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Communications United States

The 700MHz Question 148

mstrchf07 writes "The FCC will soon be auctioning off the rights to use the 700MHz spectrum for wireless communications, with the winner being able to choose the direction of wireless services development in the US. With stakes this high, is the playing field fair, and are business needs trumping consumer and technological interests?"
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The 700MHz Question

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  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Monday October 01, 2007 @11:20AM (#20810627) Homepage Journal
    just like early years of internet. some source that is open and free should take custody of it until it is no longer vulnerable.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by p0tat03 ( 985078 )

      Google is open and free now? Wow! Where can I get a copy of their search engine source?!

      I have my doubts that Google can remain "not evil" (on the overall karmic scale) for much longer. I would think a non-profit, transparent entity would be far more appropriate.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
        The founders of Google have a private customized 767! Unless they fill 200 or so seats in it every time they fly I think that alone rates as a large chunk of evil. I am saying that they couldn't have a private jet but there are many smaller private jets with just as much range and a lot smaller carbon footprint.
        I don't think that Google is a very evil company. But I wouldn't put them on any pedestal as a great benefactor. As too who gets the spectrum. Well I would like to see Sprint get it since they are cu
        • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday October 01, 2007 @12:36PM (#20811819) Homepage

          Well I would like to see Sprint get it since they are currently the least evil of the cell companies in the US.

          Sounds a bit like saying, "I want to sell my soul to Mephistopheles because he's the least evil demon in hell!"

        • Oh.. get over yourself. A single 767 can't do that much damage on its own, and they don't fly it very often. This is exactly the reason though why everyone can't be rich.. imagine the environmental damage if we all could have our private 767. Either way they bought this way before the dangers of global warming or the oil crisis had really hit. Do you think if they sold it it would get flown less?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by unity100 ( 970058 )
        its the best we got at our hands pal.
      • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Monday October 01, 2007 @12:21PM (#20811535)
        The question isn't really whether whoever gets the spectrum is evil, but rather how well their interests align with those of the user base (you and me). Google is in a rather special situation because 1) they are not a network provider (like Verizon and Comcast, whose goal is maximize revenue from - yet minimize investment in - infrastructure), yet 2) google is not a normal content provider, either - mainly they provide links to other content, since their main product is advertising. What this means is that google has a unique business interest in encouraging new services - especially data services - that (i.e.) Verizon does not.

        Here's the best paragraph from the article:

        Will Google buy the spectrum? They certainly have enough spare cash to do so. If they do, it seems unlikely that they would operate the network themselves since it's a long way away from their core business. Instead, they would be likely to sublicense it to other players with the four conditions they originally hoped the FCC would impose [ensuring open services and open networks].
        If this were to happen, I think it would be a good example of the free market working as intended. US cellphone companies are destroying much of the value of the spectrum they control in order to serve their own narrow interests (e.g. charging hundreds of dollars per megabyte for SMS messages). Since google's business model provides more value to more people, google has more cash on hand to win the bandwidth auction. With any luck this could all work out just right.
        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )
          Personally I would like to see the spectrum opened up to the public for wireless mesh networking. Everything does not have to based upon greed, what happened to governments being a public service rather than a corporate profit centre.
    • Better than Google buying it, is to have a company that is owned by multiple companies who buy it, open it up, and then develop devices geared for it. In particular, it would be good to get Google and perhaps IBM in there.
      • open to manipulation by participants. participants like at-t and others.
      • I'd peg Nokia as the second member of the consortium, and maybe Apple as the third. They are both companies that have a vested interest in open spectrum. As I said in TFA, I'd anticipate them then sublicensing it to smaller players along with interoperability and openness guarantees. I'd see municipalities as good bets for licensees. Rather than deploy municipal WiFi, you buy a chunk of 700MHz spectrum cheaply from Google and friends, and deploy something like WiMAX, with a longer range, and possibly fa
    • by zymano ( 581466 )
      No. We need the public to buy it since we never owned it in the first place and create an open network.
      • the issue is, private firms like at&t are preventing it. we need 'our' own private firm to buy it and let it free.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 01, 2007 @11:21AM (#20810635)
    specifically:

    In Soviet Russia, government controls the commerce.

