Blog - Page 17

Broadband for all, or bigger government?

While the FCC considers whether to impose nondiscrimination and transparency regulation to all forms of broadband Internet access, Public Knowledge is proposing to subject broadband services to the same pervasive, overlapping, heavy-handed regulatory framework as century-old telephone service (see this and this) — a framework which a former FCC chairman during the Clinton Administration described as a hopeless “morass.”
PK is worried the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit might rule in a pending case that the FCC doesn’t have jurisdiction to regulate broadband. The group also is fretting over a recent observation by AT&T that, “with each passing day, more and more communications service migrate to broadband and IP-based services,” leaving the public switched telephone network (“PSTN”) and plain old telephone service (“POTS”) we all grew up with “as relics of a by-gone era.”

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Duopoly shumopoly

Broadband regulation is justified — according to Lawrence E. Strickling, who is the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information — because a recent FCC report indicates that “[a]t most 2 providers of fixed broadband services will pass most homes. Furthermore, “50-80% of homes may get speeds they need only from one provider.”
Christine A. Varney, the Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust concurs, noting

It is premature to predict whether the wireless broadband firms will be able to discipline the behavior of the established wireline providers, but early developments are mildly encouraging.

These comments essentially parrot the views of some left-wing advocacy groups who are trying to engineer a revolution in communications policy, such as Free Press and Public Knowledge.

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Georgia Risks Falling Behind in Telecommunications

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution has a great article on the future of telecommunications in the state. The article prominently features Discovery Institute Senior Fellow George Gilder. Click here to read.

Backtracking on net neutrality?

At CNET News, Larry Downes writes that the Obama administration has lost some of its enthusiasm for aggressive regulatory intervention of the Internet. The latest evidence, according to Downes, is a comment this week by White House deputy CTO Andrew McLaughlin noting that the FCC has yet to determine whether Net neutrality is needed to preserve the open Internet. The administration is clearly backtracking. But why? Part of the reason is some unexpected political pressure, including a letter signed by 72 congressional Democrats opposing the FCC’s proposed rules soon after they were announced. But the bigger explanation is the growing priority within the administration for nationwide, affordable broadband service. In the course of preparing the national broadband plan, mandated by Read More ›

State of IP

At Telephony Online, Rich Karpinski notes, In today’s carrier networks, IP may not always be hyped or even seen, but it is indeed everywhere — and in 2010, it’s only going deeper and making an even bigger impact. I think this protocol proliferation in the name of IP is the death rattle of the old network. IP is a data protocol so of course it dominated the enterprise market and it is prevalent on the Internet so of course Internet players such as Google want it to be upgraded for so-called Multimedia. But the message of all the brave talk about “ultimate outcomes that have yet to take hold today” is that once again it is becoming reasonable to predict Read More ›

Comcast + NBC = Blackmail

A Sunday editorial in the New York Times expressed concerns about Comcast’s proposed acquisition of NBC, but explicitly stopped short of calling for rejection of the deal.
According to the Times, this combination could be just awful

Comcast could bar rival cable and satellite TV companies from access to desirable NBC shows, or it could offer them only at a high price, bundled with less attractive content …. Comcast could now be tempted to limit access to NBC content on rival Internet services, or charge them high fees. And Comcast could take its bundling business model to the Internet by forcing customers to buy cable packages in order to see content from NBC’s network online.

After citing these horrific possibilities, the Times then says,

These concerns might not justify blocking a merger. But they do justify a careful review …. What regulators must not do is let this deal pass unchallenged.

What? If it’s so bad, shouldn’t we call 911?
Well, if the deal is rejected or withdrawn, various special interests get nothing.

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Behavioral advertising: Poor excuse for regulation

With U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and now the Federal Trade Commission holding hearings on privacy and online advertising, it seemed like a good time to visit the Google Privacy Center to see what categories Google believes I fall into based on my online behavior. My interests were:News & Current EventsThat was it. I could opt out of interest-based advertising or manage my ad preferences at the Google site, but, I figured, what’s the point? A Google representative told the New York Times that the Privacy Center pulls in tens of thousands of visitors each week. For every one person who opts out, four people change the categories they have fallen into, and 10 people do nothing, just look over Read More ›

Evidence on net neutrality

A collection of essays published by the American Consumer Institute includes one by me entitled “Net Neutrality Regulation Would Impose Consumer Welfare Losses,” beginning on page 47. The essays were the subject of a Capitol Hill event yesterday which featured remarks by Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). According to The Hill’s technology blog, By glancing at the authors, it’s no surprise that the 14-essay pamphlet’s thesis is that net neutrality regulations would ultimately be harmful for consumers and thwart innovation. The table of contents has familiar names: Randolph May (Free State Foundation), Wayne Leighton (Empiris), John Mayo (Georgetown University) and Hance Haney (Discovery Institute), to name just a few. You most likely already know their positions. Read More ›

Whoops! Berkman study shows “open access” reduces broadband consumption

A paper by George S. Ford at the Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Public Policy Studies shows that a correct interpretation of a study by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University is that “open access” does not stimulate broadband consumption — as its authors claim — but reduces it. Sound empirical research of treatments and outcomes requires the researcher to ignore the observed outcomes in formulating the hypothesis tests and choosing the empirical methodologies. Yet, the Berkman Study peeks at the outcome and then tries to formulate some procedure to attribute observed differences to one factor or another. In other words, throughout the Berkman Study, the authors are separating the sick rats from the well Read More ›

Traffic Data Flows in New Traffic–and Business–Pattern

Recent decisions at Google are having an impact on people who try to manage transportation issues related to traffic flow, according to Bryan Mistele (a new Board Member of Discovery Institute.)