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iPhone, iPad bandwidth strains could lead FCC to pay for airwaves

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission could pay network broadcasters to vacate their airwaves and offer more wireless spectrum as bandwidth-heavy devices like the iPhone and iPad become more prevalent.

The strategy could be a part of the in-the-works National Broadband Plan, due to be introduced to Congress in March. According to an FCC official who spoke with BusinessWeek, the plan could use revenue from airwave auctions to pay existing users to vacate.

"We know there's a spectrum crunch," the official reportedly said. "We are just trying to come up with options."

The introduction of the bandwidth-heavy, always-connected iPhone has placed a strain on the AT&T network in the U.S., where it is the exclusive carrier of Apple's handset. AT&T will also be the sole stateside 3G provider for the iPad, with a $29.99 unlimited plan available contract-free.

Last October, Julius Genachowski, chairman of the FCC, said devices like the iPhone would require new policies to be enacted because of a coming "spectrum gap." He said all signs point to there not being enough spectrum available for wireless services in the future.

The iPad is expected to only compound the issue. After Apple introduced the device and its 3G-enabled model that could access the AT&T network in the U.S., the FCC posted on its official blog that the iPad signals even more devices will be taxing the available mobile bandwidth.

"With the iPad pointing to even greater demand for mobile broadband on the horizon, we must ensure that network congestion doesn't choke off a service that consumers clearly find so appealing or frustrate mobile broadband's ability to keep us competitive in the global broadband economy," the FCC wrote.

Genachowski, who has admitted he is an iPhone user and fan, has been a strong proponent of Net neutrality, allowing users to visit sites they please without being discriminated against by broadband providers.

With Genachowski at the helm, the FCC has taken an active role in the wireless market. Under pressure from the government, AT&T agreed to allow Voice over IP calls via its 3G network. It also inquired over the non-acceptance of the Google Voice application in the App Store.

The FCC has also signaled that it wants to increase wireless carrier competition, and increase the availability of exclusive smartphones like the iPhone in rural markets where providers like AT&T do not offer service.
post #2 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

AT&T will also be the sole 3G provider for the iPad, with a $29.99 unlimited plan available contract-free.

How writes this crap. AT&T is not and will not be the "sole" provider for 3g. The GSM SIM is unlocked and can be used by any Provider that provides 3g service using GSM. This comes right from the keynote that SJ gave in January.
post #3 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dbossmon View Post

How writes this crap.

Now that is funny!

Quote:
AT&T is not and will not be the "sole" provider for 3g. The GSM SIM is unlocked and can be used by any Provider that provides 3g service using GSM. This comes right from the keynote that SJ gave in January.

AT&T is the sole provider for 3G in the US. The iPad is unlocked but the spec sheet does not contain the 1700MHz spectrum for T-Mobile USA. Therefore, you cannot use the iPad with Verizon or Sprint in any regard, but you can use it for T-Mobile USA, but only on their EDGE and GPRS networks (aka 2G).
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post #4 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dbossmon View Post

How writes this crap. AT&T is not and will not be the "sole" provider for 3g. The GSM SIM is unlocked and can be used by any Provider that provides 3g service using GSM. This comes right from the keynote that SJ gave in January.

I thought the iPad only supported AT&Ts 3G bands and therefore AT&T only for 3G?
post #5 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

AT&T is the sole provider for 3G in the US. The iPad is unlocked but the spec sheet does not contain the 1700MHz spectrum for T-Mobile USA. Therefore, you cannot use the iPad with Verizon, Sprint. You can use it for T-Mobile USA, but only on their EDGE and GPRS networks (aka 2G).

And carriers that offer MicroSIM card.
post #6 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

And carriers that offer MicroSIM card.

Apparently you can just cut a regular SIM card down to fit, if needed.
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post #7 of 39
Why not go with some sort of open broadband solution in major areas? I remember that there was a router I could put on my network that allowed people to share, within reason.
post #8 of 39
this is an important story to have brought to us. Thanks, AI.
post #9 of 39
Quote:
Genachowski, who has admitted he is an iPhone user and fan, has been a strong proponent of Net neutrality, allowing users to visit sites they please without being discriminated against by broadband providers.

I ask when have you been discriminated against.
post #10 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

And carriers that offer MicroSIM card.

Supposedly one can cut a SIM card down to fit a MicroSIM phone, it's just extra plastic all around, the guts are the same between the two. So I read.


(warning: I have not verified or performed this, proceed at your own risk)


Quote:
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission could pay network broadcasters to vacate their airwaves and offer more wireless spectrum as bandwidth-heavy devices like the iPhone and iPad become more prevalent

I much rather have our failed government find ways of doing things without spending money if possible, they got the power to create good change with laws. The way we are going now, we will be ending up like Greece shortly.
The danger is that we sleepwalk into a world where cabals of corporations control not only the mainstream devices and the software on them, but also the entire ecosystem of online services around...
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The danger is that we sleepwalk into a world where cabals of corporations control not only the mainstream devices and the software on them, but also the entire ecosystem of online services around...
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post #11 of 39
The CW: Admit it, no one likes you. Give us your bandwidth now!
post #12 of 39
Sorry to get political, but "owning" spectrum is part of the problem.

For one, it's a natural resource, and thus cannot be owned.

Secondly, we should not have a gov't org deciding what bands of spectrum can be used for what. That's just silly, and it's creating an artificial bandwidth crunch.

Instead, any band of it should be leased to any company by the American people for $X-yr, collected by an FCC-type organization and paid back via a tax rebate.

-Clive
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post #13 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post

Sorry to get political, but "owning" spectrum is part of the problem.

For one, it's a natural resource, and thus cannot be owned.

Secondly, we should not have a gov't org deciding what bands of spectrum can be used for what. That's just silly, and it's creating an artificial bandwidth crunch.

Instead, any band of it should be leased to any company by the American people for $X-yr, collected by an FCC-type organization and paid back via a tax rebate.

-Clive

However you describe it or define the problem, it is a step in the right direction to lay down a plan right now for future bandwidth requirements.

Game changers like the iPhone, iPad, the newer-fangled smartphones and 'net devices are only the advance wave of the coming bandwidth crunch in the future so things could easily get far worse before they get better... make hay while the Sun shines is what I'd say...
post #14 of 39
Wireless spectrum is a finite resource. Soon enough, we will hit that wall. Then what? Force all broadcasters to abandon OTA transmissions?
post #15 of 39
The future is more likely two-way interactive data services, rather than monolithic one-way broadcast anyhow, so this approach makes some sense.
post #16 of 39
Well OTA Digital TV today is vastly inefficient using MPEG-2, it should have started off on MPEG-4/H.264 for bandwidth savings! It has been added, but who has a tuner that supports it today? Next to nobody:
http://atsc.org/cms/index.php/standa...c-a72-standard

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATSC_(standards)#Codecs

http://hd.engadget.com/2008/09/22/at...ort-for-h-264/

AM/FM radio could also benefit from compression, and I'm unsure if HD Radio accomplishes this goal, since it supplements but does not replace analog radio...


http://hdradio.com/what_is_hd_digital_radio.php

Quote:
Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post

Wireless spectrum is a finite resource. Soon enough, we will hit that wall. Then what? Force all broadcasters to abandon OTA transmissions?
post #17 of 39
maybe the FCC ought to look into iphone network exclusivity with ATT. their network stinks, and they have a lower than needed network budget to support its buildout. its ATT problem. not a nationwide bandwidth problem.

instead of blaming all wireless and coverage. sorry, i think TV ought to keep spectrum, no reason to change anything.
post #18 of 39
FCC needs to stay out of it.

AT&T needs to step up 3G expansion.

That is all.
post #19 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

Well OTA Digital TV today is vastly inefficient using MPEG-2, it should have started off on MPEG-4/H.264 for bandwidth savings! It has been added, but who has a tuner that supports it today? Next to nobody:

The problem with better compression is that it takes more processing power to decompress. The HW will need to support H.264 decoding with an installed base approaching 100% before the stations can make the switch.

Just look at the DTV transition to see what a drawn out kerfuffle it can be. I'm only seeing 10 countries completed since 2009. That is to get rid of standard that was how old? Most channels are still in SD yet I don't know a single person that doesn't have HDTVs or HD cable boxes and DVRs, but I know this is not the norm.

PS: My hotels usually have HDTVs but the signal is still being sent as analog SD. It's a pretty weak setup all around. Annoys the piss out of me.

PPS: THe US went DTV in 2009, but Japan and Canada are scheduled for mid to late 2011. We beat Japan in technology adoption for once. Woot! Brazil did their transition in big cities back in 2007 but won't get the entire country until an estimated 2014.
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post #20 of 39
Quote:
The iPad is expected to only compound the issue. After Apple introduced the device and its 3G-enabled model that could access the AT&T network in the U.S., the FCC posted on its official blog that the iPad signals even more devices will be taxing the available mobile bandwidth.

I think the 3G-less models will far outsell the 3Gs. I read good 3G chips cost about $7 wholesale. Apple is charging an extra $129 for them. An 1800% markup is high even for Apple! It's almost as if they don't want to sell them (yet), or at least until AT&T fixes their network. If anything, AT&T could pay for part of the chips since they will bring them more business.
post #21 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mitchelljd View Post

maybe the FCC ought to look into iphone network exclusivity with ATT.

1) Why is Apple and AT&T's exclusivity deal an issue, but not any of the other exclusivity deals between carriers and vendors?

2) What does the Federal Communications Commission have to do with business contracts?

2) Even if the iPhone was not allowed to be locked to a carrier there would also have to be a law that forces Apple to make version for T-Mobile's 3G, and Verizon and Sprint's CDMA/EV-DO to make it useful. Just breaking the contract doesn't resolve your dislike of AT&T.
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post #22 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post

Sorry to get political, but "owning" spectrum is part of the problem.

For one, it's a natural resource, and thus cannot be owned.

Are you a Georgist? Or a socialist?

Indeed, pretty much all natural resources in western countries are privately owned, with few exceptions.
post #23 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by stonefree View Post

I think the 3G-less models will far outsell the 3Gs. I read good 3G chips cost about $7 wholesale. Apple is charging an extra $129 for them. An 1800% markup is high even for Apple! It's almost as if they don't want to sell them (yet), or at least until AT&T fixes their network. If anything, AT&T could pay for part of the chips since they will bring them more business.

If you go by iSuppli's last iPhone breakdown the cellular HW for the iPad is about $20-$30, before licensing, before R&D, before testing, before manufacturing, etc. It's not that much of a markup.

Remember, this is an alternative, high end option that will sell less volume than just the WiFi version so economics of scale are in effect. If the 3G version sells really well or they over estimated the demand of the 3G version they can then drop the price. They also could be charging a premium to offset a less than average profit on the WiFi version to help increase sales.

This is how companies operate but it's not some absurd number. Look at how much the iPhone costs compared to the iPod Touch. It's more than $130 more. Look at other devices, like netbooks, that offer a 3G option, they charge you more than $130 more. My USB 3G card was $300 without contract. Verizon's new ETF fees, now that is excessive.
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post #24 of 39
fix
post #25 of 39
It is comical how the massive TV spectrum was already misallocated out of the market, allowing it to be locked up forever. Certain parties profit by making spectrum extremely scarce. Then they can corner the market for wireless data in the coming decades. Oops, the government didn't get the memo.

Compared to the available spectrum, iPhones use a tiny, tiny amount of spectrum. This is really pathetic.
post #26 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by airmanchairman View Post

However you describe it or define the problem, it is a step in the right direction to lay down a plan right now for future bandwidth requirements.

Game changers like the iPhone, iPad, the newer-fangled smartphones and 'net devices are only the advance wave of the coming bandwidth crunch in the future so things could easily get far worse before they get better... make hay while the Sun shines is what I'd say...

Ehhhhhh?

No one said nothing would be planned. Instead of the FCC allotting chunks of bandwidth for particular uses, service-providers would be planning ahead to say "this is how much bandwidth I need, and this is the range of spectrum I can use."

