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Congress Wants Federal Government To Sell 1755-1780 MHz Spectrum Band 88

GovTechGuy writes "With next year's reverse auction of TV spectrum not expected to sate the wireless industry's growing demand for mobile broadband, lawmakers are turning up the heat on the Obama administration to auction the 1755-1780 MHz band, which is considered especially desirable for mobile phone use. However, the Pentagon and other federal agencies are already using those airwaves for everything from flying drones and surveillance to satellites and air combat training. They say it would take ten years and $18 billion just to vacate the band so it can be sold."
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Congress Wants Federal Government To Sell 1755-1780 MHz Spectrum Band

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  • There should be free for all bands for signals with low total radiated power (say 10mW) to be emitted with relatively high EIRP (a few Watts), i.e. highly directional signals. This should allow for much better use of the scarce bandwidth and spur innovation in beam forming.

    • I like the idea but think this is too low of a frequency. Just some loosely connected numbers off the top of my head: the 900MHz ISM band already allows you 36dBm (4W) EIRP. That's 26dB above the 10mW max total radiated power you suggest. At those frequencies (actually 1.6GHz) I've used 85cm dishes that have 20.6dBi gain. In other words, high enough gain antennas/arrays would be awfully big at these frequencies.
  • Nice fight! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Exitar ( 809068 ) on Sunday May 12, 2013 @09:56AM (#43701747)

    Capitalists vs Warmongers!

  • Lobbyists (Score:5, Informative)

    by Etherwalk ( 681268 ) on Sunday May 12, 2013 @10:06AM (#43701779)

    lawmakers are turning up the heat on the Obama administration

    lobbyists are turning up the heat on Congress.

    Fixed that for you.

    Hint: [] [AT&T profile at opensecrets]

    • Re:Lobbyists (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 12, 2013 @10:44AM (#43701951)

      That is the meat of it, Etherwalk. But it's worth noting there really is a bandwidth shortage. I was part of the "band clearing" effort for the relatively disused 1710-1755 Mhz AWS band and it's extremely painful. []

      The military, and other Federal agencies, both buy and maintain equipment that lasts virtually forever and the cost of new equipment that uses more modern bands is enormous. In many cases my employer simply purchased it for them. It doesn't matter if the FCC has sold you the band, if using it is going to interfere with life-saving traffic you have to have a "fix" that is better than sending them repeated violation notices.

      Much like with Linux, the basic problem is with the users. 8 years ago voice traffic was the largest use of a wireless carrier's spectrum with 15-25% shaved off for GPRS-EDGE (or basic 3G UMTS) data comm. Now voice is a trivial component, and "phones" spend hours a day streaming Netflix and doing other things that consume 20x more bandwidth than a mere voice conversation. While Moore's law has applied nicely to handset capabilities, the pace at which spectrum opens up has not kept pace. LTE makes better use of the new spectrum, but it already requires a much better SNR than it's predecessors, there is no jump to "LTE2" that will save us from being this spot again in a few years, and people already want high-def video on their tablets.

      So, actually "now" is the right time to push for freeing up some more spectrum so it will be available in the nick of time, just like the 3G spectrum for Apple's IPad explosion wasn't.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        There is no bandwidth shortage, just carriers not upgrading their technology fast enough.

        There are solutions that require no additional bandwidth... more cells, smaller cell sizes... which of course is more expensive.

        Or you know, Cable/DSL/Fibre end points could start coming with a relatively low-power cell so that the customer's cell phone used inside the premises doesn't take up capacity on the closest tower cell.

        The smaller cells would be ideal inside large enclosed spaces like convention centers, shoppi

        • Or you know, Cable/DSL/Fibre end points could start coming with a relatively low-power cell so that the customer's cell phone used inside the premises doesn't take up capacity on the closest tower cell.

          As long as half of the population goes crazy over the radiation from cell towers, you'll have a hard time to convince them to put such an "evil" thing into their own home.

      • 1755-1780MHz? That seems a mighty thin slice to somehow magically fix the huge need for bandwidth.

        Seems to me spectrum is quite finite, but the demand for bandwidth is or will be considerably more than what is available.

        Others have pointed out that one thing to help is to do wired to localities, then low-power wireless access points, whether it be an home, a bar or a cell tower. Reserving a small slice of spectrum here and there for emergency systems, for instance, seems reasonable. (I'll leave aside oth

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by runeghost ( 2509522 )
      Bingo. I know the mainstream media is useless, but on places like slashdot, it would be nice if people would stop pretending that congresscritters are anything but sock-puppets for their corporate owners.
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Same thing, different word.

  • Will the next show about a murderer that only kills 'bad people' be ready by then?!

  • Screw that. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Sunday May 12, 2013 @10:27AM (#43701865) Homepage

    Make it public airwaves and give it to the ham radio operators. It's time they gave back some spectrum to us that has been stolen over the years.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      and go a lobby yourself.

      That is what it is going to take - every ham operator.

      It's completely unfair - big corps can hire lobbyists to pester Congress and give them gifts and individuals are just drowned out.

      You ham guys will get nothing and rest assured, more of your spectrum will be taken.

      • The more obvious approach is to join and support the ARRL, the most successful amateur radio lobbying group. It's not unlike gun owners joining the NRA. Even if you don't like all their actions, they're working harder than anyone else to preserve your rights.

        • by msk ( 6205 )

          I let my ARRL membership lapse because they wouldn't stop sending me renewal notices shortly after I renewed my membership, no matter how much I asked them to. They wouldn't at least wait until shortly before my renewal date.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday May 12, 2013 @11:28AM (#43702149)

    Years later, after you fire up that shiny new iPhone, the Air Force suddenly realizes they forgot to re-tune a batch of HARM [] missiles. Fortunately, nothing of value was lost.

  • Come on, this is a jobs program.

    1) Force the DoD to vacate the band. To do this the DoD needs $$Billions for new equipment to do this. This creates jobs, especially in the congressman's district pushing the legislation through. This gets the congressman re-elected by a happy electorate so we can perpetuate more gridlock.
    2) Sell the bandwidth to Wireless Carriers who are immensely profitable (At least 2 out of the four are) to generate billions of dollars in revenue. That means the Feds can then hire mor

    • I agree - very Keynesian (cue trolls). It also beats the hell out of starting another unjustifiable war.
  • I hate this policy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by scribble73 ( 879745 ) on Sunday May 12, 2013 @11:43AM (#43702213)

    I hate this policy, of selling our public bandwidth to private corporations. I just hate it.

    Airwaves are public. The Government should not be selling property that belongs to all of us. Leasing or licensing bandwidth for some specific period of time is one thing, but transferring ownership is another. We should not "privatize" this.

    I am dismayed to see so many politicians and technical types just accepting actions like this, without any policy discussions taking place -- beyond closed-door meetings at the FCC, which are not shared with the public.


    • What are you going to do with a slice of spectrum? For that matter, what would *I* do with a slice of spectrum? And what would "public" ownership even mean in this space?

      • Let's see. With the slices of spectrum I've had access to I've: Used it for networking (802.11), used it for controlling my computer (BlueTooth+other protocols), listened to radio broadcast on it (AM+FM), used it for operating the sattellite I helped build (AX.25) ...

        Other possible uses include baby alarms, remote car keys, walkie talkies, ...

        Of course, some of those slices of spectrums are licenced to private organizations, some are more or less free for all, and just one of them was ours to play around wi

    • I can understand "selling" (Licensing in the current auctions, though I am unsure if there are any time limits on this "License") portions of a spectrum so that companies/organizations/agencies know they can rely on the spectrum being there for their exclusive use. But portions of various spectrum should also be devoted for unlicensed public use. Just look at how Wi-fi and various wireless devices exploded on the market after the FCC pulled their collective heads out of the sand and allowed low powered tr

    • by cats-paw ( 34890 )


  • Headline is wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday May 12, 2013 @11:46AM (#43702229) Homepage

    It should read:

    Congressional 'contributors' want federal government to sell 1755-1780 MHz Spectrum band

    • It should read: Congressional 'contributors' want ...

      At this point it should just be understood that "congress wants" means "congressional contributors want". Anyone who doesn't realize that is either too bought or too naive to have an intelligent political discussion with.

  • Figures (Score:4, Insightful)

    by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Sunday May 12, 2013 @11:50AM (#43702249) Journal

    lawmakers are turning up the heat on the Obama administration to auction the 1755-1780 MHz band

    I figured it was only a matter of time before Congress pushed to sell off 1776 to the highest bidder. They've been pushing to sell off the Post Office's business for the last 6 years by forcing a financially sound organization into insolvency (see paragraph 3 here []). Why not sell off American Independence [] itself and Common Sense [] while they're at it? It's like we gave the keys to our house to service employees and they're auctioning off the contents to lobbyists through the front door to the highest bidder, keeping the profits for themselves.

  • Spectrum allocation (Score:5, Informative)

    by snsh ( 968808 ) on Sunday May 12, 2013 @12:39PM (#43702517)

    It's startling when you look at a chart of frequency allocation [] and see how much is allocated to DOD, maritime, and obselete tech. Meanwhile you have everyone and their neighbor competing over 11 channels for Wifi.

    • by tibman ( 623933 )

      Very cool chart, thanks.

    • I guess you are referring to the large blocks at the lower end of the spectrum. However note that not only are those lower frequencies mostly uninteresting for modern applications (you'd have no fun with a smartphone operating at 300kHz, for example), but those wavelengths have also extremely long reach, so any changes in those frequencies would likely need international treaties (it's not a surprise that most uses in that range carry the adjective "maritime" or "aeronautical").

    • Here's the 2011 version of that chart [].

      • PS - Thanks to the hard work done by the ARRL and others, amateur radio operators worldwide* will be getting a new MF band at 630m or 472-479 kHz [] (just below Broadcast AM radio). It's only 7 kHz wide (enough for 2-3 simultaneous SSB voice conversations). Lots of experimentation potential - now we'll see how Joe Taylor's excellent digital modes [] handle the unique propagation issues in that band.

        *for most values of worldwide

  • they took away reliable OTA TV to sell off the spectrum and some squatters just started using it, tough shit

    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      I think you're confusing 1700 mhz with 700 mhz .

  • This fits in very well with Obama's agenda. After all he just nominated a Telecom lobbyist to head the FCC, and that nomination is expected to sail through the Senate largely unopposed due to the insane amount of money Telecom has put into the last few elections.

    Don't forget that Obama promised there would be no lobbyists in his administration.

    It's all about getting the Interwebs to all those free Obama phones.

  • Allow the federal agencies using it to optionally rent it out for a fee.

  • Mobile operators dont need more bandwidth. They can build more towers and the problem is solved cell phones automatically reduce power output and prevent themselves from interfering with each other.

  • Which is more important: Military using 1755-1780 MHz to protect the country, or allowing a teenager to text 50 times a day to her friends? I vote for the military, or at least until the bad guys all go away.
  • Remember the flap last year over Lightsquared wanting to use a space comms band, for terrestrial service. The band is next to the GPS frequencies, would have made GPS essentially useless. And we all know how much we use GPS for everything from finding your way to Grandma's house to landing airplanes. Fortunately, the application was denied (just barely), but the threats to frequencies will continue, if we do not stay vigilant.

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments