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Unorthodox links to the internet Signalling dissent
Economist ^ | March 25 2011

Posted on 03/25/2011 11:22:57 AM PDT by swarthyguy

WITH a tin can, some copper wire and a few dollars’ worth of nuts, bolts and other hardware, a do-it-yourselfer can build a makeshift directional antenna. A mobile phone, souped-up with such an antenna, can talk to a network tower that is dozens of kilometres beyond its normal range (about 5km, or 3 miles). As Gregory Rehm, the author of an online assembly guide for such things, puts it, homemade antennae are “as cool as the other side of the pillow on a hot night”. Of late, however, such antennae have proved much more than simply cool.

According to Jeff Moss, a communications adviser to America’s Department of Homeland Security, their existence has recently been valuable to the operation of several groups of revolutionaries in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere. To get round government shutdowns of internet and mobile-phone networks, resourceful dissidents have used such makeshift antennae to link their computers and handsets to more orthodox transmission equipment in neighbouring countries.

Technologies that transmit data under the noses of repressive authorities in this way are spreading like wildfire among pro-democracy groups, says Mr Moss. For example, after Egypt switched off its internet in January some activists brought laptops to places like Tahrir Square in Cairo to collect, via short-range wireless links, demonstrators’ video recordings and other electronic messages. These activists then broadcast the material to the outside world using range-extending antennae.

According to Bobby Soriano, an instructor at the Philippine branch of Tactical Tech, a British organisation that teaches communication techniques to dissidents in five countries, such antennae can even foil government eavesdropping and jamming efforts. Directional antennae, unlike the omnidirectional sort, transmit on a narrow beam. This makes it hard for eavesdroppers to notice a signal is there.

Citizens banned?

Another way of confounding the authorities is to build portable FM radio stations. One broadcasting expert, who prefers not to be named but is currently based in Europe, is helping to develop a dozen such “backpack” radio stations for anti-government protesters in his native land in the Arabian peninsula. Though these stations have a range of only a few kilometres, that is enough for the leaders of a protest to use them to co-ordinate their followers. The stations’ operators act as clearing houses for text messages, reading important ones over the air for everyone to hear.

Conventional radio of this sort cannot, unfortunately, transmit video or web pages. But a group called Access, based in New York, is trying to overcome that. To help democracy movements in the Middle East and North Africa get online, it is equipping a network of ham-radio operators with special modems that convert digital computer data into analogue radio signals that their equipment can cope with. These signals are then broadcast from operator to operator until they reach a network member in an area where the internet functions. This operator reconverts the signal into computer-readable data and then e-mails or posts the information online.

Satellites provide yet another way of getting online, though they are expensive to connect to. It is, however, beyond the authorities in most places to shut down a satellite operated by a foreign company or country. The best they can do is try to locate live satellite links using radiation-detection kit similar to that supposedly employed in Britain to seek out unlicensed televisions. The result is a game of cat and mouse between the authorities and satellite-using dissidents. Tactical Tech, for example, has trained dissidents in five countries to rig satellite dishes to computers in order to get online. It advises some users to log on only for short sessions, and to do so from a moving vehicle.

Such dishes can also be repurposed for long-range internet connections that do not involve satellites. Yahel Ben-David, an electrical engineer at the University of California, Berkeley, who has designed secret cross-border links to the internet for people in several countries, does so by adding standard USB dongles designed for home Wi-Fi networks. Thus equipped, two properly aligned dishes as much as 100km apart can transmit enough data to carry high quality video. Moreover, the beam is so tightly focused that equipment a mere dozen metres away from its line would struggle to detect it.

Creative ideas for circumventing cyber-attacks even extend to the redesign of apparently innocent domestic equipment. Kenneth Geers, an American naval-intelligence analyst at a NATO cyberwar unit in Tallinn, Estonia, describes a curious microwave oven. Though still able to cook food, its microwaves (essentially, short radiowaves) are modulated to encode information as though it were a normal radio transmitter. Thus, things turn full circle, for the original microwave oven was based on the magnetron from a military radar. From conflict to domesticity to conflict, then, in a mere six decades.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Government
KEYWORDS: arab; communication; communications; dissent; labia; libya; swarthyguy
Reading between the lines on this article, seems we have kicked over the hornets nest on our own, and poked assorted beehives as well.

Looks like Obama really did set things in motion with what seems to have been a well managed covert campaign organized by various entities and using social networking and communication technologies.

