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The Feds Vacate Airwaves

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the hit-the-road-jack dept.

Communications 153

dada21 writes to tell us UPI is reporting that the government is getting ready to spend $936 million to move its radio communication to an obscure segment of the spectrum to make room for next-generation mobile tech. From the article: "'With 90 megahertz of additional spectrum, today's cellular carriers will be tomorrow's next-generation broadband providers,' Michael D. Gallagher, assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information, said in a statement."

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value (4, Insightful)

User 956 (568564) | more than 8 years ago | (#14379816)

the government is getting ready to spend $936 million to move its radio communication to an obscure segment of the spectrum to make room for next-generation mobile tech.

Yeah, but how many billions is their currently-used chunk of spectrum worth on the open market?

Re:value (4, Informative)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14379828)

I believe TFA says about US$2 billion, with some of it already sold. They also talk about selling more radio stations off, as well.

Re:value (3, Informative)

User 956 (568564) | more than 8 years ago | (#14379889)

I believe TFA says about US$2 billion, with some of it already sold.

That $2 billion sale they mentioned in TFA was a year ago. The sale of this spectrum won't be until at least 2009; With the rate wireless is growing (and inflation), you're looking at $7-$8 billion, easy.

Re:value (2, Funny)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14379929)

Doh. Go figure, I submit TFA and I didn't even read it correctly :)

Re:value (-1, Flamebait)

JFitzsimmons (764599) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380238)

That's not something that I'm even remotely surprised about on slashdot.

Holy Crap (1, Offtopic)

User 956 (568564) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380245)

this estimate [alohapartners.net] gives a ballpark of around $20 billion - $30 billion for 100mhz of spectrum. That would more than offset the government's costs to move.

(Though, if the gov't keeps fucking with our currency [safehaven.com] they way they are, I'm not sure if $20 billion will be worth all that much)

Re:value (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14379943)

Yup, that's a lot of money. Say goodbye to any affordable cellphone or wireless data services on that spectrum.

Re:value (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14379850)

More than this, what kind of payoffs did the current telecommunication providers have to give the government to get these plum swaths of spectrum at such a deal. And how about the loss to the government of the infrastructure already in place to use the spectrum being given up. Is this even necessary to get broadband to the consumer? I'm not under the impression it is. I'm under the impression the thing keeping braodband from the consumer is an awareness by the providers that any sort of real competition in the marketplace means profit-margins that can't cover for their losses in other markets. So they have purchased laws to allow them the sole-provider moniker and where there might be competition used collusion to keeps prices high and supply artificially low. How much dark fiber is there?

Re:value (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14379945)

"With 90 megahertz of additional spectrum, today's cellular carriers will be tomorrow's next-generation broadband providers," Michael D. Gallagher, assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information, said in a statement.

It strikes me as both funny and depressing how this slip-of-the-tongue (or intentional?) phrasing came out. Today's bandwidth grantees will be tomorrow's bandwidth grantees.

It's a shame that a public resource like the radio spectrum is "auctioned" off in such huge parcels. Isn't that basically a guarantee that no decentralized applications will appear? Isn't it a guarantee that open development won't happen, and that every successful standard will be successful just because it was adopted by one of the several government-subsidized, megacorporate bandwidth-owners?

Re:value (1)

Asm-Coder (929671) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380076)

Basiclly, yes.

But there are two possible solutions.
A) an organization or individual purchuses portions of the spectrum and either donates or premites access to the spectrum, or
B) Everyone pesters their congressmen with letters begging for an open free-use area on the spectrum.

I don't know, but there is the remote chance of one or the other happening.

P.S. If anyone has more information on this please post, so everyone can get in on it.

Re:value (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380133)

B) Everyone pesters their congressmen with letters begging for an open free-use area on the spectrum.

We already have that. That's why there are so many unregulated 900Mhz, 2.4Ghz, and 5Ghz wireless devices [wsdmag.com] (like 802.11, cordless phones, and the like).

Re:value (1)

Jerry Coffin (824726) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380072)

Yeah, but how many billions is their currently-used chunk of spectrum worth on the open market?

It's generally sold at auction so the price isn't known until it's sold. Contrary to the statement elsethread, the $2B number is not an esimate of the value of this spectrum, but an (approximate) number from a previous auction. Unfortunately, the most recent projection [cbo.gov] I've found from the congressional budget office is quite old, but here [alohapartners.net] is a more recent analysis from a decidedly interested (though hardly impartial) party.

It's a good start. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14379822)

Now if only they would vacate the country...

Re:It's a good start. (4, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 8 years ago | (#14379845)

Now if only they would vacate the country...

they're working on that one. Unfortunately, it will probably be after they've spent all the money [yahoo.com] .

Re:It's a good start. (5, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14379890)

This is true -- and why I've moved entirely to a personal gold standard for currency.

In the past 15 years, they had numerous ways to spend -- direct taxes, indirect taxes, fake social security lockboxes and the worst -- currency inflation. Now that China, Russia and the Middle East are losing faith in the US dollar, they won't be able to inflate as much, right? Wrong. In March 2006, our government has decided to stop reporting the M3 Money Supply figures -- the figures that tell the world how much counterfeit money the central bank prints.

And they think this will make the dollar more stable?

Re:It's a good start. (4, Insightful)

m50d (797211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380006)

And they think this will make the dollar more stable?

Yes. This will mean noone knows that they're stepping up production to keep the US on top because the value of the dollar is basically collapsing. As long as noone notices it's about to collapse, it doesn't collapse. That's how finance works.

It's a good start-"/."'s E.F. Huton. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14380087)

"Yes. This will mean noone knows that they're stepping up production to keep the US on top because the value of the dollar is basically collapsing. As long as noone notices it's about to collapse, it doesn't collapse. That's how finance works."

*rolls eyes*

Ladies and Gentlemen. I give you Finance Minister m50d of the nation of Slashdot.

Re:It's a good start-"/."'s E.F. Huton. (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380121)

Can I have a hat with a red button on it?

Re:It's a good start-"/."'s E.F. Huton. (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380179)

No, but you can have a Red Hat with a button on it.

It's a good start-An Economic Staple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14380243)

" Can I have a hat with a red button on it?"

Yes, you can have an "Easy Button" [dvlabs.com]

Re:It's a good start. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14381122)

And how long do you think that will last? I'm sure it will buy them some time, but it will be noticed.

Re:It's a good start. (3, Funny)

Belseth (835595) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380102)

Come on, get in the spirit of the madness. For the cost of printing six trillion in hundreds we can be out of debt. If we print a couple of trillion extra we can go on a spending spree. It's the " I can't be broke I got more checks" theory of economics.

Re:It's a good start. (2, Informative)

God'sDuck (837829) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380239)

For the cost of printing six trillion in hundreds we can be out of debt.

actually...that would work. of course, the resulting currency devaluation would equal an approximately $20,000 per-person tax...and you might need more than 6 trill if the currency starts plummeting before you're done shelling out the cash. but it would work.

M0 is the money printed... (2, Informative)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380122)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Money_supply [wikipedia.org]

M0 is the currency in circulation.

M3 seems like a rather difficult number to nail down. Additionally, the only stuff that is in the M3 that isn't in the M2 (still reported) is stuff that is outside the US government's control. So I don't see how not reporting it fits into area of allowing more US government wrongdoing.

To be honest, the area which really falls under the area of fiat currency nuttery is the cap between M1 and M0. It's the fractional reserve system that gold prohibits and it's the fractional reserve system that produces the gap between M0 and M1.

Given that you'll still be getting M0 and M1 (and indeed M2), why do you think this change in reporting will increase abuses by the US government? Why should it make our already fiat currency any more ephemeral?

Re:M0 is the money printed... (2, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380148)

So you're saying that 600 billion dollars in print in circulation is all we need to query, and it is only those figures that affect consumer price inflation?

I'm not sure I agree.

First, the M3 is by far the easiest way for the Fed to inflate the currency base "secretly" without there being a huge effect in the U.S. retail economy initially. Most of the money will be offshore dollars, eurodollars and institutional money funds -- these initially have zero effect on price inflation but as the money is converted for other means, they can and will have an effect.

The M1/M0 supply is not enough to see what government is doing to our money. If you need a better explanation, Rothbard's book is now available freely online. Go check out http://www.mises.org/money.aspx [mises.org] for more info on how government is destroying our wealth "secretly" and how removing the M3 figures is an even bigger crime against freedom.

In the long run, other central banks in the world that hold our currency are the ones who keep our currency in check. If they disagree with US dollar stability, we'll find ourselves in a hyperinflating economy -- the kind that us gold bugs would love to see.

Re:M0 is the money printed... (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380162)

Doh, forgot to hit preview and test the link: http://www.mises.org/money.asp [mises.org]

Re:M0 is the money printed... (3, Interesting)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380552)

Except that gold has no value either. Oh, its kind of pretty, but it has no real use. If the dollar was to go hyperinflation, there's no particular reason we'd move back to gold. More likely, we'd start using Euros or other currency, just like the dollar is now defacto cash in many third world markets. If it goes so far that not even foreign bank notes are trusted, its even less likely that gold would be seen as valuable- at that point we're so FUBARed were back to barter, most likely with ammo and medicine being the most valuable items, as by that point the government has utterly collapsed.

Re:M0 is the money printed... (2, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380582)

Gold has no value except as a store of wealth for those who use it, as a much-needy industrial metal, and as a store of wealth for every central bank in the world.

If the dollar hyperinflates, we WOULD switch to other fiat currencies, surely. I'll still use gold as my wealth store (it is not an investment for me, merely a version of your bank). I buy everything with gold and silver (I keep my wealth stored as a hard metal, and when I need something I have avenues for converting it to the fiat currency of choice merely for a business transaction). My money has been very stable over the years, even disregarding the value of gold going up against the dollar. I'm starting to track gold ratios against consumer fuel, utility costs and other "real life" costs and I'm surprised at how solid the metal has been over the past 3 years versus those prices.

Would we ever switch to a gold standard? I hope not -- gold is still artificially cheap and I'm happy to keep buying it. Hell, I love the fact that everyone eats the US dollars up -- it helps me save for the future at a discount.

Re:M0 is the money printed... (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380824)

The problem is- to use it as a value store, *other* people have to accept it as a value store. If you offered to buy something from me in gold, I wouldn't take it- I have no use for it and can't easily spend it. Whereas I would take cash or barter. Even if the dollar crashed, I wouldn't take it unless the second part changed- unless the 90% majority of the US started passing back gold nuggets instead of greenbacks. Unlikely to happen. So unless you're buying gold as an investment hoping it just keeps pace (or exceeds) inflation, having it in gold doesn't magicly help you at all. You're better off investing it in a buisness, the stock market, or real estate. Things that are likely to increase in value.

Re:M0 is the money printed... (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380887)

You won't accept it, but through all my world travels, I have never been in a city anywhere that didn't buy gold for close to the spot value -- ever. In one town I do business in (~5000 residents) there are 3 different places that accept it.

My currency is in gold and silver. This is the equivalent of what people using checking and savings accounts for. I also have some gold and silver for my retirement. My "investment" money -- what you'd use a stock market for -- is invested in my businesses. Lately I've had some extra money, so I've been looking at local businesses that I can help start and stay on as a partner. I don't understand the stock market -- putting money into businesses and getting no dividend, and only making money when I sell the stock to some other sucker. When I help someone start a local business, I can expect 20-50% profits annually on my money!

I did buy real estate, until the Fed went crazy inflating the money supply (easy credit flooded into the stock and housing markets, causing the prices to skyrocket artificially). I cashed out of all my over-inflated real estate, bought trailer homes (and soon trailer parks) and put the rest of my money into businesses and gold. I've cashed out of the dollar market (and the markets most inflated because of currency inflation) almost entirely.

Gold does help me, but it isn't magic. I feel very stable, will never get a loan or any debt ever again, and am not worried about my future. I do not believe that most readers of this site are as comfortable, even though many of them may have more money (on the books) than I do.

Re:M0 is the money printed... (2, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14381260)

Actually, if you fear the dollar devaluing you should be taking out loans- as much as you can. By the time you have to pay them off, it'll be pocket change. Inflation and hyperinflation are good for people with massive debt.

Gold still doesn't make sense though. You need money in 3 forms:

1)Short term- money to spend at the movies or the market. This is still cash, I can't walk into 7-11 and give them gold. Basicly cash on hand.

2)Long term- this is investments, so the money grows. Whatever form that investment is (buisnesses like you said are investments. Fairly risky since half of new buisnesses fail in 5 years, but highly profitable if they pan out).

3)Medium term- a larger cash supply for emergencies, big ticket items, and monthly payments. Again, it needs to be cash, or easily convertible. It also shouldn't be too much, with overflows going to long term. You could use gold here, but its pointless to- the money shouldn't be here for long, and gold just adds to your risk. Someone can put a gun to your head and ask for your gold, he can't do that with your bank. Its such a small amount of money circulating so rapidly that worrying about inflation is pointless, unless that inflation is Weimar Republic levels.

In short, it still just makes no sense.

No, I'm not saying that. (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380973)

I think M2 is a better measure.

Some might even think M3 covers more stuff, but the additional stuff it covers does not include stuff under the US government's control. So I don't see why not reporting M3 frees up the government to do more bad things. That's all I'm saying. I'm not saying our government isn't doing bad things, simply that this won't affect their ability to do them.

I do wish to say that if you really meant the total money supply (not M0), then the phrase "print more counterfeit money" should have been left out of your argument.

Re:It's a good start. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14380139)

The central bank printing counterfeit.... right. That's a stupendous thought.

Re:It's a good start. (1)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380375)

This is true -- and why I've moved entirely to a personal gold standard for currency.

Would someone please explain the gold standard to me? I understand the need for non-fiat currency that has equal value as currency as it would as material, but why gold? It's not a fixed quantity. IIRC one of the reasons for the fall of 1600s Spain was that the colonies discovered gold, thereby reducing the value of their gold-standard currency.

In Atlas Shrugged, the banker owns a gold deposit. Is it just a coincidence that there's gold nearby Galt's Gulch? And what's there to prevent him from refusing to mine gold, or mining more gold, or letting a competitor find gold elsewhere?

Re:It's a good start. (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380411)

Actually, go read the link I provided at http://www.mises.org/money.asp [mises.org] it explains the need for NO currency standard. Money can exist in a non-regulated free market system and would likely lead to not only more wealth for the poor, but more stable wealth for everyone.

I prefer gold as my standard because it has generally held its value over time -- thousands of years actually. The only time gold really spiked and fell was when we saw large manipulations or large discovering. Over time, though, the population growth tends to offset any gold discoveries (which historically are rare). Today gold is valued at over US$500 per ounce but it costs less than US$70 per ounce to extract from a mine -- that's how weak gold discoveries are in regards to the amount of gold in existence.

Gold is not the only store of wealth, it is just harder to manipulate. I blog about the gold manipulations (I used to have a gold bug newsletter up to about 6 months ago and am trying to rebuild my gold readers in blog form) and it is really interesting to see how nothing is sacred, but at least gold is stable.

When you read about fiat currency and the manipulations that happen in that market, you'll definitely want to look at non-US dollar backed investments. I'm the least doomy-and-gloomy of all gold bugs, I think, but I definitely see a call for some caution, especially if all your money is in US currency. Our armies might be the most powerful, but the day will come when they won't have the financing needed to keep them protecting our dollar.

Re:It's a good start. (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380501)

"And they think this will make the dollar more stable?"

The stability of the value of gold depends on fusion and spaceflight continuing to be expensive. Physicists are already using supercolliders to create gold in the laboratory and the presence of gold in the asteroid belt is fairly well known, it's only a matter of time for the expense of the technology to come down, and then you'll be stuck with a bunch of shiney yellow paperweights.

(It may seem farfetched now, but so were manmade diamonds once.)

You also seem to be forgetting about how a precious metal standard puts the value of the currency into the hands of the individuals who are able to horde enough of the stuff (inflate the value of gold by keeping it, lower it by selling/spending it, whichever was to your advantage at the time). In order to protect the gold-based dollar from rampant inflation or deflation, the US government needed to hold on to incredibly large gold reserves (such as the one that was famously kept at Fort Knox) as well as implement laws about how much gold an individual could own (which weren't repealed until the Ford adminstration). If anything, you should be happier with paper money: it's easier to smuggle gold in from out of the country than to counterfeit greenbacks (protecting the value of your money from hostile intent) and there are no regulations about how many paper dollars you can stuff into your mattress.

Re:It's a good start. (1)

FunFactor100 (848822) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380781)

"and there are no regulations about how many paper dollars you can stuff into your mattress"

However the authorities tend to view people with too many paper dollars in their possession as criminals.

Re:It's a good start. (1)

Yonder Way (603108) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380714)

"This is true -- and why I've moved entirely to a personal gold standard for currency."

Yeah I'm sure that works really well at the gas station.

eBay (0, Offtopic)

amazon10x (737466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14379827)

sounds to me like they need to auction each of those megahertz on eBay! http://www.milliondollarhomepage.com/ [milliondol...mepage.com]

Why Sell It? (5, Interesting)

Bellum Aeternus (891584) | more than 8 years ago | (#14379840)

Why does our government feel the need to auction off the spectrum? Why can't they just increase the amount of availble spectrum ear marked for general purpose use? The now famous WiFi uses public spectrum and is easily the most famous radio - except perhaps radio itself.

Selling the spectrum will only accomplish two things: 1) Make some rich companies richer. 2) reduce innovation because only said companies can use the newly availble spectrum.

Re:Why Sell It? (5, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14379864)

I agree with you. I blogged [blogspot.com] about it today, before I submitted the article to slashdot. I'd love to see a bigger experiment from the FCC on privatizing and anarchizing (sp?) airwaves to see how it works.

You'll likely see some responses here from people on how their neighbor's microwave screws with their WiFi, but I run and maintain 25 WiFi networks for friends and family and we don't have a problem with a single network. I even offer my WiFi connection free to all my neighbors and they don't even call with tech support questions.

Re:Why Sell It? (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380009)

You'll likely see some responses here from people on how their neighbor's microwave screws with their WiFi
I'd much rather use the spectrum with a chance of inteference than be banned from it entirely.

Re:Why Sell It? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380026)

I agree with you. I blogged [blogspot.com] about it today, before I submitted the article to slashdot. I'd love to see a bigger experiment from the FCC on privatizing and anarchizing (sp?) airwaves to see how it works.

I think the end result would be almost a total abandonment of a large part of the spectrum by commercial companies ... you'd see radio being used mostly by hobbyists and individuals...

Or maybe that's what you had in mind... ;)

Re:Why Sell It? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380113)

I think the end result would be almost a total abandonment of a large part of the spectrum by commercial companies ... you'd see radio being used mostly by hobbyists and individuals...
Why on earth do you think so?

Re:Why Sell It? (1)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380799)

I think the end result would be almost a total abandonment of a large part of the spectrum by commercial companies ... you'd see radio being used mostly by hobbyists and individuals...

Yeah, because radio-based features are just minor, superfluous add-ons to most commercial products and services that use them, like cell phones, pagers, commercial 2-way radio dispatch, etc.

Man, you must be on crack.

Re:Why Sell It? (5, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 8 years ago | (#14379874)

Why does our government feel the need to auction off the spectrum?

Selling the spectrum will only accomplish two things: 1) Make some rich companies richer. 2) reduce innovation because only said companies can use the newly availble spectrum.


Question, meet Answer.

Et tu, Brut (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14380214)


Question, meet Answer.

Conspiracy theorist, meet tinfoil hat.

Re:Why Sell It? (1)

IAAP (937607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14379921)

Why can't they just increase the amount of availble spectrum ear marked for general purpose use? Where ? [doc.gov]

How would you try convincing folks who are allocated their spectrum to give some of there's up? Or am I completely misunderstanding what you mean?

Re:Why Sell It? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14379935)

This may anwser question:
The cost of moving to a new radio frequency will be paid for with money raised through the spectrum auction. The last major spectrum sale raised more than $2 billion.
From TFA

Also, when has the government ever given away anything of value? Especially considering said airwaves will very likely be used for commercial use, I can't blame them for trying to make some money off of this, in addition to money put towards moving to a new radio frequency.

I have a better question: Why sell it? Are these new radio frequencies better? If so, how so?

Power (2, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380276)

The problem with open spectrums like 2.4GHz is they have to be low power and either short range omni, or medium range but narrow direction. The reason is that if anyone can set it up, there has to be a reasonable expectation that your equipment will work and not be interfered with by others.

I mean suppose there was no limits on the 2.4GHz spectrum. So you go and buy a little, low power wireless device and hook it up. You get nothing, in fact, the device gets damaged. Why? Well turns out I live down the block, and I use that band for high power transmissions. I have a 10,000 watt transmitter that I use to get my data all over the city. What's more, I'm not using part of the spectrum, I'm using all of it. My signal just blocks out yours because it's so much more powerful.

So, when you want something that is going to be higher power, longer range, and deployed on a wider basis, there needs to be some licensing to keep people from stepping on each other's toes all the time. I want my communications providers sharing the spectrum, not playing a power game to see who can block who out.

Are you *really* going to use it? (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380442)

Virtually no one is using the rather large 5GHz U-NII band that the FCC already gave us, while 2.4GHz gets more and more crowded. I suppose there would be more demand for 1.7GHz or 2.1GHz unlicensed since it is "better" spectrum than 5GHz, but the precedent still isn't good.

Re:Why Sell It? (4, Informative)

kbielefe (606566) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380630)

WiFi does not use "public spectrum." It falls under part 15 rules and therefore uses spectrum that is allocated to licensed users, at extremely low power, with the understanding that it must not cause interference and must accept any interference. In other words, your WiFi router has no more right to transmit on that channel than your neighbor's microwave oven has.

As a licensed user of several of the WiFi channels I can transmit at 1500 watts over an entire city, if necessary to establish communication, and can interfere with any unlicensed WiFi routers on my channel with impunity. Not only that, if any of those routers are interfering with my signal, they are legally required to shut down or at least change channel.

Think that's unfair? The designers of WiFi were aware of those requirements when they first selected the frequencies. Luckily for all you unlicensed users of WiFi, most of us hams are nice guys who like WiFi for our own networks, and are excited about the availability of cheap hardware for using that part of the spectrum.

Re:Why Sell It? (1)

adrianmonk (890071) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380635)

Why can't they just increase the amount of availble spectrum ear marked for general purpose use? The now famous WiFi uses public spectrum and is easily the most famous radio - except perhaps radio itself.