As another poster said, spectrum is a limited resource (organically harmless spectrum, that is). Therefore, its distribution and use should be dictated by what services are popular -- i.e. market demand -- as opposed to government dictation. Gov't will always react slower than market demand, leaving smart phone users paying inflated prices for a constrained supply of the service. That helps no one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iGenius View Post

Are you a Georgist? Or a socialist?

Indeed, pretty much all natural resources in western countries are privately owned, with few exceptions.

Well... if you want to throw a label on it, when it comes to natural resources, I would say I'm definitely closer to a Georgist than Socialist (though some of his ideas could be considered Socialist by today's standards). I think instead of labeling things "Georgist" and "Socialist" (or whatever else) we would be well-served to consider issues more holistically.

I think a healthy balance between the "property = theft" folks and the "property/privacy rights" folks can be found in the form of renting unimproved-upon natural resources, and that's where I am.
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post #27 of 39
Sorry for the crude language. But this stinks of ATT Exec taking warm shower with the FCC, swamping spit into the late hours of the night!!! First ATT complains not because of bandwidth. But they really want to scheme to make more money from their new cash cow's iPhone user. Customers lash back... now it's face enemy, saying you may have to pay more money Then ATT says it not us it regulation.... that cause us to raise prices and you just have to pay the premium

Just like when iPhone users did the bring down the ATT network, ATT response we saw no strain
It's like charging commuter extra money to cross the bridge during commute time. Wow penalize for having a job.
post #28 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

The problem with better compression is that it takes more processing power to decompress. The HW will need to support H.264 decoding with an installed base approaching 100% before the stations can make the switch.

Just look at the DTV transition to see what a drawn out kerfuffle it can be. I'm only seeing 10 countries completed since 2009. That is to get rid of standard that was how old? Most channels are still in SD yet I don't know a single person that doesn't have HDTVs or HD cable boxes and DVRs, but I know this is not the norm.

PS: My hotels usually have HDTVs but the signal is still being sent as analog SD. It's a pretty weak setup all around. Annoys the piss out of me.

PPS: THe US went DTV in 2009, but Japan and Canada are scheduled for mid to late 2011. We beat Japan in technology adoption for once. Woot! Brazil did their transition in big cities back in 2007 but won't get the entire country until an estimated 2014.

The US started its digital transition in 1996 and extended its deadline more than once to finish in 2009 but now it is done. Now we have better pictures, more efficient use of spectrum, etc.

The untold consequence of grabbing all the spectrum from TV to auction it off is the destruction of non-cable TV. This would be a travesty. Yes, there are many people happy to spend $100 per month and more for access to cable TV but that doesn't mean this expense should be imposed on everyone. Free, over the air HDTV is the highest resolution video (except maybe 1080p blu-ray on a good day) and with the cost of modest HDTV's continuing to come down a real entertainment and information boon to people who don't choose to spend freely on cable and satellite TV.
post #29 of 39
If ATT would give everyone with ATT DSL a WiFI router with a 3g micro cell built in I think it would take a big load of the cell towers. I don't need a micro cell at home because my reception is fine but maybe enough micro cells could eliminate the need to build new cell towers.

When I am at work it doesn't matter if someone is using my bandwidth at home to make a call since I am not there using my bandwidth. It only matters in the evening so I can disable it or throttle it at that time.

Since I don't need a micro cell ATT could incentivize me by giving me a discount on my DSL bill. A few dollars off the bill or boosting me up to the next speed level for free

I don't think it is a question of bandwidth scarcity but instead cell tower density.

I think Micro cells could increase that density rather cheaply.
post #30 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post

Well... if you want to throw a label on it, when it comes to natural resources, I would say I'm definitely closer to a Georgist than Socialist (though some of his ideas could be considered Socialist by today's standards). I think instead of labeling things "Georgist" and "Socialist" (or whatever else) we would be well-served to consider issues more holistically.

I think a healthy balance between the "property = theft" folks and the "property/privacy rights" folks can be found in the form of renting unimproved-upon natural resources, and that's where I am.

Cool. You sounded like a Georgist when you made your comment. I have some sympathy for the view that the use value of real property should be taxed, and not the improvements. Some of George's ideas are extremely interesting.
post #31 of 39
There is no spectrum scarcity, just inefficient allocation. In rural areas, you need range for economics to work, but you can easily range-limit and gain several orders of magnitude improvements in bandwidth. The enemy here is simply the economics.

