Warm Southern Breeze

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Posts Tagged ‘Julius Genachowski’

Can you hear me now? FCC likely to get an earful from cellular power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, October 31, 2012

For many – if not most – people, communication issues and law are a complete mystery. They just want their #*@^$%! cell phones to work. That’s all.

But here’s a thumbnail sketch of why your service sucks, no matter your cell phone carrier.

In the beginning of cellular, it was once called “wireless” – it still is by insiders – and there was the “A” carrier, and the “B” carrier. The “A” carrier was the wireless carrier, while the “B” carrier was the wireless carrier for the landline company, which in most cases was BellSouth, which was gobbled up by AT&T.

The two carriers operated on different frequencies, but within the same bandwidth.

Then, cellular grew. It grew so much it needed more bandwidth. So, the FCC allocated more airwave “space” for cellular frequencies.

That was where the problems all began.

The Federal Communication Commission has regulatory purview and authority over all communications in the United States. And instead of telling the carriers that they had to adopt a common standard, they allowed each and every carrier to different technology and standards to build their networks.

Some built networks along major highways, such as Interstates. Others, concentrated on small local areas, while yet others adopted strategies that focused upon large markets like major cities. And yet none of them collaborated, and each one did their own thing.

The landline telephone in your house has one standard. Not several. As well, the routing it uses – that is, the wires that carry the signal – are invisibly routed to the end users. So, if a wire is knocked down, or damaged by digging, the signal is re-routed through another node – all which is invisible to the end users – and the call continues. That is called “redundancy,” and there are at least two back-ups to such system, which is called “dual redundancy.”

That is NOT SO with wireless.

If a signal from a cellular telephone to a cellular tower is broken, there is no recourse. The call is dropped/disconnected. And often times, once that call is dropped, neither the caller, nor the party being called can reach each other – even if one party is using a landline phone. (We’ve all gone through “cellular dead zones,” right?)

However, IF the FCC had mandated that all cellular carriers adopt a unified standard of signal transmission, they could’ve also required those same carriers to share cellular tower space. As it is now, competing cellular companies DO NOT share tower space with each other – which is why it’s possible to see cellular towers nearby, but not have any quality signal (if any) in many cases. The reason why, is that it’s not the tower for the cellular carrier you use. Too bad, eh?

Truth be told, the United States is at least 15 years or more behind the rest of the world when it comes to cellular communications. For example, in South Korea, the people in that nation have nationwide WiFi and have been watching teevee on their cellular phones for quite some time. Not so in the United States.

Why?

I refer the reader to the previous remark.

F.C.C. Details Storm-Related Cellphone Problems

October 31, 2012
The New York Times

By EDWARD WYATT and BRIAN X. CHEN

WASHINGTON — For all of the modern communications that keep people connected, cellphones rely on an age-old technology that has repeatedly demonstrated its own instability during emergencies — electricity.

Power systems failures throughout the Northeast have been the main culprits in the shutdown of more than 20 percent of the cell tower sites in 10 states, causing millions of lost calls on Wednesday, government and industry officials said.

Slow progress was made in restoring some services. Federal Communications Commission officials said that the percentage of cell tower sites not working in the storm-damaged areas declined “by a few percentage points” as of Wednesday morning, down from about 25 percent on Tuesday.

Wired broadband and cable television systems remained out of service for Read the rest of this entry »

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