Crazy-ass day. So busy my head was spinning. But at least it wasn’t boring.
Part of the afternoon was spent up at the Senate for a briefing on the FCC’s 700 MhZ auction. Basically, the government is following through with a 2005 deficit reduction bill that set a date of February 17, 2009 to finish the transition from analog to digital TV. This means broadcasters will be vacating a chunk of the spectrum in the "700 band." The cool part is that signals on this band are able to travel long distances and penetrate buildings and concrete walls — perfect for high-speed internet and WI-FI.
One chunk of the 700, called the "C Block," has been put up for anonymous auction. There are provisions for maintaining "open access," meaning consumers could have more control over which devices they use with which carriers. At present, a few powerful telecoms control which phones work on their networks. They make deals with hardware manufacturers, and then lock you into contracts. Even after the contract expires, you’re not typically able to bring your device to another provider. Of course, by then you’ve already bought the next shiny gadget.
Here’s a useful analogy I heard: you don’t have to buy a new computer when you switch ISPs, so why should it be any different in the wireless world?
Anyway, the auction is exciting, but there’s doubt about whether it’ll result in new entries to the field. Odds are, an incumbent like Verizon will win the bid. On the bright side, that company recently announced plans to make its entire network open. We’ll see what the fine print looks like. Head to SavetheInternet.com to learn more about what you can do to preserve the public spectrum for YOUR interests, and not Big Telecom.
Oh, and OBAMA WON THE POTOMAC PRIMARIES! WOOT! WOOT! WOOT!