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FCC Head Wants New Wireless Devices Unlocked 221

Posted by kdawson
from the maybe-in-a-few-years-innovation dept.
[TheBORG] writes with news that FCC chairman Kevin Martin wants 700-MHz wireless devices and services to be unlocked. Spectrum auctions for the 700-MHz airwaves, being opened up for fixed and mobile broadband, are scheduled for early next year. "The proposed rules would apply only to the spectrum being auctioned, not the rest of the wireless business, which still makes most of its revenue from voice calls. But Martin's proposal, if adopted by the FCC, could reverberate through a U.S. wireless industry that has tightly controlled access to devices and services... Like most devices sold in the USA, the iPhone ... allows only features and applications that Apple and AT&T provide and works only with an AT&T contract. The FCC chairman said he has grown increasingly concerned that the current practices 'hamper innovations' dreamed up by outside developers. One example:... 'Internationally, Wi-Fi handsets have been available for some time,' Martin noted. 'But they are just beginning to roll out here.'"
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FCC Head Wants New Wireless Devices Unlocked

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  • It sounds good but I have a sneaking suspicion something in there is going to bite us in the ass. What is it?
    • high hidden fees
    • This only applys to a newly auctioned off part of the spectrum. So in other words, it's business as usual if you don't purchase that spectrum space. My guess would be this is to try to artifically charge the cell-phone companies more (in terms of lost revenue), so that some other type of company can outbid them in the auction.

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @02:53PM (#19816591) Journal

        This only applys to a newly auctioned off part of the spectrum
        True, but how long until the market ensures that it happens in other parts? At the moment, mobile providers don't offer this kind of service because it would cut their voice and SMS profits. If one provider did, then how long could the others remain competitive? These rules would force one provider (whoever buys the new frequencies) to, which should have a knock-on effect on the other parts of the market.

        I really don't understand why voice data is so much cheaper than other data for a mobile phone. Voice has all sorts of guaranteed bandwidth / latency requirements, while things like HTTP can just be squeezed into spare channels and bursted when there is spare capacity without issue, yet the data used for HTTP costs more. Why not let users run whatever they want, respect QoS flags in the packets, and charge more for ones with stricter requirements?

        • by Vancorps (746090) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @03:41PM (#19817107)

          The problem with that is that it makes sense to us. Most people would see that cell phone companies raising the rates of their voice service though. They had a general trend of reducing the cost of voice calls before data arrived on the spot. Now that data is here it's being treated as a separate beast to consumers even though from a technical standpoint it's just a different QoS priority.

          It gives them a chance to charge more for added services which don't cost them anything additional so it's largely profit.

          Of course the other side of the coin is the problems they've had with SMS and how unreliable it was when it was initially rolled out. Why could I call my friend in the UK but I couldn't SMS her? So people got used to the other idea that the quality and reliability of one service was unrelated to the other services the same company offered. That means they can charge different rates as well.

    • It sounds good but I have a sneaking suspicion something in there is going to bite us in the ass. What is it?

      I know what you mean. Superficially, it sounds like a good idea, but based on Kevin Martin's track record, I've gotta believe there's a worm in this apple somewhere....
    • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @02:33PM (#19816333) Homepage
      I love that we cannot trust our government.

      I TOO had the same reaction... "Who is to benefit from this initiative? What's the catch?!"

      As a people, we're just unaccustomed to anything but self-interested actions by and through government activity. It's not cynicism, it's just the plain unbiased truth. The only time any government units will feel inclined to serve the people or community is near election time... it was kind of like the mysterious way gasoline prices dropped during the last elections.

      So I hope people have their thinking caps on and are considering if this may be yet another way to screw us. If they are pushing for something as simple as "no more locked devices" then I'll just be amazed.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cbreaker (561297)
        Yea, I'd be amazed too, but it DOES make sense. There is a point where ALWAYS catering to big business will bite us in the ass. I feel as though one of those issues is outsourcing, and another is communication. If we, the US, fall too far behind everyone else in communication tools because of corporate greed and the government does nothing, the government is only hurting itself.

        I suppose we could take this as face value for now, until special stipulations are put in place to allow Verizon, ATT, and T-M
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by chernevik (1079091)

        I love that we cannot trust our government.
        It's the founding idea of our constitution. The idea that _this_ administration is the only one that shouldn't be trusted is confusing and dangerous. It makes people vulnerable to trusting other administrations, or institutions like Congress or the courts, or politicians when really they all bear watching. None of them get anything like the scrutiny they deserve.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by erroneus (253617)
          Okay, my intended meaning was different, I'm sure you knew, than the "correct" meaning you are expressing. I do agree that at NO time should we simply "trust" our government or the judgment of the people making decisions on our behalf. I wish that were the FIRST thing stated in elementary school government/civics classes. (Do they even have those classes any longer?) After all, the US was founded on the notion that the government cannot be trusted and so checks and balances were installed everywhere they
        • ... although one could say that it's not so much that one should distrust the government, but instead be able to apply the "trust, but verify" approach.

          The double threat of the current Admin is that not only have they repeatedly shown themselves to be not worthy of trust, they've gone to unprecedented lengths to block verification as much as possible.

      • by pilgrim23 (716938)
        just before the election for the Roads Commision in counties in Texas is the ONLY time the rural gravel roads get graded. Election for sheriff? the jails fill full of bums and hookers, it is nothign new. The only difference here is scale; Federal politicos can grade entire areas of the spectrum...
    • by Alex P Keaton in da (882660) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @03:47PM (#19817183) Homepage
      If you are over what, about 35, you remember that land line phones were heavy items you leased from the phone company. If you wanted an additional one, you called, and waited for them to bring it... People under 30 tend to be shocked by that whole concept, now you can buy a phone for a few dollars at Wal Mart or buy a complex expensive one, regardless of who you get your land line phone service from. I imagine in the coming decades, young people will be shocked that we used to be stuck getting our cell phone from the cell phone company, and didnt just buy the one we want at Wal Mart of Best Buy and get service from the company we chose...
      And for more proof that things dont change- people used to have "illegal" or "Hot" phones that they got from God knows where and hooked up themselves... Just like some people crack the software in their phones and use them outside of the cell company that sold the phone...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Eunuchswear (210685)

        I imagine in the coming decades, young people will be shocked that we used to be stuck getting our cell phone from the cell phone company, and didnt just buy the one we want at Wal Mart of Best Buy and get service from the company we chose...

        Young people? I'm 48 years old and I'm still in shock about the way the US replaced the USSR as the horrible anti-free-market economy.

        I still can't get my head around the idea that French telephone regulators are doing a better job than the FCC. What the fuck is going

      • by Osrin (599427) *
        In many countries this is how it works today... I live in Singapore, we can opt to take a handset from one of the three main wireless providers or you can just pick up service from them and then grab a handset from one of the IT malls, some of the supermarkets or an electronics shop.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by vertinox (846076)
      It sounds good but I have a sneaking suspicion something in there is going to bite us in the ass. What is it?

      I dunno... Either a lobby of an ATT competitor is involved, or the FCC head wants an iPhone without changing carriers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ehiris (214677)
      Reducing the cost of wireless services reduces the expenses of Oil companies.
  • Whoa... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Abalamahalamatandra (639919) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @01:55PM (#19815827)
    Who is this guy and why hasn't Bush fired him yet?
    • by RingDev (879105) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @02:12PM (#19816093) Homepage Journal
      Actually he is a Bush appointee. He was one of the lawyers/advisers to Bush and Chenney in the 2000 election. He was then coat tailed into the White House as a legal aid working with the FCC and on some other telecomm/technology groups. He worked in the FCC under the previous FCC Chair before Bush nominated/appointed him to the Chair in 2005. His wife is one of Chenney's aids to boot.

      My first thought is that Haliburton is getting into the wireless device industry and doesn't want to have to play nice with the existing heavily stacked market. Remember, the only thing better than big business to a Neo-Con is a big business that the Neo-Con has investments in.

      -Rick
      • by that IT girl (864406) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @02:23PM (#19816217) Journal
        Or maybe, just maybe, he actually hired someone with a decent idea in his head.

        It could happen.
        • by RingDev (879105)
          I agree, I think it is a good idea. But I don't think the idea has the will of the American people at it's heart. It is a business decision, and the hope is that it will lead to more innovation, IP, jobs, sales, and taxes.

          -Rick
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            More often than not, decisions which are good for business are good for the American people if those decisions lead to more products or more uses for existing products. If this opening up of the handset is good for the phone companies, they might expand their business and hire more people. And maybe there'll be new companies starting up to take advantage of the new opportunities, thus hiring more people. And maybe those new companies will get some venture capital, making the money circulate around instead o
            • by Darby (84953)
              More often than not, decisions which are good for business are good for the American people if those decisions lead to more products or more uses for existing products.

              True as far as it goes, but nothing anything like that happens too often around here.
              Mostly things touted as "good for business" are good for some particular business but bad for everybody else.

              Things like trying to give the oil companies multi billions of dollars in free money when they're already getting record profits, or farm subsidies, D
        • by Shakrai (717556)

          Or maybe, just maybe, he actually hired someone with a decent idea in his head.

          Yeah, they can't catch them all in the screening process ;)

        • by Lumpy (12016)
          No it cant. The devil himself (the VP) holds his wife hostage in one of his man-sized safes. and stamped all over her "treated as SECRET" and refuses to wipe off the stamps until he does his bidding.

          EVERYTHING this administration has touched either dies or is bastardized to ill gotten gains.
    • Bush should act immediately. The man should be placed in Gitmo! This new found wireless "freedom" will only make the terrorists hate us more.
      • by TommydCat (791543)

        Bush should act immediately. The man should be placed in Gitmo! This new found wireless "freedom" will only make the terrorists hate us more.
        But I thought it was doing things that the terrorists want that was bad -- which is it? Or should I just live my life like normal and not worry about what the terrorists think?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Etrias (1121031)
      You're assuming Bush fires anyone. If it's good for us, just wait for the eventual announcement saying he's retiring to spend more time with his family.
    • by cashman73 (855518)
      "You're doing a great job, Bro--- Kevie!"

      Don't worry,... he'll be gone by September,...

  • by Enrique1218 (603187) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @01:57PM (#19815861) Journal
    A public official actually concerned about businesses reaming the consumer. What has become of the United States?
    • Re:Say it ain't so!! (Score:4, Informative)

      by paulthomas (685756) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @02:15PM (#19816121) Journal
      Kevin Martin actually isn't that great of a guy. [slashdot.org]

      Aside from this, I agree with the premise that phones shouldn't be artificially locked to a network, but I think that this is an issue for customers of cell phone manufacturers and not an FCC issue. I can buy and use an unlocked phone right now and use it with my current AT&T plan. I just won't have AT&T subsidizing the purchase.
      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        The problem is that specific models are designed so that, even if you could unlock them, certain features will only work with a specific carrier. Even if you could buy an unlocked iPhone for example, most of its features are only going to work with AT&T. What is necessary in the U.S. isn't just an unlocked phone, but phones which use an agreed upon standard to work the same across all the major carriers (like a computer, which works basically the same no matter which ISP you choose). Why more consumers
        • by paulthomas (685756) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @02:38PM (#19816375) Journal

          Why more consumers aren't demanding this, I have no idea.
          I would guess it has something to do with intellectual laziness, in which a subsidized phone from a provider is considered "free." I think a lot of people do not think of a phone as something that they can purchase from someone outside of their service provider.

          Interesting points about the need for standards. Hopefully we'll see standards evolve over time to incorporate things that aren't currently standard, like visual voicemail.
        • To a certain extent (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @02:50PM (#19816557) Homepage Journal
          The problem is that specific models are designed so that, even if you could unlock them, certain features will only work with a specific carrier. Even if you could buy an unlocked iPhone for example, most of its features are only going to work with AT&T.

          That may be true to a certain extent, but not totally true. For example the inability to install J2ME apps straight from your computer and the inability to use Bluetooth are examples of elements that are limitations that are imposed limitations and not technology limitations. There are some features that are actually provided by the network and can be added to any phone. For example when I traveled to New Zealand I had got my cellphone unlocked in Singapore and was using a Vodaphone pay as you go SIM. I suddenly found that you get a special Vodaphone sub menu with a whole bunch of extras.

          In many ways I support the move by the FCC, since it would help change the business method of cell phone carriers. It would also highlight the limitations of any given carrier, instead of making it seem to be the limitations of the cell phone. Sure it would mean that cell phone carriers would have to compete on both wireless packages and wireless phone prices, but if that helps drive the market then even better. In fact having the cell phone manufacturers play a more active role in the support of their phones would also be a welcome change, since delegating this to the carriers is usually just asking for trouble.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nine-times (778537)

        I can buy and use an unlocked phone right now and use it with my current AT&T plan. I just won't have AT&T subsidizing the purchase.

        I don't know what the exact policies on these things are, but I've run into trouble with this. T-Mobile wouldn't sell me data services because I had an unlocked phone, and a friend of mine had the same problem with Verizon.

        Therefore, I don't believe it's as simple as you imply. The government might have to step in and require carriers to offer unlocked phones for a

      • by profplump (309017)
        Last time I tried to get a SIM the easiest course was to simply take the "free" phone and steal the SIM from it. At the time that didn't have any penalty in terms of extending my (already existing) contract, but they weren't even slightly interested in simply sending me a SIM. I've heard that T-Mobile will send you a SIM so long as you've already got a contract, but I've had no such luck with AT&T.

        And good luck trying to bring your existing equipment to a any new provider without signing up for the same
    • it ain't... sorry. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by RingDev (879105) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @02:17PM (#19816143) Homepage Journal
      I believe he is actually concerned with the effects on other businesses the spectrum lock is having. He sites technological advancement and sales as his concern, not the well being of the people. He believes that there is more of a profit to be made by opening the door, between new competition, new sales, and new taxes. And I agree. As an added bonus, the American people might get to see some new technology and alternative wireless communication devices.

      -Rick
    • If the auction grants exclusive rights, that means other businesses can't develop the spectrum even further. Sure, the consumers get extra gizmos, but it'll be other businesses that are making those gizmos to sell.

      Still, it does suggest a shift away from monopoly business practices and more towards competitive business practices. I did read that Republican money-raising efforts are floundering, so perhaps it's a way to either shake down the AT&Ts of the world, or get money from smaller businesses.
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @03:03PM (#19816679) Journal

      Can you name a single American computer company that owns a significant global market share? What about a software company?

      Now fast forward ten years; the desktop era is over, the ubicomp era is starting.

      Now backtrack to the present, and look at the companies poised to take control of that market. How many successful mobile phone companies are based in the USA?

      It's simple economics; there's an important technology market that is likely to grow enormously in the next few decades, and the USA is well behind the rest of the world. Why? Because US mobile phone networks are less regulated than those in other countries, and so lock down the hardware more. It doesn't make sense to develop a mobile phone in the USA, because the networks won't let you use the most innovative features, and who wants to develop a consumer product they can't use and get their friends to use? Look at the iPhone; it's got a nice UI, but to anyone outside the USA its feature set looks like something from 3-5 years ago (more if you're in Japan).

      In summary, the neo-cons want the next Microsoft, IBM, Intel and Dell to be US companies, not Finnish or Japanese (and I don't blame them). The only surprising thing is that someone in power is thinking further forwards than the next election.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Oldsmobile (930596)
      I find it interesting, that the US has probably the most liberalized mobile communication market out there -and is always lagging behind the rest of the world in mobile phone technology.

      This even though it's one of the top economies in the world.

      Most popular phones are old fashioned, the service is lacking, spotty and uses several standards and only in the US could they come out with a brand new smart phone and NOT feature 3G on it -and sell a shitton of them anyway!
  • by Phil_At_NHS (1008933) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @02:01PM (#19815929)
    For those of you who thought aliens would take over by pretending to be human and infiltrating government, I apologize for calling you nasty names. If the Chairmen of the FCC is doing something consumer friendly, there is no other explanation. Now, I AM hardpressed to figure out who such action forwards the cause of these aliens, unless maybe they too are just sick and tired of crippled phones....
  • how long before an official unlocked iPhone appears?
    • by Phroggy (441)
      About five years, as soon as their exclusive contract with AT&T expires. Hopefully then you'll be able to buy a $500 iPhone from Apple, and any network will offer you service with no contract (since the phone isn't subsidized).

