30 Years of the Digest ... founded August 21, 1981
The Telecom Digest for December 29, 2011
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Date: Wed, 28 Dec 2011 16:18:26 +1100 From: David Clayton <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Mexican cartels build radio network for military precision Message-ID: <email@example.com> Mexican cartels build radio network for military precision December 28, 2011 When convoys of soldiers or federal police move through the scrubland of northern Mexico, the Zetas drug cartel knows they are coming. The alert goes out from a taxi driver or a street vendor, equipped with a high-end handheld radio and paid to work as a lookout known as a "halcon," or hawk. The radio signal travels deep into the arid countryside, hours by foot from the nearest road. There, the 2-meter-tall dark-green branches of the rockrose bush conceal a radio tower painted to match. A cable buried in the dirt draws power from a solar panel. [Moderator snip] Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/technology/technology-news/mexican-cartels-build-radio-network-for-military-precision-20111228-1pbyx.html#ixzz1hnsVGWGG ***** Moderator's Note ***** Ham radio operators in the U.S. and Mexico have been constructing and using repeaters since the 1970's. This is the kind of "fluff" piece that reporters come up with when they have a hangover and feel like phoning it in. Instead of trying to make a radio repeater seem like a whiz-bang achievement, AP's reporters would get a lot more respect if they followed the trails of the drugs and the money that paid for the radios: the reason they choose not to is left as an exercise for the reader. Bill Horne Moderator
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 2011 19:58:26 +0000 (UTC) From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Garrett Wollman) To: email@example.com. Subject: Re: Mexican cartels build radio network for military precision Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> In article <email@example.com>, David Clayton <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: >Instead of trying to make a radio repeater seem like a whiz-bang >achievement, AP's reporters would get a lot more respect if they >followed the trails of the drugs and the money that paid for the >radios: the reason they choose not to is left as an exercise for the >reader. The people who do so have a disturbing tendency to wind up dead. No news organization asks that of its reporters. -GAWollman -- Garrett A. Wollman | What intellectual phenomenon can be older, or more oft email@example.com| repeated, than the story of a large research program Opinions not shared by| that impaled itself upon a false central assumption my employers. | accepted by all practitioners? - S.J. Gould, 1993 ***** Moderator's Note ***** If reporters are afraid that covering a story risks their lives, then let them write that: at least they won't be part of the pretense that the justice system is working. Any physician will tell you that there is, has always been, and always will be a certain percentage of people who need alkaloids. Our tight-assed Pilgrim forefathers are holding on to our morals by their bony skeletal fingers, and in the process, providing aid and comfort to a vast criminal network that is eating away at ordinary people's respect for the law and for the lawmakers. At some point (and in Mexico, that point is long past), the drug kingpins become the government, and the ordinary rules of law cease to function. It happen in Chicago during prohibition, it happened in Columbia, and it has happened in Mexico. We're next. Let's copy the English: addicts get treatment. Heroin and similar drugs are only expensive because they're illegal, and in England (and other countries), the government is realistic enough to know that denying immense sums of cash to functionally illiterate thugs is more important than saving face or pretending there is an easy answer. Bill Horne Moderator
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 2011 17:35:17 -0600 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Robert Bonomi) To: email@example.com. Subject: Re: Mexican cartels build radio network for military precision Message-ID: <4Z6dnScNiJcoOmbTnZ2dnUVZ_qSdnZ2d@posted.nuvoxcommunications> In article <firstname.lastname@example.org>, David Clayton <email@example.com> wrote: >Mexican cartels build radio network for military precision >December 28, 2011 > >When convoys of soldiers or federal police move through the scrubland of >northern Mexico, the Zetas drug cartel knows they are coming. > >The alert goes out from a taxi driver or a street vendor, equipped with a >high-end handheld radio and paid to work as a lookout known as a "halcon," >or hawk. > >The radio signal travels deep into the arid countryside, hours by foot >from the nearest road. There, the 2-meter-tall dark-green branches of the >rockrose bush conceal a radio tower painted to match. A cable buried in >the dirt draws power from a solar panel. > >[Moderator snip] > >Read more: > >http://www.theage.com.au/technology/technology-news/mexican-cartels-build-radio-network-for-military-precision-20111228-1pbyx.html#ixzz1hnsVGWGG > > > >***** Moderator's Note ***** > > Ham radio operators in the U.S. and Mexico have been constructing > and using repeaters since the 1970's. Would you believe the *1930*s for the earliest repeaters ?? on the 5-m band. Ham VHF/UHF repeaters 'sprouted up like weeds' in the early 70s, because of an FCC rules change that rendered a lot of existing commercial gear "unusable" on commercial frequencies. With all that 'excess supply', hams could pick up the gear for really inexpensive prices. And, a lot of them did. :) > This is the kind of "fluff" piece that reporters come up with when > they have a hangover and feel like phoning it in. The Zeta's system is far more complex than the typical U.S. Ham, or even commercial, repeater. It approaches the sophistication of the cellular phone network. Multiple radio relays, ability to 'call' a specific radio, even if the call must be relayed through multiple relay links, etc. At a minimum, it appears to be an enhanced multi-channel digital 'trunking' radio "network". There is legitimate news content there. ***** Moderator's Note ***** Damned right there is! However, the medium is not the message. It doesn't matter what technology is in use: what matters is that the cartels have the money to buy it! Forest for the trees, dude. Bill Horne Moderator
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 2011 11:42:48 -0500 From: Bill Horne <bill@horneQRM.net> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: LightSquared: Style Drift In The Service of Returns Is No Vice Message-ID: <20111228164248.GA31392@telecom.csail.mit.edu> A partner at ACM Partners defends Phil Falcone - sort of Mr. Johnson doesn't mince words about how LightSquared is trying to avoid spectrum auction fees by re-purposing the SkyTerra ATC authorization, which is from the same play-book that Craig McCaw followed when planning Nextel's "push-to-talk" network. It's refreshing to see an opinion that gets to the heart of the matter: the immense profit that Harbinger Capital will enjoy if its lobbying efforts bear fruit, and Mr. Johnson compliments Mr. Falcone for having powerful enemies. What Mr. Johnson doesn't point out is that AT&T and Verizon, used to multi-million dollar budgets and to having the FCC do whatever they ask, are both miffed that LightSquared might repeat McCaw's success and join the major leagues without having done time playing triple-A ball. I doubt that either firm is concerned about the competition, but I'd bet that they are very worried that Mr. Falcone will pull off an inside-the-park home run, and, in the process, cause Verizon's and AT&T's investors to wonder if their management teams are playing out of their league. (From the Business Insider blog) by David Johnson Many successful investors have proclaimed the wisdom of betting on the jockey rather than the horse when making their investment decisions. This is entirely sensible, as outstanding management has certainly proven its value time and again for start-ups, multi-nationals, private equity firms and hedge funds. But (to strain this metaphor somewhat) occasionally the jockey opts for a different race, track, etc. For private equity firms and hedge funds this is style drift; and it represents the point at which betting on the jockey gets complicated. The case of Phil Falcone, founder and Chief Investment Officer of Harbinger Capital Partners and LightSquared, his bet-the-firm investment, illustrates the ragged edge of the conundrum that "bet on the jockey" types can face when the jockey wakes up one day and decides to use the same horse to play a different game. ... Through a series of debt and equity investments in satellite companies Inmarsat and SkyTerra Falcone assembled, for approximately $2 billion, a 56 megahertz block of radio spectrum. LightSquared is the company Falcone has created to build a cellular network from this valuable spectrum. This is basically an attempt to repeat Craig McCaw's success with Nextel, whose network was assembled cheaply by buying up taxi dispatch licenses (any good restructuring/distressed professional is a font of wisdom on business plans and it is surely no accident that LightSquared represents an attempt to replicate such a successful strategy). Unfortunately for Falcone, the block of spectrum LightSquared owns is adjacent to the frequency used for GPS signals, and he has stepped into a hornet's nest of regulatory intrigue. Given that his opponents include Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, John Deere (yes, the tractor company), the Pentagon, Verizon and AT&T (whose lobbying prowess, despite the T-Mobile debacle, has long been considered formidable), Falcone might reasonably consider that he is on to something. http://www.businessinsider.com/lightsquared-style-drift-in-the-service-of-returns-is-no-vice-2011-12 -- Bill Horne (Filter QRM from my email address to write to me directly) "See the drunkard in the tavern Spending gold to make ends meet See the youth in ghetto black Condemned to life upon the street" - Gordon Lightfoot
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