AM and FM radio are more well-known than WiFi, but I think WiFi is also behind two other very famous uses of the spectrum: television, and cell phones. Also, in the general population, I would think Citizens' Band radio and Police / Fire / EMS radio are pretty well-known uses. Also, GPS is pretty famous.

Re:Why Sell It? (1)

busman (136696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380695)

FTA
The trade group, the Telecommunications Industry Association, had lobbied for the law and the follow-up report and issued a positive statement regarding the nearly $1 billion cost estimate released by the government this week. "Proceeds of commercial spectrum auctions to fund the relocation costs of federal incumbents helps all segments of the wireless industry, creating a win-win situation for both government and industry."


When you hear a lobby/trade group say it's a win-win situation you know you will be screwed someway in the deal!

Industry Lobbied for it? (2, Interesting)

IAAP (937607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14379868)

The trade group, the Telecommunications Industry Association, had lobbied for the law and the follow-up report and issued a positive statement regarding the nearly $1 billion cost estimate released by the government this week.

So, considering the track record of lobbyist and Congress, how many of you re highly skeptical that the people of th US will be getting their money's worth when the spectrums are auctioned? I know I am.

Misleading article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14379875)

From the article, [...] Most of the work should be completed by 2009, [...].

Tomorrow and three years seems a little far off.

IANANA (I Am Not A Network Administrator), but would an additional 90MHz to the spectrum really make the difference between 0.5KB/s and >100KB/sec?

And why is this in Politics? Hardware, or even IT, would be more proper.

Re:Misleading article (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14379914)

That depends... How much money are you willing to part with? Per month, I mean.

9/11 radio problems not solved? (5, Interesting)

asadodetira (664509) | more than 8 years ago | (#14379923)

This move might be another step in the wrong direction. If i'm not mistaken in a NPR radio show an expert said that some current commercial frequencies would be extremely useful for emergency responders since they can reach deeper inside buildings. They attributed the misuse of airwaves to lobby of big media groups. Apparently a lot of the rescue radio communication problems detected after 9/11 have not been solved, changes can be quickly made when there's a commercial reason.

Re:9/11 radio problems not solved? (5, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14379988)

I read that Sprint/NexTel is selling the IDEN network that Nextel uses to the government. The PPT "walkie talkie" system plus the nation wide network should work pretty well for "first" responders. How well does it work in buildings? I have no idea. I do know that Sprint got a nice chunk of spectrum in WiMax range in exchange for the IDEN network.

Re:9/11 radio problems not solved? (1)

asadodetira (664509) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380126)

Another factor they mentioned is the power requirement. It's preferrable to use bands that can transmit farther/deeper using less power because some equipment quickly eats up batteries. (In many cases they use non-removable rechargeable packs)

Re:9/11 radio problems not solved? (1)

mlynx (812210) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380269)

The NexTel bands suck inside buildings. Our facilities team uses them and if we stood in the halways of our old building you couldn't get a signal. Another example is that in my current building, I have an office with a southern facing window (points directly at the closest nextel tower btw), if I am seated at the back of the office, 25 feet from the window, I don't get any of my phone calls or direct connects.

I certainly wouldn't expect the IDEN network to work well for first responders, and I would definitely not want my life dependant on the current network.

Re:9/11 radio problems not solved? (1)

josecanuc (91) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380349)

The iDEN/Nextel stuff was a kind of "cleaning up" of the spectrul allocation. Nextel's long history meant that it had a lot of little slices of allocations throughout the nation, which happened to be kind of mixed in with cellular stuff. (The cellular came later, and just worked around the Nextel stuff on a regional basis.)

Rather than keep up the "which frequencies do we have to not use because of Nextel in THIS city?" nonsense, and because the cellular and iDEN operators were not leaving much space between their uses, meant there was potential for interference.

So Nextel, in cooperation/coercion with the FCC traded it's little slices around the nation for a contiguous slice elswhere, and then the FCC arranged to trade that to the cellular providers for some cash.

Details in the above story may not be correct, but that what I understand of the situation.

Re:9/11 radio problems not solved? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380401)

Here is the story I saw. http://phone.ioerror.us/2005/10/sprint-nextel-sell s-iden-network-to-us-military [ioerror.us] How true it is I have no idea.

Re:9/11 radio problems not solved? (1)

josecanuc (91) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380443)

Okay. I thought what you heard on NPR might have been the "rebanding" thing. And I think I was also wrong -- iDEN isn't mixed in with cellular, it's mixed in with public-safety (fire, police) frequencies.

The NPR story you linked to is a result of the Sprint/Nextel merger and the fact that rather than maintain two different cellular technologies (iDEN, CDMA), Sprint/Nextel decided to eventually pick one -- and when they get all the civilian users off of iDEN by making them buy new handsets, they can then sell iDEN handsets only to federal users who have their own set of needs that are difficult to meet with a mixed-use network.

Re:9/11 radio problems not solved? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380815)

Actually it seems like Sprint is planing on moving to a WiMax network. I have to wonder if this will be part of the phone or a separate data service?
I really like my new Samsung A900 CDMA phone and would love a WiMax version but only if it is the same size and doesn't have a shorter battery life.

Re:9/11 radio problems not solved? (2, Interesting)

wfberg (24378) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380107)

This move might be another step in the wrong direction. If i'm not mistaken in a NPR radio show an expert said that some current commercial frequencies would be extremely useful for emergency responders since they can reach deeper inside buildings.

The article mentions this is about the 1710- to 1755-MHz band. This is a slightly lower frequency than current GSM-1900 or CDMA-2000 handsets use. As such, I can tell you it doesn't reach too far into buildings. Expect bad or no coverage in the basement, or in elevators.

For emergency services, there are a lot more attractive pieces of spectrum than this one.

In fact, emergency services in The Netherlands are finding this out just now, as they're trying to implement c2000, better known as TETRA. TETRA operates in the 380-383 MHz or 390-393 MHz range, yet these are still high enough frequencies to neccesitate a dense network of repeaters, and still it doesn't penetrate too far into buildings, which is of great concern to e.g. firefighters. Of course, since it's already cost billions to partially implement (so far), they can hardly call the whole thing off.
 

Re:9/11 radio problems not solved? (1)

castoridae (453809) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380537)

The main frequencies being used/considered in public safety (in the US) are the 800-900MHz range (for voice communications, and low-bandwidth high-range/high-penetration data) and the 4.9GHz for wifi (some may use the "standard" wifi frequency at 2.4GHz, for the COTS equipment, dual public use, or lower density of repeaters necessary, but they find the idea of having their own dedicated frequency very attractive).

Re:9/11 radio problems not solved? (5, Informative)

josecanuc (91) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380282)

The problem of emergency responder and public safety radio system (non)interoperability grows out of the history of growth of the systems.

In the beginning, each agency had one or a few dedicated frequencies for communcation. The fire department might have 3 channels labeled "Primary", "Secondary", and "Tactical". Each of those would correspond to a pair of frequencies known as a "repeater pair". One frequency is the "input" to the repeater, and the other, the "output". In "idle", each radio is listening to the "output" frequency. When a fireman transmits on the radio, it transmits on the "input". The repeater listens to the input constantly. When it senses someone transmitting on the input frequency, it fires up it's transmitter on the output frequency and passes the audio from the input receiver to the output transmitter.

(Not much has changed since then)

Each agency (police, fire, waste, roads & bridges, etc.) of a city, plus county(parish), state, and federal agengies was in direct administrative control over their frequencies (an therefore channels). The fire department would apply with the FCC for a license for 3 repeater pairs, and the FCC would say, you can use pairs X, Y, and Z at no more than P Watts of power. The FCC determined this by ensuring that pairs X, Y, and Z were not used elsewhere in a geographical proximity that would likely be breached by a transmitter at the fire department's location based on RF propogation models at the given frequencies and terrain.

Now, in a bigger sense, the FCC also defined the allocation of the RF spectrum for the entire radio electromagnetic radation spectrum. Not on an individual basis, but on a functional basis. Like, 150MHz - 158MHz is allocated for public safety use, and therefore frequency pairs in that "band" would be available for individual licensing to any public safety agency (police, fire, EMS, etc.) Great amounts of spectrum are currently allocated for "federal" use. Note that not all RF use is for voice communication. Some is set aside for radioastronomy: no licenses are given to allow transmitting there, so radioastronomers can be certain that if they listen in that band, there will be less human interference than if they just picked any arbitrary frequency band to monitor.

As the technology improved and became cheaper, it became possible to utilize higher and higher frequencies. As such, whenever a band seemed "crowded", and the FCC opened up a higher band for the same purpose, it opened up a wider band. Wider bands means the same number of available channelized frequencies in the pool could be wider, and therefore carry better sound quality. Alternatively, the same quality could result with a higher count of "channels" in a band.

Public safety and city maintenance radio systems used to operate around 30MHz and 50MHz (about 10meter and 6meter wavelenths). Those gave good range -- the radio energy from the repeater and mobile radios was not attenuated by the atmosphere too much. As the frequency increases, though, the attenuation (lessening) of the signal strength by the various components of the air increases. At the same time, there is less "other" RF energy floating around from such things as the sun and lightning in storms, so the end result was to have slightly increased power requirements on transmitters and vastly increased voice quality and vastly increased equipment maintainability. Much of RF engineering has to do with the real wavelength, so as you go shorter in wavelenth, some of your filtering hardware can get smaller and more compact.

Eventually, every little city had a dozen or so frequencies allocated to various agencies within. It was a very inefficient use of the scarce resource of RF spectrum. If the fire department of Podunk, WV had 3 frequencies allocated to it, no other agency within, say, 100 miles could be allocated those frequencies. And you have to realize also that an FM-modulated voice signal has a real "bandwidth", and so you had to space out the "channels" of available frequencies so that operation on a too-close frequency did not interfere with anything else.

A pretty smart system was developed that allowed all agencies in a city to share a fixed set of frequencies and rarely "run out". It is called "trunked radio"

With a trunked radio system, each agency gets "virtual channels", also known as "talk groups". A talk-group wasn't assocated with any particular frequency. Anywhere from 3 to 20 (or so) frequencies would be allocated not to agencies within a city, but to the city as a whole. On one of the frequencies, there would be what is called a "control channel". On this frequency, there is a steady stream of low-bit-rate (3600 bps) digital data. Most of the time it's just "system idle" messages. All radios on this system, when not being used, listen to this control frequency.

When a user wishes to transmit, he or she sets which talk group to use (which are functionally equivalent to the proprietary frequency he or she is used to), and presses the push to talk button. The radio transmits a short burst of digital data on the input frequency of the control channel (it's a repeater pair!) saying something like "Radio ID 0x3A3F7 wishes to transmit on talk group 0x12B3". The main controller computer of the radio system hears this, decides which of the dozen or so available real repeater pairs is not currently in use, and sends a message on the control channel saying "Talk group 0x12B3 is about to become active on channel 0x05" where channel 0x05 corresponds to a real frequency pair. When the transmitting radio hears this on the control channel, it beeps to indicate to the user that "it's all set up now, go ahead and talk" and then turns on it's transmitter on the input of the repeater pair indicated by the control channel.

All of the radios hear this, check whether they are "tuned" to that talk group, and if so, change to the specified output frequency waiting for RF.

