Political blogger 601am.com has been told there will be no Wi-Fi on the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Conventions floors: We don't have this confirmed yet, but Aaron Bailey of 601am.com, a staffer for a publication covering the conventions, was told by several authorities that Wi-FI interferred with "broadcast television signals" and was thus banned.
This rang a bell, and I contacted Tim Pozar, a microwave expert who recently joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation's staff. Tim writes extensively about the Part 15 FCC rules which govern use of unlicensed bands, such a the 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) band in which 802.11b and 802.11g (the two most popular Wi-Fi flavors) perform their magic.
Tim noted that Electronic News Gathering (ENG) is a licensed -- and thus priority -- use of a part of the 2.4 GHz band. ENG is used to send signals from television cameras to remote trucks or studios. The Part 74 ENG use is licensed, which means that unlicensed Wi-Fi users can suck eggs if they don't like being banned. Tim suggests that the frequency coordinator for the venues made a big stink about this as likely every ENG channel will be in use in the conferences. They don't need unlicensed "mucking" up the band. Tim has written this paper about licensed uses that overlap unlicensed bands.
Tim notes that 802.11a, which uses the 5 GHz band, could have been deployed successfully, but few people have 802.11a or 802.11a/g cards. It's still not common technology because of its lack of backwards compatibility and shorter range at the same power outputs.
More on this story as we receive information from the field. I'm especially curious to see if newsgatherers who create their own software base stations or plop Linksys access points onto the expensive Ethernet drops they pay Verizon for will be hunted down and shut off.