Category

Video Franchising

Legacy regulation killed Google Voice

Reacting to Apple’s decision to not allow Google Voice for the iPhone, Wall Street Journal guest columnist Andy Kessler complains, It wouldn’t be so bad if we were just overpaying for our mobile plans. Americans are used to that–see mail, milk and medicine. But it’s inexcusable that new, feature-rich and productive applications like Google Voice are being held back, just to prop up AT&T while we wait for it to transition away from its legacy of voice communications. How many productive apps beyond Google Voice are waiting in the wings? So Kessler proposes a “national data plan.” Before we get to that, Kessler complains that margins in AT&T’s cellphone unit are an “embarrassingly” high 25%. He doesn’t point out that 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 ›


The Stevens bill

This week Senate Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK) introduced comprehensive telecom reform legislation which, as Adam Thierer notes, is a 135-page monster, represents a counterproductive obsession on the part of some policymakers over the smallest details of communications policy and doesn’t tear down any of the old regulatory paradigms that it sould. That said, the proposal would move the country in a positive direction in several respects. Net Neutrality — Unlike the House bill, which grants the FCC specific new authority to enforce the commission’s net neutrality principles — and which is guaranteed to lead to questionable enforcement proceedings and perhaps litigation between grasping and delusional competitors — the Stevens bill wisely requires the FCC to merely keep a watchful Read More ›


New House Draft Offers Middle Ground

House Energy & Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX), Ranking Member John Dingell (D-MI) and others worked hard to get a broad bipartisan agreement on telecom reform. That effort failed over some absurd demands of greedy local officials, high tech companies and “consumer advocates” who act as if telecom and cable vendors are nonprofit agencies. Such expectations are hardly surprising, since telecom and cable vendors basically require government approval to innovate their services. A new proposal bearing the imprimatur of three Republicans — Chairman Barton, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Chip Pickering (R-MS) — as well as Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) provides some welcome middle ground. Any provider of video services could obtain a national franchise that would be subject Read More ›


Experts agree that blocking web sites unlikely

Net neutrality advocates argue that network providers have the ability and the incentive to block access by consumers to the web sites of their choice. At a Mar. 14th Senate Commerce Committee hearing featuring several high-placed Wall Street analysts, this question was addressed: SEN. STEVENS: Let me ask you about this net neutrality problem that two of you have mentioned substantially. Do you think a network operator could block access to a company like Google or Yahoo! and really get away with it? MR. SZYMCZAK (JPMorgan): I think that would be very difficult to sustain on an ongoing basis because if we think about it in a competitive nature, if the phone company were to block it, a lot of Read More ›


Barton, Pickering & Upton to the rescue

House Energy & Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX), along with Reps. Chip Pickering (R-MS) and Fred Upton (R-MI) have an alternative plan in mind for cable franchise reform, according to this afternoon’s National Journal’s Technology Daily ($). Like the Dingell plan, the Republican vision includes a national franchise according to which new entrants would pay the customary 5% franchise fee to localities. But the Republican is superior in two critical respects: No build-out requirement. No requirement to negotiate with local franchise authorities as a pre-condition to obtain a national franchise. It may sound counterintuitive, but the absence of a build-out requirement is actually better for consumers because it reduces investment risk. Tens of billions of dollars are necessary to extend Read More ›