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Ex-FCC Chair: Spectrum Plan "Single Worst Telecom Bill I've Seen"

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the but-how-do-you-really-feel? dept.

Government 63

alphadogg writes "Former FCC chairman Reed Hundt made waves when he called the House spectrum auction legislation 'the single worst telecom bill' he's seen. The legislation, which would severely restrict the FCC's ability to place conditions on spectrum auctions, is seen as a non-starter in the Senate where a bipartisan group of senators including John Kerry (D — Mass.) and Jerry Moran (R — Kan.) have signaled strong opposition to the House approach to authorizing spectrum auctions. In this interview, Hundt outlines his major objections to the House bill and describes what he would do differently to make more spectrum available."

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The "Single Worst"? (0, Offtopic)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934653)

I guess he's never read the PATRIOT Act or some of the other horrible legislation that's been cast upon American citizens.

Re:The "Single Worst"? (1)

DarkFencer (260473) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934771)

Though the patriot act had aspects that affected telecommunication, I don't see that it would be considered 'the single worst telecom bill' since its not really a telecom bill.

Re:The "Single Worst"? (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934785)

Because the bill is aimed at cel phone carriers, namely AT&Ts baby crying they did in response to their attempted takeover of T-Mobile?

Damn government getting in the way (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934663)

Don't they realize capitalism requires absolute and utter freedom to run rampant over anything in its way, and damn the principles of forethought and consideration?

Re:Damn government getting in the way (1)

tunapez (1161697) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935791)

Yeah!

Oh yeah, if you find an envelope stuffed with cash bearing the initials RH please forward immediately to Mr. Hundt. Apparently he didn't get the 'memo'...donation...comfy 7 digit-job...

Are you sure that's the worst telephone bill? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934681)

..having repeatedly decided (re: made the mistake) to try international roaming when I was on holiday overseas instead of buying a local sim-card, I can tell you, I have also seen a lot of bad telephone bills!

The Problem Is (4, Insightful)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934811)

The problem is that many house republicans believe that they can ask God to "create" more spectrum. You know, once it is all used up by the corporations that bribed them. At least a blunder like this could be fixed by reallocation of spectrum. Try reallocating oil out of an empty oil-field, or CO2 back into the ground that quickly.
Posting mobile, sorry for typos.

Re:The Problem Is (0)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935425)

Really mods? Flamebait? Is it because it is Sunday and I said something about God? My comment may not have been particularly insightful or interesting, but it is at least partially true, somewhat funny, and more deserving that flamebait. Oh well, fuck it I have karma to burn.

Re:The Problem Is (1)

hhw (683423) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935491)

Ack, modded up your original post but modded down this one purely by mistake. Will comment to undo

Re:The Problem Is (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935691)

No, flamebait because of the typos. This is Slashdot, we hate typos.

(And grammar mistakes, man, those really frost us).

And you probably typed it from an iPhone (we can tell, you know). We hate iPhones.

Re:The Problem Is (1)

spidr_mnky (1236668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937143)

We seem to love us some comma splices, though. :P

Re:The Problem Is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936047)

Welcome to slashdot. Fact is, most moderators are, one, dumb as shit. And two, unable to follow the most basic of moderation instructions. Which of course, two validates point one.

If they had even half a brain, which the vast majority clearly do not, they'd follow simple instructions which make a better slashdot for everyone. This primarily works by leaving comments the fuck alone and focusing on moderating up comments and ONLY moderate down comments when its clear they add nothing to the discussion. But I guess intelligent and appropriate use of technology and moderation is not something the current generation of moderators even attempt to fake. Thusly, once again, validating point one above.

Slashdot is dead.

Re:The Problem Is (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936239)

Nigger cock!

Re:The Problem Is (4, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936561)

It's flamebait because you posted it just to stir the pot. You know it's going to simmer when you attack one party in such a fashion, the ones who support the Republican party are going to lash back then the Democrat party faithful will wing in to put in their two cents worth and you have a full blown flame war. Of course you knew that which is why the comment was flamebait.

Re:The Problem Is (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937085)

But that brings up the question, is it flamebait if its true? because its pretty obvious that it's the house reps more than the senate that tend to be the real holy rollers, and since they don't get the face time the senate does they are easier to keep bought since so few even keep up with them, they are like the minor league of politicians. So as an independent, so i don't really have a horse in this race, there isn't anything i can find factually wrong about his post, anymore than if i said 'Dems love to kiss the ass of big media" would that be in any way false. Does this mean we can't say anything truthful if someone will get butthurt? Because if so that will leave a pretty damned small list of topics we can cover, pretty much space and physics unless there are some ready to downmod while thinking "You take that compliment back, Hawking is a fucking douchenozzle and his books suck!"

as for TFA frankly anything coming from any congress we've had in at least the last decade will be the "worst ever" because honestly they don't even pretend to hide the bribery and frankly why should they? when Dodd gets on national television and makes not even slightly veiled threats that are all in one swoop coercion, blackmail AND bribery and yet he won't even be investigated for something that in times past frankly would have had him shot? Then why the fuck should they care WHAT the peasants think? Hell we might as well just put after their D or R 'Me love you long time ten dolla each" and call it a day.

