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AT&T To Pay $1.93 Billion For FLO TV Spectrum

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  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @06:13AM (#34626374) Homepage Journal

    One link I found makes that the 698-806 MHz band so its about 100Mhz wide but I suppose the value is the universality of it. You can smother the US with microcells. Maximum individual throughput is limited by that 100Mhz bandwidth, and its not fantastic. Probably enough to put a serious dint into demand for ADSL, especially in low density areas.

    • by adolf (21054)

      Microcells?

      The 700MHz band penetrates buildings and foliage better than any current cellular frequency. It's best use is for long-distance links.

      1800/1900MHz would be a far better bet for an army of microcells.

      • Bandwith is limited so you want to use low power close to the user.

        • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @07:45AM (#34626770) Journal

          Bandwith is limited so you want to use low power close to the user.

          Your statement is absolutely true.

          But bandwidth is (by definition) limited in any band. It is better to use those bands which are actually good at traversing long distances to traverse long distances, than to use those same bands to traverse short distances when other bands could perform the same job more efficiently.

          • UHF is better than the current gigahertz band, but still not great. UHF gets blocked by solid objects like trees, houses, skyscrapers, et cetera. It's a line-of-sight transmission. ----- In contrast VHF "bends" and can reach into the shadows behind these objects. I think an ideal place for cellphones would be Channels 1-6, since these are almost worthless for digital television (picture breaks-up). Also the space above AM upto channel 1, and the gap between FM and channel 7. All of these operate very

            • by hazydave (96747) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @10:45AM (#34627952)

              Both UHF and VHF get attenuated, not entirely blocked, by objects: trees, houses, skyscrapers, etc... and both diffract around said objects. That's why your cellphone works indoors.

              Higher frequency UHF is strongly attenuated by foliage, lower frequency UHF and VHF, no so much. As a digital radio designer, I did a 2.4GHz ISM band radio, narrowband, fairly long range, but it stopped dead at the edge of a forest. My next radio, at 435MHz (used to control robots) went completely through the forest, over a slight hill, and out to a roadway 1/2 mile away.

              That's big reason so much money changed hands in the FCC's 700MHz auction. Verizon nabbed 22MHz there, AT&T 12MHz. So Flo TV's 6MHz, 716-722MHz, may not seem like much, but it boosts AT&Ts 4G band by 50%. They're closing down Flo TV in March, AT&T is expected to launch their LTE-based "4G" (not real 4G yet, but a first step) sometime over the summer. Unless, like everyone else has been, they're six months late.

              There's no value in a 50 mile range for cellular.... no matter how powerful the tower, the handset is still going to be limited to about a watt, maybe less (US cellular devices can run up to 3W, but handsets usually max out a 1W or less... the cell tower actually tweaks the handset's output to something it can hear).

              The 700MHz band is bandwidth limited compared to Sprint, for example.. the Sprint/Clear/Comcast WiMax network has about 90MHz in the 2500MHz band, so they have a higher peak capacity, for sure. But they're going to need more power per cell in cities, if not more cells, to get into buildings. And they're going to have issues with rural coverage -- as Sprint and T-Mobile already do for 2G and 3G. They're limited to 1900MHz, while AT&T and Verizon both have slots at both 850MHz and 1900MHz. My house is centered in 26 acres of forest. I can get Verizon in my cellar, AT&T though most of the house, but T-Mobile is pretty much outdoors only, while Sprint, last I checked, is available at the end of my driveway.

              Of course, you can always deal with the limited bandwidth issue by using more, lower powered cells in highly populated areas. The only real fix for the higher frequency stuff outside of high population areas is more cells, something historically just never done by these guys,

              • OUR airwaves, they belong to the public. Instead of 'we the people' managing OUR property rights we abdicate them and hand it over to a few monopolies who overcharge us for their "service" and take our money to corrupt any means by which we exercise our collective rights.

                Bandwidth is limited due to it having to be divided between multiple monopolies. Each doesn't get fair use since characteristics of ranges of bandwidth differ greatly as well as POOR applications where company needs to use the wrong bandwid

            • by camperslo (704715)

              I think an ideal place for cellphones would be Channels 1-6, since these are almost worthless for digital television (picture breaks-up).

              There hasn't been an over-the-air channel 1 in the U.S. since 1941.

              The "gap" between the FM band and TV channel 7 is spectrum a cable system can and do use because they control all of their signals, but those frequencies are already licensed for many over-the-air uses. It's NOT empty spectrum. AM broadcast through where channel 1 was isn't empty either.

