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Wireless Networking Hardware

700 MHz Auction Begins Tomorrow 187

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the ya'll-ready-for-this dept.
necro81 writes "On Thursday, after much speculation and wrangling, the FCC will begin auctioning licenses to the coveted 700 MHz band that will be vacated by analog TV in 2009. The NY Times has a good summary of the players (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, Google, et al.), how the auction will work, how Google has already scored an open networks victory, and what it could all mean for consumers. The auction will go on for several months, but you can keep tabs on the bids at this FCC site."
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700 MHz Auction Begins Tomorrow

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  • Spasebo. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Stanistani (808333) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @12:04PM (#22154012) Homepage Journal
    I plan to buy the frequency band myself, and just endlessly broadcast a black-and-white image of myself, accompanied by Russian martial music.
  • So why NOT Google? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AltGrendel (175092) <ag-slashdot@ex[ ].us ['it0' in gap]> on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @12:08PM (#22154082) Homepage
    I know the article says that their main goal was to make sure that whoever does get the license keeps the airwaves open to a "wider range of hardware", but I really don't see any reason why Google couldn't get serious and really try to bid for some air space.
    • by Shakrai (717556) * on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @01:09PM (#22154904) Journal

      but I really don't see any reason why Google couldn't get serious and really try to bid for some air space.

      Because Google isn't interested in being the delivery-person, they are interested in creating the product that he is bringing to your house.

      In fact, I would be terrified of Google getting into the content-delivery business. Forgot about "do no evil". Take a look at your friendly local cable provider to see what happens when you allow a media company to control the pipe that comes into your house.

      Content delivery needs to be separate from content creation. Otherwise the delivery provider has a vested interest in locking you into his product and removing your freedom of choice. Can you imagine if UPS opened up their own online bookstore and tried to use their position as a shipping provider to price Amazon and Barnes & Noble out of the market?

    • by Lisandro (799651)
      but I really don't see any reason why Google couldn't get serious and really try to bid for some air space

      I see this posted a lot, and i still don't get it. What could Google possibly use the 700MHz band for? Even as an investment it makes little sense.
      • by Yez70 (924200)
        From what I understood, Google only had an interest in 'wholesaling' the spectrum out to other providers - with open-access rules enforced. As for the nationwide spectrum up for bid, they would need to partner with another company or multiple companies to meet the build-out requirements. I don't see them being the actual provider, just the controlling interest in the spectrum being used.
        • by Lisandro (799651)
          That's an interesting point, but if it's an interesting band for telcos to use you can bet they'll try to bid them for themselves.
      • I thought it would be a good vehicle for low-bandwidth applications such as text searches and ad delivery, both of which are Google's forte. 700MHz is ideal for that, since the bands are small (20MHz) and they reach really far.
        • by Lisandro (799651)
          Fine, but deploying a wireless communication network in a brand new band takes money. A LOT of money, since you aren't building over previous infrastructures (Google is worth arround 700 millon dollars, versus the several billons for established telcos).

          And deploying is not the only issue - you have to provide each recipient with a receiver. Since 700MHz was commonly used for TV, there's no current devices intended for those purposes in that band. Teletext [wikipedia.org] is the closest you can get, but it works over an an
          • by Lisandro (799651)
            Sorry, i missed on my numbers by far :) Google is worth arround 18 billon. Then again, AT&T had three times that on revenues last year.
          • I agree it's a long shot :) Here are some counterpoints.

            1) Deployment- could be cheaper than cellular due to 700MHz propagation. Maybe reuse the existing towers. Get a WiMax vendor to cut some equipment for it.

            2) Devices- upcoming handhelds will start to have DTV tuners and WiMax anyway, so perhaps adding a receiver wouldn't be too costly. No cost to Google.

            3) Teletext- it's one way, that's a non-starter. There isn't a two-way technology except for the celullar data, which are user-hostile in that they
  • Cynical prediction (Score:5, Interesting)

    by UbuntuDupe (970646) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @12:09PM (#22154088) Journal
    A major telco, or a coalition of the major telcos, will go deep into dept to bid an extremely high price that no one can match, then win, then use their effective monopoly to continue the USA's crappy position in telecommunication quality, and thereby charge high enough prices to pay back the debt from their bid.

    I want to be wrong, but I want credit if I'm right.

