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Citigroup Questions Whether US Spectrum Shortage Exists

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the blame-the-spectrum-speculators dept.

Wireless Networking 131

alphadogg writes "For more than two years, the U.S. mobile industry has warned of an upcoming spectrum shortage, but two analysts at Citigroup don't buy it. AT&T, trade group CTIA and even officials with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission have talked frequently about a coming spectrum crunch, as mobile customers move to data-sucking smartphones and tablets. Smartphones use 24 times the spectrum compared to standard mobile phones, and tablets use 120 times the spectrum, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a speech on Tuesday. But Citigroup analysts Jason Bazinet and Michael Rollins questioned what has become the conventional wisdom in the mobile industry. The U.S. has plenty of spectrum for mobile broadband, but much of it is in the wrong hands, they said."

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120x, 24x? (1)

yincrash (854885) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581188)

How is that measured??

Re:120x, 24x? (4, Informative)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581192)

In bribes.

Perfectly SFW (Safe For Work) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581666)

Niggers! Coons! Jigaboos! Porch monkies! Yard apes!

Re:Perfectly SFW (Safe For Work) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37582050)

it's ok, he's taking them back.

Re:120x, 24x? (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581210)

in data consumed/transfered.

Re:120x, 24x? (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581436)

Per second? Per tablet? Per transaction?

And what about data efficiency? A lot of the old cellphone standards are still supported, and they wasted bandwidth left and right.

Re:120x, 24x? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581456)

Per tablet per month, I assume.

Re:120x, 24x? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581504)

Foot*hours/Newtons^2

Re:120x, 24x? (2)

Calos (2281322) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581482)

No, "spectrum" is not measured by the amount of information sent or received. It refers to "electromagnetic spectrum," and in this context, it means the range of frequencies suitable for wireless communication.

Re:120x, 24x? (2)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 2 years ago | (#37582490)

Yep, but available bandwidth is directly proportional to spectrum, and the amount of data you can transfer is directly proportional to bandwidth.

The reasoning is: we consume exponentially more data, so we need more bandwidth to move that data, so we need more spectrum to unlock that bandwidth.

Re:120x, 24x? (1)

tantaliz3 (1074234) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581542)

Yes. Citations please.

Re:120x, 24x? (2)

tantaliz3 (1074234) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581554)

From the article,

U.S. carriers have 538 MHz of spectrum dedicated to mobile data and voice and are only using 192 MHz, the two analysts said in a report released Sept. 22.

That strikes me as roughly 2.5x, not 24.

Re:120x, 24x? (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581756)

depending on the freequency you can fit more data. So they could be saying that reallocating freequencies to take advantage of new technology that we could effectively get 24 times as much bandwidth as we currently have. But yeah, the whole thing seems conviluted.

-Rick

Re:120x, 24x? (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 years ago | (#37582868)

From the article,

U.S. carriers have 538 MHz of spectrum dedicated to mobile data and voice and are only using 192 MHz, the two analysts said in a report released Sept. 22.

That strikes me as roughly 2.5x, not 24.

It would strike me that way if that's what the article said. Alas, it doesn't.

What the article said is that smartphones USE 24 times as much as dumbphones. And tablets USE 120 times as much as dumbphones.

TFA doesn't discuss how much more is needed, really. It implies we need a great deal more, but we'd really need to know the fraction of the users that have smartphones and tablets already to be able to estimate exactly how much more bandwidth might be needed.

It will almost certainly be more than 2.5x, since TFA said we have enough, but it's misallocated.

It will also almost certainly be less than 24x, since a significant fraction are already using smartphones.

It is faintly possible it will be as much as 120x, since tablet takeup isn't nearly as high as smartphone, but, on the other hand, fewer of us actually want/need tablets....

USE ALL THE SPECTRUM! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581190)

I did to make this post.

Citigroup? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581212)

Must be true.

Re:Citigroup? (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581236)

Look at their stock price since January and that pretty much tells the whole story.

- A former shareholder

Re:Citigroup? (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581326)

All they need to do is borrow some spectrum and lend it out to 9 different entities, and they've created 10 times the spectrum!

Re:Citigroup? (1)

CyberSaint (1376273) | more than 2 years ago | (#37582018)

That's not as crazy as it sounds. Consolidating the pool, and leasing access to all network providers would allow for much more efficient spectrum usage. You don't exactly 'create 10 times the spectrum' but you do have the potential for an order of magnitude more functional bandwidth.

Re:Citigroup? (2)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 2 years ago | (#37582130)

Woosh for not getting fractional reserve banking!

Spectrum sale by Market (4, Insightful)

MatthiasF (1853064) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581214)

They should have sold the frequencies by market area (city, zip-codes, etc.) and not nation-wide.

That's the real crux of the problem.

Now we have large nation-wide companies holding up frequencies in large swathes of the country because they're dedicating their efforts in specific markets where they can charge more.

Had the FCC sold the frequency on a market basis and required it to be used within a reasonable time frame, we wouldn't have these issues.

Re:Spectrum sale by Market (4, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581238)

They should have sold the frequencies by market area (city, zip-codes, etc.) and not nation-wide.

That's the real crux of the problem.

Now we have large nation-wide companies holding up frequencies in large swathes of the country because they're dedicating their efforts in specific markets where they can charge more.

Had the FCC sold the frequency on a market basis and required it to be used within a reasonable time frame, we wouldn't have these issues.

It's similar to the way telephone numbers were allocated: in huge blocks, with no particular guarantee that any significant percentage of them would ever be assigned. That led to the explosion in area codes we've experienced in the past couple decades. The phone companies first claimed that "it's all the fax machines and modems that are in use now" but the reality was just an inefficient allocation scheme.

Large chunks of IPV4 address space were assigned early on to corporations, universities, government bodies and others who had absolutely no use for so much space, simply because nobody even considered that 32-bits just wouldn't be enough. Not nearly enough.

The FCC isn't showing much better judgment when it comes to wireless spectrum, or the Internet in general for that matter. Well, okay ... they know exactly what they're doing: generating yet-another artificial scarcity so that their corporate sponsors can continue to make large sums of money from us.

Re:Spectrum sale by Market (3, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581266)

Large chunks of IPV4 address space were assigned early on to corporations, universities, government bodies and others who had absolutely no use for so much space, simply because nobody even considered that

anyone other than reasearchers or the military would have a use for "an Internet".

Re:Spectrum sale by Market (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581472)

Large chunks of IPV4 address space were assigned early on to corporations, universities, government bodies and others who had absolutely no use for so much space, simply because nobody even considered that

anyone other than reasearchers or the military would have a use for "an Internet".

Yah. That too.

Re:Spectrum sale by Market (1)

TurtleBay (1942166) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581256)

Not a feasible solution. If spectrum is sold by market, devices wouldn't be able to roam nation wide and a wireless router that you buy in one state would be jamming cell phone signals (or worse air traffic controll) when you move to another. I think the real answer is going to be localized networks with small cube transmitters on top of telephone poles transmitting at about 2-5 times the power of a Wifi hotspot. http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/11/02/07/1820240/alcatel-lucent-shrinks-mobile-cell-tower-to-small-cube [slashdot.org] .

Re:Spectrum sale by Market (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581406)

It's been my observation that a lot of the trouble with wireless seems to stem from a smaller number of high powered towers. Last I checked AT&T had like eight or so of them for Seattle, but the big problem was that they had four of them up north and four of them down south and none that I could find within the city limits. The problems are that one that doesn't handle geography very well at all, particularly for cities that have major hills. And second that it means you have a huge number of devices trying to talk to the same tower using the same frequencies.

A set of smaller lower powered towers would have fewer devices per tower and a much reduced need to transmit through hills.

That being said, I'm not sure how much of an advantage that would be in places like the midwest that don't have hills.

Re:Spectrum sale by Market (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581774)

Depends on the frequencies available(lower frequencies have shorter range but greater penetration through obstacles) and the regulations in the area. Where I live in So Cal, certain cities, like Cerritos, say that cell towers can only be located near freeways. Since the whole city isn't near the freeway, this presents a problem for serving the people away from the freeway. Thus, a few high powered higher frequency towers are setup near the freeways to reach those people that are not close to the freeway.

Re:Spectrum sale by Market (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 2 years ago | (#37583660)

I'm sure it does depend upon other factors. It's just been my observation that AT&T seems to be the only carrier that's not able to get towers installed within the city limits. T-Mobile, for instance, has almost that many towers in my neighborhood alone. (OK, a bit of an exaggeration, but still)

Re:Spectrum sale by Market (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 2 years ago | (#37582520)

If spectrum is sold by market, devices wouldn't be able to roam nation wide and a wireless router that you buy in one state would be jamming cell phone signals (or worse air traffic controll) when you move to another.

No, jamming wouldn't be an issue at all. The same frequency bands would be in use for the same applications nationwide just like they are now. The only thing that would change is that licensing for a given set of cellular frequencies would be granted on a regional basis instead of nationwide. There's no reason to think that this form of licensing would all of a sudden result in the FCC granting licenses for frequencies outside the current cellular allocations. Roaming could be a bit of an issue, but nothing insurmountable by the handset manufacturers. Phones would almost certainly get more expensive (and probably larger and more power-hungry) in order to be able to handle all the possible combinations of frequencies and channel access methods under this scheme though.

Re:Spectrum sale by Market (1)

yuna49 (905461) | about 2 years ago | (#37583514)

The original allocation of cell phone spectrum in 1981 was done by market. In each market half the frequencies were assigned to the local wireline carrier, and the other half were licensed to other competitors. Nationwide coverage was arranged via roaming agreements, though consolidation of the non-wireline providers into larger entities moved the process forward considerably.

Re:Spectrum sale by Market (5, Insightful)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581614)

> They should have sold the frequencies by market area (city, zip-codes, etc.) and not nation-wide.

Great. So then we could have a situation like we did prior to the arrival of Sprint around 1999, when every city had different cellular carriers, and sometimes you couldn't go 50 miles away from home without paying extra to roam. In case anybody has forgotten, roaming charges in the US were still common AND punishingly expensive less than 10 (hell, 5 or 6!) years ago unless you were a Sprint customer. Sprint's network might have sucked in most places, but if you lived in a real city and 99% of your travel was to other real cities and the major highways between them, it was rare to end up someplace that literally had no service unless it was totally out in BFE. You might have had to go outside, or even climb up on a roof to get a usable signal, but at least you weren't getting charged $5 plus a dollar per minute the way people with Verizon or AT&T did. There's a reason Sprint achieved early popularity in Florida and Texas -- both states were horribly fractured between hostile, rent-seeking regional carriers, and Sprint was literally the only way to travel around the state without getting raped by roaming charges.

Re:Spectrum sale by Market (3, Interesting)

Rich0 (548339) | about 2 years ago | (#37582710)

Actually, I'd do things differently:

1. Forbid anybody selling cell phones or cell phone service from owning any spectrum anywhere.
2. Forbid anybody from owning cell phone spectrum in more than one state.
3. Forbid anybody from owning cell phone spectrum in areas totaling more than 10000 mi^2.
4. Forbid anybody from owning more than 33% of the spectrum supporting any particular protocol in any particular location.
5. Assign a particular protocol to any particular frequency at the time of assignment and make this assignment national in scope.
6. Anybody owning spectrum has to publish their price-per-packet (or channel*time for analog) and charge the same price to all their customers and provide service to anybody (common carrier).
7. Anybody providing spectrum has to give access at a government-designed colo facility - there will be a moderate number of these.

