Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Spectrum Analysis

Here’s one that may have slipped under your radar.

So, the most significant radio story came down the pike at the end of the week and only a few in the radio industry took notice?

Last Friday, Google told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of its intent to bid for the 700MHz spectrum, if certain proposed auction rules are adopted.

If they agree to the rules, Google will participate on the bidding at the FCC’s $4.6 billion reserve price. By law, the auction has to take place by January 28, 2008.

The government needs the money raised from the auction after nearly eight years of reckless spending and a national debt that’s been increasing an average of $1.33 billion per day for the past ten months.

So what’s the frequency, Kenneth?

New use of this spectrum will make high-speed wireless Broadband available almost anywhere and provide low-cost service to even the most rural of regions.

It will force cell providers to drop price. Supply and demand will be on the consumer’s side.

That’s why it’s being called the most important and valuable wireless spectrum available in the U.S.

This isn’t just beachfront property. This is the whole beach.

I take it back. It’s the whole ocean.

The spectrum is currently used by UHF channels 52 through 69. Those stations have to vacate it by February, 2009 – the month when all TV stations must go digital or die.

Eventually Internet radio and TV will be on a level playing field with terrestrial, which will create a market for free-standing Internet radio and television units.

You won’t have to be tethered to a computer or cell to listen or watch.

Internet radio (and TV) will be available in cars with audio comparable to satellite radio.

Over time it could render current copyright laws outdated since everything from music to movies will become borderless.

That’s not music to the RIAA’s pointy little ears.

Old media and the music and film industry will have to adapt to the new technology – not the other way around. They’ve resisted change and always proved wrong. Recorded music on the radio? 45 RPMs? Cassettes? Video players? CDs? DVDs? Tivo?

Terrestrial radio has never considered Internet radio a direct threat. That’ll change.

It’s like that village blacksmith at the turn of the last century boasting that the newly-invented automobile will never put the horse out of business as the primary means of transportation. A few years later that same blacksmith is trying to defend his business by shooting at tires on passing cars.

In Europe and Asia - far ahead of us in streaming audio and video - free-standing Internet radios are already being sold at retail.

Hotels are a burning hot market for Internet radio. Many European and Asian hotels, most notably those catering to the international business traveler, have converted from their old terrestrial models to free-standing Internet radios. Just last week the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong made the switch.

In-room Internet radio allows hotel guests to listen to news, information, and music from anywhere in the world to their own hometown.

Consider the prospective market for foreign and exchange students.

Then there’s the Eurotrash market and the spoiled broods of Saudi and Kuwaiti princes who dispose of more income in one day than most of us will in a lifetime. They’ll buy dozens of them to hear Internet stations that’ll play all that has-been trashy disco/rap they can’t get enough of.

Though Internet radio is worldwide, stations catering to smaller regions and even individual neighborhoods and ethnic environs will emerge in the U.S. since small market terrestrial radio is now a rarity.

Except for countries like China and Iraq, where they’ll cut your ears off and shove ‘em down your throat if they catch you listening to unapproved programming, it’s a borderless, worldwide market.

Among the global manufacturers of free-standing Internet radios are HipShing (which has deals with Thompson, Sanyo, Phillips, Hitachi, and others), Acoustic Energy, and Roku, which just did the deal with Peninsula.

There’s no U.S. market for free-standing units. Not yet.

Let’s open to the Book of Jobs.

There was good reason why Steve decided against adding a terrestrial AM-FM radio tuner on the iPhone. He’s a futurist and knows that when Internet access is no longer moored to a Wi-Fi hot spot or a specific carrier, his unit will provide a direct connection to thousands of Internet radio and TV stations.

September 29, 2009. Time flies.

A couple of geniuses chided me on what they believed was the Google story of the week – the stock drop.

So they missed Wall Street earning expectations. Big deal. It happened in part because of their aggressive recruiting and hiring of the best and brightest while simultaneously releasing a substantial measure of new offerings. What a problem to have.

It beats owning Clear Channel stock.

Their executive staff can’t even remember what the color black looks like.

