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[ba-unrev-talk] REVOLUTION IN THE AIR: "Stop Media Monopoly" withUWB-Open Spectrum (i.e., Time Sharing for Free Speech & Homeland Security)

BASED ON REED's LAW : aN + bN² + c2N    (01)

        The Truth About Open Spectrum    (02)

Here's a great article by the Seattle Times that explains the truth 
about the amazing consumer benefits of wireless and the fallacy of 
spectrum scarcity:    (03)

Open-spectrum advocates say it will boost technology 
<http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/134564261_btspectrum28.html>    (04)

UWB technology allows an "unprecedented amount of high-density bandwidth 
applications" without requiring assignment of a new frequency bandwidth, 
essentially "creating" a new band of spectrum in the noise floor. So we 
need to do for spectrum what the Internet did for the network. In fact, 
what we now know about the physics and architecture of RF communications 
contradicts the "property" model of spectrum.    (05)

When UWB radios with opto-electronic integration are under software 
control, they can dynamically trade data rate, power consumption, and 
range. This type of flexibility is what is needed to enable the 
power-constrained portable computing applications of the future. This 
form of peer-to-peer collaborative architecture and interaction over a 
wireless LAN is sometimes characterized as an self-organizing and 
self-healing ad-hoc networks with an inherent robustness to multi-path 
fading, and a low probability of intercept and detection for jamming due 
to the nature of the short (sub-nanosecond) impulse. Since each node is 
mobile, it needs to connect to the network dynamically and in an 
arbitrary fashion. All participating nodes may act as routers, when they 
forward data packets on behalf of other nodes on the network. They also 
take part in connection discovery and route maintenance to other nodes 
on the network. Sub-nets can form when a larger group of nodes 
sub-divides into two or more smaller groups that are separated by 
distance or poor RF propagation conditions.    (06)

Furthermore, relative to the GNU-Radio Free Software technology, UWB 
spectrum sharing is fundamental to Alan Kay's Croquet - a collaboration 
for Group Forming Networks (GFNs) based on Reed's Law. On May 19, 2003, 
FCC Panel Offers Public Workshop on Cognitive Radio 
(aka: Software-defined Radio/GNU-radio). In the meantime, here's a 
preview of a few current implementations 
<http://www.vanu.com/implementations.html>, including pointers on why a 
"Revolution is in the air":    (07)

      <http://www.telecomasia.net/telecomasia/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=40771>    (08)

    It's not been widely publicised but the FCC is considering the most
    radical rethink of spectrum policy in 90 years, going for a twin
    private property and commons approach as well as placing the onus on
    devices, not spectrum management, to avoid interference.    (09)

        .... "Central to the FCC's revised thinking is its belief that
        technology can now be tailored to minimize interference at the
        receiver end, rather than the traditional approach of regulating
        interference via both the spectrum band and transmitter
        specifications. The agency is proposing a new standard of
        "interference temperature", expressed in Kelvin degrees, which
        would be calculated using a formula based on power in watts,
        associated bandwidth and a measure called Boltzman's Constant.
        The FCC would set a maximum interference temperature that would
        be constantly measured by the receiver - when exceeded, the
        device would adjust its power output and/or frequency use to
        "lower" its temperature. Under such a regime, the FCC envisages
        a more dynamic spectrum environment, where low-powered "commons"
        devices could operate on an "underlay" to higher-powered
        "exclusive use" devices. Holders of exclusive spectrum licenses
        would be free to use spectrum for any type of application, with
        limited exceptions for satellite, public safety and broadcast
        networks. More importantly, they would be free to buy and sell
        spectrum on a secondary market, akin to the way the modern-day
        stock market works."    (010)

    * The Trouble With Corporate Radio: The Day the Protest Music Died
      <http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/20/opinion/20THU4.html>    (011)

    By Brent Staples for the NY Times    (012)

        "Senator Byron Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, had a potential
        disaster in his district when a freight train carrying anhydrous
        ammonia derailed, releasing a deadly cloud over the city of
        Minot. When the emergency alert system failed, the police called
        the town radio stations, six of which are owned by the corporate
        giant Clear Channel. According to news accounts, no one answered
        the phone at the stations for more than an hour and a half.
        Three hundred people were hospitalized, some partially blinded
        by the ammonia. Pets and livestock were killed."    (013)

    * David Reed's Comments for FCC Spectrum Policy Task Force on
      Spectrum Policy (ET Docket 02-135)
      <http://www.reed.com/OpenSpectrum/FCC02-135Reed.html>    (014)

        ... "[I]t seems clear to me that there is a strong First
        Amendment argument against any regulation that unnecessarily
        limits constitutionally protected speech over radio. Since much
        greater information capacity would result from internetworking
        and dynamically adaptive radio architectures, it would seem that
        barring internetworking and adaptive digital radio is not only
        economically inefficient, but also legally unconstitutional."    (015)

    * Group Forming Networks (GFNs)
      <http://www.reed.com/Papers/GFN/reedslaw.html> based on Reed's Law
      <http://www.reed.com/Papers/GFN/reedslaw.html> : aN + bN² + c2N    (016)

    David Reed's Law
    <http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/business/3294951.htm> --
    which says the true value of a network isn't determined by the
    number of individual nodes it connects (Metcalfe's Law) but by the
    far higher number of groups it enables. Reed believes that as more
    and more of radio's basic signal-processing functions are defined in
    software, <http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2002/12/18/gnu_radio/>
    rather than etched into hardware, radios will be able to adapt as
    conditions change, even after they are in use. Reed sees a world of
    "polite" radios that will negotiate new conversational protocols and
    ask for assistance from their radio peers.    (017)

    Below is a excerpt about how value created by connectivity scales,
    and shows how "group forming" architectures outcompete
    "transactional" architectures.    (018)

        [ ...] "What I found that's surprising and important is that
        Group Forming Networks (GFNs) create a new kind of connectivity
        value that scales exponentially with N. Briefly, the number of
        non-trivial subsets that can be formed from a set of N members
        is 2N-N-1, which grows as 2N. Thus, a network that supports easy
        group communication has a potential number of groups that can
        form that grows exponentially with N.    (019)

        The exponential, 2N, is a sneaky function. Though it may be very
        small initially, it grows much faster than N², N³ or any other
        power law. So if there is any portion of the total network value
        that grows exponentially, scale effects will eventually bring
        that value to the fore, where it will dominate any other source
        of value. (To put it simply, if a network's value consists of
        components that scale proportional to N, N², and 2N, we can
        write the total value as aN + bN² + c2N where a, b, and c are
        constants. As long as a, b, and c are positive, there will be
        some M such that the total value is dominated by the term c2N
        for all N>M. Even if c is quite small, the exponential will
        eventually dominate.)" ...    (020)

    *    (021)

      Why spectrum is not property
      <http://www.reed.com/Papers/OpenSpec.html> (based on Reed's Law
      <http://www.reed.com/Papers/GFN/reedslaw.html>)    (022)

    An early, short rant on the case against treating spectrum as
    property, based on the idea that cooperative wireless networks
    create more value.    (023)

    * Spectrum Wants to Be Free
      <http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.01/view.html>    (024)

    Never pay for phone, cable, or net access again
    By Kevin Werbach for Wired.    (025)

        "A revolution is brewing in wireless. In an industry speech in
        October, FCC chair Michael Powell expressed support for a
        radical idea called open spectrum that could transform the
        communications landscape as profoundly as the Internet ever did.
        If it works, you'll never pay for telephone, cable, or Net
        access again.    (026)

        Open spectrum treats the airwaves as a commons, shared by all.
        It's the brainchild of engineers, activists, and scholars such
        as wireless gadfly Dewayne Hendricks, former Lotus chief
        scientist David Reed, and NYU law professor Yochai Benkler. The
        idea is that smart devices cooperating with one another function
        more effectively than huge proprietary communications networks.
        The commons can be created through distinct, unlicensed "parks"
        or through "underlay" technologies, such as ultrawideband, that
        are invisible to licensed users in the same band.    (027)

