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Spectrum as Property

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the sliced-thin dept.

Communications 293

the economist troll writes "An article in this week's Economist argues that overcautious control of electromagnetic spectrum, on the part of regulatory agencies, has resulted in the sheer waste of up to 95% of available spectrum. The article suggests remedies for this sorry state of affairs, including (but not limited to) various methods of privatization. Peppered with history and interesting facts--for instance, did you know only 2% of America's spectrum allocation is determined by auction?--this is one article you won't want to miss."

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What is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964096)

The 1980's?

Old news is no news...

Waste? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964106)

Why would any more bandwidth be made private? So only a few corporations can control our communications networks? Yeah, let's go with that. Four more years for Bush (and Michael Powell)!!

Re:Waste? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964128)

You so don't understand basic economics, you dumb nigger. No wonder you're so fucked up in the head.

Re:Waste? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964314)

I would really like to smack the fuckwit that moderated this Underrated.

Please tell me again, why can't we metamoderate Underrated/Overrated?

Umm...try again (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964179)

Four more years for Bush (and Michael Powell)

Don't be so fscking blind. Comments like that are so high school. Look at all the give-aways BOTH parties toss out to their paid clients. If you believe for one second Bush/Republicans are any worse than the Democrats, you're a bigger fool than they ever hoped for. Bush's FCC commissioner, Junior Powell, obviously is a lacky for large corporate interests. But so were his predecessors under Clinton. Hell, go read the USDA rural broadband money rules (from the bill Democrat Senator Harkin sponsored). Would you be surprised it's just a slush fund to give money back to the incumbant phone companies? Yup. If you ain't one, or ain't established old money, you ain't getting money. Funny how it always works that way.

While we're on the propaganda debunking, here's one for you:

1. Go read MoveOn.org's propeganda, especially all the blathering hatred at Bush for sending US jobs offshore to places like India, China, etc.

2. Then read who MoveOn.org is funded by (George Soros).

3. Then read Soros Investments list of holdings. Wow... it's like a list of all the major guilty offshoring companies! How can this be? Maybe Soros doesn't know?

4. Then read the white papers and recommendations by Soros Holdings on offshoring. HINT: If you are a company he invests in and are NOT making him money, he will move to find better management or dump his investment in you.

This country would rock if it wasn't for all you stupid sheep.

Re:Umm...try again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964268)

All companies are in business. Do you really expect George Soros to dump money into companies which are unprofitable?

Soros (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964433)

Do you really expect George Soros to dump money into companies which are unprofitable?

Not at all. But for Soros to dump millions into an organization and even pledge that he would spend his entire wealth (which isn't true, but it got him free PR. Dig deep enough and you'll find people like Soros almost never use their own money for these causes. Coerce others to give on your behalf, hook a Governor up with a gay lover and get him to pass legislation per your liking) under complete dishonesty, deception and fraud is unfortunate. Of course, again, it's Soros's right to spend his money spreading complete falsehood. The real shame is how many fools blindly swallow it.

Look at the Euronationalists. A good German friend of mine tells me Europeans are qualified to understand the tyranny in Iraq of Saddam Hussain because of their own ezperience of Hitler and the presumed lessons learned (seeing their continued relativism, nation-wide socialism, and growing anti-semitism makes me believe they haven't shrugged their desire to kill others). Another French friend constantly reminds me how imperialistic we Americans are. Funny, did you know France *still* has colonies (and no, they certainly do not treat them as equals. Dark skinned people could never be an equal to a true Frenchman).

It is the blindness of the sheep and the hypocracy of the con artists like Soros and most members of both US parties that gets tiring. Seems like we need a Slashdot mod category: -1: Horribly Obvious

Re:Umm...try again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964350)

"If you believe for one second Bush/Republicans are any worse than the Democrats, you're a bigger fool than they ever hoped for.

Residents of Iraq and Afghanistan notwithstanding.

Re:Umm...try again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964393)

Erm, residents of those two places are most likely to hate the French and the Taleban, respectively, not Americans. Time to update your stereotypes, there've been two wars since the last time you apparently checked in.

Re:Umm...try again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964412)

Only in the American press. Time to update your world view.

Re:Umm...try again (1)

WarMonkey (721558) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964446)


Erm, residents of those two places are most likely to hate the French and the Taleban, respectively, not Americans. Time to update your stereotypes, there've been two wars since the last time you apparently checked in.

Those two wars haven't exactly made us a lot of friends. I'm surprised I even have to point that out.

Re:Umm...try again (1)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964449)

Two wars, huh? Would those be the War on Drugs (lost in Afganistan) and the War on Terror (lost in Iraq)? Or ???

The truth is that most places hate America. Time to update your world view. If I lived anywhere but here, I'd probably hate the USA too; as it is I'm pretty ashamed of what's being done in my name, but since I don't live in Florida my vote really doesn't matter, and since I'm not rich my opinion doesn't matter, either.

Re:Umm...try again (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964366)

I hope you are aware that George Soros does not control the content of MoveOn.org.

Re:Umm...try again (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964395)

Exactly. George Soros is interested in open societies, and thinks that sites like MoveOn are helpful. It doesn't mean that he agrees with everything they say.

