Wireless Waffle - A whole spectrum of radio related rubbish
Outrage as tests show up to 30% of spectrum auctioned in Europe is “not electromagnetic”signal strength
Monday 1 April, 2013, 08:04 - Spectrum Management
Posted by Administrator
electromagnetic spectrumMobile operators have been outraged by the results of tests carried out by the University of Bolondok, Hungary, which have shown that, in some cases, up to 30% of the spectrum sold at auction in Europe is not electromagnetic.  One of the team behind the work done by the University, Prof. I. Laslo said,
“We became suspicious of the quality of European spectrum following an undergraduate student project to prepare a set of quality criteria for spectrum auctions.  The student’s results were inconsistent, which led us to conduct further tests.  Upon closer examination, we discovered traces of non-electromagnetic spectrum within that which has been auctioned, and were surprised to find that in some cases the amount of non-electromagnetic spectrum accounted for up to 30% of that which has been sold.”

The professor refused to indicate which countries were the worst offenders but added,
“You can get an idea of the intrinsic amount of spectrum that is electromagnetic by considering how much money was raised in the auctions themselves.  The fact that there is a correlation between lower prices and the level of non-electromagnetic spectrum that was sold suggests that operators were probably aware of the practice when preparing their bids.”

An industry expert, who wished to remain anonymous, has said that the practise of Governments selling non-electromagnetic spectrum should have been anticipated.
“The huge prices paid at auction for spectrum will inevitably lead to regulators wishing to find a way to ‘bulk up’ the spectrum so as to make greater revenues from its sale.”

Asked if they thought that the operators knew that not all the spectrum was electromagnetic they added,
“These murky practises are not confined to regulators. Despite claiming that spectrum is their most valuable resource, there have been cases of operators releasing some of the spectrum they have historically been using, in return for the promise of alternative, presumably pure electromagnetic, spectrum at future auctions.  This is a clear indication that they are aware of the fact that some of their spectrum was, perhaps, not as electromagnetic as it should have been.”

No regulators were willing to comment on the situation but mobile operators have been quick to jump on the findings.  A senior employee of mobile conglomerate T-Orasdafonica, who also wished to remain anonymous, told us,
“We are outraged to find that regulators have been selling spectrum that may not be fit for purpose.  We bought it in good faith.  It takes us some time from the auction itself to the point where we actually put the spectrum into use and so we don’t necessarily notice its purity straight away.  Once we heard of the findings from the tests, we immediately went out and began to try using the spectrum we had bought.  We can concur with the findings that there is some which does not appear to be electromagnetic. We strongly refute the insinuation that we knew of these issues beforehand or that we have knowingly participated in the sale, purchase, or use of spectrum that was anything other than electromagnetic.  We intend to instigate an immediate investigation into our spectrum holdings and will be holding the Government culpable for any which we find not to be electromagnetic.”

clean up the spectrumAsked if they would continue to buy spectrum at auction, most operators contacted said that they would, but that they would ensure that a rigorous testing regime was put in place to ensure the quality of the product being sold, before opening their wallets. They suggested that it was the regulators that should clean up their act and that operators, who have been encouraged to rely on market forces were the ones who had been taken for a ride. One likened it to having been 'sold a pup when you set out to buy a thoroughbred'. One even went so far as to suggest that there were bigger problems in the supply chain which have been forced upon the whole mobile market by the ever downward spiral of prices.
The University of Bolondok has offered to work with operators to develop a set of agreed quality tests, and present them for ratification at CEPT.  The operators have cautiously welcomed this offer but have suggested that it is the regulators who should come clean on their practices rather than operators who are to blame.
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What are the chances (Part III)?signal strength
Thursday 21 March, 2013, 17:54 - Licensed, Spectrum Management
Posted by Administrator
Previous posts entitled 'What are the chances?' have mostly been about the chances of pirate at800radio stations causing enough interference to merit the authorities tracking them down. In a sense, there is a certain similarity between that topic and the one discussed here as the question that's being explored today is 'What are the chances... of receiving interference from 4G networks at 800 MHz if you are a UK DTT viewer?' Rather a long title, but as of this week, an organisation called Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited (DMSL) who are badging themselves as at800 have been given £180 million specifically to try and answer exactly that question.

So what is the problem exactly? The UK has just auctioned spectrum which is colloquially known as the 'Digital Dividend'. This radio spectrum was previously used for television broadcasting, representing channels 61 to 69 inclusive (790 to 862 MHz). Many people have antennas and receivers that were receiving television pictures on those channels until very recently. As of now, these frequencies are going to be used for 4G mobile services. Once these services are on-air, there will be mobile base stations transmitting on frequencies which it is possible for set-top boxes and digital televisions to receive - though as mobile and television technologies are different, they won't receive pictures, just the signals (a bit like listening to a conversation in a foreign language - you can hear it but you can't decipher it).

femto cellUnder certain circumstances, it is possible that the 4G transmissions could cause interference to television (Freeview) reception. The circumstances are complex but generally if television transmissions on channel 59 or 60 are being used in a particular area, the receivers will be more susceptible to interference. If those receivers are close to a mobile base station transmitting at the lower end of the new 800 MHz mobile band, then interference could be caused (mobile operator 'three' have the frequencies at the bottom of the band most likely to cause a problem). Calculating who will be affected is therefore rather complex - it is a combination of which television transmitter they are watching, how far away from it they are, and how close to a three base station they are. Thus it is not straightforward to identify whose viewing might be disrupted.

