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First Impression: FCC Rules for the 700MHz Auction

The FCC has issued rules which will govern the auction of valuable radio spectrum which could make a huge difference in the price and quality of communications in America. The glass is definitely half something: I'd say closer to empty than full but there are some things to like and some hope for competition. The decision is a compromise. Republican Chairman Martin was joined by Democrat Commissioners Adelstein and Copps in setting some open access conditions for 22MHz out of the 62MHz which will be auctioned. Republican Commissioner Tate reluctantly went along with these conditions and Republican McDowell voted against them. more

Other Plans: WiMAX, Google, Sprint and Clearwire

Someone asked me a question today about Google's new partnership with Sprint. Sprint/Nextel is the third largest wireless carrier in the U.S., falling far behind Verizon and AT&T -- who together control 51% of the wireless market. (Sprint services are also resold by Comcast and Time Warner as part of their packages.) Sprint has announced it won't bid in the 700 MHz auction. Sprint has other plans... more

Google's Good Bandwidth Gambit

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt has made the FCC an offer it shouldn't refuse. At this point it's unlikely that the FCC will accept but it would be good for the United States if it did -- and good for Google, of course. Two problems with the Google offer: at&t and Verizon hate it and it probably would result in the 700MHz auction bringing in somewhat less money (immediately) for the treasury than an alternative which would encourage the telcos to bid. more

FTC Report on Broadband Resurrects Freedom of Service Information

The Federal Trade Commission intends to monitor the information that telecom and cable companies provide about high-speed Internet service in the service plans they offer to customers, according to a report issued last week by the agency. The FTC asserts in the report, released on June 27, that since it has jurisdiction over matters involving consumer protection, it "will continue to enforce the consumer protection laws in the area of broadband access."... The consumer protection sections of the FTC report raise this question: are broadband providers engaging in a deceptive practice when they advertise a connection speed of, for example, "up to" 768 kilobits per second (kbps) - and yet actual speeds are considerably lower? more

First Square Mile is not the Last or First Mile: Discovery not Just Choices!

The term "last mile" highlights the fact that we are the consumers at the end of a broadband "pipe". Saying "first mile" is a little better but the Internet is not a pipe to or from somewhere else. It's about what we can do locally and then what we can do when we interconnect with other neighborhoods. It's better to describe our neighborhood as the first square mile. Telecom is about selling us services; the Internet is about what we can do ourselves locally and then interconnecting with others everywhere. In writing the First Square Mile - Our Neighborhood essay which I just posted I came to better understand the fundamental difference between the world of telecom which is about giving you choices and the Internet which provides opportunity to discover what we can't anticipate... more

Google Explains What They Mean by "Net Neutrality"

Google has launched a new Public Policy Blog focused on U.S. government legislation and regulation -- reported in the media as part of Google's efforts in setting up focus on the U.S. government since early 2005. In an entry posted over the weekend on the blog by Richard Whitt, Washington Telecom and Media Counsel, key argument within the net neutrality debate is explained... more

Carriers Constrain Entrepreneurs

Previously, I've written about how the success of the MVNO (though not without its problems) demonstrates how an Open Access-like business model can work in a wireless context. The underlying carrier, such as Sprint or Verizon, can sell access to its network at wholesale rates to a company like Virgin Mobile, which then markets to consumers. This model can be and is a success both for the retailer and the wholesaler. MVNOs are not perfect. more

WSJ on Wireless Network Neutrality

Today's Wall Street Journal had an interesting article (subscription required) on the current state of the wireless walled garden. It cites several recent clashes between handset vendors and cellcos over the extent to which consumers can use their phones to access non cellco content. From the article: "At stake for consumers are what services will be available on their mobile phones and whether they're free or cost a monthly fee. The wireless Web is taking off more slowly in America than overseas, and one reason is that U.S. carriers tightly control what applications are available on mobile devices..." more

Treating Different Types of Communications Differently

A friend who read my Creating Sustainable Network Neutrality paper wrote to say, "Help me understand what is so bad about treating different types of communications differently." That's a really good question! If you want to offer vertically integrated services on special purpose networks, such as video entertainment or pager service or telephony, I do not have a problem with that, provided you don't use your market power to impede Internet applications that offer competing services... more

Net Neutrality Reflection

So this afternoon my charge is to lay out all the Net Neutrality (NN) issues to a bar association that doesn't have a telecom subcommittee... Cringely says that "In the end the ISPs [network providers] are going to win this [network neutrality] battle, you know. The only thing that will keep them from doing that is competition, something it is difficult to see coming along anytime soon..." more