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FCC Goes Halfway On Opening 700 MHz Spectrum

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the is-the-glass-half-open dept.

Google 192

The FCC has set rules for the upcoming auction of 700-MHz spectrum and they went halfway on the four open access principles that Google and others had called for. The agency said yes to "open devices" and "open applications," thus requiring the auction winner to permit consumers to use any device or application on the network. But the FCC turned down "open services" and "open networks," so the winners will not be obligated to let others buy access at wholesale prices in order to offer network services. This vote would seem to mean that Google won't bid in the spectrum auction. Ars has a more in-depth look at the outcome.

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192 comments

Wouldn't that be more reason to win? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20062689)

Shouldn't google bid so that they can enforce the openness they want, rather than letting someone else win and keep it closed?

Re:Wouldn't that be more reason to win? (5, Insightful)

jamieswith (682838) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063023)

This has some merit, but I can think of one reason why the lack of these makes Google nervous of getting into a bidding war...

Because not including these two levels of 'open-ness' means a higher potential value to whoever is the winner... because there's a greater degree of possible profit... you get to pick your competitors and set your prices

It simply wouldnt be in the interests of the huge telecoms giants to bid too high if they then had to turn around and sell access for next to nothing to anyone (including google) who wanted to use it... but if they're getting total control over who provides service and at what cost... then its worth a lot more money.

If they can charge what they want for access, suddenly you can justify bidding a lot higher

In other news (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20064129)

Linux users only go "half way" with losing their virginity. Ie, no no girl involved. Just their own hands. What losers.

Re:Wouldn't that be more reason to win? (1)

puck01 (207782) | more than 6 years ago | (#20064265)

I think the summary is very misleading. IIRC, google did not refuse to bid on the spectrum if the four conditions weren't met. They did promise to bid the reserve of the auction if their four conditions were met. Thus, if all the conditions are not met, google is not obliged to bid the reserve of the auction. That in no way means they won't bid or are out of the auction. I would assume they have every intention bidding.

Re:Wouldn't that be more reason to win? (1)

Propaganda13 (312548) | more than 6 years ago | (#20064303)

Google didn't want to buy the spectrum. They wanted to have access to the spectrum. Bidding was just a way to have some say in the issue. As a sidenote, it would possibly lower the price and might make it feasible for Google to buy. If Google owned the spectrum, they wouldn't have to have any stipulations, they could just allow free access to everyone.

Abolish the FCC! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20062691)

Put its power in the hands of the people! What could go wrong?

Re:Abolish the FCC! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20062771)

The powerful people rule. Look into Mexico, Iraq and Afganistan.

Re:Abolish the FCC! (5, Insightful)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#20062897)

I wouldn't abolish the FCC, but I would considerably reduce their scope. The FCC is what keeps broadcasters on the proper frequency and the like. I'd let them regulate power, frequency, etc., but remove their ability to censor people. They'd also have no say in anything not owned by the public at large.

Re:Abolish the FCC! (2, Interesting)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063315)

The FCC is what keeps broadcasters on the proper frequency and the like.

It's a circular definition. The FCC defines what is proper for a broadcaster; then requires that stations be proper. Technically speaking, what keeps a broadcast station on the proper frequency and at the proper fidelity is hardware, and fully functional hardware that can do this is extremely inexpensive these days.

Without the FCC, broadcast stations still have motivation to stay in one place, primarily so that they are easily located, and easily retrieved from memory, both human and hardware. Without the FCC, stations still have motivation to maintain high quality signals, because listeners prefer such signals. Without the FCC, stations would no longer have a monopoly on listeners, and you and I could start our own stations. Without the FCC, putting up a very high quality local radio station capable of covering ten square miles or so would cost well under $100 and have a maintenance cost of a few cents a month. With the FCC, the same low power station costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, if you can get them to issue you a license, which you probably cannot. Without the FCC, all manner of clever services and hardware would be possible and most likely would appear. For instance, your radio could read out the weather forecast or stocks or whatever using sub 20-hz encoding. Without the FCC, you could actually broadcast your own opinions and those of your peers (and I strongly suspect this is one of the key reasons you'll never see low power stations easily licensed.)

The FCC is absolutely and totally a tool of the corporations. Other than maintaining their monopoly, it has no reason to prevent the average citizen from having free access to a decent broadcast band, not to mention a great deal of the rest of the spectrum. But corporations are completely against this (and with good reason - I could put a far better "talk" station on the air than anything you've ever heard from a corporation in the last 25 years or so, at which point it would be easy to consume part of "their" demographic. So could a lot of other people.)

I am perfectly willing to say that the FCC, or an agency like it, needs to regulate access to, and interference with, enough of the spectrum so that (a) emergency services are enabled and nor compromised, (b) people are not endangered by RF in the "can cook you" portions of the spectrum, (c) science, such as radio astronomy, is not compromised and (d) people's liberty and privacy are not compromised. None of this in any way provides for corporate dominance of the airwaves.