        In an open spectrum world, wireless transmitters would be as
        ubiquitous as microprocessors: in televisions, cars, public
        spaces, handheld devices, everywhere. They would tune themselves
        to free spectrum and self-assemble into networks. Anyone could
        become a radio broadcaster reaching millions. Phone calls would
        rarely need to pass through central networks; they would be
        handed off and relayed across devices, for free or nearly so.
        Businesses would track far-flung assets in real time via
        embedded sensors. Big TV networks and cable operators would lose
        their hammerlock control over media distribution. Entrepreneurs
        would develop as yet undreamed of applications that we can't
        live without. It happens any time open platforms emerge - think
        eBay and Amazon.com." ...    (028)

    *    (029)

            Radio Free Software
            <http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2002/12/18/gnu_radio/index.html>    (030)

    Call them hackers of the last computing frontier: The GNU Radio
    coders believe that any device with a chip should be able to do,
    well, anything.    (031)

    A snippet:     (032)

        [ ...] "OK, now imagine the looks of terror on the faces of
        existing machine makers. Imagine if the only thing stopping your
        handheld PDA from simultaneously being a GPS receiver, phone,
        radio or miniature TV was your willingness to download and
        install some free software program.    (033)

        "We're bringing the free-software ethic to radio," Blossom says.
        "Who knows what's going to come out of it?"    (034)

        But that's not all: Even more intriguing is GNU Radio's
        political component. A look at recent Hollywood-backed
        reveals a growing antipathy on the part of content providers
        toward modifiable consumer technology. Such laws, if passed,
        would limit the ability of hardware manufacturers to consort
        with software programs that let a user turn his or her home PC
        into a digital television or TiVo-style recorder.    (035)

        [ ...] Ettus, a fellow electrical engineer, sees the overall
        speed of the GNU Radio project as a clear indicator of how
        "empowering" the software-driven radio approach can be.    (036)

        "To create a new HDTV chip from scratch would take probably 50
        engineers, one to two years, and a $12 million investment," says
        Ettus. "Taking the software route, it's been less than a year
        and it's been mostly the two of us, and I'm working only in the
        evenings."    (037)

        For the FSF (Free Software Foundation), such comments lay the
        groundwork for a bold political strategy. No longer content with
        matching proprietary developers, the Boston-based organization
        hopes to use the GNU Radio project as a prime example of
        innovation that will be crushed by any congressional legislation
        or FCC regulation that seeks to limit device functionality, at
        least on the receiving end. Put another way: If the GNU Radio
        team can develop a proof of concept before the FCC gets a chance
        to rule on the "broadcast flag" proposal, the FSF and its allies
        in the consumer and small-business community will have seized
        the high ground in the subsequent legal battle over innovative
        fair use.    (038)

        "From our point of view, GNU Radio is the technological proof
        that interesting things can be done and that those things can
        also be taken away," says Kuhn.    (039)

        Since backing GNU Radio project, the FSF has sought ways to
        build the momentum. Earlier this year, the organization launched
        the Digital Speech Project, a Web site that keeps track of
        ongoing congressional debates that could, potentially, have an
        impact on innovation and fair use. The project seeks to build a
        "grass-roots coalition" of students, musicians, artists and
        software developers to repeal the 1998 Digital Millennium
        Copyright Act.    (040)

        "At FSF, we have little choice but to enter this battle and take
        an active role," writes Kuhn via e-mail. "We also know that we
        can't win this fight alone; we need allies."    (041)

        As for Blossom, he hopes GNU Radio opens the way to even more
        innovation. The reality of a universal device may still be a
        ways off, but as the free-software tools pile up, developers and
        consumers will have that much more to work with.    (042)

        "Technology ought to be useful to people," Blossom says.
        "Ultimately, this will put a lot of technology decisions in the
        user's hands, which should speed up innovation considerably.
        That doesn't mean every user has to be a software developer, but
        it does mean the freedom to innovate is there."    (043)

    * Reed's Law - " Imagine: world with unlimited airwaves"
      <http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/business/3294951.htm>    (044)

        "Simply put, he said, we have to start looking at spectrum as an
        almost limitless commodity, not a scarce one. The current
        regulatory regime that allocates spectrum ``is a legal metaphor
        that does not correspond to physical reality,'' he said.    (045)

        Why not? First, he said, the notion of interference has more to
        do with the equipment we use to send and receive signals than
        with the physics of radio waves. ``Radio waves pass through each
        other,'' Reed said. ``They do not damage each other.'' In the
        early days of radio, the gear could easily be confused by
        overlapping signals. But we can now make devices that can sort
        out the traffic.    (046)

        The second way that reality defies the old logic is what happens
        when you add wireless devices to networks. I won't go into the
        details of Reed's argument, which you can find on his site, but
        he contends that you end up with more capacity -- the ability to
        move bits of data around -- than when you started.    (047)

        ``In principle, the capacity of a certain bandwidth in a certain
        physical space increases with the number of transceivers in a
        given space,'' he said. Yet the FCC regulates the airwaves as if
        the capacity was a fixed amount.    (048)

        Yes, he said, this is counter-intuitive. And, to be sure, there
        are experts who disagree with him.    (049)

        But if he and others in his camp are right, we have a lot of
        work ahead to fix a hopelessly broken regulatory system. And if
        that happens, the sky is literally the limit for future
        communications -- but the consequences for some of the most
        powerful companies in our economy may be grim."    (050)

    * Open Spectrum FAQ
      <http://www.greaterdemocracy.org/OpenSpectrumFAQ.html>    (051)

1. This sounds like a pretty geeky, technical topic. Why should I care?    (052)

Imagine that every American had the same access to the public airways as 
broadcasters do today.    (053)

Imagine everyone living within reach of a radio signal had the ability 
to communicate with everyone else.    (054)

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.    (055)

You know the effect the Internet has had on how we live and work 
together? Multiply it by hundred.    (056)

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.    (057)

2. What are the goals of supporting Open Spectrum?    (058)

1. To enable innovation in the wireless world by removing the 
roadblocks: regulations based on incorrect technical assumptions, and 
commercial interests afraid that innovations will loosen their control 
of markets.    (059)

2. To enable everything that can be connected to be connected, 
accomodating the exponential increase in wireless communications driven 
by the growth of pervasive and interoperable devices on the Internet.    (060)

3. What is spectrum?    (061)

"Spectrum" refers to the range of frequencies over which electromagnetic 
signals can be sent. That includes radio, television, wireless Internet 
connectivity, remote control toy race cars, and every other 
communication enabled by radio waves.    (062)

4. Who uses spectrum?    (063)

Everyone who uses a technology that connects without wires. That 
includes radios, TVs without cable, planes with radar, cell phones, 
portable phones, garage door openers, baby monitors... In short, if you 
live in the 21st century in a place with electricity or batteries, you 
are almost certainly a user of spectrum.    (064)

5. What is Open Spectrum (OS)?    (065)

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."    (066)

6. Is Open Spectrum a new technology?    (067)

Definitely not. It's a new approach to governance that incorporates a 
much more accurate view of the relationship between bits, their physical 
representations as electromagnetic waves in space, and our tools for 
manipulating signals (including the ability to build distributed, 
adaptive, interoperable communications architectures).    (068)

7. How much will Open Spectrum cost?    (069)

The infrastructure is already largely in place. The incremental costs 
will be quickly replaced by a dramatic drop in the cost per bit for 
businesses, end-users and the government.    (070)

In addition, the provisioning of every businessperson, family, content 
creator and inventor with unlimited access to bits and easy connection 
to all others will create a market for innovation that cannot be 
overestimated.    (071)

8. What's the current spectrum policy?    (072)

The FCC has implemented a system where parts of the spectrum are 
allocated on either an exclusive or shared basis. If 'exclusive', then 
the right to use this spectrum is conveyed by a license. The terms of 
this license give its holder the right to use this block of spectrum for 
the term of the license. If 'shared', then access to the spectrum is 
shared by many users, who are either given a license, or who use 
equipment to access that spectrum which has been certified by the FCC. 
With this type of access, the FCC specifies some 'rules of the road' so 
that interference between the sharing partners is minimized.    (073)

This method of sharing the radio spectrum has come to be known as 
'command and control.'    (074)

9. How did we get to the current policy?    (075)

The policy began in 1912 as a reaction to the failure of the Titanic's 
help signals. The Radio Act of 1912 enabled the Secretary of Commerce to 
license radio frequencies but did not give him the right to reject 
applications. By the 'Twenties, enough broadcasters had jumped in that 
the technology of the time produced significant interference among 
signals, a situation the Radio Act of 1927 addressed by declaring the 
"ether" to be a publicly owned resource that should be doled out in ways 
that meet public interests. In The Great Lakes Broadcasting case (1929), 
the Federal Radio Commission (later called the FCC) said that "public 
interest" means the broadcasts meet the "tastes, needs, and desires of 
all substantial groups among the listening public . . . in some fair 
proportion, by a well-rounded program, in which entertainment, 
consisting of music of both classical and lighter grades, religion, 
education and instruction, important public events, discussions of 
public questions, weather, market reports, and news, and matters of 
interest to all members of the family find a place..." Thus did the 
federal government become the arbiter of what constitutes worthwhile 
content. [Source <http://law.indiana.edu/fclj/pubs/v50/no3/krasnow.html>]    (076)

The FCC itself was founded as part of the 1934 Telecommunications Act.    (077)

10. What's changed that now makes Open Spectrum plausible?    (078)

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.    (079)

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.    (080)

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.    (081)

Our current policies prevent us from benefiting from this abundance.    (082)

11. Technologically, what's changed to make OS plausible?    (083)

When radios were invented, they were designed to do one thing only: 
receive as cheaply as possible. They were much less capable of 
processing the signals they were receiving. Our electronic and 
information processing technologies have advanced considerably since then:    (084)

    Today's receivers are capable of separating signal from noise well
    enough that they don't need "buffer zones" around the frequency they
    are receiving.    (085)

    Receivers and transmitters are smart enough to be able to switch
    frequencies as a particular band gets more congested. As with
    allowing cars to change lanes on the highway, this dramatically
    increases overall throughput.    (086)

    "Software-defined radios" (SDR) can do more with a signal than
    decode it as sounds to be played through speakers. SDRs can be
    programmed to treat these signals as encoding any conceivable type
    of data.    (087)

12. What is interference?    (088)

Interference is a metaphor. And it is a misleading one. Everyone knows 
that waves don't actually interfere with one another. How do we know 
this? Try talking while someone else is talking. Your sound waves don't 
garble the other person's. Both sets of sound waves arrive intact. Of 
course, it can be hard to understand what either person is saying. But 
that's not because the sound waves have been deformed the way talking 
through a pillow or a kazoo deforms the them. Instead, the problem is 
with our "software's" inability to interpret the sound waves.    (089)

Likewise with radio waves. The garbling of signal that prevents good 
reception isn't due to interference but to the inability of the receiver 
to separate signal from noise. But modern receivers are far better able 
to do that. As a result, we no longer need a federal policy that is the 
equivalent of licensing only one person to talk at a time.    (090)

13. Interference is a metaphor??? Then why is my car's radio so lousy?    (091)

Interference does not exist as a thing in itself. It only becomes 
interference if the receiver can't isolate the information in a complex 
signal. It's the processing ("detection" or "demodulation") that gets 
confused, and the confusion is highly specific to the particular detector.    (092)

For example, there are 3 or 4 types of FM demodulators that are 
standard. Each one has its own way to extract information from an FM 
modulated signal, and each one reacts to excess signals differently. But 
one can design an FM demodulator that is highly robust to all kinds of 
other signals.    (093)

This is not to say that we should. But surely over a period of 50 years, 
without regulation, we would have migrated many of our communications 
systems to ones that work much better and cooperate much better. 
Regulation has protected weak systems far too long from competition and 
innovation.    (094)

Interference is a metaphor. It cannot be precisely defined technically 
without fully specifying a particular technology frozen in time, and in 
any case has nothing to do with the legal definition given by the FCC.    (095)

