Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sirius to Boost Power

Today, Sirius filed an application requesting to boost the power to 2,000 Watt for the repeaters at the following locations. Currently, these repeaters operate from 150 to 800 Watt. This should improve the repeater reach considerably. Lately, the Commission has routinely granted authority for repeaters operating at or below 2,000 Watt.

Ann Arbor, MI 2 555 East William Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Bridgeport, CT 2 10 Middle Street, Bridgeport CT 06604
Columbia, SC 1 1301 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC 29201
Des Moines, IA 1 666 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50309
Flint, MI 1 120 East First Street, Flint, MI 48502
Grand Rapids, MI 1 11 Monroe Avenue, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Jackson, MS 1 210 E. Capitol Street, Jackson, MS 39201
Los Angeles, CA 1 7700 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine, CA 92618
Madison, WI 1 122 West Washington Avenue, Madison, WI 53703
Mobile, AL 1 31 N. Royal Street, Mobile, AL 36602
Naples, FL 1 3600 Prospect Avenue, Naples, FL 34104
Paramus, NJ 2 590 Industrial Avenue (aka 590 Valley Health Plaza), Paramus, NJ 07652
Raleigh-Durham, NC 1 300 West Morgan Street, Durham, NC 27701
Waterbury, CT 1 117 Pine Street, Waterbury, CT 06710
West Palm Beach, FL 2 1601 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach, FL 33406

One could see where the WCS Coalition might take Sirius' language in the application the wrong way:

In addition, WCS licensees will have an opportunity to comment on the STA during the public notice period; as a result, Sirius has not notified the WCS licensees in the affected MSAs prior to filing this request. Therefore, Sirius respectfully requests that the Commission promptly grant its proposed modifications to its STA.


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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Honda Files Application to Test Race Car Telemetry System

Honda has filed an experimental application to test a data telemetry system made by McLaren Electronic Systems. Honda intends to test the system at the following locations.

• February 19-21, 2008 – Sebring, FL – LAT 27.5025 LONG -81.4505
• March 10-15, 2008 – Sebring, FL – LAT 27.5025 LONG -81.4505
• April 3-5, 2008 – St. Petersburg, FL – LAT 27.4554 LONG -82.3752
• April 17-19, 2008 – Long Beach, CA – LAT 33.7706 LONG -118.1820
• April 24-26, 2008 – Houston, TX – LAT 29.7594 LONG -95.3594
• April 29-30, 2008 – Toole, UT – LAT 40.5454 LONG -112.3002
• May 15-18, 2008 – Toole, UT – LAT 40.5454 LONG -112.3002
• June 8-10, 2008 – Lexington, OH – LAT 40.6826 LONG -82.5906
• July 9-12, 2008 – Lakeville, CT – LAT 41.9516 LONG -73.4377
• July 16-19, 2008 – Lexington, OH – LAT 40.6826 LONG -82.5906
• August 6-12, 2008 – Elkhart Lake, WI – LAT 43.8436 LONG -87.9767
• August 28-30, 2008 – Detroit, MI – LAT 42.3474 LONG -83.0604
• October 1-4, 2008 – Braselton, GA – LAT 34.1389 LONG -83.7812
• October 15-18, 2008 – Salinas, CA – LAT 36.6011 LONG -121.6729

A brief search seems to indicate that this might be for the LeMans racing series. I've camped out in the middle of the real 24 Hours of Le Mans when I lived in France, but I have no familiarity with these events. We don't know if this might be something new for Honda or old news.

The initial response from the FCC is that this application appears to be for ongoing operations and asks whether it can be licensed under other FCC rules.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

HobbyTron Receives Citation

HobbyTron received an official citation from the FCC for marketing apparently illegal FM transmitters in the US and failing to provide information to a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) from October 22, 2007. The models affected include the R-FM30B-WT, R-FM100B-WT, and UX-150 transmitters (apparently made by Ramsey Electronics in the US and Canakit in Canada). Some of these transmitters have a range of over a mile. HobbyTron (Gibson Tech Ed, Inc.) had previously been issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture for repeated and willful violation of the the same rule.

In an apparent attempt to get around the rules, HobbyTron offers these kit for "export". In order to by the kits, the purchaser has to sign a form acknowledging that the transmitter will be used in accordance to the applicable laws and may exceed the legal limits and may not be authorized in the US. The purchaser also has to agree to hold Hobbytron harmless.

HobbyTron responded to the LOI on November 15, 2007 but did not comply with the Commission's requests. It made a half-hearted attempt at answering the FCC and basically said that if the Commission didn't like the response to let them know. In its response, they cited the form above to relieve them of any responsibility. Obviously, the FCC is not buying this.

HobbyTron faces forfeitures of $11,000 for each device or for each day in violation. It has 20 days to respond to the LOI.

These types or FM transmitter have given satellite radio a bad reputation in the past. They interfere with radio stations and reception of FM radio by listeners and are abusive.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

The FCC International Bureau Issues a Flurry of Grants

The FCC International Bureau issues three minor satellite radio grants today. First, the Commission granted authority for XM to operate two low powered replacement repeaters in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The first was due to a building being demolished around December 12, 2007. The other was due to a building demolished in July 2005.

XM was also granted authority to operate a very low powered repeater in its new Vienna, Va. location, where, among other things, it will have a Listener Care center. The WCS Coalition initially objected to it but later withdrew its objections.

Not to be left out, Sirius was granted authority for a short, 30 day authority to operate a low powered repeater and 2 signal boosters at trade shows in the last half of March. Sirius intends to demonstrate its services at MERA 2008 in Louisville, Ky.; the New York Auto Show 2008; and MATS 2008, also in Louisville.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

AT&T Has Applications Published for Satellite Radio System

Today, Thursday, January 10, 2008, AT&T had two patent applications published for a system, methods, and apparatuses to implement a satellite radio system with feedback. The applications appear to represent an entire system, not just the receiver, although the focus appears to be on a receiver capable of providing feedback to a centralize system. A user is able to request information, for example, on a song and receive and email with the requested information. Or, the user can purchase a song, etc. The applications never mention XM or Sirius. The difference from a conventional satellite radio system is the two way communication. The receiver is connected to a network via broadband, telephone line, wireless communications, etc. There is a database in the broadcast station where information can be stored and accessed. The system is for mobile or fixed applications.

One has to wonder if AT&T is interested in deploying a satellite radio system elsewhere or perhaps might be interested in acquiring an existing system or perhaps supplying the technology to a third party. The concepts are nothing new, but these applications are very curious to say the least. GM and other have applications for two way communications; however, this might be the first application for a complete system including two way communications.

Make no mistake about it. These applications are for a complete system, including the satellites.

Digital Radio Feedback Apparatuses, System, and Methods

Digital Radio Feedback Systems

Update January 11, 2008: Upon reflection, it is more obvious with AT&T is up to. AT&T is a major WCS spectrum holder. Satellite radio is an allowed use of this spectrum. Through various mergers, AT&T has acquired enough spectrum that could possibly make satellite radio practical. Plus, technology has developed that would make spot beams more practical. There are only a few players left. It wouldn't take but a few players to come together for nationwide service. Most of the WCS license holders are planning to use WiMax, but it is not practical under the current regulations. They are trying to change the rules in order to make it practical and the same time the FCC is trying to determine the final rules for satellite radio repeaters. If rules are not adapted that would make WiMax practical, then satellite radio might be the next best practical use of the spectrum. It doesn't hurt to have that out there as a bargaining chip.

It is interesting to note that this application was filed after XM and Sirius announced the merger (September 24, 2007). Applications can be kept away from the public for up to 18 months, if we recall correctly. This was less than four months ago. They wanted this to be public. However, this is not new. It is based on an application filed in September 2003 and recently became patent on September 25, 2007. No doubt it is enough to give XM and Sirius pause for consideration.

Below is a map showing the ownership of the C and D blocks of the WCS band, which are regional markets. The yellow is the WCS Wireless spectrum that XM tried to acquire and is now control by NextWave Broadband. AT&T is shown in Green. With the exception of a below regions held by Comcast, NextWave and AT&T could combine for 10 MHz of nationwide service. They each have plenty of bargaining chips for Comcast's licenses.

















Then, there is another 20 Mhz available with the A and B blocks. These are much more difficult to combine since the markets are smaller and have more owners. However, spotbeams could prove to be useful to pick up major markets. Below and maps of the A and B blocks. As stated above, NextWave Broadband now controls the WCS Wireless licenses. The maps are not quite up to date but are good enough to see what is possible. The Verizon licenses has since been acquired by Horizon Wi-Com. BellSouth was of course acquired by AT&T (aka AWACS).

































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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

AT&T and Other ISP's May Start Filtering the Net for Copyrighted Material

AT&T, Microsoft, NBC and other digital filtering companies met in a panel discussion at this year's CES to discuss the network filtering of copyrighted material. The idea is that the ISP networks would "sniff" the data packets sent for copyrighted material and would prevent the downloading of infringing material. Unsurprisingly, the RIAA is one of the groups behind it. Comcast is already clamping down on traffic from BitTorrent on its network.

What does this have to do with satellite radio? It could have a lot to do with it. Many people have iPods and MP3 players. Honestly, I don't know of a single person that pays for the music that they play on them. If illegal downloading were stopped, it would kill the MP3 and iPod market. It would make satellite radio a much more attractive alternative. Although the ISP's will catch a lot of grief, it is potentially great news for satellite radio.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

SoundExchange's Motion Sledge-Hammered

Today, Chief Copyright Royalty Judge, James Scott Sledge, Denied SoundExchange's motion for a rehearing '“to reconsider the definition of Gross Revenues set forth at pages 28-31 of the [Initial] Determination; and, in light of recent predictions that approval of the XM/Sirius merger is imminent, reconsider its unwillingness to assess the impact of a merger as part of its [Initial] Determination.”' Seeing that both sides aren't particularly happy with the rate determination, the Copyright Judges must have done a good job.

SoundExchange based its motion on the need "to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice" in regard to the definition of Gross Revenue, and on new evidence with regard to the merger. The judges rejected SoundExchange’s arguments for the same reason it rejected them in the initial determination: insufficient evidence.

SoundExchange claimed that the initial determination excluded numerous categories of revenue that would result in a significantly reduced effective royalty rate. Judge Sledge found that "SoundExchange does not provide a shred of evidence concerning the nature or magnitude of leakage suggested by its own proposed revenue exclusions and how those exclusions might compare to any exclusions found in the agreements that comprise the benchmark marketplace."

SoundExchange was also concerned that a merged entity might structure itself differently to reduce the effective royalty rate. SoundExchange failed to provide any evidence showing how or in what magnitude the rate might be effected by "gaming the system".

The judge hammered SoundExchange in his conclusion stating that, "In the absence of an adequate showing of new evidence, SoundExchange's argument amounts to nothing more than a rehash of the argument that the Judges considered in the Initial Determination."

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Friday, January 04, 2008

WCA Applies for Experimental License to Test WCS Transmissions on Satellite Radio

Today, the Wireless Communication Association (WCA) filed for an experimental license "to conduct a limited experiment into the vulnerability of Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (“SDARS”) subscriber reception devices to overload and out-of-band emissions (“OOBE”) interference caused by mobile consumer devices operating in the 2305-2320 MHz and 2345-2360 MHz Wireless Communications Service (“WCS”) band. The WCA plans to use the licenses on Horizon Wi-Com. The WCA joins Horizon Wi-Com, Comcast WCS, and Sirius in its desire to conduct tests to document the impact of the WCS transmissions on satellite radio. All of these applications are pending. Horizon WiCom and Comcast WCS are members of the WCS Coalition.

The WCA describes itself as "the founding member of the WCS Coalition", the arch nemesis of satellite radio.

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