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Wireless Networking Politics

How the New Spectrum Bill Would Harm the Tech Community 58

Posted by Soulskill
from the segregating-the-ether dept.
An anonymous reader writes "One version of new spectrum legislation poses a threat to unlicensed wireless, which is where technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth operate. Your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies are safe, but the future of the proposed White Spaces broadband also known as Super Wi-Fi, and new unlicensed spectrum is in doubt under the draft bill. And hiding in those unlicensed airwaves could be the next Wi-Fi. 'The draft bill says that in order for unlicensed spectrum to win out over a licensed bidder, an entity or a group of people would have to collectively bid more than a licensed bidder would. This would be akin to having a group of people who want more unlicensed airwaves going up against Verizon or AT&T. As a reminder Verizon spent $9.63 billion on spectrum licenses in the last auction while AT&T spent $6.64 billion. The legislators may have envisioned Google playing a heroic role here and thus enabling the government to make some extra money in a spectrum auction as opposed to just letting such potentially lucrative spectrum become a public radio panacea regulated by the FCC.'"
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How the New Spectrum Bill Would Harm the Tech Community

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  • The FCC could apply a "bid multiplier" for bids that plan to make the spectrum open access. It might even be a good thing if someone were to buy the rights and make the spectrum open to all except mobile license holders. Quite frankly I'm a little fed up of seeing unlicensed bands crowded with services by the big players who already own licensed spectrum for mobile applications.
    • The FCC could apply a "bid multiplier" for bids that plan to make the spectrum open access.

      Isn't that like paying to get back what you already own? Any government doing it's job properly should be allocating the bandwidth in a way which benefits its people. This might be to sell it off to a private company for profit in order to reduce taxes but it might equally well be to make it open access and available to everyone. Any process to allocate bandwidth should consider both possibilities and judge which is the most beneficial...especially since governments will make tax revenue from the sale of d

  • if you pay almost $10 billion for frequencies then you're going to use them for something that produces revenue. not act like some of the russians i know and say you need them for the future and keep them unused for years

    • by WoollyMittens (1065278) on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:09PM (#36803152)
      You're implying that if you don't pay 10 billion you won't use them for something that produces revenue? Using them to produce revenue doesn't mean they're used for something that benefits society. Comparing the USA to Russia is useless.
      • You're implying that if you don't pay 10 billion you won't use them for something that produces revenue?

        I think he was saying "If it's less, companies would try to reserve a lot more to deprive their competitors of it, and then not do anything with it."

        Which does sound likely. I'd guess that's a symptom of putting way too much of the spectrum up for sale for exclusive use. I'd also guess that those involved in approving the sale are thinking "$$$" rather than "Are we cheating the public by selling off a public resource to private interests?"

        Comparing the USA to Russia is useless.

        In soviet Russia, comparison is between the US and YOU!

      • If people are paying money... which generates money for the company... they are providing a service people deem useful enough to pay for... and society benefits.

        • Not necessarily. If you destroy windows, people pay money for windows, and the glass makers benefit; but society loses wealth of the value of the broken windows. That money could go to other economic interests such as food, entertainment, or clothing; rather than a society of malnourished people in rickety, moth-eaten clothing, we could see less poverty due to expenses being lower. The middle class would have significantly less income.

          In the same way, if a company gains control of a valuable public int

          • There is nothing here about the broken window fallacy.

            Anything to do with broken window fallacy either
            1. Is an actual criminal act. Literally going around breaking people's windows and the like
            2. A government program like the war on drugs

            In a voluntary market (monopolies skew this... as below), the broken window fallacy does not exist.

            As to monopolies (telecom...). Things can get tricky. But last I checked society is composed of people. A company is just a collection of people. Government is just a c

            • Anything to do with broken window fallacy either 1. Is an actual criminal act. Literally going around breaking people's windows and the like 2. A government program like the war on drugs

              In a voluntary market (monopolies skew this... as below), the broken window fallacy does not exist.

              The broken window fallacy presents the naive assumption that destruction of a perfectly serviceable product greases the wheels of economy by making money flow. The parable gives a window in good repair as an example, whereby it is destroyed through careless action; however, we can analog this to other things.

