Posts Taged fcc

Top Ten Flaws in FCC’s AT&T/T-Mobile Competition Analysis

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I’ve been saying for some time now that there are critical items that the FCC is ignoring in their competition analysis of the ATT/T-Mobile merger. I recently came across an Article on Forbes.com that gives a great summary of some of those flows. You can read the article here and I’ve listed the flaws below:

  1. Totally ignored the Internet’s impact on wireless competition.
  2. Totally ignored international competitive comparisons that repudiate its conclusion.
  3. Assumed away all existing wireless competition that does not support its conclusion.
  4. Totally ignored the financial/investment facts of Deutsch Telecom, T-Mobile’s parent.
  5. Totally ignored the competitive impact of the FCC-described “looming spectrum crisis.”
  6. Overplayed the maverick impact of T-Mobile by ignoring Sprint’s maverick incentives.
  7. Turned a blind eye to the fundamental high-capital intensity of wireless competition.
  8. Silent about Open Internet presumption that competition can’t protect consumers.
  9. Totally misunderstood where the real market power resides in wireless devices.
  10. The proposed Verizon-Cable spectrum sale and cross-marketing arrangement blows up the staff analysis’ central assumption that Verizon and AT&T will not compete fiercely going forward.

There are more but this a good top ten. As you read all the media and commentary. It’s important to think back this reasons and at least as yourself the question why?

FCC Realizes That Digital Literacy and Rural Access Are Key To Closing The Digital Divide

As Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski spoke a panel at the Edtech conference two themes echoed loud and clear. He mention broadband is no longer a luxury and the two areas we need to focus on are digital literacy and Rural broadband access.

There is no question that today being digitally literate is essential to participate in our economy, and there is no question that these technologies provide the opportunities to equalize opportunity,” he said. “The costs of digital exclusion are growing larger.”

Although the United States has mobile innovation that’s”the envy of the world,” the nation has significant gaps and challenges, the chairman conceded.

In particular, there is a broadband deployment gap in areas of rural America, with about 20 million people living in areas without broadband service.

Hearing the chairman publicly commit to making these obstacles his focus is encouraging. We need to make sure that we work and push to make those roadblocks become things of the past. As the chairman mentioned the opportunities are too great not to.

FCC Prepares for the Future By Opening Technology Experience Center

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Today the FCC Chairman unveiled the technology experience center today in DC. On their website they speak to why this is important.

“This Wednesday, July 13th, Chairman Julius Genachowski will host the grand opening of the FCC’s Technology Experience Center at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. This unique center is an innovative resource for all FCC employees and visitors to engage directly with the latest technologies, which the agency accepts as donations.  Each month, we will focus a portion of the technologies around a specific theme.”

It’s encouraging to see the “eat their own dogfood” in tech terms by experiencing first hand how mobile broadband has and will continue to transform everyday life. The center will also be open to visitors which will also allow them to see how people interact with the technology. My hope is this will confirm for  them even more  that wireless broadband is needed for everyone.

Wireless Services Get Better, Faster, Cheaper

With the recent release of its Wireless Competition Report, the Federal Communications Commission has proven what many technologists, entrepreneurs and tech insiders already know: with each passing year wireless technologies get better, faster and more affordable.

There are a couple standouts in the FCC’s 15 Annual Wireless Competition Report, notably:

  • In 2010, nearly 90% of the population could chose from 5 or more mobile providers; that’s up from just 72% in 2009;
  • Voice, text and data services have all decreased over the years, even as people use those services at greater frequencies; and
  • People are using their mobile devices more and more to access the Internet

What’s really interesting about the explosive growth of wireless is that at the same time people have come to rely on the services as a more integral part of their lives, the improvement both in cost and efficiency of the services has occurred in the midst of a number of mergers between various wireless service prices.  This pattern should be welcome news for the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice as they review the terms of the currently pending AT&T/T-Mobile merger.

