Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Wireless Networking United States

Citigroup Questions Whether US Spectrum Shortage Exists 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the blame-the-spectrum-speculators dept.
alphadogg writes "For more than two years, the U.S. mobile industry has warned of an upcoming spectrum shortage, but two analysts at Citigroup don't buy it. AT&T, trade group CTIA and even officials with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission have talked frequently about a coming spectrum crunch, as mobile customers move to data-sucking smartphones and tablets. Smartphones use 24 times the spectrum compared to standard mobile phones, and tablets use 120 times the spectrum, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a speech on Tuesday. But Citigroup analysts Jason Bazinet and Michael Rollins questioned what has become the conventional wisdom in the mobile industry. The U.S. has plenty of spectrum for mobile broadband, but much of it is in the wrong hands, they said."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Citigroup Questions Whether US Spectrum Shortage Exists

Comments Filter:
  • How is that measured??
    • Re:120x, 24x? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Culture20 (968837) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @11:23PM (#37581192)
      In bribes.
    • in data consumed/transfered.

      • by cgenman (325138)

        Per second? Per tablet? Per transaction?

        And what about data efficiency? A lot of the old cellphone standards are still supported, and they wasted bandwidth left and right.

      • by Calos (2281322)

        No, "spectrum" is not measured by the amount of information sent or received. It refers to "electromagnetic spectrum," and in this context, it means the range of frequencies suitable for wireless communication.

        • Yep, but available bandwidth is directly proportional to spectrum, and the amount of data you can transfer is directly proportional to bandwidth.

          The reasoning is: we consume exponentially more data, so we need more bandwidth to move that data, so we need more spectrum to unlock that bandwidth.

          • er, yes, but you have to remember that this is a cellular network. sure, bandwidth for each cell might be limited, so make the cells smaller and have more cells.

            as it happens, most cellular operators have problems because they've not put in sufficient backhaul from the cell tower to the internet (via their central routers).
    • Yes. Citations please.

      • From the article,

        U.S. carriers have 538 MHz of spectrum dedicated to mobile data and voice and are only using 192 MHz, the two analysts said in a report released Sept. 22.

        That strikes me as roughly 2.5x, not 24.

        • by RingDev (879105)

          depending on the freequency you can fit more data. So they could be saying that reallocating freequencies to take advantage of new technology that we could effectively get 24 times as much bandwidth as we currently have. But yeah, the whole thing seems conviluted.

          -Rick

        • From the article,

          U.S. carriers have 538 MHz of spectrum dedicated to mobile data and voice and are only using 192 MHz, the two analysts said in a report released Sept. 22.

          That strikes me as roughly 2.5x, not 24.

          It would strike me that way if that's what the article said. Alas, it doesn't.

          What the article said is that smartphones USE 24 times as much as dumbphones. And tablets USE 120 times as much as dumbphones.

          TFA doesn't discuss how much more is needed, really. It implies we need a great deal more,

  • by MatthiasF (1853064) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @11:30PM (#37581214)

    They should have sold the frequencies by market area (city, zip-codes, etc.) and not nation-wide.

    That's the real crux of the problem.

    Now we have large nation-wide companies holding up frequencies in large swathes of the country because they're dedicating their efforts in specific markets where they can charge more.

    Had the FCC sold the frequency on a market basis and required it to be used within a reasonable time frame, we wouldn't have these issues.

    • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @11:39PM (#37581238)

      They should have sold the frequencies by market area (city, zip-codes, etc.) and not nation-wide.

      That's the real crux of the problem.

      Now we have large nation-wide companies holding up frequencies in large swathes of the country because they're dedicating their efforts in specific markets where they can charge more.

      Had the FCC sold the frequency on a market basis and required it to be used within a reasonable time frame, we wouldn't have these issues.

      It's similar to the way telephone numbers were allocated: in huge blocks, with no particular guarantee that any significant percentage of them would ever be assigned. That led to the explosion in area codes we've experienced in the past couple decades. The phone companies first claimed that "it's all the fax machines and modems that are in use now" but the reality was just an inefficient allocation scheme.

      Large chunks of IPV4 address space were assigned early on to corporations, universities, government bodies and others who had absolutely no use for so much space, simply because nobody even considered that 32-bits just wouldn't be enough. Not nearly enough.

      The FCC isn't showing much better judgment when it comes to wireless spectrum, or the Internet in general for that matter. Well, okay ... they know exactly what they're doing: generating yet-another artificial scarcity so that their corporate sponsors can continue to make large sums of money from us.

      • by Culture20 (968837) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @11:45PM (#37581266)

        Large chunks of IPV4 address space were assigned early on to corporations, universities, government bodies and others who had absolutely no use for so much space, simply because nobody even considered that

        anyone other than reasearchers or the military would have a use for "an Internet".

