AT&T wants to teach an old spectrum band new 4G tricks

A wireless band that the mobile industry has practically written off may get a new life as 4G spectrum if a new proposal from AT&T(s t) and Sirius XM(s siri) gets regulatory approval. The two strange bedfellows have submitted a joint filing to the FCC requesting permission to use AT&T’s long dormant 2.3 GHz Wireless Communications Service (WCS) for an LTE network.
Deploying any kind of service on WCS has been cluster-you-know-what for any operator that has made the attempt. ExtremeTech provides an excellent description of the problems of making WCS workable for mobile broadband:

WCS licenses were auctioned off by the FCC in 1997. The FCC hoped that it would be used rather quickly, but the restrictions that WCS imposed on licensees caused issues. For one, the power and emissions restrictions made it nearly impossible to deploy any sort of terrestrial network technology.
The other issue was that satellite radio (officially known as the Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service, or SDARS) lived in between two halves of the WCS frequency range. That meant that terrestrial network technologies would easily block out satellite radio signals from receivers. This alone has severely paralyzed efforts to make the WCS frequencies usable.

AT&T and BellSouth, which was eventually acquired by Ma Bell, experimented with the band for years, launching trial pre-standard WiMAX networks in several markets (Oddly, one of those markets was Pahrump, Nev., the brothel capital of the U.S.). But neither company could make the technology work, and both were constantly running up against the protests of Sirius and XM, which themselves merged in 2008.
But apparently these old antagonists have come to an accord. From the FCC filing:

In order to resolve these issues, AT&T and Sirius XM met to discuss whether their differences could be bridged and have reached an accommodation with significant concessions on both sides. The accommodation, if accepted in its entirety, will enable the adoption of technical rules satisfactory to both interests and allow licenses in the 2.3 GHz band to exploit the most efficient new mobile broadband standards, including LTE, while limiting the potential interference to satellite radio reception to respectable levels.

The major concession appears to be on AT&T’s part. The carrier has agreed to carve out a 5 MHz guard band on either side of Sirius’s satellite spectrum, creating in essence a no-man’s zone where no transmissions can travel. That’s quite a big deal actually: As little as 10 MHz can support a full-fledged HSPA network and is equivalent to half the LTE capacity AT&T has deployed in most markets.
But AT&T figures it is better than not being able to use the spectrum at all — and risk losing it. In fact, AT&T has been trying to sell off the same WCS airwaves it now proposes to make guard bands.
If the FCC grants AT&T’s request it will be left with between 10 and 20 MHz of remaining spectrum over which to launch LTE. It may seem like a win for all parties involved, but this won’t be an automatic approval for the FCC. AT&T is the largest spectrum holder in WCS, but there are other licensees that could potentially get screwed by this proposal. As satellite broadband analyst Tim Farrar points out on his blog, NextWave owns a lot of WCS, and nearly half of its holdings are in the same blocks that AT&T wants to make off-limits.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock user Nicolas Raymond

HTC adds to the Touch family- HTC Touch Pro

HTC is always introducing new devices it seems and today it’s true as the newest member of the Touch family is announced.  The HTC Touch Pro adds functions to the popular Touch family that are designed to appeal to professionals while meshing it all together with the TouchFLO 3D interface.  The Touch Pro adds a slide-out QWERTY keyboard making it the most versatile and capable Touch phone yet.  It will be released in Europe, Asia and the Middle East in the summer and North America later this year.  HTC is touting "broadband-like speeds with HSDPA 7.2 Mbps andHSUPA wireless connectivity, a 1350 mAh battery with up to 8 hours of talktime, 512 MB flash, 288 MB RAM with micro SD memory card expansion, GPScapabilities, 2.8-inch VGA touch screen and 3.2MP camera equipped with videocalling."


Full press release after the jump.

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Clean Break: Clear Out Your File Clutter as the Year Closes

We’re nearing the end of the year, and with the holiday season upon us, many web workers will be getting pretty busy. But with 2008 approaching, it might not be a bad idea to clean out the clutter in your paper and digital files, and start the year afresh and reinvigorated.
So let’s take a look at some simple ways to clear through your pile of old files — in your file cabinet, on your computer, and online.
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DivX Pro + Mac = FREE!

Why do you want DivX Pro? Because it’s free! At least for today, DivX is offering a free download of DivX Pro for Mac users, normally $19.99.

DivX Pro gives you the DivX Converter and DivX Pro Codec. Unless you are making videos there is no reason for you download this, even though it’s free. If you are a video maker editing on an Apple have at it. The Pro version gives you a high end codec allowing you to tweak everything in the encoding process from bitrate to quantization. The Converter is useful for converting large video files from whatever format to DivX with extra control and ability to batch conversions.

Sometimes, it is not just cricket

Wall Street Journal has a great editorial this morning on the current India-Pakistan cricket series. While it has nothing to do with broadband or technology (except that i watched the damn series in a tiny window on my laptop over a DSL connection), this is about a game which changes the real game in South Asia.

bq. The public mood reflects not merely a weariness with the seemingly unending conflict between the two countries; it reveals, also, a genuine political optimism, the result of the recent rapprochement between Islamabad and Delhi. It was this summit-level warming, of course, that laid the ground for the Indian cricket team to visit. And given the passion for the game on the subcontinent, it was the Indian government’s willingness to let the cricketers tour Pakistan that convinced Pakistanis that Delhi’s apparent conciliatoriness was sincere. No more proof of India’s good faith was needed.

bq. But the Indian cricketers appear to have contracted the verve and self-belief of contemporary India: If India can take on the world on the high-tech front, the thinking seems to be, it can do so on the cricket field as well. The Pakistanis, by contrast — and reflecting, also, their national mood — are uncertain, torn between different ideas, and seemingly in transition to a new order. Their team, like their country, is talented and robust; but it is, like their country, deeply unsettled.