Wed, May 5th 2010 7:10pm
Mon, May 3rd 2010 7:36pm
from the now-with-added-free dept
It doesn't look like M2Z has updated its plan at all since 2006, doing nothing to address any of the concerns, beyond replacing the need for private investment with a second government handout, on top of its free spectrum. In particular, they don't seem to have upped their targets for the speed of their network. What the company was proposing wasn't exactly fast in 2006, is pretty pokey now, and will be even less attractive by the time its network would get up and running. In addition, it's worth clarifying that the "512 kbps" M2Z talks about is arrived at by adding the 384kbps downstream speed plus the 128 kbps upstream speed they plan to offer. That's a new trick we haven't seen before, even in the world of "up to" broadband speed advertising.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jan 5th 2010 2:10am
from the it's-a-start dept
Still, if we're talking about freeing up spectrum, shouldn't things go a bit further? We still have a situation where the FCC doesn't just allocate the spectrum, but also decides what it must be used for. We'd be much better off, and have a lot more competition, if companies were free to make use of spectrum in the way they felt could bring the best return -- and that companies who were granted spectrum rights also had the right to then resell those rights. While I'm still hopeful that new technologies will make spectrum scarcity a thing of the past, we still haven't seen enough evidence that the technology really works. So, in the meantime, the better solution is to get more spectrum on the market, and stop putting limitations on how it can be used.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Oct 22nd 2009 10:13pm
from the property-rights? dept
So, it's interesting that, just as we're hearing of the first tests of white space networks, the FCC is also talking to broadcasters about other ways to reclaim some spectrum and put it to use on something more useful and productive. Apparently, the plan on the table right now would be for broadcasters to give up the spectrum in return for a cut of the revenue the government would get in auctioning off the spectrum for wireless use. Of course, some may find it distasteful that public spectrum that was given to these companies for free can then get sold off with at least some of the money going to those who never bought or truly "owned" the spectrum in the first place. But, given that the FCC set things up in a way where it basically created a de facto ownership structure of the spectrum, it's difficult to see any reasonable way to get that spectrum back without paying for it.
In the link above, Adam Thierer suggests we just give the current holders property rights in the spectrum, and assume that they'll then sell it off to those who can do something more innovative with it (or change and do something more innovative themselves). I've long been a proponent of giving up the ridiculous idea of having the government decide how each slice of spectrum must be used. Why not let the companies who control the various slices of spectrum make use of it as they see fit? It seems more likely that we'd get more efficient uses of the spectrum. So, it's good to see more thinking about ways to put some of that spectrum to better use, but it would be nice if we allowed the market, rather than the government, to figure out how to best use it.
from the respect-my-authoritah dept
from the we're-missing-one-spectrum dept
Tue, Mar 3rd 2009 6:38pm
from the same-old-story dept
We might be more sympathetic to the NAB's claim if it didn't have such a long and glorious history of trying to stifle anything that competes with incumbent broadcasters, and have such an annoying way of doing it. The FCC has put significant stipulations in place to ensure that white space devices don't cause interference, and despite the NAB's contention, the prototypes that failed in the testing process didn't do so. The FCC got it right by approving use of the white spaces with the restrictions and rules it put in place to tame interference; the NAB has once again got it wrong by trying to stifle innovation, and perhaps competition.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Nov 4th 2008 6:30pm
from the election-day-festivities dept
Other than that, the FCC said that it's going to start looking into the pricing policies of cable companies... and Verizon. Who's missing? FCC boss Kevin Martin's best friends over at AT&T. To be honest, while it's quite likely that the cable companies and the telcos (yes, including AT&T) are abusing their oligopoly position, the answer shouldn't be having the FCC act as a watchdog over pricing policies, but for a better system to be set up that encourages real competition. In the meantime, though, can someone explain why AT&T was left out of the bunch?
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Oct 16th 2008 12:43am
from the good-news dept
from the spectrum-for-sale dept
Mathew Ingram notes that Google is continuing its campaign to use television "white spaces" for Internet connectivity, a promising concept that hasn't panned out so far. I think the most interesting tidbit in Ingram's post comes from an interview with Richard Wiley, the guy who chaired the committee that developed what became the current digital television standard. Ingram says Wiley told him that one of the broadcasters' criteria for the new standard is that it use as much spectrum as possible. That sounds backwards, but it made sense for the broadcasters, because they knew they'd have to give back any spectrum they didn't use. And it's consistent with past experience; we've written before about the broadcasters' spectrum-hoarding tendencies.
Perverse incentives like this are an inevitable consequence of the FCC's Soviet-style process for assigning spectrum usage. As long as the uses for spectrum are decided by fiat by the FCC, current licensees are going to play these kinds of games to ensure they get the biggest slice they can, even if they waste spectrum in the process. A better way to handle the transition (and still a good idea today, for that matter) would have been to give the broadcasters a fixed spectrum allocation and then allowed them broad flexibility on how to use it—including the right to lease or sell unused portions to third parties. That way, if they found a way to transmit television signals with less spectrum, they would have been able to lease out the unusued portions to third parties who could put it to more productive use.
In addition to promoting more efficient spectrum use in the short run, putting more spectrum on the market (as they're doing in the UK) would have positive effects on the overall telecom market. By driving down the price of spectrum it would make it easier for new firms to get into the wireless market. So far, the relatively small number of licenses that have been put on the market has allowed incumbents to snapped them up and keep out new entrants. Putting more spectrum on the market would make this strategy a lot more difficult to pull off.