    If you don't get why that is amusing and appropriate - this about the nature of the Soviet Russia jokes, and what that says about the US.
    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday October 01, 2007 @11:37AM (#20810879)
      Glad someone got it.
    • That is clever. It turns the whole joke on its head.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Aladrin ( 926209 )
        Insightful!? The ORIGINAL Soviet Russia jokes were like that. They were not only funny, and the reverse of America, but TRUE. This is probably the first SR joke in years to actually capture to spirit of the original, and you say it got turned on its head!

        UGH!
        • Well, it is an interesting use of the joke. First, Yakov Smirnoff's version of the joke was usually to have the reverse of America, but have the American version make sense, but the Russian version paint a bad picture of Russia. The GGP post reverses this, having the Russian thing make sense and the American be corrupt. Since the joke is about reversal in the first place, reversing the reversal is in itself a bit funny.

          Also, the jokes were originally meant to be a bit dark and ironic, and then used as a Slashdot cliche they were usually ironically ironic, resulting in a sort of nonsensical whimsey. Now, another layer of irony is added, almost returning the joke to its original sense, but I would say not quite to its original sense. So much irony has basically made it a non-joke, and simply a piercing critique of current US policy. It's pointing out that as ridiculously backwards as Soviet Russia was, it still may have been less backwards than we are now.

          Now, did I really have to explain myself like that?

          • by Alaren ( 682568 )

            Now, did I really have to explain myself like that?

            Well, since you asked and while we're on the topic of /. memes:

            You must be new here. d^_^b

          • Well, Communism and Capitalism have always been the exact opposite of each other (according to jokes, at least. IMO, they're more similar than they want to admit).

            Like: What's Capitalism? The exploitation of man by his fellow man. And Communism? Exactly the opposite.
          • The GGP post reverses this, having the Russian thing make sense and the American be corrupt.

            Depends on what you mean by "Commerce".

            If you're talking "The Invisible Hand" of economic pressure originating with the desires and choices of masses of individuals, rather than bribery of officials by corporations or wealthy individuals, a free-marketer would still consider the Russian version to be corrupt and the American version not. B-)
            • If you're talking "The Invisible Hand" of economic pressure originating with the desires and choices of masses of individuals

              I don't think that's what we're talking about. What was written was, "In Soviet Russia, government controls the commerce." According to the format of the "In Soviet Russia..." jokes, you'd reverse that and say that, in America, commerce controls the government. It implies that the government is being controlled by wealthy entities exerting economic pressure over officials (i.e. b

              • I'm quite aware of that, and it's exactly what I'm addressing:

                There are some people who think that "commerce controlling the government" might be a GOOD thing. (Presuming, of course, that it ISN'T just outright bribery by an elite, which is what the original poster was joking about.)

                Please re-read the post.
                • I've re-read it, still not getting it. The "invisible hand" of economic pressure can control commerce and have it be a free market and a good thing, but what does it look like when the "invisible hand" of economic pressure controls the federal government?

                  Individuals in the government should not be making decisions based on their own personal economic gain. When they do, I'd tend to call that some kind of "bribery" or "corruption", even if it's not explicitly structured with one guy handing money to anoth

                  • I've re-read it, still not getting it. The "invisible hand" of economic pressure can control commerce and have it be a free market and a good thing, but what does it look like when the "invisible hand" of economic pressure controls the federal government?

                    Prohibition leading to increased alcohol consumption, formation of gangs, gang wars, shooting wars between gangs and law enforcement, poisonous booze, etc. Similarly with the "drug war".

                    Gun restrictions leading to increased crime - including increased shoo
                    • Ok, that's a big long explanation of why you're conservative, which is fine. But my question is how are you going to have "commerce" run the government as a good thing? Even if you have conservatives running the government, using careful planning and looking towards secondary and tertiary consequences, they still shouldn't be choosing laws based on personal economic gain, should they? Shouldn't they be making laws for the good of the country, and not based on what makes them money?

                      Or else, what do you m

                    • But my question is how are you going to have "commerce" run the government as a good thing? ...

                      I didn't say *I* thought it was a good idea. I said "a free-marketer would still consider the Russian version to be corrupt and the American version not."

                      Ask one of them. B-)

                      (Personally I think that free markets are great and we ought to try them some time, but that when the values go negative they tend to break down and you need something additional. Like some minimal government. Or and armed population with
                    • I don't think there are any of the sort of "free-marketers" in existence who aren't either children, madmen, or disingenuous about their views. So who would I ask?

                      I'm saying that I don't even understand what kind of concept you're getting at. By what method does commerce control the government except through bribery and corruption? I don't see even a possible theoretical mechanism for it.

  • Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Monday October 01, 2007 @11:21AM (#20810647) Journal

    ...are business needs trumping consumer and technological interests?


    Don't they always?
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday October 01, 2007 @02:35PM (#20813845)
      They didn't always. I'm old enough to remember times when it was different.

      There actually were politicians who remembered that one of the big sources of the depression of the 30s was that people didn't have money to actually buy crap, so what was produced could not be sold, products piling up and businesses going under because of it. So they tried to keep at least enough in our pockets so we could go 'n spend.

      Unfortunately, few politicians still remember those days. Most that are on the helm today only remember the 60s, where the aforementioned politicians (those who did remember) were in control, and all our current politicians learned that people always had enough money to spend, so shifting more money towards those that already have can't hurt too much, we'll keep buying.

      I just wonder: What should we buy crap with when we barely earn enough to get by? Let's imagine I make DVD players. Now, you want one, I want one, a lot of people want one. When each of us has 2000 bucks to spend, we'll both buy one. When I got 4000 and you got zip, I'll buy one. You can't afford it, so you won't. I only need one player, though (what would I do with two?). So instead of two DVD players sold, it's only one.

      Extrapolate for the economy on a larger scale.
    • Adam Smith from the Wealth of Nations published in 1776

      Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer. The maxim is so perfectly self evident that it would be absurd to attempt to prove it. But in the mercantile system the interest of the consumer is almost constantly sacrificed to that of the producer; and it seems to consider production, and not consumption, as the

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Nothing is ever done for the good of the consumer. Consumers don't buy off politicians. Consumers are simply a source of money.
  • Total bandwidth? (Score:5, Informative)

    by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Monday October 01, 2007 @11:23AM (#20810679) Homepage Journal
    If I understand the article correctly, it would seem that 700 Mhz spectrum would only give you 15 MB/s of available bandwidth if it used similar compression techniques to 802.11g. If, as the article suggests, this spectrum were to be used for some big WISP, maybe Google, it wouldn't seem to me to be very viable as the available bandwidth would be split amongst LOTS of users in order to keep it cheap. Now, UMPCs and mobile devices conceivably need less bandwidth, but then, isn't that what we have wireless phone service for?

    It seems to be like this article is a bunch of meaningless speculation about Google's plans for being a ubiquitous WISP.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by skiingyac ( 262641 )
      I think the most realistic case for Google getting into this is not as a regular WISP, but as a "Wireless Google Service Provider". That is, free wireless access to Google and related services (and companies who have paid them) via their spectrum, and not general internet access (you can already pay your cell phone company for that, as many have pointed out). Then, Google either generates sufficient hype/pressure/etc. to get cell phone manufacturers to add support for this new spectrum & service (and
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BlueParrot ( 965239 )
      It would probably work the same way as it does for mobile phones. I.e, you restrict the signal strength so any given transmitter / receiver pair only covers a fairly small area. That way if you have sufficiently many access points you can use the same frequency many many times, in different geographical locations. There are numerous other games you can play ( as all ISPs do ) with regards to contention, traffic shaping etc... With sufficiently smart access points you could give priority to clients that use
      • Your post makes sense, but I don't understand why encrypted data would have such an impact on the network. You could still look at the shape of the traffic, just not its contents, still allowing you to prioritize devices based on their usage. Encrypted or not you would still know how many packets are coming from something, and going somewhere.

        With the 4 openness principles, I don't think any provider would even attempt to shape the traffic based on content. There wouldn't be enough regularity to make it pro
    • by rcw-work ( 30090 ) on Monday October 01, 2007 @12:32PM (#20811753)

      it would seem that 700 Mhz spectrum would only give you 15 MB/s of available bandwidth

      You're trying to compare two separate units. 15MB/sec is not an amount of bandwidth, it is a bitrate. Bitrates much, much higher than the bandwidth can easily be achieved if you have a high enough signal-to-noise ratio. For example, a "56k" modem can achieve 53000bps in 3000hz of bandwidth. Similarly, low bitrates can still be achieved even with signal-to-noise ratios much less than one (GPS does 50bps with signals less than one thousandth the strength of the noise floor).

      To determine error-free bitrate, you need to know how much bandwidth you have, how much signal you have, how much noise you have, and also what the spectral efficiency of the modulation technique you are using is. The formula is called Shannon's Theorem.

      In other words, once the FCC announces what the maximum allowable power is for this band, then you can start speculating on how much data you can pump through it.

      • Then:
        - Multiply by the number of cells.
        - Multiply that by the number of directaional-antenna sectors in each cell.
        - And multiply yet again by the number of antennas in the steerable-null array in each sector.
        Which is presuming you're even using a single-base-multiple-remote model, rather than an adaptive mesh network where the users also forward packets to other users who can't (or shouldn't) hit the landline bridge directly.

        Remember: We're talking cellular technology here. Unlike
        • by rcw-work ( 30090 )

          - Multiply by the number of cells.
          - Multiply that by the number of directaional-antenna sectors in each cell.
          - And multiply yet again by the number of antennas in the steerable-null array in each sector.

          While it is important to consider how to prevent one customer's traffic from affecting another, I was talking about the amount of bandwidth a single customer could potentially receive. Also, I believe the cellular companies are transmitting on non-overlapping channels with each sector antenna (at UH

          • I was talking about the amount of bandwidth a single customer could potentially receive.

            Look into "MIMO". Multiply the bandwidth by the base-2 log of the signal to noise ratio by the number of coordinated antennas on the end with fewer coordinated antennas.

            Also, I believe the cellular companies are transmitting on non-overlapping channels with each sector antenna (at UHF and microwave frequencies, they are not directional enough to prevent overloading the other antennas/radios a few feet away), and they se
            • Or if a customer is close enough and his own M (= N) antennas are separated enough you can give him M separate channels with the data smeared across them for M times the bandwidth.

              Arrgh. Should have previewed. The HTML formatting ate the "less than" sign.

              Make that "M (less-than-or-equal-to N)"
            • At UHF and microwave frequencies the beams are about as directional as a telephoto lens when the component antennas at the cell site are separated by several feet.

              Specifically, elements a few wavelengths apart are as directional as a telephoto lens which is one or two micrometers across [wikipedia.org] (a few wavelengths of visible light). In any case, no matter how many antenna elements you put in phase to shine your signal only where you want (and whether you do it via smart antennas or an old skool yagi or dish does

              • Specifically, elements a few wavelengths apart are as directional as a telephoto lens which is one or two micrometers across (a few wavelengths of visible light).

                OK, so I overstated it. (A lot. B-) )

                Nevertheless, with even a rather small angular separation between remote stations, it's entirely adequate for N antennas to synthesize N separate, simultaneous, coverage patterns, each with N-1 solid nulls on the N-1 stations that aren't intended to be sent to or received from by the pattern in question, givi
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pilgrim23 ( 716938 )
      In the early days of commercial radio, the AM radio commercial broadcast stations were limited to 50k watts due to the networks (Mutual CBS NBC) hammering down one station (WLW; Crosley Brodcasting) which had a 200kw transitter and could run advertising cheaper and guarantee a greater audiance share. In like manner the commercial interests today will hammer any tech edge anyone develops. The someone will get the idea of setting up a huge broadcast farm in Tijuana pointed north....
  • by Tony ( 765 ) on Monday October 01, 2007 @11:24AM (#20810683) Journal
    With stakes this high, is the playing field fair, and are business needs trumping consumer and technological interests?

    No. Yes. In that order.

    They playing field is rarely fair when business is concerned. If corporate interest is involved, there is always a corporation able to affect the environment much more than any governmental regulation; and they will always affect the environment in their own favor, whether it is in the best interest of citizens or technology or progress or any other damned thing that doesn't have anything at all to do with "maximizing profits."

    This is all stupid talk. Some corporation will end up in control of a public resource. The public will get fucked. That's how it works. That's how it always works.
    • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday October 01, 2007 @12:21PM (#20811549) Homepage

      This is all stupid talk. Some corporation will end up in control of a public resource. The public will get fucked. That's how it works. That's how it always works.

      I think you've hit on an interesting issue in all of this, and I wonder why you didn't put more emphasis on it. The wireless spectrum is a *public* resource. Somehow this whole debate about the 700Mhz spectrum always gets framed in such a way as to imply that some huge company necessarily must own it. However, it's technically public and only gets licensed to some company for commercial use.

      It really must not be forgotten. AT&T has no legal right to own the 700Mhz spectrum. It would be much more true to say that the people of the United States own that spectrum and always will. The question in front of us (and in front of *our* lawmakers (those lawmakers work for us!)) is how we wish to use that spectrum. Even if we license it to some particular business or group for the development of commerce or infrastructure, we have every right to put limits on how it can be developed and used.

      For some reason, we've been tricked into not thinking of things that way. Radio waves travel through the air over everyone's property and through our bodies all the time. It's inherently public, like light or air. A responsible government cannot auction off those sorts of resources without any restriction on how they can be controlled or used. Moreover, what we're talking about here is the development of a national telecommunications infrastructure. We wouldn't let a single company own all plumbing so that all pipes, faucets, sinks, and toilets had to be purchased from that company. We wouldn't allow a single company to own all of our roads and highways such that they could deny passage to any driver or any car brand. We shouldn't allow a single company to control our communications over the entire country.

      We are talking about making use of public resources in order to create national infrastructure. I have no objection to involving private companies in the development of that infrastructure, but the end result needs to be regulated in favor of the public good.

      And no, I'm not a communist or socialist. I don't believe the federal government should be involved in very much. If there's one thing the federal government should do, it's maintain a standing army. If there are two things it should do, it's maintain an army and regulate the maintenance of national infrastructure.

      • It really must not be forgotten. AT&T has no legal right to own the 700Mhz spectrum. It would be much more true to say that the people of the United States own that spectrum and always will.

        You know, as a Canadian, I find the idea that your country alone must "own" the spectrum at least as bad or more so than a large company owning it.

        I know you probably didn't mean what you said there, but try to remember that there are a lot more of us outside your borders.
        • Yes, there are people outside our borders, but I'm anticipating that the devices we're using to generate radio waves don't have an infinite range.
    • Some corporation will end up in control of a public resource. The public will get fucked. That's how it works. That's how it always works.

      People are always quick to demonize the corporation without giving any credit to the benefits allowed by such legal organizations of resources and people. While it is true that corporations, like people, sometimes behave badly it is also true to say that the modern lifestyle, which is based upon a foundation of incredible complexity, would not be possible without the
    • whether it is in the best interest of citizens or technology or progress or any other damned thing that doesn't have anything at all to do with "maximizing profits."

      From The Wealth of Nations:

      "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages"

      "and by directing that indu
  • More Specifically (Score:4, Interesting)

    by asphaltjesus ( 978804 ) on Monday October 01, 2007 @11:25AM (#20810711)
    I would have loved to see a horse race with the entertainment conglomerates, google and the telcos. Sadly, the entertainment conglomerates can't see the forest through the trees and would abuse consumers just as much as the telcos.

    Telcos win, consumers lose. Same story different day.
  • The money (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Monday October 01, 2007 @11:36AM (#20810867) Homepage Journal
    So what is the FCC going to do with the money they make off this?
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      The money will be a down payment on another war.
    • Re:The money (Score:4, Interesting)

      by BoberFett ( 127537 ) on Monday October 01, 2007 @01:15PM (#20812417)
      Buy filters so no nipples or curse words are sent over the airwaves?
      • "are not sent"

        I should proofread before clicking submit. A system like Digg where you have 60 seconds to edit a post would be nice though.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by BoberFett ( 127537 )
        Sigh.

        Ignore the above, I haven't had my Mt Dew yet today.
    • The money has already been spent in the FY 2008 federal budget - the buyers have to pay up by the end of June, 2008.

      Basically, we (through our elected representatives) have decided that we want to license this spectrum out to private entities, and reap the revenue from this. We could have left it unlicensed (a la 2.4/5.8Ghz), but we (through our elected representatives) decided not to.

      We could also have placed greater restrictions on the users of the spectrum, but decided not to, as that would lead to lowe
    • by Detritus ( 11846 )
      Nothing, the money goes into the General Fund, like all taxes and duties.
  • I haven't read through the article yet, but thank you, thank you, thank you for submitting the single-page "printer-friendly" link.
  • by oDDmON oUT ( 231200 ) on Monday October 01, 2007 @11:51AM (#20811047)
    mstrchf07 asks ...are business needs trumping consumer and technological interests?

    Of *course*!

    And it's not even a matter of business needs, it's business greeds.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday October 01, 2007 @11:52AM (#20811057) Journal
    Our congress is the best legislature in the world that money can buy. They will only take care of corporate interests. Occasionally that line might benefit consumers, citizens and America in general. But that is mostly side effect.

    Just yesterday Newt Gingrich came on the George Stephenopolos(sp?) show and claimed that 70% of Americans support reduction in corporate taxes, 60% support abolition of capital gains tax etc etc. That would be alright if he is genuinely a fiscal conservative sincerely trying to reduce the size of the government. But he opened with "New Orleans is still a mess, ..." What? It is somehow the Govt's job to allow people sandwiched between Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi and the lake to build homes below sea level and keep pumping out water and spend couple of billion dollars in the levy system?

    If Republicans would not take on people's unrealistic expectations from Govt what right they have to complain about Tax and Spend Democrats?

    • It is somehow the Govt's job to allow people sandwiched between Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi and the lake to build homes below sea level and keep pumping out water and spend couple of billion dollars in the levy system?

      So, you're saying it's not in the interest of our government to rebuild the port city on the largest river in our country? It's not in the government's interest to provide disaster relief? It's not in government's interest to invest in infrastructure?

      This to me is indicative of the

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by OgreChow ( 206018 )
        So, you're saying it's not in the interest of our government to rebuild the port city on the largest river in our country?

        If it's so damned profitable, then businesses should be willing to rebuild there. And the local government there should collect the taxes it needs in order to build some proper levees, and if these taxes are too high for the businesses to exist, then it's not damned profitable enough. It's one of those "return on investment" deals. If the dollars aren't there, then it isn't worth i
      • by cfulmer ( 3166 )
        I think you're abstracting too far. It's possible to say that the Federal Government should not rebuild New Orleans while saying that it should still invest in other infrastructure.

        First of all, there's big difference between disaster relief and disaster recovery. Relief is bringing in food, water, medicine and so on. Recovery goes well beyond that, to rebuilding of homes and businesses. It is thoroughly consistent to say that the federal government should help with the first, but not with the second.

        Th
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cowscows ( 103644 )
          New Orleans is an excellent place to build a city, which is why a city was built there in the first place. It is an intensely busy port, with a huge portion of the country's energy supply and seafood supply moving through it. Not to mention all the cultural stuff which is much harder to quantify.

          You can argue whether the city should've been built there all day if you want, but at the end of the day, the city's there, it's been there for hundreds of years. There are hundreds of thousands of people in the cit
          • by cfulmer ( 3166 )
            Sorry --

            I wasn't clear. I wasn't suggesting that there shouldn't be a city there. I was suggesting that if it makes economic sense to have a city there, then you don't need the federal government to step in. The property owners will either fix up their property themselves, or sell to somebody else who will. You mention hundreds of billion dollars worth of buildings, homes, etc.... If they are worth that much, then surely their owners will be willing to clean them up and renovate them wit
            • by Rich0 ( 548339 )
              Not to mention that even if some kind of oil port facility were required for the sake of national infrastructure (ideally funded by taxes on oil passing through it), there is no reason it would have to be located EXACTLY where New Orleans is. A port a few miles upriver or along the cost would be just as convenient.

              Also - a port facility needs SOME housing for workers, but not a whole city.

              In any case, as you say - if the city were really worth billions of dollars they could just raise taxes and build their
              • If having a locally funded, designed, and built flood protection system is what New Orleans needs to survive, then that's what New Orleans will do. But it can't be done overnight. It wasn't done in the past, because the federal government told the citizens not to worry about it, the Army Corps of Engineers will handle it. They screwed it up, and their mistakes caused massive flooding in a city that had survived the wind and rain of Katrina with only mild damage.

                I'm not entirely sure what you're talking abou
                • by Rich0 ( 548339 )
                  My point was that if New Orleans were really worth billions of dollars they wouldn't have any trouble fixing things on their own. That high dollar value was one of the reasons put forth for bothering to fix it at all.

                  If New Orleans can't afford to fix things on their own then in fact it isn't worth all that much in the first place.

                  And mortgages are the way you extract real dollars (cash) out of property valuations.
                  • You have no sense of the scale of the damage. You also appear to have only a rudimentary sense of how mortgages work. I cannot just go to the bank and tell them I want to take out a mortgage on my house in order to build levees for the city.
                    • by Rich0 ( 548339 )
                      Sure you can. As long as you have equity in your house.

                      If your house is 95% leveraged already then sure, they won't give you cash unless it is expected to increase the value of your home, or at least be financially neutral to you.

                      If New Orleans is in fact 95% leveraged already then let the banks worry about it - they're the only ones with a financial stake in the place. If they have lots of equity then getting loans won't be a problem.

                      My basic point is that I'm skeptical that New Orleans is worth all thi
                • by dkf ( 304284 )

                  I'm not entirely sure what you're talking about in terms of the citizens of new orleans mortgaging their homes to pay for levees.
                  It's probably because the most logical method of funding the continuance of the city - surtaxing the oil and goods flowing through it - might impact him as someone who lives somewhere else.
            • There are thousands of people down here willing and trying to clean up their neighborhoods, without the help of the federal government. I just can't give a full enough idea of how big of a project this is. Everyone on your block might fix up their houses, but you're still dependent on the government to fix the streets, fix the water lines, get the police force back up to speed, etc. Yes, much of this is the job of the local government, but you can't reasonably expect a city that just went through that level
  • "Are business needs trumping consumer and technological interests?"

    Of course they are. Business needs are what bring profit to individuals so they can afford to live apart from the herd. Business needs drive everything.

    If as a worker, I want to succeed, I pick the company that succeeds according to business needs and grow with it. When buying stocks, I pick the company with closest attention to business needs.

    Technological and consumer interests have nothing to do with it except as means to the end of busin
  • " ...are business needs trumping consumer and technological interests?"

    Shouldn't that be: "are business interests trumping consumer and technological needs?"

    • by Tiger4 ( 840741 )
      We stopped having serious technology NEEDS back around 1900! Trains, telegraphs, and flush toilets were supporting cities of millions. And still do in some parts of the world.

      Wants and desires have been driving change for a very long time. Business is the process that feeds those desires. Welcome to free markets!

  • by VeteranNoob ( 1160115 ) on Monday October 01, 2007 @12:13PM (#20811383)

    are business needs trumping consumer and technological interests?

    YES. Where have you been?

    At least in the US, it has become so painfully obvious that our government's number one priority is Big Business. Watch the bills that are drawn and enacted in this country and you will quickly see that almost all of them are catering to business interests and, most likely, trampling on individuals' rights.

  • by LM741N ( 258038 ) on Monday October 01, 2007 @12:18PM (#20811479)
    Let the government divide the spectrum by the number of US citizens and give everyone their portion of the bandwidth. People could then band together to combine their khz or Mhz and do interesting things. But I reiterate- the spectrum belongs to us.
  • are business needs trumping consumer and technological interests?

    Did Congress and/or the FCC commissioners flunk Econ 101? If they auction the spectrum off, the eventual winners will need a business plan that produces some return on this investment. The greater the auction price, the more they have to earn. The more they have to earn, the more they are going to have to squeeze out of the eventual consumers.

    Sure, its not absolute. They still have to provide service that consumers will 'want' (even if they e

    • Agreed, it really is a shame that the government feels the need to sell this spectrum to one company. The price will be high for an individual company, causing the problems that you mentioned. But in the long run, the money gained will be just a drop in the bucket for the government.

      So basically they're going to end up heavily limiting the benefits of the spectrum in return for an ultimately insignificant amount of money. It's almost certainly not in the best interests of the citizens.

  • by Anti_Climax ( 447121 ) on Monday October 01, 2007 @01:10PM (#20812333)

    With stakes this high, is the playing field fair, and are business interests trumping consumer and technological needs?

    Fixed that for ya.
  • I understand the digital signal can possible narrow the bandwidth required 'some'. Yet Why don't they let the Stations use the remainder also? I suspect they might be afraid that they may try to compete with the other communication service providers for supplying other supplemental information and entertainment and perhaps even two way communications. I have noted that the cell phone frequency is not a healthy one [brain tumors are a possible concern]. It probably was an analog device I was using, non
  • Mobile phone spectrum auctions in Europe were so expensive they destroyed the industry. The money received from spectrum sales are not significant though compared to the value of what the spectrum facilitates in terms of our economy. There is no longer a good reason to auction, except that those have been the rules. It used to be that a telecom company had to show they had money so they could roll out infrastructure responsibly, however we have found that even with $200bn they still can't do it. Rather, I b
  • Now where's the obligatory "640MHz is enough for everybody" line?
  • Picking a good frequency for a particular application is difficult. High frequencies have a greater information carrying capacity. An encoding used to transmit data typically has a fixed number of bits per cycle. On a pure, noiseless, square wave, this would be one; the wave is either up or down, giving a one or zero. More commonly, the amplitude is varied in smaller steps, giving more than two possible symbols per cycle. All other things being equal, however, doubling the frequency (that is, doubling the n

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