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Businesses The Internet Communications Government Networking The Media United States Wireless Networking Technology

Broadcasters Accuse Telecom Companies of Hoarding Spectrum 102

Posted by timothy
from the most-efficient-use-of-resources dept.
angry tapir writes "The National Association of Broadcasters, asked by the US Federal Communications Commission and some lawmakers to give up television spectrum for mobile data uses, has fired back by accusing several other companies of hoarding the spectrum they hold. In recent weeks, the NAB has gone on the offensive by suggesting that several spectrum holders, including Verizon Communications, AT&T and Time Warner Cable, have not developed the spectrum they already have."
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Broadcasters Accuse Telecom Companies of Hoarding Spectrum

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  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Monday March 21, 2011 @07:17AM (#35557832)
    There seem to be a lot of parallels to IPv4... our general supply of unallocated spectrum/addresses is running out while everybody is accusing everybody else of hording unused spectrum/addresses and to turn them over for others to use.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 21, 2011 @07:24AM (#35557864)

      No.

      IP addresses can be increased by just adding numbers to the end. It's only a problem because some vendors aren't willing to adopt a new standard because they're too cheap to invest the money.

      Electromagnetic spectrum is limited by nature. It's a physical constraint.

      • by foniksonik (573572) on Monday March 21, 2011 @07:33AM (#35557916) Homepage Journal

        There is infinite supply of spectrum if you are willing to invest in equipment to use it that way. All frequencies can be split many many times. Data companies are actually more capable of this than broadcasters as the receivers are updated more frequently and consumers more willing to buy in if there is a reasonable improvement.

        • by morgauxo (974071) on Monday March 21, 2011 @08:25AM (#35558256)
          Yes, spectrum could be used much more efficiently. It is not however unlimited. Frequencies can't be split into smaller slices indefinitely. Lookup "nyquist rate".
          • by rufty_tufty (888596) on Monday March 21, 2011 @10:43AM (#35560084) Homepage

            The Nyquist rate applies to the symbol frequency. This is related to, but not actually the bit rate.

            (Struggling to remember decade old university lectures)

            A symbol can carry many bits of data e.g. 16 QAM can carry 4 bits per symbol. The amount of data you can carry on your symbol being limited by your channel and your TX-RX hardware. Our lecturer in this subject was very keen to drive home the fact that "The only thing that stops you sending one Gigabit in one kilohertz is your budget to pay for your phase discriminators."
            So the GP is right in that data spectrum is infinite if you have the right hardware, you are right that at the moment we can only parcel the spectrum up so finely.

            • There's a second and very important limitation: Signal to Noise Ratio. Noise has a physical minimum, so to increase SNR more power is needed. Getting another 2 bits per symbol per Hz of bandwidth requires quadrupling power, and if your transmitter is already in the 50 kW to 100 kW region this means spending about $50 each hour for those 2 bits. There are also health concerns for people near the transmitter.

              Sending 1 gigabit (per second) in 1 kHz requires a SNR of about 134 dB (this is a very rough mental es

              • by wings (27310)

                There's a second and very important limitation: Signal to Noise Ratio. Noise has a physical minimum, so to increase SNR more power is needed.

                This.

                See Shannon's Law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shannon%E2%80%93Hartley_theorem [wikipedia.org]

                Shannon's Law contains nothing about current limits in technology.

                Basically, for a given Signal to Noise ratio at the receiver (specifically at the detector), when the noise power approaches the power of the smallest bit division, you cannot reliably recover those bits and fu

              • I was trying to paper over that complication in my post with the concept of the channel, seems like someone's called me on it ;-)
                In short I agree, but using this as a platform to discuss an interesting bit of technology I'd like to see if I've got some fundamental concept wrong here.

