5/18/2011 8:44 AM
Deborah McAdams is the Executive Editor of TV Technology.
I was at the National Association of Broadcasters Show this year, surrounded by people whose livelihoods depend in large part on the preservation of spectrum dedicated to, you know... broadcasting. So either I was missing something or it was truly ironic that just about everywhere I went, people were using smartphones or talking about transmitting news footage on wireless broadband connections.
“Well, I’m just texting,” one friend in the business told me. “It’s just data.”
So it was, and by the looks of it, about 50,000 other folks were just texting at the Las Vegas Convention Center at any given time. I can’t remember the last time I saw a room full of people at a panel discussion looking at the panelists rather than a cellphone screen. When was the last time we collectively paid attention to something? I don’t know, because I wasn’t paying attention. Sometimes it’s better that way. When you start paying attention, you realize that what people say and what they do are often unrelated, as in diametrically opposed.
It seems, for example, that defending the use of spectrum for broadcasting while using the public Internet to transmit video is a bit, say, contradictory. I know it makes sense, per se. A Wi-Fi backpack is probably a bit less costly than a satellite ENG truck. At least in the short run. But it also feeds the demand for more broadband spectrum, which the federal government intends to fill with broadcast spectrum. Thus, TV stations will have a ton of great news clips, just no place to air them.
The current argument against wholesale spectrum redesignation is that wireless broadband technologies can be made much more efficient. Right now, it doesn’t behoove the wireless companies to focus on new spectrum-efficient technologies.
But it sure does makes sense for broadcasters.
1 comment(s) so far...
6/3/2011 7:41 AM
Having Spectrum and Eating It, Too
Quote: "The current argument against wholesale spectrum redesignation is that wireless broadband technologies can be made much more efficient. Right now, it doesn’t behoove the wireless companies to focus on new spectrum-efficient technologies."
This statement really deserves a factual discussion.
It is certainly true that efficiency could be gained by converting all the existing mobile 2G and 3G spectrum to OFDM (LTE).
The carriers have tens of thousands of base stations to convert, most with 3 sectors. Each carrier also has many more customers than the sum of all the over the air DTV customers. The customer equipment has to be upgraded, but luckily the upgrade cycle is 2-3 years. But those customers expect a transparent transition, unlike the analog shutoff model.
Femtocells and WiFi hotspots with wired backhaul can help, and have strong momentum. No mandates are needed.
But based on my knowledge of the technology, it's hard to foresee significant improvement in the spectral efficiency of today's mobile broadband - the existing LTE and WiMAX deployments. There might be some gains for asymmetrical traffic in converting all FDD bands to TDD.
I would welcome TV Technologists to detail the "spectrum-efficient technologies" they are proposing for broadband wireless, and quantify the resulting efficiency gains in today's mobile spectrum.