The Washington Post

The Circuit: Verizon’s spectrum sale, future of TV, spectrum crunch

Verizon announces spectrum sale: Verizon Wireless on Wednesday offered to sell some unused airwaves in exchange for federal approval of its purchase of other airwaves from cable companies, The Washington Post reports.

The airwaves Verizon said it would sell, in the A and B portion of the 700MHz band, are not being used for its deployment of LTE 4G services. The A and B block licenses cover dozens of major cities and “a number of smaller and rural markets.”

Public interest groups were swift to denounce the proposal, saying that it is an attempt to lure government official into approving the cable deal.

“There is less than meets the eye to Verizon’s spectrum sale.  At the end of the day, Verizon and the cable companies will still have created a cartel in which Verizon will rule the air for wireless broadband and cable will offer the only widespread true high-speed landline Internet services,” said Public Knowledge’s Harold Feld. 

Hearing on the future of television: Sen. Jay Rockefeller announced Wednesday that he would like to hold a hearing on the future of television as more Americans consume content online. The hearing, set for April 24, will look at the way that these changes will affect consumers, particularly in rural areas.

“Everything about television is changing,” said Rockefeller in a statement.  “People are watching all sorts of programs on an assortment of platforms, at different times of the day or night and without the traditional boundaries of television channels.”

Spectrum crunch: As carriers continue to make noise about an oncoming spectrum crunch, a New York Times report questions that one even exists at all. Martin Cooper, credited with the invention of the cellphone, told the paper that the claims of a crises are exaggerated.

“Somehow in the last 100 years, every time there is a problem of getting more spectrum, there is a technology that comes along that solves that problem,” he told the newspaper.

Another tech pioneer, David P. Reed, said that claiming that the nation could run out of spectrum is like saying it could run out of a color, the report said. Reed said that carriers and other companies should work together to share spectrum and use new technology to help eliminate interference.

Markey calls for Google hearing: Rep. Ed Markey has called for a hearing into Google’s collection of data from unprotected WiFi networks, the Hill reported, saying that there are still unanswered questions.

“Google’s Street View cars drove right over consumers’ personal privacy while cruising city streets and neighborhoods,” Markey said in a statement to the Post this week. “Consumers saw their Wi-Fi morph into ‘Spy-Fi.’ ”

The Federal Communications Commission fined Google $25,000 for impeding its investigation.

CISPA: The discussion over the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) continues, with Intel and the Information Technology Industry Council throwing their support behind the bill.

The Hill reported that Rep. Mike Rogers (D-Mich.), who is a bill co-sponsor, has also met with Google and has found them “supportive” of the bill and efforts to resolve the concerns of privacy advocates who say the measure’s language is too vague.

Lawmakers have removed a reference to intellectual property from the bill, which is designed to make it easy for government officials and private companies to share information about cyber threats. But groups such as the Electronic Freedom Foundation and the Constitution Project still say that the measure has troubling implications for civil liberties.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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