Gordon And Mike's ICT Podcast
Perspectives on Technology and Education from Gordon F. Snyder, Jr. & Mike Qaissaunee
Intro: On March 18, FCC Auction 73 bidding round 261 ended and, after 38 days and $19.592 billion in bids (almost double the $10 billion the FCC had hoped for), the FCC closed out the auction. In this podcast we review and discuss the auction results.

Mike: Gordon, can you give us an overview of the auction results?

Sure Mike - this comes from the FCC auction website linked up in the shownotes.

Rounds: 261 (started on 1/24 and ended on 3/18)
Bidding Days: 38
Qualified Bidders: 214
Winning Bidders: 101 Bidders won 1090 Licenses

*Auction 73 concluded with 1090 provisionally winning bids covering 1091 licenses and totaling $19,592,420,000, as shown in the Integrated Spectrum Auction System. The provisionally winning bids for the A, B, C, and E Block licenses exceeded the aggregate reserve prices for those blocks. The provisionally winning bid for the D Block license, however, did not meet the applicable reserve price and thus did not become a winning bid. Accordingly, Auction 73 raised a total of $19,120,378,000 in winning bids and $18,957,582,150 in net winning bids (reflecting bidders' claimed bidding credit eligibility), as shown above.

Mike: Before we get into the auction results, can you give us an overview of the different spectrum blocks? I know we've done this before but - how about a quick refresher?

Sure Mike - this comes from a blog I wrote back on January 14.

Back in 2005 Congress passed a law that requires all U.S. TV stations to convert to all digital broadcasts and give up analog spectrum in the 700 MHz frequency band. This law will free up 62 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band and effectively eliminate channels between 52 and 69. This conversion, which has a deadline of February 18, 2009, has freed up spectrum that is being split up by the FCC into five blocks:

  • A-Block - 12 MHz, split up into 176 smaller economic areas
  • B-Block - 12 MHz, split up into 734 cellular market areas
  • C-Block - 22 MHz, up into 12 regional licenses
  • D-Block - 10MHz, combined with approximately 10MHz allocated for public safety, a single national license.
  • E-Block - 6 MHz, split up into 176 smaller economic areas
So in summary, each spectrum block in the 700 MHz auction, except for the national public safely D-Block, has been assigned an area designation by the FCC.
All FCC areas, along with names, county lists, maps and map info data can be found on the Commission's website linked here.

Mike: How about a quick review of the D-Block again?

Sure Mike, this also comes from that January 14 blog:

The D-Block lately has been most interesting to watch. Early on it appeared Frontline Wireless would be one of the biggest bidders for D-Block spectrum - the company was setup for D-Block and had worked closely with the FCC on putting together specifications for the spectrum. Frontline built a formidable team including Vice Chairman Reed Hundt, who served as Chairman of the FCC between 1993 and 1997. The business plan, the organization, the technology seemed to all be in place........ On January 12 the company placed the following statement on their website:

Frontline Wireless is closed for business at this time. We have no further comment.

Another company, Cyren Call also looked like they were planning to bid on the D-Block Auction but did not.

What happen? Rumor has it Frontline could not attract enough funders - it seemed like a good investment - or at least you may think so up front. Many are now asking if the FCC's approach to solving the public safety inter-operability problem is in trouble.

Mike: OK, how about the results?

Here's a summary from the Wall Street Journal:

Verizon and AT&T accounted for 80% of the nearly $20 billion AT&T agreed to pay $6.6 billion for 227 spectrum licenses in markets covering much of the country. Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC, won 109 licenses for $9.4 billion.

Dish Network Corp., which bid for spectrum through Frontier Wireless LLC, did acquire a significant footprint, winning 168 licenses throughout the country for $712 million. Satellite-TV providers are looking for a way into the high-speed Internet business to better compete with cable and phone companies. But Credit Suisse analyst Chris Larsen said in a research note that the particular segment of spectrum Dish acquired would make it difficult for the company to offer interactive wireless broadband service. He said the company could use the spectrum to broadcast data or for on-demand video.

