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Kudos to FCC Martin for proposing wireless broadband as info service

I was pleasantly surprised and very pleased that FCC Chairman Martin proactively released a proposed order that would reclassify wireless broadband as a Title I information service, as reported in today's Comm Daily. This order, which looks to have the support of the Republican majority, would continue to harmonize the regulatory treatment of all the major modes of broadband.

  • The FCC has already classified cable modems, DSL and BPL as unregulated info services.
  • Given the robustness of wireless competition in the U.S., reclassifying wireless broadband as an info service should be a no-brainer.
  • The FCC should also do another order to classify satellite broadband as an info service as well.

Why this is relevant to NN is that the expert agency overseeing competition in this market segment is concluding that there is sufficient competition to not require common carrier-like regulation.

  • The U. S. has three times more WiFi hotspots than any other country and more facilities-based wireless broadband investment and deployment than any other nation in the world through Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Moreover,  Sprint and Clearwire are also beginning to build national WiMax networks.
  • Wireless competition is robust, clearly warranting an info services classification.  

  

Wireless broadband dominates broadband growth in FCC Broadband Report

Evidence continues to mount that the broadband sector is increasingly competitive and that it is not the permanent cable/DSL "duopoly" that net neutrality supporters claim. The FCC just released its biannual report on high speed of broadband adoption and the new evidence showing more competition is powerful.

The most important takeaway from the FCC's report is that 58% or 7.9m of the 11.0m total broadband adds over the first six months of 2006 were wireless broadband -- NOT DSL or cable modem.  That's not how a "permanent DSL/Cable duopoly" behaves -- is it?

My Legislative Outlook for Net Neutrality -- An enlightening read not to be missed

Now that the Democratic-controlled Congress is back in full swing, and now that a lot of cards have been put on the table, its helpful to take stock of where we are on the net neutrality issue. Below I provide: an overview, a Senate outlook and a House outlook. 

My bottom line analysis is that there is a very low liklihood of net neutrality legislation passing in this Congress, despite the hype.

  • That said, I have seen nothing that would suggest that net neutrality won't remain a leading techcom issue in Washington for years to come.  

Overview:

Given that net net neutrality advocates really want a change in the law, they badly blew their golden opportunity last year to get net neutrality principles into law -- by wildly overplaying the moderately strong hand they had last year.

NN advocate candid that AT&T was extorted on NN in my debate at Media Institute

I debated Gigi Sohn of Public Knowledge again today at a Media Institute luncheon and was really surprised at her candor in saying that the net neutrality conditions imposed on AT&T were "extortion" that she was happy to be a part of it.

While I have debated Gigi several times and respect her highly as a very capable advocate for her positions, I was troubled that she was so open that the net neutrality conditions imposed on AT&T were "extortion."

Yahoo stumbles as Google gains: Part II Google becoming "dominant" per antitrust

There's new evidence today that Yahoo continues to stumble as Google continues to gain market share. Yahoo just announced meager 13% revenue growth for 4Q06, while Google announced at the end of the year that Google's revenue grew 86% during the same period. (That's over SIX times faster for those who care about those things!)

This is powerful additional confirmation that Google is quickly on path to reach 50% market share and beyond, a significant antitrust threshold of being considered "dominant" and warranting "stricter scrutiny" of its business practices for potential anticompetitive behavior.  I explained the broader significance of this "dominant" threshold in my blog yesterday.

Countdown to 50% share: Google approaching antitrust "dominant" status -- Part I

An interesting and relevant antitrust milestone is coming for Google -- maybe as soon as this year -- Google is poised to pass the significant 50% market share "dominant" threshold in antitrust.

This is relevant because when Google exceeds 50% market share, the antitrust "rule of thumb" is that Google will be considered by antitrust authorities to be a "dominant" company.

Swanson's WSJ editorial nails it on NN: "Its the capacity stupid!"

Bret Swanson in his WSJ editorial over the weekend "The Coming Exaflood" provides a real service to the net neutrality debate -- he forces the discussion to focus more on how we must deal with the coming explosion of demand for capacity on the Internet.

  • In a phrase, Swanson is saying to the net neutrality crowd: "It's the capacity stupid!"

Net neutrality is a classic liberal big government idea that is all about trying to carve up the pie of today to be more fair, while assuming that somebody else will always make more pie for them to carve up. 

  • As Milton Friedman so eloquently said: "there is no free lunch" no matter how much people want to "assume" it.
    • Somebody must build and pay for a faster Internet to handle the explosion of traffic produced by video, and soon HD video.
  • Swanson persuasively forces the reader to think through the massive increases in demand that we already know are "in the pipeline" that require more investment to create a higher capacity Internet.

The insanity of the net neutrality position is that its advocates assume future capacity will be there magically. That capacity will be there, only if there is a functioning marketplace that allows those private network operators that carry the traffic that comprises the Internet are able to earn a return on their investment in new Internet capacity. Otherwise, the Government will have to tax and spend to subsidize it. There is no free lunch.

The insanity of the online giants' position with ItsOurNet, is that they believe they should get a free ride and that the consumer should have to shoulder the entire cost of increasing the capacity of the Internet.

Dont miss the compelling Wash Post Op Ed opposing NN

Kudos to Dave Farber and Michael Katz on their very persuasive and compelling Op Ed in the Washington Post opposing net neutrality. I strongly endorse their perspective and wisdom.

I feel great kinship with their point of view. There is no problem here. And there is a lot of harm and unintended consequences that can result from preemptively regulating the Internet.

Like David and Mike, I am well aware of the potential problems that market power could have. I have a long and public record of standing up to monopoly behavior that I viewed as out of bounds. But I am also a fact and analysis person. The facts and the analysis show this is a competitive marketplace becoming even more competitive in the future.  

The other "father of the Internet" opposes NN

Robert Kahn, known as the co-father of the Internet along with Google's Vint Cerf, opposes net neutrality becuase it would inhibit necessary experimentation and innovation. Kudos to a great article in the Register on this.

The fact that Network engineers like Robert Kahn and Dave Farber oppose net neutrality make it clear that net neutrality is not this simple benign policy. It is very dangerous preemptive legislation that presumes to perfectly know the future to allow them to lock in for perpetuity one interation of the Internet.

New Chairman Markey defends: protecting Google from net neutrality

I just got around to watching  House telecom Subcommittee Chariman Ed Markey address the Memphis media reform conference and was struck that he felt the need to go out of his way to defend Google and only Google at this strongly anti-business forum.

  • About midway through his speech, Chairman Markey noted that opponents of net neutrality last year asked: "Why should we protect Google?" New House Chairman answered his own question and said "this was the wrong question."

With all due respect Mr. Chairman, "Why should we protect Google?" is precisely the right question.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths