Handicaping This Week’s Big Spectrum Auction

And what a long strange trip its been to get here! In 2004, Congress passed the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act (CSEA), which required government users to vacate some choice spectrum so the FCC can auction it. You can see the FCC’s official page for this auction here. You can see my recent general musings on this auction on the Public Knowledge policy blog here.

But none of this tells the whole story. After two controversial rulemakings, a pending legal challenge, and the appearance of a host of new bidders, FCC Auction 66: AWS-1 is ready to start this week on August 9. A look at the list of who has come to play signals an auction of unparalleled visciousness, determination, and probable manipulation by sophisticated bidders because the FCC wussed out and did not adopt anonymous bidding.

For those interested in my handicaping what a report from the Center for American Progress describes as a corrupt means by which incumbents keep out competitors and what I have called “a really wonky version of Worlds of Warcraft,” read on!

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But Do Spectrum Auctions *Really* Suck? According to Center for American Progress Report, You bet!

In all the hustle and bustle, it rather blew by that my friends Dr. Gregory Rose and Mark Lloyd have written this analysis of ten years of FCC spectrum auction data.

Summary — FCC auctions turn out to be great ways for incumbents to exclude new entrants and to bilk the government. They do not yield the promised efficiencies of distribution or even maximize revenue to the government. There are ways to improve the process, but the FCC open ascending auction systems just about ensures that a collection of incumbents can keep out any genuinely disruptive competitors and collude to minimize revenue to the government and maintain the status quo.

 

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Legal Cell Phone Blocking? Cell Phone Blocking Paint and the FCC.

TMCnet reports that a company called NaturalNano has developed a paint that blocks radio waves. The paint contains nanotubes with copper cores that block radio waves of all frequencies. The article says they will market it as a cell phone blocker, but one blogger has already suggested that those anxious about leaking wifi access paint their homes with it.

But is it legal? My first reaction was “yes.” But now I’m not so sure.

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Small But Potentially Significant Spectrum Ruling

Unnoticed by most folks, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued a public notice on the legality of cell phone jammers. (They aren’t.) Oddly, this may have very significant impacts for users of unlicensed spectrum.

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Quick Take on FCC 3650-3700

The FCC decided the 3650-3700 Order today. You can find a link on the FCC Home page.

As is customary, the Order is not yet released, so we have only the press release to go on.

My first take is below. I know a lot of people are going to be upset that it requires licensing, but it is not a “licensed” regime anymore than a truly “unlicensed” regime. We need to keep an open mind and wait for the actual order to come out.

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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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TotSF: Industry Mobilizes to Stop Philly WiFi

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! As recorded in this article about last night’s community meeting in Philly, Verizon has mobilized to squash municipal wifi in Pennsylvania. This little gem, called House Bill 30, is a classic: it provides huge new public subsidies for Verizon while squeezing out competitors. My analysis below.

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UTX OTARD UPDATE

I’m informed by my contacts that the FCC has traditionally exempted colleges and universities from OTARD on the grounds that the relationship is not a standard landlord/tenant relationship. As a consequence, the OTARD declaratory ruling does not apply to UTX or other dormitory situations. The June 24, 2004 ruling did not change any existing OTARD exemptions. It merely clarified that OTARD applied to unlicensed services as well as licensed services.

Looks like the UTX policy is therefore legal. Whether it is wise or not is an entirely different question, and not for yr hmbl obdnt to judge.

Stay tuned . . . .

Tales of the Sausage Factory: UTX, OTARD, UH-OH!

As readers of Slashdot may have seen, The University of Texas at Dallas has prohibitted students in certain dorms from setting up wireless access points. If you read the policy, you will find out that the University is not simply amending its acceptable use policy (AUP), it prohibits setting up access points using residential DSL or cable.

Rather than break into the raging debate in the comments on how this policy meshes (as it were) with the FCC’s recent ruling prohibiting landlords from mandating such things, I’ll use Wetmachine to say what I want (but feel free to refer anyone from Slashdot over here to our humble corner of the internet if they would like to hear from a lawyer who dabbles in such things).

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