Google had indicated interest in a nationwide package of licenses before the auction, but it bid just high enough to trigger rules that will force winners of one segment of spectrum, known as the C-block, to allow any mobile devices and applications on their networks. Verizon won the lion's share of spectrum in this segment. Google had pushed for the regulation since its efforts to sell some mobile services had been stymied by major carriers, which traditionally have strictly limited the kinds of devices that consumers could use on their networks. Even before the auction had wrapped up, Google scored a victory as Verizon voluntarily agreed to open its network to devices it doesn't sell through its own retail network. Verizon released details of its new policy on Wednesday.

Mike: Were there any licenses that dod not get any bids?

There were 1,099 licenses auctioned and only eight did not receive any bids:

Lubbock, Texas
Wheeling, W.Va.

Bismarck, N.D.
Fargo, N.D.
Grand Forks, N.D.

Lee, Va.

Yancey, N.C.

Clarendon, S.C.

Mike: So, what will happen to these?

These licenses will need to be re-auctioned by the FCC. I'm guessing they were over priced, the FCC will end up dropping the re-auction minimum bid and they will end up going quickly.

Mike: What's going to happen with D-Block?

The Public Safety D-Block did not meet the minimum bid and the FCC will have to decide what to do. It looks like the FCC could go one of two directions for the re-auction - drop the price or change the requirements. From the start, the public safety D-Block auction was seen as one of the biggest auction challenges...... I've expressed my opinion on the D-Block in the past........ the FCC still has some major work ahead before they can close this one out.

This comes from InfoWorld:

On Thursday, the FCC voted to de-link the so-called D block from the rest of the auction results. The D block was a 10MHz block that was to be paired with another 10MHz controlled by public safety agencies, and the winning bidder would have been required to build a nationwide voice and data network to serve both public safety and commercial needs. But the FCC failed to receive its $1.33 billion minimum bid for the D block, with the lone $472 million bid coming from Qualcomm.

The FCC has no plans to immediately reauction the D block, a spokeswoman said. Instead, the agency "will consider its options for how to license this spectrum in the future," the FCC said in a news release.

Mike: So, it looks like the big carriers won?

For the most part, yes. Kevin Martin had an interesting quote in an EFluxMedia piece though:

"A bidder other than a nationwide incumbent won a license in every market," FCC chairman Kevin Martin said hinting that it’s possible for a "wireless third-pipe" competitor to emerge in every market across the U.S. This would increase the competition and the first one to benefit from it will be the consumer.

Things still could get interesting!
Direct download: FCC_Auction_FINAL.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:53am EDT

Intro: The world has changed significantly since the Internet was first created. IPv6 gives over 4.3x1020 unique addresses for every square inch on the planet, and is going to allow us to do things we've only dreamed of in the past. In this podcast we give an overview of IPv6.

Mike: Gordon, before we get into the technology, can you give us an update on IPv6 history in the United States?

Sure Mike, this comes from a 1-minute history of the Internet by Federal Computer week at FCW.COM

Mike: So,
the federal government has ordered its agencies to become IPv6- capable by June of 2008 and this is going to happen in June on our federal government networks - how about businesses?

It's  happening with business too Mike.  Let's take Verizon as an example as quoted in a Light Reading post from last September.

Verizon Business, which began its first phase of deploying IPv6 on the public IP network in 2004, will complete the North America region in 2008 and move into the Asia-Pacific and European regions from late 2008 to 2009. The company will operate both IPv6 and IPv4, in what is known as a "dual stack" arrangement, on its multi protocol label switching (MPLS) network core. The company also has deployed IPv6 throughout its network access points (peering facilities) where Internet service providers exchange traffic.

Mike: So, what's the problem with IPv4?

It's a combination of a lot of things - Microsoft has a nice set of resources on IPv4 and IPv6 - let's use that as a guide:

The current version of IP (known as Version 4 or IPv4) has not been substantially changed since RFC 791 was published in 1981. IPv4 has proven to be robust, easily implemented and interoperable, and has stood the test of scaling an internetwork to a global utility the size of today’s Internet. This is a tribute to its initial design.
However, the initial design did not anticipate the following:

The recent exponential growth of the Internet and the impending exhaustion of the IPv4 address space.