Guess What? -- Re:Waste? (1)

WarMonkey (721558) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964208)


Why would any more bandwidth be made private? So only a few corporations can control our communications networks? Yeah, let's go with that.

Guess What?

Government ownership of spectrum is precisely what big corporations love. Their voice will be heard in government. Yours won't.

The whole point of property rights in any sphere is so that the property of the ordinary person may be protected by law. Making stuff "public property" just gives it over to the corporations, bureaucrats and political pressure groups.

That's exactly what has been the norm for spectrum for almost a century, with the result being a cartelization of mass communications that has strangled political diversity and imposed a homogenized, easily manipulated mindset on the American public.

Privateize that sh*t as much as possible, as fast as possible.

Re:Guess What? -- Re:Waste? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964251)

Why is formalizing the status quo the cure for the status quo?

KFG

Re:Guess What? -- Re:Waste? (3, Interesting)

WarMonkey (721558) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964351)


Why is formalizing the status quo the cure for the status quo?

Well, if I understand the question correctly, it indeed raises a valid point -- that the political process is a poor way to run anything, even the process of de-politicizing something.

At the time the FCC was founded, a handful of courts were settling disputes between broadcasters by applying a "homesteading" analogy rooted in common law and the concept of first/continuing use of a given freq at a certain power level in a given geographical area.

Revisionist historians have pointed out that, in hindsight, it looks a lot like the creation of the FCC (and the attendant nationalization of the airwaves) might have been pushed into place precisely to forestall that legal trend -- thereby locking the ordinary person and small business owner out of the new field and consolidfating ruling class power.

Now, if privatization is carried out as merely a sham for finalizing this expropriation from early broadcasters (who are, admittedly, almost all surely dead now), then you would be correct to be cynical. It would, however, ALSO remain true that (in general) any private ownership is a better way to manage any resource -- but that overlooks the matter of justice in the face of expropriation.

That brings us to this -- the whole debate ought to be not about whether or not to privatize, but what is the correct way to go about it and why.

FP (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964110)

Duuuuude....

Dude oh man .. oh masterful fellow...

Suck on my nut, cosmic dunce.

or, as Dick Cheney would say, choke on my dick n00b

yeah that's right you fat fuckin' nerd, choke on it, and stop being so goddamn liberal.

FP.

One article you don't want to miss? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964111)

Peppered with history and interesting facts--for instance, did you know only 2% of America's spectrum allocation is determined by auction?--this is one article you won't want to miss.

Yeah, if the rest of the article contains statistics half as fascinating as that one, I'd probably be riddled with regret if I didn't read it. I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to find out precisely which frequencies are actually determined by those actions. Thanks for the heads up!

Re:One article you don't want to miss? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964131)

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Re:One article you don't want to miss? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964153)

er, yeah me to I think.

Uh, translation?

Re:One article you don't want to miss? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964185)

http://www.lipsum.com/ [lipsum.com]

It's just the dummy text that's been used by typesetters for years to showcase fonts. Translation: It's someone posting a huge block of text for the sake of posting a huge block of text.

Re:One article you don't want to miss? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964148)

Such is the career of an economist!

Re:One article you don't want to miss? (1)

Roadkills-R-Us (122219) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964238)

Actually, I found this fact very interesting. (Are you a lost marketer instead of a geek? 8^)

Another fact I'd forgotten, but which the article jarred loose with a related reference: the UHF TV band is ridiculously sparse in the USA. Is there any area left with 10 UHF channels? What's the max in any area? If it's 10, give 'em all a year or two to retune and warn their listeners, and move onto one of 10 channels, instead of the 70 or so we have now. That would free up some space.

Augusta, GA has two VHF stations and two UHF stations. Talk about radio white space...

Re:One article you don't want to miss? (2, Interesting)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964261)

I think there are proposals to allow WiMAX and the like to tune into unused bands in the TV spectrum. Using ATSC's 8VSB modulation, each channel nets 20mbps, so UHF could have 120mbps or more capacity alone.

UHF Television Channel Allocations (2, Interesting)

Detritus (11846) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964396)

Most people don't understand how television channels are allocated in the USA. Due to interference concerns, stations on the same and adjacent channels must be geographically separated by large distances. For VHF, I've been told that the FCC's rules can be approximated at 160 miles separation between stations on the same channel and 70 miles separation between stations on adjacent channels. The rules for the UHF band are stricter due to the increased susceptibility to interference of television receivers in the UHF band. The end result is that you can't just arbitrarily pack analog stations into a smaller UHF band. Digital stations (ATSC) are more resistant to interference and this allows the rules to be relaxed without resulting in unacceptable levels of interference.

Re:One article you don't want to miss? (2, Informative)

Bishop (4500) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964409)

give 'em all a year or two to retune

This is not a simple process. In some cases it is basically impossible. Many of the transmitters are hand tuned devices hardwired to a specific frequency. When it comes to TV many stations are using 20 and 30 year old (and older) transmitters. Legacy problems like this exist all over the spectrum. The frequency bands do need to be reallocated, but who is going to foot the huge bill?

