Frontline's proposal is so disingenuous: Let me count the ways

Frontline's Reed Hundt is mounting a furious eleventh hour effort to finagle a backroom sweetheart deal for his company from the FCC, in the 700 MHz auction. He attacked the outstanding op ed in the Washington Post by Robert Hahn and Hal Singer in both the Post and in RCR.  Our former Big Government FCC Chairman, Mr. Hundt also apparently has lost his cool and perpsective in railing against the rollout of the new, innovative and already successful iPhone as somehow a market failure that only his company can cure.

My response to SaveTheInternet views on broadband

A core purpose of NetCompetition.org is to promote a debate of Net neutrality regulation on the merits. SaveTheInternet.com had a recent blog post "Painting over broadband failures with pretty pictures" that prompted me to comment on their blog -- which I have included below:

"If SaveTheInternet followers are truly "open" to diverse points of view that may be different from theirs, I recommend that you consider the mounting evidence that the US is in fact not falling behind but is actually a unique success in promoting facilities-based broadband competition in the world. Please see this link for the four best alternative views on this question:
http://www.precursorblog.com/node/451 .

The mounting evidence that the US is NOT falling behind on Broadband

Given the ongoing reporting of claims by net neutrality proponents that US broadband deployment is falling behind our international competitors (like the USA Today article in this link suggests), it is helpful to pull together some of the best analyses I have seen that debunk these claims by the OECD/CWA.  

For those who care to more substantively review the facts, evidence and merits of this very important public policy question, I highly recommend reading the following four sources linked in this blog, which all effectively and differently debunk the claim the US is falling behind on broadband:

No due diligence for Frontline Wireless? Special favors for special interests?

Congrats to Jeff Eisenach of Criterion Economics for his outstanding and incisive analysis "Due Diligence: Risk Factors in the Frontline Proposal."

  • Jeff Eisenach wonderfully brings clear thinking and common sense to a topic that sorely needs it.

The analysis exposes the Google-supported Frontline Wireless proposal for what it is... a "trust us" investment of effectively billions of dollars in forgone receipts due to the American taxpayer in a free market auction.

A concise summary of the excellent FTC report on Net Neutrality

I strongly recommend the FTC staff report on "Broadband Connectivity Competition Policy" to anyone wanting an objective, well-reasoned, fair, and comprehensive review of the facts and evidence of the net neutrality regulation debate.

I believe the most important sentence in the whole 170 page staff report, which covered an enormous and comprehensive public record on the subject, was on page 11 and again on page 160:

  •  "To date we are unaware of any siginificant market failure or demonstrated consumer harm from conduct by broadband providers." [Bold emphasis added]
  • I believe that's the best bottomline summary conclusion of the report.

The FTC report can be further well summarized by the following four sentences found on pages 10, 11, 155 and 11 respectively:

  • "We recommend policymakers proceed with caution in evaluating proposals to enact regulations in the area of broadband Internet access."
  • "Policymakers also should carefully consider the potentially adverse and unintended effects of regulation in the area of broadband Internet accesss before enacting any such regulation."
  • "Over time, competition produces the best results for consumers, providing them the lowest prices, the highest quality products and services, and the most choice."
  • "The FTC will continue to devote substantial resources to maintaining competition and protecting consumers in the area of broadband Internet access, using a variety of tools."

In closing, I was very impressed with the FTC staff's knowledge, sophistication, and fair representation of both sides' views.

"Earmarked Airwaves" -- a 700 MHz auction "UNE-P" deja vu?

Kudos to Robert Hahn and Hal Singer for their outstanding op ed in the Washington Post "Earmarked Airwaves."

  • The editorial cogently presents the fork in the road that faces any major FCC decision: to follow law, which promotes competition and market-driven outcomes, or to freelance and try and "manage" competition and pick winners and losers in advance through "spectrum earmarking."
  • FCC history is littered with freelance "managed competition" failures, but two are particularly ignominious and highly relevant to this 700 MHz auction:
    • the illegal UNE-P scheme to rig telecom competitive outcomes following the 1996 Telecom Act; and
    • the Nextwave auction scandal that kept 30 MHz of prime spectrum fallow and tied up in court for almost a decade.

