Smash the big money myth

The 2GHz spectrum auction is under way and shows little sign of dollar drama at this early stage.

The 2GHz spectrum auction is under way and shows little sign of dollar drama at this early stage.

It's timely now, however, to smash the BIG AUCTION MYTH that's built up over the past few months.

Ever since the incredibly successful British auction, that brought in loads of much appreciated dosh for that country's government, vendors and industry types all over the world have desperately tried to keep a lid on the price of the frequencies.

The baloney being put forward is that if vendors pay millions more for frequencies than some arbitrary amount they feel they ought - after all who's to say the British Government wasn't underpaid - then they won't have the wherewithal to develop those services.

Let's set the record straight. There will be no long-term negatives to having so-called "excessive" prices being paid for the 3G spectrum frequencies.

Yes, an individual vendor might overreach themselves and leave themselves without the necessary capital for development of the infrastructure. More fool them.

All that means is that they'll have to partner with someone who does have the cash. Perhaps they could partner with the government that just struck it rich.

The true value over time of these services is totally unknown and unpredictable at this stage.

Could they have judged the value of the railways when they were first being built, the telephone lines before they were installed, radio spectrum in the early days? Not on your Nelly.

This is a difficult time for the vendors involved, working in the dark, no clear indicators as to what to pay.

I can understand their desire to try to keep the price down, but we shouldn't be sucked into sympathising. Let's allow governments around the world to earn the most money they can while the going is good.

If the prices end up high in various countries that will simply mean some of those players will have to share development. Yes that's what it's all about folks, not the good of the industry, not the good of the country rather that old chestnut - control.

Richard Wood is Computerworld editor. Send email to Richard Wood. Letters for publication should be sent to Computerworld Letters.

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