      Meanwhile, other manufacturers will have added support for AT&T's new visual voicemail system, and other providers will have added support for those phones. They'll all include either Opera Mobile or Minimo, to compete with Safari on the iPhone. You'll still be able to get
      • by plague3106 (71849)
        Hopefully then you'll be able to buy a $500 iPhone from Apple, and any network will offer you service with no contract (since the phone isn't subsidized).

        Bull, the phone wouldn't cost that much. The reason is that now instead of select phones working on one carrier, every phone could work on every carrier... in other words, we'd have a flood of phones to choose from (more than today) and prices would drop in the face of this new competition.
        • by Phroggy (441)
          I've been a Mac user and Apple fan for over 15 years; I don't expect the iPhone to drop in price that much. :-P
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by frdmfghtr (603968)

        Meanwhile, other manufacturers will have added support for AT&T's new visual voicemail system, and other providers will have added support for those phones.

        I bet somebody with a good set of programming skills could write a visual voicemail app for any smartphone...

        From what I have observed, visual voice mail works by downloading a copy of the voicemail message to your iPhone, which then pairs up the caller ID phone number to your address book. When you play the message, it plays locally (I put my iPhon

      • They'll all include either Opera Mobile or Minimo, to compete with Safari on the iPhone.
        Fuck no, they'll use Safari [nokia.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ZeroPly (881915)
      How long before Apple unlocks the iPhone?

      Well, I certainly don't care. I'm planning on putting in an order for an OpenMoko neo1973. ( details at http://www.openmoko.com/ [openmoko.com], not affiliated with them ) The cell phone guru at work has offered to help me with the connectivity side. Why should I wait on the benevolent dictator of cute to grace me with the knowledge he feels fit to bestow? I'm the kind of whacko that thinks a microwave should ship with an API CD and serial port.

      I'm not an Apple basher, but defi

  • by Scareduck (177470) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @02:08PM (#19816035) Homepage Journal
    he'd come out against spectrum auctions. Is there any single policy that's proven as pernicious lately? One of the most annoying things to come out of Congress has been the forced conversion of the VHF and UHF spectrums to, well, something else, and the retirement of NTSC broadcasts, mainly because Congress is greedy and wants the money such an auction would give them. Never mind that there's no compelling reason to ditch NTSC broadcasts, or that it will cost billions for consumers to convert their TVs to HD. Those auction costs eventually get passed on to the consumers of those products, too, and that's nothing to sneeze at.
    • by cfulmer (3166) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @02:17PM (#19816141) Homepage Journal
      What is your alternative choice for deciding who gets the spectrum?

      The most compelling reason to ditch NTSC is that the spectrum it occupies is very valuable, in part because it is not as impeded by obstructions as other frequencies. The switch to HDTV is a catalyst that provides an alternative. A portion of the money gained from the auction of the previous UHF/VFH space will be used for vouchers for consumers to buy conversion devices for their TVs. I suspect, though, that these will be mainly unused, as the large majority of TV viewers are on either cable or satellite, neither one of which will be directly affected.

      • by Otterley (29945)
        Spectrum scarcity is a fallacy whose roots based on ancient technology. Scientists and engineers who understand radio technologies invented but a few years after the FCC was established by Congress in 1934 (i.e. UWB and spread spectrum frequency hopping) know this. See, e.g, How wireless networks scale [jacksons.net]: the illusion of spectrum scarcity. The fact is, everyone who wanted to could use the airwaves free of interference if such technologies were properly implemented.

        The problem is that Congress, now guarante
        • If spectrum were, indeed, not scarce, then the companies that owned spectrum already would deploy whatever technology is available to more effectively use spectrum instead of paying billions of dollars to get access to more of it.

