Tales of the Sausage Factory

White Spaces Lurches Forward Again. OET Issues Good But Weird Proposal.

Over a year ago, the FCC took a major leap forward on deployment of broadband and rethinking our national spectrum policy by voting to open the unused broadcast channels for unlicensed use (aka the “broadcast white spaces”). The Order left a bunch of questions unanswered, such as who would run the proposed database of available frequencies for white space use. Petitions for Recon got filed, lots of requests for revision and modification of the rules got made, and then nothing happened.

In fairness to OET, it’s been a busy year. First there was a change in administration, then it was “all DTV all the time” until the magic June 12 deadline. Then it was bringing on a new FCC Chair and two additional new Commissioners. Then it was “National Broadband Plan all the time.” But still, it was with a tremendous sense of relief that the process had not utterly vanish off the FCC’s radar screen that I saw the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology release a Public Notice on the database. At last! We can get moving on this again, and hopefully move forward on the most promising ‘disruptive’ technology currently in the hopper.

And move we are, in a very peculiar fashion. Rather than resolve the outstanding questions about how the database provider will collect money, operate the database, or whether the database will be exclusive or non-exclusive, the Public Notice asks would-be database managers to submit proposals that would cover these issues. Further, parties have until January 4, 2010 to submit proposals. The FCC will take comment from members of the public on the proposals a month later.

I label this approach “good, but weird.” On the one hand, this seems to my non-engineering and well ordered mind to be totally backwards. How the heck can anyone tell if they want to manage the database when they don’t even know what the requirements are. On the other hand, this basically accomplishes the same thing by having would-be operators that have been pestering the FCC to resolve the matter and trying to get the FCC to adopt rules that favor their own technology/business model a chance to stop pretending that these rules are neutral and the opportunity to make their pitch directly to the FCC. It also cuts down on the number of steps until we actually have a functioning database and can start deploying the technology. Finally, having just gone back and looked at the 2008 Order, the FCC was fairly explicit (Par. 221) that this was always the plan.

And, as usual, I really wish the FCC would not sit around taking months to decide things and then want an immediate response out of us poor public interest folks with our limited resources.

But on the whole, I’m very happy indeed.

More below . . .

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Posted in Spectrum, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments (Comments closed)

General Exception

Noosifixes spotted in the wild!

The still unfinished masterpiece, The Pains, is already having a n impact on our culture, as evinced by this John Galliano fashion show, complete with models wearing nooses. Nooses! What could be more trendy? OK, maybe the knitted penis-gourds that they mentioned, but that’s probably just the thought of having a nice toasty penis-gourd on a cold and frosty New England morning.

Read The Pains now, and it’ll make you far more fashionable!

Posted in General, General Exception | Also tagged | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

Inventing the Future

Open-Source Curriculum

M.I.T. decided couple of years ago to put their entire curriculum on-line. Anyone can use it for free. They feel that the value they provide as an institution is not threatened, but enhanced by making their materials publicly available.

Our preschool, Little City Kids, is now doing the same thing. There’s a lot of stuff we do charge for – individual child-care, franchising to help you run your own Little City Kids, and educational toys that for schools or for home. We have a lot of folks using our curriculum, and quite often, it brings them to our other services as well. That’s plenty. For example, we have quite a few home-schoolers use our curriculum, and they buy toys to go with it.

One of my themes in software development is that platforms tend to not directly make money for their creators. I think a curriculum is the equivalent of a platform for schools. It’s expensive to produce, but necessary if you’re doing something different that doesn’t let you use someone else’s. However, I no longer think it’s wise to expect open-sourcing to reduce costs. It can happen in some fashion, but it shouldn’t be the driver. Instead, you produce the platform because you need to, and you share it because it’s a good idea for helping you with your real product. I think wider use can help improve the quality of the platform, and that this applies to our curriculum. But we are not, at this time, trying to provide a means for people to directly contribute to the curriculum content itself. (More about this later…)

Posted in Inventing the Future, KidsFirst | Also tagged , | Comments closed

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Tales of the Sausage Factory: UPDATE on 3650-3700 MHz

I have been making calls today. The situation is moving in a more favorable direction. The relevant decision makers are getting our emails and see broad popular support for mesh as well as high-power.

Key issues on which decisions have not yet been made and where comments may prove helpful:

1) Allowing low power mobile devices in the band is critical to expanding mesh.

2) Low power mesh requires non-exclusivity and cheap equipment. The Commission should not impose overly conservative interference protection criteria that drive up price. Flexibility has been critical to the success of unlicensed as a networking solution.

3) Mesh devices must be allowed to communicate with each other in a peer-to-peer fashion, rather than requiring mesh devices to communicate with a high power base station.

4) Any system of licensing or registration must be non-exclusive; the Commission must not create a “first in time, first in right” licensing systems.

Remember, things are turning our way, but your comments are still needed to build a record to counter Intel and others. The Proceeding Number is 04-151. You can file comments by going here.

Stay tuned . . .

Posted in General, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , | Comments closed
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