As wireless competition continues to be a reality in our current landscape, and wireless services and devices an ever more essential part of our economic development and recovery strategies, consolidation of the AT&T/T-Mobile brands looks like a win-win type of deal.  It could help foster a more efficient use of spectrum – i.e. higher service quality – rapidly deployed to more people – creating ubiquitous wireless access.  But also in this current landscape, as evidenced by the Wireless Competition Report, we can expect wireless services to become available at more competitive and affordable rates, leading to an incentive for increased wireless adoption among would-be consumers.

Don’t Let Policy Stop the Digital Dream

As a long time digital entrepreneur and current CTO of InteractiveOne, I could tell you exactly how
access to technology and mobile broadband has affected my life. Throughout my career, having access to technology has molded my personal and professional life by giving access to opportunities that were not available to many others like me. And more recently, having a reliable and fast broadband network has added to not only my story, but to that of the average consumer – as evidenced by the numerous BlackBerry, iPhone and Android users you walk by on the street.

I have often discussed the importance and effect of policy in my area of expertise – the digital space.
Online companies like the one I work for and others that I have developed over the years cannot grow their audiences, provide new services and grow their staffs to meet these opportunities unless there is reliable broadband from an efficient network. That is why it is important for policymakers to make decisions that will encourage increased investment in the technological realm.

And that brings me to the issue of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. The benefits of this merger, both to underserved communities and to budding digital entrepreneurs, are innumerable. Not only will the increased coverage allow others to become involved in applications development who may otherwise have lacked sufficient coverage to do so, it will also supply services to network operators and assist in network management.

From the network’s extended reach, it is my hope that the power of the merged companies and larger area of deployment will encourage further innovation through inspiring entrepreneurship among those within underserved communities.

Access to wireless technologies has already helped the African American community to lessen the digital divide by providing a lower-cost alternative to a wired broadband connection. As found by the 2010 Mobile Access study conducted by the Pew Research Center, African Americans are the fastest adopting users of smartphones and broadband-enabled mobile devices, and in addition, this group is using these devices as their primary Internet connections. This merger, which brings with it a promise of reaching an additional 55 million Americans and ultimately connecting over 97 percent of Americans to advanced 4G LTE service, will only help advance the digital connection of African Americans.

The expanded network will not only allow more consumers to utilize broadband-enabled technologies, but it will also provide a benefit to the already established and future entrepreneurs by providing them with an expanded market audience. The more people with connections, the bigger the benefit and improvement to any community.

The Internet is a cutting edge resource that holds a world of possibility, and we need to make sure that all Americans have access to the opportunities that come with a high-speed broadband connection.

The FCC moves quickly on executing President Obama’s broadband commitment in his SOTU address. (audio)

FCC Follows Obama’s Direction And Tackles Old Regulations To Pave The Way for Broadband For All

As we all know, President Obama set the stage for change in his SOTU address where he made the bold claim that the country will have access to broadband for everyone. I’m sure that when people heard the speech that night, it was assumed that the execution on that vision would not start for some time.

Well, on February 8th the FCC took a step and voted to overhaul the Universal Service Fund so that those funds can be directed at extending broadband to underserved areas. I have already seen a lot of commentary about this topic, some in favor of these changes and others that see the change as negative.  But many of them are not looking at this step as the game changer that it will be.

Every single day I am reminded of examples of how people are being left behind in the digital age.  And while people bicker over issues in DC, the gap continues to widen for the rest of the population outside of the Beltway. It’s a powerful statement for the FCC to be willing to make the changes necessary to serve the people who don’t have a voice. The opportunities for job creation due to broadband deployment will be able to increase in multiple areas of the country. The amount of jobs and opportunities that will result from a broadband build out will be amazing:  With extension into rural  areas long distance training for the digitally literate job seekers will help them land their dream job  or even create new business from the comfort  of their home.

We need to promote the real value of this execution, and true winners will be the underserved.  David Sutphen did a better job than I could ever do explaining the history of the regulations and why its important for them to be changed in his Op-ed on the hill.com. I’m just excited to see such fast movement on the issue of putting the power of broadband into everyone’s hands.

I’ve said for some time now that there are ideas in the minds of people, in urban and rural areas, that need access to the constant stream of information and resources that an Internet connection provides.  With the FCC pushing the initiative past idea and into action, we will soon see those untapped ideas become our new reality.