        • Large chunks of IPV4 address space were assigned early on to corporations, universities, government bodies and others who had absolutely no use for so much space, simply because nobody even considered that

          anyone other than reasearchers or the military would have a use for "an Internet".

          Yah. That too.

      • The FCC's national broadband plan developed a pretty interesting auction model for capturing wasted spectrum resulting from the DTV conversion. It will re-pack the used spectrum and auction the remainder. This is grade-a prime spectrum for wireless data. This repacking+auction would have been impossible to do with old VHF signal (why many channels in many areas were static), but is possible with the new tech. The auction model itself is quite clever IMO and so I would dispute that FCC isn't showing good jud

    • Not a feasible solution. If spectrum is sold by market, devices wouldn't be able to roam nation wide and a wireless router that you buy in one state would be jamming cell phone signals (or worse air traffic controll) when you move to another. I think the real answer is going to be localized networks with small cube transmitters on top of telephone poles transmitting at about 2-5 times the power of a Wifi hotspot. http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/11/02/07/1820240/alcatel-lucent-shrinks-mobile-cell-tower- [slashdot.org]
      • by hedwards (940851)

        It's been my observation that a lot of the trouble with wireless seems to stem from a smaller number of high powered towers. Last I checked AT&T had like eight or so of them for Seattle, but the big problem was that they had four of them up north and four of them down south and none that I could find within the city limits. The problems are that one that doesn't handle geography very well at all, particularly for cities that have major hills. And second that it means you have a huge number of devices tr

        • by bhcompy (1877290)
          Depends on the frequencies available(lower frequencies have shorter range but greater penetration through obstacles) and the regulations in the area. Where I live in So Cal, certain cities, like Cerritos, say that cell towers can only be located near freeways. Since the whole city isn't near the freeway, this presents a problem for serving the people away from the freeway. Thus, a few high powered higher frequency towers are setup near the freeways to reach those people that are not close to the freeway.
          • by hedwards (940851)

            I'm sure it does depend upon other factors. It's just been my observation that AT&T seems to be the only carrier that's not able to get towers installed within the city limits. T-Mobile, for instance, has almost that many towers in my neighborhood alone. (OK, a bit of an exaggeration, but still)

      • If spectrum is sold by market, devices wouldn't be able to roam nation wide and a wireless router that you buy in one state would be jamming cell phone signals (or worse air traffic controll) when you move to another.

        No, jamming wouldn't be an issue at all. The same frequency bands would be in use for the same applications nationwide just like they are now. The only thing that would change is that licensing for a given set of cellular frequencies would be granted on a regional basis instead of nationw
      • by yuna49 (905461)

        The original allocation of cell phone spectrum in 1981 was done by market. In each market half the frequencies were assigned to the local wireline carrier, and the other half were licensed to other competitors. Nationwide coverage was arranged via roaming agreements, though consolidation of the non-wireline providers into larger entities moved the process forward considerably.

    • by Miamicanes (730264) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @01:20AM (#37581614)

      > They should have sold the frequencies by market area (city, zip-codes, etc.) and not nation-wide.

      Great. So then we could have a situation like we did prior to the arrival of Sprint around 1999, when every city had different cellular carriers, and sometimes you couldn't go 50 miles away from home without paying extra to roam. In case anybody has forgotten, roaming charges in the US were still common AND punishingly expensive less than 10 (hell, 5 or 6!) years ago unless you were a Sprint customer. Sprint's network might have sucked in most places, but if you lived in a real city and 99% of your travel was to other real cities and the major highways between them, it was rare to end up someplace that literally had no service unless it was totally out in BFE. You might have had to go outside, or even climb up on a roof to get a usable signal, but at least you weren't getting charged $5 plus a dollar per minute the way people with Verizon or AT&T did. There's a reason Sprint achieved early popularity in Florida and Texas -- both states were horribly fractured between hostile, rent-seeking regional carriers, and Sprint was literally the only way to travel around the state without getting raped by roaming charges.

      • by Rich0 (548339) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @08:08AM (#37582710) Homepage

        Actually, I'd do things differently:

        1. Forbid anybody selling cell phones or cell phone service from owning any spectrum anywhere.
        2. Forbid anybody from owning cell phone spectrum in more than one state.
        3. Forbid anybody from owning cell phone spectrum in areas totaling more than 10000 mi^2.
        4. Forbid anybody from owning more than 33% of the spectrum supporting any particular protocol in any particular location.
        5. Assign a particular protocol to any particular frequency at the time of assignment and make this assignment national in scope.
        6. Anybody owning spectrum has to publish their price-per-packet (or channel*time for analog) and charge the same price to all their customers and provide service to anybody (common carrier).
        7. Anybody providing spectrum has to give access at a government-designed colo facility - there will be a moderate number of these.

