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The Almighty Buck

FCC Wants to Open Bandwidth Market 76

Trilliumjs wrote to us about a NYTimes article concering some of the latest moves from the FCC. The FCC wants to turn some of the unused airwaves into an open market so that companies can pick up bandwidth as needed.
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FCC Wants to Open Bandwidth Market

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    How many times are good songs ruined by censorship on the radio.


  • by Anonymous Coward
    Here is a link to the actual article and not the sign-in page: http://www10.nytimes.com/aponline/w/AP-Selling-Air waves.html [nytimes.com]

    Why can't Hemos take 30 seconds to fix the URLs before he posts them? sheez...

  • Gee, so the FCC wants to open up the few remaining radio frequencies to exploitation by anybody with the $$$ to pay off the feds. And where does that leave our quest for a better understanding of our universe?

    IIRC, Iridium screwed up a bunch of radio spectrums popular amongst astronomers, and the upcoming Teledesic system is supposed to be even worse - I wonder what this plan is going to do...
  • I understand radio frequecies really well, but businesses, and poiticians who don't understand them can be hazardous, how would you feel about having your radio listening wiped out every day to work, just coz some business got a license to transmit where it looks good on paper, belive me, hams in Australia understand what I am on about, when multi killowatt pocket pagers were given a frequency rage right next to highly sensitive amature frequencies (for those in the know, 148.0125Mhz, and repeater inputs go up to 148 over here), and anyone suggesting digital transmissions everwhere, my gsm phone drops out after getting 10km's out of my "rual city" (~100k pop.).

    There is only so many frequencies out there, and I am sure there isn't enough to go around, so most of these will only go to the highest bidder, and there is hard evidence to say that there is a point where it's no longer safe to transmit from a residence (stuck your head in a microwave lately?), being that a microwave over generally runs at a few hundred watts at 2.5Ghz.

    So, the internet, for bandwidth hungry people is always going to be limited to landline, unless we see some real fancy tricks done. But remember, radio signals are analogue, and digital signals take up _twice_ there bandwidth in the air, plus all the other noise the create, although we do have compression, and of course, you cant talk a file to a friend.

  • Why would someone have assumed you'd post information about your family in a place like this?
  • I'm curious as to what the pricing is going to be like. The article mentions 'auctioning' off these frequencies, but will it be reasonable for 'the little guy' - IE the smaller ISP's that would like to claim some of this?

    Is the auctioning a good idea, or perhaps it should be a 'first come, first serve' basis instead?

    I'm sorry. What I meant to say was 'please excuse me.'
    what came out of my mouth was 'Move or I'll kill you!'
  • I took a class on Telecommunicatioins law. IANAL.
    That said, This does not mean that we'll pay more for the airwaves that we use. Even the current system where the FCC doles out the airwaves costs the companies money. The FCC used to hold auctions for bandwidth to determine what it was worth and sell it to the highest bidder. I think they still do. Plus there's lots of lawyer fees that a company must pay to even have a chance at getting a section of the spectrum. I'd bet that the cost to the consumer would go down under this new system. Believe in the free market values that have served us so well. IMHO, Government interaction can only have a negative effect on the efficiency of a market that could be made free.

    I think I lost my work ethic while surfing the web. If you find it, please email it to crispy@crotch.caltech.edu.
  • Theres is only so much wireless "bandwidth" out there. How long until all frequencies are saturated and we have to inovate some more. If the future is as wireless as some are predicting and I'm hoping for, is this a concern/problem?
  • Kind of like Domain names... I wish I had been smart enough and rich enough in 1994 to start picking up the good ones. Maybe I'll be smart enough and rich enough this time around and start grabbing up the airwaves.
  • Notice in the last paragraph they mention software radios [compuserve.com]? That's the key to this flexibility the FCC is proposing.

    A radio whose frequencies can be programmed will allow devices to reconfigure themselves for various RF conditions. A worldwide service could have a few frequencies on which it broadcasts the local configuration information. In NY, radios may know that at this time of day they can use several dozen frequencies (and which frequencies), while the same radio in Dublin may only have a few frequencies available. The radios can be programmed for whatever the service provider has locally contracted for (if a country does not have this auctioning process, the frequencies simply will not change as often).

  • Sounds like a good idea! Frequency pooling could alleivate some of the congestion in the airwaves, especially with point-to-point types of wireless like cell phones...

    A little scary about slices of the spectrum going to the highest bidder... but that's the way big business works no?
  • ...now everyone can use that bandwidth for Napster since the Universities are blocking them :)

    Or maybe we can setup "Internet 3: just for porn and pirates"

  • RTFM ... ;-)

    You could have clicked on the User Info link for the post ...

    try www.affleck.com for more direct communication. [affleck.com]
  • Because they're hoping that no consumer input will actually occur. After all, it's not [irony on] like anyone's using those unused frequencies, such as pirate radio. [irony off]

    And, after all, this should all go to the highest bidder, which will be the large corporations that currently dominate the media.

    [offtopic on] When I posted this same article this morning, it was rejected. [offtopic off]
  • ...now everyone can use that bandwidth for Napster

    Only if you've got millions of dollars to pay for it. Didn't think so.

    Face it, it's a frequency grab, to kill off pirate radio.

  • How long before AOL or ATT buys up all the air waves so they don't have wireless ISP's competing with their cable/DSL stuff?
  • yes, the limit in the US for microwave without a license is 500mA. Although microwave ovens seem to leak more than this even brand new.
  • I am a network engineer for an ISP in Cheboygan MI that offers wireless internet to home and business.

    We use the unlicensed 2.4GHz band, our equipment can provide up to about 8Mbps to the client.
  • This is not necessarily all that good OR bad of a thing... Consider...

    In an 'open' market, supply and demand dictate price for any given unit of a particular commodity. This model works quite well where the commodity is limited (gold, silver, pork bellies), but not quite as well when the market can be 'dumped' on, at a regular basis. (hmm, Level 3 just lit up 10 new fibers, bandwidth just got cheap!)

    which beggs the question: Will opening up bandwidth (of any type) to a commodity style of trading serve to 'chill' out the explosive growth of bandwidth appliances that we have seen to date?
    After all, if I own the fiber, it is in my best interest to make it as expensive for you to use as possible!

  • Greetings, VY1xx here.

    Actually there already is a huge amateur presence in the digital radio field, in fact we were pioneers. We've fallen behind of late, but AX.25 was there right from the get go of the field.

    The main reason I didn't bother to talk to the amateur presence directly is that at least here in Canada, we are allocated bandwidth and told "do with it as you please". (other then the broad licence restrictions requiring code for HF bands). Frequency plans are put together by local planning groups, consisting of hams, not handed to us by our govt. But yes, I feel that emergancy coms must be maintained and ham communications nets remain one of the important ways to provide this service.

    I stand corrected sir.

  • This is definitively what we need, what I have been dreaming of for years, and what we will have. A universal, global radio standard. It is defined to be flexible enough to work on ALL of the frequency spectrum

    And it would give us a chance to do a few things right from the begginging... IE: implement it usign IPV6. IPSEC makes this choice a no brainer. No more biweekly /. articles on the latest cell phone encryption crack.

    Like I said, it probably won't happen, yet. It will come eventually.

    It does occur to me that there exists a chance for a foresightful company to jump the queue. With the FCC auctioning off spare bandwidth, if a company were to buy up a whack of it, they could essentially implement this plan now. Sell radios to bussinesses who have a need, but don't have enough of a need to fill a channel.

  • Your sample may have smaller rates for the one doing the selling, but the other guys will pay a premium since the additional bandwidth comes from another company. If company A needs additional bandwidth and company B has it, company A will likely charge more because they are going to get the additional bandwidth at a higher cost.

    On the other hand, if company B has a future need for the bandwidth they'll either 1). raise the price on company A's sublease in order to decrease company A's use or 2). quit subletting it which means less bandwidth for A and higher prices.

    And how is unused bandwidth in your example costing the company? Its a fixed cost for the owner, but not for the one doing the renting/leasing/whatever. Its not guaranteed the lower operating expenses will result in lower prices for the consumer. Its just as likely the additional money will end up in the owner's pockets.

    I'm just asking questions, I'm not saying I have the answers. But it reminds me of the pollution level markets introduced under the Reagan regime.

  • What telcos have done so far is to lobby for deregulation, while KEEPING their monopolies!! Ask anyone who has a clue in economics, and you'll see that this is BAD and will result in you and I getting screwed.

    If the FCC is ready to allow more open competition where low costs and high quality dominate, then we're going to get better services and bandwidth. I hope the FCC moves into this direction.

    Mike Roberto
    - roberto@soul.apk.net
    -- AOL IM: MicroBerto
  • This is definitively what we need, what I have been dreaming of for years, and what we will have. A universal, global radio standard. It is defined to be flexible enough to work on ALL of the frequency spectrum.

    The standard is a minimal resource negotiation rule. It only manages time dynamic power and frequency negotiation and a handshaking protocol for choosing the actual desired data comms protocols. It is left for the market to compete for implementations for detailed interoperability and data comms protocols within this framework. All legacy protocols, especially all analog stupidity, should then be gradually phased out or made changed to comply to the new dynamic resource negotiation standard.

    George Gilder wrote an article about some radio veteran researcher a few years ago who had long been pursuing ideas on these lines. I lost the reference to that article, anyone have it?

  • I think it's far past time that we made a paridim shift in our electromagnetic spectrum managment.

    Step 1: Phase out analog transmission. Set a 5 year end of life on all current analog licences.
    Step 2: Type Approve a new digital radio that is multiband, where the radio will try first on the highest (most plentiful, shortest haul) frequencies, and if it can't find a node, fall back untill it can. Ideally these radios should also act as packet repeaters and by neccesity include a public key encryption system.
    Step 3: Establish, using licencing fees a N/A wide (remember boys and girls, frequencies don't care about borders. All this has to be taken with Canada and Mexico in mind) digipeter network.


    If Step 1 were to say instead, "Phase out analog transmission of business radio. Set a 5 year end of life on all current analog licences for businesses," it wouldn't be as offensive. Don't forget about the huge amateur radio population of the world. We amateurs should not be required to trade in our radios - we should always and forever be able to build a home-brew radio (a huge hobby, btw) to access the airwaves.

    If your comment related only to businesses, you may be onto something, but for the amateurs, I think this just wouldn't fly. However, I certainly hope that the FCC is not going to make us turn in our licenses (though they did at least attempt to take the 220MHz spectrum from us - don't remember if they succeeded) - I hope they're just trying to use existing business spectrum more efficiently. To that end, I agree.

    73 de KD4xxx (xxx = NUNYA!)

  • ..to consumers? It sounds like a good idea but I sense higher pricing during peak hours will be how companies respond to having to share their high-bandwidth frequencies. When in doubt, they always look to suck the consumer dry.

    - tokengeekgrrl
    "The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions

  • With the Internet traffic "doublin every 100 days", I'm sure the wireless traffic is increasing faster (I wish they had that info). All the more reason to believe this is the year (and next) when wireless Internet will really take off, what with web pads, and transmeta's crusoe chips, etc.

    This is a good move to free up some of the less used bandwidths out there, by providing incentives for current license holders to make some money for otherwise idle bandwidth that could be put to good use.

  • Most of these ideas are already up and running for 2.5G and 3G cellular radio. Certainly TCP/IP and voice over IP are on their way.

    There is a problem with getting a radio to work on multiple frequencies, but soft radio is on its way (i.e. a software programmable radio receiver).

    And as for open source - well, there is an awful lot of *very* proprietry (Read patented) stuff out there - licenecing of patented ideas is a major revenue stream for the equipment manufacturers. However, the standards are open, and (for UMTS - the 3G system) held here [3gpp.org].

    You are right about one thing though; things are different in the US because their frequency allocation is diffrent from the rest of the world. Their cellular standards are different (e.g. IS95), but there is an awful lot of cross-fertilization of ideas between IS95 and UMTS, because the manufacturers are looking to minimise their costs.

    regards, treefrog

  • Buying domain names is cheap. Buying broadcast bandwidth is quite expensive. Ordinary people need not apply.

  • I used to work in this field and after about a year of twisting my mind for obtaining performant algorithms for optimizing the allocation of the frequencies I can tell you it's not an easy job.
    However, even if you may not have heard of companies like MSI (as in Mobile Systems International) or ComOpt, I can tell you there are big bucks there. So if you are a good programmer (preferably c/c++) and willing to study/implement software that optimizes the traffic in the network (something similar with the graph coloring problem) watch the news because it is very likely to be some in the very near future.
    The same thing goes for the engineers (hardware part) - although I am less familiar with their job.
  • Just because Enron owns 'alot of power plants' and has a large market cap doesn't make it any less of a start-up. Especially when compared to the industry giants that have been in place for decades. They only recently began providing energy to consumers and businesses directly, and their entrance into the power market in general is very recent when compared to the former de jure monopolists. While there still may be plenty of de facto monopolists, that's because of a number of reasons, not the least of which is the relativly recent opening up of the markets to competition.
  • This may have been due to some lobbying from a start-up energy company called Enron. They provide electric, etc. in some of the markets just opened up for competition. I've been seeing their advertisments pushing the idea of a "bandwidth market--just like the market for porkbellies" for a month or so now. An interesting idea, but obviously it could make bandwidth very expensive at some times.
  • Remember how the FCC handed out all that bandwidth to existing Analog TV stations for HDTV? Remeber that they weren't necessarly using all that bandwidth? Voila. Corporate Handouts upon Corporate Handouts. The more we shuffle through the gargabe for scraps, the more they dine on Caviar.

    For every day that passes, for every BS policy that's enacted, for every bit of our existance that's sold to the highest bidder, the more and more I feel our government needs a size 12 in their collective keisters that'll rattle their teeth right out of their mouths.

    If anyone wants to discuss politics, my e-mail's in the header of this comment.

  • There may be some reasons for the FCC, but the only reasons are sheer issues of traffic and signal regulation. By no means should they be able to dictate what you can send over the airways. How many times are good songs ruined by censorship on the radio. The FCC goes further to sensor what types of programming can be transmitted over television. The FCC should stop at traffic regulation, but by charging fines and ridiculous license fees they are performing unconstitutional censorship.
  • Despite the inherant capitalistic tendancy to allow free market ownership and trade of just about everything, it should be clear to most people that there are obvious exceptions to this idea, that there are certain resources which are better off controlled by the government. Radio waves are a classic example of this. Instead of offering up them up for a corportate feeding frenzy, the government could simply share them equally among those with a legitimate reason to control them. Ideally, this would be done at the local level except in cases of extremely powerful signals, so that what constitutes a legitimate reason would be more closely controlled by the people.
    This is more or less how things work now, and while there are problems with the current system, they are nothing compared to the can of worms this brilliant new idea will open up.

    And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
    Ancestral voices prophesying war!
  • I dont know if accepting any sort of "gift" such as this from the government is such a good idea. These are the people backing Janet Reno in her quest to drop laws in place to protect Internet publicists. The same people who'd sell out to any big corporation who wanted the bandwidth to themselves. -Sharkey
    www.badassmofo.com [badassmofo.com]
    Now re-opened for your viewing pleasure
  • What part of my cell phone bill goes straight to the US government? The FCC is part of the executive branch but the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, composed of 18 senators, has oversight. bandwidth is a natural resource. It belongs to the people. Why am I paying for something I own? I already pay to keep the government running. In fact I just did my taxes to the tune of about $8,000. I have no problem with paying my taxes because I have representation in DC. I vote. But if the FCC allows a company to re-sell bandwidth I am getting billed extra for something I already own without representation. Anytime the government mandates that money comes out of my pocket I am getting taxed. Mandatory Insurance is taxation. As we have seen, Insurance is ridiculously expensive. Because it is mandatory and I have no representation within the insurance companies. I have no representation within Sprint PCS either. But you need communication just like you need insurance. Watch the cost go up to the consumers. Watch us pay for it like cattle going to slaughter. Or write your congressman if he is on the Subcommittee [senate.gov] that has some oversight of the FCC.

  • So if your cel phone company determines that it could have the same quality of service if they had half the bandwidth from 7pm to 7am, they then sell off half their frequencies at those time, thereby making money from whoever bought this bandwidth, making it unnecessary to raise rates to increase profits? how does this lead to higher prices for the consumer?
  • Who gets in first? ABC/NBC/CBS in "datacasting". FCC gave them 6mhz for digital TV, and they are going to allow them to trasmit two way broadband access on a big chunk of that freq., in addition to their regular channel content. US government gets 15% of gross revenue, in place of giving the broadcasters free freq's.
  • If I were King, what I would dododowop?

    First: Consider bandwidth as a national renewable/recyclable resource to be managed by a FCC agency.

    Second: All frequency rages are a crucial and inseparable part of the Interstate commerce navigable data space.

    Third: The data/communications spectrum is an emanant domain of the Federal Government to be utilized for the good of the people and nation.

    Fourth: The Federal Government will provide for the welfare (Military, Emergency, Community, Recreation, ... frequency allocation) of the people.

    Fifth: The Government mandated open/available spectrum, as a measurable commodity would be for sale moment-moment, day-day, and year-year.

    Sixth: The Government would assure day-day that spectrum allocation is promoting market competition, industry innovation, and cultural development.

    Seventh: Attempts of bandwidth "squatting" considered anti-competitive monopolistic fraud upon the nation and punished by fines and sentences.

    Summary: Use-it, or Lose-it and pay for it. Make money and profit by being the best, rather than the Big Obstruction (BO) to progress.

    As a national resource our data/communications spectrum can be used to benefit the people and nation. Corporate Control with limited (or non) use of any portion of the bandwidth, with the intent to extort a higher profit from the American public, is very bad business, and should be considered fraud or even organized criminal activity.

    Proper utilization of the spectrum with today's technology should allow three service providers in any one area to provide services to fixed wireless stations in every home in the area. The home owner could pick a provider and change provider next month if not happy, but, however, because ... make sure that whatever fixed station wireless system that is installed in your home/apartments meet the national/international H/S protocol standards or be locked into one "servicing" provider again. One provider and one bill for phone, internet, TV/HDTV, and CCCHSSS (Customer Command Control of Home Systems Support Services) the "Things to come." stuff. This was part of the intended future when the FCC sold all those frequencies in 1997 (and bandwidth squatting was created). Personal home service communications has been retarded for a few years now in the US, because one provider can control a TV cable or phone wire entering your home. Wireless will open the future of this century for US. PS -- I have never, do not now, or have intent to work for a wireless company.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Actually, they already do in Austin. There are 2 companies that I know of, one called NoBell and the other whose name escapes me. Both can provide you with anything from a single dedicated IP up to full blown ISP services.

    NoBell works with small cells, which cover about a 1 mile radius. To get decent coverage, they need a lot of cells, and currently they only provide service in a small area, in town, competing with DSL and Cable Modems. Consequently, their prices are about comparable, and you get up to 3 M-bits up and down stream.

    The other company uses a single microwave tower located on the west side of town, and provides about a 30 mile radius. However, you need line of sight to use their service, so tall buildings make better candidates than single story houses. Their pricing is a bit higher, but it sounds like they provide a more reliable service. Incidentally, they are the only form of broadband I can get at my house, and I would need a tower for my antenna.

    I have also heard about other local rural areas being provided with wireless service at a reasonable rate. Personally, I believe the start-up costs for a company like this would be considerably higher than a typical ISP, and the risk would be higher as well. However, they do already exist, and more are probably on the way as soon as a wide spread, cheap standard is in place for broadband wireless.
  • Enron isn't a start-up.

    It's got a market cap of $ 47.23 billion and revenues of $31 billion in 1998.

    They own alot of power plants.

    Go check the Annual Report out at Enron's website @ www.enron.com

    (I'm not an investor in Enron or anything like that)
  • How should we decide who gets it? Does it belong to the highest bidder? And for how long. Can the first person to apply for bandwidth get it? We would have frequency squatting. How can we decide on the value of new uses vs. older established ones? ... from the point of view of economic efficiency it doesn't matter who the property rights are awarded to (assuming it isn't a stubborn codger who won't deal with anyone no matter how much it may hurt him).

    Something like Henry George's "Single Tax" system might work here. While originally meant to be applied to land, it would probably work pretty well with bandwidth allocations.

    It works like this: The owner of the property specifies the amount at which he values the property. Taxes are levied as a flat rate based on the specified values. This prevents anyone from setting an artificially high value on the property; set it too high, and you won't be able to afford the taxes.

    But if anyone comes along and ponies up the amount you specified, you must sell. This prevents you from setting too low a value, otherwise you'll lose control of the property.

    Pretty soon, the property (bandwidth) winds up in the hands of the people able to put it to the most productive use, and able to justify the maximum value (and pay the commensurate taxes). It encourages economizing on bandwidth (so that you can make do with a smaller "tract" of bandwidth, and sell or re-purpose the rest), and shifting bandwidth to more productive applications as technology improves.

  • Virtually every other scarce resource has been allocated by ownership and markets, and this has proven to average out much fairer than the alternatives that have been tried. (Royal fiat and central planning, for instance, have generally proven disastrously unfair and restricting.)

    Why should the radio spectrum be any different from land, water rights, natural resources, food, or any other limited resource?

    Yet the United States persists in treating it differently - until now. And suddenly people are "viewing with alarm".

    I'm cheering.

    And the only thing I'm concerned about is the details of how, and how much, of this resource will transition to private ownership. (Uncle Sam has a patchy record on that issue.)
  • Doesn't this mean we'll be paying more for devices that use these frequencies? If a company owns frequency x and they lease it to another compnay won't they be seeking a profit on the lease? And desn't that mean higher rpices for the end consumer?

    And what are the effects of this? Sounds akin to domain squatting where those that were first will make money on a resource they don't even use.

    And why should a third party company make money on top of another for a "public resource"? Am I the only one that sees this as a another money making venture for speculative capitol? I mean it used to be the government that would get the revenues on allocation of bandwidth. Now it is another company?

    And what's with bandwidth that can change owners depending on time of day?!
  • First of all, I will say that I am heavily biased toward the laissez faire side of the argument. But there is a fundamental problem with a resource that can be accessed from anywhere and whose value can easily be diminished by someone willing to despoil it (jamming). If it were possible for everyone who wanted to be heard to do so, without cost to anyone else, that would certainly be a desirable goal. But there isn't nearly enough bandwidth for that.

    How should we decide who gets it? Does it belong to the highest bidder? And for how long. Can the first person to apply for bandwidth get it? We would have frequency squatting. How can we decide on the value of new uses vs. older established ones? Do we push out marginal radio stations to make room for stations that will pay more for the frequency? I certainly don't have all of the answers to these questions.

    However, moving towards a market where the people who have the frequencies can sell the bandwidth is a partial solution. An excellent, and lengthy, discussion about the complexities of allocating property rights can be found here [best.com] in David Friedman's forthcoming book Law's Order: An Economic Account. Perhaps the most enlightening point, is that from the point of view of economic efficiency it doesn't matter who the property rights are awarded to (assuming it isn't a stubborn codger who won't deal with anyone no matter how much it may hurt him). You will get the same outcome, with the only difference being the profit that the guy who originally holds the property rights makes. If the FCC sells that to the highest bidder, that money goes to the FCC. No worse that any other solution since they regulated the right into existance.
  • it's a frequency grab, to kill off pirate radio.
    Doubtful. Very doubtful. FM radio spectrum is allocated in 200-kHz chunks, and there are guard bands (unused channels) between nearby stations to guarantee that they don't bleed through the cheap IF filters used in consumer-grade receivers and mess each other up. If digital gear was using those frequencies, it would be very likely to interfere with the radio reception by exactly the same mechanism. (If there is an FCC movement aimed at getting rid of pirate radio, it's the move to legitimize and license micropower stations.)

    The sort of things they're talking about here is in areas like unused TV channels (specifically mentioned in the article). It's a lot easier to make use of a 6 MHz chunk of spectrum with no guard band requirements than a 200 kHz chunk with all kinds of power and geographic restrictions.

  • Frontiers always have the same series of problems:

    People go out and start using some new resource that has no particular legal standing.

    De facto defense of the resource involves private actions and the costs of those defensive actions fall directly on the users.

    Government steps in to enforce resolution of disputes and charges the claimants for the costs of such resolution and dispute resolution while imposing regulations to control negative externalities.

    Entrenched holders of lawful rights then use their profit stream in political channels to seek legislative relief of the costs of the defense of their rights and freedom from regulations on their negative externalities.

    Tax laws are passed which off-load the costs of defending the rights from the politically effective rent seekers to the politically ineffective renters.

    Additional regulatory barriers to market forces are erected to further protect the rent seekers from competition while at the same time removing regulatory barriers which inhibit the rent seekers from exploiting negative externalities.

    The basic problem is the political nature of government. The basic solution is to replace national and international governing bodies with Warrior's Insurance [geocities.com] under which reinsurance networks indemnify and defend against losses of claimed rights.

  • If you think corporate control over things like this are bad now, wait 'til G.W. (god forbid) is running the show.

    People that donate the sums of money that he's received do not give money away without expecting something in return. He way overspent on the primaries, and now needs to re-fund his campaign again. How much is $$ is that going to take? How many more favors is he going to have to promise?

    Sorry to politicize this, and I'm not saying that any of the other candidates are any better, but this kind of "corporate-first" ideal has been totally taking over this country as of late, and I don't see it changing any time soon.

    Our government charter (US) was built on protecting individual rights. Our individual rights are now secondary to Corporate rights. I'd like to see this trend stop, rather than get pushed further into Greedville.

  • So, the airwaves are all for sale. Granted, in a way they always have been, but at this point companies will be free to buy up all of the frequencies, then "rent" the "ones they're not currently using" to those of us that couldn't/can't get in on this land-grab.

  • I've been wondering about why there aren't very many wireless isps, and this seems like the right forum, so here are some questions which have been plaguing me:

    How does this affect general wireless networking? Will this make wireless isps feasible, or is bandwidth not the only problem? If so, does this mean that we'll soon see wireless isp's soon?

    Personally, I've seen some notebooks with wavelan cards around campus and they seems like a much sleeker alternative to cable/dsl. What's stopping some isp from setting up wireless access points around a city? (much like those cellular ones)

  • One other point that people tend to forget, is the benefit of standardization. We, on Slashdot, tend to debate quite a bit about computer industry standards, whether it be hardware, desktop environments, compression, networking, whatever. We can communicate via IP because standards exist that you must adhere to if you want to participate on the Internet.

    The same thing goes for the airwaves. If you want to listen to FM radio (in your region), then you know what frequency range to tune in to. Tuners are built with the assumption that these ranges are standardized. Television uses another... and so on, for many different applications. We can all take advantage of these things BECAUSE they are standardized.

    So I would say the agencies that uphold the standards are VERY important. Without them, you'd be limited to what works with your own personal equipment. Sorta like a LAN vs. the Internet.

    I wonder if the guy who started this thread would also argue that the IETF is worthless and should be abolished?

    Best regards,


  • While the concept is good and will pave the way for new digital services, there are some things that I am leery of.

    Like any open market, there is the potential for abuse by those who are richer and more powerful than more independent interests. We've seen that happen in the DNS and ISP spaces. for this to work, there has to be an allotment to make sure that the mega media conglomerates stay within bounds.

    And we have to remember who's side gubermint (sic) is on. And I think that it's not ours. When the gift comes from Uncle Sam, DO look the horse in the mouth!
  • Something else to keep in mind... saying the FCC should disappear is like saying the ITU and the NTIA should disappear as well. The ITU are the ones who have allocated the various frequency bands for the three world regions. The NTIA (check out http://www.ntia.doc.gov) does US specific stuff. They're part of the DOC (Dept. of Commerce) too BTW. The FCC is I think more of the enforcer and regulator. A lot of people are against regulation in many areas, but I think in this type of media, you really need to have tons of regulation just to make sure that people aren't stepping on other people's feet.

    If you've ever looked at what goes into placing a broadcast radio or TV antenna, you'll have a new found respect for what the FCC does. Also look at Title 47 of the US CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) (check out http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/cfr-table-searc h.html). They really do a lot more than most people realize.
  • How do they plan to regulate the bidding? How do they know what is under-used? This sounds like a bad idea. I personaly think that there are too many users for the airwaves already. I think what we need is to turn down the signals. Relay stations broadcasting weaker signals rather than 1 2 billion watt station. Maybe that's me, but it seems to work well for Sprint's PCS network.

    When talk is cheap, silence becomes expencive.


  • There is a very useful need to open frequencies for better utilization. The wireless portion of data traffic is poised to rush copper/fibre, regardless of dis/advantages. As a regulatory body, it makes sense for the FCC to make the move to reclaim unused resources and to plan for the switchover to digital video.

    What I don't like is the idea of allowing airwave "squatting" that this points at. What regulation will be applied to owned space? I'd like to hear from anyone with more details than the article presents. I'd hate to see a situation similar to what happened to domain names.

  • One item that seems to be missed is that the frequencies have already been sold (auctioned off over a year ago). What the FCC wants to do is allow those companies that already own a particular frequency band to sublet parts out to other companies. They're working on the rules for an exchange/trade program.

