When the `C` block auction was issued back in 2007/08 there were handset free use rules attached. That is a buyer was free to purchase a set and use as they see fit so long as it did not interfere with network use of other users. Well those FCC requirements are going to be put to the test –
As wireless broadband achieves faster speeds and greater ubiquity, more and more Americans now use their mobile phones as wireless hotspots. This practice, known as tethering,
allows a user to connect multiple devices such as a laptop, digital camera, or GPS system to the Internet via a mobile phone’s broadband service. In essence, the consumer uses
the phone in the same way that he might rely on a wireless router at home tethering allows him to use one data connection with multiple devices. The practice is user-friendly. It boosts productivity. It encourages innovation in the market for wireless applications and devices. In particular, it provides a low-cost way for users to try new devices because they may use those devices without having to purchase a separate Internet connection.
Nevertheless, most major wireless carriers, including Verizon Wireless,1 AT&T, and T-Mobile, limit access to third-party tethering applications. If users wish tether their phones, they
are forced to subscribe to the carriers’ own tethering service at rates of up to $30 per month. This practice restricts consumer choice and hinders innovation regardless of which carrier adopts such policies, but when Verizon Wireless employs these restrictions in connection with its LTE network, it also violates the Federal Communications Commission’s rules. In Verizon’s case, limiting access to tethering applications is not just a bad business practice and a bad policy choice; it also deliberately flouts the openness conditions imposed on Verizon’s LTE spectrum.
FreePress is a activist group. Their claim is that the tethering restrictions by requiring a uplift in your service plan is a violation of the `C` block rules. It will be an interesting outcome. I can see the stance both ways. However I would err that tethering is a unfettered `C` principle. Otherwise you open the door that the carriers will say anything that hangs off the primary phone is tethering.
Clearwire issued a “going concern” notice in it latest FCC filing as required by law. The company is drastically cutting back on staff, delaying pending roll outs and shelving its intended 4G handset deploy. It could be grim –
Nov. 5 (Bloomberg) — Clearwire Corp., the company building out a high-speed WiMax wireless network, fell in Nasdaq Stock Market trading after disclosing that it may not have enough funding to keep operating its business.
“Our expected continued losses from operations and the uncertainty about our ability to obtain sufficient additional capital raises substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern,” Clearwire said yesterday in a filing.
Clearwire is cutting 15 percent of its workforce, reducing sales and marketing spending and delaying its Clear-branded smartphone as part of a plan to save between $100 million and $200 million this year. The Kirkland, Washington-based company has 4,200 employees, putting the cuts at about 630 jobs.
Does this mean that Clear is going under? Well no, but it clearly indicates that they are gravely wounded. Companies that issue such notices generally double their chances of going under. What is in Clear’s favor is that they have been in business long enough that their chances are better than 50/50 of making it out of the hole with some good containment strategies.
But lets say that Clear does go under? Well gee they may not be the only one. Sprint who is 50+% owner in Clear might just get tipped over themselves if that occurred. Which indicates to me that Clear will be given the tools to make the transition — its in Sprints interest to not be caught in the wake of such a closure.
But it brings up an even more interesting possibility. What about the network? Does Sprint take it over? Do third parties take it over at pennies to the dollar? Couple of interesting what ifs come to mind in that case.
We’ll keep our eyes on this one.
[disclosure: We were a former Clear provider and still a customer. ]
I don’t think anyone who has tried both will deny that the current Wimax service and LTE as tested is an advance over EVDO and HSPA data services. Having said that, most who use the current “4G” services will tell you that performance is poor to underwhelming compared to ordinary wired broadband. It’s interesting to learn that these services really aren’t 4G after all.
The truth is, neither WiMax nor LTE (Long-Term Evolution) qualify as 4G (fourth-generation) technologies, according to the International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R). On Thursday, the group announced it had finished its assessment of submissions for the 4G standard, also called IMT-Advanced. Based on that group’s decision, to really be selling 4G, carriers will have to get going with one of two future technologies, called LTE-Advanced and WirelessMAN-Advanced. The latter, also known as IEEE 802.16m, will form the basis of WiMax Release 2. (Infoworld)
This leaves us with hope for a better wireless future. It’s also worth mentioning, not a single so called 4G service currently on the market is independent of ownership that is invested in fixed line service. Without a big shift in the way spectrum is managed, don’t look for much to change. The Third Pipe in the air is still being held hostage by the FCC, Congress and their telco / cable benefactors.
Another words no need for the FCC if this tech took hold. –
A trial cell-phone network in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, gets by without something every other wireless carrier needs: its own chunk of the airwaves. Instead, xG Technology, which made the network, uses base stations and handsets of its own design that steer signals through the unrestricted 900-megahertz band used by cordless phones and other short-range devices.
It’s a technique called “cognitive” radio, and it has the potential to make efficient use of an increasingly limited resource: the wireless spectrum. By demonstrating the first cellular network that uses the technique, xG hopes to show that it could help wireless carriers facing growing demand but a relatively fixed supply of spectrum.
