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FCC to Investigate D-Block Auction

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the messing-with-the-system dept.

Government 54

eweekhickins writes "Feds and public interest groups are taking seriously accusations that someone tampered with the wireless spectrum auction process. The block of spectrum that was supposed to go to emergency responders failed to get close to the reserve price, raising suspicions that someone was trying to make money off the Sept. 11 national tragedy. But that would never happen, right?" This is a follow up to last week's allegations.

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Same old fraud (1)

anthrax (23655) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844058)

I have not been happy with almost anything this group has done in the past 7 years. This just has the same slimy feel that so many other activities of the FCC. At this point I would be surprised to find out that some was manipulated to favor someone particular group. The surprise would be that the people who did manipulate the situation did not do a better job of destroying the evidence. However the stench of corruption will still linger.

Re:Same old fraud (4, Insightful)

MikeyTheK (873329) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844328)

Then again, maybe it's because the market isn't as large as was hoped. My agency, while constantly evaluating options for radio frequency moves, is not THAT interested in moving. It's really expensive. When you think about base stations, antennas, transmitters, new radios for every piece of apparatus, and radios for every firefighter, medic, EMT, etc., you start talking about a huge chunk of change for each department. Then there are repeaters, trunk gear, etc. In order for a single department to be able to move, they need lots of neighboring departments to move as well, or they're only going to be able to talk to their mutual aid agencies via one channel on a mobile repeater, which sucks. We have that problem now, with neighboring jurisdictions in vastly different tracks of spectrum. Luckily we have some radios in their swath, because the poor blokes who are stuck hitting the repeater are frequently fighting to get a message through. That is not a good situation to have during a Mayday. So the way that this gets done is ten, fifteen, or twenty departments (an entire County, in many cases) will have to all buy new gear at once, retrofit all the towers, apparatus, stations, etc. Since none of the departments can afford to do that anyway, a big fat grant proposal has to be put together, and the funding come from government. For what? I'm not saying that you can't come up with a case justifying such investment, but given that emergency responders are able to effectively answer calls and talk to their comm center now, it's not as easy an argument to make. If you're in an urban setting it makes more sense, because your LOS to a tower is frequently impeded. However, most of the country isn't urban.

Re:Same old fraud (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22846308)

I thought the point of the D-Block was to get the emergency responders out of the communication infrastructure business. They would buy basically cell phones (and stuff like cell phones repackages to work like walkie-talkies), and use them instead of their regular radios. In the event of an emergency, they would get first access to the cell network. This would also foster interoperability because you wouldn't have waveform/frequency mismatches between departments.

That said, it's a pretty scary requirement, which is one reason the FCC attached it to the otherwise highly desirable D block (one stop shopping for a "nationwide network"). I don't know how it was supposed to work, but at some level you have to have a "red line" in your NOC that can be called by emergency responders to tell you to start throttling call from regular joes (your customers!) who are probably trying to figure out if a loved one is safe in whatever disaster has just happened.

QoS priority? (1)

adb (31105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22851976)

Is there any reason it has to be a network-level mode switch rather than just issuing emergency responders "cell phones" that get a higher priority all the time?

Re:Same old fraud (4, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#22846820)

But it's really not that expensive. It only seems expensive to you. Enough money has been spent to equip everybody with anything they could possibly need; the reason that nothing much got done is because the money was spent in crisis mode, so nobody was looking much at substance, so much as volume of money spent and paperwork filled in.

I've worked in companies working around the edges of various issues that have become "national emergencies". There's always people doing yeoman work in those areas who could work miracles with a marginal increase in funding. But they never get a marginal increase in funding.

What happens is that once the politicians decide there is an emergency, there is a deluge of cash. Often, the people who've been doing the work all along never see this as people closer to the budgeting process divert the money into crash programs run by people who have no knowledge or interest in what as actually bee done. Other times, they end up with vast quantities of cash that they have to spend right away; the emergency becomes spending all the money before anybody accuses you of dragging your feet. I've seen cases where agencies have literally paid millions of dollars to have a web site with a email backed fill in form that could have been done (by several competent and independent evaluations) for around $50K. The reason was that they never had anything like two million dollars in the kitty before, and had no idea of how to spend it. If they had had a $100K windfall, they could have spent it very well indeed, but they didn't even know where to begin to spend the money they'd been given; certainly not fast enough.

So they turned to a company that specialized in absorbing lots of cash on federal contracts quickly.

I'll let you in on a dirty little secret about government contracting. All those rules that supposedly keep Uncle Sam from being fleeced actually make it easier for somebody with political connections to take him to the cleaner. The reason is that the only way to absorb the money generated by the federal government in a "national emergency", and comply with all the accounting rules, is to have a company or a subsidiary that specializes in absorbing federal money and filling out all the paperwork. The government doesn't buy what it needs in an emergency on the open market, but by outfits starting with Halliburton and all the way down to small time operations that eat up a few millions here and there.

I was amazed and appalled the degree to which you could hire a lobbyist and make a quick buck on a shoeshine and a shell product, provided you were dealing with something "important".

Re:Same old fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22845112)

It's been a LOT longer than 7 years. 'FCC to Investigate' is waste of taxpayer money. The FCC needs professionals who have the people of the US in mind - you know.. the same group who OWN the airways.

4000 Dead in Iraq (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22844070)

4000 Americans have now been killed in yet another war fought on false pretenses.

It turns out that Muslims will never allow an outside occupation force, especially the US, on their land.

Who knew? I did.

So basically.... (5, Insightful)

kaiser423 (828989) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844098)

They didn't come anywhere close to meeting the 1.3 billion reserve. They fell something like 900 million short. They're not sure why, but they think it might be related to this company that was spreading FUD about charging an extra 50 million on top. Somehow I don't think it's that company.

The FCC had put in some pretty strong wording about building in first responder capability. It was more than what was typically done in the past, but it didn't seem totally outrageous. I think the problem is that a lot of the wireless carriers are moving towards commodization, and thus low margins. 90% of the population in the US can get good cell service from multiple providers. With low margins, why would you take on a huge risk that could be a brick around your neck? Better to spend the little bit extra and get a chunk of spectrum whose only restrictions were pretty much that you had to use it? I think it's that that piece of the spectrum just isn't worth the hassle if you have to build in tons of first responder equipment also.

It's just worth only 50% of what they thought it was. Oops, they messed up. But since they messed up big, they have to start an investigation.

Re:So basically.... (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844160)

I think you have nailed it exactly. First responder network requirements are an absolute brick around the neck. Generator backup for every site for 8 hours is an expensive brick, 24 hours for major sites. There are probably calea requirements also that go beyond normal 'here is the subpoena, not give me the records' kind of thing.

The requirements on existing networks to support the government(s) during emergency are nearly enough to put you out of business if you have low margins. Imagine how many lights you'd put in your house if you had to supply each with 8 hour battery backup and one outlet in every room with 24 hour battery backup plus data recorders for who used the lights and when.

Yep, you'd be asking yourself why you want to spend 1.3 Billion Dollars for the privilege of building a network that is 3-10 times more expensive than regular networks. It probably also has to be tied into the latest NSA data dragnet system as well.

Notoriously, emergency services teams/groups don't really have the funds to pay you extra money for that huge network you built. They like to get things cheaply too, saving your taxpayer dollars and such.

That's not quite it. Regulatory uncertainty. (5, Insightful)

Kuma-chang (1035190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844310)

I think you have nailed it exactly. First responder network requirements are an absolute brick around the neck. Generator backup for every site for 8 hours is an expensive brick, 24 hours for major sites. There are probably calea requirements also that go beyond normal 'here is the subpoena, not give me the records' kind of thing.

You're confusing some things here. The backup power requirement applies to ANY telecom site. Wireless or wireline, any block, any sort of CMRS. They're all subject to the same backup power requirement (at least until the D.C. Circuit rules on the appeal of that requirement). And the D-block requirements have nothing to do with CALEA. CALEA will apply exactly the same to the D-block as to the other blocks in the 700 MHz auction. What made the D-block different is that whichever commercial carrier won the spectrum rights was to work out some arrangement where, in addition to building a commercial network on that spectrum, they would also build capacity for use by public safety agencies.

What killed the D-block was uncertainty. The FCC put out vague, put potentially onerous, obligations on the D-block. The auction winner's ability to exploit the spectrum was to be dependent on their ability to negotiate out some deal with a big mess of first responder organizations. At the time the FCC didn't seem terribly worried about this because they set everything up along the lines of a plan proposed by Frontline Wireless (a plan that first responders seemed favorably disposed towards), with Frontline's assurances that they would bid past the reserve price and ensure the block was sold. Then Frontline failed to secure the necessary capital to bid for the D-block and had to drop out. Everyone else just looked at the requirement of having to cut some sort of deal with the first responder organizations (who would all be fighting each other for bigger slices of the pie) before exploiting the spectrum and thought, you've got to be kidding me. No fucking way.

Re:So basically.... (4, Insightful)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844338)

You do realize that POTS has meet all those requirements for 30+ years. They have huge battery backups at the CO so you don't lose phones when the power goes out... they call it CUSTOMER SERVICE, but it's also the rules. They also have rather nasty FBI requirements as well.. Both of which are a good deal easier to implement for a brand new all digital Cell based system that doesn't have to deal with hundreds of miles of copper wire across the country being cut by vandals and trees.

Those "new" rules will make cell phones almost as reliable as POTS, give or take a few nines.

Re:So basically.... (0, Flamebait)

davolfman (1245316) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844906)

You also realize that POTS providers are complete and utter monopolistic jackasses. Perhaps this explains why.

Re:So basically.... (1)

davolfman (1245316) | more than 6 years ago | (#22878432)

To put my point a little more verbose and a little less snarky: POTS providers tend to be very much opposed to change and competition precisely because of the state of regulation in which they operate. There is so much legislation that they have to comply with that allowing someone to change the rules of the game risks unexpected side effects that put them out of business. For example if they have new competition who through loopholes of legal definitions doesn't have to provide all the extras they are required to like 5 nines of uptime, E911 support, and subsidization of lower-income customers then they end up at an unfair competitive disadvantage simply because they have been around longer to attract legislators attention. Untested legislative restrictions are a potential noose around the head of a business, so it's no wonder they avoid it wherever possible.

Re:So basically.... (2, Informative)

asuffield (111848) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844352)

Yep, you'd be asking yourself why you want to spend 1.3 Billion Dollars for the privilege of building a network that is 3-10 times more expensive than regular networks. It probably also has to be tied into the latest NSA data dragnet system as well.


I believe the expectation was that bidders would be putting together a package where the extra hardware was paid for by government grants, arranged separately. Most US communications infrastructure was paid for that way (the "investment" of the private companies tends to be investment in marketing and executives, not in the actual wires). Since the up-front licensing cost is lower, that means this block is attractive to smaller companies who are better at running things and willing to accept a lower profit margin, while the gorillas grab up the rest of the blocks and prevent any smaller companies from getting a place at the table.

Unfortunately it didn't work out - but the principle is sound (although the price tag may not be).

Re:So basically.... (5, Interesting)

sricetx (806767) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844648)

Umm, maybe the government should just build a dedicated emergency services network themselves. Seems like it would be better to have this done in the public sector.

Re:So basically.... (1)

Monchanger (637670) | more than 6 years ago | (#22855682)

Your argument suggests* that government build and maintain a complete wireless network for the uncommon event of emergency**. That and the government is trying to get emergency cash (these spectrum sales provide a one-time cash flow) in the face of a terrible deficit.

It also ignores how U.S. government works. We like our public officials to be technical nitwits who need a contractor to screw in a light bulb. This makes it easier for us to build companies that overcharge the Feds for shoddy work. Have you missed our favorite stories about the brilliant things done by employees of the US Patent Office?

But seriously- the only cost-effective way of building this "E911" network is to add requirements to an existing or commercially-built network. Not only that, but if government was to build a network it would not be online before 2012. These new commercial spectrum holders will likely go online the day they become available.

* (assuming "interesting" didn't miss what would be an interesting exercise in sarcasm)
** 911 calls are not of poor enough quality today to justify the cost of starting from scratch. Even if police and fire departments used this network for their normal communications (replacing landlines) any technology deployed today would be overkill for that purpose and the system would still not be in use enough of the time to excuse ongoing operating costs.

Re:So basically.... (3, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844268)

Not to mention that you would be taking a huge PR and liability risk. If one of your first responder systems failed in a major disaster or incident, you can imagine the fallout in lawsuits and bad press.

Re:So basically.... (3, Insightful)

asuffield (111848) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844292)

They didn't come anywhere close to meeting the 1.3 billion reserve. They fell something like 900 million short. They're not sure why, but they think it might be related to this company that was spreading FUD about charging an extra 50 million on top. Somehow I don't think it's that company.


That's not the point. The allegation is that this company tried to tack on 50 million that would go to them, and that by doing so they rocked the boat enough that people pulled out rather than bid on the block. That's fraud. It doesn't matter whether the potential bids would have been high enough - that just means it was stupid fraud, which is just as illegal.

Re:So basically.... (1)

blakbeard0 (1246212) | more than 6 years ago | (#22845334)

It seems to me, we shouldn't be terribly unhappy that no company dropped a bomb this time around. You can recall what happened when the 3g auctions went exceedingly well in Germany and the UK. [wikipedia.org] Someone tell the FCC to calm down and be glad they didnt lose 100,000 jobs this time around.

They should be ashamed of themselves (-1, Troll)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844114)

9/11 was a tragic day in our American history. It changed our (Americans') whole outlook on the world. You could say that it was our wakeup call to the world. To try to make money off of this is heinous.

That's why I tried to save as many souls as I could on that day. I put each one in individually labeled jars and am now offering them to you! I will soon have them on Ebay, so save your dollars so that you can share in the grief of the tragedy and the triumph of our overcoming of it with the commemorative 9/11 Spirit in a Jar! Collect all 2948!

Re:They should be ashamed of themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22844188)

I know you think you're being cute, but really done in bad taste.

Now to the real motivation behind my post...

FTSummary,
                                                                                  the
Feds and public interest groups are taking seriously ^ accusations that someone tampered

Re:They should be ashamed of themselves (1)

William Robinson (875390) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844246)

From TFA,

Now, accusations have been levied that a consulting firm hired to help the government hand over the spectrum may have acted improperly and discouraged potential bidders by suggesting that any winning bid would have to pay $50 million in annual fees, in addition to the auction price.

It is question of ethical practices whether it is related to 9/11 or not. And the question is if these charges are true, whether we could trust this consulting firm for any business.

Re:They should be ashamed of themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22844264)

Dude I have the other collection of souls I purchased from oklahoma.... yours and mine would make it complete!

Re:They should be ashamed of themselves (0, Troll)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844290)

I have the other collection of souls I purchased from oklahoma.

Thanks for the feedback! Glad to have another satisfied customer!

Begin long Conspiracy theory thread in 3,2,1 (1, Informative)

splatter (39844) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844134)

The biggest myth.... (0, Flamebait)

CdBee (742846) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844206)

.. is that 9/11 was some sort of national tragedy. You lost 2,974 people, which is about the average death toll for 2 months total gun-related crimes in the USA. Hell you probably lose more people than that in traffic accidents in a year.

9/11 was shocking and distinctly impolite of the terrorists but if you use death tolls to define tragedies, you have far bigger problems to deal with than Al-Qaeda

Re:The biggest myth.... (1)

josephtd (817237) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844280)

Not be OT or feed the troll, but it was in a single morning.

Re:The biggest myth.... (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844492)

Eh, the bush administration changed what was considered to be 'dangerously polluted' seeing how they know better than the scientists. In the 30seconds it took to sign that paper certainly more than 2500ppl were fated to die.

Re:The biggest myth.... (1)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844592)

In 2001, 42,196 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents in the US [wikipedia.org] . That works out to an average of ~115 per day or ~14 9/11's. Or, in short, more people die in a month *regularly* than were killed on 9/11.

Now, perhaps them all dying on one day does make it a tragedy. But, then, so was the Boston Masacre a tragedy. But, if one is going to obsess about such things, perhaps it'd be better to look at the root cause instead of focusing on the symptoms. I mean, after the Boston Masacre, did Boston hire security agents to monitor British troops? Or did such eventually (well, it took over five years) lead to a revolution (ie, an entirely new way of thinking about the problem) in an attempt to fix the symptom? Until the day in which 9/11 invokes something other than some gut-level short-term fix, it's hard to treat it any different than when local governments decide to put up more prominent stop signs when people keep dying in dangerous intersections--and there isn't a national concern about that.

Re:The biggest myth.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22845844)

9/11 did result in "an entirely new way of thinking about the problem": Hit terrorists first, and hit them hard. Stop waiting for them to act, have a little verbal waltz with them, and hope they are appeased.

Sure, there are ways in which this attitude is ripe for abuse (labeling "foo" as terrorist, attcking "foo" without recrimination), but those routes to possible abuses just need checks and balances.

Re:The biggest myth.... (1)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 6 years ago | (#22852676)

9/11 did result in "an entirely new way of thinking about the problem": Hit terrorists first, and hit them hard.

What part of the TAS, or its asinine policies, is about "[hitting] terrorists first"? What part of labelling all terrorists al Quaeda to stir up fear is "an entirely new way of thinking about the problem"? The only thing "new" is the rate at which overly broad and unprepared plans are enacted because they're focused on "[hitting terrorists] hard" without any consideration for either collateral damage or even if the people involved really *are* terrorists.

Now, unless all of the above is malicious attempts by the administration and/or Congress, I'd say the actions that keep being endorsed "because of 9/11" have little to do with thinking and a lot more to do with "something has to be done" where that "something" is never really thought about, since there is rarely a clear "something" to resolve problems like terrorism. Even if bin Laden was killed and al Quaeda was destroyed, what's to prevent another terrorist organization from springing up with similar goals, but in an entirely seperate part of the world? Going about, trying to use the US Army to try to crush every hotbed of "terrorist activity" is not "new" thinking. It's very old, military thinking.

Stop waiting for them to act, have a little verbal waltz with them, and hope they are appeased.

Last I checked, Bill Clinton (for better or worse) didn't go off and try to appease bin Laden. The policy of hunting down bin Laden, dead or alive, came about in '93, after the *first* WTC attack. And it involved the same sort of casual disregard for sovereignty in the name of hunting terrorists that Bush has displayed. A real revolution would be to establish a policy that is neither appeasement nor turning the US into the world police. Whether that translates into fewer terrorist attacks directly is questionable.

The US being the world police is a large part of the reason groups like bin Laden's are even interested in attacking the US. Of course, bin Laden would probably want to attack western countries anyways, as indirectly western values are eroding the foundation of the countries bin Laden has interest in. And there are times when someone needs to defend the more helpless countries from senseless aggression, and the US is often the best/most willing candidate for that position. In short, I know I don't have an answer to the problem. But, I do know that the current "solutions" aren't any sort of revolution in thinking at all.

Re:The biggest myth.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22844376)

In 2005, there were 10,100 murders committed using firearms. This would come out to less than 1700 murders in a two month span. Also, using car accidents is a bogus thing to do, since you go from comparing numbers of deliberate attacks to those of accidents. I would venture a guess that there are quite a few countries with more traffic deaths per year then the number of people who died on 9/11. The other defining factor that separate 9/11 from either of your two stats is that the deaths are all associated with related events.

Take another even in recent history, Hurricane Katrina. While having a lower death toll then 9/11 is it somehow not a tragedy? Honestly, I might argue it is a far greater one, considering the long-term impact the event had on the region. There are still areas in the Louisiana and Mississippi regions that have not fully recovered. You see, there is far more to a tragedy then just the death toll.

Re:The biggest myth.... (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 6 years ago | (#22846232)

All right, who was the idiot moderator that slapped parent with flamebait? It was interesting at least, and insightful at best.

Re:Begin long Conspiracy theory thread in 3,2,1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22844226)

That should to keep the paranoids and nutters silent for a least a min or two.
If only that were true. Look at the comments on the Youtube video and you'll see that people just don't want to believe anything. They even accuse them of finding only the crazies who know nothing of 9/11 conspiracies. I mean seriously, how many conspiracy theorists don't sound a bit crazy when they talk?

Re:Begin long Conspiracy theory thread in 3,2,1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22852222)

If only that were true. Look at the comments on the Youtube video and you'll see that people just don't want to believe anything. They even accuse them of finding only the crazies who know nothing of 9/11 conspiracies. I mean seriously, how many conspiracy theorists don't sound a bit crazy when they talk?

The thing that annoys me is that anyone who doesn't 100% buy into the "official story" of 9/11 seems to automatically get grouped with the loonies who believe that it was aliens or done personally by Dick Cheney or whatever. It seems to be a very effective way to silence any discussion over what happened that day.

Begin long money making thread in 3,2,1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22844230)

I pretty much thought the same. it's a bit late to be making money off 9/11 anyway.

Re:Begin long Conspiracy theory thread in 3,2,1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22844418)

Way to post a conspiracy thread at 9:11.

Pen & Teller are Bullshit [in non-magic] (1, Offtopic)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844458)

Feel free to mark this off-topic, but Pen & Teller are bullshit. For those unaware, Pen & Teller had a several year running program called "Bullshit", where they went out of their way to debunk things they perceived to be bullshit. Now, most of the time, they argued on points I agree with, but it didn't take long for them to discuss two of my sacred cows, evolution and global warming.

Okay, really, it's not that they're sacred cows. It's that both are confirmed and tested under the same system, the scientific method. So, imagine my surprise when on the one hand Pen & Teller would gladly mock those who disagree with the consensus of science, having dared to argue as if there was room for debate; yet, on the other hand, Pen & Teller painted a conspiracy cloaked in the words of science, arguing that there was always room for debate and there never really was a consensus in science (only possibly very strong majorities) nor could go off of such majorities anyways.

Now, I rather subscribe to the latter view, as I don't consider science as intrinsically infallible (if it was, there'd be little point in testing scientific theories) or hold the people of science as some sort of single-minded body (let alone would I trust such a single-minded organization without debate). But, Pen & Teller spent more time issuing ad hominem attacks than bothering to actually prove what was bullshit. Their discussion of 9/11 conspiracists was no different.

So, I really wouldn't rely upon Pen & Teller for political, scientific, etc views. But, if you really want to know magic, they'll put on a great show.

What's with the Summary? (5, Insightful)

necro81 (917438) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844214)

The summary asks if someone is trying to make money off 9/11. The article makes no such claim - doesn't even allude to it. The only direct mention of 9/11 in the article is that members of the 9/11 Commission are asking the FCC to look into the allegations of fraud and collusion. Is the reference to 9/11 something that the submitter slipped in to try to generate additional interest in the story - like just about every form of media these days (and at least one defunct presidential candidate)?

The only connection the D-block auction has to 9/11 is the fact that it is meant, not just for a commercial communications network, but also for emergency responders to have access to it as well. The different agencies responding on 9/11 (and in the days that followed) were hampered by the fact that they use different radio systems and had difficulty communicating with one another.

Re:What's with the Summary? (1)

asuffield (111848) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844396)

The only connection the D-block auction has to 9/11 is the fact that it is meant, not just for a commercial communications network, but also for emergency responders to have access to it as well. The different agencies responding on 9/11 (and in the days that followed) were hampered by the fact that they use different radio systems and had difficulty communicating with one another.


However, those problems were caused by management (government) bungling, not by technical issues. They could have had radio systems that worked together. They had been warned that their radio systems wouldn't work together and this would be a problem in a major emergency. Management went ahead and bought radio systems that didn't work together, for whatever reason. Setting aside a frequency band would not have helped and will not change this in the future; future idiot managers are still fully capable of buying incompatible equipment.

Re:What's with the Summary? (2, Interesting)

kenh (9056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844456)

Not for nothing, but fire departments have different requirements than police departments - the police need city-wide coverage from theie walkie-talkies, the fire department only needs coverage that encompasses the local area ( a few blocks). That means different freq. bands are better for each department, and requiring both to buy multi-band radios is very expensive - not impossible or really prohibitive, but unpopular in many locations for whatever reason.

I agree with the earlier poster - there is no connection between the bandwidth auction results and 9/11 *except* that there is a requirement to support expanded first-responder communication in the same band. How is money made by not commercializing (monetizing) the band? A failed auction benefits no one...

Re:What's with the Summary? (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844432)

I wonder if it was the result of confusion, with someone saying "They're trying to make money off of 911", and the submitter thinking "They're trying to make money from September 11th" rather than "They're trying to make money off of the emergency services."

Perhaps it's time we moved the entire country to 112. It already works on GSM cellphones, and it's rapidly becoming an international standard. So far as I'm aware, no major disasters that have lingered in the public consciousness happened on either November 2nd or January 12th.

Re:What's with the Summary? (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844618)

"no major disasters that have lingered in the public consciousness happened on either November 2nd"

You whippersnappers are obviously too young to remember the tidal wave of 1570.

You take your lives for granted.

Re:What's with the Summary? (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 6 years ago | (#22846958)

Perhaps it's time we moved the entire country to 112.
If you ask me, "occasional journalistic ambiguity" is hardly a good reason to completely replace a vital part of our emergency services infrastructure.

- RG>

Government is not good business (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844514)

So based on poor or no research, they banked on greed for a product whose marginal utility is low, whose costs are excessive, and then are shocked when real businesses (who have to do this for a living) saw through it and backed away? Another example of how the government is bad at business.

Any chance they used Sequoia voting machines? (1)

mnemotronic (586021) | more than 6 years ago | (#22844580)

If the FCC was using the trusty, as in "trust our machine or we'll drive our lawyers up your yinhang", Sequoia voting machine [slashdot.org] then there's no wonder the auction was a disaster.

Re:Any chance they used Sequoia voting machines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22846770)

your comment sucks and so do you.

Cyren Call (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22844646)

Someone seriously named their kid Cyren Call? That's pretty suspicious right there.

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

First Responders not happy about this auction (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22844948)

There are already frequency blocks set aside for emergency services in a variety of different ranges.

Emergency Agencies can apply for and receive an assigned frequency for free. The capital costs can be expensive. But the frequency is free to use once we get past that. If our neighbor is using a frequency and we work with them, they can give us permission to use their frequency too. System works pretty well. It could be better, but it works.

Now, the government is going to sell the emergency services spectrum in the 700Mhz range? If emergency agencies want to use 700Mhz, we will be expected to pay a monthly service fee so some private company will make a profit off of emergency services.

I don't care if it will be a nationwide service. My fire department is in Idaho. They don't need to talk to a police department in Georgia ever.

If you want to see an interoperable radio system that works, go talk to the National Interagency Fire Center and look at the comms packages they send out with Type I and II Incident Command Teams. They bring all the radios, repeaters, frequencies with them. Everyone of the incident gets issued a pre-programmed radio and a frequency assignment list so that they know how to get hold of each other.

This 700Mhz plan is worthless. You want to make effective use of the frequency range and not waste local taxes, let us use the frequency for free like the other public service blocks.

FCC should pay, not other way around (1)

wshwe (687657) | more than 6 years ago | (#22846758)

The FCC should pay someone to build D-Block. This is another example of Bush/Cheney incompetence.

Who gets the money? (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 6 years ago | (#22847262)

I've seen these "spectrum auction" stories before... and I just don't get it. Isn't this like auctioning off the ocean? or the atmosphere? Who claimed original ownership and who's getting these obscene amounts of moneys? If its the US goverment, and this auction is just for regulation, what part of gov't gets the money and what's it going to be spent on?

Seems to me everyone owns the spectrum, and the money should go to everyone.

Get rid of the Auction system (2, Insightful)

zymano (581466) | more than 6 years ago | (#22848598)

Open up the airwaves back to the damn public.

Allow cheap powerful walkie talkies for the public. The free market will help build public owned towers and we will then have an alternative to government/big business colluding ripoff.

Re:Get rid of the Auction system (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22854398)

Allow cheap powerful walkie talkies for the public.

Umm, we already have them... Citizens Band. Family Radio Service. Multi-Use Radio Service. General Mobile Radio Service. Ham. etc.

Not to mention the 900MHz, 2.4GHz, 5GHz (et al.) unlicensed spectrum everyone is using for cordless phones and WiFi, but not for voice service.

What's so specially about 700MHz that voice service will magically take off, where the rest have failed to?

Re:Get rid of the Auction system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22855442)

cordless phones are a voice service, r-tard
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