14. How much more "bandwidth" would Open Spectrum provide?    (096)

This question makes an unwarranted assumption. It thinks that spectrum 
is like a natural resource: there's just so much, so it needs to be 
apportioned wisely and fairly. In fact, neither spectrum nor information 
are things with fixed sizes. For example, as compression algorithms get 
better, more information fits into fewer bits. And as more people join a 
wireless network, there can be a cooperative gain effect whereby the 
network actually increases its capacity.    (097)

To take just one example, a recent New York Times article 
reported on a new technology, called BLAST by its inventors at Bell 
Labs, that uses "the reflections that plague current wireless systems" 
to expand the capacity "'far, far in excess of what people were thinking 
of.'"    (098)

15. Is unlicensed spectrum the same as Open Spectrum?    (099)

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.)    (0100)

16. Why wouldn't making more spectrum unlicensed do the trick?    (0101)

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.    (0102)

17. Why not be incremental about this and open up some spectrum but not 
all of it?    (0103)

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.    (0104)

18. So everything would change overnight?    (0105)

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.    (0106)

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.    (0107)

19. What about security?    (0108)

Security should not be built into Open Spectrum, any more than it is 
built into the Internet. It will be more secure if it is done at the 
"ends" of the communication, not in the middle. (This is the point of 
the "End-to-End <http://www.reed.com/Papers/EndtoEnd.html>" argument.) 
In short: if you want security, encrypt your transmissions.    (0109)

20. Should the military and/or emergency services have their own 
protected frequencies?    (0110)

First, we believe that the frequencies that the military uses for 
communications, radar, etc. would be as secure and interference free as 
any other set of frequencies in a world with Open Spectrum. This is a 
question that needs to be argued on its scientific merits, free of 
scare-mongering.    (0111)

Second, assigned frequencies have their own vulnerabilities. One of the 
basic technological enablers of the Open Spectrum approach is some form 
of "frequency hopping" that opportunistically moves transmissions into 
the most accessible bands. This approach was invented during World War 
II (and, surprisingly, Hedy Lamaar is one of the two names on the 
initial patent) to get around the fact that a radio-controlled torpedo 
could be jammed if its assigned frequency were detected. If the military 
wants to own its own slice of spectrum because allowing others onto it 
might cause "interference," what would keep terrorists from purposefully 
causing the problem?    (0112)

We have all been learning, across the board, that open, distributed 
networks are far more secure and robust than hard-wired, centralized 
ones. That lesson applies to spectrum as well.    (0113)

21. What is Ultra-Wide Band?    (0114)

It's a technology that transmits complex waves across huge swaths of 
frequencies in short bursts. It transmits in such a way that it has a 
minimal impact on other users of the frequency bands that it crosses. 
This effect is known as "'underlay."    (0115)

22. What is the relationship of broadband Internet and Open Spectrum?    (0116)

"Broadband" usually refers to increasing the size of the pipe through 
which the Internet can pump bits to and from an end user. Big pipes are 
better than little pipes, but Open Spectrum can connect people where 
putting pipes is prohibitively expensive and constraining. Since 
installing new cable typically costs hundreds of dollars per end point, 
wireless solutions are naturally preferable in almost all cases.    (0117)

Wireless technologies based on open interconnection and cooperative 
networking can provide most or all the benefits of pipes, without the 
costs and permissions needed to deploy wires.    (0118)

23. What is Software-Defined Radio?    (0119)

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.    (0120)

24. What sort of applications are we likely to see if spectrum is made open?    (0121)

Some applications are obvious and predictable: more end user creation of 
high definition TV works, more video-on-demand. But the real importance 
is that we will see an outburst of innovation as people and businesses 
realize they can reach a broad range of people with two-way applications 
that rely on the rapid movement of large amounts of data.    (0122)

What if we were all connected to one another wherever there's a radio 
signal? What if we could communicate whatever and whenever we want? What 
would we build? How would our economy grow? How would our spirit bloom?    (0123)

25. Is the FCC seriously looking at opening the spectrum?    (0124)

Michael Powell in a speech in October 2002 said "we are still living 
under a spectrum 'management' regime that is 90 years old. It needs a 
hard look, and in my opinion, a new direction....Modern technology has 
fundamentally changed the nature and extent of spectrum use. So the real 
question is, how do we fundamentally alter our spectrum policy to adapt 
to this reality?" Citizens "deserve a new spectrum policy paradigm that 
is rooted in modern day technologies and markets."    (0125)

26. Won't the broadcasters and the military stop this?    (0126)

They may try. But they don't hold their licenses for their sakes. They 
hold their licenses because it was decided  correctly in our view  
that the airwaves are owned by all of us. Licensing spectrum brought the 
public much good when the technology of the day required putting limits 
on who can connect. Today's technology is erasing those limits. The new 
public good is access and connectedness.    (0127)

27. What effect will this have on broadcasters?    (0128)

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.    (0129)

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.    (0130)

28. Does this require everyone to get new radios and TV sets?    (0131)

No. Existing technologies will continue to work. They will be replaced 
by customers as they  we  realize the benefits of the new technology.    (0132)

29. Will I still be able to watch The West Wing?    (0133)

Yes. The current broadcasters will continue to provide content we care 
about, and we will continue to receive their broadcasts on the 
technology of today and tomorrow.    (0134)

But remember, Open Spectrum isn't just about broadcasting. It's about 
connecting all of us so that we can talk, play, argue and laugh together 
... and create our own content that may be better than what we currently 
get from the broadcasters.    (0135)

30. Is Wi-Fi an alternative to Open Spectrum?    (0136)

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.    (0137)

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.    (0138)

Nevertheless, Wi-Fi networks are an important development and show the 
power of networks that grow from the bottom up.    (0139)

31. What bearing does this have on the telephone networks?    (0140)

The current telephone networks are already being challenged by the 
Internet. This would intensify that challenge. It would also 
dramatically solve the problem of the "last mile," i.e., providing 
"broadband" connectivity to households and offices.    (0141)

32. How does this fit with the FCC's exploration of unlicensed spectrum 
to connect rural areas?    (0142)

The FCC has recently asked for comments on the idea of using unlicensed 
spectrum to provide Internet connectivity to rural areas. This is 
attractive because running cable out to distant areas is expensive and 
in some instances environmentally disruptive. But Open Spectrum would 
solve this problem in a single blow without facing the probability that 
it will be obsolete in a few years.    (0143)

33. Who wrote this FAQ?    (0144)

David Weinberger <http://www.evident.com> [mail 
<mailto:self@evident.com>] did most of the wordsmithing, drawing on 
content from Jock Gill <http://www.jockgill.com> [mail 
<mailto:jock@jockgill.com>], Dewayne Hendricks <http://www.dandin.com> 
[mail <http://www.greaterdemocracy.org/dewayne@dandin.com>], and David 
P. Reed <http://www.reed.com/dprframeweb/dprframe.asp> [mail 
<mailto:dpreed@reed.com>].    (0145)

34. Where can I learn more?    (0146)

Here are some links. We'd be happy to hear about 
<mailto:self@evident.com> more.    (0147)

Why Open Spectrum Matters 
<http://www.greaterdemocracy.org/framing_openspectrum.html>, by the 
people who wrote this FAQ
David Reed <http://www.reed.com/OpenSpectrum/>'s page on Open Spectrum
"Societies of Cooperating Cognitive Solutions 
<http://www.greaterdemocracy.org/2003_01_01_gd.html#90139353>" by Jock Gill
"Open Spectrum: The New Wireless Paradigm 
<http://werbach.com/docs/new_wireless_paradigm.htm>" by Kevin Werbach
The FCC Spectrum Policy Task Force <http://www.fcc.gov/sptf>'s page
Lawrence Lessig's Stanford resource page 
Lawrence Lessig's conference on spectrum policy 
Prior Restraint 
by Bob Frankston
Net Gains: Will technology make CBS unconstitutional? 
by Yochai Benkler and Lawrence Lessig
Wireless Commons <http://www.wirelesscommons.org>
The Pico Peering Agreement <http://www.picopeer.net>    (0148)

35. Where can I discuss this FAQ?    (0149)

There's a discussion board here 
<http://www.quicktopic.com/boing/H/L5zTVhKwmR3B>.    (0150)