        In this model cell phone services can't vertically integrate - they HAVE to buy it from local utilities. Any area will have at least 3 local utilities running, which means pricing competition. Cell phone companies don't need to solve the last mile problem, and anybody with some capital can start a new cell phone company at any time and gets the same pricing as AT&T for spectrum use.

        And yet, since protocols are assigned to frequency bands nationwide (NOT TO COMPANIES) you get full interoperability of the network nation wide.

        Areas that are in the middle of nowhere that have no service today might have their local governments kick in some funding or incentives to get the network built out - or the municipality could buy up to 33% of the spectrum to run its own access, so this also helps areas that would otherwise lack coverage.

        Local rent-seeking behavior goes away since nobody can corner any market entirely, and there is no way they can charge discriminatory pricing. The local utilities just accept packets at a colo and send them out over the air or whatever model works best for the techology.

        And, spectrum could be re-designated for new protocols over time as technology marches on.

        • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

          Still doesn't solve many of the problems. You need a mechanism where an underserved area can fend for itself, even if it is in some other company's zone.

          I was negotiating with AT&T for a company contract, and identified three areas that needed commitment for better service in order for us to agree. They could pull off one (our office, with a cludge of 5-6 of their MicroCells), but the other two were just too much effort. All they really need to do is license out mirco-cells (not the femtocells) on th

          • But, their focus is on full-size towers, which is spectrum inefficient.

            Yes, but right-of-way efficient.

        • > Local rent-seeking behavior goes away since nobody can corner any market entirely,

          Utterly, totally, and completely wrong. What ends up happening in the real world is everyone rapes everyone else, then claims it's not their fault and they're forced to do it because everyone *else* is evil. Just look at Europe. I believe one multinational carrier there actually got fined by the EU for sloppy minute-counting that enabled their customers to avoid paying some of the usual roaming charges when using the same

          • by Rich0 (548339)

            I believe one multinational carrier there actually got fined by the EU for sloppy minute-counting that enabled their customers to avoid paying some of the usual roaming charges when using the same carrier's network in another country.

            Well, the tower operators wouldn't have any relationship with the phone users - they'd just pass the packets onto their carrier. There would be no national operators either (the cell networks would obviously be national but they have no monopoly power).

            Making them locally-owned public utilities is even worse, because THEN they're politically motivated to offer dirt cheap basic service for local users (who vote for the elected officials who can hire and fire the utility's management), and subsidizing those cheap fees for local voters making local calls by charging the most outrageous fees for everyone else that they possibly can.

            They would have no way of knowing who is a local customer, since they have no relationship with the customers - they'd only know that SIM #12345 wants to send packets to AT&T and they'd have to charge the same rate to everybody as I stated.

            In any area th

            • >And how is this of any use to somebody who doesn't have a CDMA phone.
              >I'm trying to get rid of the tower-tied-to-one-carrier-or-maybe-two model here.

              There's nothing inherently carrier-proprietary about CDMA, it's just the fsck'ed up way Sprint and Verizon implemented it. CDMA has a perfectly good standard for interoperability that's a superset of SIM cards called R-UIM (which itself is an optional subset of USIM). Go to a country like India or China, and CDMA phones are as network-agnostic and intero

              • by Rich0 (548339)

                Moreover, there's no reason a tower has to be tied to one carrier or technology.

                Yup - that was also what I was thinking when splitting carriers from tower operators. If somebody has the right-of-way for a tower and they charge the same price to all carriers then it is in their interest to maximize the use of that tower, and that will mean supporting everything they can from every cell network out there to fire/police and you-name-it. The tower is a fixed cost, and the only reason to not support everything is to try to block access to your competition. However, the local tower operat

                • Well, once again, to a large extent, Sprint has done exactly that -- they spun off a new company (creatively named "TowerCo") to own their towers a couple of years ago (it might have been required by the FCC or FTC as a condition of purchasing Nextel). Sprint profits from TowerCo, but doesn't restrict it from leasing space to other carriers (though there's almost certainly a contractual obligation somewhere that guarantees Sprint a price that's no higher than what's charged to anyone else).

                  From what I've re

                  • ^^^ Just to clarify one point that I just thought of... TowerCo owns the land/lease and the tower itself. TowerCo does NOT own the spectrum licenses or operate the actual equipment. It's the equivalent of a colo facility where carriers (including Sprint) rent the equivalent of neutral rack space for use by their own gear and connectivity.

    • by mcelrath (8027) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @02:28AM (#37581818) Homepage

      Why are we allocating in blocks and then assigning devices which are allowed to use fixed frequencies? Why don't we have software-defined radios [wikipedia.org], antennae [wikipedia.org], and something like cognitive radio [wikipedia.org] to define on-demand spectrum usage.

