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United States

Spectrum Wars: The Hidden Battle 159

PacketMaster writes: "The USA Today is carrying an interesting commentary entitled All-but-secret battle rages over fate of airwaves. The article sheds light on some topics that many people are completely ignorant on - the fight over the broadcast spectrum. The most interesting tidbit is that the current broadcasters, who were given the new digital spectrum for applications like HDTV for free, now want to keep their old ones too and auction them off for industry profit to help pay for the transition to the new spectrum."
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Spectrum Wars: The Hidden Battle

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  • 3G (slightly OT) (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sawbones (176430) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @04:57PM (#2257312)
    While the whole process is working out less than ideal, I'm pleased to see the government taking an active stance on bringing 3G to the states. I know there are a couple of GSM cel carriers here in the states now but they don't really have the same coverage as the old CDM and TDMA (I think those are the acronymns) systems that AT&T and such have. I'd love to have some of the whiz-bang new phones (or one of the more stylish [nokia-asia.com] australian models) but because the rest of the world operates on a different system I'm out of luck.

    Chalk it up to good intentions but (potentially) poor implementation I suppose.
  • by LordNimon (85072) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @04:57PM (#2257313)
    Or are they just inefficiently allocated or something?

    You think?

    The rest of the world waits until the U.S. is finished making the mistakes that often come when a new technology is introduced. The problem is that once we realize we've made mistakes, our "solution" is to patch things up, not throw the whole thing out and start over. In the meantime, the rest of the world says, "Ok, the U.S. has invented this technology and discovered some of the problems. Now how can we implement it correctly?"

  • by prisoner (133137) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @05:03PM (#2257346)
    while it brings in alot of $$$ has always seemed somewhat shady to me. While this article isn't well balanced, it has always seemed like the users of that spectrum have been well-funded businesses and I get nervous when they get in too tight with the regulating agency. A breath-taking example of this coziness is that the NAB would have the balls to propose auctioning their old analog spectrum and keeping the money. And yes, I read the article and if you don't think they won't manage to stuff most of that money in their own pockets, you're crazy. I thought that by giving the networks free spectrum for HDTV (or whatever it may be called by now) the Gov't and, by extension, the people *were* speeding up the process and cutting broadcasters costs.....sheesh.
  • by mellifluous (249700) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @05:09PM (#2257372)
    Actually the amount of spectrum currently allocated to cellular is similar in the US to many other countries. One of the main reasons we do not see 3G yet is the expensive of overhauling infrastructure on a massive scale compared to many other countries, combined with an economic slowdown in the communications sector. US users have also been historically slower to adopt new features, so carriers are more cautious. Its the classic chicken and egg problem of new technology - industry needs users to spur revenue for 3G development, but users want widespread 3G technology before adopting.
  • It's TV (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @05:09PM (#2257379)
    The US gives a lot of spectrum to TV (and the military, but that's another story). So, Americans are behind in cell phone technology, but get to watch more TV channels (even without cable).Network Magazine [networkmagazine.com] has an interesting article about this.
  • by Tattva (53901) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @05:15PM (#2257409) Homepage Journal
    Well, of course the broadcasters are going to try to do this. Do the math, they only need to contribute 20 million or so of soft money to reap a 200 billion windfall. That's a 1000000% return on investment.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @05:18PM (#2257416)
    Eben Moglen (Prof. at Columbia Univ. and General Counsel for the FSF) was talking about the spectrum giveaway to TV broadcasters 4 years ago. See here [columbia.edu]. Interesting historical perspective.
  • by mfarver (43681) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @05:34PM (#2257477) Journal

    We're faced with a problem of a scarce but valuable resource. As usual the government and the corporations that control it are loudly contemplating how much money its worth, but everyone forgets that the government holds this spectrum in the public trust. The government remembers this occasionally, which is why there were minority clauses in the last spectrum auctions, allowing disadvantaged organizations to buy spectrum at a reduced price.. a dismal failure since it turned out small organizations didn't have enough money to build giant centralized systems using that spectrum.

    It turns out the idea that spectrum must be parcelled out to monopolies in order to avoid interferce is largely a lie. New technologies like spread spectrum make it possible to cram far more signals into the same spectrum and do so in a decentralized way. Take the unlicensed 2.4GHz band for example, this bit of free for all spectrum suffers from some interference, but at the same time wireless devices utilizing it (cordless phones, 802.11) are dirt cheap, and widely available.

    The best (for the public) way to parcel out 3G spectrum is to make it unlicensed, and force everyone one to the same playing field.

  • Re:Digital Radio (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @06:58PM (#2257773)
    The entire FM broadcast band occupies the equivalent of 5 TV channels. Any attempt to monkey with the FM BC allocation will render hundreds of millions of home and car radios obsolete.

    5 stations is about that number that gets broadcast in most areas - if we're intent on reclaiming the analog TV spectrum as valuable, then the same should be done with radio. I don't think I need to point out that the TVs are rendered obsolete under digital TV.

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