                As I understand the term SNR is often used to encompass a number of complex issues. Noise can be injected from many sources, the transmitter, the receiver, the channel, interference, noise floor of the background etc
                In my argume

            • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)
              Each new level of phase discrimination adds to the power requirements - there is no free lunch. I use Phase shift keying in Amateur Radio, and there are 3 popular modes - PSK31, PSK63, and PSK125 (baud rate) with 2, 4, and 8 phase detections. PSK125 can drop out yet PSK31 is still quite usable depending on band conditions - atmospheric noise and phase shifting can be a real bear. So each addition of phase angles increases the power needed to maintain a reliable connection, until the power requirement is al
          • by hazydave (96747)

            Yup. And above 60GHz or so, air becomes opaque to RF. If Spectrum were really infinite, there wouldn't be billions spent on buying newly available frequencies... it would be far cheaper to develop higher frequency hardware. But physics is one of those uncorrectable things.. more money doesn't get you a break in the law.

            It's not just spectrum that's the issue, but usable spectrum. The first big issue is free space path loss. For example, let's consider Verizon LTE at 700MHz versus Sprint WiMax at 2500MHz, j

          • by pclminion (145572)

            You are confusing Nyquist rate and Shannon capacity. Not only two different concepts, but two different inventors. The maximum rate at which you can reliably transmit information on a noisy channel is the product of two factors: bandwidth and SNR (in reality, the log of SNR+1, but whatever). In theory, you can transmit as fast as you want with as small a bandwidth as you like, so long as your SNR is sufficiently high.

            In practice there are physical and economic limits, but there is no mathematical limit, as

        • by Ash-Fox (726320)

          There is infinite supply of spectrum if you are willing to invest in equipment to use it that way.

          Are you intending to be intentionally miss leading? Propogation issues is a huge a problem depending on which frequency range you're using, then it's further complicated by the fact that you have a finite limit of how much data you can put through an allocated set of frequencies that fits your purpose, even with wide spread frequency radios

          All frequencies can be split many many times.

          You can introduce multiple

        • Sorry but you are Extremely wrong... there is a finite quantity of spectrum thats usable.. as the frequency gets higher its properties change.. for an example once your reach the terahertz range your starting to emit light and not sound anymore.. and we all know that light doesn't pass through solid object very well.. Which makes those ranges unusable for Mobile use where you definitely will experience impairment in your line of sight.

          Another thing as you increase frequency the amount of power required to g

        • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)
          Infinite spectrum? Not even. For Data, you're going to want UHF+ to begin with, as you can't modulate a signal with a higher frequency signal. Then you have say lower frequency signals in the HF range. Problem is that those signals can and do propagate around the world, and what's worse, depend on the time of day and sunspot cycle. Some geniuses always have big plans for HF during solar minimum, and then find out why that's a bad idea a few years later.

          And data companies, despite update cycles, turn out

      • Its not the Vendors that are holding up IPv6.. Vendors have been ready for it for a long time... Until recently there have been few to no companies deploying IPv6 networks.. Equipment vendors never make alot of products which do not have demand..

      • by blair1q (305137)

        Those vendors will go away, then.

        And the physical constraint on spectrum isn't as limiting as you think. Bandwidth can be improved by multiplying what are called "accesses" on the same frequencies. Time-access, aka time-slotting; code-access (CDMA); phase-access and polarity access (QPSK); pulse-coding (PCM); spatial access / spatial diversity. It can also be improved by improving sensitivity and selectivity.

        You have to find vendors willing to implement those improvements, just as for the increase in IP

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday March 21, 2011 @07:31AM (#35557896) Journal
    And hand the spectrum over to the next generation of 802.11b/g/n-esque applications.

    Even confined to a couple of really sucky blocks of spectrum, the success of no-license-to-deploy, inexpensive wireless data standards has been extraordinary. Why not murder a few bloated, feckless, incumbents and hand over some proper spectrum for this proven and extremely useful application?
    • by grumling (94709) on Monday March 21, 2011 @07:52AM (#35558014) Homepage

      Or, better yet, how about licensed radios that actually have some range to them? To get a license, you have to take an operator's test, not as technically-oriented as a HAM license, but more difficult than swiping a credit card at Best Buy. Then the last mile problem becomes YOUR problem, not the ISP/wireless phone company.

