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Google Businesses The Internet Communications Wireless Networking Hardware

Google Urges National Inventory of Radio Spectrum 79

Posted by Soulskill
from the staking-claims-on-the-luminiferous-aether dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Google, the wireless industry, and consumer advocates have come together to support a bill that would require the federal government to take a complete inventory of the national airwaves to determine what spectrum is being used, how it is being used and who is using it. The government needs to clean up its sloppy record keeping, they say, or the US risks running out of wireless capacity with the increasing use of the mobile Internet. 'Radio spectrum is a natural resource, something that here in the US is owned by all of us American citizens,' wrote Richard Whitt, Google's counsel for telecom and media. 'Most of us don't give it much thought — and yet use of these airwaves is precisely what makes many of our modern communication systems possible.' The new law, if passed, would require the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications & Information Administration to report on the use of all spectrum bands between 300 megahertz and 3.5 gigahertz, including information on the licenses or government user operating in each band and whether the spectrum is actually in use. The unusual alliance between Google, public interest groups, and big telecommunications companies may be temporary. The telecom companies want to have the opportunity to buy any extra spectrum at an auction while Google advocates the use of new technologies that would allow the spectrum to be shared by whoever needs it."
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Google Urges National Inventory of Radio Spectrum

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  • The idea of shared spectrum, i like it. Basically like Public access tv, but in microwaves and without the creepy guys singing mary had a little lamb.
    • The idea of shared spectrum, i like it. Basically like Public access tv, but in microwaves and without the creepy guys singing mary had a little lamb.

      Oh you don't know the half of it. I work for the Public Access station in my city and we have crazy mexican dance shows with accordion-playing large-moustached men hopping around a room. It's fucking crazy.

  • RF waves surround us and penetrates us. Only I should be allowed to determine what passes through my body, not some deep-pocketed, top-hat wearing moneybag.

    Spectrum should be free!

  • National Parks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ozoner (1406169) on Friday May 08, 2009 @10:19PM (#27884667)

    Great idea...

    It's like Big Business saying "National Parks are not in use, so you should sign them all over to us..."

    • Re:National Parks (Score:4, Interesting)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday May 08, 2009 @11:44PM (#27885169) Journal
      Funny you should mention that; because that is pretty damn close to what happens.

      Now, actually signing over national parks, particularly the photogenic ones, would be a bit too noticeable; but the stuff that gets pulled on second tier regions is pretty shocking.

      Good old Teapot Dome [wikipedia.org] is perhaps the instance with the highest historical profile; but exploitation of federally held lands by private interests, often destructively(overgrazing, hard rock mining, etc.) and almost universally for pennies on the dollar of their actual value is the rule rather than the exception.
    • Re:National Parks (Score:4, Insightful)

      by benjamindees (441808) on Friday May 08, 2009 @11:48PM (#27885195) Homepage

      Anyone can get a permit to cut wood in a National Forest. It is public land, after all. And recently, businesses have been given the same opportunity in order to clear out wood that would otherwise contribute to the frequency and severity of forest fires.

      Besides, unlike National Parks, the government isn't saving radio spectrum for future generations. They're just denying access to a common resource.

      • by khams (1552605)

        How we use or abuse public lands today will affect how future generations. The RF spectrum can't be used or abused into extension, as far as I know anyway. The government has never denied access to the RF spectrum. A "free for all" use of the spectrum would render that public resource useless. What one could call denying access to a public resource could also be called resource management. Not everyone is going to be happy about how it's managed.

      • by againjj (1132651)
        18 trees make for nice tipi poles. You get yourself a permit, go to the area that the service points to, and cut the trees marked for removal.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ignavus (213578)

      Great idea...

      It's like Big Business saying "National Parks are not in use, so you should sign them all over to us..."

      Yeah. I often like to wander through the unused areas of the spectrum admiring the peace and quiet.

