Go to Appearance > Menu to set "Primary Menu"

Bringing you the latest in Gigabit Networks, broadband usage, wireless and more

Tag archive

LLC

Technology Policy Institute Panel Discusses Spectrum Incentive Auctions

in FCC/Mobile Broadband/Wireless by

WASHINGTON May 24, 2011 – The Technology Policy Institute assembled auction experts Monday to discuss the value and mechanics of proposed spectrum incentive auctions.

“Markets work best when there are rules for the market players to act within,” said Peter Cramton, Professor of Economics, University of Maryland. “Increasingly people are getting their television service through cable and satellite making the mobile broadband market a much more valuable use for the spectrum currently held by television broadcasters.”

Voluntary incentive auctions would allow current spectrum owners to auction of part or all of their spectrum holdings and obtain a part of the proceeds.

Cramton said that any auction would allow for three possible actions on the part of the broadcasters; keep their entire spectrum holdings, sell a portion of their holdings or sell their entire holdings.

According to Cramton many broadcasters could sell half their holdings and still maintain a robust broadcast area. Using multicasting technology, broadcasters could share a single channel allowing them to transmit up to two high definition signals or five standard definition signals.

“The broadcasters do not want this right now; they feel as though they have just been forced to be moved under the DTV transition,” said Karen Wrege, Senior Auction Consultant, Power Auctions LLC. “But they will sell their holdings for a price. They know the value of their spectrum and will be able to determine through the auction if it’s worth holding on to or selling.”

Moving spectrum licenses for the purposes of improved management and better uses is not new, according to Wrege. The practice has occurred since the Federal Communications Commission began managing the radio spectrum. She also called on the Commission to ensure that the auction process is transparent, with well-established rules.

To improve the auction process, Wrege suggested that the FCC conduct a mock auction with possible participants to test out the proposed rules.

Evan Kwerel, Senior Economic Advisor at the Federal Communications Commission, approved of Wrenge’s suggestion saying that it is likely that before any auction occurs the commission will conduct a number of mock auctions in the lab.

Kwerel went on to say that, while the issue of spectrum auctions is being talked about as a quick solution to the spectrum crunch, the actual auctions would not take place for a while. The FCC – while proficient in auction design – will take many months to study the issue before any rulemaking occurs. Additionally, the comment period alone would last months.

Other panel participants estimated that it would take the Commission nearly two years from Congressional approval of auction legislation to when the auction would occur.

Lawrence Ausubel, Professor of Economics at University of Maryland called the auction a possible solution for the increasing market concentration occurring in the mobile broadband market.

“One of the primary reasons why AT&T is buying T-Mobile is to acquire more spectrum since they cannot buy it in the open market,” Ausubel said. “The auction will create a large amount of supply which will allow for the possibilities of new entrants.”

Cramton supported the idea that the auction would allow for increased competition, but observed that in most developed countries there are only three or four major operators with a handful of regional options.

Telecom Industry Launches Technical Advisory Group to Solve Net Neutrality Issues

in FCC/Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2010 –In response to the recent Third Way announcement made by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a group of internet service providers, content creators and hardware makers have joined to form a working group to discuss the issues surrounding network neutrality. This new organization called the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group will be headed by Professor Dale Hatfield of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Professor Hatfield was the chief technologist at the FCC from 1997 to 2000.

The organization will have three main goals “(1) educating policymakers on such technical issues; (2) attempting to address specific technical matters in an effort to minimize related policy disputes; and (3) serving as a sounding board for new ideas and network management practices.”

By including a large share of the stakeholders, the organization hopes to be able to come to a consensus which it can then bring to either the FCC or Congress.  ”This joint effort by industry leaders provides an exciting opportunity to address key operational challenges facing the Internet user experience,” said Leslie Daigle, chief internet technical officer of the Internet Society.  ”The Internet Society believes this activity is an important contribution to the ongoing global, open technical dialog and looks forward to seeing its output appropriately integrated with the work of existing Internet standards activities.”

The organization plans to function as a neutral party which only discusses the technical practices used by the industry. “The BITAG would consider a number of factors in looking at technical practices, including whether a practice is used by others in the industry; whether alternative technical approaches are available; the impact of a technical practice on other entities; and whether a technical practice is aimed at specific content, applications or companies,” Hatfield said.

Currently the organization has representatives from AT&T, Cisco Systems, Comcast Corporation, DISH Network, EchoStar, Google, Intel, Level 3 Communications, Microsoft, Time Warner Cable and Verizon. While the organization does represent a number of interests there is currently no user or consumer group which has joined BITAG.

In a post on the official AT&T Blog, Vice President Brent Olson said of the group: “While there is more work to be done over the coming weeks to formalize the group, we are proud to be a participant in its formation.  This effort demonstrates the interdependence of all players and their mutual interest in and desire for innovation in the internet platform.  We look forward to working collaboratively with all participants to ensure its success.”

The media advocacy organization Free Press was pleased by the creation of BITAG they do believe that ultimately the issue needs to be solved by the FCC. “There must be a separate FCC rulemaking process, which can take the recommendations of this or any other voluntary advisory group into account, but rubber-stamping those recommendations would ignore the agency’s mandate to create public policy in the public interest. Allowing industry to set its own rules is like allowing BP to regulate its drilling. The Comcast BitTorrent case shows that without government oversight, Internet Service Providers will engage in what are already deemed by engineers to be bad practices” said Free Press Policy Counsel M. Chris Riley.

BITAG member Google also believes that the group is just an advisory group and will not set rules. “Further, the purpose of the BITAG is not to replace the oversight and enforcement authority of the FCC or any other government body. Rather, we hope the BITAG can bring together some of the smartest technical minds in this space to provide some useful guidance to policymakers and Internet stakeholders alike,” said Richard Whitt, Washington telecom and media counsel.

Go to Top