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EU May Push for Competitive Spectrum Trading

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the pinch-of-free-trade-eye-of-newt dept.

68

anaesthetica writes "The Financial Times is reporting that Viviane Reding, the EU media commissioner, wants to spur a pan-European market through which companies could buy and sell cross-border access to the European spectrum regime, including frequencies used by TV, radio, mobile telephone and broadband services. Large European media companies are skeptical about the spectrum trading plan, saying both that there is no logic behind a pan-European telecom model, and that such a plan could interfere with satellite radio. Ms. Reding believes that the change would spur harmonization of the fragmented European telecom band allocation. This change is set to coincide with the 2012 switch from analog to digital TV broadcasting, when a significant portion of the spectrum will be freed up."

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68 comments

I know this is off topic but... (-1, Offtopic)

Ichigo Kurosaki (886802) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477368)

this new /. design makes me dizzy

Re:I know this is off topic but... (-1, Offtopic)

homeobocks (744469) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477383)

I know, it's like "LOL i liek round bubblez."

Re:I know this is off topic but... (-1, Offtopic)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477428)

"this new /. design makes me dizzy"

What sucks is that 'light' really isn't 'light' anymore. I can understand the changes to the site, but I wish they had retained the spirit of light mode. I hate to think what people viewing this on portable machines is seeing.

Re:I know this is off topic but... (-1, Offtopic)

wilkinsm (13507) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477462)

It takes alot to rouse this old bear (I've not posted a comment on Slashdot in years) but this new CSS scheme has done it. It does not seem fully baked to me - for example in IE the "Sections" tab is collapsable but the others are not ("Vendors" is a stupid tab anyway.) Worse missstep since the it.slashdot.org color scheme thing, which is at least somewhat better now in this version.

Oh well, I guess I'll just be using RSS to read Slashdot going forward, unless all you long time people want to start a revolt...

Re:I know this is off topic but... (1, Offtopic)

Blahbooboo3 (874492) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477571)

(I've not posted a comment on Slashdot in years)


I have to cry Shenanigans!!:) According to your Slashdot profile http://slashdot.org/~wilkinsm [slashdot.org] , this is not the case.

Re:I know this is off topic but... (1, Insightful)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477626)

Yet his point is quite accurate. I just got home and tuned in from my iBook instead of my trusty PC at work. I can't decide if this new look sucks worse viewed from IE, Opera, Camino, Firefox or my current Safari. The only common value is that it truely does suck.

Re:I know this is off topic but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15477784)

this is June. Last subject he posted on was "July". That's not recent.

Re:I know this is off topic but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15479956)

Um. According to his profile, his last comment before this one was in July 2003. That's years ago in my book.

Uh oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15477371)

Car analogy, quick!

Re:Uh oh! (0, Offtopic)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477555)

Car analogy, quick!

A car's fuel pump is like your heart and its carb is like your lungs. The Model T Ford didn't have a fuel pump, positioning the gas tank higher than the carb and relying on gravity for fuel flow. That meant that on particularly steep uphills fuel flow could actually stop. Drivers would have to climb them in reverse.

You would think this would be a major disability, but I knew a man who drove a Model T all his life; and yet this man could play the banjo as well as anyone I ever knew.

Carthago delenda est!

KFG

First comment (-1, Offtopic)

punkrockguy318 (808639) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477372)

First comment. I never get first comment :)

Re:First comment (0, Offtopic)

Flimzy (657419) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477393)

You can say that again!

Linux (+5, informative) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15477377)

When you boot Linux, an american soldier dies.

Fight islamo-communism, run Windows.

Ignorance and false markets (1, Insightful)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477424)

You can't have a market, till you also have a scarcity. Here the scarcity is not in spectrum, but in technology that can distinguish spectrum.
Physics wise, spectrum is no different than light and very similar to sound. If a EU tried to create a market of certain colors that people could trade or own a monopoly on, would we see this as a healthy market or even just? FYI, the spectrum market is not about free markets, but maintaining RF control. This is just a way of getting 3rd partys to have "skin in the game" to keep the system proped up.

free market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15477490)

I think everyone should be allowed a reasonable usage of any amount frequencies of spectrum they want, as long as the power isn't sufficient to cause interference. A certain portion of the frequency can even be allocated for increased power transmission for the purpose of free wifi type (using a known protocol) use between folks .. again to enable secure private communication but not cause interference.

We should be able to use a rewards based system that can allow routing between computers and/or cell phones for free without a middle paid entity. People who forward lots of others traffic get rewarded by being given priority when their own traffic needs forwarding. Maybe they can even sell/trade their rewards for money to those with high bandwidth requirements. And no that isnt devolving back to dependency on phone corps.

Interference is like shining a bright red light in someone's face and and shouting LOUDLY "COLORS BELONG TO EVERYONE!!" over and over again.

Re:free market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15477566)

You already are allowed certain power output in any frequency before you are violating other peoples' spectrum. UWB takes advantage of this by using really wide bandwidth signals that include various narrowband regions (the wide bandwidth makes up for the low power allowed, more or less). So yeah, this 'below interference' level exists and is in use. Viva la revolucion!

What the heck? (2, Informative)

rmm4pi8 (680224) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477621)

Why do you think that spectrum isn't scarce? Remember that higher frequencies are capable of transmitting more information per channel, but at the cost of shorter range. So there's no need to regulate something like wi-fi, which is high frequency and short range, but even VHF spectrum is pretty crowded with military and public safety users, in addition to FM for radio and TV, and lower parts of the spectrum are extremely valuable due to the ability to transmit long distances and the broad channels needed to get acceptable data throughput. It's true that some of this will be freed up as more services go digital and better yet TCP/IP, but mesh networking is not good for low-latency applications, and there's no indication that this one-time savings will keep us ahead of the increasing demand for bandwidth in the medium-term. So bandwidth is certainly scarce now, and likely will be so for at least the next 50 years, which is plenty long enough to plan public policy around.

Re:What the heck? (1)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477826)

But with lower range frequencies it is easier to calculate out the source from the overlaping rf waves. Sorta like if two people throw rocks in a pond, you can figure out the first rocks wave pattern by subtracting out the interference of the 2nd rocks wave pattern. Also, if the low end spectrum is that valuable - then locking it into old rf that uses the spectrum inefficently makes no sense, but is exactly what happens when government agencies regulate it and protect rf entrenched monopolies. Finally, even when using old RF technology, there is plenty of natural incentive not to create any more than the minimal amount of interference - because that interference makes both sources un-useable. I don't know about the EU, but in the US the existence of the FCC has far more to do with things like regulating Janet Jacksons wardrobe malfunction than allocating limited spectrum resources for the public benefit.

Re:What the heck? (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478526)

When terrestrial TV is shut off, digital TV should (hopefully) expand into that frequency block to increase channels on the multiplex. However, as far as I am aware the general idea is to use most of that space to pump out HDTV on the major channels (The BBC and ITV lot, C4 and five).

This is purely a physical limitation, the infrastructure won't support higher frequencies over existing transmitters and arials. But since not all of the free space will be used, it can be sold off to something which is hopefully more efficient.

It's amazing how much bandwidth we waste on shopping channels, I would have thought we would have learnt from the USA's "500 channels, and still nothing to watch" mentality by now.

Re:Ignorance and false markets (2, Interesting)

twem2 (598638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478467)

Firstly:
The RF Spectrum is land, it is a fixed quantity.

Secondly:
Being land, scarcity comes into play, There's only a limited number of frequencies suitable for ionospheric propogation for example, and these frequencies change with time of day, season, sunspot number and many other factors (which aren't fully understood) so for reliable communications a range of frequencies is needed (and now with Automatic Link Establishment communications over HF is much more reliable).
Similarly, there's a limit on the frequencies which don't get absorbed by normal atmospheric conditions, a limit on the range of frequencies for reliable short range communications.
And the demmand for frequencies is very high. The RF spectrum is packed with users, be they domestic, broadcast, commercial, military, emergency services, scientific or PMR.

Thirdly:
Markets fail when scarcity is involved. They cease to be efficient, the very definition of failure, so your statement that you cannot have a market until there is scarcity is just plain wrong.

