Mix and match strategies


Remember the good old days of wireless regulations?
The analog sunset date was February 2008. E911 rules initially required carriers to supply public safety answering points with a call-back number and cell site location, and Phase II rules demanded more precise information.
Granted, lawsuits were filed and deadlines extended, but the rules themselves made sense and seemed fairly straightforward – at least compared to regulations under consideration today.
There is a movement to require the AWS-3 auction to offer free or subsidized “family friendly” broadband access for low-income families. This is a nice idea, but it sounds like a government program, not one you’d want private business to implement. Further, while this could be fairly straightforward in rural areas with few or no broadband choices, what about in urban areas where it could actually be cheaper to provide a wired connection? The Universal Service Fund and accompanying “eligible telecommunications carrier” status was founded on a similar principle and today is a disaster so huge no one is sure of the best way to fix it.
Does the government really want a private entity implementing all of this? Would any private entity want to have to comply with these rules? Who gets fined when little Johnny finds a way to access porn from his broadband connection?
The white-spaces issue before the Federal Communications Commission also has the potential to blow up. White-spaces proponents say opening up the band would allow new ways for people to connect to the Internet via wireless broadband devices. Regardless of whether interference will be an issue if the government allows broadcasting in the band, discussion is also taking place about whether the spectrum should be licensed or not. Conventional wisdom would say licensed spectrum should be auctioned.
Curiously, the proponents of opening up the spectrum on an unlicensed basis are some of the richest companies in the world today: i.e., Google and Microsoft. But even if there are valid reasons to keep this spectrum unlicensed, why wouldn’t there be a mandate in this band for free broadband access for the poor?
Which band gets which rules is increasingly complex, and probably not in the nation’s best interest or the individual’s.

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