In this model cell phone services can't vertically integrate - they HAVE to buy it from local utilities. Any area will have at least 3 local utilities running, which means pricing competition. Cell phone companies don't need to solve the last mile problem, and anybody with some capital can start a new cell phone company at any time and gets the same pricing as AT&T for spectrum use.

And yet, since protocols are assigned to frequency bands nationwide (NOT TO COMPANIES) you get full interoperability of the network nation wide.

Areas that are in the middle of nowhere that have no service today might have their local governments kick in some funding or incentives to get the network built out - or the municipality could buy up to 33% of the spectrum to run its own access, so this also helps areas that would otherwise lack coverage.

Local rent-seeking behavior goes away since nobody can corner any market entirely, and there is no way they can charge discriminatory pricing. The local utilities just accept packets at a colo and send them out over the air or whatever model works best for the techology.

And, spectrum could be re-designated for new protocols over time as technology marches on.

Re:Spectrum sale by Market (2)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about 2 years ago | (#37582914)

Still doesn't solve many of the problems. You need a mechanism where an underserved area can fend for itself, even if it is in some other company's zone.

I was negotiating with AT&T for a company contract, and identified three areas that needed commitment for better service in order for us to agree. They could pull off one (our office, with a cludge of 5-6 of their MicroCells), but the other two were just too much effort. All they really need to do is license out mirco-cells (not the femtocells) on the street lights and the problem is solved. But, their focus is on full-size towers, which is spectrum inefficient.

Re:Spectrum sale by Market (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 2 years ago | (#37583774)

But, their focus is on full-size towers, which is spectrum inefficient.

Yes, but right-of-way efficient.

Re:Spectrum sale by Market (3, Insightful)

mcelrath (8027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581818)

Why are we allocating in blocks and then assigning devices which are allowed to use fixed frequencies? Why don't we have software-defined radios [wikipedia.org] , antennae [wikipedia.org] , and something like cognitive radio [wikipedia.org] to define on-demand spectrum usage.

For example, when you turn your phone on it pings a tower using a low-bandwidth common channel to get a frequency allocation (like DHCP) and power assignment. Using a software antenna, it configures some internal hardware to transmit on that frequency/frequencies. Let the whole spectrum be used, by anyone, rather than block allocating in a way that is guaranteed to waste resources. This way, multiple carriers can share frequencies, even if they use different communication protocols (CDMA/TDMA/GSM). In practice, I'm sure a single carrier would effectively "grab" a frequency block in an area by setting up a tower. But the key is that if you travel to the next city, that same carrier could be using a different frequency, and your phone could detect it and use it.

Re:Spectrum sale by Market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37582222)

And what's the deal with foot-longs? Why are we paying for food by the block?
We can use the cameras in fast-food restaurants to measure how much you eat, then charge by the calory

Re:Spectrum sale by Market (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | about 2 years ago | (#37583894)

Chicken and egg.

If there is a corporation designing a device to perform such an act, they would have to follow the current on-book laws that don't allow that type of action without pre-reservation of a part of a spectrum (or multiple parts) where this action could occur.

If the FCC implemented the ability, then they would get pounded on by corporations that already have frequencies or ranges assigned to them. War ensues.

With higher frequency ranges that aren't assigned yet, that's doable, but there's another problem there - range. High frequencies travel through solid objects much better than low frequencies, but the negative for that gain is that the overall range of higher frequencies is much lower (even without solid obstruction).

Now we open a whole new can of worms. :)

Too much spectrum is tied up by government. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581224)

They really don't need it.

Re:Too much spectrum is tied up by government. (1)

taxman_10m (41083) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581234)

Not now maybe, but what about in the future?

The Wrong hands? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581232)

I guess they mean any hands but the ones that hand them lots and lots of money.

Wrong hands or wrong spectrum? (3, Informative)

schnell (163007) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581244)

According to the report, the "wrong hands" with control of spectrum that isn't being used or is underutilized are:

  • Clearwire (133 MHz)
  • Lightsquared (59 MHz)
  • Dish Network (47 MHz)

Almost all of the above spectrum is in the less-desirable 2 GHz+ ranges. Clearwire may be underutilizing, but Lightsquared and Dish haven't gotten to launch their services yet so you can't really say it's underutilized when it's still in process of being developed.

All in all, this report actually seems to make the case of the big carriers that there is still a shortage of "good" (especially less than 1 GHz) spectrum for broadband. Much of that is locked up by the broadcasters for stuff that is comparatively useless (anyone watching UHF television still these days?) versus having it available for mobile broadband.

Re:Wrong hands or wrong spectrum? (1, Informative)

Aighearach (97333) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581306)

you can't really say it's underutilized when it's still in process of being developed

fail

Re:Wrong hands or wrong spectrum? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581314)

OK, wow. Where to start.

First off, I guess, all of those listed bands are NOT in the "less desirable" 2GHz range, they are down in VHF. 133MHz is just outright wrong, I don't know where you got that from, but that's at the top of the aircraft band. For obvious reasons that is a very well protected and regulated part of the spectrum. If someone bought it up I doubt they will ever do anything with it, because the rules are very hard to comply with and there's no way in hell that consumer equipment would be allowed to transmit there.

Ignoring the rest, you ask if anyone is still watching UHF TV nowadays. Yes, everybody is. What they got rid of is the VHF TV stations. Absolutely every broadcast station is in the UHF range.

Along the funny side, a dish made for 47MHz would be about 10ft wide, minimum.

Re:Wrong hands or wrong spectrum? (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581466)

I think grandparent was referring to a 133 MHz-wide slice above 2 GHz, a 59 MHz-wide slice above 2 GHz, and a 47 MHz-wide slice above 2 GHz.

Re:Wrong hands or wrong spectrum? (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581724)

By the way, in case anybody's wondering, there's a good, not necessarily obvious reason why lots of TV stations that used to have VHF licenses voluntarily gave them up for UHF, even though VHF licenses were historically the desirable ones that stations were literally desperate to own -- mobile devices. VHF has long range at lower power, but needs a fairly large antenna to receive the signals efficiently. UHF, in contrast, can have a properly tuned antenna that's just a few inches long. For handheld and mobile devices, it's a lot easier and more convenient to deal with a small UHF antenna that's a few inches long instead of a big, unwieldy VHF antenna that's a few FEET long. The TV stations KNOW that mobile reception is the one realm they still somewhat have to themselves.

Re:Wrong hands or wrong spectrum? (1)

ONOIML8 (23262) | about 2 years ago | (#37583186)

But a dish made for a 47 MHz wide chunk of the 2 GHz spectrum Dish is allocated would be.....the same size as the one they currently use.

The fact that Clearwire has 133 MHz of bandwidth does not mean that their bandwidth is centered on 133 MHz. It means that they have a 133 MHz wide allocation centered somewhere in the 2 GHz region. Your airplanes are safe from them.

Re:Wrong hands or wrong spectrum? (1)

digitalaudiorock (1130835) | about 2 years ago | (#37583500)

Ignoring the rest, you ask if anyone is still watching UHF TV nowadays. Yes, everybody is. What they got rid of is the VHF TV stations. Absolutely every broadcast station is in the UHF range.

Actually no. I'm in NJ and get both Philadelphia and New York stations. After the digital switch over many stations whose digital broadcast was on UHF moved their digital broadcast to their old VHF frequency where they are now. These include 7 (ABC in NY), 11 (CW in NY), 13 (PBS in NY), 6 (ABC in Phily), and 12 (PBS in Phily). This happened in a lot of markets and came as a rather ugly surprise to a lot of people that got duped into buying high end "HD" antennas that were UHF only.

Re:Wrong hands or wrong spectrum? (1)

schnell (163007) | about 2 years ago | (#37583644)

I you read my original post - or TFA - you would realize I was talking about the amount of spectrum in MHz, not its specific frequency.

Re:Wrong hands or wrong spectrum? (1)

TClevenger (252206) | about 2 years ago | (#37583720)

I swear, we need a -1 (DNRTFA) tag.

Re:Wrong hands or wrong spectrum? (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | about 2 years ago | (#37583934)

Did you experience that college kid's experiment thingie that happened that one day, a few weeks ago I believe, on /.?

That wasn't a bad idea. Instead of just mod-scoring, people could actually "translate" a comment made by someone to clarify misreadings or misinterpretations. Those clarifications / classifications could be scored up or down for the most agreed-upon explanation.

I liked it. Wish it would have lasted for more than a few hours.

Re:Wrong hands or wrong spectrum? (3, Informative)

garcia (6573) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581364)

Clearwire is probably underutilized because people don't want the towers which provide the service in their backyards.

We've had a discussion about this in the past which I posted on (I'm too lazy to find it) where I said people in my area shot down a proposed tower because it would go up on a watertower in the park in their backyard.

With so much citizen hatred for "screwing up their home values" perhaps that's the biggest problem facing this "underutilized" spectrum rather than the companies themselves.

Re:Wrong hands or wrong spectrum? (2)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581420)

Clearwire is probably underutilized because people don't want the towers which provide the service in their backyards.

We've had a discussion about this in the past which I posted on (I'm too lazy to find it) where I said people in my area shot down a proposed tower because it would go up on a watertower in the park in their backyard.

With so much citizen hatred for "screwing up their home values" perhaps that's the biggest problem facing this "underutilized" spectrum rather than the companies themselves.

NIMBYs are generally a pain in the ass. You can't call them Luddites, since they're not exactly against the technology, they're just selfish pricks.

Re:Wrong hands or wrong spectrum? (4, Interesting)

Nethead (1563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581484)

Hi Bill:

A good amount of that Clearwire spectrum is used for tower-to-tower communications. One unique thing about Clearwire's system is they really don't like to pay for dedicated lines to towers. The normal setup is a few AggPOPs per market which feed, normally 10Gb fiber, to the market's TransPOP which often is colocated with the RDC (Regional Data Center). Each AggPOP will service one to several RF tower rings of three to eight towers, mostly via Dragonwave radios. Of course with tens of thousands of RF sites, there will be some one-offs, but the goal is to have as many tower sites serviced via the AggPOPs as feasible. The system from RF tower to TransPOP is PPB-TE Ethernet [wikipedia.org] .

This allows them, as they are doing now, to lease some of that bandwidth to the towers to other carriers. Clearwire was always envisioned as a wholesaler.

Re:Wrong hands or wrong spectrum? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 2 years ago | (#37583792)

his allows them, as they are doing now, to lease some of that bandwidth to the towers to other carriers. Clearwire was always envisioned as a wholesaler.

As Johnny Carson was wont to say: "I did not know that."

I'm opposite (1)

narftrek (549077) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581800)

I know those people you speak of exist but I have the opposite problem. I have been TRYING to get some kind of tower, I'll even take a power windmill, to be put on my property. I live in the country so our land value is already shot by the numerous trailers around here (not that I care about land value) but to have a major corporation actually lease a parcel of my land would be a guaranteed check to pay my mortgage every month. I have yet to find who exactly to contact regarding this or have been given the run around but I guess the reason I am failing is I don't "know" the right people or have enough money. If any of you guys have been successful in this please let me know!

