H-Block Auction Is a Dish Network Sweep

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

Top 10 Technology Trends for 2014

The subtle shift toward better weather -- the light at the end of the tunnel of this long winter – is here. That’s great news. It also is good news that there were a number of interesting and important bits of news and commentary this week. Here are some highlights.

Digital Gains Continue

nScreenMedia, in a study sponsored by Plex, found that 96 percent of U.S. broadband users have photos, music, movies or home videos and 52 percent store at least one in the digital format. nScreen Founder and Chief Analyst Colin Dixon said that the transition to digital formats has been rapid since the introduction of the digital camera 20 years ago.


In a Telecompetitor story about the research, Plex CEO Keith Valory said that there is an ongoing “massive expansion” in digital media storage. Consumers will expand their music and video libraries by almost 30 percent and almost 17 percent, respectively.

Dish Sweeps the H-Block

The dish on the recent H-Block spectrum auction is that it was swept by Dish Network: It won all 176 markets. Dish paid precisely the amount it promised the Federal Communications Commission that it would: $1.56 billion.

In exchange, it got the spectrum and “more flexibility in how it uses other wireless broadband frequencies,” according to Seeking Alpha. The FCC will use the money to fund a nationwide emergency system. Dish hopes to use the spectrum as part of its effort build a voice, video and high-speed Internet for home and mobile uses.

IoT Sees the Light

The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the world’s most important emerging concepts and technologies. Connected cities are part-and-parcel of what is possible using the enormous potential of the IoT.

This week, an example of the power of the IoT was reported by CNET. Silver Spring Networks is set to install 75,000 networked streetlights in the Miami-Dade, Fla., area. The company will do so in partnership with Florida Power & Light.

The deal is illustrative of the ubiquity of the IoT. It also suggests a couple of things: The agreement now is just about street lights, but it is possible that an agreement between an IoT company and a utility would lead to more mission-critical uses of the technology that would raise serious security issues. Another takeaway is that a network such as the one being created by FPL and Silver Spring could simultaneously be used for communications services.

Sometimes, Things Don’t Work Out

A long story at GovTech describes the implosion of a broadband project that would have served about 150,000 rural households in California. Golden Bear Broadband was to provide a stimulus to a region that the telecommunications age has left behind. It is not to be:

The failure of the Golden Bear Broadband proposal to get funding endorsement from the state Public Utilities Commission presents a substantial setback for local organizers and frustrated consumers who stood to benefit from a new fiber optic-based network designed to connect 16 northern counties and provide the anchor for expansion of fast, affordable service across more than a quarter of the state.

The story details the breakdown, which seems to be a mix of local and regional politics and contradictory priorities of the entities involved.

Quantum Quandaries

And, finally, comes a story about quantum science, a topic that is so ridiculously bizarre that it has spawned about as many good quotes as Shakespeare. One of the best is from physicist Murray Gell-Mann:

If someone says that he can think or talk about quantum physics without becoming dizzy, that shows only that he has not understood anything whatever about it.

Theorists say that incredible gains in processing will be realized if a way can be found to use quantum science in the creation of computers. An organization called D-Wave claims to have built a quantum processor. This is such incredibly complex stuff that even proving whether they have or not is difficult, according to EurekAlert!

The story says that it is impossible to positively prove that D-Wave is quantum. It only is possible to disprove that it is using established “classical” models. If all the classical models are proven to not be in effect, the conclusion would be that quantum operations are ongoing. So far, two of those classical models have been shown not to be behind the chip’s operation.



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