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Google Wireless Networking Politics

FCC Goes Halfway On Opening 700 MHz Spectrum 192

Posted by kdawson
from the is-the-glass-half-open dept.
The FCC has set rules for the upcoming auction of 700-MHz spectrum and they went halfway on the four open access principles that Google and others had called for. The agency said yes to "open devices" and "open applications," thus requiring the auction winner to permit consumers to use any device or application on the network. But the FCC turned down "open services" and "open networks," so the winners will not be obligated to let others buy access at wholesale prices in order to offer network services. This vote would seem to mean that Google won't bid in the spectrum auction. Ars has a more in-depth look at the outcome.
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FCC Goes Halfway On Opening 700 MHz Spectrum

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @04:37PM (#20062689)
    Shouldn't google bid so that they can enforce the openness they want, rather than letting someone else win and keep it closed?
    • by jamieswith (682838) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @05:03PM (#20063023)
      This has some merit, but I can think of one reason why the lack of these makes Google nervous of getting into a bidding war...

      Because not including these two levels of 'open-ness' means a higher potential value to whoever is the winner... because there's a greater degree of possible profit... you get to pick your competitors and set your prices

      It simply wouldnt be in the interests of the huge telecoms giants to bid too high if they then had to turn around and sell access for next to nothing to anyone (including google) who wanted to use it... but if they're getting total control over who provides service and at what cost... then its worth a lot more money.

      If they can charge what they want for access, suddenly you can justify bidding a lot higher
    • by puck01 (207782)
      I think the summary is very misleading. IIRC, google did not refuse to bid on the spectrum if the four conditions weren't met. They did promise to bid the reserve of the auction if their four conditions were met. Thus, if all the conditions are not met, google is not obliged to bid the reserve of the auction. That in no way means they won't bid or are out of the auction. I would assume they have every intention bidding.

    • Google didn't want to buy the spectrum. They wanted to have access to the spectrum. Bidding was just a way to have some say in the issue. As a sidenote, it would possibly lower the price and might make it feasible for Google to buy. If Google owned the spectrum, they wouldn't have to have any stipulations, they could just allow free access to everyone.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Put its power in the hands of the people! What could go wrong?
    • by stinerman (812158) <nathan.stine@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @04:52PM (#20062897) Homepage
      I wouldn't abolish the FCC, but I would considerably reduce their scope. The FCC is what keeps broadcasters on the proper frequency and the like. I'd let them regulate power, frequency, etc., but remove their ability to censor people. They'd also have no say in anything not owned by the public at large.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by fyngyrz (762201) *

        The FCC is what keeps broadcasters on the proper frequency and the like.

        It's a circular definition. The FCC defines what is proper for a broadcaster; then requires that stations be proper. Technically speaking, what keeps a broadcast station on the proper frequency and at the proper fidelity is hardware, and fully functional hardware that can do this is extremely inexpensive these days.

        Without the FCC, broadcast stations still have motivation to stay in one place, primarily so that they are easily l

        • by Suzuran (163234) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @06:27PM (#20063995)
          Without the FCC, I can also set up a large broadcasting station that transmits many signals throughout the FM broadcast band, strategically placed over the top of any existing stations, for the purpose of promoting Scientology. All it takes is one person with a few hundred dollars to talk over the top of any station they want for a few block radius. One guy with a few hundred dollars doing this trick in the HF spectrum can ruin use of a frequency for an entire continent. Don't like it if the guy down the street decides to put a hardcore gangsta rap station over the top of your low-power talk station? TOUGH.
        • What you've described sounds like the Amateur Radio Service, also called ham radio.

          http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_06/47cf r97_06.html [gpo.gov]

          The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an
          amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the
          following principles:
          (a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service
          to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service,
          particularly with res
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by fyngyrz (762201) *

            What you've described sounds like the Amateur Radio Service, also called ham radio.

            No. Broadcasting is forbidden in the ham bands.

            If you study hard and upgrade your license to General or Amateur Extra class, you'll find you have access to valuable notches of spectrum all across the RF range. Basically every conceivable type of spectrum you might want to experiment with, you can find an amateur band to play with. For example, the 6 meter band (as in, wavelength of 6 meters -- 50 to 54 mhz) ends right

          • I believe this is the only FCC radio service under which you are allowed, even encouraged, to build your own.