I'd favour a transparent auction of parts of the spectrum for commercial users, with a Land Value Tax on spectrum use.

Re:Ignorance and false markets (2, Informative)

jagspecx (974505) | more than 8 years ago | (#15480225)

I'm not qualified to comment on your first two points, but your third is just plain wrong. From Wikipedia: [wikipedia.org]
Scarcity means not having sufficient resources to produce enough to fulfill unlimited subjective wants. Alternatively, scarcity implies that not all of society's goals can be attained at the same time, so that we must trade off one good against others.
If trading some goods for others isn't a market, I don't know what is...

Re:Ignorance and false markets (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 8 years ago | (#15482283)

Markets fail when scarcity is involved. They cease to be efficient, the very definition of failure, so your statement that you cannot have a market until there is scarcity is just plain wrong.

This is precisely backwards. A lack of scarcity would mean that the resource was in infinite supply and non-differentiable (any given unit of the good is equivalent to any other). A good example of such a resource is air: the supply is (effectively) infinite, and (ignoring pollution in some areas) one liter of air is the same as any other for the purpose of breathing. Non-scarce resources aren't marketable -- who would trade for something that is in infinite supply? Anything that isn't effectively infinite in supply, or which is differentiable, is by definition scarce. Markets not only function properly in the presence of scarce goods, they can only exist for such goods. The allocation of scarce goods is the one and only reason for trade, and thus markets in general. The more scarce something is, the more important it is that the principles of free trade (private ownership and non-coercion) are observed.

Spectrum shouldn't be owned by anyone (1, Interesting)

zymano (581466) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477433)

It should be shared.

Build a wifi/wimax/radio Tcp/ip internet network using these open frequencies.

Everyone benefits.

In Soviet Russia Spektrum owns you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15477948)

Land shouldn't be owned by anyone, it should be shared.
Bread shouldn't be owned by anyone, it should be shared.
[Whatever] shouldn't be owned by anyone, it should be shared.

Are we doomed to repeat the same errors forever?

The real problem in Europe is that the State own spectrum, thus we are not free.

Re:Spectrum shouldn't be owned by anyone (1)

IAmTheDave (746256) | more than 8 years ago | (#15479126)

It should be shared.

It is to be shared - every EU country will now share their spectrum with one large bidder that lives and exists outside of their country. Jobs will be lost, control will be lost... although it seems to me that identity is all but lost anymore with the EU.

Why do we even call the EU countries by their original names anymore? Seems to me, they've lost most of their identity already.

This "suggestion" to share spectrum is really - well, it seems to me - a grab at more power at the EU level. Very similar to fed vs. state in the US right now.

Standard static (2, Interesting)

w33t (978574) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477482)

This sounds less like a change in the method of comepetition and more like the end result will be a standardization. I like the idea of standards.

Here in the states, my father is always calling me and saying, "turn the tv to channel 3 quick!" and I'm like what station is channel 3? and he's like "it's channel 3!".

He never seemed to have gotten the idea that different networks operate on different channels depending upon provider and locale.

Of course, I know that channel 3 and 10 and 13 are for some reason very special numbers in the television scheme of things.

I wonder, do you think that some day television channels will be replaced by URLs of some sort?

It's going to be strange when the airwaves are free of broadcast television, and when one day in the garage you run across an old tv, hook it up, prop up the antennas and see that there really is nothing being broadcasted.

I feel sorry already for the extraterrestrial's SETI programs - they only have a small window of less than a century to grab our raw carrier waves.
--
Music should be free [w33t.com]

Re:Standard static (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477738)

I feel sorry already for the extraterrestrial's SETI programs - they only have a small window of less than a century to grab our raw carrier waves.

I think it was Arthur C Clarke who suggested this as a reason for the failure of SETI. Nobody else is wasting energy by broadcasting either.

I think overall the amount of leakage into space from earth will be greater in the future but it will be so heavily compressed and spread across the available spectrum that it may be confused with noise.

Re:Standard static (1)

w33t (978574) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477769)

hmm - do you know if SETI saves any recordings of the past signals they intercept? I know it would be an enourmous archive of mostly nothing, so it seems unlikely.