IPv4 addresses have become relatively scarce, forcing some organizations to use a Network Address Translator (NAT) to map multiple private addresses to a single public IP address. While NATs promote reuse of the private address space, they do not support standards-based network layer security or the correct mapping of all higher layer protocols and can create problems when connecting two organizations that use the private address space.

Additionally, the rising prominence of Internet-connected devices and appliances ensures that the public IPv4 address space will eventually be depleted.

The growth of the Internet and the ability of Internet backbone routers to maintain large routing tables.

Because of the way that IPv4 network IDs have been and are currently allocated, there are routinely over 85,000 routes in the routing tables of Internet backbone routers. The current IPv4 Internet routing infrastructure is a combination of both flat and hierarchical routing.

The need for simpler configuration.

Most current IPv4 implementations must be either manually configured or use a stateful address configuration protocol such as Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). With more computers and devices using IP, there is a need for a simpler and more automatic configuration of addresses and other configuration settings that do not rely on the administration of a DHCP infrastructure.

The requirement for security at the IP level.

Private communication over a public medium like the Internet requires encryption services that protect the data being sent from being viewed or modified in transit. Although a standard now exists for providing security for IPv4 packets (known as Internet Protocol security or IPSec), this standard is optional and proprietary solutions are prevalent.

The need for better support for real-time delivery of data—also called quality of service (QoS).

While standards for QoS exist for IPv4, real-time traffic support relies on the IPv4 Type of Service (TOS) field and the identification of the payload, typically using a UDP or TCP port. Unfortunately, the IPv4 TOS field has limited functionality and over time there were various local interpretations. In addition, payload identification using a TCP and UDP port is not possible when the IPv4 packet payload is encrypted.
To address these and other concerns, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has developed a suite of protocols and standards known as IP version 6 (IPv6). This new version, previously called IP-The Next Generation (IPng), incorporates the concepts of many proposed methods for updating the IPv4 protocol. The design of IPv6 is intentionally targeted for minimal impact on upper and lower layer protocols by avoiding the random addition of new features.

Mike: OK - can you list the primary features of IPv6? What makes it different?

Sure Mike - this list also comes from Microsoft's website. The following are the features of the IPv6 protocol:
  1. New header format
  2. Large address space
  3. Efficient and hierarchical addressing and routing infrastructure
  4. Stateless and stateful address configuration
  5. Built-in security
  6. Better support for QoS
  7. New protocol for neighboring node interaction
  8. Extensibility

Mike: Let's go through the list with a brief summary of each. Your first item on the list was the new header format. What's different?

Mike: How about number 2, large address space?

Mike: Number 3 was efficient and hierarchical addressing and routing infrastructure - can you describe?

Mike: How about number 4, stateless and stateful address configuration?

Mike: Number 5 was built-in security

Mike: How about number 6, b
etter support for QoS?

Mike: And number 7, new protocol for neighboring node interaction?

Mike: And finally, number 8,  extensibility.

Mike: Are there any other things you want to add to the list?

Mike: Are we ready?

I always look at the end devices (even though there is so much more) and, if we just look at desktops, you have to look at Microsoft.

Microsoft started with the following implementations of IPv6, all subsequent versions/products continue to support IPv6:
The IPv6 protocol for the Windows Server 2003 and later families.
The IPv6 protocol for Windows XP (Service Pack 1 [SP1] and later).
The IPv6 protocol for Windows CE .NET version 4.1 and later

The capture and parsing of IPv6 traffic is supported by Microsoft Network Monitor, supplied with Microsoft Server 2003 and later products.

Mike: This is a good overview - next week we'll get into some details on the IPv6 protocol!
Direct download: IPv6_Overview_Final.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:00pm EDT

Intro: On Thursday, March 6, 2008, Apple released the iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK) beta along with the App Stores, a place where iPhone users will be able to get applications written for the iPhone. Apple also launched the Enterprise Beta Program.

Gordon: Mike, can you give us a quick rundown on what Apple released on Thursday?

Sure, much of our discussion today is based on an excellent post at macworld.com titled The iPhone Software FAQ. Macworld editors Jason Snell, Jonathan Seff, Dan Moren, Christopher Breen, and Rob Griffiths contributed to this article. They also thank Glenn Fleishman, Craig Hockenberry, and Daniel Jalkut for their feedback and contributions.

