It’s no secret that the Telcos have major pull in Congress. Review any representative’s list of top campaign donors and you are more likely then not to find them at the top. It’s also no secret that AT&T and Verizon see a perfect world where they control all of the public airwaves. We’ve heard endless hand ringing in Congress about how bad wireless service is directly connected to too little spectrum in the control of carriers.
What they don’t mention is as much as half of the licensed spectrum in held major markets by the top two carriers isn’t even being used. There’s also no mention of repurposing any of that fallow spectrum for broadband like is being proposed for broadcast bands. Even if spectrum was lacking, increasing tower density can overcome virtually all capacity problems. None of this makes much sense unless we understand that the real issue isn’t the need for more spectrum to provide better service. It’s to gain control of the wireless last mile and effectively end competition.
Acting in the public interest to facilitate better service is not what this debate is about. After gaining control of more than half of the fixed line right of ways to the last mile, the two major telco’s slowed infrastructure improvements to a snails pace. That’s created an America with substandard broadband at some of the highest prices in the world. They have the same plan for wireless. By controlling all of the spectrum and consolidating into two companies, the non competitive broadband duopoly will be extended into the wireless space.
The House of Representatives wants to take control of spectrum auctions. They want us to believe that the FCC is acting to slowly to resolve that the completely fabricated “spectrum crisis”. According to former FCC chair Reed Hundt, the bill would end competition:
Many years ago when I was a spectrum auctioneer, we decided to auction spectrum for satellite radio. Sirius and XM were the winners. We decided that there would be two licenses in the auction and that the same firm could not buy both. So if you bid and won on one you weren’t eligible to buy the second. The House bill would say that that’s impermissible and that you couldn’t stop one firm from buying both. The House bill will say that there can never be a rule that says one bidder can never buy anything. The American people should go like, “What? There’s a rule against having competition, a rule against having innovators compete against each other?” (Network World)
It wold also end new open access spectrum, which is also anti competitive while denying the public their right to use their own property:
When you log onto an airport you aren’t paying to use any spectrum that somebody owns. And now everyone wants to move on to new versions of Wi-Fi that are faster, such as the networks being built on white spaces spectrum, and so that provision barring the FCC from assigning more unlicensed spectrum is anti-consumer, it’s anti-computer companies and anti-software companies. There’s no good policy argument for it. (Reed Hundt – via Network World)
In fairness, I should mention that Reed Hundt is a revolving door beltway insider who is currently involved in questionable projects like the Green Energy Coalition. He’s still feeding large at the public trough, just not the Telco backed one… at least at the moment.
With the large distraction of a presidential election, it’s a perfect time for the Congress to slip bad legislation through under the radar. If you don’t know where your representative stands on this issue, I encourage you to find out and let them know you are watching.