Spectrum Policy

Will Procompetition Policy Work This Time?

Google wants the Federal Communications Commisison to make net neutrality a licensing requirement in the Upper 700 MHz spectrum band — “(1) open applications, (2) open devices, (3) open services, and (4) open access.” According to media reports, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is circulating draft rules which would impose such a requirement (see: this, this and this). What’s Martin’s agenda? I suspect he thinks he’s come up with a brilliant strategic maneuver — give Google the chance to acquire a nationwide broadband wireless footprint on the cheap and maybe the company will give up funding the advocates of net neutrality regulation. AOL ended its support for open access the minute it merged with Time Warner, didn’t it? But as we Read More ›

Podcast on Frontline Wireless proposal

This week in the Tech Policy Weekly podcast with Jerry Brito, Tim Lee and special guests Radley Balko of Reason magazine and Ryan Paul of Ars Technica I discuss the proposal by Frontline Wireless LLC for open access rules for a block of spectrum in the 700 MHz band, which I’ve previously described here . Frontline Wireless touts itself as an emerging wireless communications provider, but it’s just a lobbying shop that includes a couple former officials from prior Democratic and Republican administrations seeking a lucrative government handout. As a practical matter, as I have previously noted, existing carriers may find they’re excluded from this auction, due to a handful of so-called “public interest” obligations Frontline is pushing the FCC Read More ›

Frontline’s grand design

It’s a shame that Frontline Wireless LLC‘s bold plan for a wireless broadband network providing nationwide interoperable public safety services in emergencies — that would be paid for by commercial users who can access the network on a wholesale, open-access basis at other times — includes a requirement that the successful bidder “must adopt open access policies not only on the E Block spectrum, but on any other licensed spectrum it holds.” The rationale? According to Frontline: The rationale for extending this requirement is clear: it prevents potential anti-competitive behavior. If the winner of the E Block spectrum holds other spectrum, it will be incentivized to offer consumers a single service device that will work on multiple bands. If the Read More ›

“National strategy” for broadband?

Japan has 7.2 million all-fiber broadband subscribers who pay $34 per month and incumbent providers NTT East and NTT West have only a 66% market share. According to Takashi Ebihara, a Senior Director in the Corporate Strategy Department at Japan’s NTT East Corp. and currently a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies here in Washington, Japan has the “fastest and least expensive” broadband in the world and non-incumbent CLECs have a “reasonable” market share. Ebihara was speaking at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, and his presentation can be found here. Ebihara said government strategy played a significant role. Local loop unbundling and line sharing led to fierce competition in DSL, which forced the incumbents to Read More ›

Oil and Water: Lessons from the Past

Last week’s Senate Commerce Committee hearings on the digital TV spectrum transition were important in their own right. But they also got me thinking about a related telecom issue: municipal telecom networks. It now seems most parties are satisfied with a “hard date” transition of the 700 MHz band (UHF TV channels 52-69) in 2008. This means broadcasters will go all digital in a smaller spectrum band, and the vast and mostly vacant 700 MHz space will be opened up for all sorts of new technologies and services. This is a good thing, but by the time it happens, it will have been almost 20 years — twenty! — since this process began. Huge amounts of great spectrum have been Read More ›