              The optimum length for antenna elements relates to the wavelength which is inversely proportional to the frequency. A 1/4 wave antenna for channel 2 would

              • by adolf (21054)

                Except for areas with very low population density, long-range data access is not practical when a great deal of bandwidth is needed. The bandwidth basically has to be divided among the active users in the area covered. The area covered goes up with the square of the distance so the number of users would climb rapidly as range goes up.

                For as insightful as you seem to be, you seem to have never learned about directional antennas, or at least have never applied the idea in this context.

                Go ahead and learn about

                • you seem to have never learned about directional antennas, or at least have never applied the idea in this context.

                  Not much use on a cell phone but handy for making the most out of a single cell tower.

                • by camperslo (704715)

                  For as insightful as you seem to be, you seem to have never learned about directional antennas, or at least have never applied the idea in this context.

                  This context, data access to the masses on mobile devices, has very limited options for use of directional antennas.

                  Someone walking around generally has no place to mount a directional antenna, no idea which way to point one, and may very well be moving around making it difficult to maintain aiming.

                  It's difficult for an ISP to do too much with directional antennas since in many instances users could be in any direction. They could however help to allow what amounts to separate access points to operate from

                  • by adolf (21054)

                    Who is saying that this chunk of 700MHz is going to be used only for mobile devices? I guess it's strongly implied because it's "AT&T," who we all know and hate as the only GSM provider in the States that is worth anything at all, but certainly you're aware that they do a lot more than offer cellular service.

                    Much of rural America is still limited to v.34 dialup -- and sometimes, not even that.

                    For fixed installations, directional antennas work just fine. The user doesn't even have to know where to poin

                    • by camperslo (704715)

                      Who is saying that this chunk of 700MHz is going to be used only for mobile devices?

                      The article related to AT&T so most of the discussion here has that focus:
                      "In an announcement made Monday, the telecommunications giant said the extra wireless spectrum will help it provide 4G mobile broadband to its customers in the next few years."

                      What you're doing is interesting and no doubt much appreciated, but I'd be surprised if it could scale very far with many people and heavy consumption. I'm sure I'm not alone in being interested in hearing more details of hardware you're using. I don't exp

    • by yo303 (558777)

      You have to be careful. One time I bought a bunch of spectrum at 730MHz in Tallahassee, Florida , and the guy said it was supposed to be good for the microcells.

      But I think I got ripped off, because the bandwidth is swamping me.

      • by bledri (1283728)

        You have to be careful. One time I bought a bunch of spectrum at 730MHz in Tallahassee, Florida , and the guy said it was supposed to be good for the microcells.

        But I think I got ripped off, because the bandwidth is swamping me.

        Same thing happened to me in New York, but I ended up with a baggy of oregano.

    • >>>about 100Mhz wide

      Nope. FLO TV is really just one channel from the 52 to 69 selloff. That makes it 6 megahertz wide, or about 30 Mbit/s raw throughput. Enough to provide internet for 5 people per cell, or a few thousand voice customers.

      • by hazydave (96747) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @11:36AM (#34628528)

        LTE supports 81.6Mb/s and 200 active data clients on a 5MHz channel, using 4x4 MIMO, 43.2Mb/s with 2x2 MIMO. Not quite as bad as you let on here. Obviously, if you had 200 data users on a cell, they're not all getting the high speed they're after... but no different than the 3G situation -- about 21Mb/s via HSPA or 56Mb/s with HSPA+ (2x2 MIMO and 64QAM).

        AT&T has actually been buying up 700MHz spectrum for years now. Along with the national Block B 12MHz they bought at FCC Auction 73, they own up to 12MHz of Block C from some of these other purchases... I hadn't realized they bought Aloha Partners sometime back in 2007. So that's up to 24MHz in some areas, even before you factor in this new 6MHz block. LTE doesn't support more than 20MHz per channel, but in aggregate, AT&T may have up to 480Mb/s of LTE per cell. Not too shabby.

        Verizon has been doing much the same thing... they spent $4.7 billion for the national 700MHz Block C (and a few licenses in Block A as well) they won in Auction 73, 22MHz wide. And another $4.66 billion buying up 700MHz spectrum owned by regional companies... no idea just how much, or where. But both companies are well situated for 4G, and clearly, the scarcity of this commodity is driving the price up. This has Verizon with up to 90MHz of aggregate spectrum in places (3G + 4G), over 45MHz through most of the country.

