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FCC Treatment of AT&T, Windstream Right Move in a Competitive Direction

Posted June 26th, 2012 in AT&T, FCC, Government Regulation, special access and tagged , , , , by Alton Drew

The FCC has seen the future – and it’s not laid with old copper phone lines. Recently, the FCC agreed that AT&T and Windstream could implement pricing flexibility in two markets for its “special access” customers, largely businesses and other competitors seeking access to AT&T and Windstream’s network.

Special access services are generally legacy copper-based DS1- and DS-3 lines, revolutionary technology 30 years ago but not fit for the broadband age. Unsurprisingly, business customers prefer the IP-based Gigabit and Ethernet services that offer faster speeds. Yet the special access rules hobble some telephone companies by forcing them to provide the antiquated copper lines at regulated rates, while their competitors are free to offer the new services with no pricing restrictions.

So the FCC clearly did the right thing by enabling, in these markets, pricing flexibility for everyone so that real competition can thrive. A source in the FCC Chairman’s office was quoted as saying that the special access rules “are not working as intended, and pursuant to ongoing discussions we expect the Commission will soon vote on an order setting out a path to reform them.”

Now, it’s time to take the next step and eliminate special access pricing regulation. The FCC’s goal should be to promote competition and ensuring the right incentives for investment in the next generation of IP infrastructure, not the technologies that are several generations (in both the technical and human senses) old. And as the FCC moves forward with its promised Order in this area, it should be based on the state of actual competition, requiring data from everyone who offers competitive facilities in a market. And above all, the FCC should resist any temptation to regulate IP infrastructure that is currently unregulated. Regulation is the surest way to slow down deployment of new technologies, thus slowing down business growth and the transition to a broadband-based future.

In short, the special access issue may seem like just an arcane commercial dispute, but the consequences of making the wrong regulatory decision are real. When given a chance, competition works – if, and when the FCC moves forward with its special access reform proceeding it should recognize this reality.

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House Committee to Look at the Future of Video

Posted June 26th, 2012 in video and tagged , , by Alton Drew

The House Sub-committee on Communications and Technology will hold a hearing on 27 June 2012 to discuss where the video market and technology are headed, whether regulation of the old guard still makes sense, and whether regulation should be expanded to new technologies and services.

The only mention of spectrum in the hearing notice was in a definition of what a broadcast channel is, but I’ll check out the coverage anyway. Spectrum is indirectly related here simply because wireless carriers provide alternative platforms for distributing video.

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Facebook Investors Take Heed

Posted June 26th, 2012 in Federal Trade Commission, Internet, privacy and tagged , , by Alton Drew

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has scheduled a hearing on how well the online industry is self-regulating consumer privacy concerns. The committee’s chairman, Senator John Rockefeller, said the following:

“In our prior hearing on consumer privacy, both the Obama Administration and the FTC commended recent industry efforts to provide consumers with more privacy protections,” said Chairman Rockefeller. “However, their reports also stated that industry can do more and that federal legislation is necessary. In this follow-up hearing, I intend to closely examine how industry intends to fulfill its recent pledge to not collect consumers’ personal information when they utilize the self-regulatory ad icon or make “do-not-track” requests in their web browsers.”

The hearing is scheduled for 28 June 2012.

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Public Knowledge Calls Verizon Sale of Spectrum to T-Mobile a “Buyoff”

Posted June 25th, 2012 in spectrum, SpectrumCo, T-Mobile USA, Verizon and tagged , , , , by Alton Drew

The reporting that Verizon and T-Mobile have entered into a deal that would see Verizon selling T-Mobile some spectrum in return for T-Mobile discontinuing efforts to stop Verizon’s purchase of AWS spectrum from SpectrumCo.

Our old friends Public Knowledge claim that the sale is Verizon’s way of buying off T-Mobile.

Sounds like Verizon and T-Mobile are using the tried and true method of autonomous contracting to resolve an issue. It looks like a plain and simple voluntary divestiture, versus the buy off the far left opponents of anything free market i.e. Public Knowledge claim. Hopefully the swap agreement will move the spectrum transfer from SpectrumCo to Verizon a lot faster.

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ITU Not Ready for Primetime

The reported yesterday about Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski’s position on a proposal that the International Telecommunications Union take more regulatory oversight of the Internet.

Kudos to Chairman Genachowski for taking a stand against any additional regulation of the Internet. While ITU’s mission is, at a minimum, noble, attempts to further connect the world should be left up to identification of demand for broadband services as determined by market forces.

The last thing we need is inefficiencies in the deployment of broadband resources all in the name of propping up an unnecessary layer of international regulatory burden.