3650 Band Up for grabs again

Haven’t posted much, as I’ve been busier than I can imagine, and a big computer crash in our office from last weekend into Tuesday put me waaaayy behind.

Fortunately, my good buddies and folks who actually deploy stuff (as opposedto us lawyers) Sascha Meinrath and Steve Ronan (both involved with CTCNet, as well as Sascha’s role with CUWN have sounded the alarm for me.

As some of you may recall from my article last march, we won access to a nice little slice of spectrum for non-exclusive use in the 3650-3700 band. A number of the big boys, like Intel, who have bet heavily on WiMax, tried to convince the Commission to take it away from us.

So I just filed an Opposition that says (a) the argument that you need to be Intel to make useful technology for wireless is stupid. CUWN can do it, and do it open source. If Intel wants to sit this one out because they don’t think they can make money in this band, fine. (b) WiMax is a nice technology, but not every band needs to be WiMax compatible. Better not to have all our eggs in one basket, huh? (c) The rest of the comments boil down to “Don’t sell the bike shop Orville, it’ll never fly!” If it fails, the Commission can take the spectrum back and give it to the WiMax crowd, but give the rest of us a chance.

Happily for me, Cisco also filed on our side and in opposition to Intel. Their cmments boil down to – if Intel thinks they can make money here given all the incumbents that need protecting, they’re nuts. We love WiMax, but we’d rather make money selling equipment to WISPs who can use this for backhaul than try to make exclusive licensing and WiMax work here.

The fact that Cisco weighed in resolves my one worry. A lot of staff at the Commission still aren’t convinced that open source folks like CUWN and feisty little entreprenuerial folks with proprietary solutions can really develop a band of spectrum. So they are always looking to see if any of the established industry players are willing to invest in the band. Frankly, if it were just CUWN v. Intel, staff would start to wonder if they had really done the right thing and I would have a much harder time keeping the rules. But if Cisco says they can make money in this band under these rules (and that other rules would be much worse), then staff are much more likely to decde they did the right thing the first time and recommend the Commission Deny the Petitions.

I hope they do anyway.

Stay tuned . . . .


  1. The whole business of “open source = not ready for prime time“ is intriguing and a little depressing.

    In my day job I work for Laszlo Systems, who developed a very nifty platform for so-called Rich Internet Applications.

    Last year the company decided to make the platform free and open source — reinventing the business model of the company to one that sells applications and services instead of the underlying platform.


    A few weeks ago I wrote a ”white paper“ describing OpenLaszlo. In the first few drafts I had a longish section explaining all about open source, and how ”open source“ did not mean ”not ready for prime time.”

    But I was able to remove most of that copy, because my reviewers in the marketing side of the company said that that battle had already been won; open source products like Linux and Apache had demonstrated to corporate America (and corporate world) that open source stuff could be as good as or better than closed source.

    That does not mean that a teeny-tiny open source project should be deemed a priori a worthy competitor to Microsoft or Intel. But neither should it be dismissed out of hand.

    It will be very interesting to see how this pans out in the FCC/communications space. . .

  2. Well, in some places Open Source has its foot in the door. Alas, all it takes is one person to put the kibosh on it.

    For example, we have an internal Wiki at my employer (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wik… if you don’t know what that is). It was wasn’t ever officially sanctioned. One of our technical leads put it up, started using it, and the whole thing snowballed before any upper manager caught wind of it.

    The current system was hacked together in Microsoft’s old Active Server Pages technology, and is no longer being actively developed, is somewhat limited in function, and still has some unresolved bugs in it. Last year, we decided “hey, why not move to another Wiki system… one that is actively being developed and supported?” After a longish period of looking around, trying out systems, we settled on a PHP-based system called TikiWiki, which would provide us with a Wiki and a bunch of additional groupware features. I spent two weeks testing and writing scripts to reformat our existing Wiki database to port it over to the new system.

    Then the V.P. the Open Source allergy caught wind of it. “Wait!” he said, “how do we know these open source licenses will not virally infect our intellectual property!?” (which is, precisely, one of the lies that Microsoft has been spreading about open source for the past few years). I replied by simply pointing out that none of the licenses of any of the software said anything about the intellectual property rights of any content placed into the system, just the software that ran it itself.

    Then the V.P. insisted that we investigate a Microsoft system that could possibly be used to create Wiki-like software. He started pushing for this solution, even though it would mean paying Microsoft $50k in licensing fees, hiring $75/hr consultants to develop software to suit our needs on our own, rather than going with the pre-packaged open source solution.

    So, we evaluated it. And it sucked. Totally inappropriate for our needs.

    More than a year later, we’re still stuck with the same old creeking system, still trying to find information management solutions that are not only technically viable, but also politically palatable to our paranoid VP.

    And the punchline? This same VP sends out emails periodically about Google’s latest offerings with comments like “Hm. Maybe someday we should look into developing an interface like that.”

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