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RF Shorts – Dec. 16, 2010

  • •Glenn Fleishman, in the article Numbers Guy Digs into Wi-Fi Kills Tree Reports discusses Carl Bialik's analysis of the reports that Wi-Fi radiation kills trees. Bialik is the Numbers Guy at the Wall Street Journal. As expected, Fleishman's and Bialik's analysis finds fault with the report from Niek van 't Wout, the green space chief in the Dutch city of Alphen aan den Rijn. First, there was no control group in the study. Second, Bialik notes that Wi-Fi routers were used in the study, not because they were suspected as major culprits—cellular transmitters are more powerful—but because the experimenters weren't allowed to use cellular network transmitters. He says it "…isn't clear why trees would be suffering only recently, while cellphone networks have existed for decades."

    "I was troubled that a single report could ricochet around the world with no real statistically valid or peer-reviewed published information behind it," Fleishman said. "There appear to have been no lab tests or pathology, or an attempt to determine the cause, nor to survey more broadly even in the city. Bialik dug up a published e-mail by van 't Wout in which he speculated in 2007 that electromagnetic fields were responsible before having a single shred of evidence."
  • •Tree killers or not, people want good cell phone service, but they don't want the towers. Matt Baume, writes Busybody Neighbors to Blame for SF's Bad Cell Service on He says, "At last, some answers to the question on every San Franciscan's mind: 'why doesn't my phone get any reception?'" His answer—in short—is interference. But not the cellular kind—it's interference from neighbors. The latest salvo in the battle occurred on Potrero Hill. Wireless provider Clearwire wanted to install a few basketball-sized antennas on an existing structure in the park. Neighbors found out about the plans, and started making nervous noises about the health and safety of the equipment." Check out Baume's article for a refreshing discussion of the topic.
  • •Washington Post technology columnist Rob Pegoraro relates his experiences watching ATSC Mobile DTV in Washington D.C. in the article Mobile DTV gets up to speed. There is a video on the page showing reception. Among his comments, "As you can see in the video, MDTV [Mobile DTV] really does work, even on a Metro train clocking 60 miles an hour above ground on the Orange Line. This reopens some usage scenarios that had been closed in the digital transition, such as watching the news on the ride home or handing a portable set to the kids in the back seat."
  • •Reinhardt Krause says Verizon and DirecTV are "quietly testing an in-home broadband and entertainment service near Erie, PA that could roll the competition" in his article Verizon And DirecTV Test 4G Wireless In A Product Bundle in Investor's Business Daily. I found this statement interesting: "A rooftop radio antenna connects to Verizon's LTE network." Could we find the TV antenna being replaced with the LTE wireless Internet antenna? Since LTE uses frequencies that used to be used for TV, if the coax downlead is in good condition perhaps the antenna wouldn't need to be replaced.