When you get in a major city, things flip around a little; you have systems already designed for limited range (generally), but a few services that insist on full coverage from a single location. These are the enemy, and broadcast tv and radio are the main problems.

Enter software-defined radio, which can help optimize and prioritize bandwith and users. The problem is your AM radio gets a lot more complicated.

This is why raw bandwidth should be the utility, not "value added services" that just ride on the pipe.
post #32 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by iGenius View Post

Cool. You sounded like a Georgist when you made your comment. I have some sympathy for the view that the use value of real property should be taxed, and not the improvements. Some of George's ideas are extremely interesting.

Extremely.

It's a pity that the US is in a dead-lock between two dogmatic political constructs, both of which are fraught with inconsistent applications of their own "principles."

...but anyway...

-Clive
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post #33 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

If you go by iSuppli's last iPhone breakdown the cellular HW for the iPad is about $20-$30, before licensing, before R&D, before testing, before manufacturing, etc. It's not that much of a markup.

Actually, the 3G version of the iPad has a GPS chip built into it too, so I reckon that adds another $30-50 to the cost.
post #34 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by bartfat View Post

Actually, the 3G version of the iPad has a GPS chip built into it too, so I reckon that adds another $30-50 to the cost.

I accounted for that, too. According to iSuppli the Infineon GPS chip is only $2.25.
http://www.isuppli.com/News/Pages/iP...n-Reveals.aspx
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post #35 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mitchelljd View Post

maybe the FCC ought to look into iphone network exclusivity with ATT. their network stinks, and they have a lower than needed network budget to support its buildout. its ATT problem. not a nationwide bandwidth problem.

instead of blaming all wireless and coverage. sorry, i think TV ought to keep spectrum, no reason to change anything.

You are so, so ill-informed. A simple Google search will find many reputable sources discussing the bandwidth shortage that looms not far down the road.
post #36 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

Well OTA Digital TV today is vastly inefficient using MPEG-2, it should have started off on MPEG-4/H.264 for bandwidth savings!

It was the best technology AT THE TIME when the spec was written for the CPU required and for the spectrum space required. NTSC used 6 MHz channels and ATSC uses the same 6 MHz channel.
post #37 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post

There is no spectrum scarcity, just inefficient allocation. In rural areas, you need range for economics to work, but you can easily range-limit and gain several orders of magnitude improvements in bandwidth. The enemy here is simply the economics.

When you get in a major city, things flip around a little; you have systems already designed for limited range (generally), but a few services that insist on full coverage from a single location. These are the enemy, and broadcast tv and radio are the main problems.

Enter software-defined radio, which can help optimize and prioritize bandwith and users. The problem is your AM radio gets a lot more complicated.

This is why raw bandwidth should be the utility, not "value added services" that just ride on the pipe.

There is no such thing as inefficient allocation when the economics portion is fine.

You might as well say that carriers should install cell towers every 100 feet apart --- for your RF physics to work.

There is one reason why you can't get true "video on demand" on satellite tv --- they don't have the spectrum space to allow everybody to stream tv programs on their satellite. There is one reason why tv is broadcast the way it is --- one tv signal broadcast to all the homes at the same time. There is no possible way to give you "video on demand" tv programs on over-the-air tv broadcasting.
post #38 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post

Supposedly one can cut a SIM card down to fit a MicroSIM phone, it's just extra plastic all around, the guts are the same between the two. So I read.


(warning: I have not verified or performed this, proceed at your own risk)




I much rather have our failed government find ways of doing things without spending money if possible, they got the power to create good change with laws. The way we are going now, we will be ending up like Greece shortly.

You didn't read the whole article. They want to buy the frequencies back from old media and sell them to communications companies. Ideally this wouldn't cost taxpayers anything.
post #39 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by esummers View Post

You didn't read the whole article. They want to buy the frequencies back from old media and sell them to communications companies. Ideally this wouldn't cost taxpayers anything.

So how much did the broadcasters originally pay for that spectrum?
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