Nice Wireless Spectrum You've Got, There. Shame if Anything Should Happen to It.


Your daily dose of worrisome congressional meddling comes from John Dvorak, who learns that public wi-fi is going to be smothered in its crib by a new law.

The only possible positive here is that the ban on Wi-Fi will not begin until January 2012, but in the meantime most of the available public spectrum—including the unlicensed 2.3-GHz to 2.9-GHz spectrum—is scheduled to be auctioned off long before 2012. Anyone caught using unlicensed devices will be subject to "a fine not to exceed $100,000 and indeterminate jail time not to exceed five years."

The so-called Telecommunications Restructuring Act of 2008 was passed almost unanimously as a joint resolution based on SB 40108 and HR 17996-1. Essentially the free unlicensed spectrum is going to be auctioned off starting with the 2.3-GHz to 2.9-GHz frequencies, followed by the spectrum around 5 GHz and elsewhere.

The only people who voted against it: Ted Kennedy and Ron Paul. Dvorak's conversation with a supporter was mighty depressing.

Hastert actually said that the days of an unlicensed telecom "free-for-all" were over if for no other reason than that the spectrum was too valuable. When the Wi-Fi commentary began, he actually had the gall to say that the public was better served by the wireless phone companies and—get this—"V-DO." He was corrected by the Pricewaterhouse analyst, who told him it was EV-DO, and you got the sense that Hastert thought it had something to do with video, hence his calling it V-DO. Cripes.

By all means, let's hand the spectrum over to these people.

Update: The joke's on me. Happy April Fool's Day, one day late.