Unwired Portland Gets 6 Proposals

The city of Portland has received at least 6 proposals (pdf) for Unwire Portland. Bidders will be evaluated based on the “public benefit” their work would provide, the technology they plan to use, their proposed fees, business plans and ability to follow through. The network is expected to cost between $15 million and $30 million to build, reports The Oregonian.
A Bureau of Purchasing email shows a total of six submitters. The companies include:
Also interesting is who did NOT submit a proposal (but attended Unwired Portland Meetings). The list of non-bidders apparently includes:
Further details of the proposals are not yet known.

Project Schedule

Issuance of Request for Proposal (RFP) September 16, 2005
Mandatory Pre-Proposal Conference
September 26, 2005, 2:00 to 4:00pm
Last Day to Submit written questions
October 3, 2005, 4:00pm
Response to written questions and issuance of any Addenda
October 12, 2005
Written proposals due
October 31, 2005, 4:00pm
Interviews/Oral Presentations, if deemed necessary
Week of November 28, 2005
Evaluation Committee recommendation
Completed by December 16, 2005
Contract negotiation with Successful Proposer
Completed by January 13, 2006
Contract Award and Notice to Proceed
Completed by February 10, 2006
The RFP was developed by the city of Portland, TriMet, Portland Public Schools and the Unwire Portland Steering Committee, which consists of representatives from the mayor’s office, the offices of Commissioners Sam Adams and Dan Saltzman, city of Portland Bureau of Technology Services, Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Business Associations and the Portland Development Commission.
The footprint for Portland’s Phase I cloud, as outlined in the RFP, covers an area of about 1600 square blocks that are currently well served by broadband providers. The Unwire Portland committee expects that this area will be covered by mid-2006, 6 months after the project start date.
DailyWireless was told that Kevin Yin of the Bureau of Purchases, who is managing the proposals for the department was away from the office and will look at the proposals tomorrow to see if they conform to basic requirements. A full list of the submitters should then be posted in 24 hours at Unwire Portland.
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The End of TV

The drop dead date for analog televisions in the United States is now December 31, 2008, according to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. That’s the new deadline for a total shift to all digital television. A spring 2009 date has apparently been scrapped. Included in the bill is a $990 million subsidy provision that would fund converter boxes for the millions of customers who don’t have enough money to buy a new digital television. USAToday, Mark Shubin and TV Technology have more.

BLIP.TV. Service for users who want to integrate video clips into their blogs. www.blip.tv

Clipshack. Basic, simple user interface. Limit of 50 megabytes of storage. clipshack.com

GOOGLE VIDEO. Accepts clips of unlimited length and makes them searchable. video.google.com

OURMEDIA.ORG. Stores videos in the Internet Archive, which is intended to be a permanent online trove. www.ourmedia.org

PHANFARE. $6.95 monthly fee covers unlimited video posting, but individual videos may not exceed 10 megabytes. www.phanfare.com

VIMEO. Circles of friends and family members can easily keep up with and comment on one another’s clips. www.vimeo.com

YOUTUBE. Site keeps track of most-viewed, most-discussed and best-rated videos; organizes similar clips into “channels,” like sports or humor. www.youtube.com

As USA Today explains it:

The 66 analog television channels — from 2 to 69; there is no channel 37— take up 396 MHz of space on that road.

But, because a digital TV signal doesn’t need a 6 MHz-wide lane, the switch to digital would mean all the TV stations on the dial only need 288 MHz. There would be 108 MHz freed up.

But it’s not just 108 MHz of any space — it’s 108 MHz in the Very High Frequency (VHF) part of the spectrum. In the radio world, that’s prime real estate because (for reasons you’ll need to ask your nearest physics teacher about) you don’t need a lot of power to send a signal a long way.

USA Today is mistaken.

HDTV needs 6 Mhz wide channels…same as it ever was. The reason more spectrum is now available is because digital channels can be adjacent, where analog channels can’t. Previously (empty) analog television channels had to be inserted between different broadcast channels. In addition, broadcasters were given an extra (second) channel to began digital broadcasting. Now they’ll have to give one of them back in 2008.

Receiving DTV off the air if you’ve got rabbit ears will be difficult. The four DTV finalists in the United States were assigned by the FCC to come up with a single (ATSC) standard for DTV (with royalty payments). They rejected an arguably better European system (DVB) that uses multi-path rejecting COFDM — possibly because it had no payola for the gang of four.

Today, UK viewers get 30 Digital television channels…free. How many do you get?

Motorola MP3 PTT Camphone

Sprint Nextel’s Motorola i870 ($224.99 with service), is an update to the popular i860. It’s loaded with all the latest features such as a 1.3-megapixel digital camera with flash and 4x zoom, microSD 32 MB card, MP3 player, Bluetooth, and MOTOtalk push-to-talk capabilities.

Motorola i870 Features

  • Built-in 1.3-megapixel camera with 4x zoom, flash, self-timer, and video clip capture and playback capabilities
  • Integrated MP3 Player with convenient front-plate controls
  • Advanced Push-To-Talk functionality supporting MOTOtalk off-network digital walkie-talkie service
  • GPS-enabled for location-based services
  • WAP 2.0 compliant browser with WiDEN technology for high-speed data transmission
  • Bluetooth wireless technology for hands-free connectivity and OBEX enabled for file transfers
  • TransFlash memory expansion slot for additional storage with optional card

Meanwhile, Helio (formerly Sk-Earthlink), is shipping their first phone for a US launch. The VK Mobile 650c features a QVGA display, a 2 Megapixel camera, MP3 player, stereo speakers, and TransFlash slot. The FCC has recently approved the SK Teletech SKY 8300, which is a slider EV-DO phone that shares most the 650c’s features but adds additional buttons for gaming.


Would first responders rather use a cheap (WiFi/WiMax/Cellular) phone with push-to-talk, GPS, camera and high speed data or a $4,000 Project 25 radio with no camera, GPS or high speed data connections and little or no connection to the outside world?

Will metropolitan wireless be put to good use for first responders? We’ll find out soon enough.

Sprint/Nextel must offer wireless broadband services to at least 30 million Americans in the next six years (see Unstrung’s Sprint Nextel Preps Wireless BB). The merged company now has a near-nationwide footprint of 2.5GHz spectrum.

DVB-H Headend Software

Nokia today announced the world’s first commercial service management solution for DVB-H services, the Nokia Mobile Broadcast Solution 3.0. It supports the broadcasting of different types of digital content such as live TV, radio and video clips over DVB-H networks to mobile devices.

Key features of the MBS 3.0 include the Electronic Service Guide (ESG), with an ability to search available services, setting alerts for upcoming programs and for the viewing selection. Additionally, the MBS 3.0 offers service protecion, flexible content pricing schemes and provides consumers with an easy way to purchase viewing rights.

The MBS 3.0 is based on open standards such as DVB-H. It fully implements the Open Air Interface (OAI) 1.0 implementation guidelines which Nokia published in August 2005. It specifies how mobile TV devices connect with the DVB-H network and the servers of the overall mobile TV service infrastructure. Nokia says their platform can serve several content providers and offers content providers a protected distribution channel to mobile users. Broadcasters get flexibility in defining the geographical distribution coverage and service bundles consisting of free-to-air, subscription based and pay-per-view services as well as setting pricing schemes.

The Nokia Mobile Broadcast Solution 3.0 will be available in the first quarter of 2006. Verizon has indicated they may use the DVB-H system as an alternative delivery vehicle for their successful, cellular-based V-Cast broadcast.

Castle Mobile Media will use the mobilized television standard, DVB-H on their 1.7 GHz band next year. Other backers of DVB-H include Microtune, Nokia, O2, S-Communications, S3, Texas Instruments, TTPCom, and UDcast.

A DVB-H radio receiver in the handset sends 15 Mbit/s of data per 8MHz channel, and adds error correction to compensate for poor reception. U.S. television channels are 6 Mhz wide, producing around 12 Mbit/s of throughput. The robustness of COFDM in mobile environments is said to make it a good match for mobile multi-media devices. DVB is a global television standard, using COFDM instead of the multipath error-prone 8-VSB modulation of the ATSC DTV standard.

Competitor Qualcomm expects to launch its U.S. network, MediaFLO Technology in the 700 Mhz band, with at least one carrier customer (probably Sprint), in October of next year. They demoed the first live, over-the-air demonstration of FLO (Forward Link Only), delivered to a wireless handset just last week. Qualcomm says it requires only two or three broadcast towers per metropolitan area — that’s 30 to 50 times fewer towers than required by traditional cellular systems.

