Congressional Reps More Focused On Short Term Cash Over Long Term Innovation

from the not-the-way-to-encourage-innovation dept

We kind of knew this was going to happen all along. But as the FCC is figuring out how to distribute a bunch of useful spectrum, some in Congress are taking the short-sighted, anti-innovation approach of demanding that it be auctioned off for closed uses, rather than made unlicensed for wider benefit. This is a debate that should have ended ages ago. Open spectrum drives innovation — unquestionably. Just look at the rise of WiFi and Bluetooth and what that’s enabled over the past decade plus. The impact of those two technologies has greatly outweighed any benefit from licensed, locked up spectrum. But, of course, the telcos want that spectrum locked up and limited for use just by their own services (even as they increasingly piggyback on unlicensed spectrum to save money). And, in true corruption laundering fashion, they’re able to put forth a “plausible” explanation for why the FCC should auction it off rather than open it up: money. That is, if the FCC auctions if off to telcos for closed use, the federal government can likely raise somewhere in the range of $19 billion (some reports suggest much higher: the CBO predicts nearly $25 billion, and others have suggested it could go even higher than that). That’s a decent chunk of cash, obviously. So, Congress is now whining about how the FCC’s plan to support unlicensed spectrum is some sort of ridiculous give away by the federal government:

Representative Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican, who is chairman of the panel, said the law that gave the F.C.C. the ability to conduct “incentive auctions” of newly available spectrum required “maximizing the proceeds from the auction.”

For the F.C.C. to obtain the highest price for the spectrum it sells, it should limit the size of guard bands, Mr. Walden said; he said the six-megahertz minimum size proposed by the F.C.C. was unnecessarily fat.

You see, apparently these members of Congress don’t want the FCC to do what’s best for the country or for innovation. It doesn’t want the FCC to do what’s best for long term growth (which, in turn will increase tax revenues over the long term). No, these members of Congress instead are only focused on the big upfront number of getting cash now from telcos, even if it means less innovation, less useful tools for the public and less tax revenues down the road. I guess it shouldn’t be any surprise that telco companies are among the top five contributors to Walden’s most recent campaign (coming right after… lobbyists). Whatever happened to that idea that elected officials should have to wear patches, a la Nascar, of who funds their campaigns?

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Comments on “Congressional Reps More Focused On Short Term Cash Over Long Term Innovation”

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Anonymous Coward says:

What's wrong with the white spaces?

From the link:

“Commissioner Robert M. McDowell, a Republican, said it would be premature for the commission to reserve newly available airwaves for unlicensed use.

Instead, the commission should set aside the ?white spaces? between broadcast television channels for unlicensed use, he said. White spaces are similar, but smaller, guard bands in the part of the spectrum dedicated to broadcast television that are intended to minimize interference between stations.”

So what’s wrong with that suggestion? Is there not enough of it?

Killercool (profile) says:

Re: What's wrong with the white spaces?

What’s wrong with it is that the dear politician doesn’t know what he’s talking about, per usual. Like your quote stated, white spaces are used to reduce interference between TV channels, and less so, radio stations. Signals in the white spaces of sufficient strength to be useful for communication will interfere with both the higher AND lower channel. The whitespace signal will get interference from the surrounding frequencies, also. There are mechanical devices for reducing interference (filters), but TV signals are strong. To counteract those signals, filter sizes get prohibitively large, quickly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That’s just stupid. Land is a “natural occurrence” as well, and we sell THAT. Because we’re probably better off with people being able to do what they like with their parcels, and not have to worry about other people coming in off the street and entering the house you sleep in, or building a baseball diamond on the land you’re trying to farm.

We benefit from regulation of radio. I can imagine Chicago TV stations putting a channel on every VHF frequency, leaving Milwaukee stations to either try to override the signal, go UHF only, or resorting to some weird band that most TV’s aren’t equipped to handle. Imagine if a radio station could be effectively shut down just by someone else building a larger tower. (Radio waves are technically infinite, but the “good” bands are not. Most would not want the 10 hertz range, because it’s useless for most applications. And I’m guessing it would be extremely unwise to attempt to broadcast at ultraviolet frequencies even if you could make it work somehow.)

Now, whether we need more unlicensed frequencies is another question entirely. In the land analogy, we have public land where you can do lots of things so long as you aren’t hurting the land or making a nuisance of yourself. It isn’t MOST of the land, but we do add to it from time to time when it is seen as desirable.

Dave Nelson (profile) says:

Support your Supporter

“Whatever happened to that idea that elected officials should have to wear patches, a la Nascar, of who funds their campaigns?”

I’ll go you one better. Congresscritters that are provided with lots of Special Interest Group money should be required to wear the field service uniform of that organization, with patches for minor contributors.

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