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Will open spectrum be allowed?

Closed spectrum carries an incentive toward hoarding. Open spectrum carries an incentive toward innovation. You don't need a big budget to figure this out. Just compare the history of MMDS and WiFi.
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Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

PFF logoThe powerful Progress & Freedom Foundation, which is heavily funded by the Bell companies, Microsoft, and other members of the proprietary software and content space, has issued a report that says (surprise) unlicensed, open spectrum is dangerous and should be rejected, in favor of selling it all to the highest bidder. (Thanks go to TechDirt for the catch.)

As I have noted before, where you stand depends on where you sit. When an "independent group" makes a claim, you must always follow the money. In this case it comes from market "haves," companies and industries who are greatly threatened by open source, open spectrum, and open competition.

In this case, however, the recommendation is very, very dangerous. Enormous swaths of spectrum are already being hoarded. Ever hear of MMDS? These frequencies, which sit very near the 2.4 GHz WiFi frequencies, were auctioned off a decade ago, initially for something called "wireless cable." Today Sprint, an incumbent cellular company, has most of the licenses. They are woefully underused.

In fact, the "auction" process leads directly toward hoarding. Incumbent carriers are in the best position to make winning bids. Spectrum is bought mainly to keep other users off, not to create innovative new services. By buying new spectrum as soon as it becomes available, incumbents make their own holdings more valuable, so they can charge more for fewer bits.

In contrast to this proprietary attitude we have the open source model of open spectrum. Through power limits and careful engineering by device makers, your garage door opener, your cordless phone, and your home network happily share frequencies with the devices of your neighbors. The result is innovation and economic growth.

Closed spectrum carries an incentive toward hoarding. Open spectrum carries an incentive toward innovation. You don't need a big budget to figure this out. Just compare the history of MMDS and WiFi.

Just because you call yourself the Progress and Freedom Foundation does not guarantee you stand for any such thing.

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