Crown Castle, which owns cellsites from coast to coast, spent a paltry $12 million on the spectrum for its DVB-H offering. Qualcomm spent $70 million on spectrum alone and figures on another $800 million on building out their competitive MediaFLO network. Although Qualcomm bought spectrum nation-wide in an FCC auction, they may still have problems with television broadcasters squatting on the spectrum.

Qualcomm’s MediaFLO can fit 20 channels while DVB-H can fit only nine over a 6 MHz channel, say Qualcomm’s technical white papers. DVB-H proponents dispute those exact numbers, saying that many factors from allotted bandwidth, to frequencies used determine how many video channels can be shoved into a particular swathe of spectrum.

Sprint became the first wireless carrier to offer MobiTV to consumers. The $10-a-month service, now also offered by Cingular, has attracted 500,000 subscribers. Cingular has adopted Real’s solution, Helix OnlineTV, enabling providers to offer personal interactive TV over handsets or PCs. Sprint, as of today, is now offering MobiTV on their EV-DO network which should make it more competitive with Verizon’s V-Cast with offers a similar (but not live) mobile tv service for cell phones. But those solutions eat up cellular bandwidth.

Crown Castle’s nationwide DVB-H service, in the L band (1670 MHz to 1675 MHz) and Qualcomm’s MediaFLO, with 6 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band across the United States, off-load bandwidth heavy media files. They can also multicast to millions, simultaneously.

Related DailyWireless stories include, Verizon Takes DVB-H Crown, Sprint: Go with the FLO?, Big Media Mobilize, Global Mobile Television, DVB-H TV From Pace, WiMax Handsets, Taiwan Goes for DVB-H, Laptop Television, Cuban: Broadcasting Not Dead, Mobile TV Expands, Intel On DVB-H, MobileTV via DVB-H, DirecTV + WiMax?, 700 Mhz Goes Commercial, Google TV?, WiMax Handsets, The 700 MHz Club, Auction #44 in the 700 MHz Low Band, WiMax: On The Road with Adaptix and MultiMedia Interoperability.

Telecom Mergers Approved by FCC

Two multibillion-dollar telecom mergers are expected to clear their final federal hurdle today and be approved, with conditions, by the Federal Communications Commission. SBC Communications, which is buying AT&T, and Verizon, which is buying MCI, agreed to concessions aimed at promoting competition and preventing the companies from unfairly controlling Internet traffic, say people with knowledge of the matter. The SBC-AT&T and Verizon-MCI mergers are expected to close by early next year.

UPDATE: The FCC approved the $16 billion AT&T/SBC merger today along with Verizon’s $8.6 billion purchase of MCI. The FCC required the AT&T/SBC to offer high-speed Internet service without requiring customers to also subscribe to local telephone service for two years. They also agreed for two years to permit customers to surf anywhere they choose on the Internet and use any applications on it.

SBC CEO Edward Whitacre talked about their AT&T Wireless acquisition and how he’s moving to keep abreast of cable competitors in an interview with Business Week:

Given that we’ve entered a new era in telecom where the Internet rules, how would you describe your strategy now?

It’s still about scale and scope. It’s about owning the assets that connect customers. The assets that probably can’t be duplicated except maybe by the cable companies. We have that, Verizon has that, BellSouth (BLS ) has some of that. The cable companies have it. It’s the numbers of customers you can get to. So it’s scale and scope.

How much do you expect to compete against Verizon?

Well, a lot in wireless. They’re going to have essentially the same capabilities that Cingular [SBC’s wireless joint venture with BellSouth] has in a lot of locations. So I would think Verizon is going to be a big competitor. I think the cable companies will be the biggest competitor across the footprint.

How concerned are you about Internet upstarts like Google (GOOG ), MSN, Vonage, and others?

How do you think they’re going to get to customers? Through a broadband pipe. Cable companies have them. We have them. Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain’t going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it. So there’s going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion they’re using. Why should they be allowed to use my pipes?

The Internet can’t be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment and for a Google or Yahoo! (YHOO ) or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!

What’s your approach to regulation? Explain, for example, the difference between you and Verizon in how you are approaching regulatory approval for Telco TV [digital-TV service offered by telecoms].

