Posts Taged free-press

Free Press Rears its Head (Again) in AT&T/T-Mobile Merger Deal

Kristi Swartz for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently reported that, although AT&T’s Wireless operations are based out of Atlanta, Georgia, and the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger has received support from elected officials and the business community, alike, a considerable sum of Atlanta residents have filed comments with the FCC opposing the merger.

“The Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Technology Association of Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal, state Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus, state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed are among the city and state officials who filed comments backing the move,” said Swartz. But “outside of its officials, few Atlantans who posted comments lent support to the wireless carrier that has employed thousands of workers and contributed millions to the metro area in corporate sponsorships and grants.”

The most interesting part of Swartz’s assessment is not that Atlantans seem to be opposing the merger, but that Free Press was the major force behind that opposition.

According to Swartz, “More than half of the opposition comments from Atlanta residents were identical, taken from a statement posted on a website by the Free Press, a nonprofit media-reform organization.”

For all its talk about the influence of “big telecom,” Free Press’ lobbying prowess never ceases to amaze me. As a grassroots messaging machine, the organization has near impeccable style, indoctrinating its members in a narrow, one-note style and creating mass hysteria around the prospects of what might happen, instead of founding its beliefs in factual evidence.

Regardless of whether AT&T obtains 43% market share if this merger is approved, that doesn’t stop Verizon, Sprint, Boost Mobile, Cricket, Virgin Mobile, U.S. Cellular, MetroPCS or Tracfone from continuing to render affordable, high-quality service. In fact, if AT&T wants to maintain the 129 million subscribers it will have once the merger is approved, it would behoove the company to keep rates affordable and service quality high, lest they experience a mass flight from consumers.

The unfortunate thing about the Free Press approach is that it consistently takes for granted the ability of consumers to choose – to mandate high quality service at rates they can afford if a provider wants to maintain their business. With cellular service in particular, the availability and choice between providers is ever-present. You don’t like your service? Guess what, there are several other carriers you can choose from. The constant drum-beat of the Free Press mantra ‘bigger ain’t better’ is overwrought and overblown at this point…but hey, without controversy, Free Press wouldn’t have a purpose, and it couldn’t pay its top executives six-figure salaries.

Why We Will Lose If AT&T/T-Mobile Merger fails

Losing

There has been a lot of chatter from groups like Public knowledge and freepress telling you to vote against the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile. They say that the t-mobile customers will benefit from that company not being acquired and that it’s in their best interest. They use the  fear of losing current pricing as a way to create anxiety and sway opinion. But never really lay out the reality of what is going with the business and how what happens will truly affect you. So instead of the speculation and misdirection that these groups put in front of you, here are some clear facts about what will and will not happen if this merger does not go through.

  • T-Mobile will benefit if the merger is rejected: False T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom  will get that money , not T-Mobile directly. read it here : http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/13/us-deutschetelkom-att-idUSTRE74C5XJ20110513
  • T-Mobile’s parent company will reinvest the break up money into T-Mobile :False The company’s CEO made it clear that their plans do not include any investments outside of Europe.  “Deutsche Telekom CEO Rene Obermann has made it clear that creating a presence in emerging markets outside of Europe is not part of the company’s strategy going forward” That means T-mobile will not benefit from any of those funds. http://www.fiercewireless.com/europe/story/deutsche-telekom-reveals-spending-plans-att-cash/2011-05-13#ixzz1MWkjcsNK
  • T-Mobile does not need the merger: False The company is currently struggling and without an acquisition of some kind it will fail. “ T-Mobile suffered a net loss of 99,000 subscribers during the latest quarter, and its net income fell to $135 million, down dramatically from $362 million during the first quarter of 2010″ http://gigaom.com/mobile/what-t-mobile-could-do-if-the-att-acquisition-fails-2/

So there you have just a few of data points to view. And if you are feeling skeptical that’s fine, feel to click on the links above that show you the facts you need to know. So despite what you have been hearing. If the merger loses, T-Mobile customers really lose.

The Digital Divide Is A Real Issue, Not Just a Phrase To Use To Get Attention.

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There are alot of people that will tell you that the digital divide is over. That everyone has access to broadband and wireless and the playing field is equal.  I can tell you and show you data from multiple sources to prove that is not the case. Minorities have adopted and have access to the internet at much lower levels than our mainstream counterparts. As internet and wireless technology become bigger parts of mainstream society it becomes more difficult for people to recognize the divide and the gap widens for those are who not connected , which is made up heavily of African Americans and Hispanics.

With all that in mind it’s frustrating to me to see people use the word digital divide to attract attention to agendas that will do nothing to improve the actual divide. I recently read this article that talks about a conference put on by FreePress and it stated that the panel focused on the digital divide. Well my first pause was that the picture of the panelists did not seem to represent the people the divide is affecting. But i decided to let that go and continue to read. The article quickly showed me that all they talked about is how people need to become more educated on media policy and specifically AT&T ‘s policies ( which is all freepress seems to ever talk about).  This is another example a group using a word that has emotion impact to us that care about this issue, to push their own agenda. So can someone let freepress know that if you not going to do anything to help really solve the issue, at least do not use the phrase out of context for your benefit. We have enough challenges to solving the problem already! Also if you any of think I’m exaggerating then read for yourself here.

Better Education or waffles?

Today  I wrote a post that appears on the huffington post today that talks about the recent donation by Mark Zuckerberg and how another group called free press spent their money last week.

You can read the post here and  listen to my audio podcast below.

The “Real” Reality Check

I came across an article today that was written by Harold Ford Jr.
http://www.broadbandforamerica.com/blog/harold-ford-jr-time-reality-check in response to an earlier article he published on the Huffington post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harold-ford/fcc-re-designation-of-bro_b_588879.html) about his thoughts on the FCC’s attempts at reclassifying broadband service as a means of regulating it.

Of course, when I went to the original article the list of comments were a mile long, and people from Free Press were calling the former Congressman a puppet and fueling the fire for others to attack his credibility and ability to think for himself.

My first question is, does this type of character bashing really help to educate the people about the issues at hand? Does it in any way advance the conversation towards solutions that will actually work? The answer is NO! It just continues to derail the conversation about Internet regulation into senseless bickering.

Really Free Press, what is it that you do? You have yet to give a clear definition of Net Neutrality. You claim to be advocates for free speech but you are hypocritical in even that stance when it comes to your own events.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/navarrow-wright/the-internet-is-open-unle_b_584822.html P.S. I’m still waiting for a response as to why my comments, and other voices of opposition, are consistently filtered out of any “dialogue” you guys initiate about Internet regulation.

The “Real” reality is that while groups like this draw more and more people into useless bickering that is more about “political” posturing than anything else, the Internet can and must continue moving forward. New technologies are being created, like HTML5, new devices are being launched and new companies are being created that are focused on bringing these products to the masses; all under the Internet’s current structure.

While some people sell hypothetical scenarios to cause anxiety, real people are getting things done. The “Real” reality is that there are people out there who need to be educated about the benefits of internet adoption now and not be confused by “what ifs” before they have a chance to get online.

The “real” reality is that the government can’t keep up with this innovation and should focus on adoption and education to bring more people to table.

The “real” reality is that unless they are willing to be a constructive part of the movement to get all Americans online, Free Press should get out of the way so that “real” solutions can take shape.

People ought to be ashamed of themselves

I’ve been working on keeping track of how the Net Neutrality issue is playing out, and the more I do, the more I realized someone has to speak up.

A month ago, Free Press claimed it was “troubled by some of the heated rhetoric that has gone back and forth over whether civil rights organizations should be for or against Network Neutrality. In general, this debate has too often descended into outrageous allegations of all kinds.” They added, “A commitment to civility will benefit everyone involved.” They urged everyone to avoid “outrageous allegations” that “divide us along ethnic and racial lines.”

I confess: about that same time, I was in the process of strongly challenging Free Press for its offensive claims that minorities who disagreed with them were dupes of big business. But I never posted it – because I agreed we needed a civil debate.

This issue is just too important to wallow in crazy claims and race-dividing rhetoric. At its root, all agree we need an open Internet, and that everyone – particularly consumers – benefits. But despite what Free Press claims, the openness of the Internet is not at risk. That is a smokescreen. Internet activity has and will continue to be guarded by the Four Internet Freedom principles set forth by the FCC. ( a fact that these outlets never mention those BTW), and ISPs are already prohibited from blocking, discriminating against, or deterring Internet users from accessing online content and applications of their choice. The Internet works wonderfully as it is, and in the very rare cases where an ISP breached a principle, corrective action was taken promptly. ISPs are on high alert not to repeat anything close to those one or two errors. What is at risk is the goal of 100% broadband and our need to ensure access by all children, families, small businesses, and voices.