      For example, when you turn your phone on it pings a tower using a low-bandwidth common channel to get a frequency allocation (like DHCP) and power assignment. Using a software antenna, it configures some internal hardware to transmit on that frequency/frequencies. Let the whole spectrum be used, by anyone, rather than block allocating in a way that is guaranteed to waste resources. This way, multiple carriers can share frequencies, even if they use different communication protocols (CDMA/TDMA/GSM). In practice, I'm sure a single carrier would effectively "grab" a frequency block in an area by setting up a tower. But the key is that if you travel to the next city, that same carrier could be using a different frequency, and your phone could detect it and use it.

      • Chicken and egg.

        If there is a corporation designing a device to perform such an act, they would have to follow the current on-book laws that don't allow that type of action without pre-reservation of a part of a spectrum (or multiple parts) where this action could occur.

        If the FCC implemented the ability, then they would get pounded on by corporations that already have frequencies or ranges assigned to them. War ensues.

        With higher frequency ranges that aren't assigned yet, that's doable, but there's anothe

      • by thsths (31372)

        > This way, multiple carriers can share frequencies, even if they use different communication protocols (CDMA/TDMA/GSM).

        You should read Comms 101, and it should all become clear. You can mix different protocols, but not different encodings. CDMA uses orthogonal codes to divide the spectrum into channels, TDMA uses time slots. Or, to use an analogy: you cannot have horizontal and vertical stripes at the same time. That would be checkered, and in communications terms that is chaos.

        But there is great po

  • by schnell (163007) <me@schnelTWAINl.net minus author> on Saturday October 01, 2011 @11:40PM (#37581244) Homepage

    According to the report, the "wrong hands" with control of spectrum that isn't being used or is underutilized are:

    • Clearwire (133 MHz)
    • Lightsquared (59 MHz)
    • Dish Network (47 MHz)

    Almost all of the above spectrum is in the less-desirable 2 GHz+ ranges. Clearwire may be underutilizing, but Lightsquared and Dish haven't gotten to launch their services yet so you can't really say it's underutilized when it's still in process of being developed.

    All in all, this report actually seems to make the case of the big carriers that there is still a shortage of "good" (especially less than 1 GHz) spectrum for broadband. Much of that is locked up by the broadcasters for stuff that is comparatively useless (anyone watching UHF television still these days?) versus having it available for mobile broadband.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Aighearach (97333)

      you can't really say it's underutilized when it's still in process of being developed

      fail

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      OK, wow. Where to start.

      First off, I guess, all of those listed bands are NOT in the "less desirable" 2GHz range, they are down in VHF. 133MHz is just outright wrong, I don't know where you got that from, but that's at the top of the aircraft band. For obvious reasons that is a very well protected and regulated part of the spectrum. If someone bought it up I doubt they will ever do anything with it, because the rules are very hard to comply with and there's no way in hell that consumer equipment would be al

      • by tepples (727027)
        I think grandparent was referring to a 133 MHz-wide slice above 2 GHz, a 59 MHz-wide slice above 2 GHz, and a 47 MHz-wide slice above 2 GHz.
      • By the way, in case anybody's wondering, there's a good, not necessarily obvious reason why lots of TV stations that used to have VHF licenses voluntarily gave them up for UHF, even though VHF licenses were historically the desirable ones that stations were literally desperate to own -- mobile devices. VHF has long range at lower power, but needs a fairly large antenna to receive the signals efficiently. UHF, in contrast, can have a properly tuned antenna that's just a few inches long. For handheld and mobi

      • by ONOIML8 (23262)

        But a dish made for a 47 MHz wide chunk of the 2 GHz spectrum Dish is allocated would be.....the same size as the one they currently use.

        The fact that Clearwire has 133 MHz of bandwidth does not mean that their bandwidth is centered on 133 MHz. It means that they have a 133 MHz wide allocation centered somewhere in the 2 GHz region. Your airplanes are safe from them.

      • Ignoring the rest, you ask if anyone is still watching UHF TV nowadays. Yes, everybody is. What they got rid of is the VHF TV stations. Absolutely every broadcast station is in the UHF range.

        Actually no. I'm in NJ and get both Philadelphia and New York stations. After the digital switch over many stations whose digital broadcast was on UHF moved their digital broadcast to their old VHF frequency where they are now. These include 7 (ABC in NY), 11 (CW in NY), 13 (PBS in NY), 6 (ABC in Phily), and 12 (PBS in Phily). This happened in a lot of markets and came as a rather ugly surprise to a lot of people that got duped into buying high end "HD" antennas that were UHF only.

      • by schnell (163007)
        I you read my original post - or TFA - you would realize I was talking about the amount of spectrum in MHz, not its specific frequency.
      • I swear, we need a -1 (DNRTFA) tag.
        • Did you experience that college kid's experiment thingie that happened that one day, a few weeks ago I believe, on /.?

