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FCC Issues Channel Sharing Rules

The Federal Communications Commission issued final rules for channel sharing. The rules are the result of the recently passed Jobs Act that provides for voluntary incentive auctions of broadcast spectrum.

The FCC stressed that channel sharing is voluntary and that broadcasters and other licensees of spectrum will determine whether they want to enter into sharing arrangements. The FCC expects channel sharing to free up spectrum for wireless broadband providers.

Channel sharing doesn’t mean that an over-the-air broadcaster’s only option is to give up its entire spectrum and go out of business. Broadcasters should be able to retain just enough spectrum for one standard definition program stream, while sharing the rest of its 6MHz channel.

Overall, sounds like a non-intrusive policy for freeing up some spectrum for the mobile types while keeping the over-the-air broadcasters operational.

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Mittens is not a Social Media Shot Caller, Baller Like POTUS. Not Yet Anyway.

Seems like presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee Willard M. Romney has a ways to go to catch up with incumbent Barack H. Obama in terms of a social media presence, according to Mr. Romney allegedly has 251,000 followers on the micro-blog platform, Twitter. On the social networking behemoth, Facebook, Mr. Romney has 1.6 million “friends”.

Mr. Obama is doing better on both platforms. Mr. Obama has allegedly 14.6 million disciples on Twitter while his Facebook acquaintances number approximately 26 million.

It’s not surprising that Mr. Obama would have a commanding lead in the social media world. He has shown his preference for connectivity via technology ever since entering the White House and making arrangements for a special Blackberry that would allow him to stay connected while keeping people with ill will at bay.

Also given Mr. Obama’s relative youth and being a member of a minority demographic that makes disproportionate use of cellphones and Twitter, not only should we find Mr. Obama to be a proponent of social media use, but we should also expect him to exploit it to its fullest.

It’s not to say that Mittens can’t catch up. At this juncture it’s about how you leverage those social media resources versus how many Twitter followers are making you feel like Jesus.

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Broadband for America Releases Study of the Internet

Posted April 27th, 2012 in Broadband, Government Regulation, Internet and tagged , by Alton Drew

Yesterday Broadband for America released a study supporting continued regulatory hands off approach to the Internet. Here are some of the reports take-aways:

• Being unregulated has helped the Internet grow and expand in the face of “demand that is not just explosive in volume but unpredictable in type. Supply has unfailingly met demand, at ever-lower prices.”
• Regulated telecommunications services have been hurt by delay and rigidity. “The Internet’s responsiveness and adaptability stands in stark contrast to the rigidity created by the regulatory compensation regimes that have stifled conventional telephony. […] What makes the Internet so effective is not just its own simplicity and adaptability, but the absence of externally imposed rigidity.”
• Regulation will get in the way of innovation. “Any attempt to impose economic regulation on the Internet is likely to slow not only its own evolution but the innovation at the edge that depends on the Internet’s core.”
• “Were the Internet subjected to economic regulation, investors would expect slower growth and less responsiveness not only in the market for infrastructure, but in the edge markets for services, applications and devices that rely on it. Funding the Internet’s infrastructure would become more difficult.”

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Is CISPA another Political Football for the Silly Season?

I’m uncomfortable with granting security clearances for national security information to civilians in the private sector. Under the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2012, it appears that individuals employed with private companies or other private entities may get clearances as part of the act of exchanging information between the federal government and the private sector.

Its one thing if a cyber threat is detected by a private entity first and they pass that information on to the feds. They’ve already seen it; it was probably an attack on the private entity; so naturally they are familiar with the contents of the attack.

If it’s the other way around, then the government should not share anything outside of information specific to a private entity that may have additional information or is a target of an attack.
The problem here is that the White House and the Congress did not work together on this. If the Congress felt this additional national security protection was needed, why not work with the branch that would be responsible for carrying out national security.

I hate being cynical, but why pass a bill with privacy flaws unless the GOP is trying to create another political football for the summer and fall for the parties to kick around.

The two-party silly season is upon us…

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Is AT&T Good at Lobbying or the Consumer Groups Simply Bad at It?

Posted April 26th, 2012 in AT&T, lobbying, public service commissions and tagged , , , by Alton Drew

I remember flying back from Washington in 1995 after participating in state lobbying efforts before the Florida Congressional delegation. We were sharing our thoughts on the proposed Telecommunications Act of 1996. On the flight was one of AT&T’s lobbyists. He was looking despondent. His face reflected what we all knew was going to happen. BellSouth was about to get its way. They would have a bill that would give them access to the lucrative long distance markets; allowing them to bundle services and provide completion that AT&T wasn’t ready to head off.

Be mindful that this was a little over a decade since AT&T saw itself broken up into about nine baby bells and leaving Ma Bell with just its long lines services. Now, thanks to the Congress, some states, and the Bells, Ma Bell was about to be eaten by her children. Yes, I felt Jack’s pain on that flight.

The tables have changed for AT&T. It’s back in the local phone service business. It still has its long distance service, and now provides broadband and wireless phone services. Over a thirty year period, the one-play has turned into the four-play, and this time AT&T doesn’t want another attack on its business model. They have learned to appreciate pluralism.

Consumer groups, like the ones in California mentioned in this article, find themselves on the losing side of regulatory and legislative debates because they are fragmented (how many damned consumer groups do you need talking about phones), prone to vitriol (just read social media comments of Free Press and Public Knowledge) and don’t know how to hug and bake cookies. After all these years they haven’t learned the tricks of the trade, but are taken aback by corporations that appear a whole lot better at addressing the human element of the legislatures and regulatory commissions they come in contact with.

Yes, consumer watchdogs. You aren’t losing because AT&T is good at lobbying. You’re losing because you are not good at being … human.