Man, this was great! Sure, cities and agencies had to buy all new radios, which were very expensive, but now they had INTEROPERABILITY (according to the Motorola, E.F. Johnson, or whoever salesperson)! Any radio could listen to and talk to any other radio, if needed.

Unfortunately, agency administrators realized that if a police officer could just change talkgroups and hail a fire truck, bad things would happen. There is a chain of command for a reason, right? (Right!) So we ended up with something that was exactly the same as the old system to the users, but in the back end, was a better use of resources.

And in some big cities, like NYC, it wasn't the whole city with a single trunked radio system, it was just one agency -- because they had a great need to keep things moving by not bothering cops on the street in the Bronx with the goings on in lower Manhattan -- while still retaining the capability to do make virtual interconnections if needed.

So now we have the technology for this huge, interconnected radio system for "Everyone", but it's not utilized as such because of administrative details.

Couple with the fact that by now, we're up in the 800 and 900 MHz range in frequency, which is blocked more easily by steel-reinforced concrete, metalized glass on skyscrapers, etc., and you see that interoperability between agencies is not possible "on-the-fly". It could be, if designed and operated that way from the beginning, but it wasn't. And it's too expensive to just change to whatever the flavor-of-the-day is. Agencies pay upwards of $2k PER handheld radio for these trunking radios. Upgrading is multi-million and -billion dollars of expense.

The military branches used to have this problem, too, but they have since learned the lesson and have interoperability in many ways. It's easy when you have one "top level" who can dictate such things and have the budget to make it happen.

My father-in-law says when he invaded Panama in the Army in the 80s, the best way they found out to relay information to their co-invaders the Marines was to radio your request to the on-site command head, who would whip out his AT&T calling card and call Army HQ back in the U.S., who would then call the Marine HQ, who would then relay the message by the normal Marine communcation channels. Not very robust or something I would like my life to potentially depend on!

what feds?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14379933)

IN THE USA, the feds have....

Re:what feds?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14379996)

... forgotten him [google.com]

Great. (2, Insightful)

Dharh (520643) | more than 8 years ago | (#14379966)

How much more of the spectrum are they going to give away to proprietary companies? The least they could do is _sell_ it. Sick and tired of government mismanaging the spectrum.

Great.-Another non-reader. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14380157)

"How much more of the spectrum are they going to give away [wikipedia.org] to proprietary companies? The least they could do is _sell_ it. [wikipedia.org] "

[From the article you didn't read]
"Passed a year ago this month, the act called for auctioning [wikipedia.org] spectrum in the 1710- to 1755-MHz band used for fixed wireless government communications. The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration was given the assignment of estimating the cost of reallocating systems already operating in the band. The NTIA said the $936 million figure is much less than the wireless industry had estimated.

"We found a way to open up a 'beach front' spectrum for key economic activity without jeopardizing our national security," Gallagher added.

The cost of moving to a new radio frequency will be paid for with money raised through the spectrum auction [wikipedia.org] . The last major spectrum sale raised more than $2 billion.

What is more, the FCC is planning to auction [wikipedia.org] spectrum in the 2110- to 2155-MHz band, which is a non-government band. [All over emphasis mine because you all can't take a hint]"

Not with their greed (5, Insightful)

Generic Guy (678542) | more than 8 years ago | (#14379981)

today's cellular carriers will be tomorrow's next-generation broadband providers

No they won't. With the greed and unwillingness to give customers what they really want the cell carriers shown already that they'll overprice, meter, and "extra-cost" everything. No thanks.

Re:Not with their greed (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380054)

With the greed and unwillingness to give customers what they really want the cell carriers shown already that they'll overprice, meter, and "extra-cost" everything.
And paying $billions up-front for spectrum gives them the perfect reason/excuse to do so.

This is wonderful news (2, Funny)

hellfire (86129) | more than 8 years ago | (#14379982)

Now that 90 Mhz of spectrum which wasn't interfering with anything anyway is no longer interfering with the cell phone spectrum which wasn't being interfered with, perhaps we can write more laws reducing interference in things previously not interfered with? Oh wait... we already have the PATRIOT act.

Non-standard uplink frequency! Grr! (5, Informative)

O (90420) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380007)

FTFA: They're going to auction off the 1710-1755 MHz spectrum in addition to the already planned 2110-2155 MHz spectrum.

UMTS [wikipedia.org] : "The specific frequency bands originally defined by the UMTS standard are 1885-2025 MHz for uplink and 2110-2200 MHz for downlink."

Once again, we can't use the frequencies that the rest of the world uses, so we have to get "Americas" phones with different bands or wait for Nokia et al to release "6-band" (800, 900, 1800, 1900, Euro/Japan UMTS, Americas UMTS) phones. Goddammit!

Re:Non-standard uplink frequency! Grr! (2, Insightful)

rabtech (223758) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380871)

I think you mean the rest of the world refuses to use the same frequencies we use. We picked the vast majority of them first. We invented the technologies for and allocated the frequencies for AM, FM, TV (which is just FM), Radar, Cell, et al first almost without exception (in terms of commercial or public availability, not necessarily in terms of first invention/patent)

It is the rest of the world (Europe, Japan, China, etc) that refuses to use the standards we created.

90 mhz ain't much (2, Insightful)

baomike (143457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380038)

Can broadband really be put in 90 mhz?
Consider that a SD tv channel is 6 Mhz.
Now NTSC tv is not the most efficeint use of 6 MHz , but HD TV takes even more.
How many people each wanting 1-10 MHz of bandwidth can you fit in this space?

Re:90 mhz ain't much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14380070)

It's 90 megahertz, not 90 millihertz.