          The price paid for the spectrum indicates that it must be scarce. If it wasn't scarce, nobody would be paying big dollars for it.
          • by Otterley (29945)
            No, the reason that people pay for spectrum is because the FCC makes it artificially scarce through its enforcement of regulation and spectrum management. As I'm sure you know, no device is permitted to transmit a radio signal without a license from the FCC. In addition, as it is currently deployed, for any given "application" (as defined by the FCC), permission to use the spectrum is confined to very small bands of the spectrum.

            The reason for this is that nearly 100 years ago, radios were primitive and c
      • What is your alternative choice for deciding who gets the spectrum?

        I'm not the GP, but I'll attempt an answer anyway.

        One solution would be to allocate spectrum in the same way as land is already allocated; namely, homesteading and contractual transfer (i.e. private ownership). Anyone can transmit whatever they want, provided it doesn't interfere with the reception of an existing signal (or cause other side effects, e.g. cancer). Interference at a historical reception point is treated as a trespass aga

    • OK, hold on, I think there is just a pinch of 'hate Bush no matter what' in your post. If none of the auctions were taking place, I could just as easily spin this as the Evil Bush administration staying in league with media giants to retain control over UHF and VHF spectrum that was being wasted (which it is in buckets by the way) and cut off from any and all new innovation. I could further decry the fact that the US was continuing to languish with the old NTSC transmission standard instead of moving into
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RingDev (879105)
        Uhg, do we have to choose between the Republicrat and the Neo-Con? Can't we just get Nader or someone to drop a loaf on the spectrum and call it a day?

        In all seriousness though, spectrum auctions cut both ways. Getting rid of NTSC over UHF/VHF will open up tons of new opportunities. But at the same time the cost to each and every station has been millions of dollars. A lot of the smaller/NFP organizations (like PBS stations) have had a hell of a time pulling off the change over, and a number of stations are
      • If Hillary were auctioning off the spectrum would you still hate it, and if the Bush administration canceled the auction would you say it was a good idea?
        I didn't think they were a good idea when (Bill) Clinton was in office. I don't think they're a good idea now.
    • Never mind that there's no compelling reason to ditch NTSC broadcasts, or that it will cost billions for consumers to convert their TVs to HD.

      Well, in theory the freed up spectrums might result in additional wireless services that consumers will want.
      I think it's also fair to say that there is no compelling reason to keep NTSC broadcasts, which is using technology over 50 years old. Consumers do not have to convert their TVs to HD. All they need do is buy a conversion box and Uncle Sam is supposed to
    • Oh god forbid, people may not be able to watch TV! Won't somebody think of the children?!!!

      NTSC is very old, wasteful technology. Once freed up, new technology will able to make much more efficient use of the same frequencies. Much like how digital mobiles are more efficient that the small car sized devices we had 15 years ago.

    • There is a reason to ditch NTSC.. it's an incredibly inefficient way of transmitting video. I believe that HDTV can transmit the same image quality in 1/4 or 1/6 of the bandwidth dedicated to over-the-air NTSC video.

      And from an economic view.. auctions are very efficient. With all that unused spectrum, would you prefer to have more TV channels, or more (hopefully) interesting wireless services? Let the market decide.

      Now it's up to the regulators to figure out how to make the auction fair. I don't know h
    • There are all kinds of useful things that could be done with the VHF spectrum, that can't be done now because it's being taken up by all those analog TV channels.
    • Never mind that there's no compelling reason to ditch NTSC broadcasts

      There's a very good reason to ditch the NTSC broadcasts-- when all those broadcasts are being broadcast on another spectrum of frequencies, it's a waste of a very useful range of frequencies to continue the duplicate broadcasts. It may be that HD hasn't rolled out as quickly as many people hoped, and therefore it makes sense to delay "ditching" NTSC broadcasts, but that's been going on for years. They keep delaying it (for good reason),

    • There plenty of compelling reason to ditch NTSC. There has been for decades. It's only in the past several years that a substantially better approach is available. ATSC (as well as DVB where that is used) allows the spectrum to be more efficiently used. If you look at a spectrum analyzer plot of an NTSC signal in a 6 MHz channel, it's totally dominated by the carrier that is 1.25 MHz above the lower edge of the channel. Video information looks like some grass growing along the bottom edge (especially i

  • I really don't know who stifles innovatino more, the fcc or private industry
  • by R2.0 (532027)
    He's a Republican...he's Eeeevilllll!

