#46629201)

So they didn't whack ham radio for this? I'm really glad they did not. I have not been able to follow it as much as I would like.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46626875)

5150-5250 is channels 34-48, many of which are already available and is use

David Lang

Re:Spectrum Frequency (2)

RoadKill (9645) | about 8 months ago | (#46627055)

Why is this touted as "newly available"? This is not new spectrum, just loosened restrictions on usage. The FCC notice on their web site says that a restriction was removed on indoor use only and increased power is available. I just checked and my consumer-grade wifi router is using 5200MHz right now.

Re:Spectrum Frequency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46627879)

This is not what everyone wishes it was.

The U-NII 1 band (5.15-5.25 GHz) has been available for WiFi use for years. See the frequencies for WiFi channels 36, 40, 44, and 48. But, those channels were limited to *indoor* use only, and had very low power output limits.

This FCC rule changes open up these frequencies for *outdoor* use. As a result, this is of major interest to Wireless ISPs, but will have minimal impact on how most of us use WiFi day-to-day.

Ever watch all the collisions? (1)

BrendaEM (871664) | about 8 months ago | (#46626125)

WiFi was a huge success. We do need more channels, and bandwidth for growth.

And more radiation ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46626913)

You forgot radiation.

And thus starts the lamest day of the year (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46626127)

I'm going offline for 24 hours to let the barrage of poor jokes wash over. This is April Fools, isn't it?

100mhz is a lot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46626169)

What's the cost of developing and deploying a new incremental 5ghz band improvement for a $50 router? What's the max theoretical speed improvement?

I don't see this selling like hotcakes unless they bundle it with some *actually secure* WEP variant, as seen on TV being endorsed by Charlie Miller.

Re:100mhz is a lot? (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | about 8 months ago | (#46626541)

What's the max theoretical speed improvement?

Here's a good article on (I believe) the relevant speed increase: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org]

That said, I've never taken any signal processing classes so I could be pointing you in the wrong direction.

Re:100mhz is a lot? (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 8 months ago | (#46626827)

What's the max theoretical speed improvement?

Theoretically, you can get just about any speed down a specific spectrum size you want. All you need to do is keep the SNR high enough and use a multiple bits per encoding. But, there are practical limits, especially in situations where you have power limits and congested bandwidth.

They are adding something like 100Mhz by what I'm reading. I think that, all other things being equal, there will be zero increase in maximum speed. You might see a decreased congestion issue and raise average throughput, but the flood of new devices will all but soak up any spectrum gains we might see. Not that this isn't a step in the right direction...

Wireless or Wi-Fi? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46626207)

The subject says Wi-Fi, then the article mentions wireless and also the 700 MHz auction (basically old tv channels 51 to 83 although they also banned channel 50 so it wouldn't interfere with channel 51). The 700 MHz band went to wireless phones, not Wi-Fi. Also, 'wireless' means phones, and Wi-Fi means devices connected to the internet for free. These things are *NOT* the same. Where I live, people can now 'stream' tv channels to their phones and other wireless devices via the 700 MHz spectrum for a data fee to their cell provider, instead of getting that yukky old TV (now in HD digital) for free ---not wireless but over the air--- for free. Said one phone user: "Its so much better to have to pay for Digital TV rather than receive it for free, I love my phone bill! Its so much better to get tv wireless, rather than over the air! Nobody likes free!"

Re:Wireless or Wi-Fi? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 8 months ago | (#46626265)

The subject says Wi-Fi, then the article mentions wireless and also the 700 MHz auction (basically old tv channels 51 to 83 although they also banned channel 50 so it wouldn't interfere with channel 51). The 700 MHz band went to wireless phones, not Wi-Fi. Also, 'wireless' means phones, and Wi-Fi means devices connected to the internet for free. These things are *NOT* the same. Where I live, people can now 'stream' tv channels to their phones and other wireless devices via the 700 MHz spectrum for a data fee to their cell provider, instead of getting that yukky old TV (now in HD digital) for free ---not wireless but over the air--- for free. Said one phone user: "Its so much better to have to pay for Digital TV rather than receive it for free, I love my phone bill! Its so much better to get tv wireless, rather than over the air! Nobody likes free!"

I don't think you understand what the word wireless means.

This allows 100 MHz of additional spectrum to be used for WiFi. WiFi is a wireless communications standard. It has nothing to do with cell phones. It has nothing to do with 700 MHz band - that was only mentioned because it's the most notable release of spectrum in recent history with regards to consumer impact.

