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By Guy Kewney  |  Posted 2005-01-18 Print this article Print

: How to Tackle the Problem"> But the cellular approach can be tackled in many ways. In a decade, privately operated parasitic networks (as academics used to call them) will be very widespread. Transceivers with solar power will talk to each other and to satellite private stations in their area. Anybody who needs to communicate out of area will either hop from one node to the next or jump into the Internet and out again at the destination. The amateurs are certainly correct in saying that they can reach around the world. They are also right to point out that the law favors their technology. But the problem is simple: When one DX amateur is using a 30 MHz band to talk around the world, nobody else on that signal path can use that frequency.
It may be, ethically, that it is wrong to deprive amateurs of their technology. The question is: Who will take up the cudgels on their behalf?
Jason Brooks says spectrum changes that produce fast, cheap wireless broadband Internet service cant come fast enough. Click here to read more. In the case of the U.K. taxi firm, there was a happy ending. The pirate jammer was hunted down by the regulator, the Office of Communications, which took legal action to close them down. But the same system wont work if youre trying to enforce the rights of someone in Singapore who wants to DX to someone in Alaska. Too many people live in too many countries along the signal path, and no single authority exists to coordinate the detection, prosecution and conviction of wireless trespassers. From one point of view, you could argue that it doesnt matter. You might suggest that the world is changing; you might point out that communications will work better when we have hundreds, or even thousands, of neighborhood meshes, all solar powered, all linked into the Internet backbone. Equally, you might notice that 99 percent of todays wireless engineers learned their trade as radio amateurs, and you might say that the ionosphere should be left there for the scientists of the future. My take: It doesnt matter. We dont have the power to enforce regulations on an unwilling world population. If the spectrum becomes useful to a sufficiently large number of transgressors of existing law, then the existing law will lapse, however many statute books it is written into. Or, alternatively, you could say that if you want the worlds amateur wireless network to function properly, youll have to find something to give the worlds broadband users that makes them happy to stay off the grass. Otherwise, it would be easier to stamp out ivory poaching or cocaine growing than to stop interference. And we all know how successful those efforts have been ... Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing. Read Guy Kewneys other recent columns about trends in mobile and wireless technology.


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