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The Almighty Buck Cellphones Government Wireless Networking United States News Hardware Technology

The $10 Billion Poker Game Begins 169

Hugh Pickens writes "Monday was the deadline for potential bidders to file with the Federal Communications Commission over the auction of the 700-megahertz band, a useful swath of the electromagnetic spectrum that is being freed up by the move to digital television. Once bidders file they become subject to strict 'anticollusion' rules that in effect prohibit participants from discussing any aspect of their bidding until the auction is over. The next official word will be late December or mid-January, when the FCC announces who has been approved to bid. The auction will start on January 24. Participants will use an Internet system to enter bids on any of 1,099 separate licenses that are being offered (pdf). Most coveted seems to be the C block, 12 regional licenses that can be combined to create a national wireless network. This is the spectrum Google is presumed to be most interested in. The bidding will be conducted in a series of rounds (pdf)."
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The $10 Billion Poker Game Begins

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  • I'm betting google will come out with everything it intended to.
  • Bogus (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Zebra_X ( 13249 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @11:54AM (#21572265)
    This whole "bidding" process on the spectrum doesn't create compeition, it makes the government money. If it were truly competitive there would be no fee for spectrum use. Instead we are left with a new spectrum with someone spending billions of dollars to "own" it.


    I'm also skeptical that this can become a useful resouce in a reasonable amount of time. It's great that Google et al buys up spectrum, but what about build out? How long is that going to take? What about radios? It's probably not that much of a change from current technology but it takes time.

    Also, can the radios that use this network roam gloablly?

    What would be cool is if Google bought it and let everyone "use" it.
  • by greypilgrim ( 799369 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @12:05PM (#21572445)
    It's about control. Do you enjoy being able to chat on your cell phone? If the frequencies were open to anyone, then everyone would use the best frequency for their application, and there would be so much interference that nothing would work. By controlling who uses which frequencies, you can ensure that interference is kept at a minimum, and devices remain useable.
  • Re:Bogus (Score:5, Insightful)

    by snarkh ( 118018 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @12:11PM (#21572515)

    So if there were no fee to use the spectrum, how would you choose the winner?
    You cannot just let everyone use it -- there would be a lot of interference.
  • by skelly33 ( 891182 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @12:26PM (#21572755)
    Why don't they allocate the space to a certain communication technology with established rules for non-interference and then open it up any company to compete? (think wifi) Why should one company have a monopoly on a wavelength? (think broadcast TV/radio) With sophisticated and (relatively) inexpensive packetization and multiplexing available, is there any real need for single-operator wavelength allocation any more? This seems so... early 20th century.
  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @12:31PM (#21572837) Homepage
    Depends on the rules, but certainly when the UK government did a similar exercise around 3G (raising masses of cash in the process) the penalty was pretty strict. There is no reason why the penalty couldn't be "we keep the money and take back the license selling it to the 2nd placed bidder".

    Remember officially the government "own" this stuff so they get to define the terms that they want.
  • by Alpha830RulZ ( 939527 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @03:33PM (#21575891)
    It's very clear what they wanted. They demanded an open standard in order to even enter the bidding. The government caved, and so Google doesn't need to win the bidding in order to win. See [] This way they get to play, and they don't need to build and manage a network. Best of all, the consumer wins, too.

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