Re:The Problem Is (2)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937687)

It's flamebait if the only real purpose is to cause a flamewar. It's a blanket statement that might fit some of the lawmakers in question but will not fit all or even most. It's a statement made to piss off those that are of the Republican bent and really has no other reason for being posted. There ya go, quid pro quo.

Re:The Problem Is (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38938909)

But if we use your definition then we would lose any and all generalizations! We'd have to say "congressmen (insert huge list) are all holy rollers" when in this case the simple generalization "congress reps are holy rollers' tends to be more generally accurate. i mean again if I say "Dems kiss big media booty" do I REALLY need to go through an entire list of dems that kiss big media booty? If we have to go through a list every time its a subject that will cause someone to be butthurt we are gonna have a LOT of posts that look like war and peace when the simple fact that nobody likes to admit is sometimes stereotypes are true!

Since i don't want anyone to think i'm picking on the Dems or Reps I will the list the general stereotypes that i have found to be generally accurate, feel free to play along at home! It will probably work better if you hear it sung by Eric idle in your head... Now many dems kiss the media ring, and the 1% makes the reps heart sing,and they wish the dirty poor would just go away, there are many gay females with butch hair, and gay males with an effeminate air, and some you can't tell what they are either way...Many whites that can't dance, many Asians are light in their pants, while blacks are hung which they often like to rap, the Micks like their booze, the catholic priests are in the news, and most of the media is filled with Jews...

So as you can see while I'm sure there are quite a few that could be butthurt by that little ditty it was simply a little list of generalizations sung to a little classic Python. Hell I could have added another dozen lines or so but I'd like to get a little gaming in before bed, have a nice day!

The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (4, Insightful)

RanceJustice (2028040) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934875)

The FCC absolutely needs to have the regulative authority to say "You can't bid on this without having the money to pay for it, being willing to actually develop on it instead of just sitting on your ass and holding it to lock down competitors until you feel threatened, being willing to roll out development on your new spectrum in rural areas and you have to either keep prices below X or subsidize plans for low-income Americans", but that's at a bare minimum. This bill basically allows anyone who buys spectrum rights to do well... whatever they want with it, even if its to the detriment of everyone save for their own business. Even worse, it prevents the FCC from giving away rights to unlicensed spectrum - Hundt talked about how Wi-Fi would never have come to pass if this bill was in place years ago. I don't want every single possible frequency needlessly licensed to someone with the money to buy it. However, I disagree when it comes to what he says about oligopolistic practices; unless you force fragmentation to a point that is foolish, OR do the right thing and make unlicensed (WiFi, Bluetooth etc..) spectrum and/or public-held "free" spectrum capable of the kind of performance, you'll run into a de-facto oligopoly as the one we have now in telecom/mobile data.

However, I feel the answer to this issue is relatively simple - stop spectrum auctions and in truth remove private ownership of spectrum entirely. The FCC is an absolutely necessary government function. We need someone to say "Look, these bands are for military communication, these are for emergency services, and these can be used for broadcasting music etc.... if everyone sticks to the frequency as assigned, we won't have any problem. Fuck it up and start playing country music over the missile telemetry channel and we're going to crack some skulls, fine your ass, and take away your right to broadcast". Leaving it up to private sector greed doesn't work, just like with any other decision it becomes "He who has the most money, wins". Why are we allowing parts of the spectrum to be licensed exclusively for private use? Why not just make all spectrum public? Note, this does not mean "unregulated", but it does mean that we'd have a lot better outcome then trying to let a corrupt market decide. There is absolutely no benefit to auctions for exclusivity in the private sector. In truth, the private sector will fare better by having public access to various frequencies. Want to make the next generation long-distance WiMax-like technology? Oh, crap...well, Google bought up all the rights to the spectrum that you thought would work for you. Having the FFC say "All that analogTV open space is now available for this sort of communication usage" means that anyone who wants to build something to work on said frequency is allowed to do so. It also means that your equipment won't be totally useless if Goog-Fi is removed from "beta" because of issues, and thus anyone who built any devices (especially those paying Google for the privilege) is SOL because their hardware only works on frequencies that belong to Google for the next 20 years. Public control and access of the electromagnetic spectrum is good for the public and the benevolent private sector.

