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CTIA's Love/Hate Relationships with Both SF and Unlicensed

We have written several times about CTIA’s love/hate relationship with unlicensed spectrum and about its generally negative view towards San Francisco - ruling it off limits for any future CTIA meeting and suing it over the city’s attempt to make sure customers have basic information about cell phone safety - information similar to that now available on the website of the Swiss EPA and similar to the text that CTIA’s French counterpart supplies for inclusion with every new cellphone and SIM sold in France.

So imagine your blogger’s surprise when he found this paid content on the Washington Post website:


CTIA’s ever quotable John Walls even says

San Francisco’s SF Park initiative uses wireless sensors in city parking spaces and garages to inform city drivers where they can park, thereby reducing congestion, saving time, and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

Nice words from CTIA about SF!!! Well it certainly is a wireless system and it certainly is in San Francisco, but as we noticed in an April post on CTIA’s boasting about a “wireless” system for farmers, it appears that unlicensed is a key part of the system.

The Walls content in thePost is dated in March, the video it refers to was uploaded on February 22, 2013. The system appears to use unlicensed spectrum for key links although the link to the user’s smartphone is clearly a CMRS spectrum link. The system basically used buried sensors shown at left to detect the presence of a car in parking spaces. These sensors form part of a “system … organized so that every sensor can connect to at least two relays via low-power radio networks. If a connection ever fails, sensors automatically seek out another.” The manufacturer, formerly called StreetSmart, but now called Fybr, has only one FCC equipment authorization for a Part 15 900 MHz spread spectrum transmitter that appears to be an interface for parking meters that is no longer marketed. The buried sensor may be made by and authorized under a different firm’s FCCID. But I am almost certain from the description that it is also a Part 15 unlicensed system, just like the SmartCrop agricultural field sensing system that CTIA’s previous video crowed about.

In reality unlicensed and cellular systems have a real synergy. But CTIA endlessly seems to oppose any new unlicensed spectrum and appears to have been the force behind the ill fated “unlicensed auction” House bill that was drafted by a former CTIA staffer.
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