Re:Wireless or Wi-Fi? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46626445)

Woosh.

Time for a Pedantic Rant (1)

flatulus (260854) | about 8 months ago | (#46628127)

Wi-Fi is not a wireless communications standard. IEEE 802.11 is the wireless communications standard. Wi-Fi is a registered trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance - and industry trade organization. They do publish interoperability agreements and offer "certification" (required to use their trademarks on products), but these should not be confused with the IEEE wireless communications standard.

(rant done - going back to reading now...)

Re:Wireless or Wi-Fi? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 8 months ago | (#46626287)

Wi-Fi means devices connected to the internet for free.

So my WiFi on my home router isn't WiFi because I pay for my own Internet connection? I think the A/C got confused.

Re:Wireless or Wi-Fi? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46626623)

You are a bloody idiot.

Re:Wireless or Wi-Fi? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46626631)

Is this the worst-written troll of the day, or the worst-written satire?

Sigh.

Stop auctioning spectrum to the highest bidder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46626427)

...and start allocating it in the public interest.

Aren't most wireless networks still on 2.4Ghz? (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 8 months ago | (#46626455)

My thought on reading the above was more along the lines that we could really, really use more channels in the 2.4Ghz area. I've never seen an area saturated with 5Ghz signals, and it still takes fairly intensive shopping to find wireless devices and equipment that are capable of 5Ghz operation at all.

I mean, last time I helped somebody set up wireless in a dormatory it was last year and a cursory scan revealed 22 2.4Ghz wireless networks within range of my phone to ID them, and ONE 5Ghz. Of course, said coworker ended up on the least congested band I could find - (channel 9 if I remember right), because his router wasn't capable of 5Ghz. I also have to keep the 2.4Ghz channel on for my router because finding a tablet that's both affordable and capable of 5Ghz didn't work out when I bought it.

Honestly, a networking standard that goes a step beyond 802.11n like 802.11ac that actually mandates operation at 5Ghz was necessary to force companies to make the switch, though I imagine many/most companies will just stick to 2.4Ghz only 'N' as long as they can, much like it's still easy to end up with a 'G' only device even today.

Re:Aren't most wireless networks still on 2.4Ghz? (5, Informative)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about 8 months ago | (#46626523)

One reason why you've never seen an area saturated with 5 GHz signals is that they don't penetrate walls and other obstacles as easily as 2.4 GHz signals. This is either good or bad depending on what you want to achieve, but having more spectrum is never bad!

Wall penetration (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 8 months ago | (#46626677)

I know that 5Ghz doesn't penetrate walls as well as 2.4, but it still does and even 'bounces' better so it's a bit of a mix-up. Still, I know the penetration capability of 5Ghz from my home, so if it was at all common in my area*, I'd expect to see 5-6, even if at low signal strength.

As for more spectrum not being bad, I agree with you, which is why I tried to phrase it that extra channels at 2.4Ghz would be more useful than more at 5Ghz.

BTW, just did a quick check - only 20% of tablets sold at Newegg are capable of communicating with 5Ghz networks.

*I'm sure the Japanese are ahead of us, along with an number of other countries.

Re:Aren't most wireless networks still on 2.4Ghz? (1)

skids (119237) | about 8 months ago | (#46627537)

You don't have to have an especially powerful signal to be able to see other devices. The occasional lucky packet will bounce around "just right" and leak through enough to see the device. So if GP said he didn't see many devices, it's because there just plain weren't many devices.

That said, even with the cheap vendors not putting dual-band in their crap devices, we're seeing a good number of devices in our dorms that are 5GHz capable. Enough to improve life significantly for everyone still stuck on 2.4GHz. Unfortunately many of them are Apples and they manage to turn this advantage into a liability because their drivers stick their heads up their own asses the minute they find AP using the same SSID on both 2.4 and 5, so they spend most of their time roaming between APs every two or three minutes and torturing their users with bad performance during roams. Supposedly OSX 10.9.2 helps undo some of this damage.

Re:Aren't most wireless networks still on 2.4Ghz? (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 8 months ago | (#46628015)

One reason why you've never seen an area saturated with 5 GHz signals is that they don't penetrate walls and other obstacles as easily as 2.4 GHz signals.

The difference certainly exists, but it is actually very small, and this element gets horribly overblown.

Most people don't really use WiFi signals going through their walls and floors, anyhow (thin, interior doors notwithstanding). Instead, they use the diffraction down corridors, through windows, etc., and both frequencies can easily manage that...

I've done side-by-side comparisons of 2.4GHz and 5GHz, and the latter only has a very tiny reduction in range, in all but extreme scenarios.

The FCC should just allow a 20% increase in transmit power on the 5GHz band, and suddenly 5GHz (with more available channels) would be much more desirable than 2.4GHz. Then manufacturers will start defaulting to do, and the band would open up for those stuck on it for legacy reasons.

Re:Aren't most wireless networks still on 2.4Ghz? (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about 8 months ago | (#46628927)

Well, I guess the idea behind making 5GHz routers is that higher frequencies will give you better data rates all other things being equal if you are in a typical office environment where there aren't a lot of thick walls.

The really interesting thing would be to do a test where you'd switch all the routers in an office building (or apartment block) from 2.4 to 5 GHz and look at the effect on interference. You could probably predict it pretty well by measuring how two adjacent routers in adjacent offices or apartments interfere with one another. In other words: router v.s. concrete wall or concrete floor. Did you test anything like that?

Re:Aren't most wireless networks still on 2.4Ghz? (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 8 months ago | (#46630637)

Your first line is nonsense... A given bandwidth (eg. 6MHz channel) will give you the same throughput, whether it's at 700Mhz or 50GHz. People see higher frequencies as faster, only because there's usually a lot more bandwidth available at higher frequencies, in part because pentration is lower and reuse is higher.

Re:Aren't most wireless networks still on 2.4Ghz? (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about 8 months ago | (#46631121)

Your first line is nonsense... A given bandwidth (eg. 6MHz channel) will give you the same throughput, whether it's at 700Mhz or 50GHz. People see higher frequencies as faster, only because there's usually a lot more bandwidth available at higher frequencies, in part because pentration is lower and reuse is higher.

Well, there's more bandwidth at higher frequencies, relatively speaking, precisely because the frequencies are higher. For example between 100 and 110 MHz there is 10MHz of bandwidth. Between 1000 and 1100 MHz there is 100MHz of bandwidth. Between 5 and 5.5 GHz there is 500MHz of bandwidth.

If we make a simplified assumtion as assume that we're going to regulate that a fixed percentage (say 10%) of bandwidth throughout the spectrum will be available for general public use then the vast majority of the bandwidth is going to be in the higher frequencies.

Re:Aren't most wireless networks still on 2.4Ghz? (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 8 months ago | (#46635949)

I fail to see how your word-games here are anything but arbitrary...

For example between 100 and 110 MHz there is 10MHz of bandwidth. Between 1000 and 1100 MHz there is 100MHz of bandwidth.

Yes, but you just picked a couple numbers arbitrarily, with no particular significance. Between 100 and 200MHz, there's 100MHz of bandwidth, just like 1000 to 1100MHz.

Between 5 and 5.5 GHz there is 500MHz of bandwidth.

And? The US TV broadcast band starts at 50MHz, and has several hundred MHz of bandwidth as well.

If we make a simplified assumtion as assume that we're going to regulate that a fixed percentage (say 10%) of bandwidth throughout the spectrum will be available for general public use then the vast majority of the bandwidth is going to be in the higher frequencies.

You're picking "higher" arbitrarily wherever you feel like...

Since the spectrum starts at zero and continues on into infinity, 10% would be infinite, and the overwhelming majority of it would be in the 999trillion terahertz+ range. But I'm guessing that's not quite what you meant by "higher frequencies".

Re:Aren't most wireless networks still on 2.4Ghz? (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about 8 months ago | (#46639077)

The spectrum is always limited by currently available technology.

Since the spectrum at any given point in time is finite it's a limited resource that needs to be managed. A common sense principle would be to release some fixed fraction A of the currently technologically feasible spectrum for general short-range/low power use, with bands spread out fairly evenly all the way from the bottom end to the top end. Then the bandwidth of one of these bands will be roughly proportional to A*f where f is a frequency contained in the band.

That means that in order to get faster WiFi in the future without increasing the fraction A we're going to need our f to be higher than 5GHz. We're probably going to end up somewhere in the 10GHz to 100GHz range.

Re:Aren't most wireless networks still on 2.4Ghz? (1)

deadweight (681827) | about 8 months ago | (#46629695)

I am going to call BS on this. My access point does both and once you get beyond about 2 walls worth of penatration the 5 GHz signal is notably down from the 2.4 GHz.

Re:Aren't most wireless networks still on 2.4Ghz? (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 8 months ago | (#46630649)

Arguing out of ignorance and anecdotes is never a good idea...

