3 posts • joined 16 Aug 2007
If you want a good analogy to understand the whole LightSquared situation, imagine two houses side-by-side with nice sunny gardens separated by a six-foot wood fence. Both householders can happily listen to their portable radios in their gardens without disturbing the neighbours in the other house.
However, imagine that one homeowner then can't pay his mortgage and a big company that wants to build a concert venue buys the house from the bank. Now, this company could have built the venue in the middle of town but the land was too expensive so instead they buy the house and then go to the council to get planning permission to convert the house to a concert hall. The council is a bit worried about the effect on the neighbors but they really see that a new concert hall would be a good idea so they grant the company permission to install a large sound system and test it. Of course, it completely swamps the remaining neighbour's little radio so the council says "no - the trial failed and you'll have to build elsewhere".
Is the neighbour at fault because he can no longer listen to his radio? Should he have anticipated this change and bought a louder radio. You could argue that the neighbour should build a sound-proof enclosure over their garden, but everyone would see that as unreasonable. Likewise, most people would agree that it was obvious that the whole project was a non-starter and the council should have never allowed the trial in the first place, and the people giving the company money to do the trial should have not done so, but greed prevailed all round.
That, in a nutshell, is the LightSquared story.
The problem is that the so-called broadcast networks got greedy and decided that they wanted more money than they get from advertising revenue. Therefore, they started charging cable and satellite operators per-subscriber carriage fees. Each time the contracts come up for renewal the broadcasters put up their fees significantly and there's a pissing match that results in the channels being blacked out for several days until a compromise is met. It is these rip-off fees that the broadcasters are unhappy with Aereo not paying.
The decline in pure sciences will come back to haunt us
There seems to have been a trend at degree level in the past couple of decades of people studying applied subjects which are seen as "sexy" such as computer science and electronic engineering, instead of pure sciences. If this trend continues then it is only a matter of time before we have a vast number of unemployed hardware and sofware people because there will be no physicists and material scientists to design the semiconductors needed to create future computing platforms.