1 posted on 03/25/2011 11:23:01 AM PDT by swarthyguy
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To: swarthyguy
who has designed secret cross-border links to the internet for people in several countries, does so by adding standard USB dongles designed for home Wi-Fi networks. Thus equipped, two properly aligned dishes as much as 100km apart can transmit enough data to carry high quality video. Moreover, the beam is so tightly focused that equipment a mere dozen metres away from its line would struggle to detect it.

Sure. The dish illumination won't be optimal using that USB dongle as a feed, but so what? It allows you to do something you could never do with the USB dongle alone.

2 posted on 03/25/2011 11:32:23 AM PDT by backwoods-engineer (Any politician who holds that the state accords rights is an oathbreaker and an "enemy... domestic.")
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To: swarthyguy
Marking for future reference. We might need this here before long.
3 posted on 03/25/2011 11:34:32 AM PDT by KarlInOhio (Washington is finally rid of the Kennedies. Free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last.)
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To: backwoods-engineer

100km isn’t a stretch? 62 miles?


4 posted on 03/25/2011 11:36:50 AM PDT by listenhillary (Social Justice is the epitome of injustice.)
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To: backwoods-engineer
It allows you to do something you could never do with the USB dongle alone.

That sounds just, ... , illicit

5 posted on 03/25/2011 11:41:15 AM PDT by frithguild (The Democrat Party Brand - Big Government protecting Entrenched Interests from Competition)
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To: swarthyguy
Looks like Obama really did set things in motion with what seems to have been a well managed covert campaign organized by various entities and using social networking and communication technologies.

Obozo is subversive of what is traditional Western thought and supportive of Marxist dictators.

None of what is in the article is high tech. We (not the government but citizens) helped the Iranian dissidents during the Iran Election phase of Twitter, and the Hondurans during their election crisis. Haystack was a brainchild of citizens not the government, but it was eventually used to track down the dissidents, when the Mullah's employed European tech companies for help.

There is nothing about Obozo that helps those wanting freedom. He is only supporting our destruction and the interest of foreign powers who hate us for our personal freedoms. Commies never create anything, only lie, steal and destroy things others create.

6 posted on 03/25/2011 11:42:35 AM PDT by Texas Fossil (Government, even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one)
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To: swarthyguy

A high gain directional antenna on a CDMA phone
would extend battery life since the transmitter
would not have to run at as high a power level as
with an omnidirectional antenna. Good for fixed
operation.


7 posted on 03/25/2011 11:44:22 AM PDT by Myrddin
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To: listenhillary

As long as you can overcome the curvature of the Earth, it can be done.


8 posted on 03/25/2011 11:48:30 AM PDT by WakeUpAndVote
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To: swarthyguy
There's more going on in the domestic telecom industry than what most people realize. If you think that things like this haven't been thought through and counters to it developed, at least at the theory level, then you're fooling yourself. I won't go much farther into it than what I've already said, but this much I can and will say. I have, in my time, worked with some extremely intelligent communications engineers and this work around, as well as it's counter, have been well known and established since the very earliest days of data transmission.

If the data is getting through, it's because someone wants it to get through.

9 posted on 03/25/2011 11:57:34 AM PDT by paladin1_dcs
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To: swarthyguy

Good information. Thank you very much.


10 posted on 03/25/2011 11:57:43 AM PDT by Lurker (The avalanche has begun. The pebbles no longer have a vote.)
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To: paladin1_dcs

> I won’t go much farther into it than what I’ve already said

Damn. I hate that.

Say it, man, what’s to be afraid of.

We’re all transparent these days.


11 posted on 03/25/2011 12:08:14 PM PDT by swarthyguy (KIDS! Deficit, Debt,Taxes! Pfft Lookit the bright side of our legacy -America is almost SmokFrei!)
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To: paladin1_dcs

What is wrong with CW and Morse code??


12 posted on 03/25/2011 12:10:38 PM PDT by Citizen Tom Paine (An old sailor sends)
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To: Texas Fossil

>None of what is in the article is high tech

Not the point.

The point being that what we saw as spontaneous demos in the Arab world may well have been begun by the USA as a matter of policy using some of the tools and techniques this author describes.

That we wittingly and with purpose, deepsixed our allies like Mubarak and perhaps even others in Araby.

Looks to me the US policy elites decided to roll the dice, get rid of the old guard, and take their chances with the popular majority even though it may mean allowing islamists into the rulings circles of places like Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and even Bahrain and Yemen.


13 posted on 03/25/2011 12:12:55 PM PDT by swarthyguy (KIDS! Deficit, Debt,Taxes! Pfft Lookit the bright side of our legacy -America is almost SmokFrei!)
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To: swarthyguy

Not so much afraid as aware of my NDA. I, literally, can’t speak about such things as they’re proprietary.


14 posted on 03/25/2011 12:13:04 PM PDT by paladin1_dcs
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To: Citizen Tom Paine

It can be tracked easily and surreptitiously , placed under scrutiny almost at will and jammed with the proper kit. Not bad it you’re not trying to hide, but if stealth or privacy is high on your priority list, don’t go that route.


15 posted on 03/25/2011 12:15:39 PM PDT by paladin1_dcs
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To: paladin1_dcs

OK, OK, I was kiddin’ or trying to provoke you into dropping some juicy tidbits. Frankly, with an active imagination and a slightly paranoid and cynical nature, I could hypothesise - well I did say we’re all transparent now.

Cheers. But then you probably know what beer I’m imbibing anyway :>>


16 posted on 03/25/2011 12:16:20 PM PDT by swarthyguy (KIDS! Deficit, Debt,Taxes! Pfft Lookit the bright side of our legacy -America is almost SmokFrei!)
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To: Lurker

You’re welcome. Some articles compel one to share.

What struck me about his was the organized method to promote dissent. Outfits like the ones mentioned don’t just operate in a vacuum. And those cute techie tricks.

Hence, my conclusion that the USA has embarked on a significantly new policy in the Muddled East, igniting the repressed dissent of the region.


17 posted on 03/25/2011 12:19:50 PM PDT by swarthyguy (KIDS! Deficit, Debt,Taxes! Pfft Lookit the bright side of our legacy -America is almost SmokFrei!)
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To: swarthyguy
LOL, I'm glad you understand. I thought you were kidding, but wasn't sure and wanted to make certain that you understood that I wasn't just blowing smoke for fun.

If you want a real fun thought exercise, think on this. Unlike a mechanical switch, cell phones are activated by an electrical signal. While most of the time that signal comes from the keypad, it's doesn't have to be that way all of the time.

18 posted on 03/25/2011 12:21:33 PM PDT by paladin1_dcs
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To: paladin1_dcs

I’ve thrown this out at parties to get a rise out of people.

Techies can turn on fones surreptiously without the device signaling anything and/or an active one can be used as a mike without the knowledge of the owner/operator of the fone.

Gasps of disbelief, and you’re a nut follow.

Fine, a nut, but doesn’t mean I’m incorrect.


19 posted on 03/25/2011 12:27:13 PM PDT by swarthyguy (KIDS! Deficit, Debt,Taxes! Pfft Lookit the bright side of our legacy -America is almost SmokFrei!)
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To: Citizen Tom Paine

Works fine, a bit slow, and you may be a sitting duck, depending on how clever the opposition is.

Change with the times and technology.

Caddis the Elder


20 posted on 03/25/2011 12:29:47 PM PDT by palmerizedCaddis
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To: Citizen Tom Paine
What is wrong with CW and Morse code??

Extremely low bandwidth. In this media-driven world, a picture is worth a thousand million words. One picture can foment a war, or end one. There is a place for low-bandwidth communications, but CW and Morse and PSK31 are never going to be able to send pictures.

21 posted on 03/25/2011 12:30:05 PM PDT by backwoods-engineer (Any politician who holds that the state accords rights is an oathbreaker and an "enemy... domestic.")
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To: swarthyguy
*ding ding ding*

We have a winner ladies and gentlemen!

Never, never, never say anything around a cell that you wouldn't want someone else to hear. Ever.

22 posted on 03/25/2011 12:30:27 PM PDT by paladin1_dcs
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To: palmerizedCaddis
May be a sitting duck?

Tech from the 60's could key in on CW, much less what they can do today. I'd only use CW if I didn't worry about being listened too.

23 posted on 03/25/2011 12:34:58 PM PDT by paladin1_dcs
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To: ShadowAce

/mark


24 posted on 03/25/2011 12:35:36 PM PDT by KoRn (Department of Homeland Security, Certified - "Right Wing Extremist")
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To: rdb3; Calvinist_Dark_Lord; GodGunsandGuts; CyberCowboy777; Salo; Bobsat; JosephW; ...

25 posted on 03/25/2011 1:09:15 PM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: swarthyguy
US policy elites

They are TRAITORS to the heritage of this nation. Those "elites" in both Parties. They had best tread lightly now, the U.S. Eagle has awakened from her slumber and does not like what she sees. The Dems are controlled by the Commies and the elitist Pubbies are largely "blind" Globalists. Screw them both.

26 posted on 03/25/2011 1:10:42 PM PDT by Texas Fossil (Government, even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one)
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To: Citizen Tom Paine

Too few good OP’s.

Too slow, but reliable.


27 posted on 03/25/2011 1:12:29 PM PDT by Texas Fossil (Government, even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one)
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To: KarlInOhio

Yep.

Mark.


28 posted on 03/25/2011 1:20:00 PM PDT by ratsreek
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To: swarthyguy

Que bono?

The muzzies.

Who loses?

Everyone else on earth.


29 posted on 03/25/2011 1:24:24 PM PDT by ratsreek
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To: swarthyguy

You’re right - the point is the destruction of Israel and the United States.


30 posted on 03/25/2011 1:55:42 PM PDT by SatinDoll (NO FOREIGN NATIONALS AS OUR PRESIDENT!)
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To: diji

for later USB dongle alone


31 posted on 03/25/2011 1:56:20 PM PDT by diji (IF YOU DON'T STAND BEHIND OUR TROOPS, PLEASE, FEEL FREE TO STAND IN FRONT OF THEM !)
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To: diji

for later USB dongle alone


32 posted on 03/25/2011 2:14:56 PM PDT by diji (IF YOU DON'T STAND BEHIND OUR TROOPS, PLEASE, FEEL FREE TO STAND IN FRONT OF THEM !)
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To: ratsreek

Ultimately, the islamists are going to lose out to the modern world. Their fundamentalist islam philosophy can only compete where they can enforce it by violence. It isn’t strong enough to stand on its own.

Free communication ultimately means the free flow of ideas. That ultimately means islamofascism will lose out, just as communism has lost out.


33 posted on 03/25/2011 2:22:44 PM PDT by Jeff Winston
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To: backwoods-engineer

Heh. Your post brought to mind HST’s ‘mojo wire’ ...


34 posted on 03/25/2011 2:36:50 PM PDT by StAnDeliver ("Are you better off than you were four years ago...")
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To: Jeff Winston

Communism has lost out? Who knew? China is doing well, and communism also has more than a toehold in the greatest nation ever known to mankind, to wit: the U.S.. Sure, the Soviets crashed and burned, but they are back with the new, improved version that incorporates nascent capitalism as a feeder line. They gave the people jeans, cell phones, DVD players and pizza so they’d chill and let the old guard continue on as they did before. Look at their attitude toward the West. Look at their elections. Nothing has changed in 80 years. The same leaders rule until they drop dead. NK doesn’t practice true communism at all - what they have is beyond that.

As for Islam, muzzie membership is growing. Christianity is shrinking, particularly in the West. The West foolishly subjects itself to the economic and physical brutalities of that culture.

I really don’t know what you’re talking about, unless you’re just trying to make yourself feel better.

IMHO, we are in some seriously deep shit on all fronts - economic, cultural, political, you name it.


35 posted on 03/25/2011 3:00:57 PM PDT by ratsreek
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To: swarthyguy

CANTENNA

36 posted on 03/25/2011 3:43:31 PM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: backwoods-engineer; swarthyguy
Sure. The dish illumination won't be optimal using that USB dongle as a feed, but so what? It allows you to do something you could never do with the USB dongle alone.

This is a really interesting technology to me... For the purpose of hooking up hillbillies to the wire. A low cost line-of-sight operation like this, that could propagate a network to a bunch of families, till one got to a house with a dsl connection would be a really cool thing... If a guy could use a pci device rather than USB, it would eliminate a bunch of layers... I wonder if a router could be used in the same fashion....

37 posted on 03/25/2011 3:49:37 PM PDT by roamer_1 (Globalism is just Socialism in a business suit.)
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To: martin_fierro
kinda like a linear amplifier without burning up everything in it's immediate path...
38 posted on 03/25/2011 3:51:22 PM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: listenhillary

The distance record for WiFi using directional antennas is 237+ miles, last I looked, by a team in South America. I think the Swedes bested that record, but I recall they used an amplifier and they bounced their signals off a balloon.

The parties in the middle east haven’t discovered anything new. Long-range UHF propagation is stuff that US & UK radio amateurs have known about for decades. The #1 thing that you need is a very good antenna, and the more directional the better. You need low-noise input amplifiers at the receiving end and you need to get the antennas aimed properly.

I won’t bore you with the records set by hams using the moon as a signal reflector. Let’s just say that with some proper antenna design and a 50+ watt amplifier, you could bounce WiFi signals off the moon to someone clear on the other side of the earth. The higher level protocols might go nuts with the delay on packet retransmissions, but the radio part of the issue would be entirely feasible.


39 posted on 03/25/2011 6:21:35 PM PDT by NVDave
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To: Jeff Winston

You think so?

How many guys in the western world are sick and tired of listening to the daily screed and bilge wash from feminists?

And how many of them one day might wake up and say “Hmmm. All I have to do is bang my head on the ground five times a day, and I will never again have to listen to another peep out of any woman... is banging my head on the carpet five times a day better or worse than listening to all her crap, day after day?”

The people who ultimately had better worry about salafism aren’t men. It is western women. Men come out with a pretty sweet deal in an Islamist society.


40 posted on 03/25/2011 6:25:33 PM PDT by NVDave
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To: paladin1_dcs
While most of the time that signal comes from the keypad, it doesn't have to be that way all of the time.

Anyone possessing a functional cell phone has approximately zero security. Faraday cage might marginally improve that assessment.

There are ways to avoid giving away a transmitter. Not foolproof.

41 posted on 03/25/2011 10:06:45 PM PDT by bIlluminati (Don't just hope for change, work for change in 2011-2012.)
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To: Jeff Winston
Their fundamentalist islam philosophy can only compete where they can enforce it by violence.

The Romans believed that of the barbarians. They were right until the barbarians were inside the gates. The key to winning as the barbarians is a proper understanding of asymmetry.

42 posted on 03/25/2011 10:15:45 PM PDT by bIlluminati (Don't just hope for change, work for change in 2011-2012.)
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To: Myrddin
A high gain directional antenna on a CDMA phone would extend battery life since the transmitter would not have to run at as high a power level as with an omnidirectional antenna. Good for fixed operation.

Yes, that has been my experience, too.

Before that, I could hit a tower 40 miles away with an analog bag phone and a directional antenna, and did so often, working on oil rigs.

Digital was a pain because it was designed to work where there are sidewalks (close in), and I had to get a booster for the CDMA phone, adapters and hook that to the antenna. Without it the battery would die in no time, looking for signal.

The results were seldom as good as with the analog phone--more dropped calls or 'no service' moments, even if connections had less static.

Now AT&T has bought out my carrier and I have to change phones (GSM, now) and equipment yet again--and have it work the first time.

43 posted on 03/25/2011 10:32:42 PM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing.)
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To: swarthyguy
Looks to me the US policy elites decided to roll the dice, get rid of the old guard, and take their chances with the popular majority...

From the cheapseats, it looks like the policy elited defected to the Islamists.

44 posted on 03/25/2011 10:37:03 PM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing.)
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To: Smokin' Joe
CDMA works by having the tower send control information to the phone to ensure that each handset produces the same RF field strength at the receiving antenna. If you're a long distance from the tower or inside a building that attenuates the signal, the phone transmitter has to be run at a higher power level to achieve the expected strength at the tower. The rough value is set using the GPS location of the tower and the calculated GPS location of the handset. That coarse setting is then fine tuned based on the observed RF level arriving. A high gain antenna helps by directing the RF to the tower and reducing the amount of power required to achieve the required RF field strength.

TDMA/GSM doesn't have that same equal field strength constraint. It isn't trying to pick out a signal by correlation of a pseudo-random number stream unique to the handset. It does have other impairments. The stream is time sensitive and subject to Rayleigh fading when reflected multi-path signals mixed 180 degrees out of phase and cause signal dropout. Multipath actually helps CDMA by comparison.The multiple correlators expect out of phase arrival and leverage it as the PN streams are correlated and summed. I haven't looked at how LTE is implemented, but the move to 700 MHz should significantly improve penetration of signals into buildings.

45 posted on 03/25/2011 11:21:41 PM PDT by Myrddin
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To: Myrddin
We're being shifted from CDMA to GSM phones at the end of the month. 850 and 1900 Mhz, according to what they are licensed to use. How will that affect reception at a distance from the towers?

If it is too negative, I may have to change carriers.

46 posted on 03/26/2011 3:24:30 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing.)
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To: ShadowAce

Thanks for the ping


47 posted on 03/26/2011 8:13:33 AM PDT by GOPJ (http://hisz.rsoe.hu/alertmap/index2.php - It's only uncivil when someone on the right does it.- Laz)
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To: swarthyguy
Another way of confounding the authorities is to build portable FM radio stations. One broadcasting expert, who prefers not to be named but is currently based in Europe, is helping to develop a dozen such “backpack” radio stations for anti-government protesters ...

Resistance to skynet starts in an unlikely place...

48 posted on 03/26/2011 8:16:10 AM PDT by GOPJ (http://hisz.rsoe.hu/alertmap/index2.php - It's only uncivil when someone on the right does it.- Laz)
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To: martin_fierro

Thanks. Love it. The TechnoKB of FR is wonderful


49 posted on 03/30/2011 1:05:10 PM PDT by swarthyguy (KIDS! Deficit, Debt,Taxes! Pfft Lookit the bright side of our legacy -America is almost SmokFrei!)
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