Americans: face the truth! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964113)

God Bless America

God Bless America, with the worst crime levels in the first world
God Bless America, where "democracy" means a rich, white male as President
God Bless America, the biggest consumer of the world's natural resources
God Bless America, so happy to violate international laws
God Bless America, where "freedom of speech" means race-hate groups like KKK
God Bless America, and its massive and ever-growing poverty gap
God Bless America, with barely 300 years of dire history and culture
God Bless America, all its appalling "sitcoms" with no grasp of irony
God Bless America, with the highest obesity levels in the developed world
God Bless America, because corporations should be allowed to run amok
God Bless America, wasting billions to attack foreign countries

God Bless America, and thank God I don't have to live there.

-

Re:Americans: face the truth! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964174)

Jesus, I never realized how pathetically sad and jealous the rest of the world is. Face it, today the "first world" basically means America, Japan and Israel.

Re:Americans: face the truth! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964211)

Israel? Are you mad? The place is a horrendous fascist limited-war zone in a near-dead desertified valley. If israel is first-world, so was iraq.

"First world" is places like Sweden and Canada. The USA is like a scaled-up third world hellhole.

Re:Americans: face the truth! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964292)

Israel? Are you mad? The place is a horrendous fascist limited-war zone in a near-dead desertified valley. If israel is first-world, so was iraq.

I guess that's an indication that the modern "internationalist" left really is a descendant of those old, worn-out radical ideologies, i.e. a kind of neo-communism. OK, so Amerikkka's evil because its citizens have rights and money and all that, and those Jews in Israel (let alone the Brooklyn-born Israeli) are fascists who eat babies for breakfast. Yadda yadda yadda. Israel's remarkably successful and humanitarian for a tiny country that as you say exists in a "near-dead desertified valley" -- hell, they've made it more progressive, advanced, wealthy, free, etc., than all the billions of neighboring Arabs and "made the desert bloom," without oil and while fighting four wars against 2 billion people. So, yeah, Israel whups most places' butt.

"First world" is places like Sweden and Canada. The USA is like a scaled-up third world hellhole.

That's a laugh! I'm on a two-year contract in Canada now, and I can tell you it looks like a decent country with all the luckiest benefits (U.S. influence, U.S. investment, U.S. trade, British heritage, vast land with natural resources, etc.) after being dragged through thirty-something years of socialism. Everybody here's miserable compared to all but the poorest, most desparate Americans. I can only imagine the same goes for Sweden and the likes, I haven't been to Scandinavia in over a decade.

Re:Americans: face the truth! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964439)

lollollollollollollollollollollollol

Parent post violated the "omg! wtf! rediclious n00b asl uber l337" compression filter.

colors bleh... (-1, Offtopic)

HardJeans (793993) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964114)

Fix the colors [slashdot.org]

Re:colors bleh... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964145)

I think those who are interested have figured out how to do this by now, be gone karma whore.

Re:colors bleh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964189)

a link is still more convenient than editing the url yourself.

Re:colors bleh... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964149)

Better yet [slashdot.org]

Re:colors bleh... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964152)

Informative? Surely we've seen this trick before. And he didn't even choose a nice color like the Apple section or the purple section.

Mod parent (and me and anyone else that participates in the stupid color debate) as offtopic.

No offense, but.. (0, Redundant)

maskedbishounen (772174) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964161)

When do these color posts stop being informative and start getting redundant? They keep getting modded up. Okay, so I can understand the first few days worth.. but can some sane individual explain this to me? Or is this the new form of karma whoring? "Fix the colors" rather than posting article text?

Fucking enviromentalists (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964121)

It could, for example, make possible a cheap alternative to cable and digital-subscriber line modems (for which roads have to be dug up and trees uprooted)

Please come and take away my DSL connection and cable TV so that the evil capitalists don't cut down another tree. Disregard the fact that the tree was old and needed replacement anyway, and that's between 1900 and 2000 the number of trees in the US doubled (even though in 1900 not much of an area was populated).

Oh yeah, vote Green.

Re:Fucking enviromentalists (0, Offtopic)

Uber Banker (655221) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964163)

between 1900 and 2000 the number of trees in the US doubled

Interesting. Do you have a link? Did a quick Google but found myself trapped between tree-huggers and tree-choppers.

Re:Fucking enviromentalists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964357)

What happens is during the re-seeding of a clear cut area, hundreds of smaller trees can take root in the area where one large tree used to stand.

lotta trees now (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964413)

no link but I know that is more or less true, and it's easy to see why. The 1900s began the age of serious transfer from horse/mule/oxen power to mechanised power. Much less pastures needed, they got abandoned and turned to forest. It also was the era that had people switching from firewood to fuel oil for heat and cooking, again, more trees left growing.

You can walk around in new england in the woods and just about as far back and deep as you want to go, you'll still find massive stone walls left over from when it was all mostly pasture and they cleared rocks every year out of the fields.

I want the infrared range - I place a bid of $50 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964132)

Can I have the infrared range?

That way I can copyright and patent it and charge everyone including the military for the use of my band of the spectrum.

Alternitives? (2, Interesting)

c0dedude (587568) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964142)

How is it done in Europe, Africa, Asia, S. America, and in Austrailia? How is it working out for them? I hate to jump to privatization without a prescident.

Re:Alternitives? (1)

AltaMannen (568693) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964239)

Some European countries are Monarchies and do not have presidents... or do you mean precedent?

Re:Alternitives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964262)

The word is precedent. There's also the adjective "prescient". Please choose one or the other and use it appropriately.

