Most of us were taught from an early age that stealing is wrong, and most of us adhere to that premise most of the time. There is a right way and a not-so-right way to go about getting what we want and need.
I started pondering this after hearing a news blurb regarding the impact “extreme couponing” is having on some people. Apparently, the successful TLC program of the same name has erased any stigma previously attached to coupon clipping, and extreme devotees are going so far as to swipe newspapers from their neighbors’ driveways on ad day.
And copper theft is on the rise again, now that prices for that metal have begun to spike. According to The New York Times, thieves are taking catalytic converters from cars; copper wiring out of overhead power lines, tornado warning sirens and coal mines; and copper pipes and wiring from foreclosed homes. Then it’s straight to the junk yard for a quick buck.
So where am I going with all of this? Maybe it’s more about horse trading than stealing. It has to do with spectrum and how broadband operators; first responders; federal, state and local governments and agencies; and others clamoring for more bandwidth will get what they need (if not what they want) when it comes to more frequencies for future services and products. Congress, the FCC and maybe even the NTIA continue their thrashing when it comes to new spectrum and its distribution, and it appears money rather than need will decide who gets what.
Part of the National Broadband Plan entails finding another 500 megahertz for mobile services during the next 10 years, and half of that is due in the next four years. Republicans and Democrats have introduced their own ways of getting these channels, including asking broadcasters to hand over unused frequencies in return for a piece of auction action. Some in our industry have accused AWS winners of hoarding their auction purchases, with no plans for their usage. Others say there is no shortage of spectrum to handle future broadband needs – just inefficiencies.
The "D" block, a result of the DTV transition that was supposed to go automatically to public safety (after more than two decades of waiting), continues to be a hot potato inside the Beltway, and it again is being viewed as a moneymaker (read " auction proceeds ") for U.S. debt reduction. It’s now 10 years after 9/11, and there still is no nationwide, interoperable, public-safety network. Any bright ideas on how to solve this problem? Washington certainly needs them.