            It used to be to get your amateur license you had to be able to build your own radio, but the FCC got rid of that requirement. You also had to know morse code but that was another requirement they got rid of. The morse code requirement is what kept me from getting my license a long tyme ago. Now that it's been gotten rid of I've been thinking about getting my license now, though I still want t

        • The FCC is absolutely and totally a tool of the corporations.

          Don't forget about NPO's like Focus on the Family

      • by Ironsides (739422)
        Interesting thing to note about the power of the FCC to censor. The basic reasoning for this goes back to before TV to the early days of Radio. The Radio (and TV) frequencies were given to the Radio (and TV) stations for free originally. They were then required to follow a few rules. Content limitations has been one of them for a long time. TV and Radio are pretty much unique in that they are the only commercial uses of the broadcast spectrum that got the frequencies for free and as such have some uniq
        • by stinerman (812158)
          AFAIK the FCC has some limited say in terrestrial cable. For example, no pr0n at certain hours of the day (unless it's an adult channel). To put it another way, TNT can't air Debbie Does Dallas at 3:00pm. If I am mistaken, then you can disregard my previous comment.
      • I wouldn't abolish the FCC, but I would considerably reduce their scope

        I would abolish the FCC. The FCC was created in an atmosphere of scarcity of airwaves, now with today's technology there is no scarcity of airwaves. If needed, only after being proven having no regulatory agency causes too many problems, would I approve of an airwaves agency.

        Falcon
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fyngyrz (762201) *
      • Legislators are controlled by money; re-election and perks and post-service plums
      • The FCC is controlled by money; plums, primarily, and indirectly by legislators
      • The FCC sells the airwaves to the highest bidder, thus locking out the people
      • People cannot vote on the FCC's actions - it is a corporate service embedded in unelectable government
      • Therefore, you will not be abolishing the FCC
      • Therefore, your access to the airwaves will be via corporations
      • The only "free" services will be those with ads or propaga
  • So, would that be 350? :-D
    • No (Score:4, Funny)

      by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @04:42PM (#20062765)
      It means you can only use single-sideband modulation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-sideband_modul ation [wikipedia.org]
    • by Lussarn (105276)
      Yeah, but still 100 times faster than a regular 3.5MHz ZX spectrum.
    • An auction that's only half rigged is still rigged. I can't believe the FCC was so in love with the incumbents they would down 4.6 billion dollars in bids.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Uhhh, here's a clue: the FCC only gets the money of the winning bidder, not of all bidders. The winning bid would have almost definitely been more than $4.6B.

        But don't worry, twitter, you spin it to make it sound like the FCC turned down $4.6B just to be in bed with the telcos.

        It doesn't have any basis in reality, but it's hardly like that has stopped you before, has it?

    • by wljones (79862)
      Half way in this case refers to yet another instance of a bureau of the US Government (FCC this time) implementing a vast project with half-vast methods.
  • Google May Bid Yet (Score:5, Informative)

    by LionKimbro (200000) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @04:41PM (#20062741) Homepage
    This vote would seem to mean that Google won't bid in the spectrum auction.

    Only if you aren't paying attention--

    Read the top of this page [com.com] in this interview: [com.com]

    Google has recently said it would bid on the 700MHz spectrum only if the FCC guarantees certain open-access principles, including open access for companies wanting to buy wireless capacity wholesale. Does this mean that Google won't bid on spectrum if the rules aren't adopted?

    Sacca: To be clear, what we said was not exactly that. What we said was that there had been some concerns that somehow imposing these openness principles on the spectrum might diminish its value at auction. And we wanted to reassure the FCC that embracing a path of full openness in the interest of users and the interest of consumers would not reduce the total revenue of the auction. And we wanted to put our money where our mouth is, and we are putting our money where our principles are. So we committed to spending a minimum of $4.6 billion in the auction, if they adopted all four principles.

    So it's not out of the question that Google would participate in the auction, even if the FCC doesn't adopt all four principles?

    Sacca: We are deeply committed to changing this industry for the benefit of end users.

    • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @04:45PM (#20062821) Journal
      It would be a good PR for Google to bid 4.6B for it, knowing fully well it will be out bidded by AT&T and Verizon.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mabhatter654 (561290)
        What will happen is AT&T and Version will only bid high on the major areas with population and let the rest go by the way. Look at the cell phone industry to see how that played out. Later, they buy up anybody gutsy enough to compete while forcing THEIR rules on the whole industry if you want to talk to their customers.

        Also, Google does not have the monopoly status to write checks they don't have money for. Google's founders are wise-beyond-their-years financially, and are running the company in a
        • More open spectrum is good for Microsoft too.

          VOIP is in their hands far more than Googles with a minimum investment...

          If the next microsoft OS came out with a built in phone app and a $5 a month charge (for connecting to POTS services) I'd certainly be tempted, it would be a real value add and something that Microsoft is in a much better position to offer than OSX or Linux.

          We're 5 years beyond the point where such service was a possibility, I wonder how long it will be until the deals Microsoft inked
        • by Dun Malg (230075) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @12:53AM (#20066959) Homepage

          What will happen is AT&T and Version will only bid high on the major areas with population and let the rest go by the way.
          The frequency segments being offered are not available in separate pieces geographically. When you buy (say) 710mhz, you get it nation-wide. Mod parent down. Post is misleading, not insightful.
    • by realmolo (574068) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @04:48PM (#20062861)
      The whole problem is, Google really has no chance of winning.

      They don't have the political connections or the ENORMOUS resources that AT&T/Cingular has. Never mind that AT&T/Cingular REALLY REALLY wants this spectrum. I mean, it's their wet dream to own that spectrum. It's the future of the company. They essentially will pay whatever they have to for it. But it would be amusing to see Google keep upping the bid on them.
      • by kebes (861706) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @05:00PM (#20062983) Journal
        Exactly. Google is upping the bid, because they know that they will be out-bid by the entrenched telcos that can't afford to lose that spectrum. If they call Google's bluff, Google will happily buy the spectrum for a few billion and make a killing. But, since the entrenched telcos will certainly continue out-bidding until they win, it's in Google's best interests to at least put some pressure on them to make the eventual spectrum a bit more open--that way Google can capitalize on that spectrum in some way. (A nice by-product is that this is way better for consumers.)

        I'm not so naive as to think that Google is doing this for purely philanthropic reasons... however it's really nice to see a powerful company putting pressure on entrenched monopolies, with an end result that the people get high-quality, more fair access to a public resource.
        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          Google is upping the bid, because they know that they will be out-bid by the entrenched telcos that can't afford to lose that spectrum. ... But, since the entrenched telcos will certainly continue out-bidding until they win

          As I recall, at the end of the 2006 fiscal year, Google had $11.2 Billion dollars cash on hand.

          Further, they can easily push out a stock offering or issue bonds to raise more cash.
          If Google wants spectrum, they'll be able to afford it.

          It might even make long term business sense to buy a chunk, use some of it for their own purposes and lease the rest to one of the Telcos.

      • by FleaPlus (6935)
        They don't have the political connections or the ENORMOUS resources that AT&T/Cingular has.

        I could be wrong, but I think Google might actually be able to outbid AT&T and the other telcos. I'm not certain, but I think the relevant financial statistic for an auction is "Cash and Short Term Investments," which is what they could make readily available to use for bidding. Here's the "Cash and Short Term Investments" figures for Google, AT&T, and Verizon:

        Google: $11,935,920

        AT&T: $2,364,000

        Verizon
        • by FleaPlus (6935)

          Here's the "Cash and Short Term Investments" figures for Google, AT&T, and Verizon:

          Google: $11,935,920

          AT&T: $2,364,000

          Verizon: $3,450,000
          Oh, whoops, in case it wasn't readily apparent in my original post, all of those figures are in thousands of $US. In other words, that's around $11.9 billion for google, $2.3 billion for AT&T ,and $3.4 billion for Verizon.
        • by gregorio (520049) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @05:36PM (#20063421)

          I'm not certain, but I think the relevant financial statistic for an auction is "Cash and Short Term Investments," which is what they could make readily available to use for bidding.
          It's not just about that. I have enough "cash and short term investments" right here in my pocket to spend a couple hundred dollars buying a single expensive toolholder for a CNC machining center. But I don't have a hundred thousand dollar CNC machining center, no factory installations, no sales office and no consumer base.

