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Wi-Fi Banned From Political Conventions


Wi-Fi has been banned from the floor of the upcoming Democratic and Republican national conventions this summer because it interferes with wireless broadcast TV systems. Those who need Internet access at the conventions--and in this day of electronic politics, that's a lot of people--will have to call on Verizon, the official telecommunications provider for both events, for an Ethernet drop at about $1,000 a pop.

Technically, though, it's only 2.4-GHz 802.11b and 802.11g that interfere with ENG (Electronic News Gathering) systems, which fall under Part 74 of the Federal Communications Commission rules. This is yet another example of why WLAN developers should include support for 5-GHz 802.11a in their system designs. It may be only temporary, but chipmaker Atheros was right when it said the air is clearer at 5 GHz. And there's a lot more data capacity in that range as well.

Capacity is a big concern with wireless networks. As journalists covering the conventions look for alternate means of Internet access, they might consider cellular data systems like CDMA (Code-Division Multiple Access) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service). Slap a Sierra Wireless card in your notebook and you're connected, albeit at only 10 percent the speed of Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, these cellular data systems weren't designed to support the kind of network density seen at most political conventions.