IWCE: Unlicensed bands likely to be locally coordinated
LAS VEGAS–Local coordination organizations are likely to spring up around the country to solve interference issues on unlicensed bands, according to a speaker at IWCE 2006.
“[Unlicensed] frequency coordination is the coming thing,” said Steve Thomas, product with RF analyzer vendor Anritsu. “[But] coordination won’t happen by law. Government won’t be involved.”
Thomas said some municipalities already are organizing frequency coordination efforts as they roll out citywide Wi-Fi networks, managed by local people in the community that know what’s going on around them. Community leaders are becoming aware of the potential for powerful mesh networks to interfere with the operations of local businesses with established wireless LAN usage. “Peer pressure can be very effective,” Thomas said.
He added that the possibilities for interference on unlicensed bands “are endless” and used his own home as an example. “I have two [access points], two cordless phones, and two microwave ovens, all operating in 2.4 GHz,” he said. “In one part of the house, the cordless phones don’t work if you get them too near the access point.”
Personal users also are stuck because they don’t have the resources to isolate problems that could be coming from a device in the home, such as a microwave, or from a device at a neighbor’s house. “People have no tools to look at interference problems,” Thomas said, pointing at the limited software available on laptop computers. “Microwave ovens don’t have a MAC [network] address. It doesn’t understand cordless phones, either.”
He said laptop tools could provide some measurement of a problem in cases where the interference was generated by a computer device, but many of the cordless devices operating at 2.4 GHz cause problems that won’t show up through wireless networking software.
Most interference problems are inadvertent and it’s fortunate that they are. “The FCC normally won’t do any good unless [an intentional interference problem is] really illegal and really egregious,” Thomas said, citing a recent experience with an individual intent on jamming a ham radio operator. “It took a month to get it documented and for them to come out.” Consequently, alleged violations of Part 15 unlicensed regulations likely will prove even more nettlesome.