    I hope Google can get enough money to outbid. Maybe sell "Gbonds" so they can pay absurdly low yields on borrowed money :-P
    • by acvh (120205) <<moc.sragicsm> <ta> <keeg>> on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @12:18PM (#22154216) Homepage

      A major telco, or a coalition of the major telcos, will go deep into dept to bid an extremely high price that no one can match, then win, then use their effective monopoly to continue the USA's crappy position in telecommunication quality, and thereby charge high enough prices to pay back the debt from their bid.

      From reading the article, the FCC is opening the bid at $10 billion. The previous record for spectrum licensing is $13.x billion, and SOME analysts expect this to go higher. Still, I don't think the FCC will take Google stock as payment - cash only please.

      The uses for this spectrum are many. It remains to be seen if anyone will use it in such a way that it profits them, and benefits us as well.

      • by wizkid (13692) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @12:25PM (#22154300) Homepage
        There's actually a bunch of blocks up for bid here. The most expensive is something like $$$4.7B Thats the one that google wants, and the one they bludgened the FCC to put the open device requirement on. I hope google gets it, because they will do it right. The telcos will try to do everything they can to mess up the open device requirement. If google gets it, we will actually be able to use the phones without half the features turned off or mangled. GO GOOGLE
        • by jandrese (485)
          The problem is that Google isn't in a position to roll out radio towers all across the US. If they were to win the spectrum they would probably be forced to re-license it out to Verizon or somebody to get it to the actual consumer.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Fieryphoenix (1161565)
            Even so, the licensure Google gave would presumably require open device adherance, thus fulfilling the parent's desire for satisfaction.
          • by wizkid (13692)

            They are flush with cash, but yes, they'd end up working with other companies. It would be under true open device terms though. I don't know that they would be re-licensing, there would be joint development agreements, etc. The licenses are worth to much. they wouldn't be dumb enough to give up the license in any way. Joint Development agreements would be the way to go. Google's got enough money to make it work, and this spectrum is the right one for cell/data wireless. Other companies will jump at t
      • Still, I don't think the FCC will take Google stock as payment - cash only please.

        Why would Google need to pay with stock? Google is a money making machine. Google has almost 14 billion in cash and short term investments on its balance sheet right now. They could likely raise two or three times that in a heartbeat if they wanted to mount a large bid.

        And just for reference - Verizon only has 11.5 billion in cash on hand. Basically, they would have to team up with one of their nationwide competitors to out

    • by Firethorn (177587) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @12:26PM (#22154312) Homepage Journal
      A major telco, or a coalition of the major telcos, will go deep into dept to bid an extremely high price that no one can match, then win, then use their effective monopoly to continue the USA's crappy position in telecommunication quality, and thereby charge high enough prices to pay back the debt from their bid.

      One of the things I wanted to see was the creation of another unregulated band range like the 2.4 and 5 GHz ranges(with similar 'play nice' rulesets).

      While the spectrum sold in the auction would still be valuable, potential product producers unable to buy a chunk of the spectrum would be able to still make a product(just wouldn't be able to count on sole access).
    • by Bombula (670389)
      I'm not hearing any good reasons, either in posts or in this and other articles, why Google shouldn't snap up these bands. Getting the 'money' will NOT be a problem - despite what people seem to think here, they will not have to write a check out of a checking account to pay for this...

      As for being able to afford it, Google is bigger than Verizon and nipping on the heels of AT&T. Even if they bid an absurdly high amount in order to win - say $30 billion - when they do win, they will make that up the n

    • I hope Google can get enough money to outbid. Maybe sell "Gbonds" so they can pay absurdly low yields on borrowed money :-P

      As of their last 10-K filing, Google had about $10B in cash on hand. Time Warner has about $1.5B, for a comparison. I think it would take more than a couple of Google's competitors to put together a winning bid. I'd say that's doubtful, considering 1) I'm not sure that would be legal, and 2) their competitors hate each other and can't work together. The only one that would have a

  • by Itninja (937614) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @12:14PM (#22154160) Homepage
    That's how this bandwidth right should be determined. None of this auction crap. Just let the corporations and the FCC pick their most athletic (least nerdy?) employees, and pit them against each other on the Eliminator(tm). Of course, the FCC 'gladiators' would need catchy pseudonyms like "Mega Hurts" or "The Regulator". The first corporation to actually finish the course without crying your throwing up, wins.
    • by morari (1080535)
      Hehe. Mega Hurtz. :)
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      I think you've been watching too much JPod.
    • That reminds me of those IBM ads where the office nerds in their makeshift office armor (Japanese Kabuto style helmet made out of a binder w/chair shield if I recall) battle the "hacker" barbarians attempting to "get into" the network.
    • by T.E.D. (34228)

      None of this auction crap. Just let the corporations and the FCC pick their most athletic (least nerdy?) employees, and pit them against each other on the Eliminator(tm)


      No good. Chuck Norris [chucknorrisfacts.com] works for Viacom. No one else would even bother to compete.
  • by techpawn (969834) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @12:15PM (#22154182) Journal
    or was this always private and I missed that memo? I remember setting up a TV with the ol' rabbit ears and tin foil and it worked for "free" no problems. If now we're being charged for what we as a people owned isn't that the government taking our property? I mean yeah it's not a physical thing and it's the FCC's job to regulate it, but it's there also a law about government not taking what's yours without compensation?

    That would be a hoot and a kick to the economy. We'll sell this then give EVERYONE part of the sale price back as compensation for the reclaimed property.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @12:22PM (#22154282)
      In 2009 you will be able to set up your ol' rabbit ears (and your 50$ converter box) and it will just work...still. They are just shifting from analog to digital, which frees up part of the frequency band. No on stole anything from you. You didn't own it in the first place, calm down. ... freakin commies xD
      • by Ucklak (755284)
        Where can I get those $50 tax payer subsidized converter boxes?
        If I'm paying for part of it, I'd like to own one.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by compro01 (777531)
          you can apply for the (2) $40 coupons (usable towards the cost (prediced at about $60, so you need to pay about $20 each box) of 1 DTV converter each) here [dtv2009.gov].
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      There's a difference between broadcasting on a band and listening on the band. We, the people, never had the ability to broadcast on the 700MHz band all willy-nilly.

      The gov isn't selling off anything that belongs to people. It was licensed to TV broadcast networks, not residents.
    • by Vellmont (569020) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @12:49PM (#22154606)

      I remember setting up a TV with the ol' rabbit ears and tin foil and it worked for "free" no problems.

      It was still private. 60 or so years ago when television first appeared, the spectrum was licensed to various TV stations (though with some restrictions on that license of course). It "belonged" to them in the same sense as the spectrum will "belong" to whoever wins the auctions. The fact that broadcast TV is "free as in beer" to you doesn't mean it was "public" in the sense that you're talking about.

      but it's there also a law about government not taking what's yours without compensation?

      Hmm.. that's kind of a strange distinction. "The Government" is supposed to be "the people" in a democracy. I'm not sure what you're really driving at here.. who's the "you" in this sentence, and why isn't "the you" represented by "the government"?
      • by techpawn (969834)
        I may be thinking of Eminent domain (United States) [wikipedia.org]

        The most common uses of property taken by eminent domain are public utilities, highways, and railroads. Some states require that the government body offer to purchase the property before resorting to the use of eminent domain.

        But, I highly doubt that that would work in this case because it's not physical property and as so many have pointed out, we never owned it to begin with
      • by mikeee (137160)
        "The Government" is supposed to be "the people" in a democracy. I'm not sure what you're really driving at here.. who's the "you" in this sentence, and why isn't "the you" represented by "the government"?

        "The Government" does not always (usually) operate by consensus, thus the need to protect (especially minorities) against uncompensated takings. More to the point, government often can be accurately modeled as a bunch of lying crooks.
      • by Surt (22457)
        "The Government" is supposed to be "the people" in a democracy.

        That would be ideal, but since all of the government was elected by a minority of the people which doesn't include me, it can't really claim to be 'the people'. If you want real democracy you have to at least have a majority requirement before you allow it to enact any laws. Otherwise the presumption should be that the people don't want any more government, and everything should be left status quo until they do.
        • by Fastolfe (1470)

          If you want real democracy you have to at least have a majority requirement before you allow it to enact any laws. Otherwise the presumption should be that the people don't want any more government, and everything should be left status quo until they do.

          I find it interesting that nobody would ever think of campaigning on a platform of "status quo". Nobody is elected unless they promise "change". Everyone gets elected to "do something". Nobody ever considers the possibility that many things are actual

      • "The Government" is supposed to be "the people" in a democracy.

        Who ever said that the US was a democracy? Frankly, the concept of it being one scares the hell out of me.