HDTV takes 6 MHz (2, Informative)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380084)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATSC [wikipedia.org] -- emphasis added:

The ATSC system supports a host of different display resolutions and frame rates. The formats below list frame/field rates and lines of resolution (for more informations and links, see also the TV resolution overview at the end of this article):

  • SDTV
    480i60 (NTSC), 480p24, 480p30 576i50, 576p25 (PAL, SECAM);
  • EDTV
    480p60; 576p50
  • HDTV
    720i50, 720i60, 720p24, 720p25, 720p30, 720p50, 720p60, 1080i50, 1080i60, 1080p24, 1080p25, 1080p30

ATSC signals are designed to use the same 6 MHz bandwidth as NTSC television channels.

Re:90 mhz ain't much (1)

provolt (54870) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380128)

How many people each wanting 1-10 MHz of bandwidth can you fit in this space?

It's 90 MHz so I'm going to say somewhere between 90 and 9.

Re:90 mhz ain't much (3, Interesting)

Amouth (879122) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380167)

the peoblem with that is that it is video that you are talking about.. tv is horrid when brodcast.. it needs soo much bandwith..

when you look at a 2.4ghz netowrk (say chan 6 becsue it is most common)

top = 2,448,000,000 hz
bottom = 2,426,000,000 hz
diffrence = 22,000,000 hz = 22mhz span that can be used for a 54mbit connection with a local wifi.. and done very nasty
(90/22)*54 = 220.9 mbits avaliable)
considering most cable modems are 3mbit and dsl is 1.5mb
220.9 /3 = 73.6 cable or 147.2 for dsl connection speeds per cell tower..

that is alot of free room and that is agian using a very nasty protocal..
if they clean it up and use an effecent protocal they are going to get alot of bandwith.. and if they do something like ipv6 / leap users woln't notice they are switching towers.. TV is horid when you think about the fact that it is always brodcasting to everyone and just eating up the space.. when you use it as an as needed network it is more than enough room.. because no one is going to be using max bandwith all the time everyone will take slices and use it for only a portion of the time..

Where are they going to? (2, Interesting)

elgatozorbas (783538) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380067)

TFA does not say what exactly is this 'obscure part of the spectrum' they are going to. Anyone?

Re:Where are they going to? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14380105)

that would be a state secret -- which makes you a terrorist for asking.

Re:Where are they going to? (2, Funny)

teklob (650327) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380135)

If they told you it wouldn't exactly be obscure, now would it?

Does this mean... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14380098)

Does this mean that tinfoil will no longer be effective?

Great! (3, Informative)

heatdeath (217147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380132)

Now if only they would get rid of the almost 1Ghz allocated to fixed-point communications, like satellite communications, and maritime and aeronautical navigation. I wish they would force them to use their spectrum more wisely instead of forcing something that everyone uses to be crammed into a tiny space. (Satellite should be using UWB - they have to have dishes anyway - they can afford to receive a signal that is just above the background signal strength)

http://www.ntia.doc.gov/osmhome/allochrt.pdf [doc.gov]

Karma whore; pretty chart (5, Informative)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380136)

U.S. Frequency Allocation Chart [doc.gov]

The frequencies discussed in the article, 1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz, can be found on the right side of the fifth bar.

FUCK (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14380967)

Fuck PDFs they fucking suck. If I fucking need to open another fucking PDF one more fucking time then i will fucking murder some fucking body because i will be so fucking pissed off as loading them takes so fucking long that i lose all fucking opportunities to fuck.

FUCK THIS SHIT.

about bloody time the feds gave something back (3, Informative)

swschrad (312009) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380198)

the government controls 99% of the spectrum, useable and experimental, and this is the first time they have ever given back a single kilocycle of allocation. in the past, it has always been nonprofit, public safety, and commercial use that has been tagged for reallocations.

congratulations for finally stepping up to the plate, and many more for uncle selfish.

Re:about bloody time the feds gave something back (4, Informative)

rabtech (223758) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380885)

the government controls 99% of the spectrum, useable and experimental, and this is the first time they have ever given back a single kilocycle of allocation. in the past, it has always been nonprofit, public safety, and commercial use that has been tagged for reallocations.

congratulations for finally stepping up to the plate, and many more for uncle selfish.

Actually that isn't true... check the chart at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/osmhome/allochrt.pdf [doc.gov]

The vast majority of the spectrum is non-government exclusive or shared government/non-government. Only the sections with RED under them are government-exclusive allocations.

Re:about bloody time the feds gave something back (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380985)

Hah, I should get them to output that on the imagesetter at work. That would make one hell of a poster.

Republican political favors! (0, Flamebait)

wshwe (687657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380268)

The wireless carrier lobbyists must have been busy wining and dining Republican officials.

What about the mass spectrum space above 30 GHz (2, Informative)

jrmcferren (935335) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380526)

People don't realize the spectrum only seems small. I dream of cable TV being sent to the home, car, handheld, etc by celluar radio. Gigabit wireless, hundreds of thousands of broadcast channels, and more brought to you by EHF. EHF is the portion between 30 GHz and Infared (300 GHz). Public safety would beneift as these frequencies as not many buildings can block EHF. Police would be able to see a picture from an APB (if avalible) along with the audio description. There would be no more long antennas as wavelengths are reaching milimeters and centimeters at this point.

Re:What about the mass spectrum space above 30 GHz (3, Interesting)

jgrafton (675728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380682)

Everything at such a high frequency will have to be line-of-site, however, as there's no hope of bouncing off the ionosphere or anything.

It could be done, yes, but it'd involve quite a high investment.

Misleading (1)

Chriscim (830119) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380605)

This subject is misleading. I saw the subject and thought the FCC was leaving radio. :(

Wow, (1)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14380619)

all of 90MHz. I'm about as impressed as a sloth who just found another shady tree branch to hang from - yawn...
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