Re:Alternitives? (1)

f8ejf (755486) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964328)

How is it done in Europe, Africa, Asia, S. America, and in Austrailia? How is it working out for them? I hate to jump to privatization without a prescident.

The US tend to set precedents in almost everything, and the rest of the (first) world tries to follow on the principle that "if the US do it, we should too".

So you won't find precedents in most other countries. What you can analyze however the effects of the US' current experiments in extreme capitalism, which are basically leading to the privatization of commons.

So, the radio spectrum is a common, Michael Powell is a crazy right-wing SOB, so the radio spectrum is bound to be privatized some day. Who will benefit? corporations and the government. Who will lose? everybody else, the little guys. That's you and me.

Welcome to a world where corporations can own public commons. I'm not looking forward to having my already-sorry-looking slices of the spectrum be reduced to nothing at all, and the users of the neighbouring slices blast full power and ruin mine. Do your DX now, you may not be able to for very much longer...

73 de F8EJF.

Re:Alternitives? (1)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964473)

So, the radio spectrum is a common, Michael Powell is a crazy right-wing SOB, so the radio spectrum is bound to be privatized some day. Who will benefit? corporations and the government. Who will lose? everybody else, the little guys. That's you and me.

Whatever. Privatization is good for everyone, because privatization means MARKET FORCES are in control instead of the government.

Let me translate this into the world of spectrum: Imagine if you could broadcast anything over the radio without fear of the FCC, as long as your station was popular enough to pay your broadcast bills instead of your fines to the government?

Re:Alternitives? (1)

wass (72082) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964345)

Privitization of public utilities and resources in many cases produces bad results for the people, but makes the regulatory agency rich.

case in point is the water utility system in El Salvador, where my girlfriend is from. The water used to be okay, but it was privatized. Now it's utterly horrible, there's lots of dirt and hairs that come from the faucet. Her mom and grandmother do the following for their drinking water - Brita-filter it, boil it, then Brita filter it again in a different filter. And there's no incentive for the water company to fix the problems either. Now the government there wants to privatize more utilities, naturally there's large outcry from much of the populace.

Re:Alternitives? (0, Offtopic)

kinzillah (662884) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964434)

Girls are like internet domain names, the ones I like are already taken.

well, you can stil get one from a strange country :-P

Why would anyone assume (5, Insightful)

PhilipPeake (711883) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964143)

that auctioning off spectrum is a good thing?

Its braindead. The RF spectrum is a limited resource, and as such is subject to speculation and fraud -- have we forgotten electricity auctions so quickly?

Re:Why would anyone assume (1)

dmayle (200765) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964186)

It's not so limited. There's tons of space, and out of the all of this bandwidth we only get a few hundred megahertz of ungoverened bandwidth. I'm looking forward to UWB, as it is a (from what I understand) a low/no intereference solution that uses pulse transmissions (pulses are, by definition, all frequencies at once) to get around the issues with the governed spectrum...

Re:Why would anyone assume (1)

Roadkills-R-Us (122219) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964201)

Did you read the article? It explains why the spectrum is no longer as limited as you believe.

This isn't 1904 any more!

TANSTAAFL (2, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964260)

I read the article. The last time I checked, the laws of physics and information theory haven't been repealed. There is nothing new about any of the technologies that were mentioned in the article.

Re:TANSTAAFL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964293)

but many present antennas _are_ just stupid. Directionality is an important property - if more devices could distinguish between a broadcast coming from E 30 N and E 40 N, we could have many more broadcasts without dividing the spectrum along a 1D axis!

Re:Why would anyone assume (4, Interesting)

jfengel (409917) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964225)

Spectrum auctions would be a way for the government to make money, without having to raise taxes directly. Something like this:

* There is a valuable (limited) resource that we own in common

* The government parcels out the resource to whoever is willing to pay the most for it

* That money goes "to the people". In reality it goes to the government, who uses it to buy an army, interstate highways, mink farm subsidies, whatever your representatives have put into the budget.

* The buyer makes the money back by selling you something you want (TV, cell phones, garage door openers, etc.)

The fraud problem is also a government problem. It's most easily fixed by demanding the money up front, though that tends to lock small bidders out of it. There are other ways that involve instituting various regulations. Just because the government has been stupid doesn't mean it has to be. (Or maybe it _does_ have to be, in which case the problem becomes insoluble and we're all screwed, and we'll just take guesses because that's the best we can do.)

Now, the point of the article is that spectrum isn't really a limited resource at all. Obviously that's not entirely true, otherwise we'd use just one frequency and we'd all be happy. Certainly the lower frequencies (to a point) are more valuable than the multi-GHz ones, because it travels better. But they claim that technology allows spectrum to do far, far more than we're doing with it. In that case we may not have to auction it at all, not because it's subject to speculation and fraud, but because it's not worth very much.

Re:Why would anyone assume (2, Informative)

Euler (31942) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964476)

Like all things, the answer is someplace in the middle. This article was way too Utopian. OTOH, saying that privatization is all bad is wrong also.

