Last night, winners of the "beachfront property" FCC 700MHz auction were finally permitted to reveal their plans for using the spectrum obtained. AT&T and Verizon won most of the licenses, spending a combined $16 billion. As anticipated, the wireless giants aim to build faster wireless broadband networks capable of delivering high-speed data, voice, video and other services. But those 4G networks won’t be available for at least three years!
And now for the hype: "This is all about fourth-generation growth," said Verizon spokesman Jim Gerace, referring to the next phase of cellphone technology based on faster networks and more sophisticated devices.
Some of the spectrum Verizon acquired is required to be open to all applications and devices. An open platform will draw application developers to Verizon’s service, which will make it more popular with customers, Mr. Gerace said. Verizon Wireless, jointly owned by Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC, shelled out $9.4 billion on licenses.
Rival AT&T, meanwhile, said that its newly acquired spectrum will allow it to beef up the quality of its current services as well as transition to faster, more advanced wireless broadband services.
Opinion: We are very disappointed with the auction results: No new nationwide wireless network, no new network providers, public safety left out in the cold, and uncertainty on what Dish Network Inc will do with the spectrum they won. Let’s focus on the failure of the D block auction, with public safety the big loser.
When I was interviewed for a MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour article on the 700MHz auction, I tried to emphasize that the failure of the D Block auction (to attract a minimum bid) was a disaster for public safety. Unfortunately, the writer did not include that info in the article. Here’s the quote and url:
"No one knows what the other players are going to do, because this spectrum doesn’t dictate what wireless technology you use," said Alan J. Weissberger, a Silicon Valley telecommunications consultant with DCT Advisors.
To recap: Public safety organizations were a big loser in the FCC auction, as the minimum bid for the D block was not achieved. That combined with the failure of Muni Wireless networks to gain market traction nixes any upgrade plans for public safety wireless nets. Many failed muni WiFi networks, like Wireless Silicon Valley, were intended to provide interoperability amongst public safety organizations (police, fire, municipal govts, etc) which currently run their own private networks, often on different frequencies.viodi.com/2008/03/23/hope-fading-for-muni-wireless-networks-is-wimax-the-answer/
So the failure of the D block auction looms large for public safety organizations. Without public private partnerships for the D block or muni wireless networks serving them, public safety is left with many non- compatible, non- interconnected wireless networks.