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How the New Spectrum Bill Would Harm the Tech Community

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the segregating-the-ether dept.

Wireless Networking 58

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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Good that this crap is US only. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36802928)

I hope the rest won't get anything similar.

FUCK YOU TOP-POSTING A.C.'S (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36803156)

I just mod'd down all top-posting A.C.'s. This shit has been so out of control I've taken to, when not modding, changing the convenient slider bar to hiding everything below 1 when just reading and participating in discussions. Sick of this shit. And for you who do not mod, the reason I am posting as an A.C. is to prevent the reversal of all my mods in this discussion.

Re:FUCK YOU TOP-POSTING A.C.'S (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36803664)

you know, there are another 240 countries, plus yours.

FCC multiplier (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802946)

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.

Re:FCC multiplier (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 3 years ago | (#36806546)

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 devices to exploit any new open access bandwidth.

GOP contenders: All together now, I pledge ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36802974)

Republican presidential contenders may be feeling nostalgic for the days when a candidate could focus on just one pledge: the oath of office.

With pledges spreading like kudzu on the campaign trail, candidates this year are being asked -- in some cases, pressured -- to profess their fealty to a whole host of positions: supporting marriage, opposing taxes, reducing the deficit, fighting abortion and gay rights and more.

And these aren't just bland statements of support for broad ideals.

There's a 14-point "marriage vow," a three-pronged "cut, cap and balance" declaration on the national debt, a four-point "pro-life leadership presidential pledge" and a deficit-reduction promise tied to the "Lean Six Sigma" method of reducing wasteful spending.

The pledges, many advanced by right-leaning interest groups, are roiling the race, boxing candidates in to positions that could hurt them in the general election, and pushing contenders to make promises they might come to regret if ever seated in the Oval Office.

Some candidates welcome the pledges as an opportunity to strengthen their support among various voting blocs and to draw distinctions between themselves and their competition. But others are resisting pressure to adopt pledges that attempt to put words in their mouths.

Interest groups, for their part, use the pledges to get their names in the news, and to flex some muscle by threatening to withhold support unless candidates sign on -- and stay true.

There are signs that some candidates have had enough.

"I don't know why anybody puts up with it," said Republican strategist Rich Galen. "You just don't know all the ramifications of everything that is put before you."

It's a sentiment that's apparently shared by former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. He's made a pledge not to pledge.

"I don't sign pledges -- other than the Pledge of Allegiance and a pledge to my wife," Huntsman said recently.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, who's making a big play for the caucus votes of social conservatives in leadoff Iowa, is at the other end of the spectrum. She's taken a shine to pledges on marriage, abortion, taxes and other issues, and has laid into her competition for holding back at times. On Monday, she planned to sign the "cut, cap and balance" pledge during a campaign stop in South Carolina, one of a handful of early voting states in the primary process.

Bachmann's move comes one day before the high-stakes vote in the House.

When former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who's less invested in Iowa, refused to adopt the Susan B. Anthony List's anti-abortion pledge, Bachmann's campaign called it a "distressing" move and said it raised questions about his "leadership and commitment to ending the practice of abortion."

The pledge includes sweeping promises to advance only anti-abortion appointees for "relevant Cabinet and executive branch positions," cut off federal dollars for hospitals and clinics that perform or finance abortions, and support a ban on abortions after the fetus reaches a certain stage in development, among other things.

Romney, who once supported abortion rights, opted to write his own, narrower "pro-life pledge," saying the Susan B. Anthony List's declaration could have unintended consequences.

"It's one thing to end federal funding for an organization like Planned Parenthood," he said in an op-ed explaining his decision. "It is entirely another to end all federal funding for thousands of hospitals across America."

As for the "marriage vow" advanced by The Family Leader, a conservative Iowa group, Romney and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty were among a number of candidates who balked.

Pawlenty, who's staking his candidacy on doing well in Iowa, stepped away ever so gingerly, saying he "respectfully" declined to sign.

"I prefer to choose my own words," he added.

Yet when it comes to taxes, Pawlenty, Romney and all of the other major candidates except Huntsman are willing to let anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist choose the words.

The Taxpayer Protection Pledge, created by Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, commits candidates and office holders to oppose all net tax increases. The simple declaration is the granddaddy of political pledges, and has been adopted by more than a thousand candidates and public officials since its rollout in 1986.

Norquist frames the pledge as almost a service to candidates, giving them an iron-clad way to demonstrate to voters their opposition to tax increases.

"It makes it easy for people to make a commitment not to raise taxes that is credible," Norquist said. Failure to live up to the pledge "has real repercussions," he says, pointing to the unsuccessful re-election bid of former President George H.W. Bush.

Norquist was dismissive of some of the other pledges in circulation, saying "they have too many moving parts" and would be too hard to enforce.

And Galen was dismissive of some of the other pledge profferers, casting them as Norquist wannabes.

"Everybody wants to be the next Grover Norquist," he said. "One of him is plenty."

While Democrats at times get asked to sign pledges, the phenomenon appears to be far more pronounced among Republicans. But interest groups also try to pin down candidates of both parties by asking them to fill out questionnaires on important issues. And the candidates' answers can come back to haunt them, just as do broken pledges.

In the 2008 presidential race, Barack Obama, for example, tried to distance himself from answers about health care, abortion and capital punishment on a 1996 questionnaire submitted when he was running for the state Senate. His campaign claimed someone else had filled out the paperwork for him. On another 1996 questionnaire, Obama said he supported legalizing same-sex marriage, a position he did not adopt during the 2008 campaign or as president.

this is the whole point of auctions (1, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802980)

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

Re:this is the whole point of auctions (3, Insightful)

WoollyMittens (1065278) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:this is the whole point of auctions (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#36804074)

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!

Re:this is the whole point of auctions (1)

scamper_22 (1073470) | more than 3 years ago | (#36804456)

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.

Re:this is the whole point of auctions (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#36810014)

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 interest, then that public interest is lost. The company gains a revenue stream, and supplies something different. If the company supplies something similar to or less valuable than what the public has lost, then the company becomes richer while society becomes poorer.

Re:this is the whole point of auctions (1)

scamper_22 (1073470) | more than 3 years ago | (#36811118)

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 collection of people. Both can extort society to their own benefit when in a monopoly position.

There is no such thing as the 'public interest'. That's a myth thrown around to say 'give the government a monopoly'

For example, I think society becomes poorer since the government has a monopoly on education, denying people school choice. Education being something that doesn't need to be a monopoly at all. All you need is a room and a teacher.

Quite frankly, the 10% profit a company makes is worth the freedom not to have it government controlled.

But like I said, you view government controlled as being intrinsically good. I don't. I think most government institutions are self serving, just like private companies.

What do you think would happen if the government ran the internet? Do you think it would be better or worse than the current problems at ISPs? Do you think there would be more content filtering or less? Do you think it would remain anonymous?

Private companies running monopolies isn't good.
The government running monopolies isn't good either.

The ideal is to minimize monopolies. In the cases where you have them, then they always need to be watched for abuse and for opportunities to get rid of the monopoly and maximize voluntary payment.

Re:this is the whole point of auctions (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#36812336)

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, 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 thus not reusable at all.
  • 43% of car trips in the US are under 2 miles and 85% are under 5 miles. These trips are easily done on a bicycle, a vehicle of minimal cost and minimal maintenance needs. The additional use of a car requires the unnecessary use of additional fuel, increase in maintenance, and decrease in the life of a car.

Above, we must acknowledge that glass bottles degrade by impact and thermal stress, both of which are minimal in most cases. Thus, an empty and used bottle being equivalent to a new bottle, we can effectively just clean and reuse the same bottle while manufacturing and immediately destroying a brand new bottle to achieve the exact same economic effect. In fact, even if we assume the glass bottles degrade such that they can be reused 10 times, we're still experiencing whole loss: to make a bottle and destroy it after one use is exactly identical, down the line, to making one bottle and destroying another brand new bottle at each of ten reuses before finally replacing the worn-out bottle with a brand new bottle we don't destroy outright.

It is true that glass bottles cost money; but lo, even the glass makers and bottle blowers must sell their wares, yes?