A bill such as this is certainly an insult to the public and furthers the "Money means power" agenda of those who can't get enough of either. However, we shouldn't just fight to return things to the status quo, but rather return control of the spectrum to the public good.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (2)

mybecq (131456) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935071)

Why not just make all spectrum public?

How do you propose to regulate it then so that everyone's phone works whenever they're in range of a cell tower? Otherwise, you haven't offered anything better than what we have now.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (2)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935173)

Wifi seems to work properly for that. So long as the government mandates the standards for a national cellphone system (like in Europe where cellphone plans are much cheaper) it should work.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (2)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935215)

Wifi only works because it is extremely short range, and even then it sucks in sufficiently crowded areas. Trying to do cell service that way would be a disaster.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (1)

dlp211 (1722746) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935367)

Yes, because the rest of the world doesn't operate mostly on 1 band (900 Mhz). You do realize there are standards for handling phone communications, it is called GSM, you may have heard of it.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (5, Insightful)

rabtech (223758) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935631)

Wifi only works because it is extremely short range, and even then it sucks in sufficiently crowded areas. Trying to do cell service that way would be a disaster.

If the 700mhz, 800mhz, AWS, and PCS band frequencies were held by a regulated public utility company (e.g. Oncor for electricity in Texas) and that utility simply charged cost to deliver plus a small guaranteed profit we wouldn't have a spectrum issue at all. The carriers would compete based on backhaul, services, customer service, price, etc. The infrastructure provider would simply roll out LTE nationwide (just like they are rolling out smart meters) using a small monthly charge to pay off the upgrades.

The way we handle cellular service in the US right now is terribly inefficient from a market perspective. If Sprint has a tower next to my house but I have an ATT phone, all that Sprint spectrum is wasted. Or if ATT has towers with plenty of capacity but Sprint's tower is overloaded it doesn't matter - the Sprint customers can't use that idle spectrum. This forces all the carriers to allocate much more frequency than they might otherwise need. Every major city has duplicated towers and equipment, wasting electricity and increasing the overall infrastructure cost.

Further there is no incentive to change because this creates such a high barrier to entry that new competitors can't enter the market. When you don't fear new competitors, you just pass the increased cost on to your customers.

This is clearly a situation that benefits almost no one except the carriers and only benefits them insofar as it keeps new competitors out of the market. Otherwise it is wholly inefficient and a great example of the free market creating perverse incentives.

* Of course without any regulation of spectrum it would be effectively useless because transmissions would constantly step on each other. The idea that competitors wouldn't intentionally sabotage each other through covert means is insane... and I don't mean same-industry competitors, I mean stuff like cable companies setting up towers to explicitly jam wireless internet companies to protect their existing business. Without government regulation that is exactly what would happen.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936197)

I agree with everything you said except where you impugn the free market by providing an example of how things are broken in a non-free market. And players in a free market are still subject to civil and criminal law, so your nightmare scenario is not likely to happen. Is that regulation? Not unless you believe U.S. vs. Microsoft was a regulatory issue.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (1)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936675)

There is no such thing as a free market you idiot. Why do you layment keep repeating it over and over again? It's a hypothetical concept meant for academic study. It requires zero barrier to entry, unlimited competition, perfectly rational consumers with perfect knowledge of everything.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937263)

Listen, friend. You should probably know who you are talking to before you start calling people idiots.

1. "There is no such thing as a free market, you idiot." Note the comma.
2. It's laymen. Nice ad hominem attack, though.
3. You are confusing a perfect market with a free market.
4. I don't believe I claimed there was a free market. In fact, I claimed the opposite.
5. If I accept your premise that there is no such thing as a free market, that only strengthens my original claim that the failing discussed by the original poster was not a failing of the free market, but of a non-free market.

Enjoy the Super Bowl.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937359)

5. If I accept your premise that there is no such thing as a free market, that only strengthens my original claim that the failing discussed by the original poster was not a failing of the free market, but of a non-free market.

Where ISN'T there a non-free market?

There are limited amounts of land, that restricts the number of the businesses that can sell land. There are limited amounts of spectrum, that restricts the number of companies that can viably operate wireless service in a particular area. There are limited amounts of oil, that restricts the number of companies that can viably extract it. etc, etc.

Theoretical ideas are nice and all but aren't practical when they don't survive contact with reality.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38938173)

Scarcity is not a market distortion. Scarcity is the reason we have markets. Try again.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (1)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38938133)

Devices using the public spectrum should be forced to detect other devices in range and share the spectrum evenly with those other devices.