          That wasn't a bad idea. Instead of just mod-scoring, people could actually "translate" a comment made by someone to clarify misreadings or misinterpretations. Those clarifications / classifications could be scored up or down for the most agreed-upon explanation.

          I liked it. Wish it would have lasted for more than a few hours.

      • by cjsm (804001)
        I used to think that, but it turns out a few of the HD stations are in the VHF band.
    • by garcia (6573) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @12:07AM (#37581364) Homepage

      Clearwire is probably underutilized because people don't want the towers which provide the service in their backyards.

      We've had a discussion about this in the past which I posted on (I'm too lazy to find it) where I said people in my area shot down a proposed tower because it would go up on a watertower in the park in their backyard.

      With so much citizen hatred for "screwing up their home values" perhaps that's the biggest problem facing this "underutilized" spectrum rather than the companies themselves.

      • Clearwire is probably underutilized because people don't want the towers which provide the service in their backyards.

        We've had a discussion about this in the past which I posted on (I'm too lazy to find it) where I said people in my area shot down a proposed tower because it would go up on a watertower in the park in their backyard.

        With so much citizen hatred for "screwing up their home values" perhaps that's the biggest problem facing this "underutilized" spectrum rather than the companies themselves.

        NIMBYs are generally a pain in the ass. You can't call them Luddites, since they're not exactly against the technology, they're just selfish pricks.

        • NIMBYs are generally a pain in the ass. You can't call them Luddites, since they're not exactly against the technology, they're just selfish pricks.

          A-freakin'-men. That and pricks that just like to have something to bitch about constantly. I know these people!! See below.

          There is a whole city next to where I live that wants an improved signal/noise ratio for all wireless carriers (it's a hilly city, land-wise).

          All citizens refuse to have a tower show up anywhere -OR- have a tower exist anywhere because of their a.) disgusting look of those damn tower things that lower [their] property value and the opinions of others about [their] perfect above-thou

          • Same people that bitch about one of the above also bitch about how they can't use their mobile phones at home or while driving their kids around. I won't say any more.

            {sigh} Yeah, it kinda makes you want to throw up. The same kind of self-centered assholes that were against offshore windfarms up near Boston because it would destroy their beautiful skyline, even though they wouldn't be visible from shore.

            If I had some land and a wireless company wanted to put up a tower, I'd say sure. Just give me a couple of your best smartphones with an unlimited data plan for as long as you have your tower on my property. And make sure you replant the grass when you're done.

            • If I had some land and a wireless company wanted to put up a tower, I'd say sure. Just give me a couple of your best smartphones with an unlimited data plan for as long as you have your tower on my property. And make sure you replant the grass when you're done.

              I get the feeling you're all about fairness and logical gain/loss. I like ya!

              I sort of wonder what it is these people who have such a problem with

              offshore windfarms up near Boston because it would destroy their beautiful skyline, even though they wouldn't be visible from shore.

              crap. Is there some sort of subconscious thought that if they agree with the masses and don't bother to think or get answers on something like this that the companies/government entities they're stopping are going to put money in the mailboxes of all of the "bitchers" to convince them otherwise? I wish this were a joke, but I really wonder about peoples' blind-

              • I wish this were a joke, but I really wonder about peoples' blind-sightedness when it comes to physics and trade.

                Call it "enlightened capitalism", but we used to be a society that understood the idea of "give and take". Now we're mostly about the take.

        • by evilviper (135110)

          NIMBYs are generally a pain in the ass. ... they're just selfish pricks.

          Be careful not to paint with too broad a brush. Corporations are only too happy to erect the most god-awful eyesores if it saves them a few cents. See ATT Uverse complaints about refrigerator-sized boxes springing-up in people's front yards. See natural gas wells in residential areas springing up all over Colorado. See cell towers that take minimal effort to disguise as trees, but wasn't considered until NIMBYs complained. Etc.

          Th

      • by Nethead (1563) <joe@nethead.com> on Sunday October 02, 2011 @12:38AM (#37581484) Homepage Journal

        Hi Bill:

        A good amount of that Clearwire spectrum is used for tower-to-tower communications. One unique thing about Clearwire's system is they really don't like to pay for dedicated lines to towers. The normal setup is a few AggPOPs per market which feed, normally 10Gb fiber, to the market's TransPOP which often is colocated with the RDC (Regional Data Center). Each AggPOP will service one to several RF tower rings of three to eight towers, mostly via Dragonwave radios. Of course with tens of thousands of RF sites, there will be some one-offs, but the goal is to have as many tower sites serviced via the AggPOPs as feasible. The system from RF tower to TransPOP is PPB-TE Ethernet [wikipedia.org].