A agree with what you said, if we could do what the article states with re-using spectrum, then there wouldn't be any argument at all. The reality is that there are a few tricks to multiplex the spectrum, but it's still finite. You can do things like directional antennas, and digital spread spectrum can co-exist with modulated transmission. But, the work of Shannon and Nyquist put very hard limits on the maximum throughput of a channel with real-world noise. The analogy that the human ear can pick one conversation out of n-others simply isn't true. The author hasn't, apparently, been to a party where you keep having to say: 'huh?', 'what?'. Add more background conversations/noise (Shannon) and the throughput falls off. I can sort of see how you could discriminate 'conversations' with the right protocols, but the idea that it is infinite is very bad science. I believe the human ear works very similar to spread spectrum technology, but also draws from syllable information stored in the mind's knowledge base to discriminate conversations. The point is that it isn't a miracle, and still has physical limits.

There is definitely much wasted spectrum because the government has put it out of reach of any economic pressures. But there needs to be some central control because the invisible hand of the economy isn't intelligent enough to correctly plan certain aspects of spectrum allocation. Also, interactivity of devices requires some authoritarian control even if it isn't 100% efficient. Set aside spectrum for military and public services. Let the rest be traded and sold commercially. The FCC should still be involved in the facilitation of these transactions for 2 reasons. 1. its the equivalent of keeping public deeds on property - there needs to be an authoritative unbiased record stored someplace. 2. There will be times that proposals need to be rejected because of technical incompatibilities. The 2 parties in a transaction may not care about an issue that would effect a third party.

I don't think spectrum fragmentation will be a problem at all. There will be strong economic pressure to keep chunks of spectrum together. There will be capitalists who act as consolidators if there is value in having unfragmented spectrum.

Re:Why would anyone assume (1)

js7a (579872) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964226)

Monied interests are good at propaganda. Especially if they own lots of mass media. But it dosn't work. People know that spectrum reform is important, but the way it should be done [slashdot.org] is not the way that buiness and government wants to do it.

Re:Why would anyone assume (5, Insightful)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964229)

The RF spectrum is a limited resource, and as such is subject to speculation and fraud -- have we forgotten electricity auctions so quickly?

Whatever. Everything is subject to speculation and fraud. California's electricity deregulation was set up completely wrong. Just like the USSR doesn't prove that socialism is broken, Enron doesn't prove that energy deregulation is broken.

When you have the Cato Institute opposing your "deregulation", you know something is amiss.

Re:Why would anyone assume (1)

Big Jojo (50231) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964408)

When you have the Cato Institute opposing your "deregulation", you know something is amiss.

The article doesn't mention Cato's stand; is this some kind of astroturfing?

For that matter, Cato and deregulation are more than a little wierd. Their stance is that there ought to be nothing constraining corporations, neither government nor especially "we the people". They put it more subtly though! That is, "economic justice" is a big Cato anti-goal ... if they were to take a stance on this issue, it'd be a sign that they saw big $$$ on the side they took, and thought a preemptive strike might help.

Hmm ... and for that matter, what did the USSR have to do with socialism? The government was increasingly fascist. (Which oddly enough is much the same structure the Bush regime is pushing as aggressively as it can in the US.)

False Assumption (1)

monk (1958) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964368)

The RF spectrum is a limited resource

You base this assumption on...

Be sure to check your facts, it may have limits but we haven't even tickled them yet. (see "The myth of interference" [salon.com] )

For starters (5, Informative)

Politicus (704035) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964147)

For decades after Guglielmo Marconi invented the radio in 1897
Um, Tesla invented radio technology [teslasociety.com] , Marconi was the first to put it to use. He actually licensed Tesla's patents.

Re:For starters (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964287)

So says the Tesla Society... If ever there were a bigger group of irrational fanboys, I have not seen it.

Re:For starters (1)

Politicus (704035) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964341)

http://www.pbs.org/tesla/ll/ll_whoradio.html

http://www.mercury.gr/tesla/marcen.html

http://www.tfcbooks.com/articles/tws8a.htm

Re:For starters (1)

dr7greenthumb (752231) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964388)

Yeah, that US Supreme Court is sure a bunch of irrational fanboys.

Re:For starters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964327)

For decades after Guglielmo Marconi invented the radio in 1897

Um, Tesla invented radio technology, Marconi was the first to put it to use. He actually licensed Tesla's patents.


What part of "the" don't you understand?

Re:For starters (1)

Politicus (704035) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964417)

The part where Tesla invents it in 1893 and Marconi builds it in 1897.

Waste I do not think so (4, Interesting)

MadHungarian1917 (661496) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964151)

As a ham many areas of spectrum are underutilized because the technology does not exist to successfully exploit them. For example the repeater which takes a radio signal coming on one frequency and retransmits it on another is the basis for the entire cell phone industry.

At the time the commercial interests wanted that spectrum for expansion of paging.

What financially driven interests forget frequently is that basic non-directed research is a good thing which yields benefits down the road and often entire new industries.

Like the RFID crowd wants to put high power RFID tags on the 70cm band. This interferes with both Hams, Wind profiling radar and satellite communications. The difference is someone can make a quick buck.

Also these RFID tags can be read at a distance of several miles with the right equipment. So much for RFID being a 'short range' technology

If i am lucky First Post

Re:Waste I do not think so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964170)

Also these RFID tags can be read at a distance of several miles with the right equipment. So much for RFID being a 'short range' technology

That sounds like a very useful technology. Cool. I hope it gets some spectrum to enable such features. I can think of dozens of uses right off the top of my head.