Any devices not sharing the spectrum evenly would be banned.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (1)

dog77 (1005249) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935299)

I agree; I have a hard time understanding how Republicans can argue the current practice is free market. I generally believe in the principles Republicans espouse, but in practice I often do not see how policies align with principles, and this is another example.

I have heard the arguments that service will suffer if there is not complete ownership of a given band and I think that is a reasonable argument. How will different carriers share the spectrum? I do not think the strategy used with the 2.4 GHZ spectrum will be acceptable in all cases. So I would like to hear what types of strategies will be implemented to make this work.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (5, Insightful)

RanceJustice (2028040) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935723)

Just because something is public owned doesn't mean its unregulated, as I noted in my original post. As others have posted, you simply make sure there are standards. GSM works really well on a handful of frequencies for instance, and even better in European and Asian nations where governments get involved. If we didn't have companies dicking around trying to monopolize a given band within the spectrum , we could easily have even more efficient use. Much of the mobile telephone communication around the world happens exclusively on a handful of frequencies (GSM) and there are no problems with "sharing" without having some private entity bitching that only THEY should be able to use the 900mhz band and won't be able to do their job otherwise - that's a USA-style greed invented issue.

Also, applying these principles to hardware involved in broadcasting is another huge benefit we don't enjoy here in the USA. Verizon owns all the CDMA towers and ATT owns nearly all the GSM towers, allowing them to restrict access to anyone else; T-mo had to actually start putting up their OWN towers. Yes, both ATT and Verizon capitulated slightly to allow licensing access, but only to avoid anti-monopolistic laws that generally allow them to continue doing exactly what they're doing - high prices, little choice. These companies, despite the fact they are hugely subsidized with taxpayer dollars to put up the infrastructure, retain control. This hurts competition and public value. In nations where communications and information infrastructure is subsidized in a way that We The People actually own the towers (or the copper, or the fiber etc..) no matter who was contracted to build them, prices are lower, there are more standards, and performance is off the charts.

Nearly the entire world enjoys cheaper mobile communication, largely because of strong government regulations to ensure that infrastructure benefits those taxpayers that subsidized it, standards are adhered to, and it even opens the field for competition because new players know that they won't have to license their own spectrum, build hardware for use on said spectrum, or build their own towers/broadcasting equipment that is proprietary - they can simply come in and compete without those kinds of barriers to entry. Much like how the Interstate Highway System allowed America to rise out of the dark ages of unpaved, unmetered, halfassed toll and back roads, by providing a unified, high-"bandwidth" quality system, that is implemented everywhere not just where it was profitable to do so, doing the same for information/communication infrastructure will enable us to take a big leap forward.

Information Infrastructure is just as important as roads and dams; we've seen the problems of deregulation and putting our critical infrastructure in the hands of private interests who only do what is profitable at the moment. Lets learn from the past and do better; there's already a portion of the world proving the success so its not even broaching new territory so much as it is playing catch up with the rest of the first world. However, we can't do that unless we give up the fear of the word "public" and the idea that private industry and finance are the panacea for everything - in most cases unless they're properly regulated with a watchful, empowered entity, they're actually the plague instead.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38935883)

Republicans don't care about the free market. The sooner everyone gets that the better off we'll all be. Republicans care about giving away scarce public resources at fire sale prices to corporations for profit. When they can't do that, they care about spending your tax money on privitization schemes that maximize corporate profits and provide zero accountability.

When was the last time you heard one of these clowns say "Gee,we tried privatizing that and didn't save any money. Maybe we should try something else.". Or perhaps "It looks to me like the people are getting ripped off by mineral companies that operate on federal land but don't pay market rates for what they take?". You never hear that from Republicans, and nowhere near often enough from Democrats either.

This is no different. It is selling off of the commons, which at worst should be leased and more properly should be licensed to whoever comes up with the best use for it that benefits the American people. Remember them? They sure don't.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936615)

the reason it is hard for you to understand is because you are ignoring the fact that republicans are not for free markets, they are for cronyism markets.

I hate (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935343)

The smell of lobbiests in the morning.

Re:I hate (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935779)

The smell of lobbiests in the morning.

But the combination of napalm and lobbyists. A guy could get used to that.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (2)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935593)

I don't even understand how your proposal would work. There is far more demand for spectrum than there is spectrum. It is a scarce resource.

The government needs to carve it up into usable chunks. From there they can either:

a) Give it away
b) Sell it.