        This allows them, as they are doing now, to lease some of that bandwidth to the towers to other carriers. Clearwire was always envisioned as a wholesaler.

        • his allows them, as they are doing now, to lease some of that bandwidth to the towers to other carriers. Clearwire was always envisioned as a wholesaler.

          As Johnny Carson was wont to say: "I did not know that."

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I didn't RTFA and I won't, but if what you say is right, then this report is garbage and the people who wrote it should be fired for making a business argument while completely ignoring technical feasibility.

      Cell phones and portable devices use frequencies above 1 GHz because they allow for small antennas, and because a fraction of an octave at 1 GHz gives you 10 times the bandwidth than the same fraction at 100 MHz.

      Thus, their entire report is pointless, and we don't even need to argue whether these bands

    • by epine (68316) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @01:40AM (#37581690)

      CTIA officials disputed the Citigroup report's numbers, saying Bazinet and Rollins appear to be using information from 2010.

      Whoa, it's still 2011, and I was so 2012 already.

      Our crisis outruns competent criticism, so give us more money / leeway, no strings attached.

      If the report used data from August, I'd trust it far less. I guess the Goldilocks report has a 30 day shelf life: not too fresh, not too stale. Just what you love to see when you work hard to prepare such a document in a thorough and even-handed way: pitched into the rubbish bin before the ink has barely dried.

    • (anyone watching UHF television still these days?)

      Actually yes, plenty of people are watching UHF TV nowadays. Most broadcasters switched to UHF because its better for transmitting ATSC broadcasts and led to a bit of a revival of that spectrum. The only place you will find VHF ATSC stations are crowded markets like NYC or LA where there is a spectrum crunch (mostly because a good chunk of the 700Mhz range, formerly UHF channels 52 thru 69, went to cell phone service). Even then those channels are on the high VHF (channel 7-13) band, almost nobody broadcast

  • by causality (777677) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @11:42PM (#37581252)

    The U.S. has plenty of spectrum for mobile broadband, but much of it is in the wrong hands, they said."

    To the people who make the decisions, that's the exact same thing as a shortage. They don't see a changing of hands as a viable option. They are not generally willing to consider it. If something is perceived as finite, limited, and scarce then you can continue to justify what you charge for it. The rest is a matter of regulatory capture by the proxy of campaign contributions.

    • by Jay L (74152)

      Likewise, there are plenty of jobs for talented workers. They're just currently taken by underperformers.

    • by fermion (181285)
      You know in real estate, which is a limited resource like spectrum, there is already a solution. It is called property tax. Property tax insures that firms and individuals that cannot fully utilize a resource will eventual have to give it up. It prevents the kind of aristocratic inefficiencies that we know see in spectrum, most notably over the air TV stations. When a agent cannot pay taxes, the property goes back to the state and another more efficient agent can utilize the resources. In my downtown a
      • Of course sometimes families lose a home or business over property taxes, but that is simply the cost of having an efficient economy,

        Off-topic: the old "you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs" argument. It's morally bankrupt in many situations.

        I hope you never have to deal with a tax-sale. It's brutal, and you lose everything over taxes worth only a fraction of the value of your home. That almost happened to a member of my family once: he was very ill and missed one payment. One. I tried to speak to the county attorney to get a little more time, and she told me flatly, "I can't help you. It's your responsibility to pa

    • by yuna49 (905461)

      I read TFA and kept waiting for some mention of spectrum utilization by Verizon and AT&T. Instead we see a list of smaller competitors as the "wrong hands" people. By implication if we could just drive these little guys out of the marketplace and let VZ and AT&T extend their oligopoly we'd all be better off? I think not.

      • I read TFA and kept waiting for some mention of spectrum utilization by Verizon and AT&T. Instead we see a list of smaller competitors as the "wrong hands" people. By implication if we could just drive these little guys out of the marketplace and let VZ and AT&T extend their oligopoly we'd all be better off? I think not.

        Yeah, that' doesn't make much sense to me either. Kinda makes you wonder about the impartiality of the authors.

  • by rsmith-mac (639075) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @11:55PM (#37581300)

    Citi's report is not wrong, but how they go about counting things is naive at best. The crux of the matter is that there's a lot of crap spectrum that carriers basically got for free or close to it. But before we get too far ahead, let's answer an easier question: what is good spectrum.

    1. 1) The ideal spectrum is below 1GHz, as these frequencies have the best building and tree penetration. 1GHz-2GHz is usable, but it's not ideal because you start taking notable losses indoors and customers who've given up on landlines can't reliably use their phones indoors everywhere. Anything over 2GHz is effectively useless for mobile wireless because it's so poor at penetrating obstacles. It's best used for fixed point wireless where obstacles can be planned around and/or removed.
    2. 2) The ideal spectrum is nationwide. A patchwork of spectrum is not usable spectrum because it means you can only use narrow (lower bandwidth) channels, and requires a great deal more effort to plan, operate, and maintain a wireless network.
    3. 2b) Local spectrum is only useful when it abuts nationwide spectrum so that carriers can use it by simply activating more channels in high population areas.