          It's never just about having money to buy stuff. You also need to make extra investments and assets to buy this kind of infrastructure. And they cost a lot of money.

          Spending half of Google's money on airwaves would also mean opening thousands of new jobs, creating new departments and searching for customers. And the investors are not happy with the current situation of Google. "I will not innovate if I can just use the investor's money to buy commoditized stuff and partially-inovating trendy companies like YouTube" will really hurt Google in the long run. Yeah, ok, the new market of internet advertising might grow to dozens of billions of dollars a year. That's why Google is worth so much, because of a new market. Investing on telecom commodities is not why they have so much money, to create this kind of old-business infrastructure.

          What's next, Google buying oil refineries just because "they can"? I'd be pretty pissed off if the company holding my money (shares) started abusing it.
          • by FleaPlus (6935)
            > It's never just about having money to buy stuff. You also need to make extra investments and assets to buy this kind of infrastructure. And they cost a lot of money.

            Good point. Even though Google might technically be able to win the bid, they don't have the same sort of traditional telecom assets as the other companies.

            One off-the-cuff idea though: What if they're planning on doing something very non-traditional? For example, I could envision them trying to do something similar to FON [wikipedia.org], selling 700mhz W
          • And the investors are not happy with the current situation of Google. "I will not innovate if I can just use the investor's money to buy commoditized stuff and partially-inovating trendy companies like YouTube"

            I am an investor and I applaud Google in it's initiatives. If I had the money myself, er if I had as much money as Bill Gates or that Mexican, I'd tell the FCC I'd bid $10 billion if the FCC were to require winners to provide access to others at wholesale prices. Maybe even $50B, of course it'd d

        • by vidarh (309115)
          Not really - you can always debt finance this, and both Google and AT&T would obviously have no problem finding banks or funds willing to help finance something like this with a lot more cash than they have in the bank, either as a plain loan or an investment or a mix - obviously the higher the price gets, the more likely it will be any bank that gets involved will insist on a standard loan agreement rather than risk they'd manage to make it back on an investment.
      • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @05:16PM (#20063177)
        >But it would be amusing to see Google keep upping the bid on them.

        Yes, and as a cell phone customer it will be extra amusing paying for this bidding war via raised rates.
        • by EMeta (860558)
          If you've perhaps noticed the rate of new cell phone store fronts going up, I think you might understand that there is no lack of profit in the cell phone industry.
        • Yes, and as a cell phone customer it will be extra amusing paying for this bidding war via raised rates.

          Yea right. NOT! Cellular service is dropping in price not going up. For many using only a cellphone is cheaper than a landline phone. I'm one of them. I pay about $10 a month less for my phone service than I paid for my landline service when I had it. Thanks to competition for this, competition lowers prices.

          Falcon
          • by dgatwood (11270)

            Yeah, right. If prices are dropping, I'm the Easter Bunny. The AT&T plan I gave up to switch to my iPhone would cost $60 for the most nearly equivalent plan, and I was paying $40 for it from "the old AT&T". On Verizon, the base price of cell service has crept up to $30 per month in the U.S., or, IIRC, $10 more than the base price eight years ago when I first got a cell phone. For that extra $10, you get about the same number of daytime minutes, but nights start up to three hours later in some pa

            • Yeah, right. If prices are dropping, I'm the Easter Bunny. The AT&T plan I gave up to switch to my iPhone would cost $60 for the most nearly equivalent plan, and I was paying $40 for it from "the old AT&T". On Verizon, the base price of cell service has crept up to $30 per month in the U.S., or, IIRC, $10 more than the base price eight years ago when I first got a cell phone. For that extra $10, you get about the same number of daytime minutes, but nights start up to three hours later in some parts

              • by dgatwood (11270)

                I'm not complaining about the price of service. I'm just correcting the statement that Cingular is getting cheaper. Don't even try to steer this into an anti-iPhone rant.

        • "Defend the KING!"

          "I really think democracy..."

          "But our taxes will go UP!"

          Weird democracy guy: "Sigh"
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by darkmeridian (119044)
        On the other hand, Google has a market cap of 158.89 billion dollars. Sure, it's a lot lower than AT&T's market cap of 238.88 billion dollars, but Google spent a billion dollars on YOUTUBE! On YOUTUBE!