        Republic, people. The US is a republic, not a democracy.

        https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html [cia.gov]

    • by mstahl (701501) <marrrrrk@gmail . c om> on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @01:02PM (#22154800) Homepage Journal

      I think you're confusing transmitting and receiving. You can receive on whatever frequencies you care to. Swap out a few parts to an old ham radio receiver and it will totally pick up 700MHz band and you can listen to your heart's content.

      Transmitting is a different story though. Even public radio stations have to pay (albeit less than commercial radio stations) in order to broadcast and they are assigned a unique frequency on which to do so.

    • by Firethorn (177587)
      Free to receive, costs & requires a permit to tranmsit.

      The broadcasters, like with radio and free papers, recovered their costs through the selling of advertising.

      Besides, under the new digital television standard, there will actually be the potential for MORE channels of TV to broadcast - even a HDTV signal doesn't take the bandwidth an analoge signal needs.

      Meanwhile Uncle Sam is pitching in some of the proceeds of the auction to subsidize the cost of new tuners.
  • by coolmoose25 (1057210) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @12:20PM (#22154250)

    The government builds a highway, and then opens a rest area. They sell restaurant/gas/convenience store space to the highest bidder. Then the company that leases the space charges more for a Big Mac or a gallon of gas than in the city. Everybody's a winner - except the consumer.

    They should take that spectrum, and award it based on the public good that will come of it. How low a price will you charge for the services you provide for that spectrum... not how much can we, the government, make off of it.

    • by UbuntuDupe (970646) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @12:50PM (#22154620) Journal
      The government builds a highway, and then opens a rest area. They sell restaurant/gas/convenience store space to the highest bidder. Then the company that leases the space charges more for a Big Mac or a gallon of gas than in the city. Everybody's a winner - except the consumer.

      Yes and no. The desires of drivers determine the demand curve for restaurants/gas at that area. The fact that the sellers can get higher prices there is just the manifestation of this. Yes, you could try to circumvent this and heroically deliver the lower prices, but it will just mean that the goods are allocated in a more haphazard, corruption-driven manner. The lease will be awarded to the person with the best connections rather than ability to make use of the land; or the stores will be forever packed and "rationed" by long queues, since the prices are artificially low.

      What should be done in cases like that is not "fight the demand curve" and make prices lower there, but accept that the equilibrium prices will be higher, auction the leases to the highest bidder, and then use that money (driven higher by the demand curve for goods at that location) to replace other taxes, effectively rebating the value created by the highway, to the general public (who paid for it in the first place).

      That is, of course, also what should be done in auctioning airwaves. Chance of politicians genuinely using the money to cut other taxes, rather than seeing it as extra free money: ZERO :-(

      (Note my meticulous avoidance of the word "consumer".)
      • Ya, except for toll roads where there is either no exit, or you have to pay extra toll to exit and then re-enter the road. Tollway plaza = captive customer.
        • by Altus (1034)

          In New Jersey many of the highways are toll roads and the rest stops are not allowed to charge more than the gas stations in the local area off the highway. I don't remember the toll structure there but in Mass it doesn't really cost more to get off the highway and back on... though the time it takes makes rest stops worth it even if they do cost more (and I have never confirmed that they do or do not).
    • by Firethorn (177587)
      Everybody's a winner - except the consumer.

      Actually, everyone's a winner, including the consumer - who has the opportunity to buy a burger somewhere where he wouldn't otherwise have been able to. Even if it is at extra expense.

      They should take that spectrum, and award it based on the public good that will come of it.

      I'll point out that at least some direct good will come of this - part of the spectrum is assigned for a new emergency communication systems, capable of penetrating walls much better than cur
  • Good Luck With That (Score:4, Interesting)

    by asphaltjesus (978804) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @12:20PM (#22154260)
    Don't pin your hopes for lower-cost, widely available internet access on this auction.

    In the current political/business climate in the U.S. the chances that nothing good for the consumer will come from this auction are excellent.

    It's not just about the auction itself. Imagine for a moment a telco doesn't win the spectrum. The telcos still have the experience and access to the senate and congress to write regulations that increase the cost of doing business with the spectrum. Recent history is filled with examples.

    -VOIP regulations, patent litigation parties
    -Limited consumer access to bandwidth.
    -Limited throughput.
    -NSA shenanigans. The get out of jail free cards have already been issued.
     
