It’s no secret that the Telcos have major pull in Congress. Review any representative’s list of top campaign donors and you are more likely then not to find them at the top. It’s also no secret that AT&T and Verizon see a perfect world where they control all of the public airwaves. We’ve heard endless hand ringing in Congress about how bad wireless service is directly connected to too little spectrum in the control of carriers.
What they don’t mention is as much as half of the licensed spectrum in held major markets by the top two carriers isn’t even being used. There’s also no mention of repurposing any of that fallow spectrum for broadband like is being proposed for broadcast bands. Even if spectrum was lacking, increasing tower density can overcome virtually all capacity problems. None of this makes much sense unless we understand that the real issue isn’t the need for more spectrum to provide better service. It’s to gain control of the wireless last mile and effectively end competition.
Acting in the public interest to facilitate better service is not what this debate is about. After gaining control of more than half of the fixed line right of ways to the last mile, the two major telco’s slowed infrastructure improvements to a snails pace. That’s created an America with substandard broadband at some of the highest prices in the world. They have the same plan for wireless. By controlling all of the spectrum and consolidating into two companies, the non competitive broadband duopoly will be extended into the wireless space.
The House of Representatives wants to take control of spectrum auctions. They want us to believe that the FCC is acting to slowly to resolve that the completely fabricated “spectrum crisis”. According to former FCC chair Reed Hundt, the bill would end competition: (more…)
In a presentation from IT Conversations – Moray Rumney makes the case that while promising 4G is yet to and may never deliver a true mobile broadband experience (at least at 2011 wired standards).
With the will to build enough backhaul and install enough points of presence, it is possible for the wireless carriers to deliver high services levels from a few narrow channels. That sort of deployment is in direct conflict with the old cell tower model that the industry is married to. While there are other less transparent benefits to allocating more spectrum the carriers, this is one reason why we keep hearing the call for more spectrum.
I have another solution that could solve the problem almost immediately. It involves a shift from walled gardens to a commons. Any new spectrum would go to that commons and old allocated bands should join the commons as services like CDMA and GSM are discontinued. After establishing the commons, all carriers would be free to use it on a low power, spread spectrum basis just like WiFi. Yes, there would be a very ugly transition, and the POP density would need to grow dramaticly. Offering anyone who would base a POP on their property a free broadband connection could easily solve that problem.
The first nation to adopt the commons model will soon lead the world in wireless. Without the overhead of leasing spectrum and tower sites, carriers could offer lower prices while enjoying higher margins. The FCC wouldn’t need the income from spectrum auctions to support a bloated bureaucracy – it could be dissolved. Everyone wins., but convincing the powers that be to look at a new model is a very difficult task.
Freedom loving American geeks have been advocating for the open, unlicensed use of White space frequencies for the last 4 -5 years. Open frequencies will enable entrepreneurs to rapidly deploy wireless broadband where incumbents won’t. It could also foster a little more competition in a market where Americans pay the highest prices in the world for mediocre service.
Meanwhile back in Washington, the FCC and Congress have been preoccupied with cooking up a scheme to auction off that last wireless frontier to one of the corporate oligarchs that already control most of the public airwaves. The wireless cartel fears having to compete in an open market, and pols are giddy over the idea of another money pot they can use for pet projects. In other words, very little would change.
Ironically in the land of Big Brother, where that average urban citizen is always in view of the government CCTV network, wireless freedom will prevail according to Ofcom’s White Spaces proposal:
(unlicensed white spaces) ………are predicted to boost economic activity as well as improving broadband coverage. Ofcom wants the UK to lead Europe in this “spectrum recycling”, and says it will make the spectrum “licence exempt”, so it can be used freely, according to a release which presents the results of a consultation which began last November. (Eweek)
Kudos to Ofcom for acting in the best interest of UK’s entire population rather than a few elites. Isn’t it ironic that the government we fought a war to get away from now values wireless freedom more than the one we replaced it with.
Rampant corruption in patent legislation benefits the few at the expense of the masses.
Potentially huge rare earth find right here in the US. Shall we tell China to pound dirt?
What is it when a few P2P shakedown lawyers get spanked? Renewed faith that a few courts can still apply justice equally.
Skype moves to Open Source VP8 codec. Has anyone told Ballmer?
FCC / Wireless Cabal spectrum grab plan will rub out small broadcasters.
Wikipedia loses volunteer contributors. Politics drove this one away.
AT&T and Verizon stoke the Lightsquared / GPS controversy.
The last three months have been a whirlwind of proposals to many things broadband. Here, here and here. There is even a modicum of divergent thought on the issue here at ThirdPipe. I myself being camped on the side of the land rush is almost over. Adoption rates are flat because those that crave the speed or have the need have done so already. I am not saying there are areas still not served. There are. But the easy pickings have been fulfilled.
The next big chunk of user base are those in areas where laying cable just does not make sense. Here we enter the land of wireless and WISPs. It is the next logical step. But before we go off the deep end and blow a whole bunch of tax dollars we might want to reflect a moment on some interesting facts provided by a recent Pew survey –
Of dialup users
Of those not connected to the net at all
Of the combined group, 51% voiced some opinion that the need for broadband was not relevant to their life. That is a really telling number considering we are suggesting the expenditure of massive amounts of tax dollars for the privilege to lay cable past a house that will never use it.
Dog you must be a troglodyte! Actually no. I crave the speed that my current provider supplies me. If I have a valid reason to upgrade to even higher rates I would do it. Just don’t have the demand right now. My concern is more that of a taxpayer than a consumer. If a good chunk of the yet unserved are not going to use the service then is it wise public policy to spend the dollars to do so? One could make a very cognizant case that if the purpose of the program was to increase broadband usage then a more salient method might be a means tested tax break for those that have access to broadband but cannot afford it. (A 33% number of possible dial up switchers hampered by cost, that is a target rich environment for such a program.)
But I advocate an even better use for the funds so earmarked. Shift them to the unallocated 700mhz ‘D’ block that bombed 18 months ago. Forgo another auction in the space. It is for public service functions, treat it as such. Put those funds into the hands of the first responder communities as grants to get the build out done. Private enterprise will come along to get the sale. We as a society benefit 100% from the costs by improving our first responder performance and response times. We get a stimulus as a side benefit. The overall ‘payback’ will be much higher than that next increment of households many of which will never tap into the broadband plant even if it is available to them.
Link to Pew Report.