Guest Post: How Congress’ spectrum bills hurt the tech community in 2011

Getting Congress to agree on anything is a challenge. When it comes to spectrum bills there is disagreement on both sides with how the situation should be handled. In some instances it seems that the tech community would benefit from freeing up spectrum for the wireless industry. Yet with some of the limitations proposed, it could all end up in utter disaster.

The spectrum bills are trying to define who will have access to wireless broadband. In essence television broadcasters are being asked to give up at least part of their spectrum for mobile broadband. It seems like most favor this idea, but as is usually the case, the devil is in the details.


One thing everyone seems to agree on is providing both the spectrum and the funding for public safety entities. This national broadband network would make it possible for people to handle an emergency. In the case of 9-11 the network already set in place failed. There were issues with communication that ended up delaying some of the much needed help. With a national network, information would flow smoothly and at a much faster pace if a disaster did take place. Who wouldn’t feel a sense of safety knowing that the people that take care of major issues and crisis have an open source of communication ensuring that they are more efficient in their duties?


The spectrum bills asks television broadcasters to give up some of their spectrum. As an incentive, they would receive a portion of the auction price for that specific spectrum. Here’s where things get tricky. In some instances, Congress is attempting to take more control of unlicensed wireless. While Wi-Fi and Bluetooth operate in this portion of unlicensed spectrum there is a threat to other potential opportunities for advancement. Ever heard of the Super Wi-Fi (also called White Spaces broadband)? There is no guarantee that these plans or ideas would be allowed to proceed under certain spectrum bills. This may close the door to future Wi-Fi developments.

Licensed bidders like several of the big internet service providers have the ability to bid on this open spectrum. While this does generate funds and gives these companies a larger range of access, it is the everyday person looking to take advantage of the wireless system that could lose out. He or she would have to gather together a large number of individuals and attempt to make a single bid as a collective group. Even with the latest technology, the chances of outbidding larger corporations seem slim.

The final oddity in some of Congress’ spectrum bills is the geographic location issue. It is being suggested that people should bid on available spectrum in certain locations. A company may have access in one state and no access in another. It prevents a national system for everyone to take advantage of. Instead there would be a set of disconnected lines that can only be accessed from one specific location.

Progress seems to walk a fine line. On the one hand everyone wants to see improvement. The problem is that everyone wants that improvement to look different. Some internet service providers may want to make a bid for the spectrum, giving them unlimited access. Individual users have concerns that their own Wi-Fi will be hindered as there are regulations and rules for different entities in different parts of the country.

The tech industry needs an environment that is open to new discoveries. It is here that new technology is developed and offered up as progress and improvement to everyone. At this point there is no one spectrum bill that truly benefits the tech community as a whole.

Author Bio : Sam Kirby is a freelance content writer who develops articles on various topics. Sam’s main interest lies however in developing articles realted to Internet services and internet service providers.

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