Here's how Macworld answered the question:

The SDK is a set of tools that lets independent programmers and software companies design, write, and test software that runs on the iPhone. Right now there's a beta version for developers, but a final version of the iPhone software that supports the installation of new programs written by independent programmers is due in late June.

As a part of the announcement, Apple introduced a new iPhone program, App Store, through which you'll be able to purchase, download, and update iPhone software. That will be available as part of the new iPhone Software 2.0 update in late June. That's when you'll be able to add third-party apps to your iPhone for the first time, at least via official channels.

Gordon: You blogged about you experience with the SDK - can you tell us your first experience?

I downloaded the new iPhone SDK and wrote about my first impressions. I did quite a bit of FORTRAN programming many years ago > 10, but haven't done a whole lot lately. The SDK took a long time to download -2 Gig - over my wireless connection. And about 45 minutes to install. I also downloaded a couple of the sample applications Apple provides ~ 1 Meg each. In about 15 minutes - would have been shorter if I knew what I was doing - I was able to open the sample, compile and run on the simulator Apple provides.
I have no doubt that this is going to have a huge impact on mobile application development. It's really easy and really cool. If you teach programming - I suggest you download the SDK today, install it in your labs, and have your kids developing and running native iPhone apps by Monday afternoon. Get the SDK here. Even better, download Jing have your students record the simulator running their iPhone apps and embed in your department or faculty webpage - great for marketing! Wish I was 20 again!

Gordon: And you actually wrote a little Kalimba (African Thumb Piano) app. Where can we have a look?

You can go to my blog at http://q-ontech.blogspot.com/2008/03/iphone-sdk.html

Gordon: Apple is taking 30% of what is sold from the App Store - will shareware apps be available or will we have to pay for everything?

That's a good question and one that was sort of answered in the macworld.com post. Macworld assumes Apple won’t let you sell a “free? program that requires an unlock code. However, there are some other scenarios we expect to see. First, donationware: People will probably sell “free? programs that request that you make a donation if you want to keep the project going. We don’t think Apple will have any problem with that, since the donation would be voluntary. Second, it’s possible that you’ll see two versions of various iPhone programs: a free “lite? version that’s a good advertisement for a more feature-rich for-pay version.

Macworld also mentions  Iconfactory’s Twitterrific, a Mac program that is free, but contains ads. For an “upgrade? fee, users can shut off the ads. Whether Apple would allow this to be handled within the program or there would need to be two separate versions of an iPhone version of Twitterrific remains to be seen.

Gordon: On Thursday, five companies demo'ed applications - can you give us a brief summary of what was shown?

From Macworld: Five companies showed off what they were able to put together with two weeks of engineering work and very few people involved. There were games from Electronic Arts (Spore) and Sega (Super Money Ball), an AIM client from AOL, medical software from Epocrates, and business software from Salesforce.com. The programs took advantage of the iPhone’s built-in accelerometer, Multi-Touch capabilities, interface elements, and more.

Gordon: I'm going to go back to the Macworld post again and take some questions directly from that FAQ:

1. What kind of stuff does Apple say it won’t allow developers to create?

2. What if someone writes a malicious program?

3. What’s a “bandwidth hog??

4. Can I buy these programs on my Mac, or just on the iPhone?

5. What about software updates?

6. What if you’ve synced your phone on one computer and then restore it on another? Do you lose your apps until you sync to the original?

7. If I buy a program for my iPhone, can I also transfer it to my significant other’s iPhone?

8. Can I download programs off the Web, or any place other than the App Store and iTunes?

9. What about internal, “private? software? What about beta testing?

10. Can I try the iPhone SDK and how could it be used in the classroom?

 Gordon: Apple posted a roadmap video - can you tell us a little bit about that?

On March 6, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone software roadmap, released the iPhone Software Development Kit, and introduced the iPhone Enterprise Beta Program. You can watch the presentation now and see what's ahead at http://www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/iphoneroadmap

Direct download: iPhone_SDK_FINAL.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:54pm EDT