VodkaPundit

Bipartisan Stupidity

I know it’s rarely a good idea to go to John Dvorak for reliable news, but this report looks ominous:

I was certainly surprised when CNBC called me this morning, asking if I could go on the air for a few minutes with Erin Burnett to discuss the announced phase-out of public Wi-Fi (802.11x) in all its forms, including the emerging 802.11n. The congressional bills were passed this morning, apparently with little or no public debate.

This is not good news. The only possible positive here is that the ban on Wi-Fi will not begin until January 2012, but in the meantime most of the available public spectrum—including the unlicensed 2.3-GHz to 2.9-GHz spectrum—is scheduled to be auctioned off long before 2012. Anyone caught using unlicensed devices will be subject to “a fine not to exceed $100,000 and indeterminate jail time not to exceed five years.”

The so-called Telecommunications Restructuring Act of 2008 was passed almost unanimously as a joint resolution based on SB 40108 and HR 17996-1. Essentially the free unlicensed spectrum is going to be auctioned off starting with the 2.3-GHz to 2.9-GHz frequencies, followed by the spectrum around 5 GHz and elsewhere.

The authors of the Senate bill, Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), sent out a joint press announcement explaining the rationale as part of a modernization process that will no longer sanction unlicensed frequencies due to interference issues and market confusion.

Can someone explain what, if anything, is going on here?

UPDATE: Whew!