Contrasting with a reclamation system, bottle companies would make less money. Meanwhile, beverage companies would have trouble inspecting and cleaning glass bottles; this is best done on scale, and so outsource to a specialist company would become an in-demand service. Shipping companies would return the bottles to these companies after delivering beverages to stores, minimizing the number of trips spent on this--although fuel costs would be slightly higher (carrying heavy glass instead of empty truck). The beverage companies would levy and pay deposits, while citizens collect bottles and their shiny nickel. The beverage company would then acquire reclaimed bottles for a fraction of the cost of brand new bottles; damaged bottles would go to glass makers as refined glass, rather than raw sand to be processed and purified and mixed (with lime, etc, depending on the quality of glass desired.

In this way, the cost to Pepsi Co for a glass bottle drops from 35 cents per bottle to (for example) 12.5 cents per bottle; inspection and cleaning can be done in (say) 8.5 cents per bottle on a large scale. The reclamation companies are also using any damaged bottles as glass salvage--they will of course price reclaimed bottles above their value as salvage but cheaper than new bottles, and they absolutely will destroy any unsold reclaimed bottles and sell them for salvage to glass companies.

Jobs are created, money flows, the original glass makers and bottle makers make slightly less, but society as a whole becomes richer by not destroying something.

The same can be said of overusing or undermaintaining your car to the point of its own destruction in half its reasonably achievable lifespan; of throwing out large amounts of food; of not recycling; of doing something right (like recycling) but botching it so fucking bad that the operational costs are expensive to society; and even of paying interest on a loan--the bank profits, but society does not. The broken window parable is the quintessential observation that waste does not enrich society: it is the wisdom that creating jobs by paying people to dig holes and fill them back in serves to damage the economy by wasteful destruction of excess labor, rather than enrich the economy by leveraging that labor to produce something of value.

In short, the parable of the broken window is not about malicious, accidental, or illegal acts; it is about needless destruction and the loss of value to society that comes with destroying items of economic worth.

Re:this is the whole point of auctions (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#36812370)

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 thus not reusable at all.
  • * 43% of car trips in the US are under 2 miles and 85% are under 5 miles. These trips are easily done on a bicycle, a vehicle of minimal cost and minimal maintenance needs. The additional use of a car requires the unnecessary use of additional fuel, increase in maintenance, and decrease in the life of a car.

Also I know I focused around bottles a lot. It's an easy target, and reinforcement by exploring the various ways to destroy things is slightly interesting. Also I somewhat expect a recycling argument or a "we use plastic now" argument from someone who completely misses the point.

Re:this is the whole point of auctions (2, Insightful)

bberens (965711) | more than 3 years ago | (#36803316)

$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.

Re:this is the whole point of auctions (1)

BuckaBooBob (635108) | more than 3 years ago | (#36804556)

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 not lease it to you and if they do the fees to do so are made to prevent you from making money... They will almost never sell it...

For new spectrum going forward they should only allow bidding on smaller regions and bidders would need to have a development plan that will put the spectrum into use within a time frame of say 1 year... if their deployment is derailed and a significant portion of their plan isn't in active use then they should lose ownership of that spectrum and it goes back on the block for auction...

That will force utilization of spectrum and spur competition..

Re:this is the whole point of auctions (1)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 3 years ago | (#36811438)

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.

Unlikely to be "the next Wi-Fi" (4, Interesting)

RedLeg (22564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802996)

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

Re:Unlikely to be "the next Wi-Fi" (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Unlikely to be "the next Wi-Fi" (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 3 years ago | (#36803190)

At least we can hack old batwing radios to work on 900MHz.

The New Latifundia (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36802998)

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 the submitter even know what the word "panacea" means?

corepirate nazi .mil.relig.indu harms all of us (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36803026)

should not the domestic threats to all of us/our freedoms be considered/removed, so we wouldn't be compelled to hide our sentiments, &/or the truth, about ANYTHING, including the origins of the hymenology council, & their sacred mission?

you call this 'weather'? as well as wholesale murder continuing world wide, much of our land masses are going under water, or burning up, right now, as we fail to consider anything at all that really matters, as we've been instructed that we must maintain our silence (our last valid right?), to continue our 'safety' from... mounting terror.

meanwhile, back at the raunch; there are exceptions? the unmentionable sociopath weapons peddlers are thriving in these times of worldwide sufferance? the royals? our self appointed murderous neogod rulers? all better than ok, thank..... us. their stipends/egos/disguises are secure, so we'll all be ok/not killed by mistaken changes in the MANufactured 'weather', or being one of the unchosen 'too many' of us, etc...?