After all, the chances are, of course, that if there is some intelligence out there is using some kind of CDMA that they will stick around for a while thus giving us a chance to create the technology which can demux their "noise". But still, I wonder if any thought has been given to signals that we have recived already, but which we may not have had the sophistication at the time to interpret.

who knows, around our year 1980 some advanced civilization's last multiplexed signals might have been reaching us. Perhaps at that very moment they switched over to a new technology - laser transmission or something.

It would be a sad irony to miss out on that signal just because some alien bueracracy decided it was time to free up a spectrum ;)
--
Music should be free [w33t.com]

Re:Standard static (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478141)

hmm - do you know if SETI saves any recordings of the past signals they intercept?

Of course not. They don't want aliens to invade our planet and destroy humanity for copyright infringement.

Re:Standard static (1)

w33t (978574) | more than 8 years ago | (#15480114)

hehe,

That's a good one!
--
Music should be free [w33t.com]

Re:Standard static (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478280)

I wonder, do you think that some day television channels will be replaced by URLs of some sort?

In Europe they are; CNN = CNN, BCC 1 = BBC 1, RTL 2 = RTL 2.
Has nothing to do with the channel = frequency that' s being used in a particular place or by a particular cable company.

I understand there are still some old-time local stations in the US that go by names like "Channel 9", but they are local stations (and often have a new UHF frequency anyway).

Re:Standard static (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15478383)

Well here in the UK the channels *are* allocated special numbers from the users point of view. At least they are with freeview (digital terrestrial broadcast). So BBC news 24 is channel 80 throughout the country, even though it is broadcast on different frequencies in different cities (the receiver tunes in to all the signals and listens to their identifiers on setup).

No-Brainer (3, Insightful)

toby34a (944439) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477503)

This is just a pure no-brainer. Let's say that I live on the border of France and Belgium... if the two countries are on different frequencies, I'm going to be SOL on a lot of the services that are going to be brought around with the huge bandwith sale. In the US, the bandwith works because it's standardized across the nation (hence you can go coast-to-coast on your cell phone on the same fricking network). In the EU, this just makes sense to have this same model, because of the area involved. Having your cellphone work in England as well as Turkey should be a good boost for this plan.

Re:No-Brainer (1)

hoofie (201045) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477719)

Err... I'll think you'll find that cellphones in Europe ALREADY work quite happily across the continent. It's a wonderful system called GSM, which the rest of the world has also implemented [so my Australian GSM phone works in OZ, England, France, Dubai etc].

Re:No-Brainer (1)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478249)

The system itself isn't wonderful (at a technological level, CDMA is superior to GSM in almost every way); what's wonderful is the fact that it's been implemented so widely.

Re:No-Brainer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15478671)

The system itself isn't wonderful (at a technological level, CDMA is superior to GSM in almost every way); what's wonderful is the fact that it's been implemented so widely.

Well, I don't see the big advantage of CDMA phones for most consumers. CDMA might offer higher bandwidth (which few people actually care about). But apart from that? If you want to use your cell phone just to talk and for sending SMS, GSM offers anything you need, and - due to the less sophisticated air interface - GSM phones usually provide more battery life time than CDMA phones, at least by my experience (which admittedly only comes from comparing specs).

Re:No-Brainer (1)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 8 years ago | (#15486196)

Well, I don't see the big advantage of CDMA phones for most consumers. CDMA might offer higher bandwidth (which few people actually care about).

CDMA is able to support more customers with fewer base stations and less radio spectrum, because there's no need for each station to use different frequencies from its neighbors, as in GSM. It can switch to lower-bitrate codecs dynamically, allowing more simultaneous calls; doing the same in GSM would require constantly changing the size of each customer's timeslice. Also, the lack of timeslices means CDMA can support larger cells (since it doesn't matter if propagation lag makes one transmission overlap with another), requiring less equipment than GSM to cover large rural areas.