    Case in point, 194MHz of the spectrum Citi says is available is above 2GHz: "Citigroup's description of 194 MHz available in the Broadband Radio Service (BRS) and Educational Broadband Service (EBS) bands between 2.4 and 2.7 GHz". This also goes hand-in-hand with Citi's weird method of counting spectrum in use: they're multiplying it by the percent of the population that the spectrum covers. "The two used averages to come up with spectrum use estimates; if a carrier has a 10 MHz nationwide block, but is only delivering service to half the U.S. population, the report considers that 5 MHz of used spectrum, Rollins said."

    Ultimately the carriers are being wasteful at times, but not nearly to the degree that Citi says they are. The carriers need more national allocations if they're to run a 3rd network simultaneously, and those allocations need to be at least 40MHz wide so that they can operate two sets of wideband (10MHz) LTE channels. Smaller allocations mean that they're going to have to use smaller channels, and that's going to greatly limit network performance.

    • by Solandri (704621) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @01:07AM (#37581576)

      Ultimately the carriers are being wasteful at times, but not nearly to the degree that Citi says they are.

      The government shouldn't have sold spectrum, it should have leased it, with lease renewal fees gradually increasing over time like we do with property taxes. One of the purposes of commercial property taxes is to encourage efficient use of land. If you own land in a major city's downtown area, the temptation is to sit on that land as it appreciates in value. After all, it costs you no more to hold onto that land than it does to hold onto land in the middle of the desert. That's good for you, but bad for society overall. By charging you high property tax on that valuable piece of land, it gives you two choices: Develop the land into something useful for society which generates enough revenue for you to offset the high property tax, or sell the land to someone who will develop it.

      That's what the government should have done with spectrum. Recurring and increasing annual lease fees would've forced spectrum owners to use it, or sell it off to someone who would use it. By selling the spectrum instead of leasing it, we've got a bunch of companies now suspected of wastefully sitting on spectrum simply because they can.

      • Ultimately the carriers are being wasteful at times, but not nearly to the degree that Citi says they are.

        The government shouldn't have sold spectrum, it should have leased it, with lease renewal fees gradually increasing over time like we do with property taxes. One of the purposes of commercial property taxes is to encourage efficient use of land. If you own land in a major city's downtown area, the temptation is to sit on that land as it appreciates in value. After all, it costs you no more to hold onto that land than it does to hold onto land in the middle of the desert. That's good for you, but bad for society overall. By charging you high property tax on that valuable piece of land, it gives you two choices: Develop the land into something useful for society which generates enough revenue for you to offset the high property tax, or sell the land to someone who will develop it.

        That's what the government should have done with spectrum. Recurring and increasing annual lease fees would've forced spectrum owners to use it, or sell it off to someone who would use it. By selling the spectrum instead of leasing it, we've got a bunch of companies now suspected of wastefully sitting on spectrum simply because they can.

        Given that property is owned and still can be taxed, I don't see why they couldn't also introduce a spectrum tax.

    • Citi's report is not wrong, but how they go about counting things is naive at best.

      Well, duh, they couldn't run a bank for crap. What makes you think they can allocate wireless broadband effectively?

    • tree penetration

      Best enviro-porn movie title ever.
      • tree penetration

        Best enviro-porn movie title ever.

        And well worth watching. I know I got a woodie watching it.

  • by KonoWatakushi (910213) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @12:41AM (#37581496)

    Photons don't interact with each other, and don't "fill up" anything. What is at issue, is our poor usage of the spectrum, and insistance on treating it like exclusive property. Any number of people can communicate on the very same frequencies, and in the very same space, just as long as there is a way to distinguish the communications. Fortunately, nature provides each device with a unique "address": its location in space. As technology improves, we can continue to make ever better use of the same spectrum--or at least we could if legislation didn't actively prevent it.

    In essence, it comes down to building more towers, and I'm not aware of any unsurmountable barriers to a company with the will and cash. Of course, it is easier to just prop up the model of artificial scarcity with prices to match.

    Rather than clinging to the outdated concept of a scarce spectrum, regulatory agencies should start giving it back to the public, and encourage the proper use of it. Highly dense, low-power, ultra wide-band communications. It is the natural evolution of wifi: per-home micro-cells attached to home fibre, running open Internet protocols. We could easily have extremely high-performance ubiquitous wireless networking, if massive corporations weren't so busy propping up artificial scarcity and walling everything off.