                                                truth telling & disarming are the only mathematically & spiritually correct options. read the teepeeleaks etchings. see you there?

                                                diaperleaks group worldwide. thanks for your increasing awareness?

Conservatives are idiots (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 3 years ago | (#36803038)

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)

Re:Conservatives are idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36804638)

Selling spectrum brings in much cash to the current government at the cost of flexibility for future governments. This is how you get reelected.

US mindset (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36803048)

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 what actually benefits the economy, then that's because irrational sentiments somewhere are constraining the government's ability to make the right decisions. There's also the possibility that X Y, in which case this shouldn't be done. The question is, are X and Y really the center of this discussion, as they should be?

Re:US mindset (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#36810042)

the US gov is a 3rd world country.

Ideas have consequences (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36803074)

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 'merit' of their proposals. By the fourth round, the FCC was using a lottery. I worked for McCaw cellular and Craig McCaw became a billionaire playing that lottery.

Selling spectrum brings in money, and there are few things that make politicians happier. But it also means that spectrum uses that don't bring in money directly, as here, don't interest most of those in Congress. That's what is happening here. The real social and economic value of more unlicensed spectrum doesn't matter as much to most of those in Congress as how much money selling might put into their budgets.

Re:Ideas have consequences (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36803198)

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

Re:Ideas have consequences (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 3 years ago | (#36803270)

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:Ideas have consequences (1, Interesting)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 3 years ago | (#36803342)

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 auctions as other bidders see that success - or it fails, and the resource is auctioned off to the next bidder during liquidation.

Make fair and transparent rules and then let the market - which is nothing more than public need expressed in monetary values - work. Just like that invisible hand.

Re:Ideas have consequences (1)

bberens (965711) | more than 3 years ago | (#36803402)

You are free to build a Faraday cage around your personal property.

Re:Ideas have consequences (2)

praxis (19962) | more than 3 years ago | (#36803440)

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.

Re:Ideas have consequences (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36803636)

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

Let me put it in perspective for you...
Native Americans have been asking a remarkably similar question for a few hundred years now.

Move it to tech groups (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36809218)

At this stage, it shouldn't be in government hands @ all, regardless of how it happened in the first place. Today, standards bodies and consortiums are there that can better handle that - IEEE, the various SIGs including CDMA and GSM working groups and so on. Let all this be delegated to them. A bigger advantage - since in some cases their coverage is worldwide, they can come up w/ frequency allocations that better ensure interoperability and compatibility across regions. In India, quite a number of people have gone to jail or been dropped from government due to scandals in the allocation of 2G frequencies some 10 years ago. Move something like this into the realm of say, IEEE, and politicians in all countries will be totally out of the management of something they have no business doing in the first place.

Dystopia (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36803092)

Dear Congress,

Those books in the library are not all manuals. Some of them are fiction that's supposed to represent something bad. Please stop following them.

Only in America... (3, Insightful)

WoollyMittens (1065278) | more than 3 years ago | (#36803118)

Of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations.

Re:Only in America... (1)

Peverbian (243571) | more than 3 years ago | (#36803266)

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

Re:Only in America... (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 3 years ago | (#36803430)

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 bidder, using the revenue to salvage a tiny bit of our national debt and then watch services get provided or the spectrum auctioned off again. Public resources shouldn't be given away for free, since free is usually squandered. Remember why there's so many cows and so few whales?

Re:Only in America... (1)

stickrnan (1290752) | more than 3 years ago | (#36803666)

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.

Re:Only in America... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36804090)

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.

PROTECT-IP act, copyright extension acts, etc....

Re:Only in America... (1)

asdfghjklqwertyuiop (649296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36804600)

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.

Re:Only in America... (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#36807198)

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.

And now, wide open spaces and electromagnetism (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#36803174)

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 chose who is my pimp.

why, that is totally not at all different from how it was back in 1950s with television, telephony etc. you would think that humanity as a civilization would have progressed socially a bit over the course of 60 years. we are still playing who is the rich/who is the bitch game.

Re:And now, wide open spaces and electromagnetism (1)

bberens (965711) | more than 3 years ago | (#36803428)

I would like to buy this electromagnetic spectrum/island from you for this small bag of beads.

Re:And now, wide open spaces and electromagnetism (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 3 years ago | (#36803548)

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 (public costs) with profit (private benefit): check.

We want that spectrum put to use. It can't be used without policing (one crappy transmitter is enough to ruin the party for everyone). Using a properly policed spectrum brings a huge profit. Ergo the profiteers need to pay for policing. End of story.

yet (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#36804098)

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, go to a hilltop, lie on the ground, and die at that instant.

i see huge disparage and contradiction in the above situations.

Re:yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36804474)

They also died from preventable diseases. Take your idiotic nostalgia and jump in a lake. Things were not "equal" or "better" when your at-birth life expectancy was less than half what it is today.

Re:yet (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#36805578)

and there were not as many diseases, conditions, psychological disorders like today. its not the length of the life expectancy, but what you do within that life. if you are spending 15 years of that life for preparation to slave away your life, and then the next 30 years to actually slave away, living under undue stress, innumerable problems and conditions and worries, in dysfunctional social settings, only to retire when you are withered to enjoy the 5 or so remaining years while trying to fish near a river or a lake before you die in a hospital corner, doing the precise thing those indians were doing all their life, than your expectancy means shit.

Trust the republicans to screw America (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36803192)

Right now, they are on the TAKE from many businesses, who have ZERO ability to vote. We need to stop this nightmare.

It's not that.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36803256)

It's not that the current president is pro-business. It's just that he hates you.

Can hams buy it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36803446)

Not that it'll happen, but...

What if radio amateurs got together with enough funds to buy the lot? Or combined with open-access groups to bid, and divvy it up proportionately? Can we get all or part of it as a new ham band? It will be fragmented geographically, of course, complicating mobile operations and requiring radios capable of the whole band, but it's ideally suited for ATV, and usable for lots of other stuff. Since amateurs are already required to monitor before transmitting, licensing it as a ham band should be no more likely (and IMO less likely) to cause interference to legacy wireless mics and such vs. unlicensed operation with autosensing devices, which they already approved.

Of course it won't happen, because as fun as it is to bitch about the lack of spectrum, few of us that are not already active in ATV or on nearby bands will actually care enough to chip in a few hundred bucks.

vote with our tax dollars (1)

bobs666 (146801) | more than 3 years ago | (#36803508)

'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.

Cost per person (2)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

HA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36803964)

Take 120MHz from TV? That's 20 channels. In the larger cities (NY, LA, Boston and the like) there are only a few left unused. There are already licensed users in those bands. Are you going to compensate them? That'll burn all the proceeds from the auction. Try taking back the license to broadcast with out compensation and open the government up for lawsuits.
Long distance wireless data sucks. UHF frequencies are great for reaching lots of people as they travel well. How are you going to keep interference down for everyone else?
I don't understand how telcoms think going from a broadcast medium to a one-to-one data transfer for video (the reason they give for needing more bandwidth) is a good use of spectrum. It's probably great for there bottom line as now they can bill everyone for the bandwidth individually but you would think someone at the FCC has a brain and would understand these things.

ARRGH!!

What about WISPs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36804326)

There is a big segment of the population being serviced from Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs). These WISPs need spectrum to keep up with their customer's demands. In many markets the WISP is the only one providing service, especially in Rural areas. Many of these companies have invested their own money into networks. Legislation like this will make it very hard if not impossible to keep in business.

Dear Government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36804512)

The advent of software radios and the ubiquity of chips capable of doing ad hoc networking means that if you tie up all the available spectrum trying to balance your budget, an underground movement will likely come about to simply start "talking" over the airwaves regardless of licenses - and the chances of you or anyone noticing or being able to do anything about such frequency-hopping and wide-spread "noise" that the systems would create are somewhere between slim and none per individual, and collectively not a chance.

Get your collective heads out of your nether regions and recognize that you owe a duty to the people you "serve" to preserve the common in at least some respect.

Either that or start parceling up the parks and highways and laneways and all the other "public domain" property and selling that too - so we have a real motive for revolt.

bad idea to auction ALL spectrum (2)

kenindekalb (2387960) | more than 3 years ago | (#36806484)

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 future spectrum allocations to be auctioned to the highest bidder. There seems to be the belief that some white knight like Google will come forward and pay billions for spectrum and then set it free for public use and innovation. Or that companies like Intel and Microsoft and Google and Cisco are getting a free ride by using this "free" spectrum. In reality, we the public are getting the benefit. It is our spectrum, and sure we can sell off most of it to big cellcos like AT&T and Verizon and Clearwire to help pay off the national debt, but we need to keep a small portion public.

