Tales of the Sausage Factory

Why Don’t Broadcasters Become “Spectrum Innovators?” Because They Like Being Broadcasters.

Can’t help but take a brief break from the Net Neutrality craziness to be mildly amused at Adam Thierer over at Tech Liberation Front. We have an increasing number of reports that Blair Levin wants to bribe broadcasters to get off their spectrum as part of the national broadband plan. Adam is very excited by this and, of course, brings up the usual Libertarian argument that because property solves all problems, we should just make the broadcast licenses property of the broadcasters and let the endless innovation begin.

The problem with argument is that broadcasters could already do this. Under 47 USC 336(b), broadcasters can use their digital spectrum to provide “ancillary and supplementary services.” In a series of orders, the FCC has said that as long as full-power broadcasters provide one free over the air digital channel, they can do whatever they want with the remaining spectrum — including lease it out in the secondary markets to someone else. Under the statute, broadcasters need to pay a fee for any such ancillary services that would be the functional equivalent of what the broadcasters would have paid for the spectrum at auction (47 USC 336(e)), which the FCC has fixed at 5% of any annual revenue from the ancillary services.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Matt Stoller Interviews Me Over On OpenLeft

As anyone reading the sidebar can tell, I’m a big fan of the folks over at OpenLeft. So I was extremely happy when Matt Stoller asked to interview me on what the November 4 white spaces vote at the FCC means for the future of media and telecom policy.

You can find the interviews here:

Day 1: Broadband and Breaking Up Telecom/Cable/Broadcast Monopolies.

Day 2: Real Use Anywhere ‘Skype-style’ Phone In The Offing.

I have no idea if the Obama people — or anyone else for that matter — agree with me on this stuff. The views expressed in the interviews are my own, just like any other time I talk to the press. In particular, I am pretty sure no one else agrees that our priority should be to “crush monopoly incumbents, drive them before us, and hear the lamentations of their shareholders.” “have a strong national broadband policy that includes federally funded fiber-to-the-home and greater access to federal spectrum for intelligent devices.”

But I hope we can persuade them to agree with me.

Stay tuned . . . .

Posted in Life In The Sausage Factory, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Wireless Mic Follow Up: Turns Out Public Safety Did Get There First

One may logically ask, if I am right about the wireless microphones being such a big problem for public safety, why haven’t the public safety folks complained to the FCC about this?

Answer: turns out they have. But, the public safety folks being quiet and unassuming, failed to make themselves heard.

Allow me to change that. The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council, a federation of public safety associations, sent a letter to Chairman Martin asking that the FCC address the problem of wireless microphones back on June 30, 2008. i.e., about two weeks before I filed. While I wish I could claim that it was the NPSTC letter that inspired me, I had no idea it was out there until today. My conversations with the public safety guys were all informal and off the record. Still, as always when folks remind me I’m not an engineer (or an economist, or technologist, or any of the other topics on which I chose to share my humble layperson’s opinion), I am rather pleased to find a bunch of actual engineers that agree with me.

Mind you, the NPSTC letter asks the FCC to go a heck of a lot further than I have. NPSTC wants wireless microphones kicked out of the entire 700 MHz band. I, OTOH, think lots of folks can productively use the broadcast white spaces. Still, I do feel compelled to point out that wireless microphones do not have nearly the level of intelligence/sophistication being discussed for interference avoidance for the white spaces devices at issue in 04-186. Perhaps we should require wireless microphones to rely on sensing as well, or require that they consult an online database for possible new users in the band, or require them to acknowledge some sort of “permissive beacon.” Perhaps public safety entities like NPSTC should administer the database or beacon, and we should require wireless microphone users to pay for these services.

I mean, after all, we wouldn’t want to let these devices run around loose, would we? Think of the terrible interference that might cause. Unless these devices can meet the same rigorous standards that Shure and others seek to impose on unlicensed devices in 04-186, I don’t see how we can ask NPSTC to abide by circumstances that they feel place our public safety at risk.

Stay tuned . . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Support the Internet Radio Equality Act!

According to this article, Rep. Inslee (D-WA) and Rep. Manzullo (R-IL) have introduced The Internet Radio Equality Act. From my brief reading, it nullifies the previous decision of the Copyright Royalty Board that started this mess, replaces the current langauge with the same standard used for satellite radio, and sets transitional rates until the next CRB hearing under the new standard.

Inslee has long been a friend to tech and new media and a foe of media consolidaion. In 2006, he joined with Markey and others to sponsor a stand alone NN bill after COPE passed out of the House Commerce Committee. Inslee has also been a champion on unlicensed access in the broadcast white spaces and supported municipal broadband.

The folks at SaveNetRadio now have an action alert on their front page to get nfolks to contact their representatives to get this through and signed into law before the new rates kick in on May 15.

I am reminded of an old saying that one of the professors at my law school alma mater was want to say: “Dogs get kicked; hogs get et.” Here, SoundExchange decided to act like a hog. As a result, they may get their cushy litte standard completely reset.

At least until May 15, stay tuned . . . . .

Posted in Fighting the IP Mafia, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , | 4 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Kerry drops another good bill

Senator John Kerry (D-MA) has introduced the Wireless Innovation Act of 2007. This bill is essentially the same excellent bill to force the FCC to open up the White Spaces that Kerry, Allen (now no longer in the Senate), Boxer and Sunnunu introduced in 2006 and was later incorporated into the Stevens Bill.

The bill requires the FCC to complete its pending rulemaking on the broadcast white spaces and allocate the use for unlicensed spectrum. Given that the FCC has shifted into reverse on this and has decided to reexplore the licensed v. unlicensed question, it’s nice to see folks on the Hill pushing for this.

Stay tuned . . . .

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General Exception

Customers totally ignore security issues

So, security has been hyped in the press and especially in ads over the past few years… various IT ads talk about security, keeping out hackers, etc. But is Joe Sixpack actually paying attention?

Recently, Paris Hilton (one of those people it seems is simply famous for being famous… oh and for having her knookie tape broadcast all over the Internet) recently had her T-Mobile smartphone hacked, with its phone list of celebrities (and even pictures of her breasts taken with the camera phone) posted all over the web. T-Mobile’s security (or lack thereof) was at fault. This is just one of several breeches of security that has hit T-Mobile.

So, of course, the free market being what it is, people are now leaving T-Mobile in droves, especially eschewing the products that have been so famously hacked, right? Apparently not, as T-Mobile is selling out of Sidekicks, the unit Hilton owned that was hacked.

So, I guess what we have is the confluence of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” and “there’s a sucker born every minute.”

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