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FCC Ends 700 MHz Auction

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the they-aren't-making-any-more dept.

Wireless Networking 118

Apu writes "Having received bids totaling $19.5 billion over 260 rounds of bidding, the FCC has announced the closing of Auction 73. The Chairman's statement notes that the auction has "raised more money than any [FCC] auction has ever raised" besting the 2006 Advanced Wireless Service-1 auction that raised $13.9 billion and topping the $10.6 billion Congress estimated it would receive for the 700 MHz spectrum. The New York Times reports that "the last bid in the auction was $91,000 for frequencies around Vieques, Puerto Rico." According to the FCC, "eight unsold licenses [...] remain held by the FCC and will again be made available [...] in a future auction." This includes the "D block" which was to be shared by commercial and public safety users and only received a single $472 million bid, below the $1.3 billion reserve price. However, as previously reported, the open access provisions will apply to one-third of the auctioned spectrum as the minimum $4.6 billion bid for the "C" block was received. The names of the winning bidders have not yet been made public."

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118 comments

Eat my shorts slashdot !! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22794252)


Eat my shorts slashdot !!

Re:Eat my shorts slashdot !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22794886)

Those brown things, with straps on the sides? Maybe what you really want is for someone to CHANGE YOUR SHORTS

Yours, /.

Just as well (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22794256)

With the Iraq war costing $12 billion [about.com] a month, that buys the country another 7 weeks!

Re:Just as well (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22794340)

Way to steal trolls from Ars Technica [arstechnica.com] .

Re:Just as well (2, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794414)

Is it irrelevant? That $19 billions is going to come out of our pockets over several years and yet will be spent in 7 weeks.

The 3G auctions in Europe raised a fortune for exchequers but the huge burden the placed on operators has crippled 3G roll-out for the best part of a decade.

Is it wrong to question how the money raised is spent?

Re:Just as well (2, Informative)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794718)

Not really, but he could have massaged the conversation in the direction of spending of the money before complaining about it. What everyone wants to know here is if Google won or not.

Re:Just as well (2, Insightful)

Imsdal (930595) | more than 6 years ago | (#22795148)

The 3G auctions in Europe raised a fortune for exchequers but the huge burden the placed on operators has crippled 3G roll-out for the best part of a decade.

How do you figure? Are you suggesting that 3G roll-out has been quicker in other countries where the governemnt gave away valuable rights to private companies for free instead of selling them?

Whatever an operator payed for a license is sunk cost [wikipedia.org] . The subsequent roll-out will be at whatever pace is economically feasible and will not be affected by the amount payed for the license.

Re:Just as well (3, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22795982)

If the funding for a Sunk Cost comes from borrowing then of course it affects future business decisions. European networks paid $129 billion for 3G licenses. Vodafone alone spent more than $30 billion. It seems unlikely that sort of money came from cash surpluses.

In Japan, 3G licenses were free. Looking at the state of the mobile market there, and comparing it with that in Europe, then yes, I'd say that huge cost delayed roll out and by increasing user costs slowed uptake.

Re:Just as well (2, Insightful)

Imsdal (930595) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796180)

If the funding for a Sunk Cost comes from borrowing then of course it affects future business decisions.

Sorry, but no. Whatever investments a company chooses to make in 3G roll-out is only based on what they can expect each investment to return. Are you suggesting that an investment with an expected ROI of x% will be made if the debt is below $y, but will not be made if it is above $y?

Also, why compare to Japan? Compare to Sweden, where the Social Democrats gave the licenses away. It turned out that making massive investments in infrastructure in areas where only few people lived did not make any economic sense even when the operators had not paid for the licenses. Strange that, huh?

The mobile market in Japan is much more mature, hence all the "texting like a Japanese teenager" references here and elsewhere.

Re:Just as well (2, Informative)

Albanach (527650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796592)

But there is a return even by not deploying a network - other startups can't rollout a competing network.

Why not compare to the original GSM licenses in the UK for Vodafone and Telecom Securicor Cellular Radio? They had coverage obligations. Those coverage obligations were absent from the 3G auctions because with no obligations, carriers would bid more for the license to prevent others gaining a license, and then deploy at a slower pace as funds allowed.

I don't think a great deal of thought was paid to the amounts being bid at auction time, and hence thepost auction impact.

Sweden has 1/10 the population density of the UK, so rollout in the UK should have been more cost efficient by an order of magnitude.

Government "may" release the names of the winners? (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794260)

From the NYT story:

The government has yet to release the names of the winning bidders, but it may do so in the next few weeks.

"may" do so? Did the New York Times misspell "must"? Or is it that there is a lack of clarity in the FCC's administrative law as to how long it can go before it makes public the detailed results of the auction?

Re:Government "may" release the names of the winne (4, Informative)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794308)

"may" do so? Did the New York Times misspell "must"? Or is it that there is a lack of clarity in the FCC's administrative law as to how long it can go before it makes public the detailed results of the auction?

When the D Block gets resolved, the FCC will be allowed to reveal who won the other blocks. [washingtonpost.com]

Re:Government "may" release the names of the winne (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22794322)

Under the published rules, the names will not be released until after the D block is re-auctioned, which could take more then a few weeks to occur. However, it is commonly believed that the FCC will waived the re-auction in favor of a different plan for the D-block. Thus, the FCC *may* release the names in the next few weeks, or may wait upto a few months until the disposition of the D block.

Re:Government "may" release the names of the winne (1)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794332)

The use of "may" most likely relates to the timeframe of the release of that information, rather than any necessity or obligation to do so at all. (eg. They "may" release the information in the next few weeks...if all paperwork is filed by that time, blah blah blah.)

Re:Government "may" release the names of the winne (3, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794696)

The government has yet to release the names of the winning bidders, but it may do so in the next few weeks.
I didn't want to say anything yet, but I was the winning bidder.

I'm planning to use that part of the frequency spectrum to broadcast round the clock demo tapes from '80s cover bands, the piano works of Conlon Nancarrow and the speeches of Everett Dirksen.

And if you're wondering, yes, I've got the idea protected legally, so don't try to beat me out of the gate.

Re:Government "may" release the names of the winne (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 6 years ago | (#22795094)

Now that you've broken the anti-collusion rule, hopefully we'll be saved from your wrath...

Re:Government "may" release the names of the winne (1)

ATMD (986401) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796928)

And miss the opportunity to Rick-roll everyone in the country simultaneously?

Shame on you - your Internet citizenship is hereby revoked. Please de-solder your network interface and throw it into the nearest Emergency Intel® Incinerator.

Re:Government "may" release the names of the winne (1)

autophile (640621) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794904)

I agree, this was bad sentence structure, but "may" in this case means "will be allowed to".

--Rob

Superb. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22794268)

Given the spectrum is property of humanity as a whole I'll be looking forward to a check in the mail for my share. I mean, it's not like I could walk into someone's house and sell off their stuff without giving them the money...

Re:Superb. (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794368)

You'll get a letter stating that your share has been applied to the more than half-trillion dollar shortfall between revenue and expenses this year.

Actually, now that I come to think of it, you may just get that check. $600 x 143M = $85B, so you can just figure that 1/4 of your "rebate" check from Dubya came from this auction. See how efficient government is? (excuse my while I go throw up)

Re:Superb. (1)

Fastolfe (1470) | more than 6 years ago | (#22799562)

Well, since the money is going to your government, it's already at your disposal. Write your legislators and let them know how you'd like to see it spent. Just be aware that the US budget is already spending way more than the government receives in revenues.

raised more money than any [FCC] auction (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22794314)

Is that in 2008 dollars? You people realize that every time some revenue or stock price goes up in the US, while the dollar drops at the same time, the businesses are really just treading water while the people pay for the country's debt with the value reduction of their assets?

Re:raised more money than any [FCC] auction (1)

Dara Hazeghi (1076823) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794382)

Hell yes, and that's a Good Thing(tm). Because most assets in this country are held by the rich who got us into this mess in the first place; ergo, they should pay for it. Meanwhile, inflation will help those in debt (i.e. the middle class), and especially those who were suckered into subprime loans by making the debt worth less.

Re:raised more money than any [FCC] auction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22794544)

A job is an asset, too. Your pay isn't coupled to the stock market, is it?

Re:raised more money than any [FCC] auction (1)

ThomasFlip (669988) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794716)

Inflation doesn't mean their wages are necessarily going to go up. The government cooks the books on things like CPI so it doesn't have to meet social security obligations (among other reasons). Inflation kills the middle class by increasing the price of oil, food, and other necessary products. Inflation helps the rich because they are the ones getting the money initially when it still has its value.

Re:raised more money than any [FCC] auction (0)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794908)

"The government cooks the books on things like CPI so it doesn't have to meet social security obligations"

Huh? It's generally acknowledged that the CPI OVER-estimates inflation, and has done so for years (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boskin_Commission [wikipedia.org] )

This in turn has led to SS benefits being increased at a rate greater than the real rate of inflation, having a twofold effect:
1) Increasing the SS burden on the federal budget and current wage earners.
2) Creating a "moral hazard" in that it is a disincentive for people to save for retirement. When Social Security was begun, it was seen as a means to keep the poorest of the elderly from starving - the "old lady eating cat food" scenario. It was NOT supposed to be a "state pension". But through the miracle of compounding, the overestimation of the CPI has increased SS benefits to where it CAN be used in lieu of any other support - not well, and not with risk, but it's doable. As a result, there is a disincentive to save on your own. For instance, whenever you use one f those "retirement calculators", they ALWAYS take SS into account, and then tell you what you need to save after that. But in it's original "safety net" form, the amount would be low enough that it would not be wise to calculate it in.
3) Concurrent with #2, it has tended to let the children of the elderly "off the hook". Prior to SS, adults were expected to take care of their elderly relatives. That is not the case any more - it's the government's job.

Re: CPI is rigged (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22795532)

Huh? It's generally acknowledged that the CPI OVER-estimates inflation, and has done so for years I don't need a Wiki article to tell me what I ACTUALLY experience every day. Inflation is out of control in the US:

Energy UP UP UP
Wheat, Corn, Milk... UP UP UP
Housing (still) UP UP UP
Hell, just look at the dollar vs. Euro, Yen, Aus, CDN, etc... Everything we import is UP UP UP.
2-3% my a$$.

Re:raised more money than any [FCC] auction (2, Insightful)

j79zlr (930600) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794836)

Inflation is good because of the irresponsible actions of many that get them into debt? I research a $200 purchase to make sure that I am getting what I want yet these people can't do some research when they are making a purchase as large as a home? I am so damn sick of hearing about these poor ignorant people who were swindled. That is not the case 99% of the time, they got greedy and tried to buy more house than they could afford. Sorry but I don't see how it is my responsibility to pay for the irresponsibility of others. Where is my government check for all of the money I've lost in the market because of this mess???

Re:raised more money than any [FCC] auction (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22795248)

I research a $200 purchase to make sure that I am getting what I want yet these people can't do some research when they are making a purchase as large as a home? ... Where is my government check for all of the money I've lost in the market because of this mess???

So you research all of you $200 purchases but you don't bother to do any research before buying stocks? I'm sorry, but blaming the economy for your poor choices in investments is just as irresponsible as the home buyers you are complaining about. If you had picked good investments then they would be going up no matter the condition of the rest of the market.

Re:raised more money than any [FCC] auction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22795432)

I don't think he's talking about the stock market...

Re:raised more money than any [FCC] auction (1)

j79zlr (930600) | more than 6 years ago | (#22795762)

Yes I do and guess what, even the best investors lose some money some times. It is not the government's responsibility to cover my ass and they won't, so why should they do it for housing?

Re:raised more money than any [FCC] auction (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 6 years ago | (#22798064)

The government should cover some of the loses in the housing market because they are partially directly responsible by throwing money at people, and partially indirectly responsible by enabling the lenders to rack up so much bad debt.

Were some people foolish, absolutely. Were some people greedy, most definitely. But most people who are losing their house were swindled to some extent or another.

The fed precipitated this whole mess by cutting the federal funds target rate to 1.0% in 2003. The fed in essence told the banks to lend money to anyone and everyone. The banks sold mortgages to everybody regardless of credit history, because they were betting that the value of their investments (homes) would continue to rise. As long as the value kept going up the banks couldn't lose. The people who bought these mortgages were told the same thing, your rate will increase in 5 years, but housing prices have never decreased, and as long as your home gains value you can refinance after the adjustment and lock in a low rate. THIS IS PREDATORY.

Since the fed and the banks made bad investments they should be forced to cover more of their piss poor investments. Yes, I know the banks are writing down billions of bad debt. They are eating part of the loses, but I think they should be eating more. Housing values went down for everyone because the banks couldn't be bothered to look beyond their quarterly earnings reports to realize that the growth they were driving in the housing market was not sustainable. Therefore even if you didn't take an ARM your are being punished for the bad invesments of the fed and the banking industry. When your neighbor can't make their mortgage and are foreclosed on, and your housing value goes down, and who's fault is that?

So what should be done? For a start a moratorium on foreclosures. The banks should be compelled to aggressively refinance sub-prime loans at lower rates. The fed should be very, very careful about lowering the rates any further, serious inflation is right around the corner, and it is the ridiculously low rates that got us into this mess to begin with. And finally, every major loan to a bank (e.g. the gift insuring Bear Stearn's crappy holdings) should come with strong open banking strings attached. If we're going to bail out banks, we should get something for it.

Oh, one more thing, do you propose we let the banks crash and burn? If so do you recognize the ripple effect that would have on the economy - that is precisely the kind of over-correction that caused the great depression and the entire rational for the fed's existence. If you think the banks should be bailed out, why do they get a gift, yet Joe Sixpack still gets foreclosed on? So either you don't do bail outs and let the death spiral of foreclosures, insolvency, and bankruptcy drive us into a deep, deep depression, or you let the government cover peoples asses.

Re:raised more money than any [FCC] auction (1)

Grave (8234) | more than 6 years ago | (#22795698)

You can bet that my sympathy for those who were screwed over by the subprime lending industry is limited (though it's still there). However, the fact remains that those subprime lenders acted irresponsibly, and have created a massive credit crunch as a result. This has been amplified by the falling US dollar. Why has the dollar fallen? Largely because the US government has overspent its earnings, much like these folks who can no longer afford to pay their debts back. The US has historically run at a deficit, but rarely one so large and rarely one created so rapidly after previously having been at a surplus. Most Americans live their lives with a certain amount of debt, whether it be from student loans, car loans, or a mortgage, but that debt level has risen dramatically at the same time as the dollar has weakened, thus amplifying the problem.

So while the people who may have gotten into a stupid deal with their mortgages are victims of their own mistakes, they are also victims of incompetent government and immoral, excessively greedy banking institutions.

Re:raised more money than any [FCC] auction (1)

Hes Nikke (237581) | more than 6 years ago | (#22798542)

Unfortunately, those rich fucks that hold 'most' assets, keep those assets in non-dollar denominations, and off of US soil. Face it, the elites have sold us into slavery to the banks and are off playing on there artificial islands in Dubai.

I will be more curious... (3, Interesting)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794348)

...to see how many of the bid winners manage not to default on their bids and actually deliver a working product.

And regarding the C-Block (?) for shared public/private usage, I am not surprised. As competitive as the telecomms are in wanting to keep their networks just to themselves, who would want to spend billions developing a nationwide network that would have to give free access to public service? Sure, it would be a boon to firefighters and police, but the telecomms don't seem to worry about good or bad PR.

Re:I will be more curious... (1)

Apu (325126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796278)

The shared public/private access would not have been free access. Public safety would have paid for access, though the first "chunk" of access would be at below-commercial rates since public safety gave up some of its spectrum for this network to be built.

"The FCC paired the upper band D block (a single 10 MHz nationwide license) with 10MHz of public safety spectrum located next to the D block, and conditioned the D block license on an obligation to negotiate with public safety representatives towards the construction by the D block licensee of a nationwide public safety network. The idea was that a robust, dedicated public safety network would be built to the specifications of the public safety community, and in exchange the commercial licensee of the D Block would be permitted to use the public safety spectrum (in addition, of course, to the D Block spectrum) when it was not otherwise needed. Absent this private participation, funding for a shared public safety network was unavailable." -- http://www.publicknowledge.org/node/1370 [publicknowledge.org]

The sticking points were instead things such as "the network must be able to serve 99.3% of the U.S. population by 2019," "the need to be 99.9% reliable" and pre-emption over other users for public safety's 10 MHz of spectrum. See MRT Magazine [mrtmag.com] for more info about the proposal.

A better solution (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794364)

Give each state government the ability to divide up this block among at least two wireless Internet providers. The catch is that they must be able to mimick with wireless internet service, at a minimum the service coverage, in that state, of the cell phone network.

Doing that would automatically add two major competitors to the broadband market for most states, and it would make this band of spectrum more useful to the public.

But then again, the FCC was not created to serve the public, now was it? It was designed to allow "good corporate stewardship" of national wireless resources.

Re:A better solution (4, Informative)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794398)

This plan would be unprofitable in most of the states, the ones with the least populations. With those states (ie, the Dakotas), there aren't enough people to justify the cost. With a nationwide network, that cost is absorbed by the profits in the 10 major population states.

Re:A better solution (2, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794772)

With those states (ie, the Dakotas), there aren't enough people to justify the cost. With a nationwide network, that cost is absorbed by the profits in the 10 major population states.

What incentive would a nationwide private owner of a spectrum have to provide service to the Dakotan's when they can focus on the East and West Coasts? This is what happens to many rural communities when you have major companies like Verizon or Comcast with land line service so the same thing would most likley apply to wireless.

Unless you dictate that the owner of this spectrum must provide service to all 50 states (including Alaska) then its not going to happen because its just not profitable.

In all reality, if South or North Dakota had control over their own wireless then a smaller then you could see municipality ISPs for those far off places or at least small start up companies would take the risk in providing wireless broad band to sparsely populated areas.

Re:A better solution (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794934)

Uh, yeah - state regulation of communication assets has worked SO WELL in the past. Like giving us local monopolies on cable. And refusing/extorting permits for sell towers (until the Feds stopped that).

Misspelling (1, Interesting)

EXTER (1223922) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794400)

The summary misspelled "Puerto Rico".

Re:Misspelling (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22794442)

Like anyone really gives a fuck.
Not even the Puerto Ricans care, and who the hell listens to them anyway.

Re:Misspelling (2, Funny)

joaommp (685612) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794484)

you must be new here.

Re:Misspelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22794502)

Actually, the summary directly quotes the article, which mispelled Puerto Rico.

The shutdown of future learning (3, Interesting)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794418)

With the erasure of the analog spectrum, a whole range of learned skills will be forgotten, a whole range of home projects will vanish. Once the television spectrum is done, then comes Radio. As a kid, I made my own home AM radios, an incredibly useful tool for the budding EE's in the world. the loss of such profound examples will cut off the joy of home electronic projects to another generation.

Re:The shutdown of future learning (5, Funny)

Trigun (685027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794472)

Microwave ovens are more fun, and they operate in the public spectrum.

Re:The shutdown of future learning (2, Insightful)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794598)

Maybe. But the joy of pottery is still around, even though people haven't made their own crockery in Western societies for centuries.

Re:The shutdown of future learning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22794710)

True... However you're not going to get C&D letters and/or sued for making an ashtray in your basement either...

Re:The shutdown of future learning (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 6 years ago | (#22795116)

Umm... what's your point? You'll get a C&D *today* for running an unlicensed FM tranceiver. Digital or analog, it doesn't really matter.

Meanwhile, the unlicensed bands are still unlicensed, and they're still analog. So hack away.

Re:The shutdown of future learning (2, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796148)

No you won't. Unless you go over the transmit power allowance for unlicensed FM broadcast ("The field strength of any emissions within the permitted 200 kHz band shall not exceed 250 microvolts/meter at 3 meters" [FCC 15.239] [hallikainen.org] ). Not sure of the AM limit but the chance of you building a homebuilt station with enough power to drown out an AM station is pretty small unless someone is listening to a tropo bounce station from out of market.

Re:The shutdown of future learning (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 6 years ago | (#22799230)

And that will still be the case after any digital switchover. IOW, the status quo will remain the status quo for any amateurs out there. So, what's your point, again?

Re:The shutdown of future learning (1)

Thundersnatch (671481) | more than 6 years ago | (#22795146)

True... However you're not going to get C&D letters and/or sued for making an ashtray in your basement either...

You just might [nytimes.com] if Hillary gets elected!

Re:The shutdown of future learning (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794736)

As a kid, I made my own home AM radios, an incredibly useful tool for the budding EE's in the world. the loss of such profound examples will cut off the joy of home electronic projects to another generation.
This just means the opportunity for learning has tripled!

Now kids can learn how to make an AM radio,
followed by an AM transmitter,
followed by 'daddy why are you making me do this?' ;}

Kidding aside, I too remember building similar things, AM radios powered from the airwaves, followed by better amped receivers, moving on to FM and learning how stereo sound is sent.

While it is sad such projects will eventually be no more, and the new technologies that are replacing them are either locked up in corporate patents, or simply too complex for a simple project, the art will live on, most likely with the HAM community, and the old school tinkerers still.

Re:The shutdown of future learning (5, Insightful)

Marvin01 (909379) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794884)

Since I can buy a microcontroller for $4US that has better specs than my original desktop computer, I hardly think that home electronic projects will go away any time soon, or indeed at all. They just might be different, just like everything else related to technology.

Re:The shutdown of future learning (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#22795018)

The loss of such profound examples will cut off the joy of home electronic projects to another generation.
The future generation will have other things to work with. Budding EEs play with microcontrollers that interpret BASIC, tap logic signals inside their toys, hack up keyboards to attach arcade joysticks and buttons, etc. They'll also take a liking to loitering on your lawn.

Re:The shutdown of future learning (4, Informative)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 6 years ago | (#22795064)

Patently false. Even as Amateur Radio charges into the digital radio future, it will almost certainly still have analog transmission modes. We are allowed (and encouraged) to make our own equipment and to provide emergency communications and advance the radio art [arrl.org] , which are part of our justification for existence. Since digital modes will take a long time to become de rigueur around the world, AM, FM, and SSB will be around for a long time.


There are still tons of operators that run full double sideband, full carrier AM - although their signals are not the most spectrum-efficient on the air, their audio is usually great-sounding.

Re:The shutdown of future learning (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 6 years ago | (#22795384)

Analog skills are still alive and well and as important as ever. Behind every "digital" transmission system is an Analog Front End. Instead of building transistor radios in college electronics labs, we build frequency hopped radios and the like. As for home projects...they're still out there. Radios aren't as interesting, but other things have taken their place.

Re:The shutdown of future learning (2, Informative)

HungSoLow (809760) | more than 6 years ago | (#22795632)

I call BS. (I'm an EE doing my doctorate) Your argument is the same one people in the 50s made when transistors began replacing tubes. I'm sure similar paranoia occurred when combustion replaced steam, light bulbs replaced candles (ha!). It doesn't kill the hobbyist, it creates different ones. I was lucky enough to be on the tail end of analog and the budding beginnings of home brew digital (with uC's). Purely digital folks are not somehow disadvantaged... it's just a different take of engineering and hobbies. There's no harm with "out with the old, in the new" in this case, because the new is just as exciting and open to hobby projects as the old. In fact, one might say there are less cases of lead poisoning with the advent of uC's (haha). Furthermore, one can do a hell of a lot more with a 200-300 dollar FPGA kit than anything an analog hobbyist could dream of. Besides, these kits have D/A's on them anyway, and it's nothing to add a mixer.

Re:The shutdown of future learning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22795658)

While the old fasioned way of using the analog spectrum may become an antique of the past, with new technologies being actively developed for the spectrum to transfer it into a medium for digital transmissions, there will be people who will expand on that using some of the ancient techniques to hack the spectrum. Since it would be uncommon for people initially to do things in these spectrums once the dust has settled, a less strict hold on the ranges will exist, allowing for hacks to be done with less fear.

Standard new technology meets old technology stuff.

Re:The shutdown of future learning (1)

vonhammer (992352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22795672)

No need to panic. Many HAM radio operators build their own. Check out the excellent ARRL handbook.

Re:The shutdown of future learning (1)

flynn23 (593401) | more than 6 years ago | (#22795802)

Yes, just like the transition from tube to solid state ruined a whole generation of EE's.

$19.5 billion Pffft (3, Interesting)

NobleSavage (582615) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794444)

$19.5 billion, Sounds like such a small number these days... What is that, a few weeks in Iraq? Or, 1/10 the amount it cost to bail out Bear Sterns?

Re:$19.5 billion Pffft (2, Interesting)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794536)

Or, 1/10 the amount it cost to bail out Bear Sterns?


The government (i.e. the taxpayers) put up $30 billion to bail out Bear Stearns and allow JP Morgan to start buying them out. The $19.5 billion is then 2/3 of the price of the bail out.

Granted, moral hazard has all but been abandoned by the supposed experts at the Fed but hey, it's not their money they're using. Besides, couldn't let their buddies have to suffer the slings and arrows of the free market, now could we?

Re:$19.5 billion Pffft (1)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794958)

All the economists I've heard talk about it (about 4 different ones between All Things Considered [npr.org] and Marketplace [marketplace.org] ) have said that the risk to the market of a failing major investment bank is worse than the risk of moral hazard, in this case. And you can't say that the owners of Bear Stearns haven't suffered. The stock went from $95 to $2.

I do agree with you that, generally speaking, bail-outs suck.

-l

Re:$19.5 billion Pffft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22795522)

And you can't say that the owners of Bear Stearns haven't suffered. The stock went from $95 to $2.

Yeah, and I heard that those running it will have decided to skip getting bonuses this year. Big whoop.

Hypocrisy (2, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 6 years ago | (#22795756)

I've heard a lot of economists and "experts" (and the IMF - who are neither ;) ) say a very different thing during the Asian financial crisis in 1997. Especially the western ones.

They were saying "no bailouts".

I figure they wanted stuff to go bust so they could buy it all up cheap and thus gain more power and wealth.

Hypocracy - the rule or power through hypocrisy.

Re:$19.5 billion Pffft (2, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796878)

have said that the risk to the market of a failing major investment bank is worse than the risk of moral hazard, in this case.


Yes, I too have heard the same tripe sounded about why Bear Stearns could not fail and why they had to be bailed out (even if they are being bought out). The problem is, as we have now seen, someone would have stepped in to buy them and their assets anyway, so the government shoveling more money down the drain wouldn't have mattered.

Yes, there would have been some consternation in the markets as the apoplectic seizures hit the street but that is what the free market is all about. Bear Stearns, and others, thought it was great when they were leveraging their holdings ten, twenty or even thirty times over. It was all parties and bonuses so long as their excessive risk paid off.

However, when the dangers of their risk became real, rather than do the right thing and unwind their positions, even at a loss, they held onto their leveraged positions, hoping upon hope that the next trade would work out (sound familiar?).

Bear tried to beat the market and ignored sound investment principles. They played with fire and they got burned. That's life. It does not matter that those who have/had their investments with Bear have money to burn (compared to the rest of us); this is not a schadenfreude moment. This is about not gaming system for the benefit of a few.

Sure, those who hold Bears stock got hammered, but so have millions of others who held stock in now defunct companies. Where are the tears for them? How about the employees of Enron who lost, in some cases, their entire retirement savings when Lay and others manipulated markets and cooked the books. Don't they deserve to be bailed out?

Either we are going to let the markets operate as they should, which means accepting wild gyrations up AND down, and only have intervention as an absolute last resort, or we abandon free market principles entirely and admit that the government will manipulate market conditions as best it can to promote upward swings while lessening or preventing downward falls. This notion that somehow there needs to be an orderly market is a fallacy. Markets, true markets, are not orderly. They are run on fact and rumor. The irrational investor and all that.

I couldn't believe it when I heard it, but of all the hacks out there pontificating on this bail out, Larry Kudlow actually said on live tv that the bail out of Bear Stearns was not right. Of course he then went on to say how the Fed needs to do more, but that's another subject. He also said that as of late, the Fed has injected $850 million into the markets, trying to make adjustments. Nearly a trillion taxpayer dollars, in the form of future debt payments, have been poured into the markets to prop up those who took on too much risk and as a direct result, any attempt at saving by the average American has been crushed.

In short, the Fed is doing everything in its power to see to it that saving is not an option. After all, if you're not earning enough interest on your accounts to beat inflation, why save it? Just spend, spend, spend. Forget about debt, it doesn't matter. Buy those Chinese made goods. Don't save for a rainy day. Exactly the same mindset that got us into this mess.

The markets need to do what the markets will do. This nanny-state interfering is only serving to prolong this recession and making things worse.

Re:$19.5 billion Pffft (1)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 6 years ago | (#22797374)

Banks can do whatever they want. If they wanted savers, they could easily offer better interest rates, despite the Fed rates. However, that comes out of their pocket book (read: profits) and so they don't.

My credit union has 6.01 APY checking right now. We take advantage of that. Why don't the other banks offer a similar service? Because they make so much more money from piles of consumer debt.

I do want the "government [to] manipulate market conditions as best it can to promote upward swings while lessening or preventing downward falls", because I don't want to return to the boom/bust cycles of the first 150 years of this country. Frankly, I think monetary policy has done fairly well, even in the crappy times (stagflation).

As far as Bear Stearns, I am not an expert and I have to rely on officials to make those sorts of decisions. I can only imagine that the number of people affected by the loss would be far greater than Enron, which is why they decided to do it. Frankly, I don't have a direct line to Bernanke, but if you do, feel free to email me. :)

Cheers,
-l

Re:$19.5 billion Pffft (1)

giafly (926567) | more than 6 years ago | (#22799322)

Unless you think $2.45 a share [guardian.co.uk] counts as a bail-out.

The all-stock offer from JP Morgan values Bear Stearns at about $280 million, compared to its valuation of $7.7 billion a week ago - Reuters [reuters.com]
The bail-out is to protect other banks who did business with Bear Stearns, possibly including the bank where you have your main account.

Hey Dudes, Slashdot lost my subject. (1)

giafly (926567) | more than 6 years ago | (#22799368)

Hey Dudes, Slashdot lost my subject.
It was: Bear Stearns shareholders did not get "Bailed Out"
And ahen I used "preview" it got removed.

Re:$19.5 billion Pffft (2, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22795130)

While I won't say that the Fed and the SEC have handled this whole situation well, I don't see this particular situation as having ANY good outcome. A run had actually started on Bear Stearns, and it was going to collapse totally within a couple of days. So their creditors would need to write off those debts. And since those debts are often held as collateral by other organizations, that puts them at risk too.

And before going all populist with the "Good - serves them right" bit, remember that as it spreads, it starts affecting institutions closer to home - pension funds, mutual funds (got a 401k?), local depositor banks, etc. And the Federal Gov't has a legal obligation to bail some of them out.

It's all ugly, but gone are the days of the proletariat vs. the capitalists - if you have a 401k, own any stock, have deposits in a bank, have a pension, you ARE a capitalist.

Re:$19.5 billion Pffft (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796360)

JP Morgan says they only intend to tap about $20B of the $30B limit, the discrepancy is just in case something is wrong with the current books.

Re:$19.5 billion Pffft (1)

andphi (899406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794590)

19.5 billion is about a week and a half in Iraq, using the $12billion a week figure I've heard bandied, or using generous estimates, a WGA strike lasting a year and a half (with a loss figure of $2.1billion over nine weeks extrapolating out to about 19.5 billion over the course of ~80 weeks).

Re:$19.5 billion Pffft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22795296)

Uh... more like roughly Bear Sterns market value last year.

Re:$19.5 billion Pffft (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796190)

$19.5 billion, Sounds like such a small number these days... What is that, a few weeks in Iraq? Or, 1/10 the amount it cost to bail out Bear Sterns?
It's a bit more than a half a day's GDP for the U.S., which if you assume 250 business days a year and an 8-hour work day, is just under 3 hours.

Bear Stearns != bail-out (1)

Steve Hamlin (29353) | more than 6 years ago | (#22797544)


BEAR STEARNS IS NOT A BAILOUT. That is, the Government isn't handing $30 billion to either Bear Stearns or JP Morgan. This effort has not cost taxpayers anything so far.

The $30 billion involved in the JP Morgan buy-out of Bear Stearns is NOT a bail-out - it is a non-resource loan (think: loan guarantee) provided by the Federal Reserve system to JP Morgan, in order to induce JP Morgan to take over Bear Stearns, by limiting the downside risks to the Bear Stearns assets that JPM is buying. The Federal Reserve is loaning $30 billion in non-recourse debt against certain Bear Stearns assets, so that if the underlying debtor-counterparty (i.e. homeowner with mortgage) doesn't pay, then the Fed will be left holding that shortfall. This makes it less risky for JP Morgan to buy Bear Stearns.

Now, loan guarantees and non-recourse debt happen everyday in the normal course of business between private parties, and they are not free. It is insurance, and it costs money. The guarantor is accepting risk. So, one could say that there has been SOME bailout, in that there is value to the Federal Reserve's loan to JP Morgan, and I've seen nothing that indicates what JP Morgan actually PAID for that loan in addition to pledging collateral. There might very well have been amounts paid to the Fed in exchange for the loan. Scenario: JPM/BS pledged $40 billion of assets in exchange for a $30 billion loan, and paid for it in the structuring.

Bear Stearns' shareholders have lost about $100 billion in nominal enterprise value over the last year or so, so there isn't a bailout of those investors.

Another relevant point: the Federal Reserve system [wikipedia.org] is not a true U.S. governmental entity, so I'm not sure whether the $30 billion would be a true bailout in any event.

Summary: JP Morgan bought Bear Stearns in a private takeover, and the Federal Reserve system guaranteed the performance of $30 billion in notional debt. This will actually only cost the Federal Reserve the amount that mortgagors (homeowners) don't pay on their mortgage, less recoveries thru foreclosure and similar. Actual cost, if any, will be much smaller - 5-10% (?) of the $30bn.

Re:$19.5 billion Pffft (1)

CynicalTyler (986549) | more than 6 years ago | (#22799060)

You forget they're selling a resource they paid nothing to create. That's $19.5 billion pure profit*!!!

(* Calculation of profit does not include costs of discovering, monitoring, administrating, or policing the electromagnetic spectrum.)

Go America! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22794494)

Clever. The upside of auctioning bandwidth is that the FCC increased the GDP by 19 billion dollars without producing anything! Such entrepreneurship, eh?

Reminds me of a funny story (1, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794510)

Guy is deep in debt. His kids have had to leave their private school. His furniture has been reposed. The sheriff has put up a foreclosure notice on his front door. He comes home smiling. His wife asks him why he's smiling.

"Because I just won $50 on a lottery ticket!"

Re:Reminds me of a funny story (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794812)

Whoever modded this off-topic isn't much of a thinker.

Public pay in the end (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22794550)

> "raised more money than any [FCC] auction has ever raised"

Great, but in the end, the buyer dumps the cost onto the public, who end up paying for it.

Re:Public pay in the end (1)

Fastolfe (1470) | more than 6 years ago | (#22799620)

But since the original value of the spectrum was passed to the public's government, the money they'll pay is already back in the public's hands, and they should work with their representatives to have it spent appropriately or returned directly to the public. The auction isn't about "selling" anything, it's about effectively allocating resources. The money is yours.

so... (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794552)

when do they tell us that verizon now owns it?

Re:so... (1)

*weasel (174362) | more than 6 years ago | (#22795022)

As soon as they beg one of the C Block also-rans (google) into taking the D Block - so they can pretend that counts as competition to Verizon and AT&T.

oblig. (4, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794666)

Instead of rights to electromagnetic spectrum, box contained bobcat. Would not buy again. [xkcd.com]

Cheap (1)

YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794780)

I just looked up the figures from a few years (I think it was 2000) past when UMTS (Mobile Broadband, forget what it's called in the states) frequencies where on auctioned here in Northern Europe:

Germany netted a total of 111 billion euros.

Great Brittain 85 billion.

The Netherlands 5.9 billion.

Re:Cheap (1)

vally_manea (911530) | more than 6 years ago | (#22795114)

More like 100 billion DM [psu.edu] . I don't really remember the exchange rates but I think it's about 50 billion EUR.

Re:Cheap (1)

Iloinen Lohikrme (880747) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796632)

Quate from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] : "In Europe, the license process occurred at the end of the technology bubble, and the auction mechanisms for allocation set up in some countries resulted in some extremely high prices being paid, notable in the UK and Germany. In Germany, bidders paid a total 50.8 billion euros for six licenses, two of which were subsequently abandoned and written off by their purchasers (Mobilcom and the Sonera/Telefonica consortium)."

When compared to Europe and the auctions held in Germany and UK, it seems quit strange that an auction of 700 MHz band in US only netted 20 billion dollars.

Re:Cheap (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#22797882)

It shouldn't be strange considering that the European mobile carriers realized quite quickly that there was no way to monetize the spectrum sufficiently to pay off the huge fees paid for the auction.

Private ownership of the spectrum (0, Flamebait)

darjen (879890) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794786)

"Having received bids totaling $19.5 billion over 260 rounds of bidding, the FCC has announced the closing of Auction 73. The Chairman's statement notes that the auction has "raised more money than any [FCC] auction has ever raised"

While I'm glad the spectrum will be going back into private hands, I'm sad that the FCC is gaining so much revenue from something they never should have owned in the first place. Leave it to government agencies to take what's not theirs and sell it back to the public for profit. They will surely use this money to expand the reach of their draconian censorship rules.

Here's hoping that private companies will be able to use better use of the spectrum than what we've previously seen.

Re:Private ownership of the spectrum (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796328)

I'm sad that the FCC is gaining so much revenue from something they never should have owned in the first place.
I may be mistaken, but isn't this kind of management of the spectrum exactly what the FCC was created for?

Re:Private ownership of the spectrum (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22798562)

The TV channels 52 to 83 were ALREADY in private hands (assigned to local television stations) for the least fifty years.

The actual ownership of that EM spectrum is by "the people" (us).

The FCC administers how it is used.
The FCC decided to remove 52-83 from local stations,
and reassign it to a new market (highest bidder).

All that means... (2, Insightful)

Sigmon (323109) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794838)

...is that the Federal Government just instituted another tax (a $19 Billion tax) - that I must pay - in order to use the supposed 'public' airways. Used for some telecomm service - there'll be an additional tax on top of that. ....And we wonder why our wireless phone bills are so high.

Old Equipment (1)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 6 years ago | (#22794932)

gonna be a ton of old broadcast equipment laying around. Anyone find a use?

Thats alot of money (1)

PieceofLavalamp (1244192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22795308)

What's going to happen to it all? My votes on disappearing into various executive pockets

Who's really paying for this? (2, Insightful)

lutz7755 (1046792) | more than 6 years ago | (#22795370)


Am I the only one that has a fundamental problem with the fact that the FCC is even allowed to do this? Admittedly, I don't understand the ins and outs of the entire spectrum business, but how does a federal agency have the right to charge anyone anything for use of the airwaves? The cost of this is going to go right back to the users of the spectrum, not the company. And what does the FCC do with the 19 Billion dollars they raised?

I have a hard time believing that US citizens come out better for this, in any way shape or form. And isn't that what the government is supposed to be all about? Provide a service to the people?

Re:Who's really paying for this? (5, Insightful)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22795956)

The first premise, if you accept it, is that some mechanism must exist to allocate ownership rights over different parts of the spectrum covering different locations, because otherwise a tragedy of the commons occurs, where having greater than one users of a frequency results in uselessness of the frequency through "pollution."

Having established that ownership rights need to be allocated, the question becomes how to allocate them. Economically, the most sensible solution is an auction of this type, for the reason that the auction winners will be the enterprises who are able to pay the most, under the principle that the reason they are able to pay the most because their goods and/or services provide or are likely to provide the greatest value to the market, and ultimately, society. Thus, you end up with the most economically efficient allocation of the spectrum.

Other alternatives for allocation also have problems. A lottery could easily result in relatively useless owners possessing the rights while those with a product much more highly valued by the public are denied. A political determination would result in the usual pork-barelling and outright corruption.

Why does the government SELL spectrum? (1)

ZipK (1051658) | more than 6 years ago | (#22799584)

Why does the government sell the spectrum, rather than lease it? Why aren't these frequencies an annuity for the public, rather than a profitable secondary market for private interests? I feel ripped off, no matter what the sale price.

Puerto Rico (1)

krod4 (516423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22799780)

Why is the USA auctioning away frequencies in Puerto Rico? Do they not own these themselves?
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