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A New Record for Terahertz Transmission

Engineers achieve amazing data rates in a once-inaccessible band

3 min read
A New Record for Terahertz Transmission
Illustration: Emily Cooper

The problem with the radio spectrum between 3 and 3000 megahertz is that it’s crowded. Television, radio, mobile phones, Bluetooth, GPS, two-way communication devices, and Wi-Fi all operate in this high- to ultrahigh-frequency range. So with nowhere to go but up, researchers have been working for decades to utilize the 3- to 3000-gigahertz span. In October, a team reported a hopeful sign—a record 100-gigabit-per-second wireless data transmission.

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How the FCC Settles Radio-Spectrum Turf Wars

Remember the 5G-airport controversy? Here’s how such disputes play out

11 min read
This photo shows a man in the basket of a cherry picker working on an antenna as an airliner passes overhead.

The airline and cellular-phone industries have been at loggerheads over the possibility that 5G transmissions from antennas such as this one, located at Los Angeles International Airport, could interfere with the radar altimeters used in aircraft.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images
Blue

You’ve no doubt seen the scary headlines: Will 5G Cause Planes to Crash? They appeared late last year, after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration warned that new 5G services from AT&T and Verizon might interfere with the radar altimeters that airplane pilots rely on to land safely. Not true, said AT&T and Verizon, with the backing of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which had authorized 5G. The altimeters are safe, they maintained. Air travelers didn’t know what to believe.

Another recent FCC decision had also created a controversy about public safety: okaying Wi-Fi devices in a 6-gigahertz frequency band long used by point-to-point microwave systems to carry safety-critical data. The microwave operators predicted that the Wi-Fi devices would disrupt their systems; the Wi-Fi interests insisted they would not. (As an attorney, I represented a microwave-industry group in the ensuing legal dispute.)

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