At its core a spectrum auction is the quintessential type of competition. The auction law's purpose in 1993 was to use market forces, competition, to allocate the public's asset most appropriately, largely because previous FCC spectrum allocation processes were so ineffective, unfair and prone to serious abuse and graft.

  • While no process is perfect, a clean competitive auction process has proven highly effective in rewarding US taxpayers and fostering a growing and highly competitive wireless marketplace that greatly benefits consumers.

This 700 MHz auction may be shaping up to be FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's legacy moment: will it be marked by promoting competition and market-based outcomes or will it be marked by standing on the auction scales to ensure the spectrum is "earmarked" to the predetermined, chosen "winner" -- in this case former Clinton-Gore FCC Chairman Reed Hundt's Frontline Wireless company.  

Fabricating a broadband problem to justify more regulation/taxation/spending

Net neutrality proponents continue to fabricate problems to manipulate public policy to promote government intervention and regulation over free markets.

Fortunately net neutrality proponents have failed miserably in their efforts to date. 

A new "online workers union" to promote net neutrality?

Thank you Tech Daily for flagging a silly blog by MyDD calling for an organizing an "online workers union... to look out for the political interests of online workers. These interests include net neutrality, intellectual property law like DMCA..."

You can see me shaking my head in disbelief now... an online workers union for net neutrality...

Let me highlight just a few of the silly aspects of this idea.

First, organizing bloggers into a union to promote net neutrality?

  • Duh! It already exists! 
  • The "online workers union" is called Moveon.org and it already has 3 million members, all they have to do is change from political donations and require mandatory union dues.  
  • The MoveOn/FreePress folks already operate as de facto union bosses of the net neutrality movement.
  • And by the way doesn't MyDD know that the Consumers "Union" already supports net neutrality regulation?

Second, social media technology already allows onliners to organize around what ever idea they want whenever they want. Its a free country and a free and open Internet. Why not create: 

  • UnionBosster?
  • MyUnionSpace?
  • UnionFace?
  • Goonion?
  • LaeBayr? 
  • AmUnionZon?
  • AskYourUnionRep.com?
  • Wikidarity? 
  • eUnionDues?
  • SaveUsFromIndividualism?
  • OrganizeAgainstYourself?
  • Socialized Internet?
    • Surely MyDD could "move on" one of these many "online workers union" ideas.

Third, MyDD's idea for organizing eBay sellers is sort of bizarre.

Google's perverse version of the "Golden Rule"

Google's naiveté and cluelessness on antitrust matters continues to amaze me. While Google has ramped up its Washington lobbying presence a ton of late, it is amusing that the company-at-large still does not have a lick of political savvy or common sense.

It is almost as if Google operates having an out-of-body experience, where their leaders think they can float sanctimoniously above the playing field and see everything perfectly, but no one can see them or what they are doing.

What do I mean? Let me put Google's antitrust and political behavior into context.

  • Google is ferociously going after Microsoft on antitrust matters. After they recently won a huge concession from Microsoft to make Google's desktop search work better and faster -- a concession not required by the DOJ-supervised committee that oversees Microsoft's competitive behavior -- Google is now asking for Microsoft's antitrust decree not to expire.
  • This is classic, hardball, take-no-prisoners behavior that sometimes yields short-term results, but always invites long-term disaster.
  • In effect, Google is taunting the antitrust-caged Microsoft tiger, imagining that they are untouchable, invincible and legally superior.

It is amazing to me that Google appears to be unaware and clueless that they have voluntarily walked into their own “antitrust cage" of the FTC review process for approving two of their deals, DoubleClick and FeedBurner.

Backgrounder for potential "Blogger-in-Chief" Fred Thompson

Learning that potential Republican Presidential candidate Fred Thompson loves blogging and understands the medium's growing and significant political influence, I encourage the emerging Thompson campaign to do a little homework on the Net neutrality issue so they are not blindsided and hoodwinked by this liberal Moveon.org issue masquerading in conservative "Internet freedom" rhetoric like fellow Republican candidate Mike Huckabee was a few weeks ago. 

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths