Stop the spectrum auction madness

The Wireless Trust and the government are conspiring to maintain the status quo, through spectrum auctions.

stop sign
Before one more colleague speculates on rules for spectrum auctions, can I make one suggestion?


Over the last several years we've had auction-after-auction, all ostensibly designed to provide competition to the Wireless Trust.

Has it? No, it hasn't. The Trust remains intact. The benefits of Moore's Law which have impacted our PCs and our hard drives and our iPods and everything else somehow haven't filtered down to wireless service. It's been stopped cold.

The reason is simple. The Wireless Trust and the government are conspiring to maintain the status quo, through spectrum auctions. It's policy.

Policy can change.

When a company pays billions of dollars for a monopoly on the use of spectrum, it can only get that money back by charging you a lot of money to use it.

That money is a tax, a spectrum tax, one you pay on every phone call you make, and every ringtone you download.

But it's your spectrum. Yours and mine. The electromagnetic spectrum is not government property, and need not be private property. It is supposed to be regulated by the government in the public interest, to prevent interference.

But we can engineer hardware to prevent interference. We don't need government mandates on who can use the spectrum. We need government standards for hardware to enforce simple rules.

Look at how WiFi speeds have increased this decade, from 10 mbps 802.11b to 100 mbps 802.11n. Look at what's available through WiMax.

Open, shared spectrum need not be full of interference. You write rules, you implement them in hardware, the hardware makers compete, and the next thing you know everyone's sitting in coffee shops watching a cat play the piano on YouTube.

Write non-interference rules into a national network of shared spectrum, implement them in hardware, and we'll have dozens of networks competing for customers, just as we used to have thousands of ISPs before the government made that a duopoly.

And if the Trust which "paid so dearly" for spectrum howls, buy that spectrum back. At cost.

Open spectrum can break the monopoly and bring us all the benefits of Moore's Law. That's why the government, and the monopoly, are so anxious to prevent any new open spectrum from appearing, and auctioning off every bit of spectrum that's left.