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: (more…)
After announcing that SOPA would be delayed until 2012, it’s hearing date and potential vote has been quietly rescheduled to 12/21/2011. While SOPA claims to help stop piracy, it also gives DHS even greater ability to act without due process. Even if that wasn’t a violation of the 4th amendment, DHS has a horrible record of abusing the power it already has. It’s time to once again call our representatives to remind them they are sworn by oath to protect the constitution.
More nanny state skullduggery on our Internet: check out who’s at the top of the SOPA’s author’s donor list.Then have a look at who’s been downloading!
Meet the most distracted generation as mobile data use explodes. Age demographic shows data usage peaks at 25-34 and declines with age.
Doing the only right thing to restore customer confidence: Sprint is the first wireless provider to ditch Carrier IQ.
An old tactic as a new trend? Buying new business in a very slow economy. Verizon offers $300 to competitors subscribers in the southern US to jump ship. Groupon burns some of it’s IPO cash trying to stay ahead of copycat offerings from Amazon and Ebay.
A few lucky souls in San Francisco will be getting uncapped 1GB broadband for about what most US cable subscribers pay for 30MB or less.
While Senator Al Franken continues to throw a fit over wireless carriers spying on their customers, we learn about yet another fed program to illegally monitor communications. Dear Senator while carrier behavior is abominable, please get your own house in order first. Those of us who care about our privacy still have more than two carriers to chose from – at least until you and your cronies take that freedom away too. Meanwhile, lawyers start a gold rush trying to cash in.
The many benefits of being a Protect IP supporter (if you’re a member of Congress). In reality it’s another attempt to extend the life of a zombie business model using government to impede progress. Meanwhile DHS continues to seize domains outside of its jurisdiction.
The high cost of outsourcing manufacturing? Sooner than any so called expert would have predicted, $99 Android 4.0 tablet using a home grown Chinese CPU becomes reality. While it’s aimed at its home market, the impact will be felt in the west, much sooner than expected.
Look for the cable guys to get a little more aggressive adding wireless to service packages. After selling spectrum to Verizon Comcast and Time Warner entered into agreements to sell wireless products that will utilize V’s network. Customers connected via Clear’s network will be transitioned to Verizon, ending the Clearwire partnership.
While this will be a big revenue hit for cash burning Clearwire, it also frees it from the product and price restrictions the cable guys had imposed. Unfortunately Clearwire, it’s probably too late to take advantage of this new freedom even if it’s management was up to the task. I expect for Clearwire will go bust early next year with Sprint absorbing most of its assets and customer base.
The new Verizon arrangement does give the cable guys tremendous opportunity to innovate and disrupt. I don’t expect we’ll see much of either. Cable management tends to drive looking through the rear view mirror. Nothing that could be seen as a threat to the walled garden pay TV package will ever see the light of day. Only monopolies can survive doing business this way.
As for Verizon, look for more deals like this one. While quality of service has much more to do with tower density and backhaul, Verizon and AT&T are on a quest to lock up all available spectrum. Unless they control virtually all spectrum, their broken wireless business model can’t be sustained.
The wireless business as we know it should have ended with the smartphone. It did not because of tight handset control by a small cartel of service providers. This cartel succeeded in locking up the supply of devices largely by denying access to their networks with third party devices. By leveraging a tight knit relationship with regulators and lawmakers, these companies have also successfully locked up the lions share of wireless spectrum for their exclusive use. This same cartel is now clamoring to lock up more of the most useful airwaves even as they hold currently hold spectrum that is not being utilized. Lawmakers who have an unending need to spend more welcome the idea of a new windfall from yet another auction to exclusively assign public airwaves to the cartel.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, wireless carriers are aggressively offloading increased data traffic to narrow, increasingly overcrowded unlicensed WiFi networks. The reason isn’t hard to figure out. If more traffic can be pushed onto someone else’s network they can still charge large without building adequate infrastructure. Why not allow more unlicensed frequencies? Congress wants more money, and the carriers do not want an abundance of open spectrum available. That would encourage a whole new wave of competition that will demand new investment while pushing down prices. Make no mistake about it: The growing abundance of cheap WiFi only tablets and entertainment devices that do more than the carriers’ locked handsets could spell doom if the availability of WiFi grows.
I’m not the lone wolf howling on this open spectrum soapbox. Yochai Benkler at Technology Review seems to agree with me on most major points and has several good ones to add. Open spectrum is not being discussed by lawmakers because it does not benefit them. The next wave of wireless could lift all ships, including those of pols and a cartel. They need to get out of the way to make it happen, and they need to hear from all of us to make it so.