              • A perfectly serviceable window is destroyed. The glazier must make (and sell) a new window to replace it.
              • A man drinks the contents of a glass bottle and throws it in the trash. The glass bottle, be
              • Why are there no bullets in this unordered list?
                • * A perfectly serviceable window is destroyed. The glazier must make (and sell) a new window to replace it.
                • * A man drinks the contents of a glass bottle and throws it in the trash. The glass bottle, being undamaged and exactly identical to a brand new glass bottle, is thus destroyed. A bottle company makes a new bottle, and sells it to Pepsi Co.
                • * Glass bottles are abandoned for plastic, which is more impact resistant but more prone to degrade--and thu
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bberens (965711)
      $10 Billion is a small price to pay for an oligopoly on mobile services. IMHO the price is paid in order to stop others from entering the market.
    • Your totally wrong... They will buy the new spectrum to keep out new competition... Possibly using it in the future... Look at the articles on Cramming (2 Billion a year for bogus fees) Its not a problem for the big carriers to buy spectrum in the billions and not use it just to keep competitors out of their back yard..There are only a few densely populated areas where licensed spectrum is utilized and its hard to find unused spectrum... Usually if you find unused spectrum and approach the owner they will n

    • Are you kidding? Have you not heard of warehousing? Verizon and AT&T squat on tons of unused spectrum that prevents competitors from entering the wireless space. Other companies like Dish have spectrum but have no intention of building a network. They hold onto it as a speculative "asset" hoping they can cash out when spectrum becomes scarce and wireless providers are desperate for more.
  • by RedLeg (22564) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:52PM (#36802996) Journal

    Interesting spectrum, but all other obstacles aside, it's not likely to become "the next Wi-Fi", and therefore be as widely deployed or successful.

    Wi-Fi as we all know it today falls in the ISM (industrial, scientific and medical) bands which are defined by the ITU, and are (with some channel-by-channel exceptions) internationally universal. In other words, your US Wi-Fi card will work and be (mostly) legal to operate in lots of the rest of the world.

    This lets the chipset and device manufacturers build a small number of chips and devices, and handle the regulatory country-to-country differences in software, thus achieving great economies of scale, which means cheapass consumer price points for the devices.

    There would seem to be a lot of obstacles to making that happen with this chunk of spectrum.

    Red

    • by vlm (69642) on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:03PM (#36803110)

      For a closer to home example, compare the activity level and product sales for ham radio "2M" 144 MHz and "70cm" 432 MHz bands which have more or less world-wide allocations, vs the 222 MHz band which has much less use and almost no retail available equipment because its mostly a USA only band.

      I'm guessing the the political decision makers, and the commentators, don't know anything about RF, or pretty much don't know much at all other than where their paycheck comes from.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The legislators may have envisioned Google playing a heroic role here and thus enabling the government to make some extra money in a spectrum auction as opposed to just letting such potentially lucrative spectrum become a public radio panacea regulated by the FCC.

    Or, and much more likely, the legislators may have envisioned extremely rich interested parties playing a greedy role here and thus enabling themselves to make such potentially lucrative spectrum a corporate fiefdom owned, operated, and sub-licensed by cutthroats and monopolists. There's no better way to strangle competition—and by way of collateral damage, innovation—than by buying up exclusive rights to a limited and, by nature, totally public commodity like the radio spectrum.

    Further, does t

  • I thought the point of regulatory agencies with powers like the FCC was because tehy could set rules for industry that are very easy to change based on market conditions. Why The F--K do the conservatives and the media whore democrats think passing laws is a good thing? oh... because they have to have something to do while fucking up the internet (protect IP) and access (laws restricting Net Neutrality rules, and this garbage)

  • US mindset (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    So there's an opportunity cost X $ to leaving this spectrum public and there's a hard-to-calculate benefit Y $ to doing so. Suppose Y is significantly greater than X. Then the government can raise taxes by X and leave the spectrum open. This gives the government the same amount of funding while benefiting the economy by Y-X $. Making these kinds of decisions the right way is what ultimately separates third and first world countries. If the government is truly worrying about generating income, instead of wha
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is a not-surprising consequence of an idea from the 1980s to sell spectrum. Before that the FCC essentially gave vast swaths of spectrum away for mere licensing fees. That made a few people, particularly in television, enormously rich. Farmers have to buy their land. Manufacturers have to build their factories. But the big three TV networks got an enormously valuable resource for almost nothing. The same thing happened with the first few rounds of cellular licensing. The early ones were judged on the '

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      How did the government get to claim ownership of the electromagnetic spectrum in the first place?

      • by Dog-Cow (21281)

        Practicality. If the entire spectrum were free-for-all, it would all be virtually useless except for directional or very short-distance links. Also, it more legitimately falls under the ICC.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by phoenix321 (734987)

        It didn't.

        But We, The People, decided to not give finite resources (like land, airwaves etc.) away for free to people that may or may not use that resource properly. We could of course make obligations, check proposals on their merits and then heavily regulate and monitor that finite usage. Or we just auction it off to the highest bidder, use the revenue to pay for the national debt and then let the bidder work out their business plan. That business plan either succeeds, bringing more money in following auc

      • by bberens (965711)
        You are free to build a Faraday cage around your personal property.
      • by praxis (19962)

        Chaos would ensue if if wasn't allocated. Because as a society we need to agree what we're using what parts for, government is the natural choice. The problem where though, is that the power shifted from the people via the government to just the government. In essence, we all own it, and we've elected some people to make a sane process of deciding how to use it but those people stopped acting in our interested and instead became greedy and we're too jaded to get uppity and change it.

  • Only in America... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WoollyMittens (1065278) on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:04PM (#36803118)
    Of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations.
    • by Peverbian (243571)

      Didn't you get the memo? Corporations are legally people.

    • Which is better than "of the state, by the state, for the state".

      There's hardly a middle ground, since either middle will soon gravitate to one end of the spectrum.

      And I prefer corporatism, since there's still a lot of corporations out there and when they fail, their place is taken by better, faster, efficient players. When states fail, on the other hand, it get's messy as they refuse to change and put on an ever increasing grip on everyone.

      And what's wrong with auctioning off the spectrum to the highest bi

      • Do we need to site recent history? We're at the level of corporatism that if they should fail, they call on the government to bail them out.

        We're not at the point that the state is simply a representative of the corporations, but it certainly feels like it sometimes.

      • And I prefer corporatism, since there's still a lot of corporations out there and when they fail, their place is taken by better, faster, efficient players.

        Right, just like Goldman Sachs, Citi, AIG, General Motors, Chrysler and others all went out of business and were replaced by more efficient companies when they all failed in 2008.

      • There's hardly a middle ground, since either middle will soon gravitate to one end of the spectrum.

        Think about that for a moment. Corporations are creations of the State. Beat back the State to the hole is crawled out of, and you don't have corporations to worry about.

  • are up for sale. really. apparently everything has a price in capitalism. even the very basic things (like the air space around a planet's outer crust, and electromagnetism) can be sold and 'owned' by 'private' people at the expense of other people.

    so, there's this technology that allows me to send and receive information over the air, but, to be able to freely use it, i have to be richer than others. else, i am obligated to be a bitch under who is richer than me. the only freedom being the ability to ch
    • by bberens (965711)
      I would like to buy this electromagnetic spectrum/island from you for this small bag of beads.
    • The Indians laughed about selling things like "land" as "property", a mechanism without the economy would never function, lest all available land is squandered and destroyed.

      So if marked areas of land, water, emissions can be auctioned, why shouldn't the same apply marked areas of electromagnetic spectrum? Where's the difference? Finite resource: check.
      Profit possibility by using it: check.
      Easy abuse by others: check.
      Need for some protection to enable any use of the resource: check.
      Law enforcement costs (pu

      • by unity100 (970058)
        those indians who were laughing about selling things like land as property were living lives equally full, WITHOUT all the stress, hassles, pills and problems we have to go through over our lives, dribbling in our own shit in a hospital corner in our old age, shitting ourselves, and dying over an extended duration of torture of years while the modern medicine tries to 'save' us.

        whereas indian shamans were able to live fully capable lives until the end of their days, and when they felt their time was come
  • 'The draft bill says that in order for unlicensed spectrum to win out over a licensed bidder, an entity or a group of people would have to collectively bid more than a licensed bidder would. '

    We the American people shall vote with our tax dollars. And put an end to the tyranny of the likes of the Telephone Company.

    And all you phone works can mod me down, I know you will.
  • by sunderland56 (621843) on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:41PM (#36803630)

    Verizon spent $9.63 billion on spectrum licenses in the last auction while AT&T spent $6.64 billion

    Using 310 million as the current US population, that's about $52.50 for every person in the country. That's over $136 for the average household. If we say that 10% of households will adopt the new technology, then they would need to add $1,360 to the cost of every router.

    I think I'll stick with 802.11, thanks.

  • Look at the small percentage of spectrum that has been classified as "unlicensed" and not auctioned off for exclusive use by a big corporation. Look at what has resulted - WiFi, Bluetooth, DECT cordless phones, and wireless ISPs (WISPs) which are the only source of high speed Internet in many rural areas. Does anyone really think the FCC has erred on the side of reserving too much unlicensed spectrum, or that it has not been put to good use?

    Unfortunately, the proposed legislation would require all futur

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