Answering your CES questions: Wireless buzz at the show

By Peter Nowak, CBCNews.ca

CBCnews.ca's reporters covering the Consumer Electronics show (CES) in Las Vegas are letting you be the interviewer - ask us what you'd like to know about announcements or the buzz on the show floor, and our reporters will do their best to find out.

Gary in Vancouver asked: With wireless spectrum auctions imminent in the U.S. and CAnada, is there much buzz about the need for spectrum to allow all of these new wireless gadgets to operate?

Thanks for the question, Gary. While spectrum certainly is a big buzzword here at CES, many of these new wireless devices - TVs, camcorders, DVD players - actually don't need the kind of expensive airwaves that must be bought in auctions. These kinds of devices connect through Wi-Fi, which uses the unlicensed airwaves that are free for everyone to use.

Things such as cellphones or Wimax, a beefed-up version of Wi-Fi, do use the kinds of licensed spectrum that companies will pay billions of dollars for, though. While this kind of spectrum is finite and thus very valuable, the airwaves used by Wi-Fi TVs and the like are relatively plentiful because the broadcasts are low-powered and cover relatively short distances. A Wimax signal, for example, can cover many square kilometres, whereas most Wi-Fi devices broadcast over an area measured in metres.