They bought a new accounting program. It’s called Addition by Subtraction.

And what about Google and Apple?

I’ll bet they’ll start their own political parties by 2008 and their own countries by 2012.


John said...

I'd heard rumors of this on some tech podcasts lately and it certainly is exciting. Being in the A/V biz, we've been awaiting the HD move and abandonment of analog TV for years now. And I've known this would be a windfall for us from the get go. Can't wait for that day after the superbowl in 2009!

Peter Cross said...

The room I had at the Astors in London had an internet radio. It was easy to use and the sound quality was better than regular radio. You had to listen to their preselected stations and that was okay because they were in the hundreds. I have also seen internet radios in hotels and stores in Amsterdam. I was in a clothing store that was playing Capital Radio from London. I look forward to the states catching up.

Anonymous said...

Good blog. However you did leave out one important fact. Delivering Internet on 700 MHz would double and triple its speed. That would elminate buffering and make Internet radio a major challenge to satellite radio. If Internet radio isn't shut down in this country it will put satellite out of business.

Anonymous said...

I've been using a Roku Soundbridge (a free-standing WiFi Net tuner, cost $120) for over a year and find it much more useful and fun than my "HD" Radio. When I want the hits, I put on Virgin Radio from London... for an extra wide playlist of great music, I tune in Radio Paradise... and when I'm in the mood for classical (a gaping hole on the local FM dial), it's OE1 from Vienna. Best of all, (to steal a line from the HD Alliance) -- the programming is FREE!

In fact, I wouldn't have bothered buying an HD radio if it were not for my freelance job installing IBOC transmitters.

Anonymous said...

Internet radio has come a long way from the days of Kerbango and Akuu. I have already ordered a Roku Soundbridge from the UK and I am counting the days. I love listening to Internet radio on my laptop and look forward to having a free standing unit. Regardless of your musical preference there are so many choices in every genre imgainable on i.r. Satellite radio cannot compare.

Anonymous said...

There are some BAD internet radio stations. You can find them on terrestrial radio web sites where they have a streaming version of their new HD channels. Gawd awful! Anyone in the radio business actually believe in HD radio and worse why is the programming so bad? As soon as Internet radio devices are available in the US I'm buying one. I hope the auction goes through so we can get internet radio in our cars. Internet TV is good, too. wwiTV.com has a listing of worldwide links.

Anonymous said...

A house and senate made up of Google and Apple can't be any worse than what we have today. Countries run by Google and Apple can't be any worse than what we have today. I enjoy internet radio's many choices and can't wait for it to become fully portable.

Anonymous said...

we've come a long way from 28.8!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I posted this in the wrong section.
This is where I meant to put it.

The village blacksmith analogy applies so well. I was still in radio at the time when our company told shareholders and employees that radio was something that people HAD to listen to and were a captive audience to in cars. That was also the excuse for the beginning of downsizing and voice tracking. Now they are tyring to discredit satellite radio. You may be right about internet radio. They may survive on contributions instead of advertising.

Anonymous said...

I would be curious to hear your take on internet radio reaching a profitable level. Unless I am wrong internet radio would suffer the same problem you pointed out HD radio would if every man, woman and child had access to it. Numbers would be dilluted and no one station would have enough listeners to justify advertising.
With internet radio it's even worse. Do you see internet radio or at least a few key stations selling advertising once 700 HTz is turned over to wireless internet?

BiggTone said...

The possibilities are endless.
Internet radio is only one of the applications this bandwidth would provide.
I agree the satellite companies would have lobbyists up at dawn on the steps of congress, but in the eminent post war climate or even continued military involvement around the world, the US would drive the techno companies to further enhance the usage of the 700 MHz to secure the borders, create faster information access and file transfer, provide endless images closer to real time, i.e. big brother with city, state & local public surveillance systems… etc. Don’t forget about the car manufactures itching to add more flat screen displays that offer options for the next generation of automobiles. Just think, web TV accessible to anyone rather than the high cost of its mobile delivery system now.
Oh believe me… it’s coming! You can’t hold technology back forever, but you can delay it a while. I can’t wait.

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