Re:Wrong hands or wrong spectrum? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581492)

I didn't RTFA and I won't, but if what you say is right, then this report is garbage and the people who wrote it should be fired for making a business argument while completely ignoring technical feasibility.

Cell phones and portable devices use frequencies above 1 GHz because they allow for small antennas, and because a fraction of an octave at 1 GHz gives you 10 times the bandwidth than the same fraction at 100 MHz.

Thus, their entire report is pointless, and we don't even need to argue whether these bands are really in the wrong hands, or if they are available globally.

Re:Wrong hands or wrong spectrum? (3)

epine (68316) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581690)

CTIA officials disputed the Citigroup report's numbers, saying Bazinet and Rollins appear to be using information from 2010.

Whoa, it's still 2011, and I was so 2012 already.

Our crisis outruns competent criticism, so give us more money / leeway, no strings attached.

If the report used data from August, I'd trust it far less. I guess the Goldilocks report has a 30 day shelf life: not too fresh, not too stale. Just what you love to see when you work hard to prepare such a document in a thorough and even-handed way: pitched into the rubbish bin before the ink has barely dried.

Re:Wrong hands or wrong spectrum? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581772)

Don't forget all those greedy hams! They have a whole 26 MHz at 33 cm they're never using! That's a half of a freaking channel! Just take it! They got no lobbyists!

Re:Wrong hands or wrong spectrum? (1)

Sir Lurkalot (772154) | about 2 years ago | (#37583756)

Don't forget all those greedy hams! They have a whole 26 MHz at 33 cm they're never using! That's a half of a freaking channel! Just take it! They got no lobbyists!

Yes we do.
ARRL.org

Re:Wrong hands or wrong spectrum? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 2 years ago | (#37583862)

Don't forget all those greedy hams! They have a whole 26 MHz at 33 cm they're never using! That's a half of a freaking channel! Just take it! They got no lobbyists!

Ha. You know, I wish they would, and I further wish that the entire Federal Communications Commission, along with the CEO and Board of DIrectors of all the major telecom carriers, would get caught in the middle of some major disaster with no way to communicate or call for help. I then imagine them surrounded by hundreds of ex-HAM operators all staring at them with accusing eyes, "We could have gotten out on 20 meters, but now we're all gonna die because you selfish fucks "reallocated" our spectrum!"

Amateur radio does enough good in the world that it should just be left alone.

Re:Wrong hands or wrong spectrum? (2)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581868)

(anyone watching UHF television still these days?)

Actually yes, plenty of people are watching UHF TV nowadays. Most broadcasters switched to UHF because its better for transmitting ATSC broadcasts and led to a bit of a revival of that spectrum. The only place you will find VHF ATSC stations are crowded markets like NYC or LA where there is a spectrum crunch (mostly because a good chunk of the 700Mhz range, formerly UHF channels 52 thru 69, went to cell phone service). Even then those channels are on the high VHF (channel 7-13) band, almost nobody broadcasts on the low-VHF (channel 2-6) stations anymore.

"Wrong Hands" (2)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581252)

The U.S. has plenty of spectrum for mobile broadband, but much of it is in the wrong hands, they said."

To the people who make the decisions, that's the exact same thing as a shortage. They don't see a changing of hands as a viable option. They are not generally willing to consider it. If something is perceived as finite, limited, and scarce then you can continue to justify what you charge for it. The rest is a matter of regulatory capture by the proxy of campaign contributions.

Re:"Wrong Hands" (1)

Jay L (74152) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581538)

Likewise, there are plenty of jobs for talented workers. They're just currently taken by underperformers.

Re:"Wrong Hands" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37582628)

Likewise, there are plenty of jobs for talented workers. They're just currently taken by underperformers.

Or they haven't been created yet, because everybody is sitting on their asses waiting for someone to hand them a job.
If you can't find work, make work. That's kind of the entire point of a free society- do it yourself.

Re:"Wrong Hands" (1)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#37583472)

You know in real estate, which is a limited resource like spectrum, there is already a solution. It is called property tax. Property tax insures that firms and individuals that cannot fully utilize a resource will eventual have to give it up. It prevents the kind of aristocratic inefficiencies that we know see in spectrum, most notably over the air TV stations. When a agent cannot pay taxes, the property goes back to the state and another more efficient agent can utilize the resources. In my downtown area revitalization only occurred because of this. The firms that would have owned the land without property tax would have never sold at reasonable prices, but as the property was available for a fraction of back taxes, new businesses were allowed to grow and flourish. The state was an eager seller as it wants taxes.

Of course sometimes families lose a home or business over property taxes, but that is simply the cost of having an efficient economy, and is not an issue for spectrum. If spectrum was taxed at a relatively high rate, then firms with excess spectrum would be motivated to sell it or risk having it 'condemned' by the state. It is interesting that these allegedly free market traders do not promote such a tax.

Re:"Wrong Hands" (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 2 years ago | (#37583926)

Of course sometimes families lose a home or business over property taxes, but that is simply the cost of having an efficient economy,

Off-topic: the old "you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs" argument. It's morally bankrupt in many situations.

