Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Spectrum Wars: The Hidden Battle

Comments Filter:
  • Which seems to be quite a few knee-jerk posters...

    The point of the article was that the broadcast industry wants to profit from the sale of the analog spectrum they agreed to return to the public in 2006. They were given the new spectrum, valued at over 70 billion, for free. So, they want to take our property, and sell it.

    In addition the current military spectrum is very much desired. The military would either like to keep it, or obtain the anaolog spectrum from broadcasters. Some folks in congress want to auction off the military spectrum, and the debate is whether the money goes to the military to help convert to another spectrum, or to other programs.

  • by S. Allen ( 5756 ) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @05:13PM (#2257396)
    True. HDTV is a complete disaster. But you're wrong about the quality. It is significantly better. You just have to lay down the bucks for decent hardware.

    Having said that, I just cancelled my DirecTV subscription. I originally got it because they promised HDTV programming. After 1 year, this turned out to be 1 channel (HBO) and an infernal demo loop of the same old shit every day. Solution: go down to Radio Shack and buy the biggest honking roof aerial antenna you can find.

    DirecTV -- you're a bunch of dicks. When I called about getting the SuperBowl in HDTV, they responded that they weren't carrying it due to lack of customer demand. What a crock! I stated that I was a customer and I demanded it. Oh, well. That's why they're in the toilet and bleeding customers and money.
  • by Kefabi ( 178403 ) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @05:24PM (#2257437) Journal
    What were the conditions of returning "their analog spectrum to the public"? Did they forbid broadcasters from making a profit when they returned them to the public? Did they limit how the broadcasters could return them to the public?

    After my knee-jerk "how dare those bastards" reaction, I took time to think about it and I'm not so sure this is a problem.

    This is a problem. Think about it a little more. If they are auctioning off the old airwaves and make some cash off it, that means somebody (or some corporation) would be willing to pay for control of the old airwaves. That isn't quite "public" in my book. Public parks are for anyone who wants to stay there and enjoy themselves, owned lots of land that only certain people are allowed to use.
  • Re:Digital Radio (Score:4, Informative)

    by silicon_synapse ( 145470 ) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @05:25PM (#2257443)
    There are several providers of satellite radio. The target market is mostly high end cars. Two popular ones are Sirius Radio [] and XM Radio []. If I had the money, I'd love to give it a try. I believe they're subscription based, but it's probably well worth it. Has anyone here used such a service?
  • by Fat Casper ( 260409 ) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @05:29PM (#2257456) Homepage
    Because it is valuable public property, it gets auctioned off- if it's being used for commercial (private profits) interests, the people deserve to be paid fairly for it.

  • DTV != HDTV (Score:3, Informative)

    by dragons_flight ( 515217 ) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @05:29PM (#2257460) Homepage
    Digital Television != High Definition Television.

    Of course HDTV typically has a digital signal (some countries actually have tried analog high-def signals), but digital television just means using a digital signal instead of analog and that can include the contemporary TV format.

    Afterall digital cable companies and satelite providers already commonly transmit digital signals of contemporary sized and formatted television programs.

    The plan was to transmit over air TV signals digitally because it is a more efficient use of spectrum than analog and then retire the analog transmissions once there was sufficient penetration of TVs that could read and decode digital signals.

    Of course the companies would like to get everyone behind the higher res, wider, bandwidth hungry HDTV format and spew that all over the air waves as well or exclusively, but personally that seems more like a marketing gimmick than an especially useful technology. Even if digital broadcasting takes off, don't expect all the shows on the air to be HDTV formatted, at least not any time soon.
  • by megalomang ( 217790 ) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @06:21PM (#2257664)
    The reason that the spectrum is partitioned off is precisely why we won't have interference. Each band is regulated and has either sufficient guard band so that the energy "leakage" into adjacent bands is minimal or simply has a prescribed permissable leakage that the adjacent band can tolerate.

    Digital communication is inherently immune to noise caused by several types of interference. Many channel encoding schemes exist precisely to deal with interference that is typical of the frequency range of the band, doppler effects, echoes, etc. Yes, there is a statistically small amount of bit error you will receive given a statistically small amount of noise energy present in the band, but there is no recent trend of rising noise energy in any given frequency band.

    So don't worry, your phone, tv, AM/FM radio, talkabout, bluetooth device, etc will not eventually stop working due to the noise level passing some magic threshold.

    For more info, look at the frequency allocation on the FCC web pages: []

  • Re:Blind Jingoism? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 06, 2001 @12:34AM (#2258587)
    Hrm... well done, you have described the by-products of any electromagnetic device in history! As for your monitor, that's just general electromagnetic interference, you get it with anything of this nature, it was even worse with the old anolog phones because the transmission power was much higher. This is not unique to GSM by any means, or even ceullar phones for that matter. If I put my FM walkman on my 802.11b board I can hear interference, even though one is at 90mhz and the latter 2.4ghz. Move them apart and you're fine.
    "...was designed so every little country in Europe could control their local phone companies so you don't have a phone company in Germany providing service in France."
    That makes no sense, GSM networks were made to interoperate and overlap, the whole purpose is the ability just to pick your phone up and roam wherever you like in Europe and still be contactable via the same number regardless of location.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "local phone companies", the former state monopolies do not have a strong position in the mobile markets, you only have to look at the wrecks that are BT and Deutsche Telekom to see that. You have 'Orange' who provide services in UK, France, Germany, Spain then Vodaphone who operate in nearly every EU country (biggest mobile operator in the world, they also own Airtouch), T-Mobile who own One2One in the UK and another operator in Italy and Spain. There are many others. 'Little local monopolies' have nothing to do with it, and do not exist in the mobile market.

    GSM over 10 years old and still better than the services available in the US, and the Europeans are replacing it with UMTS.
    "There have been cases where GSM phones have caused gas pumps crash and keep pumping fuel."
    That's just bullshit frankly, however you see "do not use mobile's" signs on forecourts because static from the device and grounded equipment in the station could potentially cause a spark, its high theoretical and has never happened. The above is true of any mobile phone. Coincidentally, BMW recalled a small number of their cars last week because of concerns about static grounding through the fuel cap, again, theoretical risk.
    "They cause problems in hospitals with lots of equipment."
    Same goes for any mobile or electromagnetic device, they don't let them near equipment in hospitals because of the potential risks. The same goes for all phones, GSM or otherwise.
    "The result is that the system is completely unsuable in low density areas."
    The whole design was low density cells, just look at the topography of Europe and you will see you have clusters of highly populated areas.

    Nice FUD campaign, however it just comes across was sour grapes on your part. So Europe has a decent digital cell network, digital tv, digital radio etc, get over it.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982