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Wireless Spectrum

"Leaf" Vision & Broadband Usage Caps (Part 6 in a Series)

Near hysterical opponents of broadband data usage caps need to breathe slowly, drop their magnifying glass, look up and take in the big world all around them. They are not just missing the forest for the trees, they are missing the leaves, stems, branches, trees, forest and sky, because they can't take their magnifying glass off of the leaf with which they are myopically obsessed.

Broadband data usage caps are a very small, normal, and essential part of a healthy and economically-sustainable Internet ecosystem. Pricing is the central mechanism for any marketplace to balance supply and demand and to create economic incentives and disincentives for behavior that can drive costs. There is nothing wrong with pricing caps, tiers, and other pricing mechanisms that are used to manage networks, avoid network congestion, achieve a return on investment, manage a business model, differentiate a business, and/or earn a profit.

Consumer Groups' Advocacy Hypocrisy

Consumer groups by definition are supposed to be protecting consumers' interests -- not be pushing a special interest political agenda under the guise of the "public interest." Let's spotlight a recent and blatant hypocrisy whereby consumer groups near-completely ignored an instance of obvious widespread consumer harm (the FCC's proposed fine of Google for obstructing its Street View wiretapping investigation), while in another contemporaneous issue, consumer groups gang-pummeled a non-issue to push a political Internet commons agenda (strongly objecting to Comcast's new market offering where XBox usage does not apply to a user's 250 Gig monthly data cap.)

Google Street View Wiretapping: Why is Google obstructing a Federal wiretapping investigation affecting the privacy of literally tens of millions of American households' -- not a consumer protection issue? How come consumer groups routinely and loudly call for FCC investigations of broadband companies' legal marketplace actions, but are silent on the obvious obstruction of a Federal investigation into Google allegedly being involved in potentially the largest wiretapping and mass invasion of citizens' privacy by a corporation in U.S. history? How is it in consumers' interest for the government to not be able to determine if Google actually violated Federal law or not?

T-Mobile to FCC: Give us a Do-Over and Verizon's Cable Spectrum Too

T-Mobile demanded last week that the FCC deny the Verizon-Cable spectrum license transfer, apparently so Deutsche Telecom/T-Mobile could get it at a deep FCC managed-market discount.

The FCC is not Deutsche Telecom/T-Mobile's personal do-over button that they can push and magically reset the marketplace to an earlier time more to their liking. All other players have made market-driven decisions and have to live with them, and so should Deutsche Telecom/T-Mobile. That's the essence of free-market competition, companies move forward or backward based on their own market-driven choices. It's not competition or a market, if those who don't like the outcome of their own market decisions, run to government for a do over and quasi-international bail-out.

Let's review how T-Mobile got to this point.

For years T-Mobile has been a seller of its spectrum; because its parent Deutsche Telecom has long wanted to exit the U.S. market because it requires more capital investment than they are willing or financially able to expend.

Verizon-Cable: Opponents Need FCC to Overreach its Authority

The March 21st Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing reviewing the Verizon-cable agreements provides Congress with an opportunity to learn:

  • How the metamorphosis of communications competition is increasing competition;
  • How the Government has created artificial and temporary spectrum scarcity in failing to free up more spectrum for broadband use in a timely fashion; and
  • How unfair, arbitrary and capricious the FCC review process has become in reviewing market transactions.

Given that the DOJ has such weak grounds and facts under antitrust law to challenge the Verizon-cable commercial agreements, and given that the spectrum transfer is in the public interest in multiple dimensions, opponents appear to be pushing the FCC to do whatever necessary to try and block Verizon-cable under the FCC's make-it-up-as-they-go-along public interest standard.

Is Netflix the AOL of Web Streaming?

 

Netflix' erratic and panicky behavior this past year is telling us that Netflix' leadership fears they may becoming the AOL of web streaming.

Remember AOL was the company that led the dial-up narrowband market, but fell way short in transitioning to broadband success. (Investors remember AOL-Time Warner, dubbed the worst merger of the century.) Meanwhile, Netflix is the fallen star company that led the mail-DVD business, but now is struggling to repeat its offline success online with web streaming.

If one looks at Netflix' panicky behavior over the last year or so, a clear pattern emerges that Netflix' own management is very concerned about how it will successfully transition from DVD mail-order leader to successful web streaming provider.

Consider the cumulative evidence.

 

Why the Verizon-Cable Agreement is in the Public Interest

 

The evidence below shows the Verizon-Cable agreement is clearly in the public interest, if the FCC fairly reviews the agreement and all of the relevant facts, in the full context of the highly competitive wireless ecosystem.

Top Reasons Why Verizon-Cable Agreement is in the Public Interest

Increases competition: The agreement increases competition because it enables:

 

Poll: Americans Not With Internet Lobby on SOPA/PIPA

A recent poll from JZ Analytics on how Americans view the problem of online piracy and online counterfeit goods – the problem that anti-piracy legislation (SOPA/PIPA) attempted to address -- indicates that Americans’ views overall are different than the several million subset of Americans that signed Google’s and other’s online petitions opposing the anti-piracy legislation as “censorship” that would “break the Internet.” The poll also indicates Americans have concerns with Google’s record and stance on piracy.

The JZ Analytics online survey of 1,001 Americans was conducted December 27-28, 2011 and has a margin of error of +/-3.2%.

I. Summary of Poll Results:

A. General Questions

Spectrum: To Auction or Not to Auction?

The FCC's recent call for unbounded spectrum auction authority spotlights an important debate over whether some of this scarce and extremely valuable wireless spectrum should be auctioned or not.

  • Ironically the FCC is asking Congress to give it spectrum auction authority to not auction spectrum.
  • In other words, the FCC is asking to be unilaterally empowered to decide not to auction some spectrum so it can deem it "unlicensed spectrum," like that used for WiFi and garage door openers.

There are huge fiscal problems with the FCC's position, given our nation's severe fiscal situation: a trillion dollar Federal budget deficit and a ballooning multi-trillion dollar public debt.

First, the real world effect of the FCC's gambit here is to try and get revenue-raising legislation to not raise many billions of dollars.

Verizon-Cable Spectrum: Is FCC Open to Competition?

The out-of-the-box thinking that led to Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House to sell $3.6b of AWS spectrum to competitor Verizon is a watershed competitive development which ultimately will flush out the real FCC.

 

 

Top Ten Flaws in FCC’s AT&T/T-Mobile Competition Analysis

The unprecedented release of a FCC draft staff analysis opposing the the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile transaction could backfire legally, undermining its intent to backstop the DOJ's pending lawsuit against the merger.

See my Forbes Tech Capitalist post here on the "Top Ten Flaws in the FCC's AT&T/T-Mobile Competition Analysis."

 

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths