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[ba-unrev-talk] Battle Over the Airwaves vs. CITRIS/TinyOS/Telegraph/Cal-(IT)2, Folkstone Designs, and need for Spectrum Policy Reform

Our world is awash in data
Data pooled in databases and web services, data streaming from sensors, even data bottled up in small devices. This data is the basis of life for modern commerce, science, utilites, and other large human endeavours.  It is also critical to any individual who lives in a world dependent on these institutions.

Estimates say that web hypertext (and assorted MIME files) accounts for only 0.2% of the data available on the internet.  The rest sits "behind forms" in databases and other non-http servers. As part of telegraph, we're studying how to leverage that data.

Telegraph is an adaptive dataflow system, which allows individuals and institutions to access, combine, analyze, and otherwise benefit from this data wherever it resides.  As a dataflow system, Telegraph can tap into pooled data stored on the network, and harness streams of live data coming out of networked sensors, software, and smart devices.  In order to operate robustly in this volatile, internetworked world, Telegraph is adaptive -- it uses new technologies such as rivers and eddies to route unpredictable and bursty dataflows through computing resources on a network, resulting in a steady, manageable stream of useful information.

"In 2010 MEMS sensors will be everywhere, and sensing virtually everything. Scavenging power from sunlight, vibration, thermal gradients, and background RF, sensors motes will be immortal, completely self contained, single chip computers with sensing, communication, and power supply built in. Entirely solid state, and with no natural decay processes, they may well survive the human race.  Descendants of dolphins may mine them from arctic ice and marvel at the extinct technology."
Context, particularly location, is an important source of information for human-computer interaction.  In our project, we examine hardware, networking, and systems issues for a location sensing infrastructure. We present a thorough empirical analysis of the TinyOS RF motes.

• E.g., The communications scheme is based on ultra- wideband (UWB) technology.
– UWB emits rapid sequencing of extremely short (< 1ns) wideband (> 1 GHz) low power bursts of radio frequency energy.
• UWB system will reduce power, mass and volume over conventional communications systems.
– Analysis has predicted that data can be transferred over a 10 mile range at a T1 rate on 56 mW of average power.
• UWB system is software controlled and reconfigurable in real time to perform different functions as needed.

"Moore’s law" is catching up to telecom, and the result isn’t going to be pretty for the telcos.
Consider instant gigabit communications with NO ONE in control of it.  If these things create distributed networks on the fly then every highway with enough traffic density and enough of these things in cars becomes an intercity multi-gigabit communication channel. Even at 900 MHz you can get a citywide data network.

That's fascinating -- a "cellular" phone network without towers or other infrastructure.  If there were enough of these things scattered around an area, they could (theoretically) all be in communication with each other, providing mobile phone and data service, at least among themselves, with NO company getting any per-minute dollars!

Of course that's improbable -- right?  There are lots of technical reasons why this couldn't feasibly work.

Just like, a few years ago, nobody could imagine a pervasive, flexible data network that would turn many established ways of doing business topsy-turvy, change the landscape of the most successful companies on the planet, and rewrite the rules for commerce -- all within a few years.

Now, add the potential of fledgling nanotechnologies into this mix, spawning a swarm of tiny dirt-cheap devices (literally) scattered across the landscape, each providing communications relay services.  Suddenly, their collectively providing a pervasive wireless network
might not seem so impossible after all!

But don't worry -- such industry-shaking changes could never occur.  Again.  Could they?

Today the American people collectively own the most valuable resource in the emerging information economy: the airwaves, also known as the electromagnetic spectrum. Auctions conducted last year in Europe and early this year in the U.S. suggest that spectrum occupied by commercial licensees has a market value well in excess of $300 billion. Unfortunately, while high bids by wireless phone companies should be a boon to the ordinary citizens who own the airwaves, high prices also evidence a policy-induced spectrum shortage that threatens to delay the widespread availability and affordability of wireless broadband services.

In short, Americans are prisoners of an outdated industrial policy. We are trapped somewhere between the outmoded central-planning approach that characterized Federal Communications Commission (FCC) policy until the mid-1990s, and a new more flexible and market-based approach which, unfortunately, applies only to mobile wireless services. Most of the spectrum is still rigidly “zoned” for exclusive use by industries (viz., broadcasters, private two-way radio services, satellite and fixed wireless services) that pay nothing to use this increasingly scarce and valuable public asset. This outdated zoning and giveaway policy both fails to use a more flexible market mechanism to allocate spectrum and neglects to charge rent to all commercial licensees. This has produced the worst possible outcome: a spectrum shortage, no incentives for efficient use, government picking “winners” and “losers” among industries, and the forfeiture of tens of billions in public revenue.

This paper answers the question Senator John McCain asked FCC Chairman Michael Powell at the latter’s confirmation hearing in May: “What principles do you think should guide the FCC in its decision-making” with respect to competing demands for spectrum? In considering principles to guide spectrum reform, it is important to recognize that policymakers face both an immediate and a long-term challenge concerning management of this increasingly valuable public asset.
< http://www.newamerica.net/Download_Docs/pdfs/Pub_File_610_1.pdf>

One of the last actions of the (second) Clinton era was a proposal to the FCC to create a "secondary market" for spectrum. Basically, a spectrum-holder would be able to sublease spectrum to other users without a lengthy and expensive negotiation with the FCC. If a
company has rights to use spectrum in the U.S., those rights would include the ability to offer it to other companies to use. Such secondary markets would be a boon to smaller service providers that could not afford to compete in spectrum auctions, but could afford to pay some reasonable fee for use of licensed spectrum.

