Monday, August 15, 2016

Use It or Lose It : Google makes a play for part of the 3.3 GHz amateur band

I've presented several times at Pacificon on the topic of spectrum auctions and the threat to amateur radio's allocations.  In my talk Ham Radio Must Die (So It Can Live) at Pacificon 2010, I specifically talked about the threat to the 3300 - 3500 MHz band.  The threat increased exponentially when the FCC converted the 3500 MHz band to the Citizen's Broadband Radio Service for use in heterogenous networks and densified mobile data systems, and now Google is asking the FCC for permission to test a wireless last-yard technology for delivering Google Fiber service in the upper half of the 3300 MHz band.

In my Pacificon talk I pointed out that the 3300 MHz band is almost never used, and the possible auction valuation to commercial users is very high.  If we presume a $2 per MHz-POP auction price (which is about what the AWS-3 commercial carrier spectrum went for) and a US population of 320 million, the value of the 3300 MHz band is $128 billion.  The AWS-3 auction, record-setting though it was, only raised $47 billion.  For a government $19 trillion in debt, $128 billion isn't much but it's a start.  Google could afford to buy that spectrum, and with the unprecedented access it enjoys due to the revolving door between itself and the White House, it has the political clout to make this happen.

There are just over 800,000 licensed amateur operators in the USA.  $128 billion puts the value of our 3300 MHz band at $160,000 PER OPERATOR.  For something we never use.  I'd be willing to say (and I'm being very charitable in this estimation) that 0.1% of all US operators make use of the 3300 MHz band.  That's $160 MILLION PER ACTIVE OPERATOR.

I'm not saying what Google's doing is right.  If you think it's wrong, file comments with the FCC.  I'm saying what they're doing is not surprising, and that I predicted this would happen six years ago.


KD6W said...

So, I can think of at least one if not two projects I feel motivated to throw together but each of them presumes someone else wants to come play in the same sand box. Makes me wonder, since DXJ made a multi band rig, I wonder why others haven't followed and more to the point, the 50 MHz and Up aren't. When was the last time you worked 6m? We are barely scratching the surface with our skills and what we have done is a great start but time to fire up the soldering irons. It is always time to do more. Spectrum defense starts at home and not just simply writing a check to the ARRL, though every little bit helps, I'm sure. 73 de KD6W

David Witkowski said...

We try to work a 6 meter simplex net after the weekly 2 meter SSB net. Problem for me is that I've got a faulty CATV amplifier in my neighborhood that puts an S7 noise floor on that band.

Brian Yee said...

It has always puzzled me that though we live in the heart of Silicon Valley, there is less building and experimenting on microwaves than in other parts of the country.