Tales of the Sausage Factory

Cablevision’s WiFi Roll Out — A Wireless Plan B?

As I discussed in the context of the Sprint/Clearwire/Etc. spectrum menage (and discussed a bit more with Gordon Cook on his blog), the reality of the post-700 MHz auction world makes it necessary for cable operators to have some kind of wireless strategy if they want to meet the potential next generation competitive threat from either AT&T and Verizon or possibly from newly en-spectrumed DISHTV. At the same time, cable operators are desperate to avoid the downdrag on the their stock that would come from a heavy investment in wireless licenses and further nvestment in infrastructure — especially when analysts don’t give them a prayer of taking on the wireless carriers in what has become a reasonably mature market. How to resolve this difficult dilemma?

Those cable systems with the combination of resources and forethought to address this have opted for different solutions. Comcast, Time Warner and Brighthouse –through their new partnership with Sprint/Clearwire etc. — have flopped back to the old cable standard of joint ventures and strategic investment. (Anyone else remember @Home Network?) Cox went out and won its own set of licenses covering its cable service area, as did Charter parent Vulcan Enterprises (as have a few lesser systems, such as Washington Post owned CableOne, which captured a bunch of licenses in the AWS auction).

Cablevision tried twice to acquire its own set of licenses: first in the AWS Auction in 2006, and again in the 700 Mhz Auction. Both times Cablevision went home empty-handed, outbid by the wireless giants. With no new spectrum on the horizon, and apparently no invite into the Sprint/Clearwire Happy House ‘o WiMax partnership, Cablevision found itself in need of a spectrum “Plan B.” Happily for Cablevision, there is also such a thing as “unlicensed spectrum” which — as I and other boosters of the competitive power of open spectrum continually point out — is available to everyone and cheap to deploy (relative to building a licensed network from scratch).

Hence the recent Cablevision announcement that it will deploy a wifi network in conjunction with its cable network. As a Plan B, it has some real advantages over using licensed spectrum, as well as some potential disadvantages. But given Cablevision’s unique deployment situation — it is primarily located in New York City and Long Island which gives it incredible population density for its relatiely small footprint — this fall back position may work for it where it would not work for other cable companies.

A bit more analysis below . . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Public Knowledge And the IP3 Awards

Once again, Public Knowledge is calling for nominations for its IP3 Awards. These awards honor people who have made valuable contributions in the fields of intellectual property, information policy, and internet protocol. Nominations must get in by September 14. Send nominations to IP3nominees@publicknowledge.org.

To quote from the PK announcement:

These are individuals who over the past year (or over the course of their careers) have advanced the public interest regarding one of the three kinds of “IP.” While these increasingly overlapping policy arenas pose important challenges for us, they also create important opportunities for creative individuals in each of the three underlying fields to advance the public interest.

Normally, this is where I would insert a rather broad hint that the labor of yr hmbl obdnt blogger and others in the realm of open spectrum would make me an excellent candidate for nomination. Fortunately, you are spared this outrageous and self-serving spectacle by the fact that I am actually judging the nominations this year. Accordingly, nary a word of encouragement that might suggest bias on my part shall pass my lips or make it to this public page.

Instead, I’ll just urge everyone to send nominations in by September 14. Remember, send your nominations to IP3nominees@publicknowledge.org.

Stay tuned . . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

We Win Again On 3650-3700 MHz. So What Does It Mean?

Back in 2004-05, a bunch of us fought to open up the 3650-3700 MHz band for unlicensed use (Sometimes refered to as 3.65 GHz rather than 3650 MHz). While we did not get “pure” unlicensed, the FCC’s “hybrid unlicensed” regime gave us pretty much everything we wanted.

In August 2005, a group of tech firms led by Intel filed a Petition for Reconsideration. This group, which I dubbed the “WiMax Posse,” wanted the Commission to reverse itself and optimize the band for WiMax operations. Notably, this meant adopting a licensing regime instead of the open spectrum rules we won in March 2005.

By this time, Powell had left and been replaced with Kevin Martin. Martin had earned the eternal scorn of Netheads by deregulating DSL (actually a process begun by Powell). And, unlike Powell, Martin had no record of support for open spectrum. So even though the WiMax Posse and the various licensed wireless providers who came in to support them raised no new arguments, no one knew whether Martin would reaffirm the 2005 rules or side with the licensed spectrum/WiMax posse.

So I let out a huge sigh of relief and felt a modest sense of accomplishment when the FCC issued an Order denying the WiMax Posse Recon Petition and basically reaffirming our March 2005 win. Commissioner Adelstein had a very nice concurring statement highlighting the important roll played by WISPs and Community Wireless Networks (CWNs) in getting wireless connectivity to rural and underserved urban communities.

So what does this mean for wireless deployment for WISPs, CWNs, and muni systems? How do I read the FCC tea leaves in light of last month’s FCC decision terminating two important open spectrum proceedings? See below . . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

The Sustainable Economics of Open Source and Open Spectrum

A big shout out to Mark Cooper — probably the most prolific and proficient writer on matters economic in the consumer and media reform movements — for putting together two new papers. One explains an economic theory of open spectrum, the other is a brief overview of the basic principles as applied to open source as well.

I shall attempt to translate from the econ speak for the unitiated, as well as explain why Cooper’s discovery/description of a phenomena called a “collaborative good” has such huge implications for public policy.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

It's not just open standards, it's open spectrum

While not often disagreeing with Groklaw, I did have a concern with this piece on open standards and disaster relief. While agreeing with the general gist — that proprietary standards can hinder relief efforts and that open platforms can maximize the number of people helped — the problem of interconnecting communications services is not generally an open standards problem. It is an open spectrum problem — and one we could solve today.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Tales of the Sausage Factory: Last Gasp on Unlicensed Order

As those who follow unlicensed proceedings at the FCC here know, the FCC has been considering opening up the 2650-3700 MHz band to unlicensed use. The rumor is that the FCC will vote on the item at its March 10 meeting. I have also heard that the item is not particularly friendly to mesh networks. We have until Wed. March 2, 2005, 5 p.m. Eastern Time to turn this around. Wanna help?

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Tales of the Sausage Factory: Open Spectrum Doubters

A mailing list I’m on pointed to this rant by Chris Davies against open spectrum, and asked for a response after it was cited approvingly (if confusingly) by Corante. While I am tempted to respond simply by reference to the filksong by Brenda Sutton, I will attempt a more substantive answer below (although everyone really should buy Rite the First Time to hear that song and others).

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Tales of the Sausage Facotry: Will WiFi Phones Displace Cell Phones?

Esme Vos comments on a WSJ article suggesting that WiFi and cell phones are mortal enemies. Sorry, but such a simplistic view of the world doesn’t hold water for me. Sadly, I think the cell phone companies believe it.

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