Is Coffee Shop Neutrality Next On The Menu?

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If you have read any of the technology or political news over the last weeks you most likely have seen that The FCC commissioner is  going to present his long awaited Net Neutrality proposal to the his commission and to the world this month. Organizations such as free press are already saying it’s not extreme enough ( Even though I’m not sure how they can say that when it’s not even out yet) and making all types of noise in the 11th hour. I’ve said for some time that the push for these regulations is somewhat narrow minded and does not take into account the ripple effect that these regulations will create. Will they stop there?  A story I found recently  ask that very question. A coffee shop in NY posts a sign banning the use of skype on their wifi network, I’ve been on the Acela Amtrak trains and they only allow certain types of traffic. I’m even writing this article on a bus heading into the city using their on board wifi ( which is great BTW) but aren’t these the same things they are accusing providers of doing? The coffee shop is paying for the wifi so don’t they have the right to stop their bandwidth from being exploited? Would i rather them shut down the service because it’s becomes to cost prohibitive to run? Will groups like free press be standing outside this coffee shop serving waffles like they did at the FCC. I believe the FCC understands this which is why they are taking a methodical approach to this issue that gives them flexibility in the future.  As you can see by my example this issue needs to be thought through on many levels so let’s hope this happens.

***Update*****

Youtube is blocked on the Bus 🙂

An Open Letter to James Rucker

I had several initial reactions to your piece but I knew that others would have knee-jerk, emotional reactions as people often do, and that type of reaction normally fuels these policy debates, but we never really get to real facts. Your article really only brings two feelings for me, and those are confusion and concern.

First, I’m confused about what your goals are here. I’ve watched you write articles, give speeches and have even sat on panels with you and heard you push for “additional” Net Neutrality regulations to be put in place (I say additional because you haven’t made people aware that there are already principles in place by which the FCC monitors the internet). Where I would assume that you would feel a sense of accomplishment, I actually see the opposite. Weren’t FCC net neutrality protections your goal?

The FCC has spent significant time hearing from corporations, consumer and public interest groups, policy experts and academics from both sides, as well as the American people, and it has diligently worked to develop a plan that takes all of those points of reference into account. To my disappointment, this lengthy process sidetracked forward movement on broadband adoption and expanded access. But, it seems you will have the FCC continue to go into this tangential spiral of “net neutrality” because nothing less than exactly what you think they should do is acceptable. In the meantime, it is crucial that the public knows that this focused activity on net neutrality has and will continue to hold back the very people your organization was created to represent — keeping them from benefiting from the opportunities that high speed Internet could offer them.

My second feeling is that of concern. First, because we continue to misconstrue messages and the truth in order to stir up emotions in people, instead of properly educating them so that they may make their own informed decisions. For example in your latest piece you stated that “Without Net Neutrality, Google, Facebook, the Huffington Post and MoveOn.org would not exist; neither would Barack Obama be President.” That statement is loaded and inaccurate for the following reasons:

• What you’re pushing for is not “Net Neutrality,” but rather new regulations that go as far as you can take them. The Net is more neutral today than it’s ever been, and the opportunities for minorities are bigger today than ever. Large companies such as Facebook and Google have not suffered under the current framework — after all, didn’t they get to where they are today BEFORE any of these added “net neutrality” rules were even on the table? By sending this misguided message, you discourage minorities from taking full advantage of such opportunities currently at their fingertips, which goes against every message I’ve been trying to get across for the last year and a half.

• To expand on my last point, sites like Google, the Huffington Post and the others you mentioned were able to flourish because of the current environment provided to the Internet. Even as the Internet evolves in methods and models, that fact will not change.

• The Internet today is not the same as it was 2 years ago, and that Internet was different than it was 5 years ago — this is a good thing. I remember hearing the late Danny Lewin, founder of Akamai, say in 1999 that if we kept up the same Internet usage that we had then, we would overwhelm capacity in 5 years. Well, not only did we increase usage beyond best guesses, but we have surpassed that date. This was able to happen because the Internet changed, adapted and evolved with the times and as needed to meet consumer demands. The Internet plans offered by AOL would not work today and so those models had to evolve and change. But, we have seen more opportunity, not less, during this process of evolution, and I don’t think anyone would disagree — just look at the new multimillion dollar mobile app industry!

