Quick Links 3/6/9

Posted in 700 MHz, conferences, quick links, SDRF, white space, white space data group at 10:09 am by JamesNeel

Conferences and Contests

(link) The SDRF sends a reminder that abstracts are due March 20.

(link) The 3rd annual Smart Radio Challenge is now open.

(link) 12th Annual Conference on Modeling, Analysis and Simulation of Wireless Mobile Systems will have a cognitive radio track. It’ll be in the Canary Islands. Key dates:

   Paper submission deadline          April 25, 2009
Notification of acceptanceJuly 5, 2009
Tutorial submission deadline       June 5, 2009
Workshop submission deadline       March 30, 2009

(link) In conjunction with WiOPT09, RAWNET – The 5th workshop on Resource Allocation, Cooperation and Competition in Wireless Networks – is inviting papers on cognitive spectrum management. The conference will be held in Seoul on June 27, 2009. It’s particularly interested in papers related to the cooperation and competition in wireless networks.

Extended submission deadline : March 15, 2009
Notification of acceptance : April 1, 2009
Camera-ready papers due : May 1, 2009 

White Space Related News

(link) WIth some public safety entitites, the CTIA urges ban of secondary access in 700 MHz. Looks mostly focused on clearing out legacy wireless microphones and ensuring that white space devices don’t creep up the spectrum.

(link) NAB is suing to try and block white space devices. This surprising to me as I thought geographic databases and non-adjacency were what MSTV and NAB were looking for. The suit certainly colors my opinion of MSTV and NAB’s efforts viz a viz the white spaces.

(pdf) Stealing a march on the White Spaces Database Group, SpectrumBridge announced the creation of a on online website (ShowMyWhiteSpace.com) to identify available whitespaces by geographical location. It failed for my house, but worked for the White House. (Guess I’m not important enough)

white space database screen capture



Block D NPRM

Posted in 700 MHz at 9:45 am by JamesNeel

The FCC has issued an Notice of Proposed Rule Making to revise the operation of Block D (pdf).

The key sentence for me:

First, we seek comment on whether it remains in the public interest to require a public/private partnership between the nationwide D Block licensee and the Public Safety Broadband Licensee for the purpose of creating a nationwide, interoperable broadband network for both commercial and public safety network services.

A lot of the other key issues for which they are also seeking comments (negotiating rates, setting auction price, network sharing agreement) becomes inconsequential if instead of looking to create a two-headed monster the Feds create a single government sponsored enterprise chartered to serve the joint mission.

The FCC is also considering just abandoning the public safety communications provisioning requirement, which I think would be a mistake.


Fixing the D-Block

Posted in 700 MHz at 10:51 am by JamesNeel

While the SDR Forum is putting together a nice document on technical fixes to D-block challenges (when it’s public, I’ll post a link), I remain convinced that it’s the business side that’s the bigger stumbling block. My quick thoughts on possible methods to fix the business aspects of Block-D.

1) Set up a government sponsored enterprise (GSE) (think Fannie Mae) and allocate the spectrum to it.

My rationale: the public/private partnership is scary to private companies (for a variety of reasons) and puts a lot of control over a private network in public hands. Because there’s also commercial uses, it doesn’t quite make sense to treat the nationwide spectrum like a traditional public safety network. In my mind, GSEs serve a similar quasi-public/quasi-private role and I think similar mechanisms could be used to ensure the spectrum gets put to use in the way that best serves the needs of government agencies while yielding some added benefits to the economy.

2) Rather than having the service fees negotiated after the fact by the public-private partnership, go ahead and state them up-front.

My rationale: Markets tend to do a better job of clearing when there are fewer unknowns and the D-block is riddled with unknowns.

3) Give an added tax break for deploying D-block equipment.

My rationale: Obviously, the commercial market thought the spectrum was over-priced. However, having a high price serves to keep out non-credible bidders. One way to lower the price is to cut payments on the backside. If structured right, it could give a significant incentive to building out and serving the public’s need.

4) Change the bid for D-block spectrum from a payment to a deposit returned as public-safety service is enabled.

My rationale: Same as for #3, but with a different mechanism. Again, there’s lots of room for tuning incentives here.


700 MHz results

Posted in 700 MHz at 6:18 pm by JamesNeel

Here’s a link wrapup…


The final results are here.