All is not lost though, as there is a way to solve the interference. The solution to the problem is to fit a filter which allows the television transmissions through but blocks the 4G signals. at800 have been given the money to help work out who will be affected and to pay for filters to be fitted. It has been estimated that up to almost 1 million UK television households could be affected. The key here is 'could be...' because experience in other countries where 800 MHz services have already been launched is that they have not led to the degree of interference problems that are predicted.

There is no doubt that some households will be affected, but the numbers could be well below 1 million. Those which are most susceptible are those which are in areas where television signals are already weak. In some of those areas, viewers will have fitted amplifiers to their TV antennas to boost the signal. These amplifiers are particularly susceptible to interference and can even be completely overloaded by strong 4G transmitters. Similar amplifiers are also used to distribute signals from a TV antenna to multiple television sockets. Some houses with multiple sockets may have an amplifier fitted and not even be aware of it. In blocks of flats the same idea applies. These situations will make fitting a filter more complex, but still feasible.

In some (rare) cases, it is possible that no amount of filtering will solve the problem. In these circumstances at800 has the power, and the money, to replace the terrestrial television system with an alternative such as cable or satellite.

channel 59 60 use uk dttShould you be worried? Firstly, you need to understand whether the television transmitter in your area uses channels 59 or 60. The map on the right (click for a larger version) shows those television transmitter which will use these channels. If you are served by one of these transmitters then that puts you at a higher risk. If you are towards the edge of the coverage area then your risk is increased. If you are near a three base station your risk is further increased (sadly there is no simple way to determine this). If you are affected, what will you see? In a word... nothing! Your reception of any programmes transmitted on the frequencies represented by channels 59 or 60 will stop, dead. Alternatively, the picture might break up badly.

Unfortunately, losing reception or having bad reception is not necessarily evidence of interference from 4G base stations. It could be caused by a myriad of other problems. This is what makes the job of at800 that much more difficult. They will need to decide, when confronted with an apparent case of interference, whether 4G is the cause or whether it is something else. Their decisions on this will no doubt prove controversial!

sheffield pensioner denied tv

If you use satellite (Sky or Freesat) or cable then you don't need to worry. If you use Freeview, then perhaps now would be a good time to check your reception, at least then you will know whether anything changes.
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Silly - Deine Stärkensignal strength
Wednesday 13 March, 2013, 08:00 - Chart Predictions
Posted by Administrator
To be truthful, most of the so-called 'chart preductions' that have previously bedecked the pages of Wireless Waffle, have been little more than excuses to showcase some great music heard whilst travelling, none of which is really that likely to chart in the UK, and most of which has already been a hit in the home country of the artist concerned. So chart, yes. Predictions, um, less so.

This time is different though! The single for Deine Stärken by German band Silly is not due to be released until tomorrow (March 14) so this really is a chart prediction (though the download has been available since 1 March). As with other Wireless Waffle song selections, the probability of it reaching the top of the UK charts is rather slim, not least because there have only ever been 3 German language songs that have even made it into the top:
  • Nicole - Ein bißchen Frieden (1982)
  • Nena - 99 Luftballons (1984)
  • Falco - Rock Me Amadeus (1985)
and those had to have English translations to be hits!

But in German speaking countries such as, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium (yes, German is an official language of Belgium too) as well as in many other countries where the language of a song is not such a barrier to success as it is in English speaking countries, Wireless Waffle strongly tips Deine Stärken (Your Strengths) for great things.

Silly have been around for a long time, having originally formed in 1978 in the now defunkt East Germany. In 1996 the band's original lead singer Tamara Danz sadly lost her life to breast cancer. From 2005 the band re-formed and went on the hunt for a new lead singer, eventually settling on the current chanteuse Anna Loos (also an actor). What a great choice, as this single attests. You don't need to understand German to hear the depth of emotion that comes through in this anthemnic rock ballad.

So it's 5 stars from Wireless Waffle and here's hoping the first chart prediction that will prove successful. If it does, we'll be sure to let you know!
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Omawumi - Stay Alivesignal strength
Friday 8 March, 2013, 16:04 - Chart Predictions
Posted by Administrator
Wireless Waffle had the good fortune to have visited Africa this week. One thing that's always a pleasure when visiting other countries, let alone other continents, is the chance to listen to local radio stations and hear new music.

It was therefore a joy to come across this piece of music from Nigerian singer Omawumi. 'Stay Alive (Je Je Laye)' is mellow, uplifting and unquestionably African. A glorious tune and well worth a listen.

Toto's 1982 song 'Africa' was also heard on the radio. The mind can but boggle at how much Toto must make in royalties every day, from radio stations right across the continent. Do British rockers Asia do as well from their eponymous brethren? The answer to that can no doubt be found on the airwaves too...
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