    • by artor3 (1344997)
      You're completely wrong. There is some very well established science regarding the maximum amount of information that can be sent in a given bandwidth. Read up on the Shannon limit, for starters. If you and I are on the same frequency, standing next to each other, we have to share the available bandwidth. There's simply no way around it. Distinguishing my traffic from yours is the easy part.

      You can get some breathing room by moving towards numerous, low-power stations, as you suggest. But it's not as
      • That's just the thing--there is no "given bandwidth". The limit you refer to is relevant for a single channel over a wire, or a single transmitter. For the spectrum though, you are effectively allowed an infinite number of transmitters/receivers. By legislating exclusive use of nearly all frequencies, we are killing any potential growth in that direction.

        Distinguishing the signals is very much the practical limiting factor, but the capacity is there, and technology will continue to improve. We have bare

    • by Xugumad (39311)

      > Photons don't interact with each other, and don't "fill up" anything.

      Completely the wrong sort of spectrum.

      > Fortunately, nature provides each device with a unique "address": its location in space.

      Which you can't tell from a single receiver. Direction is possible, but you need a second receiver at sufficient distance to get a second accurate reading, to get location. Not that it helps anyway; radio waves do interact, and weaker signals can be drowned out by more powerful ones.

      > Rather than clingi

      • by Xugumad (39311)

        > Completely the wrong sort of spectrum.

        Apologies, I was wrong. Embarrassingly, Wikipedia had to come to my rescue.

      • by russotto (537200)

        Which you can't tell from a single receiver. Direction is possible, but you need a second receiver at sufficient distance to get a second accurate reading, to get location. Not that it helps anyway; radio waves do interact, and weaker signals can be drowned out by more powerful ones.

        Radio waves in free space, in a wire, or in the air do not interact. They do interact in the receiver, however.

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @12:44AM (#37581510) Homepage Journal
    Is shitty bank planning on starting a shitty internet service to go with their shitty wok and shitty airline?
  • So...this is Citigroup, the security experts [slashdot.org], right? So now they are wireless frequency allocation experts too???

    Maybe the same hackers that stole all that account information, made off with some frequencies while they were at it!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...I'm quite aware of the move to reclaim bandwidth from the USA terrestrial stations. I've seen the cry and hue that the NAB (and members) and put forth, but I've always wondered why they just don't come out and say "You bastards MANDATED that we change over to digital, and now you want us to give back bandwidth on a capability and capacity we had to spend millions on.", or something similar.

    Why haven't they just come out with that tack? It is the unspoken sentiment, yet no one seems to have the balls to

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Artificial scarcity to increase profits is not really a new concept

  • I have been seriously considering lobbying my Congressman to consider changing the top 20 channels of Citizens Band radio to a digital Citizens band format, where every device that uses the bandwidth would have to function like a WiFi AP Bridge. This sort of network would still function even when there is a disaster and the local Cell towers go down. It would also create some competition to the CelPhone companies and eventually the Cable companies. It's just a thought at the moment but I'm planning on doing

  • There is no spectrum shortage, the frequency of electromagnetic radiation goes all the way to infinity.

    Speaking of Spectrums, is 'Uncle Clive' still alive?

    • by RogerWilco (99615)

      The problem is that certain frequencies get attenuated very quickly, and some others are harmful for human beings. Also creating receivers and transmitters at some frequencies is hard or even impossible with today's technology.

      In practice you are quite limited.

  • ...Citigroup would like is some sort of private spectrum market where blocks could be traded. Run by .......

    ..... wait for it ......

    ..... Citigroup.

    AKA: Son of Enron.

  • There is no spectrum shortage. Europe and Asia have no spectrum shortage, despite being more densely populated (generally), and all having the same handsets work on all networks. The decisions to buy a handset and the decision which network to subscribe to are totally separate. You buy the handset outright. No subsidy. No strings attached.

    The urge to have balkanized networks is driven purely by networks wanting to fragment the market and put obstacles to their customers leaving for some other network.

    I wrote about this re: Canada, and it applies to the USA as well. The only two markets that tie customers this way, and people accept it.

    Read Mobile phone carriers lobby for more balkanization by asking for more "spectrum" [baheyeldin.com] and More balkanization and monopoly in Canada's mobile phone market [baheyeldin.com].

    This should be stopped!

  • ... just a shortage of infrastructure. One of the basic principles of cellular networks is that you can increase capacity by building more cells and reusing spectrum in the spatial dimension. You can repeat the process almost infinitely; when you reach the point where walking around a room would switch you to a different cell you have gone too far. And for moving vehicles the limit is reached a bit sooner because the handoffs have overhead; a cell handoff every second would probably bring the network to a s

"Well hello there Charlie Brown, you blockhead." -- Lucy Van Pelt

Working...