  • 'Radio spectrum is a natural resource, something that here in the US is owned by all of us American citizens,'

    So we should hand it over to Big Business to make a profit from.

  • Its noteworthy ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Friday May 08, 2009 @10:55PM (#27884909)
    ... that this exercise is only being conducted on the spectrum above 300 MHz. Up where the telecoms are interested in buying it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drmofe (523606)
      And stops at 3.5GHz, bizarrely, while there is still a lot of very useful spectrum above and beyond that, including the ISM and UNII bands at 5GHz. No point in going as far as 60GHz, since that is next to useless, apparently.
      • The higher the frequency, the more data it can carry, but the easier it is to block. The recent hype about 60MHz is just that; hype. You can push a lot of data through it, but it can be blocked by pretty much anything (even a decent amount of air will significantly degrade it, so don't expect long line-of-sight connections). It would be great for something like a personal-area network, or maybe a wireless DVI connection, but it's far from practical even for a home WLAN, let alone for a WMAN.
      • by Rigrig (922033)

        No point in going as far as 60GHz, since that is next to useless, apparently.

        I call dibs on the 790-400 terahertz band!

    • by khams (1552605)

      Fortunately "buying" spectrum, appears to be more akin to leasing.

  • by bhtooefr (649901) <bhtooefr&bhtooefr,org> on Friday May 08, 2009 @10:56PM (#27884915) Homepage Journal

    But this could screw over amateur radio... a bunch of very desirable spectrum combined with the people actually using it dying off.

    • by iHaTe (1541167)
      not true, this is why the f call license was brought inn, because of the decline in hams. the numbers are starting to build back up. some thing else too look at http://www.wia.org.au/newsevents/news/2009/20090402-1/index.php [wia.org.au] honestly i just hope they stay away from the ham bands, anD CB. because who are the ones that help out, when the phone networks go down, US ! VK3FAIL Adam
      • Don't worry, I'm sure the telcoes would be happy to promise, in a manner that is masterfully less legally binding than it appears, that phone service will not go down, in exchange for those bands...

        "After all", their besuited weasels will whisper into congressional ears, "those ham bands aren't being proactively monetized..."
      • Just as the BBSes have died-out, so too should old-fashioned voice communications over open air. It's inefficient, especially now that we have digital radio which can squeeze 10 voice channels (using MP3 or AAC) or 100 plain-text channels, where there used to only be 1. Internet superseded private-lowed BBSes and now digital needs to supercede old analog radio.

    • by hardburn (141468)

      I don't know how much they could actually touch. A lot of those bands are set aside under international agreements.

    • by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @02:51AM (#27886211)

      Disclaimer: I'm a ham radio operator - got my extra class license back when you had to pass a morse code test, and I'm 32.

      Anyhow above 300 mhz most bands are technically tertiary use to hams if you do some investigation. Also most are somewhat small - I think 900 mhz being the exception where last I checked there was 28 mhz allocated to hams (going off memory here). There again there is way more bandwidth available the higher you go.

      I think the part that is near impossible to determine is "is this bandwidth being used". In certain parts of the country (rural especially) you could listen to a frequency where you know there is a 911 paging service in place (specifically used to dispatch medics, alert doctors etc) and not hear a single thing for days, but that could easily be argued as an essential service.

      I think what its aimed at is the military really - who technically has primary rights to all that bandwidth, and one could easily argue they don't use it all.

      If google is reading this - please don't touch amateur radio - it is after all where a good amount of the innovators in modern communication come from, and if they can't experiment it will stifle your and our countries ability to innovate.

      • I got the impression that the purpose was to actually find out what is being used. I'm actually a bit surprised that this doesn't exist already in the form of licensing records. It probably does, but isn't accessible or searchable in a useful manner. It would be a nice for-fee addition to the Google Earth maps for prospective operators to be able to view the spectrum map in their area.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          >>> I'm actually a bit surprised that this doesn't exist already in the form of licensing records. It probably does, but isn't accessible or searchable in a useful manner.