Go look up a chart or other hard numbers on the penetration of various frequencies in whatever wall material, and get back to us...

Re:Aren't most wireless networks still on 2.4Ghz? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46626525)

If 5 GHz actually penetrated things decently, people might use it. I haven't seen any useful scenario for 5 GHz that was of such a range that running gigabit ethernet between the points wasn't a better option.

Re:Aren't most wireless networks still on 2.4Ghz? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46626665)

I used a 5GHz vibrator to penetrate your mom. It worked well.
CAPTCHA: wireless

Re:Aren't most wireless networks still on 2.4Ghz? (1)

cbhacking (979169) | about 8 months ago | (#46627127)

Sadly, my phone and tablet do not have Gig-E ports (I could add one to the tablet via dongle, but eww). My friend's phones don't either. My laptop does, as do the laptops of most (though not all) of my friends, but that's really inconvenient to set up when they come over.

My desktop and my roommate's desktop are wired, as is my Xbox. Nothing else is both sufficiently out-of-the-way and non-portable that it makes sense to wire it in, especially in an apartment where nearly all areas are easily served by a single central router even at 5GHz.

We need more at 2.4ghz (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 8 months ago | (#46626609)

Open up 5 more channels at the top end of the 2.4ghz.. They use them in the EU (and in my home.... bite me FCC) to give everyone a lot more room instead of suffering with the 3 useable ones we have here.

Re:We need more at 2.4ghz (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46626837)

I'd really like everyone else to move to 5Ghz, so I can have 2.4Ghz all to my self. Then with some MIMO I can have range and throughput.

Re:We need more at 2.4ghz (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 8 months ago | (#46626889)

Only channel 14 and up is restricted by law. And if you are running part 15, I don't think anybody will care unless you are causing harmful interference and refuse to stop. But I think you will find more space in the 5 GHz band if you run a Japan setup.

Chances are, if anybody cares and the FCC happens to drive by due to a complaint. They will either knock on your door, send you a letter or both and ask you to quit. They tend to try for voluntary compliance before they bring out the threatening letters and fines unless they figure you are doing it on purpose.

Re:We need more at 2.4ghz (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46631299)

And the "bite me FCC" wouldn't construe willful intent.

Re:We need more at 2.4ghz (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46627161)

they used to have 700 i think set aside so the crackheads could feel special, what id really like to see is wifi gear that runs in the unlicensed 900mhz range (old cordless landline phones) you can bilk range and speed out of that one. i think motorola already does it with canopy.

Re:We need more at 2.4ghz (1)

bobjr94 (1120555) | about 8 months ago | (#46627375)

They should have opened more channels 10 years ago and yes, they need more on the 2.4 band as well.

Re:We need more at 2.4ghz (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 8 months ago | (#46629063)

Believe me, as someone who lives in Europe from time to time it won't really help. You will have a couple of years where old devices are not using those channels before they get saturated too.

23 years later and we get it! (3, Interesting)

flatulus (260854) | about 8 months ago | (#46628083)

I'd like to take a moment to memorialize a pioneer in this pursuit that probably none of you ever heard of. The name is Jim Lovette. Jim worked with me at Apple in the early 90's. He was a heart-and-soul devotee to the democratization of RF bandwidth for high speed data communications. With Jim's leadership, Apple drafted a petition to the FCC, known as Data-PCS. This was a proposal to allocate spectrum in the U.S. exclusively for use in data communications (as opposed to "voice only" which was the vogue at the time). The Data-PCS petition caused a lot of excitement, but did not result in anything earthshaking as an outcome. Still it started a movement of which this latest step is a grand one in the pursuit of "computing devices talking to each other" being equally important to "people talking to each other." Jim (and our team) were also early promoters of wireless LAN, which we all know today as WiFi. The IEEE 802.11 committee had just formed. Apple's early foray into wireless LAN preceded the availability of IEEE 802.11 (aka WiFi) products, and never made it to market. Apple chose instead to introduce their first wireless LAN products as 802.11b (11 Mbit/sec) WiFi. And over 20 years later, look what it has become?

Jim passed away in 2002, leaving us with a legacy of which few outside the cloistered Wireless LAN industry would even know he contributed so much. Thank you, Jim.

Re:23 years later and we get it! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46629009)

>> The Data-PCS petition caused a lot of excitement, but did not result in anything earthshaking as an outcome.

Just like everything else Apple ever did.

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