  • This has got to be anti-news by now. There have been how many articles leading up to this.

    Real news will be hearing who wins, or continues the next round.

  • by Eravnrekaree (467752) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @12:29PM (#22154334)
    Auctions of bandwidth are a terrible idea, and shows how biased towards big money interests the government has become, rather than what is in the best public interest. Radio spectrum, considering it is a limited resource, should be given out based on what is the best public interests, and what most promotes free speech, free expression and diversity, not to who has the most money. The auctions basically play perfectly into the hands of telecommunications monopolies who have the resources to win them, and thus control telecommunications infrastructure, with an impact on the ability of the public to freely express itself. I would rather see the FCC require a completely open network and much more choice and competition, especially in the case where the construction of the network would be best coordinated or is capital intensive, the developer of the network perhaps should be a chartered non profit corporation which then sells access at cost to anyone who wants to utilise the network. This would provide a interconnected completely compatable nationwide, seamless network which can be accessed anywhere, and would asusre anyone could use it to innovate with new interesting and novel services. One company would not be able to limit and control what can be done with it. This would assure a diversity of choice and allow many different small service providers who do not have massive resources to get involved with providing services, promoting innovation and a rich and diverse assortment of services.

    If the government was not so corrupt and beholden to large corporate interests who want to monopolise and control all assetts and resources for its own gain, basically creating a monopoly which serves a few private interests rather than the public interest and promotes diversity and innovation, we would probably have more choice, diversity and competition. Sometimes monopolies are necessary, for instance in electric utilities, since it is so capital intensive, but in this case they should be regulated and chartered by the government to work in the best public interest rather than in the best interest of corporate profits. What is interesting about the wireless plan, although a publicly owned non profit corporation would build the physical network, it would allow a vast range of competition and services to be offered over it, enabling a diverse marketplace.
    • If you want to set up a wireless network, or make radio calls across the country of any type, using your own equipment, for as low a price as your imagination and skill will allow, and completely free of anything but common-sense rules of courtesy, just go study a few weeks and get your own personal radio license [fcc.gov]. You don't have to whine because MegaCorp won't provide you with a plug-n-play radio communication system that retarded monkeys could use at a price you think is low enough. Do it yourself if you
  • Has an auction by the FCC been so closely watched by the general public, I believe.

    Of course, by 'General Public' I mean 'A lot of geeks', but I can still see this as one of the most important auctions of our lifetimes.
  • Auction 73 (Score:3, Informative)

    by lart2150 (724284) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @12:46PM (#22154558) Homepage Journal
    for those who are looking for the auction it's number 73 on the fcc website.
  • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @12:50PM (#22154624)
    (I'm Canadian, so this doesn't affect me beyond the influence factor, but I'm curious none-the-less.)

    Where does the money go? The FCC will raise the money, but where does that substantial bankroll go? Does it just roll into the federal budget to be dished out as the government sees fit with the rest of the money or is it earmarked for a specific use (debt repayment, for example)?

    (And, heck, with the Canadian government about to do a similar auction, if anyone has the answer in regards to Canada, feel free to share it as well.)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've got auctionsniper all ready to go....

  • by JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @02:04PM (#22155678) Homepage
    I use several wireless microphones that operate in the UHF 66 to 69 range, high 700 Mhz to low 800s. Is that part of the spectrum that's going to be "vacated" next year? Any other audio guys who know more about the impact, what gear I should be buying to replace the old stuff?
    • I wouldn't worry about it, unless you're planning on hooking up an RF amplifier to your mikes and broadcasting into the next county (which would be illegal for separate reasons anyway). Your widgets are probably broadcasting such a weak signal that it can't be picked up more than 100 feet away. So who's going to care if the frequency space you're using is now officially licensed to someone else? Nobody, unless you're so unlucky as to have a licensed user set up shop within 100 feet of your studio.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by JesseMcDonald (536341)

        You're assuming the systems are symmetric. It's more likely that the official licensees will have a far stronger transmitters than the ones in wireless microphones. The microphones won't interfere significantly with the licensees, but any licensee operating in that part of the spectrum will probably drown out wireless microphones over a fairly large area. Moreover, transmitters based on the "white space" detection that's been discussed recently would probably fail to detect such low-power signals and transm

  • by bigdavex (155746)
    Suppose I buy some spectrum and want to use it for an analog TV network. Is that against the rules?

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