      The wireless industry keeps telling congress that if they just get a little mo' (little mo' spectrum, little mo' tax money, little mo' market share) they'll be able to cover everyone, even the most rural areas, with super-fast Internet service. The problem is, they have no financial interest in rural areas. A tower is a fixed cost. If a tower is in a metropolitan area, that fixed cost is likely to be lower, mostly because towers can share back-haul resources. In rural areas, there may not be access to back-haul fiber. So it either needs to be built at great expense (X2 if you want 5 9's uptime), leased (at great expense), or just skip the whole thing and lie on the coverage map.

      And since every carrier, now save 1, is capping data at 5GB/month, there's really no way rural broadband will truly be available from the wireless carriers.

      FCC let us build our own networks!

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        The wireless industry keeps telling congress that if they just get a little mo' (little mo' spectrum, little mo' tax money, little mo' market share) they'll be able to cover everyone, even the most rural areas, with super-fast Internet service.

        Meanwhile they're not even doing the things they're legally obligated to do. If you call 9-1-1 from a cellphone in Lake County, CA you can get transferred to Napa, or Mendocino, or even Oakland, but you won't get our local 9-1-1 dispatch. Where you go is probably based on whose cell you are on at the time; at minimum we have ATT, Edge, and someone's CDMA tower (guessing VZ based on the fact that you can actually get VZ here.) What the fuck? The towers aren't moving, and they know to which cell your phone is

        • Wasn't this the alleged reason why phones had to report GPS data to the tower? So that 911 would know where you are? They get the spying working but never mind that CYA excuse, it was just for show? Typical.

      • every carrier, now save 1, is capping data at 5GB/month

        No, there are plenty of carriers that will let you use more than 5GB/month, however, it isn't FREE. Big difference. It's amazing how much people whine when they actually have to pay for stuff they want to use.

      • Or, better yet, how about licensed radios that actually have some range to them?

        Best yet, drop requiring licenses period. Allow the airwaves to be homesteaded [mises.org]. Congress – Stop Selling Our Airwaves! [3dbwireless.com].

        Falcon

  • It's not a question of whom has spectrum that is undeveloped. It more a question of whom is in fact actively developing improved uses for the unused spectrum. I find it unlikely that the broadcasters are planning to revolutionize our global economy with any extra spectrum they still control.

  • Kiss HTDV goodbye (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    My friend who works at the FCC tells me that no broadcasters currently use 1080p transmissions even though everyone is investing in TVs that support it. The current maximum in 720p. And that it is likely that we will never see that since the telecom companies are going to grab the spectrum needed to do so away from the broadcasters. Apparently the a lot of channels this has already been done.

    This concerns me because I am one of the few people who depends on over the air broadcasting rather than a wired n

    • Probably depends on how vocal the minority is. If they have to pick one or the other, a true democracy would, almost by definition, vote down the minority in favor of the majority. Fortunately for you, we actually live in a republic, in which the people choose someone to represent them in decision-making and then (at least in theory) try to persuade that person to favor certain choices. If you care, write your congressman, or whoever would be making the calls (no pun intended) on this one.
    • Re:Kiss HTDV goodbye (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Cimexus (1355033) on Monday March 21, 2011 @08:06AM (#35558090)

      I don't live in America but a similar thing is happening here in Australia. There is very little broadcast in 1080p here. Most is broadcast either in 1080i, 720p or increasingly, standard def (576i on most channels, 576p on a couple).

      I say 'increasingly' standard def because what's happening over here is that most TV networks have looked at the spectrum granted to them and made the decision they'll make more money from broadcasting, say, four or five SD channels in that multiplex, than they would from broadcasting one or two HD channels. So you see networks with half a dozen SD channels playing endless reruns of old stuff, rather than concentrating on one good HD channel with new content.

      Which isn't all bad: it does give you a lot more choice when you're flipping channels. But all those people that bought 1080p sets really aren't getting use out of them unless they have it hooked up to a bluray player or HTPC. A few years ago when I was shopping for a TV I was on a limited budget, and consciously bought a high end 720p set rather than a low end 1080p set. Haven't regretted the choice once to be honest.

      • by MBGMorden (803437)

        I can agree, but I honestly think most people also don't really care about this issue much.

        Most of the people I know that even watched broadcast television were happy with their SD televisions before the switch. The whole switch-over in the US for many was just a headache. Those that do have new TV's, the main thing that they seem to like is the "clear" picture, which is provided by the change to digital transmissions - not HD.

        Even myself, if I'm watching an SD signal that was meant for a 4:3 set then it'

        • by Obfuscant (592200)

          Those that do have new TV's, the main thing that they seem to like is the "clear" picture, which is provided by the change to digital transmissions - not HD.

          Unless you happen to live in what used to be the acceptable edge of the contour and could get a viewable analog signal, which means you now get nothing, or worse, a signal that blocks up and stops every ten seconds.

          The only people who are getting the "clear" picture are those who already lived within a good signal range and had some other reason for bad analog. E.g., bad antenna cable that they replaced when putting up the new digital antenna. Or they gave up on an internal antenna and actually installed

    • Re:Kiss HTDV goodbye (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GrumpyOldMan (140072) on Monday March 21, 2011 @08:06AM (#35558098)

      First, the best quality is arguably 1080i (1920x1080 at 30fps), which is same resolution as 1080p once it is de-interlaced. 720p (1280x720 at 60fps) is better for motion, since it is not interlaced.

      Second, the reason that nobody broadcasts 1080p is because there is not enough bandwidth in a single channel. To clarifly the current ATSC standards provide for 19Mb/s and require MPEG2 and limit the codecs they can use, which terrible compression. If broadcasters could use a modern codec (H.264, VP8, etc), then they could probably squeeze 1080p out of a single channel. But then you'd need to buy new digital tuners to get the h.264 encoded TV.

      Third, broadcasters's greed is their own worst enemy when it comes to signal quality. In my area, many stations have as many as 2 SD sub channels (and our ABC has 2 HD channels, and one SD channel). Some are also carrying mobile DTV. These subchannels are usually re-runs of crappy old TV/Movies, music videos, shopping channels, and other junk like you'd see on basic cable. They limit the bandwidth for the main HD channel to 12Mb/s or less. I've recently put up a bigger antenna so I can pull in channels from a market 50 miles away, simply because the broadcasters there use less subchannels, and have far better quality.

      • by vlm (69642)

        Third, broadcasters's greed is their own worst enemy when it comes to signal quality.

        Greed is also causing programming problems...

        These subchannels are usually re-runs of crappy old TV/Movies, music videos, shopping channels, and other junk like you'd see on basic cable.

        One station in a market puts up a "weather (sub)channel" that stations rolls in the dough. Obviously, all the stations must copy them and put up their own weather (sub)channel so as not to fall behind. None of them can pull their own weight against all that competition, so they all implode. Locally we are post bubble; my favorite weather subchannel is now continuous infomercials and laywer commercials with an intermittent weather border. Soon we'll have no we

        • by afidel (530433)
          Eh, most stations that do sports use 720p because of the motion aspect (actually almost all the programming on my local's that are in HD are 720p, 1080i is mostly movies).
      • by EmagGeek (574360)

        One other thing the broadcasters did to shoot themselves in the foot was to insist on 8-VSB as a modulation method as opposed to the far superior COFDM.

        They did not want to spend the money on upgrading their transmitters, which would have needed to be far more linear to work with OFDM. They would cover far more people with OFDM and generate more revenue, but that would have required long-term thinking on the part of the broadcasters.

        • by Gizzmonic (412910)

          Yep, this is the elephant in the room with regards to digital TV. And of course, the fact that it doesn't degrade gracefully. 8VSB doesn't deal very well with multipath.

      • by 517714 (762276)
        You're not current on the ATSC [slashdot.org] standard. H.264/MPEG-4 AVC compression was incorporated.
      • by jwdb (526327)

        First, the best quality is arguably 1080i (1920x1080 at 30fps), which is same resolution as 1080p once it is de-interlaced. 720p (1280x720 at 60fps) is better for motion, since it is not interlaced.

        I'd disagree - it's more complex than that.

        60fps material is obviously better than 30fps for motion. When you say 720p and 1080p you do not specify the framerate, however, and 720p could be 30fps or 60fps. You typically have a choice between 1080p30 or 720p60 because the bandwidth saved by reducing the resolution

        • by TheSync (5291)

          Motion creates interlace artifacts. 1080i looks great until something moves. That is why the more sports-oriented broadcasters use 720p60.

          "The native stuff is actually 1920x540 at 60fps"

          However it should be noted that some 1080i30 broadcasters actually use HDCAM (1440x1080) contribution, thus they are never at 1920x1080.

          Regarding 1080p60, baseband video of that resolution requires dual-link 1.5 Gbps HD-SDI or 3Gbps HD-SDI, both of which are only now being deployed to broadcasters building new plants. The

          • by jwdb (526327)

            Motion creates interlace artifacts. 1080i looks great until something moves. That is why the more sports-oriented broadcasters use 720p60.

            Are you talking about the comb effect? You can get rid of that by playing the video back at twice the frame rate with each field a frame. Vertical resolution's lousy, but there shouldn't be any artifacts.

            Unless of course the stream was first interlaced and then compressed with a lossy codec, as I expect most are. Then 720p60 should win, as the codec probably doesn't under

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AlecC (512609)

      When I left the industry three years ago, broadcasters were using either 720p for fast moving stuff (sports) or 1080i for hi res stuff (drama, documentary), both using data compressed to 100Mbit/sec. Generally, studio infrastructure is standardizing on 100Mbit/sec for post-production, so you aren't going to get more underlying data even if they do upgrade to 1080p. It would be cheaper to fit an upscaler in your TV.

    • cable and satellite can do 1080P. Satellite systems do have 1080P right now.

    • Is this a record? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Is this a record of misinformation in a slashdot post?
      Broadcast HDTV over the ATSC standard supports 720P or 1080I, with a maximum on one channel of 1 1080i stream + 2 480i streams. There's two important reasons why broadcasters can't provide 1080p;
      1: It's not part of the ATSC spec. When ATSC was agreed as a standard the only HDTVs being sold were CRTs with horrible AV boards and Plasmas that were XGA (with "rectangular pixels"). Neither of these TVs supported 1080p, and a lot of them didn't even properl

      • by 517714 (762276)
        Out of date information - 1080p and H.264/MPEG-4 AVC compression is now part of the ATSC [slashdot.org] standard.
    • Re:Kiss HTDV goodbye (Score:4, Interesting)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday March 21, 2011 @08:39AM (#35558362) Journal
      It is fairly hard to make a public-interest argument in favor of using scarce(note to spread spectrum and other tech-trick enthusiasts: yes, how limited it is strongly depends on how smart you are about it; but it is finite) spectrum for high-bandwidth broadcasts.

      There are the "public information dissemination"/"cultural goods" arguments, which are reasonably strong; but also amply satisfied by even AM quality voice and smeary NTSC quality video. More video bandwidth is certainly better; but that "better" is simply an aesthetic improvement, not a matter of any significant interest(especially in a world where the bandwidth of blu-ray+USPS is so damn high. There is a value in people being able to get current news/political events/hazard warnings in real time; which is a broadcast specialty; but there is no need to allocate enough spectrum so that they can count the pores on senator scumweasel's nose. For ~$12, you can get 50GB video entertainment chunks mailed to your door, not to mention consoles and HTPCs and all the other non-broadcast uses of HDTVs)

      That said, I'm really not an enthusiast of the "sell it all to Verizon, Ma Bell knows best." theory of spectrum allocation. I'd prefer to see a much stronger support of un or minimally licenced data-transmission spectrum, along the lines of wifi; but with spectrum that doesn't totally blow. Even laboring under those restrictions, wifi has been an amazing success, and the possibilities of future minimal-licensing wireless are really much more compelling than "another bunch of TV channels" or "200mb/s TO YOUR CELLPHONE* *Capped at 5GB/month, overage $10/GB, you're damn right other terms and restrictions apply, see 2,000 pages of fine print for details.*"
      • by sjames (1099)

        I'm for adding it to unlicensed spectrum as well. However weak the public interest argument is for free OTA television, it's even weaker for giving it to cellular providers so they can charge us outrageous rates to allow us to actually use it.

        WiFi and bluetooth among other things have shown that unlicensed use of spectrum is by far the most innovative and generally useful. The ISM band is a teeny sliver of the whole spectrum and look what we get for it. AT&T even depends on it to make video conferencing

        • I'd agree there. Any handoff to team telco is going to have all the charms of the post-soviet oligarchical "privatization", where a very juicy piece of public property is sweethearted away by one of a few well connected entities. ISM band really ought to get it(or, perhaps, a special form of licensed band, where any piece of hardware conforming to some open industry spec may freely use it, so that you get most of the ISM freedom; but without arc welders and cheapo analog video blasters playing hell. That wo
          • by sjames (1099)

            White space use sort of goes in that direction. It allows a substantial amount of that space to be used by any conforming device without the need for user licensing.

            But yes, by far the most development and innovation has happened in the ISM space by individuals. There is ample proof that releasing spectrum for unlicensed use is in the public interest.

            Personally, I'd like to see relaxed power restrictions on whitespace use of the FM and AM broadcast spectrum as well.

    • This is almost correct.

      The DTV specifications are such that 720p, 1080i and 1080p all use the same video bandwidth, because 720p is presented at 60fps and 1080i and 1080p are presented at 30fps (though 24 is also available for both resolutions and 30 is also available for 720p)

      The only reason I can think of for a TV broadcaster choosing 1080i over 1080p is that material shot at 24fps will transcode poorly to 30fps progressive, and vice-versa, wherease transcoding 24fps material to 60fps for 720p or 60 field

    • by 517714 (762276)
      1080p transmission is possible under the 2008 revision to a HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1080p#ATSC">ATSC standards, the majority of receivers could not decode the signal so why would a broadcaster wish to spend money on something new that few could watch?
      • by 517714 (762276)

        Sorry, S/B

        1080p transmission is possible under the 2008 revision to ATSC [wikipedia.org] standards, the majority of receivers could not decode the signal so why would a broadcaster wish to spend money on something new that few could watch?

      • by TheSync (5291)

        It should be noted that 74 CFR 73.8000 [gpo.gov] incorporates by reference:

        "ATSC A/53B: "ATSC Digital Television Standard," dated August 7, 2001, Revision B, with Amendment 1 dated May 23, 2002 and Amendment 2 dated May 19, 2003, IBR approved for 73.682, except for section 5.1.2 of Annex A, and the phrase "see Table 3â(TM)" in section 5.1.1. Table 2 and section 5.1.2 Table 4."

        Thus the ATSC revisions after 2003 are not incorporated into the law.

        But the most important thing is that $2.5 billion worth of DTV conver

  • 700 MHz band (Score:5, Interesting)

    by necro81 (917438) on Monday March 21, 2011 @07:42AM (#35557968) Journal
    TV Broadcasters in the U.S. freed up huge swaths of bandwidth in the 700 MHz range during the switchover to digital TV. This frequency range has a lot of very useful attributes, like being able to penetrate buildings and travel large distances - attributes that are ideal for wireless data transmission. Portions of that bandwidth was subsequently auctioned off [wikipedia.org] for about $20 billion, austensibly to permit the development of new wireless services. The auction concluded a few years ago, and yet I haven't heard anything about anyone developing new wireless infrastructure around it. As far as I know, there isn't even a baseband chipset for it yet. What gives?
  • Wireless carriers are certainly not developing the spectrum they have, either because of over-burdensome regulations associated with doing it, or because the spectrum they have is not appropriate for the mission.

    Not all spectrum is good for all uses, and the costs associated with developing an entirely new set of hardware resources for a new frequency band may or may not be worth the investment.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Wireless carriers are certainly not developing the spectrum they have, either because of over-burdensome regulations associated with doing it, or because the spectrum they have is not appropriate for the mission.

      Yeah, those are the only possibilities, not that they would ever buy it just to prevent competition. Oh no, they would never do such a thing. If the spectrum was not worth using, they would not have bought it.

  • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Monday March 21, 2011 @08:08AM (#35558110)

    I believe we need a system where the towers (AKA spectrum) are owned & operated by a regulated entity and that a standard (GSM/LTE) is agreed upon. Then the carriers can sell service and value-add to differentiate themselves.

    • I believe we need a system where the towers (AKA spectrum) are owned & operated by a regulated entity...

      #goodluckwiththat

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The problem is that the spectrum leases are not time-limited. If a license owner had to win a spectrum auction every 10 years, they would only license the spectrum they need. Holding unused spectrum would be much more expensive, and they would know that if they need more, they can bid on it in the future. Current spectrum holders could get a "discount" on bidding for renewals to make sure that we don't have undue churn in providers, but new players would be able to enter.

    I'm quite sure Google would love thi

    • The problem is that the spectrum leases are not time-limited. If a license owner had to win a spectrum auction every 10 years, they would only license the spectrum they need. Holding unused spectrum would be much more expensive, and they would know that if they need more, they can bid on it in the future. Current spectrum holders could get a "discount" on bidding for renewals to make sure that we don't have undue churn in providers, but new players would be able to enter.

      I'm quite sure Google would love this idea :)

      How would you deal with amateur radio (and government / military / public service / business class)? Those frequencies aren't owned by a corporation. All the taxi companies are going to band together? Your system doesn't scale well.

      • Personally, I'd deal with the ISM bands about the same as they are now, except I'd double the amount of spectrum dedicated to them. You have XYZ set of rules to comply with. If you want higher power, fewer rules, you need to buy some spectrum. There's not many rules about you pitching a tent in a park somewhere. They get a lot more complicated if you're looking to build a house.
  • I switched to over the air TV and wireless internet because Comcast would not fix their cable connection which had always been on the weak side and just got worse and worse over the years. It is very important to keep the broadcast spectrum available because there are not any reliable alternatives. Oh, I should say that in my last conversation with a Comcast executive, I was told I had to have cable to get digital TV. I think she believed this.
  • by kimvette (919543) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:09PM (#35561380) Homepage Journal

    In a related story, AT&T is claiming their acquisition of T-Mobile is good for America and helps to consolidate spectrum usage (as if AT&T doesn't have enough of the spectrum already). Check it out!

    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/at-t-makes-its-t-mobile-case-patriotism-spectrum-crunch-mobile-broadband/46288?tag=nl.e539 [zdnet.com]

    I would rather see Google acquire both T-Mobile and Sprint and offer services more like an ISP - a flat rate for X bandwidth (tiered based on allocated speed like any other ISP), regardless of whether you use it only for voice, or watch netflix 24/7, or decide to do something really boneheaded and use it as the Internet connection for your entire corporate LAN. That would result in a shakeout of the cellphone industry and cause AT&T and Verizon to improve their networks (and make good on the subsidies they've already been paid to make things happen) and correct their inflated pricing structures.

  • by sjames (1099)

    Let's see, the telecomms would like for us to give the public spectrum to them so they can charge us rapacious rates to use it for data transfer and then pay even more for cable TV (often another division of those same telecomms carriers) so we can still receive television now that we gave them our spectrum.

    Meanwhile, the the entire world of 802.11 which has truly innovated and grown (to the point that those very telecomms are dependent on it to keep their rickety networks from falling over) is to remain st

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