Re:Waste I do not think so (3, Interesting)

wfberg (24378) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964278)

As a ham many areas of spectrum are underutilized because the technology does not exist to successfully exploit them. For example the repeater which takes a radio signal coming on one frequency and retransmits it on another is the basis for the entire cell phone industry.

Don't know about the states, but over here in the bad olde world, cell technology doesn't use repeaters except for indoor/underground coverage. Base stations relay calls onto either wired infrastructure, or onto line-of-sight microwave transceivers that, while technically RF, are a different beast altogether. (In fact, they're unlicensed since they don't interfere much, being line-of-sight).

The whole point of cellular technology is to hand off calls to regular infrastructure. If it were all completely wireless, you'd have calls being repeated from base station to base station until they reached their destination, meaning that your call would take up a channel over the entire area of that patch.

In fact, cell technology is so yummy good because you only use the channel locally. This means that with only a limited number of channels you can support dozens of simultanious calls per cell, rather than dozens of simultanious calls on the entire system. You can even split up particularly crowded cells into multiple micro-cells (although you have to shuffle around which frequencies are used in the neighboring cells).

(Of course, government is using the just-repeat-stuff-over-the-air model for their "next generation" digital communications systems for emergency services. Even the frigging railways use GSM! No wonder that project is failing..)

Re:Waste I do not think so (2, Interesting)

MadHungarian1917 (661496) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964403)

Apparently I did not express myself clearly enough. The repeater technology was the seminal idea behind the cellular system. It had it's limitations but unlike the old radiophone system the repeater used compact transmitters and antennas which could be located anywhere. Also the block of repeater freq's is fairly small so the freq's are reused over and over again similar to the AMPS and CDMA systems.

The handoff from cell site to cell site and the integration with the POTS network are what made the revolution possible. BUT without the repeater I do not think the AMPS system would have happened.

You are correct in that govt's really want to hang onto the old models especially since using a new model would require "GASP" learning.

However for emergency communications you cannot beat a FM repeater system. All you need to know is the frequency and the offset. In NYC in 9/11 the only emergency comms which were up belonged to the hams all the other 'closed source' radio systems could not and still cannot communicate with each other.

Ham Radio is open souce and open standards in the communications field.

The new 'closed source' radios do both digital and repeater tech and are likely to croak when they are needed the most because they rely on their mothership for channel assignment and encryption.

no mothership no comms but the control freaks like the mothership concept because they are IN COMMAND govt contractors like them because they need constant and expensive upgrades.

My state just tossed the delta band radios which they had for 30+ years for a system which will be lucky to get 5 years out of and it does not cover the mountains adequately because of the vagarities of digital transmission. The old FM radios got a little noisy but they were usable. with the 'closed source' radios NOISE == No Comms.

Call the hams!!!

Re:Waste I do not think so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964291)

And by god if hams don't get what they want they will hook up 1000W amps and destroy YOUR signal.

HAMS are a buch of old fucks who need a new hobby.

Article Summary is a bit incomplete. (2, Insightful)

Raindance (680694) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964162)

Thankfully, this article also covers not only the idea of 'spectrum privatization' or letting the free market allocate spectrum instead of the FCC's (rather arbitrary allocations) but also the idea of 'open spectrum'; letting anyone use spectrum in various ways (subject to non-interference regulations, of course- if your device uses spectrum it needs to play nice).

I believe the article supports this thought, that basically it works out that *either* spectrum privatization or open spectrum would be a much better way to allocate spectrum, but the FCC is an organization in search of a purpose and of funding, hence tries to regulate what need not be regulated. Not regulate for any real purpose either, merely regulate.

If we want progress in technology, a good first step would be to get rid of, or radically change, the FCC.

RD

Yes...but .... (2, Insightful)

bill_beeman (237459) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964168)

Unfortunately, this is the marketing guy's version of some hard engineering facts. The article sounds very much like a j-school graduate's version of what an economist said...and that neither one ever took anything beyond bonehead physics for liberal arts majors (you know, the one without the math).

Yes, there are things that can be done to maximize the efficiency with which we use the available specturm. And yes, there are inefficient users of the spectrum (government agencies being among the most egregious). But this article clearly overstates the case by about the same amount that SCO overstates the value of their IP.

I can't help but feel a little responsible... (4, Funny)

lateralus_1024 (583730) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964176)

...I've been 'regulating' 3 SSIDS from inside my apartment for months now.
Oddly, my neighbor just got a large envelope from the RIAA...

FCC et al (0)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964194)

<sarcasm>Well, you know. At least they did something about Janet Jackson's nipple.</sarcasm>

if this goes through (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964200)

i am writing this on
my ipaq from my 1st
floor coat closet in
my house in FORT
MEADE, FLORIDA! i
am being ravished by
hurricane charlie.
the power went out
almost 6 hours ago,
but somehow i can
still reach a wi-fi
access point (must
be on a UPS). if
anyone can read
this -- please send
beer and porn and
wish me luck!!

cheers,
roger

Haha. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964283)

Quite possibly the last communication the man will ever have and it is modded -1, Offtopic. Anyway, I hope you get sucked up into the air and land on the spoke.

Slashbot: Use teh LiNuX to stop teh hurricaine!!one11eleven!!!

