Tag Archives: wireless Internet

Congresswoman Eschoo pushes for more broadband spectrum

Silicon Valley congresswoman Ann Eschoo wants to shake up the way that Washington manages and assigns spectrum. The goal is to free up a total of 500 MHz for wireless communications purposes. Much of that would come from turning over frequencies held by government agencies to public use. But some of it would come, willingly or not, from the private sector.


“We have to make freeing up spectrum a top priority,” she said at Joint Venture Silicon Valley's second annual wireless symposium, held on 2 November 2012 at Marvell Semiconductor Inc. headquarters in Santa Clara. “So many companies and broadcasters think it belongs to them. We know that the airways belong to the American people.”

Eschoo pointed to an FCC decision to move ahead with buying back television channel assignments from broadcasters on a voluntary basis and auctioning it off to wireless carriers. She said it would account for 120 MHz towards the final goal, and raise $25 billion dollars, although some of that would go to broadcasters who gave up their channel assignments.

The FCC has given itself a June 2014 deadline to hold the auctions. There are a lot of different interests to balance in the process. Wireless Internet service providers are worried that unlicensed frequencies will be sold out from underneath them.

Spectrum policy “must be balanced with both licensed and unlicensed spectrum,” Eschoo said, adding that wireless technology generates $50 billion in revenue in the U.S. every year.

Some government agencies are fighting plans to clear them off of some frequencies and turn the bandwidth over to the private sector, preferring instead to work out some way of sharing. But that idea is not very popular with wireless broadband advocates.

Eschoo believes that federal agencies can be more efficient in their use of frequencies, and wants Congress to step in and “scrub” the way the executive branch holds and uses spectrum. The bottom line, she said, is that the airwaves are an engine for job creation.

Update: Brown signs SB1161, no new Californian regulations for Internet services

by Steve Blum • , , , , , , ,
California governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1161, which prevents state agencies, particularly the California Public Utilities Commission, from extending regulations and oversight to “Internet Protocol enabled service”, including specifically VoIP, until at least 2020.

In his signing message, the governor said “this bill encourages the continued growth of these and other innovative services that have become a hallmark of our state.”

The language of the bill is broad, covering any service that “enables an end user to send or receive a communication in existing Internet Protocol format, or any successor Internet Protocol format through a broadband connection, regardless of whether the communication is voice, data, or video.”

The fear or hope, depending on your point of view, is that incumbent telecoms companies will use this loophole to largely escape regulation altogether.

When she’s good, she’s very good; when she’s bad, she’s better

by Steve Blum • , , , , , , ,

Governor Jerry Brown has until this Sunday, 30 September 2012, to approve or veto Senate Bill 1161, which would prohibit the California Public Utilities Commission or any other California state agency from regulating “Voice over Internet Protocol and Internet Protocol enabled services” until at least 2020.

The bill is controversial and the debate has been emotional. Advocates say it would clear the decks for continued high tech innovation in California, opponents say it would deregulate big cable and telephone companies and allow them to bully consumers and bury smaller competitors.

CNET has a good article telling the case for the bill, Wired has a good one on the case against. The actual bill is here.

From my perspective, any time you keep regulators out of a business, particularly one as fast moving and dependent on innovation as IP services, it’s a good thing. I am very much a free market advocate.

In the near term and the long, long term, keeping regulators out of Internet-enabled or other 21st Century sectors is a good thing. Limiting regulatory authority to legacy services and providers will prevent a lot of future political mischief. At all levels of government, there are good regulators and there are some that you would not want poking their noses into the business of an independent ISP or a new media start-up.

The downside comes if the big carriers move out of a regulated environment too soon – and like many who have written on this topic I believe that’s what they intend to do – it could create serious, maybe fatal, competitive issues for smaller companies that have to buy service from incumbents and compete against them.

Another possible effect – good or bad depending on your perspective – is that PG&E could get into the lit service business. They sell dark fiber now, when they have it to sell, but that’s all. They don’t put much in themselves because there’s not a lot of profit in dark fiber. When they do, it’s either because they need it to run their electric business or a telecoms utility has installed it for other purposes. But take away regulatory limitations, and the equation changes. PG&E and other private electric utilities might want to move up the value chain as far as full Internet connectivity.

Which do you trust more: the good intentions, judgement and restraint of regulators, or the ability of the market to keep legacy natural monopolies under control? If you see regulatory agencies as a benefit to your business, or at least don’t see them as a potential danger, then SB1161 looks like a bad idea. On the other hand, if you see government as a greater threat than AT&T, Comcast and friends, it’s a good idea.

AT&T wants to get out of the POTS business, particularly in rural areas. Anything that accelerates that trend – as SB1161 likely will – might be a good thing for an independent ISP in some areas. Or it could throw things into such a turmoil that everyone drowns.

For good or ill, SB1161 opens the door to unexplored territory. Personally, I agree with Mae West: when it comes to a choice between the lesser of two evils, pick the one you haven’t tried before.

Live from the Oulu wireless technology conference in San Jose

Real time Tweets from the Discover Oulu wireless technology conference in San Jose on 18 November 2008…

  • At Oulu wireless conference in San Jose, per Purnima Kochikar, Nokia biz dev: Indian mobile users buying 10 rupee (25 cent) prepay cards. Devices are status symbols in developing world, services aren’t. People will buy smartphone but not service, just to put the phone on a table at a meeting. 11:20 AM Nov 18th.
  • 1,000 radios per person in near term. Interesting prediction from expert panel. Means power & spectrum challenges. Opportunities too. 11:34 AM Nov 18th.
  • Green is The Word. ICT accounts for 2% of global carbon, panel says will grow to 6%, more than air travel. What is ICT offsetting? 11:38 AM Nov 18th.
  • Craig Barrett, Intel chair, speaking to Oulu conference. Saying nice things about Finland. 12:57 PM Nov 18th.
  • Barret speaking without script or TelePrompTer, very engaging. Interesting speaker, so far focusing on historical perspective. 1:05 PM Nov 18th.
  • Barrett thinks we have at least 15 years to go on Moore’s Law. Sees complementary trend in telecom with bandwidth doubling every 18 months. 1:09 PM Nov 18th.
  • Barrett: bringing advanced telecom technology to developing world is key to future growth. 1:21 PM Nov 18th.
  • Sriram Viswanathan, Intel Capital, doing live WiMAX demo. Don’t doubt Intel is betting big on WiMAX. 1:24 PM Nov 18th.
  • Craig Barrett: “People over 40 sometimes stand in the way of technology because they’re overly worried about security, while people under 30 couldn’t care less.” 1:35 PM Nov 18th.
  • Barrett echoing prediction about a thousand – maybe thousands- of radios per person. 1:37 PM Nov 18th.
  • Barrett: telemedicine & advanced ICT key to delivering health care to developing world. Kiva.org can provide supporting financial tools. 1:45 PM Nov 18th.
  • Barrett: disruptive technologies include WiMAX in telecom, 3D graphics for entertainment, OLPC type devices for global education. 1:58 PM Nov 18th.
  • Barrett: been through 11 recessions, you can’t save your way out of a recession, you have to invest. 2:02 PM Nov 18th.