The real advantage of (b) is that in general that is how we handle most scarce resources, we force people to pay a lot for them. Further having people buy it creates money to fund other services. You are not addressing scarcity.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (1)

dlp211 (1722746) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936773)

Do you have any citation that proves that there is more demand for spectrum then there is spectrum. Why is this an issue only in the US, and why do we have to a) give it away or b) sell it? The rest of the world is able to do just fine with multiple carriers on a single band or two of spectrum for cell phones. Why can't the US, what makes the US this special case that has made it impossible to operate on a single band. The problem is this belief that the government can't, and hasn't done anything right ever. The fact on the other hand is the government runs well and has for a long time even though it has been slowly dismantled.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (4, Informative)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937533)

In terms of a citation the FCC did a substantial study and says we are 275 mhz short by 2014 ( http://download.broadband.gov/plan/fcc-staff-technical-paper-mobile-broadband-benefits-of-additional-spectrum.pdf [broadband.gov] ).

Why can't the US, what makes the US this special case that has made it impossible to operate on a single band.

A few big issues.

1) The US has much lower population density than most other countries that invest in carriers. The US also has more terrain blockages like mountains and deserts.
2) The US never agreed to a single standard GSM or CDMA

. Why is this an issue only in the US, and why do we have to a) give it away or b) sell it?

Needing to give it away or sell it, isn't only an issue in the US. As to why only those two, I explained in the original.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (1)

RanceJustice (2028040) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937345)

Spectrum does have its limits, but it is not correct to apply true scarcity models toward as you would something like oil. EMS is not a commodity. One hundred years ago, the amount of the spectrum that was useful to transmit data was very limited. Today, we've progressed a long way from the first radios. We're always figuring out how to get more out of the spectrum we have, and nowhere near all of it is currently "used" at the moment. Remember "HD Radio" - adding additional channels in-between current FM channels? It is unlikely we'll ever reach "peak" spectrum. In addition, EMS is extremely easy to repurpose. One of the big issues recently is what to do with the former analog TV broadcast spectrum frequencies. If you have a good authoritative govt (yes, it has to be government or else the people that profit from the status quo will do everything in their power to prevent buggy whips from going out of style. Its bad enough now that business tries to influence government to do this, but if it was only up to business there would be nobody looking out for the good of the public as that is just not profitable to make an expensive change while you're currently soaking up the finances) office that says "Hey, after X date Y spectrum will no longer be used for Q, since we've been pretty much winding down Q for awhile. We'll have some research time, and then decide of R or S would be a better use of Y spectrum". There's no complex "recycling" that results in some spectrum being destroyed in the process, you simply repurpose .

So spectrum doesn't have to be handled in the one-size-fits-all way that business wants to turn everything into a commodity to be traded at will. However, if it was, there are still way better ways to make money from public resources and ensure said resources profit actually is returned to the public, something that rarely if ever happens at current. I urge you to think outside the box a bit, as it appears you're encumbering yourself with what people who want to profit from selling everything and anything on the market as a private resource, have told us is a "rule", when in truth its simply an oft-repeated falsehood that makes the few rich at the cost of the many.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937545)

Using current technology we do not know how to pack signals any more closely than they are packed. I agree we might find a technological solution if we can pack analog signals more closely together using a different structure but right now we don't know how. We are at limits of information theory. Smart people with lots of money have thought about it and that is the conclusion they have come to. 100 years from now we might have a different situation.

As far as having the money go to the public. Auctioning stuff off and having the money go to the government is likely the best way. While I'm not happy with our government perfectly either, the public treasury is the closest thing we have to a pot of money for the public welfare. And the people who spend it are elected after all.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (1)

spauldo (118058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38943751)

I don't see how private ownership of spectrum is the best way at all. It's a non-renewable public resource. It's similar to how many organizations still have class A networks eating up IP space unnecessarily.

What's wrong with the old scheme, where you license spectrum for a fee, and the FCC has regulatory control over where and how spectrum is used? It worked well enough for years. You want to transmit on such and such frequency at such and such power in a certain region of the country, you pay the fee to license it, and then you use it as long as you pay the fee. Commercial radio and TV work like this, as does (I'm pretty sure) most HAM radio and private two-way radio.

For applications like cell phones, this would also allow the FCC to encourage standardization on certain frequencies. CDMA on these frequencies, GSM on these, etc. Companies could license spectrum for experimental purposes (new protocols, etc.). It'd work best with a bill that seperated regulated infrastructure ownership (cell towers, fibre and copper lines, etc.) from unregulated service providers, but yeah, I'm dreaming there.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38949405)

Spauldo --

I don't think you are following the thread of argument here.

1) I was arguing for the current system.
2) RanceJustice was arguing for a free use, that was a bit unclear.
3) The Republicans want to remove some of the discretion from the FCC.

