Friday, March 21, 2008

700 MHz Spectrum... Disruption Ahead

The 700 MHz spectrum winners could hold the key to many forms of wireless disruption.

Verizon Wireless and AT&T took the biggest prize in a federal auction of wireless spectrum that holds the promise of creating a nationwide, high-speed data network, the Federal Communications Commission said Thursday.

Google did what many thought it'd do, bid up to the reserve amount for the prized C block spectrum to ensure its open access rules would be enacted and then bow out to the eventual winner Verizon Wireless.

Google got the open access it eagerly craves.

The win lets Verizon operate any wireless service it wants across the entire US on a slice of frequency that will be dropped by analog broadcast TV in 2009.

The coveted C block, a large swath of 700 megahertz spectrum that will be vacated next year when broadcast television providers go digital.The spectrum is favored because of its wide reach and ability to pass through walls.

Telecom experts point out that this band of spectrum, formerly used by UHF television signals, is particularly well suited to long-range broadband data transmissions, using emerging standards such as WiMax or "fourth-generation" cellular technologies.

"As a result of the auction, consumers whose devices use the C-block of spectrum soon will be able to use any wireless device they wish, and download to their devices any applications and content they wish," wrote Google attorneys Richard Whitt and Joseph Faber on Google's blog.

FCC Chairman said "As a result of the 700 MHz Auction, there is the potential for an additional wireless ‘third-pipe” in every market across the nation".

The spectrum is considered ideal for cellular applications because wireless signals sent over the band can travel long distances, requiring operators to deploy less network equipment than in higher spectrum bands.

Observers said the new spectrum will help create a truly untethered environment for wireless users, giving them the chance to access the Internet anywhere from a variety of devices. Currently, Wi-Fi is generally short-ranged and is not mobile, while today's cellular data services offer mobility and great range but lower performance.

What solution will be required to accommodate all of these devices, another disruptive technology.

Why this could be big for Nokia.

The new spectrum, which might boast speeds well above current DSL, users will be able to get a wide pipe to access music, videos, social networking sites and other bandwidth-intensive content. It could also open up a range of new applications like medical monitoring. Users will also be to connect consumer electronics devices to the Internet.

The list of 700 MHz winners.

There are some little companies worth keeping an eye on.

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