I hope you never have to deal with a tax-sale. It's brutal, and you lose everything over taxes worth only a fraction of the value of your home. That almost happened to a member of my family once: he was very ill and missed one payment. One. I tried to speak to the county attorney to get a little more time, and she told me flatly, "I can't help you. It's your responsibility to pay your taxes. If you lose your home that's really not my problem." Arrogant bitch. On the day of the tax sale I walked in, skipped over a line of people all waiting to pick up his house for a song, and handed over a certified check to the clerk for about seven grand. The collective sigh of disappointment I heard made me want to throw up. Frankly, it's inhumane and just fundamentally wrong the way most counties handle property taxes. The essence of ownership is, in fact, control, and the truth is you don't ultimately control the disposition of what is loosely called "property" in this country. The state can take it from you on a whim, and recent Supreme Court rulings have made that even more likely.

On topic, in the case of spectrum, you may very well be right, I don't know. But I do know this: if you tax the hell out of spectrum space that cost will instantly be passed on to consumers as higher prices and even poorer service. The answer is better regulation and control of carriers and their spectrum utilization, but in this age of regulatory capture I don't see it happening any time soon.

Re:"Wrong Hands" (1)

yuna49 (905461) | about 2 years ago | (#37583564)

I read TFA and kept waiting for some mention of spectrum utilization by Verizon and AT&T. Instead we see a list of smaller competitors as the "wrong hands" people. By implication if we could just drive these little guys out of the marketplace and let VZ and AT&T extend their oligopoly we'd all be better off? I think not.

Re:"Wrong Hands" (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 2 years ago | (#37583936)

I read TFA and kept waiting for some mention of spectrum utilization by Verizon and AT&T. Instead we see a list of smaller competitors as the "wrong hands" people. By implication if we could just drive these little guys out of the marketplace and let VZ and AT&T extend their oligopoly we'd all be better off? I think not.

Yeah, that' doesn't make much sense to me either. Kinda makes you wonder about the impartiality of the authors.

Ham radio? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581264)

How much of it is in control of the 12 ham's that still practice on a regular basis they cover pretty much everything tween 300Hz + and bitch and whine any time something that helps out the rest of us causes a bit of static in their chess game or shitty TV stations of an empty desk 24/7

Re:Ham radio? (1)

Hartree (191324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581332)

Obvious troll is obvious.

Re:Ham radio? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581434)

I'm pretty sure I'm feeding a troll here, so I'm not even trying to comprehend the reasoning needed to conclude that government taking control of frequencies and selling them to licensed corporations is cool, but government reserving a few frequencies to licensed members of the public that government is supposed to be serving is a horrible thing.

The factual question is fair enough, though, so:

In the range of interest for cellular communications (say, 1m to 0.1m, or 300 MHZ to 3 GHz), there's 186 MHz of ham allocations, or about 7% of the spectrum.

Re:Ham radio? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581560)

I guess I have to ask why do they even need 7% of that since they have a bunch outside of that range and it is a limited and dying hobby?

just wondering, and trying to not be a troll about it

A Patchwork Of Spectrum Is Not Usable Spectrum (5, Insightful)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581300)

Citi's report is not wrong, but how they go about counting things is naive at best. The crux of the matter is that there's a lot of crap spectrum that carriers basically got for free or close to it. But before we get too far ahead, let's answer an easier question: what is good spectrum.

  1. 1) The ideal spectrum is below 1GHz, as these frequencies have the best building and tree penetration. 1GHz-2GHz is usable, but it's not ideal because you start taking notable losses indoors and customers who've given up on landlines can't reliably use their phones indoors everywhere. Anything over 2GHz is effectively useless for mobile wireless because it's so poor at penetrating obstacles. It's best used for fixed point wireless where obstacles can be planned around and/or removed.
  2. 2) The ideal spectrum is nationwide. A patchwork of spectrum is not usable spectrum because it means you can only use narrow (lower bandwidth) channels, and requires a great deal more effort to plan, operate, and maintain a wireless network.
  3. 2b) Local spectrum is only useful when it abuts nationwide spectrum so that carriers can use it by simply activating more channels in high population areas.

Case in point, 194MHz of the spectrum Citi says is available is above 2GHz: "Citigroup's description of 194 MHz available in the Broadband Radio Service (BRS) and Educational Broadband Service (EBS) bands between 2.4 and 2.7 GHz". This also goes hand-in-hand with Citi's weird method of counting spectrum in use: they're multiplying it by the percent of the population that the spectrum covers. "The two used averages to come up with spectrum use estimates; if a carrier has a 10 MHz nationwide block, but is only delivering service to half the U.S. population, the report considers that 5 MHz of used spectrum, Rollins said."

Ultimately the carriers are being wasteful at times, but not nearly to the degree that Citi says they are. The carriers need more national allocations if they're to run a 3rd network simultaneously, and those allocations need to be at least 40MHz wide so that they can operate two sets of wideband (10MHz) LTE channels. Smaller allocations mean that they're going to have to use smaller channels, and that's going to greatly limit network performance.

Re:A Patchwork Of Spectrum Is Not Usable Spectrum (4, Interesting)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581576)

Ultimately the carriers are being wasteful at times, but not nearly to the degree that Citi says they are.

The government shouldn't have sold spectrum, it should have leased it, with lease renewal fees gradually increasing over time like we do with property taxes. One of the purposes of commercial property taxes is to encourage efficient use of land. If you own land in a major city's downtown area, the temptation is to sit on that land as it appreciates in value. After all, it costs you no more to hold onto that land than it does to hold onto land in the middle of the desert. That's good for you, but bad for society overall. By charging you high property tax on that valuable piece of land, it gives you two choices: Develop the land into something useful for society which generates enough revenue for you to offset the high property tax, or sell the land to someone who will develop it.

That's what the government should have done with spectrum. Recurring and increasing annual lease fees would've forced spectrum owners to use it, or sell it off to someone who would use it. By selling the spectrum instead of leasing it, we've got a bunch of companies now suspected of wastefully sitting on spectrum simply because they can.

Re:A Patchwork Of Spectrum Is Not Usable Spectrum (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37582284)

Ultimately the carriers are being wasteful at times, but not nearly to the degree that Citi says they are.

The government shouldn't have sold spectrum, it should have leased it, with lease renewal fees gradually increasing over time like we do with property taxes. One of the purposes of commercial property taxes is to encourage efficient use of land. If you own land in a major city's downtown area, the temptation is to sit on that land as it appreciates in value. After all, it costs you no more to hold onto that land than it does to hold onto land in the middle of the desert. That's good for you, but bad for society overall. By charging you high property tax on that valuable piece of land, it gives you two choices: Develop the land into something useful for society which generates enough revenue for you to offset the high property tax, or sell the land to someone who will develop it.

That's what the government should have done with spectrum. Recurring and increasing annual lease fees would've forced spectrum owners to use it, or sell it off to someone who would use it. By selling the spectrum instead of leasing it, we've got a bunch of companies now suspected of wastefully sitting on spectrum simply because they can.

Given that property is owned and still can be taxed, I don't see why they couldn't also introduce a spectrum tax.

Re:A Patchwork Of Spectrum Is Not Usable Spectrum (2)

darth dickinson (169021) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581592)

Citi's report is not wrong, but how they go about counting things is naive at best.

Well, duh, they couldn't run a bank for crap. What makes you think they can allocate wireless broadband effectively?

Re:A Patchwork Of Spectrum Is Not Usable Spectrum (2)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581610)

tree penetration

Best enviro-porn movie title ever.

Re:A Patchwork Of Spectrum Is Not Usable Spectrum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37582596)

Anything over 2GHz is effectively useless for mobile wireless because it's so poor at penetrating obstacles. It's best used for fixed point wireless where obstacles can be planned around and/or removed.

Maybe here in europe physics laws are different, but UMTS and derivates (HSDPA et al) in 2.2 Ghz provides mobile voice and data up to 7.2Mbps without problems.

Locked in. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581412)

We bought it so our competition can't use it. Even tho we're not going to do anything with it anytime soon either. We didn't want any other company to use this chunk of spectrum.

Like many problems... These problems can be traced back to the FCC being how they are.

Here's a good diagram of the spectrums (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581446)

I found this [picdesk.com] earlier.

Re:Here's a good diagram of the spectrums (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581488)

I thought this was another goatse but was absolutely horrified by what I saw. Thanks, asshole.

Spectrum is not a finite resource... (2)

KonoWatakushi (910213) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581496)

Photons don't interact with each other, and don't "fill up" anything. What is at issue, is our poor usage of the spectrum, and insistance on treating it like exclusive property. Any number of people can communicate on the very same frequencies, and in the very same space, just as long as there is a way to distinguish the communications. Fortunately, nature provides each device with a unique "address": its location in space. As technology improves, we can continue to make ever better use of the same spectrum--or at least we could if legislation didn't actively prevent it.

In essence, it comes down to building more towers, and I'm not aware of any unsurmountable barriers to a company with the will and cash. Of course, it is easier to just prop up the model of artificial scarcity with prices to match.

Rather than clinging to the outdated concept of a scarce spectrum, regulatory agencies should start giving it back to the public, and encourage the proper use of it. Highly dense, low-power, ultra wide-band communications. It is the natural evolution of wifi: per-home micro-cells attached to home fibre, running open Internet protocols. We could easily have extremely high-performance ubiquitous wireless networking, if massive corporations weren't so busy propping up artificial scarcity and walling everything off.

Re:Spectrum is not a finite resource... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581612)

> Photons don't interact with each other

Correct, but we are talking about radio waves, which do interact.

> In essence, it comes down to building more towers, and I'm not aware of any unsurmountable barriers to a company with the will and cash

Perhaps everyone has a price, but are you willing to pay $5/minute in phone charges to pay for buying up all the $20million dollar homes that would be required to install the tower in some locations? In some countries towers are considered good for all so communities have limited ability to block them. In the US, too many want the towers somewhere else (but complain about poor coverage at the same time), and have the ability to block them.

Re:Spectrum is not a finite resource... (1)

SlashV (1069110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581846)

> Photons don't interact with each other
Correct, but we are talking about radio waves, which do interact.

So according to you, radio waves are not photons?

Re:Spectrum is not a finite resource... (1)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 2 years ago | (#37582558)

Before anyone else gets into this discussion:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photon [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_radiation [wikipedia.org]

Yeah, I was always told photons were light, and were different. TIL...

We are still left with the issue that a stronger source can make a weaker one indistinguishable, though.

Re:Spectrum is not a finite resource... (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581900)

You're completely wrong. There is some very well established science regarding the maximum amount of information that can be sent in a given bandwidth. Read up on the Shannon limit, for starters. If you and I are on the same frequency, standing next to each other, we have to share the available bandwidth. There's simply no way around it. Distinguishing my traffic from yours is the easy part.

You can get some breathing room by moving towards numerous, low-power stations, as you suggest. But it's not as easy as it is in your imagination. In order to have good signal in your house, it's going to have to spill over into your neighbors. So he'll have to use a different frequency. And so will your neighbor on the other side, and across the street. The entire county would turn into the map coloring problem from hell, except the four color limit won't apply since the borders are squishy and blend together.

And even if you spent the zillions of dollars necessary to set up and maintain that system, it would still have limits. The bandwidth would still get filled up. That's simply a mathematical law.

Re:Spectrum is not a finite resource... (1)

KonoWatakushi (910213) | more than 2 years ago | (#37582182)

That's just the thing--there is no "given bandwidth". The limit you refer to is relevant for a single channel over a wire, or a single transmitter. For the spectrum though, you are effectively allowed an infinite number of transmitters/receivers. By legislating exclusive use of nearly all frequencies, we are killing any potential growth in that direction.

Distinguishing the signals is very much the practical limiting factor, but the capacity is there, and technology will continue to improve. We have barely scratched the surface of what will become possible with phased array antennas. Based on typical usage, people assume that wireless is a shared medium, but it is not. It is fundamentally point to point. (Optical is easy; RF is much harder, and subject to antenna limitations. Sure, there are limitations, but the point holds.)

It wouldn't take a zillion dollars, but it would require a pervasive quality optical network for all of those tiny cells to attach to. We need that anyway though, and that suffers from much the same problem: the carriers are perfectly happy leaving the network to rot. We desperately need public ownership of the plant, and the resulting competition amongst ISPs. Likewise, we need public ownership of a sizable chunk of spectrum. Without that, there is nothing to drive innovation and improvement of the respective mediums--there will always be some corporation focused on protecting their monopoly position, not improving the network.

Re:Spectrum is not a finite resource... (1)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 2 years ago | (#37582534)

> Photons don't interact with each other, and don't "fill up" anything.

Completely the wrong sort of spectrum.

> Fortunately, nature provides each device with a unique "address": its location in space.

Which you can't tell from a single receiver. Direction is possible, but you need a second receiver at sufficient distance to get a second accurate reading, to get location. Not that it helps anyway; radio waves do interact, and weaker signals can be drowned out by more powerful ones.

> Rather than clinging to the outdated concept of a scarce spectrum, regulatory agencies should start giving it back to the public, and encourage the proper use of it.

We could call it the 2.4Ghz band, and fill it with low power transmitters using 802.11[bgn]? BT FON in the UK ( http://www.btfon.com/ [btfon.com] ) is probably what you want; home broadband connections converted to Wi-Fi access points. Free for all BT FON providers to use any other access point in the network, or others can use it as a normal pay access point.

Re:Spectrum is not a finite resource... (1)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 2 years ago | (#37582572)

> Completely the wrong sort of spectrum.

Apologies, I was wrong. Embarrassingly, Wikipedia had to come to my rescue.

Four little words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581502)

"Remote Garage Door Openers"
These work in the 300 - 400 Mhz range (good for building penetration), but are always used at relatively short range. Surely we could assign these systems a frequency in a less "desirable" band and get over the issue of building penetration by merely boosting the power of the transmitters.
There's a useful chart of US radio frequencies at the Department of Commerce NAtional Telecommunications and Information Administration Office of Spectrum Management [doc.gov] (.pdf)

Oh? And Whose Hands Should It Be In? (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581510)

Is shitty bank planning on starting a shitty internet service to go with their shitty wok and shitty airline?

Citigroup??? (1)

Tony Isaac (1301187) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581552)

So...this is Citigroup, the security experts [slashdot.org] , right? So now they are wireless frequency allocation experts too???

Maybe the same hackers that stole all that account information, made off with some frequencies while they were at it!

Re:Citigroup??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37583354)

You sir are a retard. Citigroup is composed of about 300,000 people world wide. To say the security breach has anything to do with the people making claims about the spectrum is just plain naive. While its all under one label it really can easily be broken down into several smaller companies (and probably should be but thats another discussion).

As an employee in the broadcast biz... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581974)

...I'm quite aware of the move to reclaim bandwidth from the USA terrestrial stations. I've seen the cry and hue that the NAB (and members) and put forth, but I've always wondered why they just don't come out and say "You bastards MANDATED that we change over to digital, and now you want us to give back bandwidth on a capability and capacity we had to spend millions on.", or something similar.

Why haven't they just come out with that tack? It is the unspoken sentiment, yet no one seems to have the balls to say it.

one word solution: MESH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581978)

more nodes=more bandwith
the users themselves ARE the network

Well duh (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581984)

Artificial scarcity to increase profits is not really a new concept

Mesh Networks (2)

Torino10 (1369453) | more than 2 years ago | (#37582000)

I have been seriously considering lobbying my Congressman to consider changing the top 20 channels of Citizens Band radio to a digital Citizens band format, where every device that uses the bandwidth would have to function like a WiFi AP Bridge. This sort of network would still function even when there is a disaster and the local Cell towers go down. It would also create some competition to the CelPhone companies and eventually the Cable companies. It's just a thought at the moment but I'm planning on doing research into it's feasibility and if it looks possible starting a grass roots political movement.

Re:Mesh Networks (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37582426)

Note that you're only looking at 200 kHz of bandwidth -- you're not getting a practical voice or general-use internet connection through that, not if it sees any amount of adoption. It can be quite adequate for text messages and email gateways, though.

Look into APRS for an existing protocol and wide-area mesh network along those lines -- it is ordinarily run on amateur frequencies (mostly 2m, at 1200kb/s), but naturally you can put it on any frequency, modulation, and bitrate you like. At least consider it as a reference to evolve a different protocol from, if it turns out to be unsuitable.

The exact form you discuss -- requiring every terminal to function as a repeater -- is of questionable practicality, because it places severe limits on battery life of handheld terminals. Might look into having mobile and base stations act as repeaters, while only requiring handhelds to support it (and maybe to operate as repeaters when operating from an external power source), but allow the user to turn it off while operating on internal batteries.

What about smaller cell's in population centers?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37582390)

I think the real problem is the size of cell's in population centers.
If you like to have more spectrum in some area's create more smaller cell's.

 

It goes all the way... (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37582652)

There is no spectrum shortage, the frequency of electromagnetic radiation goes all the way to infinity.

Speaking of Spectrums, is 'Uncle Clive' still alive?

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