First Responders Get Bills for D-Block

Lawmakers of both parties have announced separate legislation to create a nationwide public safety broadband network, reports the Washington Post.

On Tuesday, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) introduced a discussion draft of the Jumpstarting Opportunity with Broadband Spectrum bill (JOBS), which would allocate the D block of spectrum to public safety users — not auctioning off the “D-Block” spectrum for shared public/private use.

Meanwhile, Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) introduced a separate bill, the Wireless Innovation and Public Safety Act, that would also create a nationwide public safety broadband network (text).

One main difference between the bills lies in the treatment of unlicensed spectrum. The Eshoo/Waxman bill allows for the FCC to conduct incentive auctions, giving television broadcasters an incentive to sell their spectrum and cohabitate with competitors on a “dot” channel. Walden’s bill requires that any auctioned spectrum be used for licensed purposes only.

The Senate version of a bill proposing this kind of network, S. 911, cleared the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee but has not come up for a vote in the Senate. On Tuesday, the office of committee chairman Sen. John “Jay” Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said that it is still trying to get provisions from that bill wrapped into a larger deficit or other omnibus package.

Sean Kirkendall of the Public Safety Alliance, which has championed the creation of the network, said Tuesday that the group has endorsed the Wireless Innovation and Public Safety Act. He added that he will also work with Walden as his draft progresses.

The size of the pot of gold at the end of the incentive auction rainbow is still anybody’s guess, says the Comm Law Blog.

Some skeptics believe a dedicated public service network is likely cost taxpayers twice as much as the $10 billion currently projected and deliver half the capability. Harris, Motorola, Raytheon, and others may have been willing to grease the wheels because the markup can be phenomenal, as much as $6,000 for a hardened smartphone.

Both bills reject the idea that commercial cellular operators could build out a shared, nationwide LTE network – on their own dime – and provide broadband for everyone.

Meanwhile officials are investigating why the nationwide emergency alert system failed during its test on November 9. FEMA is all over it.

Related stories on DailyWireless include; D-Block: Back to Congress, AT&T and Verizon: No 700 MHz Interoperability For You!, D-Block Legislation Stalled, Seybold: Furgetabout Video on LTE Public Safety Band, Broadband Disability Act, Public Service Radio Convention, Public Safety Net Removed from Debt Ceiling Bill, The D-Block Gamble, D-Block Gets a Hearing, National Wireless Initiative, White House: D-Block to Police/Fire, State of the Spectrum, FCC Green Lights Lightsquared, Oregon’s $600M Public Safety Network Likely Killed, Bay Area 700 MHz Net in Altercation , SF Announces LTE First Responder Net, New York Cancels Statewide Wireless Network, M/A-COM to NY: We’re Good, The D-Block Gamble, National Wireless Initiative, White House: D-Block to Police/Fire, White Space War, White Space To Go, White Spaces Get IEEE Standard, Broadcasters: Portable Devices Kill DTV, Mud Fight in White Space, LTE Vrs WiMAX: It’s a Wrap!, The 700 Mhz Club

Spy Software on Android Phones?

Wired reports that the Android developer who raised the ire of a mobile-phone monitoring company last week is on the attack again, producing a video of how the Carrier IQ software secretly installed on millions of mobile phones reports most everything a user does on a phone.

Carrier IQ was installed by carriers such as AT&T, Verizon and Sprint and manufacturers like HTC without informing consumers of its presence or the manner in which it tracks their usage. The software is installed on most modern Android, BlackBerry and Nokia phones.

Carrier IQ was virtually unknown until 25-year-old Trevor Eckhart of Connecticut analyzed its workings, revealing that the software secretly chronicles a user’s phone experience — ostensibly so carriers and phone manufacturers can do quality control.

CarrierIQ said information Eckhart published was incomplete or incorrect, after withdrawing its cease and desist letter to Eckhart.

His video shows several activities that CarrierIQ captures:

  • Logging of keystrokes. Nearly every button — hardware or software — is noted when pressed. I noticed the keystrokes for input were based on ASCII standard codes, which are fairly universal. That means the keylogging feature can easily work across nearly all devices.
  • Text of incoming SMS messages. Don’t expect privacy of what you’re sending or receiving on a phone with CarrierIQ installed.
  • Web browsing information through what are supposed to be encrypted transactions. Eckhart did a simple Google search with the browser in a private mode using the secure HTTPS protocol. Yet, his exact search term in the browser was captured, even when using the phone on his home Wi-Fi network.

In other news, Hewlett Packard fired back (pdf) after MSNBC covered recent research on a “devastating” printer driven attack, conducted by Columbia University. HP says its printers won’t catch fire even if maliciously attacked by hackers– not its current lineup at least.

D-Day for Clearwire

WiMax network operator Clearwire may not be long for this world if they don’t make the the right decision about a looming debt payment, opines TechCrunch.

According to Bloomberg , the company owes $237 million in the form of an interest payment due on Thursday, and the wrong choice could spell the end of the beleaguered network operator.

Clearwire has considered skipping the debt payment, but the company will probably pay the money because it doesn’t want to alienate investors it may need to tap for additional capital, said David Novosel, an analyst at Gimme Credit LLC.

Sprint Nextel, the largest shareholder in Clearwire and its largest wholesale customer, hasn’t committed to extending their existing agreement beyond 2012.

Sprint would have the most to lose in a Clearwire bankruptcy, according to Ping Zhao, an analyst at CreditSights in New York.

Sprint could lose access to that spectrum in a restructuring, when creditors gain influence.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Clearwire: Dead or Alive?, Sprint’s Network Vision Detailed, Clearwire Chooses LTE Advanced, China Mobile + Clearwire + Apple?, Will Sprint Go TD-LTE?, WiMAX to TD-LTE: Everybody’s Doin’ It, Speculation on Sprint Infrastructure, China Mobile Talks Up TD-LTE iPhone, World’s First TD-LTE Service Launched by Mobily

Intel: ARM No Threat, Windows 8 is Huge

Intel CEO Paul Otellini said Windows 8 is “one of the best things that’s ever happened to our company,” reports C/Net

Speaking at a Credit Suisse technology conference, Otellini said it was a myth that the PC is toast, that ARM will hurt Intel, and that the chip giant can’t do mobile well.

  • Myth No. 1: Limited growth in the post-PC era.
    Intel is seeing significant growth in emerging markets like Argentina, where the market for PCs grew 38 percent in 2011; Venezuela, where it grew 34 percent; and Russia, which grew 26 percent. “This emerging market trend is real,” Otellini said. And it’s not likely to end anytime soon. In 2015, Intel forecasts suggest, the top five will be China, the U.S., Brazil, Russia and Germany.
  • Myth No. 2: Intel chips are too power-hungry for mobile devices.
    Intel says the upcoming Medfield Atom processor, due in 2012, is competitive. It isn’t the best, but it’s not the worst, either. According to Intel, it usually comes in second or third place when compared against smartphones already in the market.
  • Myth No. 3: Intel can’t compete with ARM.
    Intel and its x86 instruction set still command the largest army of software developers — north of 14 million — and the largest body of software created so far — more than 6 million applications. Windows 8 will allow tablets to gain mainstream acceptance, especially in the enterprise. ARM won’t run legacy apps.

Windows 8 apps will use HTML5, using standard JavaScript and HTML to deliver new kinds of experiences. New Windows 8 apps are expected to be full-screen and touch-optimized, and integrated with the new touch-screen Windows user interface.

Verizon and Cricket Swap Spectrum

Verizon Wireless and Leap Wireless, parent of Cricket, have applied for a significant exchange of spectrum between the two companies, reports Mobile Burn. Leap will give Verizon a spectrum license that covers about 18.7 million residents, and Verizon will give Leap some Chicago area licenses that cover about 11 million residents (FCC pdf).

In the exchange, Leap would get a 12 MHz 700 MHz A Block license covering Chicago that Verizon paid $152 million for during the FCC’s 700 MHz auction in 2008.

Leap currently owns 10 MHz of spectrum in Chicago, and will use the additional spectrum to launch LTE service in the Windy City. Verizon currently offers LTE service in Chicago using its 700 MHz C Block spectrum.

Verizon, meanwhile, will acquire from Leap 23 PCS licenses and 13 AWS-1 licenses covering locations across the country, as well as a handful of other licenses. Verizon said it will use the spectrum to bolster its CDMA EV-DO and LTE networks.

Cricket spent $710 million in the AWS auction, back in 2006. Their largest purchase was the E block for the Central region, which they managed to snag for $122 million.

The rest of their purchases were mostly in the A and C blocks. Major cities covered include Milwaukee, Memphis, San Diego, Philadelphia, Washington, St. Louis, Baltimore, Minneapolis, and Seattle.

