Blog - Page 61

Improved broadband dereg. proposal makes debut

A revised staff draft is circulating in the House Energy & Commerce Committee. The proposal is more deregulatory in several important respects and marks solid progress in the effort to promote investment and foster innovation. For example: Although competitors would still be required to file registration statements with the FCC, the agency is given far less latitude to pervert the requirement in order to limit or condition entry. Immediate access to public rights-of-way and compatible easements is guaranteed for Broadband Video Services (BVS) and, now, for Broadband Internet transmission services, as well. The definition of BVS has been simplified. The first draft contained a definition intended to push technology in a particular direction. That definition was reminiscent of the “Open Read More ›

Telecom Reform Russian-style

Yuri Mamchur, Discovery Institute’s foreign policy fellow for the Future of Democracy in Russia and Eastern Europe program, has a post here about the Russian Duma banning cellphone companies from charging for incoming calls. The prime beneficiary appears to be Megafon, an upstart firm that (surprise!) has many powerful patrons and board members in the Kremlin, including President Putin’s wife Ludmila.

Satellite Take Off

After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, we predicted satellite phones would finally emerge as a mainstream component in our communications infrastructure. According to this morning’s Wall Street Journal, it looks like we were right: What a change a Category 4 hurricane makes. A few years ago, demand for satellite phones was so tepid that the two largest U.S. manufacturers, Iridium and Globalstar LP, were forced to seek bankruptcy-court protection. But today satellite phones are among the hottest products in the telecom industry. Manufacturers have been deluged with orders since Hurricane Katrina revealed the weaknesses in the country’s land-line and cellphone systems. -Bret Swanson

Government does not exist to protect investment expectations

Last week George Gilder, Bret Swanson and I met with a powerful Senator who told us he is being urged to “go slow” on deregulation because it would be unfair to change the market conditions that existed when investments were made. Of course, this is a Luddite argument against any progress at all. Telephone companies invested billions before VoIP. Cable companies invested billions before IPTV. And rural telephone companies invested billions before wireless offered a cheaper way to connect remote consumers. Should government slow the deployment of alternative technologies that cost less and offer greater functionality? Not if it cares about consumers and taxpayers. Investment is motivated by a desire for inordinate profit. Successful investment achieves a temporary monopoly, and Read More ›

Qualcomm unfairly targeted for bundling discount?

Should it be illegal to offer a discount to a customer who wants to buy a bundled product? According to Reuters, six firms allege that Qualcomm is stifling competition in the mobile phone chip market by offering preferential terms on patent royalties to manufacturers who also buy Qualcomm’s chipsets. The six firms have filed a complaint with the European Union’s antitrust regulators, who are sympathetic to any argument that competition is a bad thing when undertaken by a large company. The report makes no mention of whether the preferential terms are alleged to be predatory, or whether the bundling constitutes tying. The question is whether the complaint is just an attack on legitimate economies of scope and scale.

D.C. Telecom Item

There’s been much talk of a rewrite of the nation’s telecom laws in 2006, the 10th anniversary of the 96 Act. But last week in Washington, D.C., a senior official told Hance Haney, George Gilder, and me: “I think there’s a possibility there won’t be another telecom act — ever.” With politicians on Capitol Hill so disorganized, with the Administration’s time and energy consumed by other issues, with technology moving infinitely faster than politics, could this be? If so, it means the burden is on the FCC to hold the line and deregulate new technologies and new services. It also means states can’t wait for the federal government to act. Aggressive states, in fact, can now distinguish themselves and steal Read More ›

Video Extortio…er, Franchising

Great Wall Street Journal article (sub. req.) demonstrating the absurdity of making telecom companies go through the silly process of local video extortion, er, franchising that cable TV companies had to endure 25 years ago. Here’s the lede: Last year Verizon Communications Inc. lawyers went to city hall in Tampa, Fla., for permission to offer television service over the phone company’s new high-speed network. City officials presented them with a $13 million wish list, including money for an emergency communications network, digital editing equipment and video cameras to film a math-tutoring program for kids. Frustrated, Verizon officials suspended their talks and decided to try another tack. The company soon persuaded Temple Terrace, a small neighboring community, to roll out the Read More ›

Bernanke’s Gaps

Ben Bernanke, President Bush’s nominee to succeed Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Fed, is the John Roberts of monetary policy. He is intelligent, erudite, apolitical, pleasant, and prepared. Credentialed at the best schools and immersed in the theory and practice of monetary policy for the last several decades, Bernanke, says supply-sider Arthur Laffer, is “the right person at the right time.” It’s true President Bush could have done far worse. But I worry. You see, Bernanke is worried about gaps. He’s worried about trade gaps — he thinks the U.S. trade gap is caused by a global savings glut. And he worries about something called the output gap — a variant of the Phillips Curve, which supposes a trade-off Read More ›

“Exclusive franchise?”

EarthLink announced it has been awarded an “exclusive franchise” by Anaheim, Calif. to build a citywide Wi-Fi broadband network. Hmmm. 47 U.S.C. ยง 253(a) says: “No State or local statute or regulation, or other State or local legal requirement, may prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the ability of any entity to provide any interstate or intrastate telecommunications service.”