RF Shorts for Jan. 5, 2015

A review of RF-related news during the past week
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Aereo Gets OK to Auction Assets After Reaching Agreement With Broadcasters

Several news outlets covered the court decision allowing Aereo to auction its assets. The Reuters.com article Court allows Aereo to auction TV streaming technology assets has the most complete coverage.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan ruled Aereo could sell its assets. Broadcasters had opposed sale of Aereo assets but were able to reach an agreement to allow the auction. The Reuters article said that under the agreement, broadcasters—including CBS Corp, NBC, ABC and Fox—will be allowed to attend the auction of the assets and get a weekly update on the status of the sale process.

The key part of Aereo's technology was a mini-fridge-size box containing thousands of small antennas, which Aereo claimed made them different from other MVPDs that use one big antenna to pick up a station's signal and distribute it. I doubt there will be much interest in that, since it is far simpler to use one antenna. The rest of the equipment appears to be conventional servers used to transcode the MPEG-2 content from broadcasters to MPEG-4 and format it for recording (the PVR function) and streaming on-line.

The case number is 14-13200 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York.

Microsoft CEO Urges Indian Telecom Minister to Allow TV-band White Space Devices in Villages

Anandita Singh Mankotia reports on IndiaTimes.com that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella urges Ravi Shankar Prasad to allow White-Fi technology to provide Internet in villages. He said Nadella urged telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to allow Microsoft to pilot its “White-Fi” technology to provide Internet connectivity in remote villages in the country at a meeting the capital.

Arnab Mitra had a more detailed description of Microsoft's white space plans for India in the Hindustan Times article Microsoft to use ‘white space’ tech for free internet in India. In that article, Bhaskar Pramanik, chairman of Microsoft India, explained, “Wi-Fi has a range of only about 100 meters, whereas the 200-300 MHz spectrum band available in the white space can reach up to 10 km. This spectrum belongs mainly to Doordarshan and the government and is not used at all. We have sought clearance for a pilot project in two districts.”

Mitra writes, “If the pilots are successful, the project can be quickly rolled out across the country and could give a huge boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India initiative, which proposes to use technology to deliver governance to every citizen of India, even in remote areas.”