        It'll be interesting to see if Echostar hangs on to their 6MHz Block E ($722 million), given they could better than double their money on it now. And the FCC still plans to run the Block D auction again, probably next year (Block D has to be shared with public service use).

    • From TFA:
      “Qualcomm bought the wireless spectrum powering FLO TV -- Lower 700 MHz D and E block spectrum - for only $125 million”
      From Wikipedia:
      Block D: 10 MHz bandwidth (758–763 and 788–793 MHz)
      Block E: 6 MHz bandwidth (722–728 MHz)
      16Mhz of bandwidth for 1.925 Billion .. Bucks .
      Spectrum real estate sure is doing better than the housing market.

    • I don't understand how you can "buy" spectrum off other companies if its technically owned by the people. They should only be allowed to rent it from us.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Netcraft confirms it. Mobile TV is dead!

    • Netcraft confirms it. Mobile TV is dead!

      Long live youtube over 3G.

      • by aliquis (678370)

        Netcraft will (ok ok... might? could had? probably not? ;D) confirm it:
        Soon Youtube over 3G is dead thanks to global Internet censorship.

        Hurray for pirate airwave-TV ;)

  • The end. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @06:14AM (#34626380) Journal

    And this, friends, represents the end of the glory that should have been the giant swaths of 700MHz spectrum which were liberated as part of the move from NTSC to ATSC.

    RIP, dreams.

    • by Ostracus (1354233)

      Apparently "giant" has a new definition, anyway I feel sorry for all the people who spent $249 for the required device. Speaking of which how many new devices will have to be purchased to utilize this "new" spectrum?

      • Do you mean on the carrier side or on the consumer side?

        From TFA:

        Wireless carriers are under tremendous pressure to upgrade their networks to handle the traffic generated by a new generation of smartphone applications and the increasing consumer consumption of multimedia files downloaded or streamed to a growing multitude of devices.

        So... I'm guessing for the consumer it will only be a matter of when you buy your next smartphone from AT&T it will have the ability built into it to use these spectrums, along with whatever services AT&T decide to offer here. Maybe it will just use it to separate smartphone internet traffic from the other stuff?

      • by Anonymous Coward
        This is amazing.
        1. American gov. paid out something like .4 billion for converters made in China.
        2. American company pays American gov. .1B for right to use space.
        3. Another American company pays first American company 2 B for right to use that space.
        4. New equipment will be made in China to access this space.

        So, who came out like a bandit? China. Who got really screwed on this? American tax payers.

        • For their 0.3 billion, American taxpayers have access to 4G service that wasn't available before.
          • Is said service going to be free then? coz if not you can bet your bottom dollar that those taxpayers that decide to use it will be paying plenty for it!

        • Disagree with your conclusion.

          Yes the Congress & FCC spent millions on converter boxes, but they collected *billions* from the sale of channels 52-69 (and also 70-83 in the early 1990s). So it was a net win for the People's Treasury. You're right that most of these devices are built in China, but that's really a separate issue (US workers charge too much for their labor) which the FCC has no power to control.

          • American workers charge too much for their labour? Are you working for Chinese money then?

            • by aliquis (678370)

              You can change it to "American workers pay too little for their products and demand too much" instead of you want to. Just buy less for more and make it American made and you're without any issues with China.

            • If a company packs-up and moves to China or India because its previous workers were charging $20/hour while their new workers are charging one-half dollar per hour, then YES, the american workers are charging too much. Just as if I went to buy a Civic, and Honda charged me $200,000 for it - that would be too high a charge. Instead I'd shop for a lower rate.

              Eventually we'll reach a point where foreign workers rates rise and American workers drop, until they reach near equilibrium. That's my prediction for

          • by jvkjvk (102057)

            When the spectrum in TFA was bought from the US government for $125 million and then sold by the company for $1.95 billion, this seems to be a bit more of a travesty than the China connection.

            I recall at the time many people speculating that "we the people" were giving away our spectrum for pennies on the dollar. Turns out that they were right.

            Regards.

        • by aliquis (678370)

          You don't have to buy from China if you don't want to.

          You could buy American made products, though that may cost American tax payers even more. But sure, will also benefit Americans more at other places.

          Hardly a bandit though.

          Capitalism is only good as long as the US is _GOD_ of capitalism? =P

    • Not sure I understand your cynicism.

      Channels 52-83 were owned by TV stations for their exclusive use, and now the frequencies have been leased to Cell carriers for use by the people's portable phones. How is this a bad thing? Looks like a net positive to me.

      • Re:The end. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @08:08AM (#34626862) Journal

        Channels 52-83 were owned by TV stations for their exclusive use, and now the frequencies have been leased to a singular Cell carrier for use by that carrier's customers. How is this a bad thing? Looks like a net positive to me.

        There. Fixed that for you.

        (Please realize that I draw my opinion from the fact that, once upon a time, nobody owned any airwaves but the people -- and that the initial concept of outside ownership was a transfer of rights from the people to corporations, not between corporations. They are inherently our airwaves, not those of whom are represented by a stock ticker.)

        • The People still own the airwaves, but now they are administered by the FCC (to prevent congestion from overlapping broadcasts), and LEASED to the corporations for a fee. This was all set up long, long ago in the before time..... I mean, the 1920s.

            NOTE that the FCC holds the power to revoke that lease at any time, if the corporation is found to be violating the terms of the lease. More typically they get fined (such as when Janet Jackson exposed her breast).

    • by NuttyBee (90438)

      It's really never made sense in the last few years to continue to have terrestrial OTA TV. Crazy you say? Not really, half the time people can't even receive the signals anyway without cable or satellite. We'd be better off just letting the satellite and cable companies deal with distribution and subsidize life line service for the people who cannot otherwise afford it. In so many markets cable penetration is 80-90% anyway.

      Ka spot beam satellites allow essentially the entire US local channel markets to

  • which, it plans to restrict, if they can go along with their anti net neutrality move. turn the internet into cable tv for dozens of millions of people.

    if, at this point while reading this, you thought that it is not something that could happen, go bang your head against a wall.

    corporations have no moral obligation to think about the freedoms of the citizens, and they have shown that repeatedly. they dont have any obligation to respect internet freedom either.

    unless you make them respect it.
    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by Seumas (6865)

      I thought your sig said "GirlGirlPHP" until I clicked on it. Damn it.

    • by Ostracus (1354233)

      which, it plans to restrict, if they can go along with their anti net neutrality move. turn the internet into cable tv for dozens of millions of people.

      Thankfully wireless isn't the only way to get online, and even wired AT&T isn't the only one.

      • Thankfully wireless isn't the only way to get online, and even wired AT&T isn't the only one.

        curious that at&t controls 25-35% of all american market in regard to telecommunication regarding internet, including backbone providing, even dial in.

        too bad that the people in states which at&t contracted are not able to use anything than at&t

        http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=10/04/18/1318210 [slashdot.org]

        'The FCC's research shows that 78 percent of American households have access to only two land-based broadband providers and that 13 percent have one. Don't expect that to improve. Many competing DSL services have left the market, spurred by the end of line-sharing in 2005 and other corporate consolidations.

        yes. believe in 'free market' like a moron, while 80% of you have only 2 land based providers to choose, and ALL of them consolidating and against net neutrality. yeah, you can 'choose'.

        fre

  • Actually 4G? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Is it real 4G or that marketing bullshit 4G?
  • by ffejie (779512) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @10:16AM (#34627622)
    There go those greedy telcos again, not taking any risk and expecting to be able to charge higher rates for certain types of service.

    /sarcasm
  • AT&T buys Qualcomm's FLO TV spectrum for $1.9 -> on Monday December 20, @01:30PM srimadman Submitted by srimadman on Monday December 20, @01:30PM
  • I like this sentence: ...AT&T faces the extra pressure of overcoming negative perceptions of its wireless network,...

    Oh yes. It is merely my perception that I have dropped calls and no service periodically. I am so glad to know that these things don't actually happen. It's all in my imagination.

  • by sageres (561626)
    Holy shit... That's $125 million becomes $1.925 Billion... That's 15,400 increase! Wow.... I would like to find such investment that would give me such a huge return margin...
    • That's $125 million becomes $1.925 Billion... That's 15,400 increase!

      If you really meant 15,400 times you're using the British "billion" (= American "trillion") rather than the American "billion" (= British "thousand million"). That's off by three orders.

      If you mean 15,400% you're still off by one order.

      Or if you're using the European comma where Americans would use a decimal point (i.e. 15.4x) you're on. The actual multiplier is 15.4x.

      But that misses other costs - like the 800 million (and maybe more) th

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