Broadband Speeds the Plow

The FCC just declared a shot clock for tower siting. Municipalities now have a finite amount of time to review applications for locating communications towers. Now that the digital transition is over, and TV stations have slogged through tower negotiations and taken the blame for any and all delays.

I wonder how the broadcasters in Denver feel about the FCC's tower-siting shot clock after having wrestled with the county for years in order to provide digital TV as directed by the fed. Now they're providing digital TV as directed by the fed. Now the fed has changed its mind, to use the term liberally. The new end game is nationwide wireless broadband, and anything in the way will be swept aside.

Anyone who believes that broadband itself is the driving force behind the rapidly shifting regulations is sniffing glue. This is strictly a game of revenue per megahertz. Now that consumer electronics makers have reaped a fortune off selling digital TV sets,it's time to come up with some new gizmo that we can all use to avoid the life happening in our immediate vicinity. And phonecompanies need landline replacement revenues. Voila!

Resultant wireless devices won't interfere with TV signals because there won't be any TV signals. Competition for the sole cable offerings in about 95 percent of the country will be a satellite package of approximately the same exact price. Those of us in multiple dwelling units will continue to have a choice of one provider, despite regulatory delusions to the contrary.

It's true that broadcasters could have gotten off the stick a little sooner and started innovating new services. They could have cozied up to Google the second that company hired a lobbyist. The broadcast industry stayed insular for too long and now no one's got its back. There are a handful war horses on Capitol Hill that will pull its bacon out of the fire a few more times, but the new order is taking over. Exhibit A) FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. His charter is nationwide broadband, and come hell, high water or common sense, he's going to lay the framework for nationwide broadband.

Never mind that there are broad swaths of what used to be broadcast spectrum in the hands of wireless operators that have yet to build them out.

And never mind the millions of WLANs that are already bumping into each other. Why not crowd the frequency even more so the phone company can sell me an amplifier? Then everyone will be happy—the phone company, the consumer electronics industry, and the grateful consumer using cell phone minutes on hold with John in Bangalore trying to get yet another box to work in a home network.

Nationwide broadband is not the answer. Communitywide broadband in underserved areas is.