Jamie's Blog

Lessons from a life of startups, coding, countryside, and kids

Browsing the airwaves

For everyone who thinks about,talks about or develops wireless things, there’s a great spectrum poster available from the New America Foundation (thanks, Boing Boing).

It’s well presented and graphically shows tons of information in addition to further information of the reverse and in a seperate booklet (all downloadable as PDF). I think Edward Tufte would be proud of the presentation - similar in style to many Wired pieces.

Anyway, the poster also shows the value of each part of the spectrum. Naturally, the long frequency stuff is pretty valuable since it’ll travel long distances, penetrate walls, weather etc. Pretty useful stuff for cell phones, TVs, radio stations etc. Why is the >50GHz band considered to be as valuable as the scrubland? 50GHz+ will only travel relatively short distances and not through solid objects so it does seem pretty useless. But, it seems extremely useful for passing information between the people you meet on the street, determining location, or indeed any application where you’d like to determine whether a source is “near” you. For example, there would be no point in using 802.11 WiFi to collect information from your household appliances as it could just as easily be talking to the house across the street.

There is definately some value in having a radio technology with a short (~10m), line-of-sight range which can be used to imply locality. First person to mention Bluetooth gets a slap.