Europe and US at impasse over 5GHz WLans

European delegates to the World Radiocommunications Conference in Geneva still want to restrict use of a portion of the 5GHz...

European delegates to the World Radiocommunications Conference in Geneva still want to restrict use of a portion of the 5GHz frequency band targeted for global wireless Lan use to indoor use only.

The US wants to allow both indoor and outdoor use of that band.

Janice Obuchowski, head of the US delegation, said European delegates want to restrict use of the 5250MHz to 5350MHz portion of the 5GHz band for indoor use only to prevent interference with earth-sensing satellite systems.

The WRC committee dealing with an operation in the 5GHz band plans to meet this weekend to try to resolve the standoff.

If it cannot the WRC might decide to take a regional approach, Obuchowski said, with the US, which already permits outdoor use, continuing to do so while Europe restricts it to indoor use only.

She said there are still "substantial differences" between the two sides. The US has no plans to change its position, Obuchowski said. "There's no going back."

Craig Mathias, an analyst at Farpoint Group, said, "While it would be nice to have the same standard around the world, this is no big deal. There will continue to be differences on international spectrum allocations. This is politics, not technology."

Mathias said that since WLan equipment is becoming smarter, users should still be able to travel the globe with a 5GHz WLan card and use it to connect, despite the slightly different rules in different countries.

Broadband for air passengers
Meanwhile efforts to allocate frequency for a satellite-delivered broadband service for airline passengers in the 14GHz to 14.5GHz band has moved along "rather neatly", Obuchowski said. "We see a successful conclusion for that service."

The service, marketed by Boeing as Connexion, is running under an experimental licence.

In a related development, Boeing said it had completed a three-month demonstration of the service with British Airways on selected flights between New York and London that showed passengers would pay for such a service.

"This clearly was not a technical demonstration of the Connexion by Boeing service, but a validation of how passengers might use the service and their willingness to pay for in-flight connectivity," said Kevin George, senior manager of marketing brands at BA.

The US also resolved European concerns about its plans to use higher power levels in its next generation of Global Positioning System navigation satellites, Obuchowski said.

Bob Brewin writes for Computerworld

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