My last point of concern with your recent piece is in regard to personal attacks. Instead of sitting down and having honest and open debate, players in this debate often resort to public attacks on each other. I have had the pleasure of meeting you in person, and we have had dialogue in a social setting. I am also honored that David Honig has asked me to speak at his events and enabled me to get the messages that I hold so dearly out to the community. So, I can say that the attacks don’t help the people on whose behalf we are advocating. So my hope is that we can all move past these types of “verbal battles” and really focus on the people and the topics that matter.

When Adoption is the Goal, Compromise Is Not a Four-Letter Word

This post originally appeared on the huffingtonpost. You can see that post here

After months of heated debate, intense partisan jockeying, goo-gobs of rhetoric being spun left and right and an exhaustive litany of hearings, comments and ex parte filings, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski finally announced that the Commission will, in fact, be voting on net neutrality rules during its December 21 meeting. While the official Order has yet to be released, it seems that the Commission’s proposal goes a little something like this:

• Internet users are entitled to basic transparency protections regarding the ways that broadband networks are managed;
• They are entitled to send and receive the lawful content of their choosing online, and blocking or degrading lawful Internet traffic is prohibited;
• Internet users can rest assured that their interactions online will be free from any unreasonable discrimination;
• Reasonable network management is permissible only to the extent required to ensure the best functioning of the Internet; and finally
• The unique needs of different types of network connections — wired, wireless or otherwise — will be taken into account in determining the reasonableness of network management practices.

Pretty simple, straightforward stuff. Now, by all accounts, this proposal seems to be a fairly solid compromise between the volumes of input the FCC received from consumer groups, policymakers, elected officials, industry leaders, civil rights organizations, labor unions and regular people interested enough in the issue to chime in. It even seems to include elements of Genachowski’s own Third Way Proposal from earlier in the year, with a dash of the original Four Internet Freedoms of the Powell/Martin-era FCC, and a hint of some consensus elements that one-time rivals were able to agree on earlier this fall when Congressman Henry Waxman tried to get a net neutrality bill passed through Congress before midterms.

So the question is, if this proposal basically takes into account the interests of various parties who took part in net neutrality discussion over the past year and a half — what in the world is wrong with compromise? Why are the same people who fought so hard to get net neutrality rules imposed by the Commission, now so angry that a proposed framework is on the table?

Something drastic has happened to our culture where it has for some reason unbeknownst to me become ‘en vogue’ to whine your way toward relevance. The very same ‘consumer interest groups’ that were staunch advocates of Genachowski just months ago are now criticizing him more harshly than even his worst critics.

One need only look as far as Mark Ammori to see a prime example of someone whose brash critique of Genachowski overlooks the important work he’s doing in trying to bring this oh-so-contentious issue to a close. What’s more, what Ammori and other critics fail to realize is that with the net neutrality issue being close to tabled, the Commission can finally focus on the real “priority” of this administration — implementation of the National Broadband Plan.

The fact that the rhetoric has continued even when there’s a prospective solution in sight raises serious questions about why certain folks are so vested in seeing this net neutrality fray continue. Could it be that they, in fact, benefit from manufacturing chaos? Is the heated anger really just a way to attract more media attention to groups that are otherwise irrelevant or invisible to the vast majority of our nation’s population?

When people spend more time and money fighting against “big corporations” than they do investing in the poor, unserved and underprivileged communities they claim to care about and represent, one at least wonders what really motivates the free press to save the internet for everyone by providing them with public knowledge about the power of the Internet.

Maybe because I didn’t grow up wealthy, or because my introduction to technology really was lifesaving and life altering that I view this proposal differently than some others may.

Maybe I’m naive to believe that compromise is a good thing, and not a four-letter word.

But maybe, just maybe, there are other rational, moderate people out there, like me, who see that something is better than nothing, and that the FCC’s ability to deal with net neutrality now in the way that it’s trying to puts us much closer to our ultimate goal of achieving universal broadband adoption and use for all than continued bickering ever will.