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FTC Signals Some Policy Preferences

Posted March 30th, 2012 in Broadband, Federal Trade Commission, privacy and tagged , by Alton Drew

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz yesterday signaled the FTC’s preferences for future online privacy policies before the House Sub-Committee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade. Chairman Leibowitz would like to see a best practices for protecting consumer online privacy; an acceleration of self-regulation within the online industry; a consumer privacy bill of rights which is heavily endorsed by the Obama Administration, and further developments in a do not track mechanism that would protect consumers visiting certain websites.

Chairman Leibowitz also recommended that Congress enact general privacy legislation. The legislation should require that companies implement reasonable measures and notify consumers of certain security breaches while providing consumers access to information maintained on them by information data brokers.

I can understand consumer concerns about the leakage of certain pieces of information, i.e., financial and medical information. Unfortunately sensitive information can be used against consumers during job searches or legal proceedings. Consumers should have this assurance especially if we want to promote broadband adoption among 100 million households over the next decade.

Investors and businesses should not be too overly concerned that the best practices proposed by the FTC are overly intrusive. The FTC appears to be saying before the consumer goes past Checkpoint Charlie, agree on the information that he is going to share and assure him of how it is being used and who else may be seeing it. Once he passes Checkpoint Charlie, however, the flow of commerce should be left uninterrupted. Delays in information flow will only drive up business costs by creating a false scarcity of information and added uncertainty in decision making.

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The Commerce of Information Flow

Posted March 30th, 2012 in FCC, Government Regulation and tagged , by Alton Drew

Wayne Crews, vice-president for policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, recently wrote a piece for Forbes Magazine about HR 3309. He takes on opponents of the bill, artfully calling out the FCC for its intrusive role in our market economy.

Mr. Crews’ spot on analysis highlights an important point: part of government’s role is the regulation of commerce, in the case the commerce of information flow. Broadband technology has given everyone the ability to be their own “broadcast company.” Individuals can create their own content and via the free market enter into contracts with broadband access providers to help distribute their content whether by e-mail, blog, websites, or plain old telephone service.

Information is abundant and its flow virtually unimpeded. Why put up regulatory barriers to this flow? In my opinion, HR 3309 provides the legislative reminder to the FCC that in a free market society such as ours; its focus should be on maximizing the free flow of information, not throttling it with unnecessary restrictions not based on a proper analysis of market failure.

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HR 3309 is Not an Attack on the FCC

Posted March 30th, 2012 in FCC, Government Regulation and tagged , by Alton Drew

Writers at The Verge had me on the verge of throwing up as they argued in this piece that HR 3309 was an attack on the Federal Communications Commission by the Congress, an attack designed to favor large wireless carriers such as AT&T and Verizon at the expense of smaller carriers and competition.

Opponents of HR 3309 seem to forget that the FCC regulates commerce within a free market system. Rules that potentially impact the market need to be put through a market failure analysis and this analysis should be challenged in an open forum. The public comment system is not adequate enough to challenge and probe proposed rules.

State public utility commissions go subject rules to an open hearing. I don’t see why the FCC could not do so.

Arguing that such a review is onerous gives license to the FCC to run rough shod over the industry. Such an approach won’t promote market entry by smaller carriers.

Besides, how can these same opponents argue for more transparency from broadband access providers on the one hand while on the other they argue for less transparency from the FCC?

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Sprint is getting further into the iPhone game

Posted March 30th, 2012 in Broadband, mobile telephone, Sprint, wireless communications and tagged , , , by Alton Drew

The Wall Street Journal reported back on 27 March 2012 that Sprint has plans to offer 4G phones on an LTE network. Given the time and energy the company wasted trying to block the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, it’s about time.

It’s good to see from a broadband adoption standpoint that Sprint is deploying a network that can help the company deploy these advanced mobile devices. If it can leverage a price strategy that gets the company more customers at a lower price to consumers, all the better. Lower prices charged to consumers keeps them connected.

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FCC Wants to Eliminate Legacy Spacing, Bandwidth Requirements for EA-800 MHz

Posted March 29th, 2012 in spectrum and tagged , , by Alton Drew

The Federal Register today issued notice of a proposed rule by the Federal Communications Commission that would eliminate legacy channel spacing and bandwidth limitations for Economic Area market-based 800 MHz Specialized Motor Radio Licenses in the 813.5-824/858.5-869 MHz band.

The FCC hopes that eliminating the limitations provides greater flexibility to EA-based 800 MHz licensees that want to provide competitive wireless services over contiguous areas.

According to the FCC, since the inception of the Cellular Market Areas in 1982, the FCC has been assigning area based radio licenses. A common trait among most of these licensing areas is that every area is an aggregation of county-equivalent entities as defined in Federal Information Processing Standards Publication 6-4, 1990 August 31.

Economic Area service areas are based on the Economic Areas delineated by the Regional Economic Analysis Division, Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Department of Commerce.