        This is going to be on hell of a bidding war, I'll tell you that!
      • Really? Google doesn't have the ENORMOUS resources of AT&T/Cingular? Because last I checked goog's income and market cap dwarfs ATT by a LONG shot.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Ewan (5533)
          You must be looking at the wrong Google then, or the wrong AT&T

          Maybe this will help:

          http://finance.google.com/finance?q=google [google.com]
          http://finance.google.com/finance?q=NYSE%3AT [google.com]

          The part you want is 'Mkt Cap' where you'll find google is at $158 Billion and AT&T is at $241 Billion, and AT&Ts net income is over twice Google's.
          • Parent was pointing out the wrong numbers. Should've pointed out cash on hand. Google has about 11 billion. ATT has about 2-3 billion.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              Cash on hand is one thing. Access to funding another. Google would have to set up infrastructure, a cost likely to dwarf the bid for the spectrum alone. AT&T has most, if not all, of that infrastructure in place. If I were a lending institution, I'd see a far bigger / better return on investment lending AT&T the money to outbid Google.
      • They don't have the political connections or the ENORMOUS resources that AT&T/Cingular has.

        It is broken up, as I understand, both by portions of the spectrum and geographic regions. Assuming there aren't limits on how much of the spectrum in any one region any one interest can buy (I don't know that much about the particular auction), the arguably, if the FCC isn't going to impose freedom and Google really values it, its best move may be to find one region that lots of other carriers would like access

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by shaitand (626655)
      'Google has recently said it would bid on the 700MHz spectrum only if the FCC guarantees certain open-access principles, including open access for companies wanting to buy wireless capacity wholesale. Does this mean that Google won't bid on spectrum if the rules aren't adopted?'

      Translated marketing babble. We have no committed to any course of action or lack of course of action and never will.

      'So it's not out of the question that Google would participate in the auction, even if the FCC doesn't adopt all fou
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by FleaPlus (6935)
      Also, on Google's Public Policy blog they flat-out say they haven't decided yet if they'll bid or not:

      http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2007/07/sig ns-of-real-progress-at-fcc.html [blogspot.com]

      Just two months ago, the notion that the FCC would take such a big step forward to give consumers meaningful choice through this auction seemed unlikely at best. Today -- thanks in no small part to broad public support for greater competition -- the FCC has embraced important principles of openness, and endorsed the unfettered workings of the free market for software applications and communications devices. Moreover, over the last few weeks several leading wireless carriers have reversed course and for the first time acknowledged our call for more open platforms in wireless networks. By any measure, that's real progress.

      By the same token, it would have a more complete victory for consumers had the FCC adopted all four of the license conditions that we advocated, in order to pave the way for the real "third pipe" broadband competition that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has been touting. For our part, we will need time to carefully study the actual text of the FCC's rules, due out in a few weeks, before we can make any definitive decisions about our possible participation in the auction.

  • Google (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MontyApollo (849862) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @04:41PM (#20062759)
    If Google were to win the bid, then they could do those other things if they wanted. Google not bidding means they never really intended to win, they were just using this as publicity to try an force the stipulations they wanted without having to be the high bidder.

    Google sure has been trying to throw their weight around a lot lately.
  • Halfway is no good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by realmolo (574068) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @04:45PM (#20062811)
    See, "open devices" and "open applications" probably means that you are free to use any device or application that has been approved by whoever wins the auction in question. I fully expect AT&T (or whoever wins, but they look like they will) to announce some kind of ridiculously elaborate and expensive "open licensing program" where if you want to make a device or applications that works with their network, you'll have to pay them gobs of money. They'll say it's for "adminstrative fees" or "Homeland Security Wireless Management and Auditing Charges" or some such crap.

    Personally, while I like what Google is trying to do, I think they should stay in the bidding anyway. I'd much rather have Google own the spectrum than literally ANY other telco corporation. Google isn't nearly as evil as those guys are.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @05:00PM (#20062999)
      What can you do? At the very minimum donate some of AT&T's money to Google.