Its cognitive radios are built into both the base stations of the trial network, dubbed xMax, and handsets made for it. Every radio scans for clear spectrum 33 times a second. If another signal is detected, the handset and base station retune to avoid the other signal, keeping the connection alive. Each of the six base stations in xG’s network can serve devices in a 2.5-mile radius, comparable to an average cell-phone tower.
This is the type of tech I have been harping on here from time to time at ThridPipe. Spread spectrum intelligent CPE that can navigate the band to find an open channel to operate on and be looking for a better channel in the background. Were this mandated by the FCC and then broad ranges of bandwidth allocated the need for licensing for many services would not be necessary. The CPE mfrs would just need to have their equipment confirmed for the band range it is spec’d for.
Course the military has been doing the spread spectrum tango for many years now for crypto reasons. In the last 3 years the DoD has eliminated the theatre based band allocation schema in favor of a global allocation ‘as conditions require’ for their transmission needs. That has opened up a tremendous amount of bandwidth that in the past would go wanting. The same could be done in the civilian realm if we would just get off our tush and do it.
A big hat tip to KnightHawk for this story.
Verizon just announced it will be offering Samsung’s new tablet at a lofty $600 price tag. I’ll bet that Big V will also offer it at a more attractive price, with a long contract.
Verizon Wireless and Samsung announced today that Samsung’s Galaxy Tab
will be available starting Nov. 11. Verizon will be offering the tablet
computer for $599.99 with a $20 monthly plan that includes 1GB data
with no contact commitment. The Tab will come with both Wi-Fi and 3G
capabilities. Verizon has not yet mentioned if additional data plans
will be offered, as are now planned for the iPad. (Digital Trends)
The big carriers have already successfully locked down the best smart phones with semi exclusive contracts that have kept them off the more competitive prepaid carriers’ shelves. They’ve also kept the prices on these handsets high, and they’ve made it nearly impossible to use the same handset on a competing carriers network. Worst of all the Wireless Cartel has crippled smart phone features, making them less useful as productivity devices. Now, it’s beginning to look like we’ll have no competitive market for 3G / 4G tablets, we’ll also be stuck with the original carrier’s network.
The last FCC chair, for all of his faults, was pretty clear in his intentions to get the carriers off the locked hardware / exclusive contact scam. After all it does have the elements of anti trust, price fixing and forming a cartel. The current chair seems to be more interested in expanding the FCC’s power rather than using it to protect the consumer. This could mean if you want a reasonably priced tablet with the freedom to move from one wireless provider to the next, you’d better learn to love public Wifi as your provider of choice.
Remember the coveted 700 MHz band that was auctioned by the FCC with the requirement that the network be open, and work on devices other than those sold exclusive by the winner of the auction? It also required competitors access to the network at a fair price. It appears that Verizon has forgotten. It’s representatives have been talking up the network and devices, but no mention of anything from outsiders. Who is willing to bet the FCC will also forget?
“Our goal is that in about 18 months from today we’ll have 200 million pops [points of presence] covered,” McAdams said on Wednesday. That would serve about two thirds of the United States population. “And by the end of 2013, we’ll have virtually the same coverage that we have on 3G today.”
The plan is for the network to support 5-12Mbps on the download, and 2-5Mbps on the upload, Verizon CTO Anthony Malone told the audience. These new phones will move data via the carriers’ new 4G LTE wireless system. Voice will still transmit over 3G.
But for pricing, it looks like consumers should expect some changes over the next few years.
“We think there’s a place for unlimited plans,” McAdam noted, “but we think that over time, because we have finite resources, our customers are going to have to shift to a pay-as-you-use” mode. “I would say that clearly over time we will be migrating to a bucket-of-megabytes” approach. (Ars Technica)+
There was no mention of third party devices or open access for competitive service. At the risk of sounding like a looped recording, let me remind you that the telcos never keep their promises. They make promises to get a concession, and then get concessions to avoid fulfilling them.
Here’s how I think this one will play out: Verizon will ask the FCC to declare a competitive market in 4g access because Clear holds enough license and also plans to build coast to coast coverage. If you think this sounds crazy, it’s the same argument the telcos made about telco / cable broadband duopoly constituting a competitive market. The FCC agreed and the telcos were able to ditch their prior promises including providing competitive access to last mile lines and to cover 2/3 of the country with fiber to curb by the year 2000.
The buffoons in Washington have made such a mess of the economy that no one is likely to force the issue before Verizon undoes all of the promised open wireless rules. Unfortunately, the continuing stagnation in broadband access is also stifling economic growth. If we can learn anything thing from this, it is that big government acting in concert with big telecom and cable never acts in the public’s interest. Going forward, we need a strong law that will end any exclusive licensing of spectrum. Spectrum is public property, and should be open exclusively for public use. Technology can enable commercial use of open bands without exclusive licenses. Open bands will insure a competitive market.