Friday, July 20, 2007

The 700 megahertz auction

When television goes to digital in 2009, the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum currently used for analog television broadcast will become available for other uses. Om Malik posted an educational summary about the situation.

The best proposal I've seen so far, to govern the use of this 700 mhz territory, is "The four Opens" proposed in a letter filed on July 18 by Google, Skype & a number of policy advocacy groups. They are:

* Open Devices
* Open Applications
* Open Services
and
* Open Networks

Personally, I find it sad that few people outside the activist community are talking about this 700mhz auction in terms other than financial.

When any large media company, Internet portal provider or carrier succeeds in asserting "ownership" over any spectrum, it further diminishes the availability of the electromagnetic spectrum as a public resource that benefits modern democracy.

After all, the lower part of the 700 mhz spectrum is already used by QualComm and others for mobile communications and video - in effect, making it unavailable to others.

"700mhz" is another face of the "low power FM" and "net neutrality" discussions. In my opinion, public resources ahould not be handed over to private ownership.

And if the current US government hadn't spent our treasury surplus into oblivion, this auction wouldn't feel so much like a bake sale.

That's my $0.02 (=£0.01)

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