Well, at least that was supposed to be the heart of the debate. I’m not going to repeat all of Free Press’ new outrageous claims, but its government relations manager days ago wrote that the policies that minorities (like me and many of you) are supporting would create a “segregated community.” They suggest minorities who work for AT&T, Verizon and others are unwittingly helping their employers erode “online rights of marginalized communities.”

Shame on Free Press, and shame on us if we allow such offensive and preposterous comments to ever go unchallenged. Free Press, please don’t backtrack on your appeal to civility and facts. Let’s respect our communities and consumers enough to give them knowledge and information, and let them decide where they stand – without your scare tactics and rhetoric. I could not be more sincere, and I’ll reach out to you off line to see how we can make this happen together.

Who Can We Trust?

Public Knowledge, an organization representing what I would call “digital elites,” has joined with other elite activist groups to push the FCC to adopt so-called Net Neutrality rules.  To do this, Public Knowledge uses carefully chosen words like “neutrally,” “openness” and “discrimination.” I find myself wondering whether they have any idea what these words mean.  As they insist that net neutrality will benefit minorities, I have serious doubts.

First, Public Knowledge suggests that our civil rights leaders and minority elected officials are not intelligent enough to think for themselves.  Public Knowledge has questioned our leaders’ desire to ensure that our communities have access to and beneficial use of broadband services. With African American unemployment at 15.4%, Public Knowledge mocks their concerns that minorities without broadband access can’t compete for jobs.  When the African American broadband adoption rate is only 2/3 of that for White Americans, Public Knowledge dismisses our leaders’ support for a National Broadband Plan focused on increasing adoption and use.  With African American men earning 25 percent less than their white counterparts, Public Knowledge scoffs at our leaders’ desire to ensure that public policy promotes affordable broadband.   When our leaders ask legitimate and respectful questions about the possible unintended consequences of net neutrality rules, Public Knowledge shows them the back of their hand.

Public Knowledge even suggests that the concerns of all minorities are only directed at, or merit the attention of, the “African American” Commissioner Mignon Clyburn.   This statement reminds me of a time in our past when outright racial appeals and stereotypes polluted the stream of public discourse.  This should not be tolerated.

I believe all of the FCC Commissioners respect and share the concerns of minority elected officials and civil rights leaders.  I’m confident that they will respond by addressing our leaders’ request for full research and analysis before any rules are adopted that could have adverse results for broadband adoption.

I also applaud African American leaders and scores of Democratic members of Congress who had the wisdom to flash a “caution light” about the unintended consequences of net neutrality rules.  And I detest the effort by Public Knowledge and its allies to brand them as “deserters” and “unAmerican” because their views are not in lockstep with Public Knowledge.

The really ironic thing about Public Knowledge’s insistence that questions must not be asked about their demand for new Internet rules is this: how does the public obtain knowledge if it cannot even ask questions?  I want to see Public Knowledge and its allies drop their presumptuousness and stop pretending that they speak for our communities. Our diverse public has the knowledge, and the right, to speak for itself.

Let me restate our concerns:

    * The risk that a regressive pricing mandate that net neutrality rules could impose will shift online costs to the poor is real.
    * The risk that over-regulation will depress deployment and access is real.
    * The risk that restrictions on network management will reduce the quality and reliability of Internet service for light users — students, the poor on fixed incomes, the elderly, and community organizers who rely on Internet access to reach their communities – is real.

Net neutrality advocates would serve their cause well if they would stop attacking the intelligence and integrity of minority and other Democratic leaders, and stop writing off genuine disagreements or concerns about the potential effects of these regulations.  I ask net neutrality advocates to pause for a moment, start listening to what minorities are saying, and then consider how best to close the digital divide. They should humbly reflect on whether or not net neutrality could be implemented in a manner that is certain to close the digital divide and not just feed the bandwidth desires of the digital elite, a move that would shift costs to low-volume, low-income consumers.

Low barriers to entry are what make the Internet fertile ground for entrepreneurs and activists to disrupt the landscape with new ideas.  We cannot raise these barriers before disadvantaged populations, who have been historically disenfranchised, have the opportunity to enter the field.  I would not have had the success that I’ve had in my life had the Internet not been available to me in the way that it is now.  And I would be doing a disservice to my community if I did not work to make sure it stays that way.

The public has the right to know the answers. That is what we mean by “public knowledge.”  I urge the organization with that name to behave like they mean it.