Seriously, I'm in the general path of Charlie, but I think it will swerve and miss me. Hopefully. If not, please tell your wife I love her (especially her tight, moist pussy).

Uhhh, spread spectrum and wideband aren't new.. (1)

Polarism (736984) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964210)

What an idiot, hell none of the "new" ideas he listed are "new", I think he needs to go read some EE books and come back to the sandbox.

Re:Uhhh, spread spectrum and wideband aren't new.. (1)

thephotoman (791574) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964277)

Sounds a lot like postmodernism [wikipedia.org] applied to science and engineering.

Sychronocity! (5, Informative)

AccordionGuy (559952) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964216)

Clay Shirky has just posted his essay, The Possibility of Spectrum as a Public Good [shirky.com] . It starts with mentioning that the FCC is considering opening up additional spectrum for unlicensed uses -- "the same kind of regulatory change that gave rise to Wifi" -- and points out that "The 2.4Ghz spectrum is not treated as property, with the FCC in the ungainly role of a 'No Trespassing" enforcer; instead, it is being treated as a public good, with regulations in place to require devices to be good neighbors, but with no caps or other restrictions on deployment or use."

Good reading all 'round.

So... (4, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964227)

The Economist recommends privatisation as a solution. Now what a surprise. Don't get me wrong, it's a great paper and I actually subscribe to it, but there are times when it gets into the realms of market fundamentalism [wikipedia.org] , so you should always read between the lines. Some of their articles also read as if they belong in the Leader section, so thick do they lay it on with the opinions.

Re:So... (1)

Damien Neil (11403) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964482)

...except, of course, they don't recommend privatization of spectrum. Rather the opposite, as they recommend making additional portions of the spectrum public and unrestricted.

But, hey, a link to Wikipedia beats reading the article any day.

The visible spectrum (5, Insightful)

thephotoman (791574) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964258)

I want to purchase all electromagnetic frequencies between 380 nm and 780 nm. Therefore, everything that people could see would belong to me. Or does somebody else already own that part already?

Of course, I'll licence them under the GNU's GPL.

Re:The visible spectrum (1)

vanman2004 (617113) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964481)

Yeah, someone does. The MPAA.

Show me the MONEY! (2, Funny)

Politicus (704035) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964259)

The article teases about how the public can benefit:
James Snider at the New America Foundation, a think-tank in Washington, DC, estimates that America's airwaves would have been worth $771 billion in 2001 (when he last did the sums) if every licensee were to use his bandwidth for the service in most demand by the public.
but fails to show how any of this value could be captured? Is this because of who would actually benefit by the proposal?
Michael Powell, the FCC's chairman, has said that he would like to see himself more as a speed cop than as a real-estate agent, and makes clear his penchant for unlicensed bands.
Here it appears that a public resource would be given away for free much like the current road system, but the problem of course is that the public would still pay to regulate a scheme that generates no revenue. Would "speeding tickets" generate the revenue to cover regulation? Would the fed's general fund be used? Who and how would this system pay for it is the bigger question. It sounds like somebody's trying to get something for nothing. Not that that hasn't been tried before, it's just that the public is usually on the losing end of such bargains.

Re:Show me the MONEY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964416)

The spectrum for 3G cellphone systems was auctioned in many European countries. In Germany alone the network providers paid over 50 billion euros for the right to use the spectrum.

Re:Show me the MONEY! (1)

Politicus (704035) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964436)

Yeah, that's old school. Nextel and Verizon already do the same here in the US, but what is proposed is a spectrum commons. How do you auction that?

A must read for everyone interested in spectrum rg (4, Informative)

PaulBu (473180) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964264)

Thoughts of Dave Reed (the guy who gave us TCP/IP)
on the subject [reed.com]

Paul B.

Re:A must read for everyone interested in spectrum (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964360)

That's a fascinating article. What does it have to do with radio spectrum?

in sovjet russia (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964297)

the Spectrum owns you

Crack whores (1)

Anonymous Writer (746272) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964325)

From the article...

"Unlicensed spectrum is sounding like crack cocaine: the ultimate high that solves all your problems," says Brian Fontes, a lobbyist who works for Cingular, America's second-largest mobile-phone company (and the largest once its acquisition of AT&T Wireless, a rival, is complete).

I didn't know that about crack and I don't think it's common knowledge either. Sounds like he is a bit too familiar with it. I guess this is a little insight into why lobbyists are such whores for money, and what they spend it on.

Dark side of privatization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964374)

Governments may be inept and corrupt but at least we can vote them out. Corporations, on the other hand, are amoral and in many cases completely unaccountable to the public, especially when they control things that do not have traditional "competitive" forces at play.


For example in Canada, the province of Ontario thought it would be a BRILLIANT idea to allow the construction of a private highway, rather than funding it with tax money. Lo and behold, the owners of said highway waited a couple of years for city growth to force people to become dependent on the 407 and are now jacking up rates to a level that is many times more expensive [eye.net] than any other toll highway in the world.


So now the Ontario government is trying to force the company to stick to more reasonable (and still quite profitable) rates, but the foreign owners of the highway are using threats of trade barriers to force Canadians to pay more and more and more [canoe.ca] to drive on their own highway!