    The Federal Government made a huge windfall profit when they sold off your frequency spectrum. It was almost as bad as selling off Yosimite or Yellowstone (Old Faithful, brought to you by Seiko, the official time piece for timing the geyser).

    As for the companies that bought them, it was a good investment, especially now that they will be able to sublet at a profit. Imagine, selling invisible intangible airwaves! Now imagine what is going to happen when more spectrum is up for grabs, as possibly the allocation for Iridium will be. Reselling parts at a profit? Like printing your own legal tender.

    I would expect the prices for WAN-wireless devices to creep up to help pay the subleasing of the frequencies.

  • by Proteus ( 1926 ) on Monday March 13, 2000 @01:35PM (#1205536) Homepage Journal
    Many have been quick to point out potential problems: bandwidth "squatting", price increase to the consumer, large empires controlling more bandwidth, etc.

    While all of those are valid concerns, there are some significant advantages to the FCC plan. Firstly, it opens up currently restricted broadcast bandwidth - this will allow those with the proper funds to make some very valuable advances: at the least, either more or better quality (image, sound, not content :) broadcasts. Secondly, opening the bandwidth will reduce the temptation for corporate entities to push the edges of public bands (i.e. CB radio, Shortwave, etc) to gain greater range and quality broadcasts. Thirdly, new services will expand to fill these channels: wireless ISP's and LAN/WAN's (as mentioned elsewhere) for example.

    All in all, I would like to see the official FCC proposal before I make a call on wether this is a Good Thing(tm) or not.

    :: remove the whitespace to e-mail me ::

  • Hrm, this sounds an aweful lot like the IP space problem the net was going to run into. Only problem is you can't just extend the radio spectrum to allow more users can you?

    Well, not as such, but you can use it a lot more effectively. For instance, a lot of the spectrum is being used by analog signaling device. For example 2 way radios. Everyone here knows that voice signals can be digitized and sent over an analog medium in a multiplexed fashion (PCS anyone?) a lot more effientenly then they can be sent over in their latent analog forms.

    I think it's far past time that we made a paridim shift in our electromagnetic spectrum managment.

    Step 1: Phase out analog transmission. Set a 5 year end of life on all current analog licences.
    Step 2: Type Approve a new digital radio that is multiband, where the radio will try first on the highest (most plentiful, shortest haul) frequencies, and if it can't find a node, fall back untill it can. Ideally these radios should also act as packet repeaters and by neccesity include a public key encryption system.
    Step 3: Establish, using licencing fees a N/A wide (remember boys and girls, frequencies don't care about borders. All this has to be taken with Canada and Mexico in mind) digipeter network.

    Volia. You now charge your licencees not by how much spectrum they're occupying but by a much more real world measure, how many bytes they send.

    Licencees gain the ability to operate anywhere on the continent, not just in their own repeater area, if there are no repeaters around we eventually fall back to HF, which can bounce around the world if it has to, but this would require a very different radio structure then the usual VHF models of today, so would probably only be used in circumstances where it absolutly required. In most cases repeater coverage would do it.

    And the best part, most of the technologies here already exisit! Digitial voice transmission, TCP/IP for a networking protocol, digipeters, are all in use now in both commercial and amature radio circles.

    Unfortunaly this will never come to pass, the idea of the US using such an open source, co-operative system goes too much against their capitalist nature. It won't happen till they absoltuly run out of spectrum space.

    In the meantime, what will they do about violations under the current system. If someone who is leasing spectrum space between 2am and 5am violates one of the FCC/ITT code regs, whose licence gets yanked?

  • by boarder ( 41071 ) on Monday March 13, 2000 @12:54PM (#1205538) Homepage
    Look, the FCC may be "burdensome" and overbearing on some things, but they are by no means useless.

    There has to be restrictions on airwaves (with current technology) otherwise anybody could interfere with anybody. Think about it. You know all those FCC disclaimers on electronic equipment that says it can't interfere with other equipment and so on? That's there for a reason. If I could transmit anything I want on any channel, I couldn't be blamed if, say, I caused a commercial jet to crash. That also means that anybody could tap in on your cellular and cordless phone conversations (they already can very easily but this would make it more legal and even easier).

    You know all those satellites that pump information down from the heavens? Without logical, organized, and restrictions you could make any satellite completely useless just by the interference your satellite causes.

    The FCC may seem like a beurocratic waste of money, but there ARE real needs for them right now.

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.