Another FCC initiative was to begin serious discussion about "software defined radios" (SDRs) — basically wireless systems that would be "smart" enough to change their behavior based on spectrum conditions. Such behavior might include analyzing what spectrum is in use in the SDR’s immediate area, and — if broadband spectrum — perhaps a television broadcast channel in a very rural area — is available for use, the unit could reconfigure itself to make use of that spectrum. If transmissions are heard, then the unit makes other choices — perhaps use of license-exempt spectrum.

ArrayComm is developing a very promising technology that, in effect, steers high-speed wireless connections to individual users. ArrayComm hopes to offer 1 Mbps connections to semi-stationary users — not suitable for moving vehicles, but works well for pedestrians — and the signal acquisition process is expected to take a few seconds at most.

Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology, of which the most prominent vendor is Time Domain, exhibits incredible promise. Basically, UWB is "ultimate spread spectrum" — spreading a wireless signal across a very wide slice of spectrum, and doing so at very low power. UWB
technology can, theoretically, share spectrum with other services. Many entrenched wireless communications suppliers, service providers and even government agencies are fighting hard against allowing UWB to become widely used in the U.S. It seems likely that UWB will be deployed widely in other countries before broad deployment in North America.

Aperto Networks and Malibu Networks are only two of a number of "next generation" broadband wireless systems manufacturers that will offer highly integrated broadband wireless systems in 2001. Both companies have rethought the problem of broadband wireless
Internet access and have tightly integrated a number of disparate wireless technologies. As a result, their systems look very promising, not only for conventional Internet access, but also sufficient quality of service and service differentiation to provide usable television over IP, voice over IP, videoconferencing and other services.

Finally, when considering these issues, keep in mind that spectrum is not a finite resource. Spectrum is entirely a creation of technology. Therefore, if the need were to arise — as it likely will if wireless technology continues to grow at an exponential rate — more spectrum can be created with the use of increasingly sophisticated wireless technology.

Though this is not currently a reality, it could play an important part in the future of the wireless industry as the current wireless resources are depleted.
< http://program.intel.com/solutions/shared/en/resource/insight/techtrends/ecosystems.htm >

Conclusion: Spectrum Management
The need for setting ground rules for how people use the radio spectrum will not disappear. We need to make sure adequate spectrum exists to accommodate the rapid growth in existing services as well as new applications of this national and international resource. Even with new technologies such as software-defined radios and ultra-wideband microwave transmission, concerns about interference will continue (and perhaps grow) and the need for defining licensees and other users' rights will continue to be a critical function of the government. We will thus continue to conduct auctions of available spectrum to speed introduction of new services.

In order to protect the safety of life and property, we must also continue to consider public safety needs as new spectrum-consuming technologies and techniques are deployed. (See: "New Approaches for Public Protection Against Chemical and Biological Agents"

1) CITRIS - to solve large-scale societal problems affecting the quality of life, such as the energy shortage.
< http://citris.berkeley.edu >
2) TinyOS  - a self-organizng managing concurrent two-way active messaging and multi-hop ad-hoc sensing/actuator and routing networks for flow-thru communications instead of wait-command-respond. Combining sensing, communications, and computation into a single architecture. Ehe application consists of a number of sensors distributed within a localized area. They monitor the
temperature and light conditions and periodically transmit their measurements to a central base station. Each sensor not only acts as a data source, but it may also forward data for sensors that are out of range of the base station. < http://sourceforge.net/projects/tinyos >
< http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~kubitron/courses/cs252-F00/projects/reports/project6_report.pdf>
3) 'Smart dust' to the energy rescue -  aimed at putting a complete sensing/communication platform inside a cubic
millimeter, including power supply, analog and digital electronics, etc. Thousands or millions of these dust motes will all communicate simultaneously. Applications are all over the map. Instrumented hospital rooms so that your syringe knows if you're the right patient or not, instrumented bodies so that we can all participate in 3D virtual ballet, instrumented atmosphere so we can predict weather.
http://www.medserv.no/article.php?sid=261 >
http://www-bsac.eecs.berkeley.edu/~warneke/pubs/packaging2001.ppt >
4) "New Approaches for Public Protection Against Chemical and Biological Agents" - the Smart Dust project is designing devices that will cause massively distributed sensor networks to not only be rapidly deployed, but also nearly vanish into the environment.  The
capabilities of such systems will dramatically change the way in which chemical and biological agent detection is performed before, during, and after and attack  These networks will provide more detailed information, more rapidly, and from more locations than previously possible.
5) Cal-(IT)2 - a Wireless Sensor Network Testbed Proposed to Monitor Pollution
< http://www.soe.ucsd.edu/news_events/news_2000/cal_it2proposal.pdf >
6) Telegraph project - an adaptive dataflow system being developed at UC Berkeley for Federated Facts and Figures
< http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~brewer/cs262/cs262proj.html >
7) Migrating Toward the Intelligent Device Bill of Rights
< http://www.jacksons.net/tac/FCC-%20TAC%20-%20SDR%20and%20SM%20reg-27Sep00-v1.ppt >
8) Folkstone Designs: Simple Synergies < http://www.folkstone.ca/wireless.html >