When people talk about "private ownership" they mean leasing from the government. No one is suggesting outright permanent ownership because regulation is still needed to get the systems to work together.
___

In terms of your idea of having people provide towers... while others provide service packages. All the carriers offer wholesale service that are resold: Boost, Cricket, Virgin, Metro, US Cellular, TracPhone, GoPhone, StraightTalk.... all exist because of these wholesale services. Moreover essentially the carriers do price things out where their infrastructure group sells blocks of minutes... to their retail groups. By and large what you are asking for is the current system.

As an aside on IPV4. There really isn't that much "class A" space being wasted by private entities. It is a few month's expansion at this point. Most of the waste was absorbed long ago. The issue now is not waste, it is just that we either need to do:

a) Carrier based NAT
b) IPV6

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (1)

spauldo (118058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38959381)

When people talk about "private ownership" they mean leasing from the government. No one is suggesting outright permanent ownership because regulation is still needed to get the systems to work together.

Ah, from the tone of other comments, I was assuming actual permanant assignments sans oversight. My bad.

By and large what you are asking for is the current system.

Not really. Under the system I describe, you can't both be a service provider and a tower operator. Service providers would be largely unregulated. Tower operators would be heavily regulated to require open access and equal pricing.

Infrastructure (i.e. land lines) would be similar, with lines being owned by a utility company and bandwidth sold to anyone who wants it. You sign up with any service provider you like, and they buy the bandwidth and features directly from the utility company.

It's not my idea, nor a new idea. This seperates out the natural monopolies from the parts of the system which can operate as a free market. It's not as much a problem with cell towers (although it does create an extremely high barrier to entry), but it's good for land line systems - most places only have one choice for phone and data service (maybe two, if there's a cable company).

We've got some open access laws on the books already, which is why you have the carriers you describe. What I'm arguing for would be the natural extension of that.

As an aside on IPV4. There really isn't that much "class A" space being wasted by private entities. It is a few month's expansion at this point. Most of the waste was absorbed long ago.

There's a good chunk of it, but I didn't mean to suggest that freeing up class A space (and class B - some of those are still out there too) would solve the IP crunch - merely that it's a similar problem, where single companies hold large amounts of the usable resources.

I think we'll eventually be dual-stack with private IPv4 addresses. AT&T is already moving towards that with their new DSL service - while you do get a public IPv4 address, it's taken by your router, unless you explicitly tell your router to assign it to a computer. They're handing out IPv6 blocks in some if not all areas now.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38959965)

What do you see as the advantage of the ban over what we have now with the wholesale retail system for cell? For landlines I agree there is a huge problem with LECs, but as you mentioned that's already regulated. Honestly I'm fine with the PSTN just being a legacy system rotting over the next generation. It simply lacks far too many capabilities.

As for IPV4 and dual stack. I agree we are going to go to dual stack. Then of course V4 addresses get pooled while V6 are free are permanent and finally v4 becomes an extra cost service. There is going to be a lot of systems that needs v4 for years and need to expand. Getting people to give up v4 will not be easy.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (1)

spauldo (118058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962575)

What do you see as the advantage of the ban over what we have now with the wholesale retail system for cell?

I'm not horribly familiar with the wholesale system, so I can't comment much on it. I prefer it because it matches the system I imagine for land lines.

Everyone I know uses a major carrier (AT&T with a couple on T-Mobile) these days. I remember Sprint used to not have any service outside my city limits. If that's changed, then good - there's no big deal then.

For landlines I agree there is a huge problem with LECs, but as you mentioned that's already regulated. Honestly I'm fine with the PSTN just being a legacy system rotting over the next generation. It simply lacks far too many capabilities.

Landlines aren't going away. Businesses will continue to use them, and people in rural areas need them for their modems, if nothing else.

For data service, wireless just can't compete with landlines. Voice services may be on their way out, but data service is booming, and will only get bigger.

Under the system I describe, the physical lines would be operated and maintained by one organization, be it a private company, cooperative, or local government utility. They wouldn't offer any service direct to the consumer, other than wiring and maintenance (interior wiring, for instance). Customers would sign up with whatever services they required, which would be provided over that line. The owner of the line would have to offer the same services and pricing to any service company that requests it. Service companies could offer any service they liked, as long as it would fit within the capabilities of the line service.

This allows more competition. You have to regulate the line owners, but the service companies can operate under free market rules. You might even be able to get around the whole net neutrality argument with it.

Right now, land line owners are required to allow "fair" access to other service providers, but the problem is that it's not in their best interest to do so, and they know it.