In theory, though probably not in practice, that all leads to lower prices for consumers. Also, soft handoffs (the handset's ability to contact multiple towers at once) should theoretically mean fewer dropped calls when moving between areas, and the fact that all communications appear as background noise without the proper code makes eavesdropping much harder than with GSM. Of course, the real concern over here is wiretapping, not eavesdropping. ;)

Re:No-Brainer (4, Informative)

orzetto (545509) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477774)

In the US, the bandwith works because it's standardized across the nation (hence you can go coast-to-coast on your cell phone on the same fricking network).

Have you ever been to the US with a mobile? There are multiple standards and a mobile that works in Chicago may not work in Austin, TX or Cincinnati, OH. At least that was my experience in 2004 and 2005 with a tri-band I bought in the EU, I am not sure of the technical details but I think the problem is that technologies (such as iDen [wikipedia.org] , Digital AMPS [wikipedia.org] , and IS-95 [wikipedia.org] ) can differ across US states. In Europe it's pretty much all GSM/UMTS.

Having your cellphone work in England as well as Turkey should be a good boost for this plan.

They already do. My father's mobile worked fine in Turkey (both Instanbul and at a tourist resort on the south coast, probably not far from Antalya) already in 1997 when I did not have one myself yet. My Norwegian mobile has been tested to work fine in Italy, Ireland, England, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and pretty much everywhere I brought it, except parts of the US.

Re:No-Brainer (1)

hyfe (641811) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477960)

Having your cellphone work in England as well as Turkey should be a good boost for this plan.

I had several sarcastic remarks about mobiles in the US, GSM and the utter lack of knowledge behind your post. I gave up choosing which one to use :)

Re:No-Brainer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15478006)

Cell phones sold in Europe work pretty much in any european country. You can use the phone you bought from a german provider in France, for instance.

Re:No-Brainer (1)

Conanymous Award (597667) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478059)

And ignorant mods give +Insightful to cluelessness like this. Here in good ol' Yurp (and pretty much in the rest of the world, too) we have this thing called GSM, which is quite a nice little standard: it makes our phones work in England as well as in Turkey! And Jakarta! And Johannesburg! And Novosibirsk! And Manaus! In the standardless US on the other hand we can sometimes get to places where our phones would need CDMA or whatchamacallit to work... Standardized indeed!

Re:No-Brainer (1)

BBird (664014) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478412)

You obviously don't know how the system works in europe. You can roam everywhere in europe for a long long time (much before you could do it in the US)

Auction of 3G licenses in UK (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15477514)

Just finished the chapter "The Men Who Knew the Value of Nothing" in Tim Harford's book "The Undercover Economist", before logging on to /.

The last online auction of 3G licenses fetched 22.5 billion Pounds against the expectations of 3 billion. The government never knows what the frequencies are worth to the telephone companies, so, let them fight it out in a transparent auction. Devide 22.5 billion pounds with UK's population. It was the biggest auction in history.

Re:Auction of 3G licenses in UK (1)

gjuk (940514) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478094)

The real outcome of this was a massive transfer of money from other countries to the UK, rather than true realisation of the value of 3G. As first mover, the UK was fiercely competed over by the companies, in a superbly devised auction. Other countries quickly tried to copy - but after a couple more countries, the global mobile phone operators realised how much money they were spending on the licenses, rather than actually building the networks. Some nations ended up giving away licenses as the telco's stopped paying for the licenses. Effectively cross-subsidising from other countries to the UK. In fact, it has been calculated that if the mobile companies are ever to cover their costs for the UK licenses that they'll need ARPU of £600 per year. Even at present costs, that's a lot of World Cup snippets.
The big lesson is that forcing companies to overcompete for spectrum by creating scarcity through regulation may well be an apparently attractive short-term solution, especially to tax-hungry Europe, but has major long-term downsides.

Re:Auction of 3G licenses in UK (1)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478260)

The last online auction of 3G licenses fetched 22.5 billion Pounds against the expectations of 3 billion.

Interesting that no one ever seems to see these auctions for what they really are -- a government tax on a zero cost medium.

Re:Auction of 3G licenses in UK (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478873)

Zero cost, but not zero quantity. If there was a plot of government land that they didn't need, I'd rather they sold it than gave it away for free.