      Make it a habit to start your day with a google search for some Wireless [google.com], Cell [google.com], or AT&T [google.com] related topic and then visit one or more AT&T spomnsored links on the top of the page :)

    • I don't think so. I think "open devices" means that you can use anyone's cell phone, Treo, PocketPC, or whatever on that spectrum if it's designed to use that spectrum, not just the ones the winner approves. It's the difference between all hard-line telephones coming from AT&T's rental division, and people buying or renting hard-line telephones from anyone willing to sell or rent them. (My latest hard-line telephone is literally a grocery-store brand.) "Open applications" should be the equivalent of
      • by realmolo (574068)
        "I don't think so. I think "open devices" means that you can use anyone's cell phone, Treo, PocketPC, or whatever on that spectrum if it's designed to use that spectrum, not just the ones the winner approves."

        I think you are being foolishly optimistic.

        "Open devices" MAY mean that any device designed for the spectrum in question must work, but it doesn't mean it has to work WELL. I fully expect that, at the very least, "unapproved" devices and software will be crippled like crazy.

        The whole problem is the wor
        • So I'm being optimistic. I'm saying there's precedent, and that the FCC must've meant something when they made their half-declaration. And I'm saying there is precedent for truly open devices and applications, and even profits from such things.
          No, they might not work well at first. The first hardline phones not made by AT&T didn't work well in comparison to the phones AT&T was making at the time. Hey, many of the current ones don't. Sound quality was worse, durability was worse, ergonomics was
          • The first hardline phones not made by AT&T didn't work well in comparison to the phones AT&T was making at the time.

            Hell those ATT phones were nearly indistructable. That plastic could of been used to shield or armor tanks.

            Falcon
  • by shaitand (626655) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @04:46PM (#20062829) Journal
    Obviously the FCC is no longer concerned with the purpose it was created for (encouraging competition in communication related industry) so why do we still have an FCC?
  • by shaitand (626655) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @04:50PM (#20062875) Journal
    "The agency said yes to "open devices" and "open applications," thus requiring the auction winner to permit consumers to use any device or application on the network. But the FCC turned down "open services" and "open networks,"

    Can you have one without the other? If the winner is required to allow free use of the spectrum for devices and applications doesn't that include devices used to provide services? I mean sure, they wouldn't have to let you use their infrastructure or buy access at wholesale prices, but they couldn't stop you from building your own infrastructure.
    • I'm sure you won't be allowed to put up your own tower in this spectrum.
    • by megaditto (982598)
      No, as long as they control the network they can mandate how your device should behave. They can require that any "open" device you have connects only to their closed routers using their closed protocols, say at a low-low price of $0.99/min

      To summarize, if you were really looking forward to getting cheap all-you-can-eat wireless broadband you should have bought your own Senator instead of relying on ATT's.
      • by shaitand (626655)
        'No, as long as they control the network they can mandate how your device should behave.'

        If you aren't connecting to their network, and you don't need their permission to make a device that uses the frequency then how can mandate anything? The ruling says they don't have to let you connect to their network but that you can make devices that operate in this spectrum. Devices would include towers, servers, and routers. You could build your own wireless infrastructure on the frequency or a company like Google
        • by megaditto (982598)
          That's not how it works. Licensed spectrum means you still need a licence to operate almost anything in that part of spectrum. Unless you follow the frequency band owner's rules (assuming ATT) you would be breaking the law.

          You might get away with it in your garage in the middle of nowhere, but you would certainly not be able to run anything large-scale or commercial, without ATT's permit. Since the network will be closed, they do not have to sell it to you unless they feel like it, and at whatever condition
          • by shaitand (626655)
            'That's not how it works. Licensed spectrum means you still need a licence to operate almost anything in that part of spectrum. Unless you follow the frequency band owner's rules (assuming ATT) you would be breaking the law.'

            Thats not how it normally works. There normally isn't an FCC ruling that opens the spectrum for certain uses. ATT or any other purchaser is REQUIRED to allow these uses, it isn't optional.
  • Just look at how well CableCard has done. Cable industry has shown that if an entrenched oligopoly wants to kill open devices all it has to do is drag it's feet and make it as difficult as possible for consumers. There's no way this will encourage investment in open devices by anyone hobbyists.
    • s/"anyone hobbyists"/"anyone except hobbyists"
    • Hobbyists are better than no one.
      CableCard will succeed only when cable companies stop scrambling premium channels. As long as there are concrete benefits to using the cable company's boxes (premium channels and subsidized DVRs come to mind), people will use its boxes. And people making third-party boxes need to advertise!
      • CableCard will succeed only when cable companies stop scrambling premium channels.

