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From Google to the FCC, New Race for America's Last Broadcast Spectrum Holds Many Secrets

Robert X. Cringely on Popular Mechanics: "Some pundits (that would be me) think Google will bid to win its spectrum block, then will trade that block to Sprint/Nextel for some of that company's 2.5-GHz WiMAX licenses that are far better suited for data. Sprint Nextel, the number three U.S. mobile operator, is conspicuously absent from this week's list of bidders, and its WiMAX strategy is in flux following the recent firing of CEO Gary Forsee, who was a big WiMAX backer..." more

The 700 MHz Multibillion-Dollar Auction Begins Tomorrow

The auction for rights to a highly valuable swath of the United States' airwaves (700 megahertz auction) will begin on Thursday, January 24th, beginning at 10am and is expected to include multibillion-dollar bids from the nation's two biggest wireless phone companies, Verizon and AT&T, as well as Google. more

Internet Access and the Missing Institutional Design

It's Friday, a day to tie some threads together. There were three announcements/events this week that are connected in a non-obvious way... These three elements go together in creating a picture of US policy towards Internet access at the beginning of 2008. Rather than seeing the Internet as an engine for economic growth, creativity, innovation, and new jobs -- and as the converged communications medium for the next generation -- current policy is to wait for private companies to decide when investment in access makes sense for them. Those private companies have plenty of incentives to shape access to suit their own business plans. more

The Network Management Excuse

Telco front-man Scott Cleland, in a recent blog post, thumbs his nose at the Four Internet Freedoms and says that the FCC should too. Under current leadership, it probably will. Referring to the recent submissions to the FCC by Free Press and Public Knowledge and Vuze complaining about Comcast's use of reset packets to block applications that compete with Comcast's own proprietary video entertainment offering, Cleland says "Network management trumps net neutrality." There are lots of reasons for, ahem, managing. Cleland neglects to observe that controlling congestion the way Comcast does it is like scattering nails in the road for traffic control. more

FCC Releases Details of the Upcoming 700Mhz Auction

Document detailing the upcoming 700Mhz auction has been released by FCC. The FCC has identified the applicants who are qualified to bid in the 700-MHz band auction, set to begin Jan. 24. The bidding itself, for about 1,200 licenses, will be conducted over the Internet and phone. The approved applicants include some expected names, such as Google (called Google Airwaves in the list), AT&T, Cox Wireless, Qualcomm and Verizon Wireless. But it also includes some less-discussed applicants, such as Chevron USA, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's Vulcan Spectrum Management, and a variety of small-to-midsize companies. more

Net Neutrality Summit to be Held on Jan 26 by University of San Francisco

The University of San Francisco Intellectual Property Law Bulletin will be hosting "The Toll Roads? The Legal and Political Debate Over Net Neutrality" to be held on January 26, 2008, at the Fromm Institute on the University of San Francisco main campus. The Symposium will be a gathering where the legal community will join together with political scientists, economists, communications experts and students to engage in a day of presentation and discussion of the issues surrounding Network Neutrality (list of panelists). more

"The Broadband Revolution"

The International Telecommunications Union recently issued a press release announcing with joy the release of "the first set of global standards for Internet Protocol TV (IPTV)." A key sentence: "A combination of voice, Internet and video services over a single broadband link and from a single provider is foreseen as the ultimate goal of the broadband revolution." Those of you who lived through 'What Is Broadband Good For?' with me last summer, know that the word "broadband" is a pet bugaboo of mine. It's a word that answers a lot of policy questions in a particular way. more

Will 2008 be the WiMAX Year?

There has recently been some good and bad news about WiMAX. On the good news part, an announcement made by the WiMAX Forum this month regarding the launching of the Mobile WiMAX certification program through which vendors can get their IEEE 802.16e-2005 equipment tested and possibly certified... On the bad news part, there was the Sprint-Clearwire breakup after three months of announcing a plan to join forces in building a nationwide WiMAX network in the US. Although it is anticipated that each company would carry on with its own WiMAX plans, analysts believe that the breakup would have negative impact on WiMAX deployment in the US... more

Google Controlling Direction of Next-Generation Wireless Network?

Google announced last Friday that it would apply to bid in the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's auction of 700 megahertz band wireless spectrum. "If it wins, it could build a wireless network for that spectrum on its own, or partner with others to build and operate such a network. Either way, Google could put its brand on millions of mobile devices that use the network." more

Verizon OPEN Wireless

Very surprising and welcome announcement from Verizon Wireless yesterday announcing that "it will provide customers the option to use, on its nationwide wireless network, wireless devices, software and applications not offered by the company. Verizon Wireless plans to have this new choice available to customers throughout the country by the end of 2008..." And Verizon Wireless is right to open up. There's plenty of room to be cynical about this; after all, Verizon Wireless is trying to STOP the FCC from putting an openness requirement on the 700Mhz spectrum to be auctioned... more

FCC Chairman Martin a Tireless Consumer Advocate - Who Knew?

In a counter-intuitive move for a Republican free marketeer, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has sought to impose substantial additional regulations on cable television. Chairman Martin ostensibly can retain his credentials by claiming that a 1984 law requires the FCC to act when cable television systems serve 70% or more of the U.S. population and 70% who can subscribe do so. more

Unbridled Discretion and Prior Restraint: The Verizon and Comcast Stories

Let's say that providing communications infrastructure is an inherent function of a state. Most people think of the internet as a telephone system, and most people think the telephone companies aren't supposed to choose which calls will go through based on their content. People think that because they think internet access, like telephone access, is a utility -- like electricity conduit, water pipes, etc. -- that has something to do with the government, and the government isn't supposed to discriminate. more

Financial Times on Telecoms Separation

I've written that a Network Neutrality law needs a Network Management Exception, and I've laid out how this exception is likely to become a giant vacuum-cleaner-fish loophole. The way out is the separation of infrastructure from service, so infrastructure operators can have no financial interests in the services they carry, hence no motive to discriminate in anti-competitive ways. Now today's Financial Times has an editorial on the EC telecom regulator, Viviane Reding's proposal to beef up national telecom regulatory authority within European countries and create a Europe-wide so-called super-regulator. more

Google Preparing to Bid 4.6 Billion on 700MHz Wireless Spectrum

Google made a big splash last week with its new software for cellphones. But that's far from the limit of the Internet giant's wireless ambitions --- which could include running its own mobile network. more

Leading a Horse to Water

It is one thing to bring broadband internet to the masses, but how do we make them drink from the fountain of knowledge? One of the challenges, of course, is that the industry has not yet sold turn-key applications that capture the imaginations of the unconnected. Surprising as it seems, email, Facebook, file swapping and web surfing have not yet attracted 100% of the population. Are there some applications that might lend themselves to a toll-free model in order to reach the rest of the market? more