Re:Auction of 3G licenses in UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15478936)

The mobile carries just pass the auction costs off to the consumer. So the consumer ultimately pays the governmet. It's a scam. Note that wireless phones cost more than wired, yet wired systems are more expensive. Any time you have a finite quantity the market tends towards monopoly.

In the US just a few companies can afford to licesnse the spectrum from the government. These companies have no reason to drop prices unless their so-called competitors do. It has nothing to do with cost-in vs cost-out as it would for an unlimited resourse in a free market.

Re:Auction of 3G licenses in UK (2, Informative)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 8 years ago | (#15479418)

Ok, well then how do you propose dividing up the spectrum so that everyone's happy then? If the government doesn't do it, what organization should.

here [google.com] is what the current utilization looks like.

And of course, dividing up the spectrum is more complicated than just giving everyone an appropriate sized piece of the pie. Some applications are more sensitive to their neighbors, or harmonics, or band-sharing or can't be moved for infrastrusture reasons. Would you shut down Arecibo to make your plan simpler? What about the Deep Space Network?

RF bandwidth is an extremely limited resource. Market solutions make sure there is no shortage, but the price is .. the price.

Re:Auction of 3G licenses in UK (1)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 8 years ago | (#15479549)

Ok, well then how do you propose dividing up the spectrum so that everyone's happy then? If the government doesn't do it, what organization should.

Of course the government should do it. They just shouldn't be 'selling' it for billions to the highest bidder almost without regard as to how it's going to be used. Under the current system the best parts of the spectrum go to those with the most money not necessarily those with the best ideas.

Re:Auction of 3G licenses in UK (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 8 years ago | (#15482172)

Under the current system the best parts of the spectrum go to those with the most money not necessarily those with the best ideas.

Not that I disagree, but in general isn't it true that those who can't get the funding to purchase access to a suitable part of the radio spectrum don't have the best ideas? Or at least were evidently incapable of convincing the VCs that their ideas were feasable?

As a scarce resource, I would agree that portions of the radio spectrum should be privately ownable (for a specific geographical area) in the same way as land or other forms of scare resources. As such, any dispute regarding interference should grant priority to the first user of the spectrum within the area, or said user's contractual successor, with the loser paying any reasonable damages to the winner. This system allows immediate use of presently-unused parts of the spectrum, protects against intentional and unintentional interference, and applies market principles to spectrum ownership in a way that ensures the eventual allocation of spectrum to the most desired uses. It also eliminates the barrier-to-entry that results from a flat ban on non-interfering "pirate" transmissions, which should result in increased experimentation and a wider range of choices in communications.

Re:Auction of 3G licenses in UK (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 8 years ago | (#15482907)

take another look at that chart. There are some pretty wide swaths of green: amateur radio service. Some fairly choice bits of bandwidth that amateurs have exclusive or primary status. And a few more where they have secondary status. That costs you about $10 to be able to use, and you can use all the experimental modes on there that you want as long as you obey the bandwidth and power requirements and safety regulation.

But as someone else mentioned, the market solution is there specifically so that the government doesn't have to choose who's the most worthy of a scarce resource. As with any resource under market conditions, prices rise in response to demand/scarcity. If they are not allowed to do so, there will be shortage.

A highest bidder system is supremely fair as only entities with sufficient resources will be able to maintain lock up a band for themselves, or knock off an established company. Presently, the money made from its use is the only way to estimate the public value of that use.

Furthermore, companies use their parts of the spectrum that I willingly allow the government, as my advocate in the area, to allocate my share of. Why shouldn't those companies pay the government, and by extension, me, for the priviledge?

Re:Auction of 3G licenses in UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15483341)

take another look at that chart. There are some pretty wide swaths of green: amateur radio service. Some fairly choice bits of bandwidth that amateurs have exclusive or primary status.

Yeah, let's take a look. 802.11 power restrictions, 1mW per channel. Restriction for Sprint and Verizon, 1500w. The cell phone companies are granted exclusive rights to use proprietory protocols on a finite medium which results in an unwired system be more expensive than a wired one when the wired one costs more to build. Go figure.

Furthermore, companies use their parts of the spectrum that I willingly allow the government, as my advocate in the area, to allocate my share of. Why shouldn't those companies pay the government, and by extension, me, for the priviledge?

Maybe you should pay the government for the priviledge of breathing air aswell.

Re:Auction of 3G licenses in UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15483454)

A highest bidder system is supremely fair as only entities with sufficient resources will be able to maintain lock up a band for themselves, or knock off an established company.

Be careful with the term supremely fair.

The highest bidder system creates an exclusive entry barrier for start-ups. It means only the big corporate players get access to the spectrum. Note the price wars that companies like Vonage have recently spurred in wired systems. You won't get that with wireless systems because small companies with new ideas are excluded.

Notice also that the major players in the mobile phone industry all set their prices arbitrarily at about the same rate (while posting huge profits). Verizon won't lower its rate if Sprint doesn't and visa versa. Competition is lacking.

Re:Auction of 3G licenses in UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15479993)

Devide 22.5 billion pounds


Is that a new British spelling for divide? Although, spelling it with an 'e' makes it seem like a southern drawl to me.

Anyone for monopoly? (4, Funny)

malsdavis (542216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477536)

So basically, the companies with the current monopoly are condemning a plan to try and gradually remove their monopoly. How Odd.

Re:Anyone for monopoly? (2, Interesting)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477599)

Not odd at all - they don't want to pay multiple times to maintain their monopolies - it is all an anti-monopolistic plot by money grubbing beaurocrats against the poor and sensitive spectrum monopolies - sniff...

Re:Anyone for monopoly? (1)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477744)

Come on now... do you think that your government gives a slightest damn if you are exploited by monopolies? Governments sometimes go after monopolies, because large monopolistic corporations and even more large and monopolistic governments are competing to see who owns you.

Don't worry though, if the government takes control of capital (Left Wing Socialism), or capital takes control of government (Right Wing Socialism), the end result is likely to be indistinguishable aside from a few cosmetic differences (Stalin, Castro, Pol Pot, or Hitler and Pinoche... take your pick and enjoy!). You are gonna get screwed by the government either way... but you seem to believe the propoganda that "the government exists to protect you", so I guess in that case you have nothing to worry about!

Re:Anyone for monopoly? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478212)

Right wing socialism is a contradiction because socialism is by definition the left side of the spectrum (with the left extreme being communism). The right wing is nationalism and in its extreme form fascism. Left wing is "government owned by the people", right wing is "people owned by the government".

Re:Anyone for monopoly? (1)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 8 years ago | (#15480586)

No... Socialism, as defined by economists, is when the means of production are owned or controlled by the state. The Nazis were right wing socialists (Nazi is short for Nationalist Socialist), as the means of production were exclusively controlled by the state. Claiming that "the means of production is owned by the people" when they are owned by the state, as many leftists do, it a meaningless abstraction - empty rhetoric used to explain away the fact that far-left and far-right societies are usually almost indistinguishable.

All governments claim to be "owned by the people", or to "serve the people", both Left wing governments, and Right wing governments. The Left is no more "for the people" than the Right. Both are violent, authoritarian, racist ideologies when allowed to be taken to the extreme.

The whole Left-Right dicotomy is a false one. A more accurate spectrum would be Anarchist or Minarchist on one side, and Left and Right wing totalitarianism on the other side (Marxism Leninism, Nazism, etc.).

Re:Anyone for monopoly? (1)

malsdavis (542216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15479220)

All the leaders you list are notable for running totalitarian regimes, which is at the same end of the wider political spectrum, not the opposite, and why the effects on society are similar. Left-Right-wing politics is simply to simplistic though to take what are basically the same policies on control of media, elections, policing etc. into consideration and so they may appear to be at opposite ends of the political spectrum when actually in the context you are describing they are not.

With regards to monopolies, at the moment at least, the EU is thankfully going after monopolies non-stop (as the article describes). Also, as the various EU states' political parties aren't generally allowed to accept bribes *cough* ...I mean campaign contributions from companies, the end result does often seem to be that they could be considered to be working more exclusively for the people. Not that certain interest groups aren't constantly trying to convince the EU commission of the "benefits" of US style corporate lobbying, I just hope they and their bribes don't one day succeed.

Re:Anyone for monopoly? (1)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 8 years ago | (#15480816)

In Europe, power lies in the state, and exploitation is performed by the state. The big health care monopolies, media monopolies, energy monopolies, transportation monopolies, are state run. The large monopolies are by and large one and the same as the state, so there is no reason for them to lobby the political class - THEY ARE THE POLITICAL CLASS!!!

The EU is attacking "monopolies" like Microsoft, not because Microsoft is a monopoly (because, of course, any state run industry is a monopoly), but because they percieve Microsoft as a threat to their own monopoly status in many industries. For example, EU vs. Microsoft is not "The People vs. Microsoft"... it is more like "IBM vs. Microsoft". The large corporate monopolies are seen as a threat to government dominance over European life.

Now, not that I think the U.S. is that much better - after the end of the cold war the "conservatives" in the U.S. abandoned any sort of "free market" ideology they once had, and the U.S. economy is rapidly coming more and more under control of the government (especially in the last 6 years). But, in the U.S., the government being the center of the society is relatively new, and so a lot of lobbying still goes on.

The thing to remember is that the government is simply a corporation with guns and a flag! Government controlled education and media might condition you to believe that the state is somehow fundamentally different than a large corporation - but the state is simply the largest, most powerful corporate monopoly in a geographic area.

Sinclair ZX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15477638)

So how much does a Sinclair Spectrum go for these days?

I never owned a Spectrum, back in those days I had a Commodore 64 (That was my 4th computer...

wtf is this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15477710)

the new slashdot design sucks. i can't read this. see ya.

Good for end-users... (1)

inflamez (885475) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477930)

... because prices cannot be fixed so easily by the mobile / broadband providers. (national cartels!)

If you live in Austria you've got the choice between 4-5 different mobile phone providers and none of them offers a flat rate. Germany on the other hand offers a flat rate for 25Euros per month. Best deal you can currently get.... if you live in Germany.

Same with Broadband. A typicall 2mbit/512kbit connection in Austria costs about the same (45Euros) as a 100mbit connection in Sweden.

So, I am all for opening up the networks... more competition should bring the prices down in some EU countries.

Spectrum Trading... (2, Funny)

Zx-man (759966) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478021)

In eastern Europe, we still do trade Spectrums [wikipedia.org] , although nowadays they aren't too competitive.

digital TV (1)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478113)

the 2012 switch from analog to digital TV broadcasting, when a significant portion of the spectrum will be freed up.

2012 switch?
Here that switch is going to be made in october this year.

It is going to free up some spectrum, but I don't know if it will be a lot. We now have 3 national channels broadcast in analog, plus a lot of channels only broadcast on satellite and cable.
The frequencies of analog TV will be given to digital TV broadcasting companies, who will most likely put more channels (the existing cable channels) on them, instead of reducing the spectrum requirement.

The channels that become available will most likely be used for digital radio.

Re:digital TV (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15480010)

The story is from the Financial Times, based in the UK. Here we are indeed completing the switch to digital TV only in 2012.

Re:digital TV (1)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 8 years ago | (#15481206)

In a way this is strange... when visiting forums I notice that on the UK market, TV sets with integrated digital receiver seem to be the norm already.
Here in the Netherlands those are (almost) not available. Yet in October 2006 the analog network will be switched OFF!

We have to use set-top-boxes.
The most likely reason for this is that direct reception is almost nonexistent here (the government claims the switchoff will affect less than 100,000 viewers).
Almost everyone is on either cable, satellite, or digital terrestrial. And because of the "free market", different companies are active on those networks and they all use different encryption standards.

An Integrated-Decoder TV (IDTV) would only be useful when it at least supports DVB-T and DVB-C, and has Irdeto and Conax support. For DVB-S it would need Seca as well.
Furthermore, the cable and terrestrial providers offer "free set-top-box with subscription" so it is hard to compete for IDTV vendors.
(the only benefit being the use of a single remote, something which customers usually only find out about after they bought the equipment)
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