Several locally-based companies have SMR licenses that they got 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. 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.
I talked to the company with the shortest commute for a summer job. I told them what I can do and I even brought an HTX-202 with intermittent transmit to test on his service monitor. Holy cow, an IFR COM-120B. 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 think they see someone with a fresh face and they just assume trainee. Or maybe he thinks geek since I talk about computers, and they have really crappy computers and looks like a manual filing system. 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 frequencies Motorola and Nextel really want.