Thursday, March 20, 2008

Air for Sale, Verizon not the only one Paying?

Air for sale? You got it, if you have an extra $20 billion under the mattress....

This recent article explains an auction held by the FCC where they sold a large chunk of bandwidth licenses. The big winner was Verizon, although bidding by Google stirred up most of the interest in the blogging community. It's obvious why Verizon would show interest, but Google doesn't host any wireless communication...... yet.

Last time I checked there are a finite number of usable frequencies used for communication, so where did these new frequencies come from? Well I had an assumption, I did some digging and it proved to be correct. A few months ago I remembered reading about The Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005, (see to see a website so dull only our government could have possibly designed it). The FCC is making everyone switch to a digital signal, therefore freeing up all those cute little sinusoidal waves. And yes, they're the same airwaves up for auction.

The reason for the switch? As the name implies, the claim is that it "will free up frequencies for police, fire, and emergency rescue communications", and they also said they're doing it for us (yeah right), so we will have a higher quality picture.

So if the FCC's primary reason for transitioning TVs to a digital signal is to free it up for emergencies, why did they just sell a large chunk of it to a cell phone company?

Technical Info (If you're actually still reading at this point, you might as well continue)
There are 5 frequency "Blocks", A B C D E, that all range in the UHF frequency (redundant, I know) band of 698-746 MHz. The latest auctions were within the C and D blocks, with the D not selling too well. There were a few other auctions about 4 years ago that brought in ~ $1.4 billion, within the C and D blocks. And straight from, "Auctions for the A, B, and E Blocks have not been scheduled." Well I'm guessing by the looks of that statement (and by how much the treasury likes auctions that bring in billions....) it's just a matter of time before they hit the auction block.

So what am I trying to get at with this uncommonly long post?

Simply this, why can't our government just tell us how it really is? They just need some quick cash. I have absolutely no problem with the transition, it seems like a win-win, better quality picture for us, free up bandwidth for emergency frequencies, Verizon grows even larger, therefore decreasing chances of competition... (Ok, maybe not that one =/ ) .

All I ask is that they explain it how it really is, "Hey, we're gonna rake in tens of Billions of dollars while slightly inconveniencing everyone with an old TV."

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