I had more points, but my truck just got loaded, so I gotta go.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965545)

The system you are describing is very close to what exists for the PSTN. For the cable operators the problem is the system isn't setup that way. You and your neighbor have to get the same cable signal. The in place equipment doesn't support multiple sources. Where we do have multiple sources is on the internet consumption side. Where the cable operators act like your line providers and service providers like Hulu or Spotify sell services over their lines. The cable operators are regulated while the service providers aren't.

So again you are describing the system we have.

In terms of modems and rural areas. Americans have been heavily subsidizing broadband. Close to 100% of the country now has access to a broadband solution locally. There is lower uptake (people who don't have any internet) among the non English speaking, highly religious and uneducated though that can be fixed respectively by: outreach, whitelist only service and subsidy. As far as business, business are mainly using VOIP, with larger ones using voice over MPLS. They are don't use POTS lines. There is still quite a bit of T1 over copper in more rural areas but that's not really the PSTN in a meaningful sense.

Honestly what you keep asking for is close to what we have. Without providing a basket of services (i.e. cable television at a markup for cable and FIOS ) there might not be the economic incentive to provide the internet. And of course those services work well together. So other than practicality, yeah the government is doing that.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935623)

"The FCC absolutely needs to have the regulative authority to say"

Is where I stopped reading, I am sure you have some very good points, and maybe I will go back and review it but the FCC's #1 problem is the fact that no one has control of it. Its some office that shows its ass every once in a while and we are left here wondering who these people are and how the fuck did they get there.

So do they Really? need the regulative authority to say XYZ or is that just the position they have put themselves into?

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (4, Insightful)

RanceJustice (2028040) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936341)

The fact that it has been managed poorly, often intentionally so over the past decade by those who WANT anything related to government or regulation to fail (ie. see: Postal service being cut-loose in terms of funding and expected to make it as a "business" while still acting under Congressional control as if they were the Department of the Post Office and thus making decisions that don't make money. That was a decision engineered specifically to make the efficient Post Office into something that private couriers could compete with, after much UPS/FedEx whingeing and whining.).

The FCC was created as a regulatory oversight for communications. It should do that job well. The fact that it isn't is a fault of a number of decisions meant to make it appear chaotic, inefficient, and unhelpful so that everyone with a private industry solution can say "Oh we can't trust that GUBBERMINT AGENCY look at how bad they are. Look, why don't you push some taxpayer money at my/my friend's/my constituent's business to clean up the mess that government inevitably makes!". I'm not saying they're perfect, but if they were reformed into the agency they were designed to be without private industry money and lobby interference buying officials, they'd easily be able to execute their mission as intended.

Re:The bill sounds like a travesty, lets do better (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38935671)

However, I feel the answer to this issue is relatively simple - stop spectrum auctions and in truth remove private ownership of spectrum entirely.

Takes you quite a lot of blather to get to the point, doesn't it? Marxists need to get out of this country and create their dystopia somewhere else. People should be able to buy and sell spectrum without a bunch of politically connected, obnoxious idiots telling them what they can and can't do with it.

Government functionaries (2, Insightful)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935135)

Can never be honest during their terms of office. It's always after they retire and lose the chance to change anything. Heh, as if they really give a damn.

Re:Government functionaries (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38940533)

When you are in office, the government limits what you are allowed to say. I've had family work for the federal government and privately they'll tell me their real opinions. Publicly, they are expected to take the party line or lose their job. One member is fairly well regarded, so typically they would just cancel any potentially contraversial talks the day of. He was allowed to write papers which disagreed with Bush-era policies, but any media-related or verbal engagements got canceled (including things like book signings).

Um, yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38935193)

"I was the guy who created the idea of unlicensed spectrum. Several technologists and economists came to me and said that we need spectrum for short hops between computers and cable connections. "

Is this Reed Cunt or Al Gore? These bureaucrats seem to think they're hot stuff.

Limited Resources (2, Interesting)

ettusyphax (1155197) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935279)