        Uh, the whole point of CableCard is to descramble premium channels. If the cable companies used clear QAM for everything, then you wouldn't need CableCard.
      • CableCard will succeed only when cable companies stop scrambling premium channels.


        That's a very long-winded way of saying "never".
  • Is there a link where I can help out? What if I have some "Google 700mhz" fund money? Reading the comments on this page, and as a network engineer having to deal with BellSouth (now the new AT&T) *all the freakin' time* I would like nothing more than to see Google win this auction.

      Like them, I'd be willing to put my money where my mouth is.
     
    • by jandrese (485)
      Unless you're a multi-millionaire with money to burn, there's no way your contribution is going to be but a drop in the ocean compared to what AT&T and Verizon will bid. Even if you were, you would really have to be a billionaire to even get anybodys attention here.
  • by sampson7 (536545) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @05:13PM (#20063127)
    In the United States, the electric industry also has open access requirements that are comparable to those at issue here. Except, instead of "spectrum" the open access condition applies to power lines.

    The US essentially has two types systems for moving electricity around: the Transmission System and the Distribution System. Transmission System lines are typically high voltage and used for wholesale sales of electricity. They are predominately federally regulated. Distribution System lines are typically lower voltage and used for distribution of power to retail end-use customers.

    However the open access requirements are quite different. Transmission Systems are open to any user (with lots of strings, but in theory anyway). So someone who wants to sell power at wholesale essentially has the same right of access to the transmission lines as the utility that owns the lines does. In other words, the utility's transmission functions are no longer vertically integrated (at least in theory) with their power generation functions. This concept is known as "comparability." Sadly, the FCC rejected this type of open access.

    For distribution systems, the utilities are still far more vertically integrated and largely control who has access to their power lines. While they still have to provide some level of access to competing users, there's no comparability concept and no sense that the utility is in the business of "renting" its system to all users and that its affiliated branches are just another user. Instead, we are going to continue to see integrated networks where the owner of the spectrum is able to stiffle innovation. Requiring that the purchaser of the spectrum re-sell it to competing companies would have guaranteed far more interesting uses of this spectrum.

    Of course, allowing for phone transferability and the other items are good; but is a public safety system really the biggest concession that the FCC could extract? Yes, it is important. But nobody was going to object to giving fire fighters the communications equipment they needed.

    Sad.
    • What innovations are the electric utilities stifling?
      • by sampson7 (536545)
        Excellent question. Actually, quite a few. In no particular order:

        First, they are keeping electricity prices high by keeping competing sources of generation from interconnecting with the grid and supplying energy to the competitive energy markets. Interconnection of a generating facility can be prohibitively expensive when a utility exercises its monopoly power to discriminate against a generator. If you're truly interested in this issue, you can start with Order No. 2003, issued in 2003 by the Federal
    • Do you know where I can get more information on this topic? (Access to transmission lines, names of government authorities who control this, etc.)
      • by sampson7 (536545)
        A good place to start is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or your State Public Utilities Commission. See my response to the guy above for some additional thoughts. Federal energy law is rather complicated and can be completely stultifying to the uninitiated (or even those of who are initiated). Fundamentally, the principles are the same with telecom or cable. There is one "spectrum" in existence. There is only one set of electricity lines built in any one place. There is one physical telephone
  • FCC, F U! All radio stations should play this every half hour:

    Anthem:
    http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2006/12/fcc_fu_the_a nth.html [wfmu.org]

    Official site:
    http://fccfu.com/ [fccfu.com]

  • This vote would seem to mean that Google won't bid in the spectrum auction.


    Why would it seem to mean that? They announced that if their principles were adopted, they would bid up to a specific amount on a specific share of that spectrum. They did not say, that I recall, that if there demands were not (or incompletely) addressed, they would definitely bid nothing.

  • The FCC, that is. If only one end of the tube (to use a discredited analogy) is unblocked, the tube is still blocked.


    Either they are a bunch of morons, or they think we (and congress) are by publishing a decision like this.

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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