Re:Abolish the FCC! (5, Insightful)

Suzuran (163234) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063995)

Without the FCC, I can also set up a large broadcasting station that transmits many signals throughout the FM broadcast band, strategically placed over the top of any existing stations, for the purpose of promoting Scientology. All it takes is one person with a few hundred dollars to talk over the top of any station they want for a few block radius. One guy with a few hundred dollars doing this trick in the HF spectrum can ruin use of a frequency for an entire continent. Don't like it if the guy down the street decides to put a hardcore gangsta rap station over the top of your low-power talk station? TOUGH.

Re:Abolish the FCC! (1, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#20064185)

I have no problem with this at all. There are no broadcasts of any nature that are worth listening to at present; an entire dial full of stations that changed with location would at least have a chance of coming up with something. Your absolutely ridiculous Scientology example notwithstanding.

Re:Abolish the FCC! (1)

Michael Spencer Jr. (39538) | more than 6 years ago | (#20064069)

What you've described sounds like the Amateur Radio Service, also called ham radio.

http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_06/47cf r97_06.html [gpo.gov]

        The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an
amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the
following principles:
        (a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service
to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service,
particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.
        (b) Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to
contribute to the advancement of the radio art.
        (c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through
rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and
technical phases of the art.
        (d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio
service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.
        (e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to
enhance international goodwill.

If you study hard and upgrade your license to General or Amateur Extra class, you'll find you have access to valuable notches of spectrum all across the RF range. Basically every conceivable type of spectrum you might want to experiment with, you can find an amateur band to play with. For example, the 6 meter band (as in, wavelength of 6 meters -- 50 to 54 mhz) ends right where the current broadcast television channels 2, 3, and 4 begin.

So if you want to see why these bands are so valuable, get yourself a ham license and go roll your own radio! HAM equipment doesn't have to be type-certified by the FCC first. I believe this is the only FCC radio service under which you are allowed, even encouraged, to build your own.

And yes you can discuss your personal views on the air with people. No profanity, no commercial speech, and no 'broadcasting' -- you must be talking to someone, not talking to everyone who can hear.

The FCC publishes Amateur Radio Service related enforcement actions. http://www.fcc.gov/eb/AmateurActions/Welcome.html [fcc.gov] Go ahead and look around -- you'll find letters for people being poor neighbors, operating in frequencies they're not allowed, deliberately interfering with police radio bands, operating with expired or suspended licenses -- but no citations about people expressing opinions.

THX QSO 73 K :-)

Re:Abolish the FCC! (2, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#20064315)

What you've described sounds like the Amateur Radio Service, also called ham radio.

No. Broadcasting is forbidden in the ham bands.

If you study hard and upgrade your license to General or Amateur Extra class, you'll find you have access to valuable notches of spectrum all across the RF range. Basically every conceivable type of spectrum you might want to experiment with, you can find an amateur band to play with. For example, the 6 meter band (as in, wavelength of 6 meters -- 50 to 54 mhz) ends right where the current broadcast television channels 2, 3, and 4 begin.

I hold an extra class ham license and have for many years. It is still illegal for me to broadcast. Or any other ham, for that matter. I am quite familiar with the rules and the technologies. In fact, some years you can find my name and call in the radio amateur handbook; I've done some innovating in ham radio, including some designs that were sold by AEA, way back when.

So if you want to see why these bands are so valuable, get yourself a ham license and go roll your own radio! HAM equipment doesn't have to be type-certified by the FCC first.

This is true, however, you are still forbidden to use it to broadcast. The reason the bands are valuable is because instead of making them available to the citizens, they are auctioned to those with the most money. What is your objection to a broadcast band, let's say 50 to 100 MHz in size, being made available without power, content or range restriction to the public with broadcasting being expressly allowed?

...you can discuss your personal views on the air with people. No profanity, no commercial speech, and no 'broadcasting' -- you must be talking to someone, not talking to everyone who can hear.

Exactly - you are locked out of broadcasting. That's the problem, all right. If I want to share my views live with a random single local individual, this is a capability that is already available to me without the need of radio, though yes, I can also do it as a ham or as a citizen's band user. If I want to share my views live with thousands or tens of thousands of local people at once, RF broadcast is not an option. I think it should be. Other than greed, I see no reason why it should not be.

Re:Abolish the FCC! (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063477)

Interesting thing to note about the power of the FCC to censor. The basic reasoning for this goes back to before TV to the early days of Radio. The Radio (and TV) frequencies were given to the Radio (and TV) stations for free originally. They were then required to follow a few rules. Content limitations has been one of them for a long time. TV and Radio are pretty much unique in that they are the only commercial uses of the broadcast spectrum that got the frequencies for free and as such have some unique rules for them to follow.

They'd also have no say in anything not owned by the public at large.

I'm kind of curious what you mean by this. By law, the public owns the air waves, but they are leased to the broadcasters. Also, on the power requirements and such, every electronic device has the part 15 of FCC regulations regarding RF noise. So, what exactly do you mean by that?

Re:Abolish the FCC! (2, Interesting)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063041)

  • Legislators are controlled by money; re-election and perks and post-service plums
  • The FCC is controlled by money; plums, primarily, and indirectly by legislators
  • The FCC sells the airwaves to the highest bidder, thus locking out the people
  • People cannot vote on the FCC's actions - it is a corporate service embedded in unelectable government
  • Therefore, you will not be abolishing the FCC
  • Therefore, your access to the airwaves will be via corporations
  • The only "free" services will be those with ads or propaganda
  • The only "free" devices will be extremely limited in power and/or application

Democracy [US version, noun]: "Where each dollar gets an equal vote."

Half way? (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20062717)

So, would that be 350? :-D

Re:Half way? (1)

Lussarn (105276) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063217)

Yeah, but still 100 times faster than a regular 3.5MHz ZX spectrum.

No Way. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063503)

An auction that's only half rigged is still rigged. I can't believe the FCC was so in love with the incumbents they would down 4.6 billion dollars in bids.

Re:Half way? (2)

wljones (79862) | more than 6 years ago | (#20064241)

Half way in this case refers to yet another instance of a bureau of the US Government (FCC this time) implementing a vast project with half-vast methods.

Google May Bid Yet (4, Informative)

LionKimbro (200000) | more than 6 years ago | (#20062741)

This vote would seem to mean that Google won't bid in the spectrum auction.

Only if you aren't paying attention--

Read the top of this page [com.com] in this interview: [com.com]

Google has recently said it would bid on the 700MHz spectrum only if the FCC guarantees certain open-access principles, including open access for companies wanting to buy wireless capacity wholesale. Does this mean that Google won't bid on spectrum if the rules aren't adopted?

Sacca: To be clear, what we said was not exactly that. What we said was that there had been some concerns that somehow imposing these openness principles on the spectrum might diminish its value at auction. And we wanted to reassure the FCC that embracing a path of full openness in the interest of users and the interest of consumers would not reduce the total revenue of the auction. And we wanted to put our money where our mouth is, and we are putting our money where our principles are. So we committed to spending a minimum of $4.6 billion in the auction, if they adopted all four principles.

So it's not out of the question that Google would participate in the auction, even if the FCC doesn't adopt all four principles?

Sacca: We are deeply committed to changing this industry for the benefit of end users.

Re:Google May Bid Yet (3, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#20062821)

It would be a good PR for Google to bid 4.6B for it, knowing fully well it will be out bidded by AT&T and Verizon.

Re:Google May Bid Yet (2, Insightful)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063063)

What will happen is AT&T and Version will only bid high on the major areas with population and let the rest go by the way. Look at the cell phone industry to see how that played out. Later, they buy up anybody gutsy enough to compete while forcing THEIR rules on the whole industry if you want to talk to their customers.

Also, Google does not have the monopoly status to write checks they don't have money for. Google's founders are wise-beyond-their-years financially, and are running the company in a manner to keep it free of debt and owing to the bankers. The telcos know they won't win all the channels, but they'll bet big on the important ones, cut illegal deals once the dust settles, and let the little ones go for cheap. Google needs to pay careful attention to the little markets that will be cheap and buy them anyway. Google's "mistake" is that they expect government and banks to play fair...They wanted to make a fair offer knowing what the actual outcomes will probably be in terms of cash. They miss that the whole point of auctions like this is for the big players to always win.. if they want to. this situation really calls for Gates or Jobs that are good at whipping up the business players and making the "stab in the back" deals behind closed doors... The Google founders are too much of "nice guys" for this type of deal.

Re:Google May Bid Yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20063709)

I get what you are saying and historically you are right. I wouldn't count Google out just yet. They have played the game very well so far and it will be interesting to see how they handle their next move. Just because they haven't been playing on this court doesn't mean they don't have skills.

Re:Google May Bid Yet (4, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | more than 6 years ago | (#20062861)

The whole problem is, Google really has no chance of winning.

They don't have the political connections or the ENORMOUS resources that AT&T/Cingular has. Never mind that AT&T/Cingular REALLY REALLY wants this spectrum. I mean, it's their wet dream to own that spectrum. It's the future of the company. They essentially will pay whatever they have to for it. But it would be amusing to see Google keep upping the bid on them.

Re:Google May Bid Yet (4, Insightful)

kebes (861706) | more than 6 years ago | (#20062983)

Exactly. Google is upping the bid, because they know that they will be out-bid by the entrenched telcos that can't afford to lose that spectrum. If they call Google's bluff, Google will happily buy the spectrum for a few billion and make a killing. But, since the entrenched telcos will certainly continue out-bidding until they win, it's in Google's best interests to at least put some pressure on them to make the eventual spectrum a bit more open--that way Google can capitalize on that spectrum in some way. (A nice by-product is that this is way better for consumers.)

I'm not so naive as to think that Google is doing this for purely philanthropic reasons... however it's really nice to see a powerful company putting pressure on entrenched monopolies, with an end result that the people get high-quality, more fair access to a public resource.

Re:Google May Bid Yet (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#20064085)

Google is upping the bid, because they know that they will be out-bid by the entrenched telcos that can't afford to lose that spectrum. ... But, since the entrenched telcos will certainly continue out-bidding until they win
As I recall, at the end of the 2006 fiscal year, Google had $11.2 Billion dollars cash on hand.

Further, they can easily push out a stock offering or issue bonds to raise more cash.
If Google wants spectrum, they'll be able to afford it.

It might even make long term business sense to buy a chunk, use some of it for their own purposes and lease the rest to one of the Telcos.

Re:Google May Bid Yet (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063099)

They don't have the political connections or the ENORMOUS resources that AT&T/Cingular has.

I could be wrong, but I think Google might actually be able to outbid AT&T and the other telcos. I'm not certain, but I think the relevant financial statistic for an auction is "Cash and Short Term Investments," which is what they could make readily available to use for bidding. Here's the "Cash and Short Term Investments" figures for Google, AT&T, and Verizon:

Google: $11,935,920

AT&T: $2,364,000

Verizon: $3,450,000

Re:Google May Bid Yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20063203)

I don't know anything about these kinds of auctions, but can Google team up with two or three other companies and outbid AT&T and share the service and revenue? It would be better for the consumer, if they really considered that as a second alternative for counteracting monopolies.

Considering the recent News Corp deal, i read something like 32% of Dow Jones was sold to them ( i could be wrong). Can that be done here in the vice scenario?

Re:Google May Bid Yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20063287)

alternatively, can they make a deal for an even smaller part of the open spectrum, like 1/9 of that to be allocated to open services & networks? of course, a monopoly wants no competition, but an offer of the slightest, most tiny, embarassingly small fraction of a spectrum would seem to bother companies seeking profits from owning the whole 700mhz spectrum if a lot can be done with such a small, but worthy utility from creative tech builders.

Re:Google May Bid Yet (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063251)

Here's the "Cash and Short Term Investments" figures for Google, AT&T, and Verizon:

Google: $11,935,920

AT&T: $2,364,000

Verizon: $3,450,000
Oh, whoops, in case it wasn't readily apparent in my original post, all of those figures are in thousands of $US. In other words, that's around $11.9 billion for google, $2.3 billion for AT&T ,and $3.4 billion for Verizon.

Re:Google May Bid Yet (3, Interesting)

gregorio (520049) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063421)

I'm not certain, but I think the relevant financial statistic for an auction is "Cash and Short Term Investments," which is what they could make readily available to use for bidding.
It's not just about that. I have enough "cash and short term investments" right here in my pocket to spend a couple hundred dollars buying a single expensive toolholder for a CNC machining center. But I don't have a hundred thousand dollar CNC machining center, no factory installations, no sales office and no consumer base.

It's never just about having money to buy stuff. You also need to make extra investments and assets to buy this kind of infrastructure. And they cost a lot of money.

Spending half of Google's money on airwaves would also mean opening thousands of new jobs, creating new departments and searching for customers. And the investors are not happy with the current situation of Google. "I will not innovate if I can just use the investor's money to buy commoditized stuff and partially-inovating trendy companies like YouTube" will really hurt Google in the long run. Yeah, ok, the new market of internet advertising might grow to dozens of billions of dollars a year. That's why Google is worth so much, because of a new market. Investing on telecom commodities is not why they have so much money, to create this kind of old-business infrastructure.

What's next, Google buying oil refineries just because "they can"? I'd be pretty pissed off if the company holding my money (shares) started abusing it.

Re:Google May Bid Yet (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063813)

> It's never just about having money to buy stuff. You also need to make extra investments and assets to buy this kind of infrastructure. And they cost a lot of money.

Good point. Even though Google might technically be able to win the bid, they don't have the same sort of traditional telecom assets as the other companies.

One off-the-cuff idea though: What if they're planning on doing something very non-traditional? For example, I could envision them trying to do something similar to FON [wikipedia.org] , selling 700mhz Wifi routers to people with some kind of profit-sharing scheme.

Google and investors (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063859)

And the investors are not happy with the current situation of Google. "I will not innovate if I can just use the investor's money to buy commoditized stuff and partially-inovating trendy companies like YouTube"

I am an investor and I applaud Google in it's initiatives. If I had the money myself, er if I had as much money as Bill Gates or that Mexican, I'd tell the FCC I'd bid $10 billion if the FCC were to require winners to provide access to others at wholesale prices. Maybe even $50B, of course it'd depend one whether I had the money readily available and not just on paper. It may not be that much to start with but selling access is another possible revenue stream. It could also open up more revenue streams.

What's next, Google buying oil refineries just because "they can"?

Bill Gates did, er his Bill And Mellisa Gates Foundation has. The foundation invested in Italy's oil giant Eni. The thing is is that Eni is responsible for some of the health problems the foundation is supposed to be fighting against.

Report: Gates Foundation Causing Harm With the Same Money It Uses To Do Good [democracynow.org] .

Falcon

Re:Google May Bid Yet (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063775)

Not really - you can always debt finance this, and both Google and AT&T would obviously have no problem finding banks or funds willing to help finance something like this with a lot more cash than they have in the bank, either as a plain loan or an investment or a mix - obviously the higher the price gets, the more likely it will be any bank that gets involved will insist on a standard loan agreement rather than risk they'd manage to make it back on an investment.

Re:Google May Bid Yet (4, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063177)

>But it would be amusing to see Google keep upping the bid on them.

Yes, and as a cell phone customer it will be extra amusing paying for this bidding war via raised rates.

Re:Google May Bid Yet (1)

EMeta (860558) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063347)

If you've perhaps noticed the rate of new cell phone store fronts going up, I think you might understand that there is no lack of profit in the cell phone industry.

Re:Google May Bid Yet (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063917)

Yes, and as a cell phone customer it will be extra amusing paying for this bidding war via raised rates.

Yea right. NOT! Cellular service is dropping in price not going up. For many using only a cellphone is cheaper than a landline phone. I'm one of them. I pay about $10 a month less for my phone service than I paid for my landline service when I had it. Thanks to competition for this, competition lowers prices.

Falcon

Re:Google May Bid Yet (2, Interesting)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063291)

On the other hand, Google has a market cap of 158.89 billion dollars. Sure, it's a lot lower than AT&T's market cap of 238.88 billion dollars, but Google spent a billion dollars on YOUTUBE! On YOUTUBE!

This is going to be on hell of a bidding war, I'll tell you that!

Re:Google May Bid Yet (1)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063371)

Really? Google doesn't have the ENORMOUS resources of AT&T/Cingular? Because last I checked goog's income and market cap dwarfs ATT by a LONG shot.

Re:Google May Bid Yet (2, Informative)

Ewan (5533) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063637)

You must be looking at the wrong Google then, or the wrong AT&T

Maybe this will help:

http://finance.google.com/finance?q=google [google.com]
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=NYSE%3AT [google.com]

The part you want is 'Mkt Cap' where you'll find google is at $158 Billion and AT&T is at $241 Billion, and AT&Ts net income is over twice Google's.

Re:Google May Bid Yet (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063945)

Parent was pointing out the wrong numbers. Should've pointed out cash on hand. Google has about 11 billion. ATT has about 2-3 billion.

Re:Google May Bid Yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20062901)

I read the tags "politics, wireless" as "politic, useless"

A/C

Re:Google May Bid Yet (2, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | more than 6 years ago | (#20062931)

'Google has recently said it would bid on the 700MHz spectrum only if the FCC guarantees certain open-access principles, including open access for companies wanting to buy wireless capacity wholesale. Does this mean that Google won't bid on spectrum if the rules aren't adopted?'

Translated marketing babble. We have no committed to any course of action or lack of course of action and never will.

'So it's not out of the question that Google would participate in the auction, even if the FCC doesn't adopt all four principles?'

Translated marketing babble. We all have glowing halos atop our heads and are wonderful and good. We have not committed to any course of action or lack thereof and never will. (Actually this is what almost every PR drone statement translates to.)

Re:Google May Bid Yet (2, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063205)

Also, on Google's Public Policy blog they flat-out say they haven't decided yet if they'll bid or not:

http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2007/07/sig ns-of-real-progress-at-fcc.html [blogspot.com]

Just two months ago, the notion that the FCC would take such a big step forward to give consumers meaningful choice through this auction seemed unlikely at best. Today -- thanks in no small part to broad public support for greater competition -- the FCC has embraced important principles of openness, and endorsed the unfettered workings of the free market for software applications and communications devices. Moreover, over the last few weeks several leading wireless carriers have reversed course and for the first time acknowledged our call for more open platforms in wireless networks. By any measure, that's real progress.

By the same token, it would have a more complete victory for consumers had the FCC adopted all four of the license conditions that we advocated, in order to pave the way for the real "third pipe" broadband competition that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has been touting. For our part, we will need time to carefully study the actual text of the FCC's rules, due out in a few weeks, before we can make any definitive decisions about our possible participation in the auction.

Google (2, Interesting)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 6 years ago | (#20062759)

If Google were to win the bid, then they could do those other things if they wanted. Google not bidding means they never really intended to win, they were just using this as publicity to try an force the stipulations they wanted without having to be the high bidder.

Google sure has been trying to throw their weight around a lot lately.

Re:Google (4, Insightful)

rootofevil (188401) | more than 6 years ago | (#20062913)

given who they have been trying to push, and for what they have been trying to push for, i applaud their efforts.

its about damn time someone at least pretended to stick up for the little guy.

Re:Google (4, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063259)

Google not bidding means they never really intended to win, they were just using this as publicity to try an force the stipulations they wanted without having to be the high bidder.

Google sure has been trying to throw their weight around a lot lately.
Why don't you wait and see what happens before making judgments about a company based on what you think they'll probably do....

Re:Google (2, Insightful)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063511)

I wasn't really making any judgments, don't get defensive about your favorite company.

As others have pointed out, there is nothing wrong with Google doing this if it will benefit the consumer (which is what they claim they are trying to do).

Re:Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20063697)

The FCC wanted atleast $4.6b in the auction, google's bid promise was a way of telling the FCC "Hey, add in a couple limitations, and we'll make sure the lowest bid is $4.6b, no matter how much the entrenched guys scheme and deal behind the scenes".

Halfway is no good (4, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | more than 6 years ago | (#20062811)

See, "open devices" and "open applications" probably means that you are free to use any device or application that has been approved by whoever wins the auction in question. I fully expect AT&T (or whoever wins, but they look like they will) to announce some kind of ridiculously elaborate and expensive "open licensing program" where if you want to make a device or applications that works with their network, you'll have to pay them gobs of money. They'll say it's for "adminstrative fees" or "Homeland Security Wireless Management and Auditing Charges" or some such crap.

Personally, while I like what Google is trying to do, I think they should stay in the bidding anyway. I'd much rather have Google own the spectrum than literally ANY other telco corporation. Google isn't nearly as evil as those guys are.

Re:Halfway is no good (1)

1310nm (687270) | more than 6 years ago | (#20062895)

This is a good way for Google to take an offensive stance in the net neutrality game, since AT&T and other carriers contend that Google should pay for priority or bandwidth use. Let's see what happens when consumers gain choice and freedom.

Re:Halfway is no good (3, Interesting)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063257)

They mentioned that on Twit as well. If Google got what they wanted, universal, nation-wide wireless bands, then they'd make the Cellular monopolies obsolete in a matter of a few years. That's one BIG stick to beat AT&T with after the "threats" they made about Google "paying" it's way in the future. Also, that would go nicely with the "google on a truck" and dark fiber projects they already have!! Google almost has enough pieces for a true 3rd independant national internet! That alone would be worth the FCC taking a look, but they're too shallow to see beyond quarterly profits.

Re:Halfway is no good (2, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063971)

Actually, Google is quite close to having it's own private darknet across the country. They fear the last mile being taken away by Comcast, AT&T, et. al. This is where 700mhz comes in.

Re:Halfway is no good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20062925)

Yeah, I agree. It's pretty stupid that people can't SEE how it's a monopoly... :(

Seriously, ANYONE that makes such large profit margins shouldn't exist. I'm all for profit, it's a good thing, but the amount of money that Telco companies make is insane.

Sadly, I know that Google won't win the bid unless they are really willing to pay a ton more than 4bil.

Re: Halfway is no good (1)

bcharr2 (1046322) | more than 6 years ago | (#20062941)

I agree, yet at the same time wonder if today's "Now With Less Evil Than The Other Providers" Google isn't tomorrow's "Greed is Good" AT&T. Our nation has seen a lot of great first generation companies morph into 3rd generation "We Pride Ourselves On Keeping Our Customers In A Headlock" companies.

Re:Halfway is no good (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20062999)

What can you do? At the very minimum donate some of AT&T's money to Google.

Make it a habit to start your day with a google search for some Wireless [google.com] , Cell [google.com] , or AT&T [google.com] related topic and then visit one or more AT&T spomnsored links on the top of the page :)

Re:Halfway is no good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20063111)

Also whoever wins could in theory DO exactly what google wanted anyway... But would AT&T do this or would google?

Re:Halfway is no good (1)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063171)

I don't think so. I think "open devices" means that you can use anyone's cell phone, Treo, PocketPC, or whatever on that spectrum if it's designed to use that spectrum, not just the ones the winner approves. It's the difference between all hard-line telephones coming from AT&T's rental division, and people buying or renting hard-line telephones from anyone willing to sell or rent them. (My latest hard-line telephone is literally a grocery-store brand.) "Open applications" should be the equivalent of allowing aftermarket devices (be they "hush hoods" or answering machines) on approved phones, even if the devices themselves aren't approved.
Of course, any device not from the winning carrier is going to have to be as spectacular as people think the iPhone is; unlike hardline phones, there's usually no real savings from owning instead of renting cellphones, since the price of renting tends to be near zero in America. So not much to do with open devices.
But "open applications" ought to mean that the carrier must allow the phone to be unlocked long enough to load those applications, and that Bluetooth cannot simply be automatically and permanently locked down. An iPhone made to work on that spectrum might have to have a real mini-OSX, not a walled-garden variant of it.

Re:Halfway is no good (1)

realmolo (574068) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063303)

"I don't think so. I think "open devices" means that you can use anyone's cell phone, Treo, PocketPC, or whatever on that spectrum if it's designed to use that spectrum, not just the ones the winner approves."

I think you are being foolishly optimistic.

"Open devices" MAY mean that any device designed for the spectrum in question must work, but it doesn't mean it has to work WELL. I fully expect that, at the very least, "unapproved" devices and software will be crippled like crazy.

The whole problem is the word "open" doesn't really mean anything. The FCC and AT&T can call any scheme they come up with "open", but still lock it down so that it's not really open at all.

Working well (1)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063737)

So I'm being optimistic. I'm saying there's precedent, and that the FCC must've meant something when they made their half-declaration. And I'm saying there is precedent for truly open devices and applications, and even profits from such things.
No, they might not work well at first. The first hardline phones not made by AT&T didn't work well in comparison to the phones AT&T was making at the time. Hey, many of the current ones don't. Sound quality was worse, durability was worse, ergonomics was worse... But people still bought them--some because you could own them for $10 outright, cheaper than renting an AT&T phone for any length of time; some because they had novelty appeal (I own a Beatlephone); some because they had features AT&T phones didn't have, such as cordlessness.
I imagine that novelty cellphones and phones with special features will sneak onto the new bandwidth in small but meaningful numbers despite the provider's warnings against them.
And even if applications are crippled, they should not be banned if "open applications" means anything.
Back to hard lines: answering machines aren't as versatile as voice mail (which existed even before phone deregulation), and they don't have as much space for messages; but answering machines were ultimately cheaper, and you don't have to call anyone to get your messages.
"Open applications" should mean that a provider can't prohibit someone loading something with even as little sophistication as a primitive answering machine on their phone just because the provider has something as fancy--and minute-consuming--as voice mail as a (non-free) option.
Generalize as you see fit.

ATT phones (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20064107)

The first hardline phones not made by AT&T didn't work well in comparison to the phones AT&T was making at the time.

Hell those ATT phones were nearly indistructable. That plastic could of been used to shield or armor tanks.

Falcon

Is there a purpose for the FCC anymore? (2, Interesting)

shaitand (626655) | more than 6 years ago | (#20062829)

Obviously the FCC is no longer concerned with the purpose it was created for (encouraging competition in communication related industry) so why do we still have an FCC?

Re:Is there a purpose for the FCC anymore? (3, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#20062873)

To impose moral values on the public at large through the banning 7 dirty words and other nanny-says-no naughtiness.

Re:Is there a purpose for the FCC anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20062893)

Just to piss you off.

Re:Is there a purpose for the FCC anymore? (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063233)

I thought the purpose of the FCC was to prevent interference.

Re:Is there a purpose for the FCC anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20063299)


so why do we still have an FCC?


To protect the entrenched business interests, silly. Just like the rest of the government.

Does this even make sense? (2, Interesting)

shaitand (626655) | more than 6 years ago | (#20062875)

"The agency said yes to "open devices" and "open applications," thus requiring the auction winner to permit consumers to use any device or application on the network. But the FCC turned down "open services" and "open networks,"

Can you have one without the other? If the winner is required to allow free use of the spectrum for devices and applications doesn't that include devices used to provide services? I mean sure, they wouldn't have to let you use their infrastructure or buy access at wholesale prices, but they couldn't stop you from building your own infrastructure.

They mean open client devices, of course (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063273)

I'm sure you won't be allowed to put up your own tower in this spectrum.

Re:Does this even make sense? (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063357)

No, as long as they control the network they can mandate how your device should behave. They can require that any "open" device you have connects only to their closed routers using their closed protocols, say at a low-low price of $0.99/min

To summarize, if you were really looking forward to getting cheap all-you-can-eat wireless broadband you should have bought your own Senator instead of relying on ATT's.

Re:Does this even make sense? (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 6 years ago | (#20064223)

'No, as long as they control the network they can mandate how your device should behave.'

If you aren't connecting to their network, and you don't need their permission to make a device that uses the frequency then how can mandate anything? The ruling says they don't have to let you connect to their network but that you can make devices that operate in this spectrum. Devices would include towers, servers, and routers. You could build your own wireless infrastructure on the frequency or a company like Google could.

Are spectra sold or leased? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20062935)

How are spectra are sold? Does the US government sell "ownership" of bands of a spectrum, or just lease the rights to them?

And how about other countries?

(Yes, I could look it up, but... here's your chance to educate the thread. :)

--
http://www.metagovernment.org/ [metagovernment.org] - Power to the people. Completely.

Re:Are spectra sold or leased? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20063169)

All governments buy bands from neighboring governments. They then sell out individual frequencies to clearinghouse companies. Those companies then distribute those frequencies on a variety of service plans, including selling, leasing, renting, reverse rights transfers, long-leases, and open usage licenses. These always last for 10 years, at which point the buyer has to renew, pending approval by a U.N. organization called the UNSAAC (United Nations Spectrum Analytics and Assignment Commission), which assesses their past performance and determines their contribution to the public good, and thus their right to continue using the public airwaves.

Re:Are spectra sold or leased? (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20064181)

How are spectra are sold? Does the US government sell "ownership" of bands of a spectrum, or just lease the rights to them?

The FCC sales exclusive licenses to use different frequencies in different areas. Those licenses come up for renewal occassionally, though I don't recall how long they last for.

Falcon

Stock Prices (1)

ttapper04 (955370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063025)

What does all this mean for Googles stock prices? Anyone have an insight?

Re:Stock Prices (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20063381)

BUY BUY BUY!

"open devices/applications" accomplishes nothing (1)

baseinfinity (18023) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063043)

Just look at how well CableCard has done. Cable industry has shown that if an entrenched oligopoly wants to kill open devices all it has to do is drag it's feet and make it as difficult as possible for consumers. There's no way this will encourage investment in open devices by anyone hobbyists.

Re:"open devices/applications" accomplishes nothin (1)

baseinfinity (18023) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063087)

s/"anyone hobbyists"/"anyone except hobbyists"

Re:"open devices/applications" accomplishes nothin (1)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063295)

Hobbyists are better than no one.
CableCard will succeed only when cable companies stop scrambling premium channels. As long as there are concrete benefits to using the cable company's boxes (premium channels and subsidized DVRs come to mind), people will use its boxes. And people making third-party boxes need to advertise!

Re:"open devices/applications" accomplishes nothin (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063923)

CableCard will succeed only when cable companies stop scrambling premium channels.

Uh, the whole point of CableCard is to descramble premium channels. If the cable companies used clear QAM for everything, then you wouldn't need CableCard.

Google 700mhz Fund? (1)

Cytlid (95255) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063109)

Is there a link where I can help out? What if I have some "Google 700mhz" fund money? Reading the comments on this page, and as a network engineer having to deal with BellSouth (now the new AT&T) *all the freakin' time* I would like nothing more than to see Google win this auction.

  Like them, I'd be willing to put my money where my mouth is.
 

Re:Google 700mhz Fund? (1)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063229)

I would donate money for the greater good as well. I would rather pay $100 now then $40/mo for the rest of my natural life...

Re:Google 700mhz Fund? (1)

stigmato (843667) | more than 6 years ago | (#20064081)

For the greater good!

Re:Google 700mhz Fund? (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063289)

Unless you're a multi-millionaire with money to burn, there's no way your contribution is going to be but a drop in the ocean compared to what AT&T and Verizon will bid. Even if you were, you would really have to be a billionaire to even get anybodys attention here.

Re:Google 700mhz Fund? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20063423)

Unless you're a multi-millionaire with money to burn, there's no way your contribution is going to be but a drop in the ocean compared to what AT&T and Verizon will bid. Even if you were, you would really have to be a billionaire to even get anybodys attention here.

That's a good point, with 300 million people in the country including children, every last infant would have to put up about $15 just to catch up to the $4.6b google's got on the table.

Still... if someone trustworthy were to establish a giant escrow account and start collecting around $500 towards a (non-transferable, most likely) lifetime subscription to the network if the collective wins the auction, and your money back if they don't... I'd certainly throw in my hat.

Re:Google 700mhz Fund? (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063621)

Assuming the starting bid for this will be around $5 billion, whatever donation cash you collect will be peanuts.

Re:Google 700mhz Fund? (1)

sykopomp (1133507) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063301)

Yes, actually... spend the next 3-4 months clicking every single AdBrite ad that you see... Make Google.com your homepage switch to gmail and try to touch whatever advertising links they put in there. They'll probably make much more money if you do this than if you send them $10.

Re:Google 700mhz Fund? (1)

Mdentari (979766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063619)

Same here. I would pay some money to Google so they could compete for the bandwidth. I'm just tired of feeling like we the people are on the losing end way to much these days.

Comparable to the Retail Electric Industry (4, Interesting)

sampson7 (536545) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063127)

In the United States, the electric industry also has open access requirements that are comparable to those at issue here. Except, instead of "spectrum" the open access condition applies to power lines.

The US essentially has two types systems for moving electricity around: the Transmission System and the Distribution System. Transmission System lines are typically high voltage and used for wholesale sales of electricity. They are predominately federally regulated. Distribution System lines are typically lower voltage and used for distribution of power to retail end-use customers.

However the open access requirements are quite different. Transmission Systems are open to any user (with lots of strings, but in theory anyway). So someone who wants to sell power at wholesale essentially has the same right of access to the transmission lines as the utility that owns the lines does. In other words, the utility's transmission functions are no longer vertically integrated (at least in theory) with their power generation functions. This concept is known as "comparability." Sadly, the FCC rejected this type of open access.

For distribution systems, the utilities are still far more vertically integrated and largely control who has access to their power lines. While they still have to provide some level of access to competing users, there's no comparability concept and no sense that the utility is in the business of "renting" its system to all users and that its affiliated branches are just another user. Instead, we are going to continue to see integrated networks where the owner of the spectrum is able to stiffle innovation. Requiring that the purchaser of the spectrum re-sell it to competing companies would have guaranteed far more interesting uses of this spectrum.

Of course, allowing for phone transferability and the other items are good; but is a public safety system really the biggest concession that the FCC could extract? Yes, it is important. But nobody was going to object to giving fire fighters the communications equipment they needed.

Sad.

Re:Comparable to the Retail Electric Industry (1)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063823)

What innovations are the electric utilities stifling?

Re:Comparable to the Retail Electric Industry (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#20064021)

Do you know where I can get more information on this topic? (Access to transmission lines, names of government authorities who control this, etc.)

FCC steals our First Amendment. (1, Interesting)

bobs666 (146801) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063193)

What ever happened to the public airwaves.
This is what is call it the bands where we watched TV.

So rather then give a small part of the spectrum to
the public for open commerce. The FCC sell out
airwaves to the biggest monopoly.

With out an open network we will never have more then a
few providers of the last mile(access to the Internet).
the result will be take over, not competition.

There goes your chances to compete with the international
community.
see Krugman On the Connectivity Power Shift [slashdot.org]

Be happy (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063723)

Don't worry, the almighty Darwin will sort it all out.

The 'slow' nations will lose, the weaker will win and rebuild the weaker ones in their image. All for the best, really. (Though it'll be a bitch to learn to speak Chinese)

Re:FCC steals our First Amendment. (1)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 6 years ago | (#20064051)

39MHz, 900MHz, 2.4GHz and 5.4GHz unlicensed bands not enough for you?

Ah, right. Too congested. Well, that's what happens when you, you know, take away the licenses for monopolistic use!

Contact your local FCC representitive and complain (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063839)

Oh, wait...

Half way? (1)

pinkstuff (758732) | more than 6 years ago | (#20063901)

Drum roll please... Did the open up the 350MHz spectrum?

So... (1)

akkarin (1117245) | more than 6 years ago | (#20064015)

350 MHz, then?

In spite of the Federal Communist Commission... (1)

xednieht (1117791) | more than 6 years ago | (#20064027)

I suspect Google has sufficient resources to bid and win, at which point they could always implement the other two principles rejected by the Communist Commission. Today's corporations suck major ass. Why is it that some corporations can't seem to compete without being granted some sort of monopoly?
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