Communications medium of every kind including radio spectrum should be directly provided by the government. Infrastructure for cell phones, internet, energy (arguably a kind of communications technology), terrestrial radio, and I would argue even cable and network television all should be provided using public funds by a neutral government organization. The technology for these various mediums would be developed largely by government research centers just as they are now, while the tech standards are decided upon by industry trade groups or NGOs such as the IEEE or ISO just as they are now. The infrastructure would remain agnostic to the data being carried on it. "Basic" cellular and internet services - the definition of basic being re-evaluated every few years based on technological advances - would be provided to all citizens free of charge in exchange for their tax money that built the network. Companies would be allowed to provide additional pay services on these networks by purchasing an operator's license, sort of like it is now. Non-public broadcast mediums would be largely eliminated in favor of pay-to-play multicast services which are already essentially how things are done in a roundabout way (DVR, on-demand). Essentially, everyone would be able to operate exactly as they do now. Even telecoms and ISPs would be able to stay in business offering the aforementioned "premium services," albeit at a lower profit margin. The only difference is, the entire system would be about one billion times more efficient and fair. No competing wireless standards, no net neutrality debate, no hidden cell fees or bogus contracts, no more censorship of airwaves since the given multicast mediums would be opt-in by their nature. The only people who lose their jobs are some now-redundant CEOs and VPs of useless telecom companies, and you're not going to see me shedding any tears over that. The whole system is kept in check by a constitutional amendment and some new bureaucracy where you have to have a degree in science or engineering to even be considered for appointment. Obviously this would not completely eliminate abuse and corruption but it would go a long way toward solving thousands of problems while inconveniencing very few people. The massive increase in information flow, education, and intellectual freedom that would likely follow, combined with massive cost savings by consolidation of infrastructure would more than make up for any negative points of this plan. Oh also the cow jumped over the moon, I want a pony, and I should probably be murdered for saying things about socialism.

Re:Limited Resources (3, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935787)

Line breaks, motherfucker, do you understand them?

Re:Limited Resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38938559)

That second comma should be a period, bitch.

Re:Limited Resources (1)

tchall (1146319) | more than 2 years ago | (#38939063)

Communications medium of every kind including radio spectrum should be directly provided by the government.

I'll just address this...

Have you ever seen the government administer ANYTHING more efficently than a "for profit" private corporation? If I want DMV type service from my cellular provider (or any wireless/data/comm stuff) I can find always look at the coverage charts and buy from a company that doesn't actually have a working presence in my part of the map...

I most certainly don't need that becoming the standard...

OTOH I DO MOST CERTAINLY WANT the FCC, who is supposedly administering spectrum belonging to We The People, to get the best profit out of LEASING it to companies competing for it's use!!!!!!

Five year leases, one automatic renewal and then it goes back on the block for a new bid!!!!!

Political Advertising (3, Insightful)

fadethepolice (689344) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935327)

Imagine if they put in a clause requiring spectrum purchasers to provide free air time to top political candidates so it is no longer necessary for them to take bribes from special interests.

Shorter House Republicans: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38935913)

Shorter House Republicans: "We think the FCC should be required to auction of resources that belong to the American people without any consideration of how those resources will be used."

No wonder they always complain about how "government doesn't work" - they're inside the machine BREAKING STUFF.

Re:Shorter House Republicans: (2)

zzatz (965857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937059)

It's more than that. This is the Republican version of Public Campaign Financing. Corporation bribes, that is, makes campaign contribution to politician. Politician arranges sale of public property to corporation at discount price, or finds other ways to ensure windfall profits in excess of contribution. Lather, rinse, repeat.

This happens over and over again. Politician steers public property or tax dollars to corporation, corporation contributes part of that money back to politician. Yes, Democrats do it too. The difference is that Democrats are willing to talk about real public campaign financing, while the Republicans rail against it. Rail against spending tax dollars on campaigns, while making sure that tax dollars go to their own campaigns, suitably laundered through corporations.

This is a story how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936839)

Ex-FCC chairman is upset about the FCC losing power....

nothing to see here folks.

i don't care about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937273)

spectrum - i'm a free-bander, baby!

Just a Tax and Keeps Large Companies in Control (1)

chrisphotonic (2450982) | more than 2 years ago | (#38938483)

You'd think they could just pass a law that would allow 90% of all available frequencies to be free, provided you played nice. We already have to play nice to some degree.

I feel that when a company like Verizon pays billions of dollars for a certain frequency, its an additional tax on us ALL.

I think we'll eventually move in that direction, but I'm not sure if we are ready just yet. I think we should take a slice of the spectrum now, and allow it to be free, provided you follow the agreed upon protocols. Something like high powered OpenWRT/DDWRT mesh networks.

Just my 2 cents...

Hum. (1)

AdamWill (604569) | more than 2 years ago | (#38939195)

The guy's on the right side, and all, but he argues pretty weakly, notably by refusing to acknowledge and hence challenge the ideology underpinning the other side of the debate; he just paints it as nothing but terrible ideas and leaves it at that.

Also, he seems to believe he invented wifi, or something. "I was the guy who created the idea of unlicensed spectrum" - well, no, no, you weren't. *All* spectrum is innately unlicensed. The person who came up with the idea of the government asserting control over it and selling the 'rights' to use it off at exorbitant prices can be fairly said to have 'invented' something. Suggesting 'hey, maybe we could not do that' really isn't 'creating' anything.

Not particularly impressed by this, overall.

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