Working in wireless SMR 800/900MHz growth field.

Across the United States, companies acquired SMR licenses the old fashioned way: fill out the paper form, get coordinated frequencies after paying the licensing fee. The FCC’s Auction 7 underway is part of an exciting new trend in how the US is treating seemingly old-fashioned two-way radio spectrum. I’m not saying it’s going to be another billion-dollar PCS 1900 MHz auction, particularly with the strong DoJ pushback last year in the Nextel-Motorola antitrust case. Nor echos of the 1993 $1.8 billion dollar Motorola spectrum sell to Nextel. But it does hint that legacy two-way might get squeezed around just like television broadcasters are going to with high definition. It seems like it’s never going to happen but just the threat of someday standard televisions becoming obsolete is making people slow their television purchases (not to mention people buying computers).

Although bag phone are du jour these days for the middle class, the digital revolution will hit here soon enough too, reducing the heavy SNR requirements on today’s analog FM AMPS cellular systems. This means handheld phones will become more than a curiosity for Manhattan. If nothing else the ramming of digital by Nextel coming at 800 MHz and Sprint at 1900 MHz will force the legacy 850 MHz carriers to catch up. AMPS will lose the capacity war as cell phones become more than a luxury.

Repair without fancy test equipment

Using a diode as an RF voltage probe has its limitations. I wanted to get the feel of real professional radio gear. I brought a Realistic HTX-202 with intermittent transmit to test on an IFR COM-120B service monitor. I was really blown away by how precisely I could test modulation and sensitivity. I have had to use so many relative measurements. To have a calibrated standard instrument is an amazing accelerator. I diagnosed it on-site and desoldered the bad transistor to order a new one.

I did open a conversation about the utilization level of his SMR channels. I noticed there could be an improvement in the range of his system, so that he could load the system more heavily. He has the good high band > 860 MHz frequencies Motorola and Nextel really want.

Creating new side opportunities

Even in the Internet age, many companies use paper filing systems. I rarely even see Windows 95 in businesses, despite it’s been out for over half a year. I cold call by dropping into businesses to offer my help in transitioning from Windows 3.11 (or DOS) to Windows 95.