If anyone is thinking that little rural WISPs operating on a shoestring are going to all chip in a few dollars to keep a little spectrum unlicensed, and collectively will outbid the big cellos, that just isn't going to happen.

One argument I see is, we already have WiFi and Bluetooth and DECT, why do we need any more unlicensed spectrum? Same as what drives the cellcos. We need more public spectrum for higher speeds and more users, and we need spectrum below 1 GHz to penetrate trees and buildings. Otherwise, some people in less populated areas will never get high speed Internet. Some in industry and the media want to call services based on TV whitespace spectrum "Super WiFi", and while this may be a cool sounding name, it doesn't help anyone understand what it will do or why it is needed. Currently the only unlicensed spectrum below 1 GHz that can be used for hardcore non-line-of-sight transmission is 900 MHz, specifically 902-928 MHz. That 26 MHz isn't enough to provide high speed service to more than a handful of subscribers, and there is so much interference from stuff like smartgrid and adjacent paging bands that 900 MHz isn't very useful. The freeing up of TV whitespace spectrum is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a little more spectrum that can go through trees and buildings. AT&T and Verizon can have their exclusive use licensed spectrum in the 700 MHz band, but the public needs to save a little for nonexclusive, noncorporate use.

A second argument I see being made, is that companies that make devices using WiFi and other unlicensed bands are making tons of money and should be paying for use of the spectrum. But there is a chicken and egg problem here. Look at your cellphone. AT&T and Verizon buy 700 MHz spectrum, put up LTE towers, and have phones designed for them. But will there be LTE roaming? Apparently not. The phone and spectrum are for exclusive use on their network. Would that model of innovation work for everything? No. Look instead at your 802.11n wireless router, laptop, tablet, or even your proprietary cellphone which connects to WiFi hotspots. All that equipment is interoperable, in fact it works internationally. The spectrum and the technical standards were defined in an open, non-exclusive manner, and as a result thousands of companies innovated and brought products and services to market that benefit us all immensely.

A third argument is that certainly a white knight moneybags corporation will come forward and bid against the big cellcos to keep some spectrum unlicensed. Or some collective group will do so. Is this like selling naming rights to a stadium? I guess it could happen. Like the consortium that bid on the Nortel patents to keep them from going to a patent troll. But it seems more likely that the high bid will always be from a bidder that wants exclusive use. This is a very dangerous game. it is like selling off Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon or the Washington DC Mall, counting on some rich bidder coming forward with the high bid, only to turn the resource back over to the public. So the people get the money but they get to keep the public resource as well.

Since 1993 when spectrum auctions started, most spectrum has in fact been auctioned to the high bidder. The FCC has set aside very little for license exempt use, that spectrum has been put to very good use, and we have all benefitted. There is no reason to pass legislation requiring every last bit of spectrum be sold to the high bidder.

I understand the Treasury needs money. I understand that Congress is pissed off at the FCC. But on the narrow topic of setting aside unlicensed spectrum, the FCC has done good, if anything they have been too stingy in setting aside unlicensed spectrum. You have probably figured out that I run a WISP, so go ahead and say I'm biased and trying to get a free handout.

But we all use unlicensed spectrum every day. Even the big telcos and cellcos use WiFi hotspots to offload their celltowers. The existing spectrum is pretty much used up, and high frequencies like 2.4 and 5.8 GHz can't get to all the places we need fixed wireless. If we pass legislation that absolutely no spectrum, zero, can be allocated by any method other than auctioning it to the highest bidder, aren't we cutting off all future improvement and innovation except what the cellphone companies choose to provide? In a few years, certainly by the time our kids are grown, won't the current WiFi technology be antiquated, won't it look like 8 track players and CB radio and Pong games?

Go ahead and say the bulk of spectrum will be auctioned off to raise money. But let's keep a little bit as a public resource, and see what kind of innovation it brings.

Re:bad idea to auction ALL spectrum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36807930)

right on!

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