The cable companies have an agreement with the cities: They pay a percentage of their revenue for a franchise right to broadcast TV. We have a franchise in every city we operate in based on providing telephone service.

Now, all of a sudden, without any additional payment, the cable companies are putting telephone communication down their pipes and we’re putting TV signals. If you want us to get a franchise agreement for TV, then let’s make the cable companies get a franchise for telephony.

If cable can put telephone down their existing franchise I should be able to put TV down my franchise. It’s kind of a “what’s fair is fair” deal. I think it’s just common sense.

What if the regulators don’t agree?

Then there won’t be any competition — there will be a cable-TV monopoly.

Is it just me, or does Ed Whitacre’s hubris sound vaguely reminisent of Michael Armstrong. Remember him?

With AT&T and MCI in their pockets respectively, SBC and Verizon will instantly gain the ability to reach all 50 states. They’ll also be able to court business customers, touting global services that BellSouth can’t easily offer and aggressive prices it may not be able to match profitably.

Based in Atlanta, BellSouth sat out the merger dance of the 1990s. As a result, it still serves the same nine states that it did in 1984 when the AT&T phone monopoly was broken up by court decree. Back then, BellSouth was the largest of the Bells. Today it is among the smallest, with about $28 billion in revenue in 2004.

BellSouth SBC Verizon
Annual revenue $28 billion $110 billion $90 billion
Reach 9 states in the Southeast 50 U.S. states, more than 150 countries on six continents 50 U.S. states; 150 countries on six continents
2004 profit margin 22.4% 14.4% 18.4%
2004 return on equity 15.7% 10.7% 20.8%
1 — in 2004; 2 — post-merger with AT&T 3 — post-merger with MCI
Sources: The companies

Pyramid Research says telcos may be counting on IPTV to revitalize their businesses, but the competition they will face in the pay TV market will be expensive, relentless and possibly damaging. Telco’s Could be Left Behind in an IPTV Armageddon.

Related Dailywireless stories include; Interview with FCC Chairman, Talkin’ Moxi, Satellite/WiMax Triple Play?, IP-TV Networking, Bricklin Installs FiOS, The Verizon/Yahoo DSL Deal: $14.95, SBC Picks IP-TV Settops, The Free Triple Play, VDSL-2 Ratified, IPTV: Is It Soup Yet?, IP-TV Settops, Legislators: Don’t Mess With SBC, DirecTV + WiMax?, Duopoly Laws, Mobile TV Expands, Video Search, Big Media Mobilizes, FCC To Lock Out DSL Competitors, U.S. Telcos Test WiMax, Qwest Testing WiMax, Satellite WiMax, Buckle Up, Qwest, Do WiMax. Like Speakeasy, Telco TV Architecture, DirecTV8 Launches, Voom Sold, Consumer Phased Array Sat Antennas, BellSouth Adds Satellite TV, CBS+Echostar Together Again, Sprint Bundles EchoStar, WiMax + Satellite?, Sprint + Qwest + Satellite, Qwest + Echostar + DirecTV, Google TV, The Free Triple Play, SF Tries Free, Ad-driven WiFi, NY Times Blinkx, CBS/Comcast Broadband, Global Mobile Television, Ad Supported Wireless Net, Cellular Ads, Free Mesh Clouds, Localizing Content, Microsoft CoLocates, Location Services Hit the Street, Intel: Cloud Apps R Us, Rebuilding Media, Revolution in Mobile Services, Ad Supported FreeFi, Wireless Advertising on Buses, Dayton’s Ad-Supported Cloud, Neighbornode, Streetcar Ads, Adware, FreeFi, AMD’s FreeSpots, DotSpot Ad Server, Bridging the Divide and WiMax Handsets.

First WiBro Handset?

Samsung m8000Engadget says Samsung’s PocketPC phone, the i730 is getting an upgraded name (the m8000) and WiBro (Korea’s version of the WiMax standard).

We’re assuming that means they’re releasing it domestically, as to the best of our knowledge the i730 was a US-only release to date; but this marks the first cellphone we know if that has integrated long-range non-cellular wireless data.

The first of many, many more to come, that is. The m8000 also looks like it rocks a second camera for video conferencing.

DailyWireless has more on WiMax handsets