It would be insane to give up public control of something so fundamental to modern society as EM bands. Increasingly, they are the "highways" that our society relies on to get things done. You think you hate it now that Microsoft basically dictates what software can and cannot be created, imagine if they literally "0wned" the airwaves.


Privatization is not a panacea, it is good when used in appropriate places, but can be a real drawback when a company can get too much power over the people who rely on its service.

If it's been so "overcautious"... (3, Interesting)

javaxman (705658) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964390)

then why do I hear two different radio stations on the same frequency so often?

Why does one over-the-air broadcast station have ghosting caused by another??

What, the free market is supposed to fix those problems magically, without government oversight, when they're still pretty bad with the FCC throwing down tons of rules *and* charging licensing fees?

I smell typical Economist free-market hype. Just let the highest bidders control your spectrum, and everything will be fine, kiddies...

I'm not saying there isn't a need for change in the way RF is used. But I am calling into question a highest-bidder-takes-all approach, and the motives of those who back such an approach.

Re:If it's been so "overcautious"... (2, Insightful)

Aim Here (765712) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964467)

Did ANYONE here RTFA, or is the Economist putting a different article out to people with my IP or something?

The economist article isn't suggesting Thatcher/Pinochet/Reagan style privatisation - which I think of as the government giving out publicly owned utilities to the highest bidder and letting them fleece us for whatever they can get away with. That's roughly what we have now, with heavy government regulation - and the Economist article doesn't even suggest a less-regulated form of that system.

The economist article is advocating a commons approach. Build a bunch of wireless networks, let the spectrum be used by anyone who has equipment sophisticated enough not to interfere with other people's signals, and then everyone can use the spectrum freely for whatever they want. Simultaneously the spectrum becomes more deregulated, and more publicly owned, which must be a good thing, unless you're a telecoms oligopolist.

The last time I read something like this was in an essay by Eben Moglen, who seems to be more of an anarchist than anything else.

Use Spread Spectrum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9964450)

IMHO spread spectrum should be used whenever possible. It allows for sharing the bandwidth and virtually eliminates interference problems.

The Future of Ideas (1)

Landaras (159892) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964456)

Lawrence Lessig [lessig.org] spends a not insignificant amount of time on the concept of spectrum in 2001's The Future of Ideas.

Quoting him from page 233 (emphasis in original)...

"Here again, an idea about property is doing all the work - but this time the idea is at its most attenuated. We don't yet have a full property regime for allocating and controlling spectrum. Yet we are still being driven to embrace this single view. We are racing to deny the opportunity for balance, pushed (as we always are) by those who have the least to gain from a world of balance. The possibility of a commons at the physical layer is ignored; even the chance to experiment with the commons is denied. Instead, policy makers on the Right and the Left race to embrace a system of perfect control.

So strong is this idea of property, so unbalanced is our understanding of its tradition, that we embrace it fully, without limitation, even when it doesn't yet exist, and even when the asset being assigned a property right is not - like the wires of AT&T's cable or the creative genius behind Disney's Mickey Mouse - something anyone has created. We are racing to assign property rights in the air, because we can't imagine that balance could do better."

Buy it new [the-future-of-ideas.com] , buy it used [ebay.com] , or get it from the library. But if you have interest in spectrum you should definitely read this book.

- Neil Wehneman

Figures (1)

evanh (627108) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964460)

"the 1% of frequencies below 3GHz are worth more than the other 99% of spectrum between 3GHz and 300GHz"

Well, I suspect, since "95% of the government's spectrum is not being used" it'll mostly all be above the 3 GHz spot.

Using linear scaling may be fare for bandwidth measurements but it's not a fare way of describing "the usable airwaves" because of the differing technologies and the unique ways that certain bands interact with other objects and the environment.

I think the key point not being well expressed in the article is that the spectrum above about 3 GHz is not as precious and should be opened to more comercial use.

Money Makes the World go Round (2, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964472)

Every time I read one of these propaganda pieces on the virtues of applying market principles to the RF spectrum, I have to ask, what about all of the users who don't have the money to buy a slice of the spectrum? Are they going to be shut out because corporate users can afford to pay far more than they could ever dream of spending? Currently, there is spectrum reserved for many people and organizations that do not have much money. Economically "efficient" is not the same thing as socially "efficient".

open-source p2p emf broadcasting! spammageddon! (1)

evilmousse (798341) | more than 10 years ago | (#9964477)

FUNK yeah i'm ready for it!
imagine how it could be applied...

ham radio meets irc meets gnutella. (god save us by advancing the technologies to filter social signal-to-noise like slashdot ratings, for such a technology would be spammageddon.) there could be a wireless equivalent of shouting "we need a couple people for backyard baseball" to a virtual stadium of people who are looking for things to do. (This differs from today's internet in that it is still directly tied to physical location.)

ISPs could be come obsolete with a 100$ pci card / software investment in dense enough locations (...eventually... gnutella was a great first venture into familiarity with highly unpredictable node-clouds, i think we have lots more to learn though) I doubt legislation would ever rise to meet this potential though, there's too much legislation on providing services, exactly what will kill local wifi voip providers as soon as they become a threat to big business.

a cheap, wireless, distributed system of microphones and speakers around a club that raise or lower the music dynamically in different spaces based on conversation noise. crap, throw in speech-recognition and word-triggering and it's big brother in '06.

any other ideas?

-g
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