          What may really surprise you, then, is the way the amateur radio bands above 300MHz, are allocated and used.

          First, "licensing records" for the amateur radio service won't help you glean that information because individual amateurs are NOT assigned to a particular channel/frequency the way most other users of the spectrum are. Ever

          • by Nethead (1563)

            UPMOD the AC above Informative.

          • First, "licensing records" for the amateur radio service won't help you glean that information because individual amateurs are NOT assigned to a particular channel/frequency the way most other users of the spectrum are. Every ham who is, by dint of their license, allowed access to the various ham bands, does so on a *shared* basis with NO claim to the rights to a particular frequency.

            Well ham radio no (with the voluntary exception of repeaters and space stations, but this isn't controlled by the fcc), but m

  • Who has the torrent?
  • Who Is This "us"? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rsmith-mac (639075) on Friday May 08, 2009 @11:40PM (#27885147)

    I'm not sure who "us" in "owned by all of us American citizens" is supposed to be. I know I'm a citizen, and my neighbor is one too. But the last time I checked, Google is not a United States citizen. Only people can be citizens. People are people, my dog thinks he's people, and even Soylent Green is people, but Google is not a member of the "people" class.

    Perhaps the lawyer meant "owned by all of the American citizens" or "owned by all of you American Citizens". Because if Google's not a citizen, they sure can't own any radio spectrum. Unless Google things they own something that doesn't belong to them...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      You know, Google doesn't actually write things. People employed by Google write things, and a great many of them are US citizens.
  • by ciscoguy01 (635963) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @12:04AM (#27885267)
    Before Nextel was bought by Sprint that company (Nextel) was run by some shrewed cookies. They would find a frequency that was not currently being used, and put a beacon on it. Somehow this claimed it for them.

    There's *lots* of spectrum that is not being used, like the 2 MHz part of the 220MHz Amateur band that was taken away from ham radio but never actually used by UPS, for whom it was taken.

    There are channels of the 2.6 GHz licensed band in LA that have been licensed to the Catholic church for decades and they have continuous analog video on it related to Catholic schools. Like they need that today! I heard about that from the coordination authority for that band. No channels were available, but not for good reason.

    If Google's idea is that underutilized spectrum should be opened up to shared usage that might be much better than the way it is now.
    • The issue comes down to bandwidth. The higher the frequency, the more you can do with it. The entire radio spectrum is extremely valuable, especially below 50MHz in the VHF "low band" area around 40 MHz and even getting into HF mixed in with the 10 and 11 meter wavelengths where military has some stuff. These frequencies all over the charts have ups and downs of use. Some are great for long distance communication with out the use of satellites but they have lower bandwidth. The higher ones don't skip o
  • Why is the lower limit of this proposal 300 MHz?

    300 MHz is right smack-dab in the middle of a US Military "owned" spectrum space (225-400Mhz).

    Furthermore, the most valuable spectrum in the United States starts at around 50MHz and goes upwards from there. Why would we not include that spectrum?

    • Last I checked the us military has primary rights to pretty much every bit of spectrum in this country - I think they'd be hard pressed to actually claim they use it all or that they ever would.

      300 mhz thought is where a lot of their geo stationary com sats live though - including the ones the Brazilians have been pirating.

  • Why not 3MHz to 1THz(or higher)? excluding the ISM [wikipedia.org], HAM [wikipedia.org], and CB [wikipedia.org] frequencies.
  • Public Safety agencies, PBS, and Amateur Radio will have free access to spectrum. The CB and FRS radio services will al have free access to the piddling slices of spectrum. The BS of Spectrum auctions wil end, to be replaced by competative bidding for, for profit commercial users of spectrum. Commercial broadcasters would be required, to allow any party able to purchase air time to do so, at the same price as all other parties, and the time slots will rotate so all have access to choice time slots. Understa

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