Leap already owns about 10MHz of the 700MHz spectrum block in the Chicago area, and the 12MHz that it would gain from Verizon would be enough to allow it to deploy LTE services on the 700MHz bands. Verizon’s own LTE coverage in Chicago uses a different area of the 700MHz block, so it would not be affected by the exchange with Leap.

Verizon currently does not use the AWS frequencies in bought in 2006. It plans to supplement its 700MHz LTE coverage with their AWS spectrum, much in the same way that AT&T plans to use their AWS spectrum it may (or may not) acquire through its planned purchase of T-Mobile.

Verizon almost certainly is in talks with cable’s SpectrumCo, which owns AWS frequencies across the country. Taking that spectrum away from AT&T would be a big win, both strategically and operationally.

Unfortunately, neither AT&T nor Verizon have (yet) installed any AWS basestations or offer any AWS service. Both the telcos also compete with cable operators by delivering video to the home over twisted pair or fiber optics.

MetroPCS is currently using LTE in narrow channels on their AWS band.

Neither Metro PCS nor Leap Wireless have nearly as much AWS spectrum as AT&T and Verizon. But neither AT&T nor Verizon has seen fit to use their AWS spectrum (yet).

Instead, the two dominant carriers in the United States apparently prefer to let artificial scarcity drive prices up.

Dish Networks and its financial backers could be the key player here. Tech companies may have enough juice to create a strong 4th network in the 2 GHz band.

Related Dailywireless article include, AT&T: Selling Assets for Merger Approval?, AT&T Looking To Sell Spectrum?, Merger Salvage Plan by AT&T, DOJ Blocking AT&T/T-Mobile Merger, AT&T Merger: More Heat, Dish Network’s 700 MHz Spectrum, Spectrum Drama: Made for TV,

FCC Releases Critical Report on AT&T Merger

The FCC staff study of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger proposal found substantial questions of fact and misstatements by AT&T regarding the effect the merger would have on competition in the wireless market (pdf report). The Verge summarizes the report’s skeptical findings.

The FCC released the 109-page staff report (pdf), in a highly unusual move. The report details the effects of the merger on competition, the public interest, and wireless broadband deployment. The report concludes the deal would cause huge job losses and eliminate a key wireless competitor.

AT&T’s Jim Cicconi, senior VP of external and legislative affairs calls the release of FCC staff’s draft report “troubling” & “improper.”

“This report is not an order of the FCC and has never been voted on,” wrote Jim Cicconi in a blog post. “It is simply a staff draft that raises questions of fact that were to be addressed in an administrative hearing

Last week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski asked the other commissioners to vote with him to designate the case to an administrative hearing in the agency’s effort to try to block the deal. The FCC referred it to an administrative law judge because the FCC’s had doubts about the veracity of some of AT&T’s assertions.

On Thanksgiving, before the commissioners had cast their vote on the hearing, AT&T and T-Mobile requested to withdraw their application.

Today, the Federal Communications Commission told the press that it has accepted the request of AT&T and Deutsche Telekom to withdraw their transfer of T-Mobile’s spectrum licenses to AT&T (pdf).

According to EWeek, AT&T may refile the application.

Meanwhile, AT&T and T-Mobile USA are apparently mulling whether to create a network-sharing joint venture in the event the merger falls apart, according to the Wall Street Journal.

If the T-Mobile merger IS toast and T-Mobile pulls out, then AT&T needs cable’s near nation-wide AWS spectrum, purchased but unused by their holding company, SpectrumCo.

AT&T’s existing (but unused) AWS spectrum, bought under their Cingular brand in 2006, could be combined with cable’s (SpectrumCo) AWS frequencies. Those frequencies, combined with “700 MHz carrier aggregation” could be AT&T’s plan “B” if the T-Mobile merge doesn’t go though.

AT&T might get competition from T-Mobile. T-Mobile has a nationwide AWS network. AT&T doesn’t. T-Mobile could utilize cable’s spectrum in a heartbeat. AT&T, a cable competitor, would have to build a nationwide AWS network from scratch.

Alternatively, T-Mobile and Dish Networks together could provide over 60 MHz of 2 GHz LTE spectrum (without GPS issues), nationwide. It would enable 700 MHz streaming media or a “carrier aggregated” LTE service using T-Mobile’s AWS or Dish’s 2 GHz spectrum. Wholesale partners could include Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft or Facebook.

Randall Stephenson, chairman of AT&T, created a merger plan that was long on hubris and short on value. Justice said what an army of sycophants could not.

Some analysts say there is now a 10 percent chance that AT&T will be able to consummate its merger. As Information Week says, What A Waste.