    My world is shaken to its core.
    • I know, republicans aren't evil. They only ACT that way. i know, republicans helped cnn and foxnews by making a war, and they helped those in armament factories by increasing defense spending. they also helped some people with large inheritances avoid paying taxes. But seriously, when was the last time a republican did anything that did any large group of people any long term good?
  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @02:17PM (#19816139) Journal

    "Whoever wins this spectrum has to provide ... truly open broadband network - one that will open the door to a lot of innovative services for consumers," Martin said in an interview Monday.

    What this would mean in practice: "You can use any wireless device and download any mobile broadband application, with no restrictions," Martin explained."
    Unless he makes "in practice" the official FCC rule, I can't imagine that the networks are going to anything other than provide network unlocked phones. Just because a phone is network unlocked doesn't mean it will not have shitty firmware that locks out features.

    Most Americans are not willing to pay the full price for a phone. As long as the networks have people hooked on subsidized phones, the phones will be feature locked down.
  • by backslashdot (95548) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @02:19PM (#19816173)
    Just like how there are hundreds of brands of PC's to choose from (this helps keep the price down, improve selection, and companies innovating) we need to have hundreds of brands of cell phones.

    We need to be able to home build cell phones. Personally I'd assemble myself a cell phone with a 3.5" (maybe only slightly higher) touchscreen 800 px wide display, 3G, Live Video Share and GPS. I'd run my own distro of Linux or OpenMoko on it.

    • if iPhone was truly open I'd buy it as a PDA - i have no interest in using it as a phone. i like the touch screen interface and wifi - it would replace my laptop. but im not buying something that commits me to thousands of dollars worth of business to AT&T, a known monopolist (who, like the liquid metal terminator in T2, has reconstituted itself from its fragments).
  • WTF (Score:2, Insightful)

    While I'd love for my iPhone to be unlocked, I am wondering what authority does the Constitution give the government to mandate unlocking.
    • by plague3106 (71849)
      Interstate commerce... since, you know, the cell phone companies are all national entities.
    • Ever bothered to actually read the Constitution? Or follow the varying interpretations over the years? I know, questioning the Constitution and the FCC gets you modded "insightful" on Slashdot, but in the real world it makes educated people look at you as an idiot.

      Anyhow; try:

      Article I, Section 8 [usconstitution.net]
      1. To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
      2. To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;
      3. To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carryin
  • Not Far Enough (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @02:22PM (#19816213) Homepage

    I like this idea quite a bit, I just don't think it's far enough. It shouldn't just be the new 700MHz spectrum. If you buy ANY new space, you should have to comply with this. If you USE any space you should have to comply. No locking cells to the carrier after Dec 31st, 2007. Not 2015, not 2010, THIS YEAR. Since this is just locking and it's not a problem over seas, they have no excuse why this couldn't be done.

    I'd also say contracts should be illegal (or at least termination fees) and ditto with subsidizing phones (you want to subsidize? Must be and instant rebate, none of this mail-in stuff). But I don't expect those to happen.

    I'll still be surprised if this was passed.

    But please, free the cell phones. Won't someone please think of the cell phones?

  • It sounds good -- use the force of the law to regulate businesses to provide unlocked devices "for the consumer's rights." But the idea of locking a device is irrelevant to this discussion, Mssrs. FCC, because it isn't the provision of locking a device that is anti-consumer.

    The best situation for any consumer of a given market product is competition -- the ability for newcomers to a given market to try to provide better features at a lower cost and a higher quality. This gives consumers choice. Locking a
    • It's regulation, but it's fixing an ill that is essentially forced on users. At this level - with the barriers to entry in the market (i.e. spectrum costs, to start with) - the consumer has essentially zero leverage in contract negotiations. This simply prevents consumer lock in - generally considered a bad thing. Whine and complain all you want to about the USPTO, but this is neither an attemp to correct their ills, nor some attempt to fix congressional errors.

      If you want to provide fewer features, put few
      • If you want to prevent your customers from taking your subsidized handset to another carrier, don's subsidize them.

        I might be paranoid, but it seems to me that locking phones to a given carrier should be grounds to investigate the major carriers for anti-trust violations. Maybe I just don't get it, but the major benefit I see to this lock-in is for the other carriers, so I've always assumed that the carriers got together and agreed to lock phones in order to all benefit each other to the detriment of all

    • by sholden (12227)
      Because the FCC has complete control over patents, copyright, and trademarks.
    • by db32 (862117)
      Just because noone seems to understand this, and people cry about patents all the time. Patents are not bad. The concept is terribly important, the practice however is a bit flawed in implementation.

      So...you develop some fancy wizbang gadget, brand new, totally innovative, breaking new barriors. The moment you sell the first one, MegaTechCorp will purchase one, use its highly paid engineers to disassemble it, maybe make a few 'enhancements', bundle it back up, mass market it, and totally screw you out
      • So...you develop some fancy wizbang gadget, brand new, totally innovative, breaking new barriors. The moment you sell the first one, MegaTechCorp will purchase one, use its highly paid engineers to disassemble it, maybe make a few 'enhancements', bundle it back up, mass market it, and totally screw you out of business. You will have sold 1 at incredible personal cost in R&D and MFG, MegaTechCorp will have bought 1, mass produced them, mass marketed them, and made millions. You on the other hand are left wimpering about how the rich have an unfair advantage because they can just snatch up the little guys inventions and call them their own and push the little guy out of business. Which ironically is what the primary complaint about patents is now...except if they go away the problem gets worse and becomes 100% legal. At least with the undestanding that patents are imporant there is some hope of fixing the patent system to allow fewer abuses.

        Since when is MegaTechCorp that observant and efficient? The more likely scenario goes like this:

        You develop something new and innovative. You put it together, get some made, start selling them. MegaTechCorp doesn't even notice your puny business. You sell some more. MegaTechCorp notices now, but is heavily invested in their own solution and, given the massive inertia of large corporations, does nothing but spew marketing spin that your clever little gadget is lame (maybe it lacks wireless and has less

        • by db32 (862117)
          So your argument against this scenario is "big companies aren't good at making money on new gadgets, are too slow to steal inventions, and upstarts just replace the big slow companies anyways until they become big slow companies" Have you not been paying attention in the last, say, 10 years? Microsoft's entire business is built around stealing other peoples inventions. You seem to equate morally bankrupt corporate behavior with ineffective behavior, and that absolutely is not the case. That has got to b
  • I am so ipressed by his integrity No all he needs to do is puts this idea through congress AND get the president to sign it....

    Oh, wait. That's right! This guy will be two years out of office before this is even a bill. He can demand anything he wants now, and so can any other department head becasue they won't be around to put it through congress.

    Gosh, I wonder what the FCC head will be doing AFTER he gets booted by the next pres. (or this one). Could it be consulting for some group/company that would be
    • The FCC doesn't have to wait - they can create new rules and have them go into effect without the direct consent of either the Legislative or Executive branch.

      The FCC is responsible to Congress and either house can advise the FCC through their Telecommunications subcommittees, can override any new or existing FCC rule or can even change the legislation that enables the FCC, but they are only involved in the process of creating new rules if they choose to be.

  • We Win! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bellum Aeternus (891584) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @02:44PM (#19816461)
    I had given up on waiting for the day that something the US government did made sense. Looks like somebody does have a clue. Too bad lobbyist, and greed mongers won't ever let this idea see the light of day.
  • Devil's Advocate (Score:2, Insightful)

    by snilloc (470200)
    So, the US market just released the Holy-friggin'-grail Jesus phone, the iPhone, and the problem is lack of innovation?

    Sorry, but what allows Apple to bring the iPhone to market is Apple's ability to lock-in with AT&T in order to maximize profits for a 5 year clip. Without lock-in, there wouldn't be an iPhone, or it would be much more expensive (even after you factor out the ATT contract).

  • by T00lman (1020903)
    3300 hz ought to be enough for anyone.

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