Wireless Waffle - A whole spectrum of radio related rubbish
Marri-ot-to know better!signal strength
Wednesday 8 October, 2014, 05:37 - Spectrum Management
Posted by Administrator
Wireless Waffle last reported on Wi-Fi jamming in the context of 'Wi-Fi free zones' that had been set-up by confectionery company Kit Kat in Amsterdam. At the time we examined whether or not the jamming of Wi-Fi could be done legally and concluded that though it was probably illegal, it was a grey area (the jamming that is, not Amsterdam).

hotel wifi logoIt's one thing to try and provide a Wi-Fi free zone by blocking Wi-Fi signals from entering an area, but a completely different thing to monitor Wi-Fi signals and then send malicious data to hotspots to force them to disconnect users. This is, however, exactly what hotel chain Marriott have been found doing at their Gaylord Opryland hotel in Nashville, TN. The FCC have fined Marriott US$600,000 for:
using the containment features of a Wi-Fi monitoring system ... to prevent individuals connecting to the internet via their own personal Wi-Fi networks

What appears to have happened is that the hotel had installed sophisticated Wi-Fi monitoring equipment which checked to see what networks were available within the hotel. This equipment would be able to detect any networks that were not authorised by the hotel and then send a 'de-authorisation' message to those networks having the effect of throwing off users connected to them.

password hackerThe hotel argues that the reason for having such a system was to stop malicious networks being set-up and to protect their guests. Take the example where a malfeasant wishes to steal passwords and other information from hotel guests. All they would need to do is set-up a 'copycat' Wi-Fi hotspot with the same name (SSID) as those used in the hotel (presumably something like 'Marriott Wi-Fi') in close vicinity to the hotel itself. Hotel guests near the copycat hotspot may inadvertently connect to it instead of the hotel Wi-Fi. In doing so, all of their internet traffic would pass over the copycat network giving the malfeasant the opportunity to skim it for juicy bits of personal data. Presumably hotel guests make a good source of such information compared, for example, to those sitting in a coffee shop.

In the above example, the hotel's Wi-Fi monitoring system would detect the copycat network and send the necessary de-authentication messages. Any hotel guests connected to the copycat network would then be thrown off and, hopefully, would re-connect to the 'safer' hotel run hotspots. In the process, the hotel would argue that it was protecting its guests from the malicious intent of the malfeasant. All perfectly sound thinking?

marriott caught in the actBut that is not what the Gaylord Opryland was doing. It was using the same principles to throw guests off of networks they had set-up themselves using, for example, Wi-Fi tethering on their mobiles or diddy Mi-Fi devices and forcing them to use the hotels own Wi-Fi services. Why? Because it wanted them to pay upwards of US$1000 per day to use the hotel's own Wi-Fi services. In the words once written by a great philosopher, 'naughty, naughty, very very naughty'! Unfortunately for the Marriott, it got caught in the act, hence the nasty fine from the FCC. Of course the reason that guests were using their phones or Mi-Fi devices to connect to the internet was specifically to circumvent the extortionate rates that the hotel wanted to charge for Wi-Fi access.

It is not clear how the guest who reported the hotel to the FCC found out what was happening, or indeed if they discovered anything more than their own Wi-Fi connection dropping out. To detect the de-authentication messages would take as much guile as it does to set up such a facility in the first place. Perhaps in the future, any hotels (Marriott or otherwise) planning on doing the same thing should think twice before holding conferences for ICT professionals, or worse, radio spectrum regulators!
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'Everything's on the up for Egypt', say GSMAsignal strength
Monday 6 October, 2014, 03:52 - Spectrum Management
Posted by Administrator
plum consultingIn a damning new report written for the GSMA by Plum Consulting, it has become apparent that yet another set of graphs concerning mobile networks, this time with respect to Egypt, mostly point upwards.

The report, entitled, 'The Economic and Social Impact of Mobile Broadband in Egypt', uses terms such as unconstrained, very large, increase and rise significantly as it discusses issues such as the economy, jobs and social and cultural benefits.

However despite the seemingly upbeat message, the report is highly critical of Egypt's current national broadband plan saying that,
The previous national broadband plan must be replaced.

But what is perhaps the most startling outcome of the report is the sheer number of graphs that show the situation in Egypt is positive, as the trends on the graphs point upwards. An analysis conducted at great expense for Wireless Waffle by Damson & Greengauge LLP found that:
  • 12 out of 17 graphs in the report showed a positive, upward, trend;
  • 4 of the 17 graphs had been purposefully reversed and showed a negative, downward trend putting Egypt at the end so as to try and indicate a low status;
  • Only 1 graph had a trend that involved both upward and downward movement.

egypt all good

The Egyptian government have been quick to respond. A spokesperson for the Egyptian Ministry of Happiness and Unity was quoted as saying,
The overwhelming positivity of the graphs in the report contradicts the findings that the broadband plan is in any way inadequate. Instead we find the number of positive, upward trends vindicates the current government's telecommunications policies. The citizens of Egypt should rest assured that the government will do all it can to get the few, and clearly doctored, graphs which show a downward trend of any kind reversed, so that the outcome is even more positive.

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PMSE Industry Calls For More Domed Citiessignal strength
Tuesday 9 September, 2014, 04:36 - Broadcasting, Spectrum Management
Posted by Administrator
european commission logoThe European Commission has finally made a ruling on harmonising spectrum for programme making and special events (PMSE) use. PMSE includes things such as radiomicrophones and in-ear monitors that allow performers to hear themselves think whilst on a noisy stage.

You would think that the PMSE community would be cock-a-hoop about the fact that their needs had been recognised at a European level and that spectrum had been safeguarded for their specific use, but it appears that many in the industry believe it is too little. A spokesperson for the Association of Learned Engineers of Sound (Asso.LES) told Wireless Waffle:
All video and audio broadcasts use wireless devices in their production. The paltry and squalid spectrum being offered by the Commission will cause many thousands of creative, cultural and media industry workers to suffer harmful interference leading to infection and death. Add to this the many churches, schools and hotels who use wireless microphones and this ruling could cause a catastrophic failure of society. We could see plagues, widespread rioting and a failure of social cohesion resulting in a cataclysmic new world-order, not to mention the need to put up new antennas in some theatres.

No one from the Commission was available to comment, however Jrg Van Beaulieu who has a name that sounds like they could work for the Commission, was heard to comment:
Asso.LES couldn't see a gift horse if it kicked them in the face. The Commission has done its calculations and as far as we can see, the only events that will require more spectrum than we are offering are the Eurovision Song Contest and one or two occasions when sporting events occur on the same date as One Direction concerts - interruptions to which we believe the socio-economic impact would be low.

eurovision logoThe impact on the Eurovision Song Contest will come as a blow to its millions of fans both in Europe and across the world. Next year's organisers, ORF have already been in crisis discussions with the Austrian government and the European Commission and have issued this statement:
On advice of the Bundesministerium fr Verkehr, Innvation und Technologie (BMVIT) we have decided to move the location of the competition next year from Vienna to Attnang-Puchheim. The town's railway marshalling yard will be flattened and a metal cage will be erected around the area to seal in the radio spectrum so it can be used for the Contest. We are sure that this will allow this critical European cultural event to go ahead without problems of interference from mobile phones or potentially dangerous inter-galactic laser beam weapons.

dome home cone

Meanwhile it is understood that the Council of Westminster are considering similarly drastic steps and that plans to demolish the majority of the West End to allow a protective metal dome to be built around London's infamous theatre district are well developed. The spokesperson for Asso.LES said that this move was welcome and rightly recognised the economic importance of radio microphone users above all other members of society.
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Mobile Spectrum Demand: The Last Word?signal strength
Sunday 31 August, 2014, 12:28 - Spectrum Management
Posted by Administrator
Yet another challenge to the seemingly overinflated forecast demand for IMT spectrum has been raised. This time, a paper entitled, 'Overestimating Wireless Demand: Policy and Investment Implications of Upward Bias in Mobile Data Forecasts' which has been written by Aalok Mehta of the University of Southern California and J. Armand Musey of Goldin Associates.

http   www allbum it  zager evans in the year 2525 2Rather than do the maths on what their paper says, Wireless Waffle thought that it might be better to take a different approach and try and estimate how much spectrum may be needed in the far future, say in the year 2525. How much data could each person possibly consume? If it is assumed that each person lives in a totally immersive environment where there visual, audio and maybe even sensory experience is completely connected (a bit like a man-made version of The Matrix!) the question is how much data would this take?

There are three things to consider:
  • Firstly how much data is needed for such an immersive experience;
  • Secondly, how much progress will have been made on the various audio and video codecs which squish the raw data into a more manageable form; and
  • How spectrally efficient will the mobile technology be?

Video is currently the main bandwidth hog and whilst touch, feel and smell may turn out to be equally hungry for connectivity, let's focus on the video requirements first. If it is assumed that 3D video using ultra-high definition is required, today this would require a connection of 40 Mbps or faster. With improvements in coding technology, this could easily drop to 10 Mbps. If audio and other sensory data (including any personal machine-to-machine communications detecting, for example, heartbeat, ambient temperature and so on) doubles this, then a working assumption that a constant 20 Mbps of connectivity would allow a fully immersive experience would seem about right.

Finally we need to think about spectrum efficiency - how much spectrum would be needed to deliver this 20 Mbps. Current technologies such as LTE can deliver many bits per second per Hz of spectrum but performance becomes worse the futher away from the centre of a cell a user is. The ITU's model uses values of up to 5 bits per second per Hz in a 2020 timeframe, though other forecasts show values ranging from 2 to 15. By 2525, it ought to be possible to at least achieve the 5 bits per second per Hz value that the ITU forecasts is feasible by 2020, even as an average across a cell, and even those at the edge of coverage. This means that (whilst awake and living in the immersive environment) our mobile subscriber of 2525 would require around 4 MHz of spectrum dedicated to their sole usage.

How much spectrum is needed is therefore simply dictated by how many simultaneous users there are in each cell. Looking at this from a different direction, with around 1 GHz of mobile spectrum (not that different from the amount available today), 250 users could be supported in each cell. This seems perfectly realistic. Of course this amount of data would not be required by anyone who is asleep, and those at home or in an office could surely connect to the WiFi of the future and offload their data to an alternative service so 250 users per cell does not seem unreasonable.

So... even in a futuristic world in which everyone is immersed in a fully interactive environment for every waking hour, given developments in technology, 1000 MHz of spectrum dedicated to mobile networks seems sufficient. This result ties in with an interesting result posited by the Australian spectrum regulator ACMA in its report 'Towards 2020 - Future spectrum requirements for mobile broadband' (Figure 4.3) which indicates that spectrum demand may decrease in the future as the spectrum efficiency of newer technologies and improved coding techniques outpace the exponential growth in demand for data.

It therefore seems possible that we are going through a period in which spectrum demand for mobile broadband is at its peak as we phase out older mobile technologies and bring in the new and that in the long-term future, the amount of spectrum already available today will be enough to meet requirements. With this (albeit rather simplistic) analysis, we can now close the door on all the debate over spectrum for mobile services and instead focus on something more interesting...
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