Of greatest relevance to the cognitive radio community, the D-block auction did indeed fail and will not immediately be reoffered. That decision is here. Comments by Commissioner Adelstein is here. (His “It is nothing short of a tragedy that the D block failed to sell,” is just a wee bit over the top.)


Verizon reportedly did quite well in terms of value as measured in in MHz “pops” (MHz x covered population):

It purchased a total of 8.5 billion MHz pops for $9.36 billion. That comes out to an average $1.10 a MHz pop. That average is made up of the nationwide C block, which was relatively inexpensive, as there was little competition, and some very competitive local licenses.

In comparison, AT&T got “2.1 billion MHz pops for $6.64 billion. That represents $3.15 a MHz pop.”


Google thinks itself the big winner.

Here’s why: Google, as we learned on Thursday, did manage to lock in the open access rules by throwing up the minimum $4.6 billion bid early in the game — a move that basically forced Verizon Wireless to pony up even more money for the national spectrum licenses and accept a set of rules that it had previously sued the FCC over. Not bad, when you consider Google didn’t pay a cent to do it (well, other than lobbying fees).

Others (including Google’s Public Policy Blog commentors) aren’t rating is as much of a win for Google because they doubt that Verizon will follow the spirit of the law. A different angle on why it might not be such a win for Google is presented in this article which analogizes the chances for Android (and other open platforms) to AOL’s failed attempt to become a high-speed service provider (basically the margins are too low and the service carrier has subsidized phones). On that last point, I think the iPhone success (and the subsequent hacking) should serve as some evidence that there is a market for unsubsidized phones.


Cringely on the 700 MHz auction

Posted in 700 MHz at 1:48 pm by JamesNeel

Probably nothing new for readers (both of you!) of this blog, but Cringely comments on the 700 MHz auction in Popular Mechanics here. I found his speculation on google’s plans the most interesting.

Having obtained some concessions from the FCC, Google apparently feels bound to bid at least the minimum $4.6 billion for one block of spectrum known as the C Block. The question is whether Google is actually bidding to win or simply bidding to make sure some of its open access requirements are imposed on an eventual winner, which will only happen under FCC rules if the bidding for that C Block goes to at least $4.6 billion.  

Some pundits (that would be me) think Google will bid to win its spectrum block, then will trade that block to Sprint/Nextel for some of that company’s 2.5-GHz WiMAX licenses that are far better suited for data. Sprint Nextel, the number three U.S. mobile operator, is conspicuously absent from this week’s list of bidders, and its WiMAX strategy is in flux following the recent firing of CEO Gary Forsee, who was a big WiMAX backer. As the auction winner, Google could impose on Sprint Nextel its full open access requirements for the 700-MHz band (not just the limited access mandated for the band last year by the FCC), then extend that same access to its new WiMAX frequencies in a kind of one-two punch that would dramatically open up wireless data nationwide (that’s good for you and me). FCC chairman Kevin Martin was asked last week about just such a Google switcheroo and said the Commission would have no problem with it.


FCC announces revised 700 MHz rules

Posted in 700 MHz, TV Bands at 2:23 pm by JamesNeel

Basically, the joint commercial/public safety initiative is going forward.Relevant excerpts from the news release:

Under the new band plan, 62 megahertz of spectrum, divided into five spectrumblocks, will be auctioned for commercial uses.

The commercial spectrum will be made available at auction in a mix of geographic area sizes, including Cellular Market Areas (CMAs), Economic Areas (EAs), and Regional Economic Area Groupings (REAGs).

Within the 24 megahertz of public safety spectrum, the public safety wideband spectrum is being redesignated for broadband use to allow for nationwide interoperable broadband communications by public safety users.

There will be a single, nationwide license for the public safety broadband spectrum, assigned to a Public Safety Broadband Licensee, which will work with the adjacent commercial D Block licensee as part of the 700 MHz Public Safety/Private Partnership

The Upper D Block commercial licensee and the Public Safety Broadband Licensee will form a Public Safety/Private Partnership to develop a shared, nationwide interoperable network for both commercial and public safety users.

The licensees of the Upper 700 MHz Band C Block of spectrum will be required to provide a platform that is more open to devices and applications. This would allow consumers to use the handset of their choice and download and use the applications of their choice in this spectrum block, subject to certain reasonable network management conditions that allow the licensee to protect the network from harm.

The band plan (pdf) is posted here.