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Regulation

EU's regulated mobile prices much higher than US competitive mobile prices

The EU's latest round of mobile price regulation provides a golden opportunity to show how market competition produces much better results for consumers than government price regulation. Ironically, the European Parliament voted this week to lower mobile roaming charges by mid-2014 to levels that will still be much higher than America's competitive wireless market prices are today.

Per New York Times reports, the EU mandated price for making a roaming mobile voice call will be reset from 35 cents a minute today to 19 cents a minute by mid-2014, and the price for receiving a roaming mobile voice call will be reset from 11 cents a minute today to 5 cents by mid-2014. Putting this in perspective, Recon Analytics' research shows that Americans pay 4.9 cents a minute vs. 16.7 cents a minute for Europeans -- ~70% less; and because of these dramatically lower American wireless prices, Americans consumers use more than twice as much wireless as Europeans, 875 minutes of use per month vs. 418 minutes for Europeans. Simply, the EU's ~50% mandated price reductions will still have European consumers paying much more for mobile usage even if one incorrectly were to assume that competition won't further lower the market price for American consumers like it has every year.

Verizon-Cable Opponents Goading FCC to Overreach its Authority Again -- Part 9 of Series

Opponents urging the FCC to block the Verizon-Cable secondary market spectrum transaction are pushing the FCC into dangerous institutional territory, effectively goading it to: overreach its statutory authority; ignore FCC precedent, evidence, and facts; and game its own spectrum-screen process. The same FreePress radical fringe -- that goaded the FCC to flout the D.C. Appeals Court decision and pass the Open Internet Order and Data-Roaming Order -- are at it again.

The FreePress radical fringe who care not for the rule of law, are again goading the FCC to trump up some new public interest rationale and statutory theory to allow the FCC to transmogrify its limited public interest authority into unbounded authority that disregards the law, FCC precedent, or the facts. This radical manipulation of the process may be good for forwarding FreePress' anti-business, Internet commons goals, but it is not good for the institution of the FCC, which is a creature of Congress and subject to the rule of law. And nor is it good for the American public.

Obsolete Communications Law Stifles Innovation & Hurts Consumers -- My Daily Caller Op-ed

My Daily Caller op-ed: "Obsolete Communications Law Stifles Innovation, Hurts Consumers," puts a spotlight on how America's century-old communications law and regulatory framework is obsolete and strangles America's innovation potential.

"Leaf" Vision & Broadband Usage Caps (Part 6 in a Series)

Near hysterical opponents of broadband data usage caps need to breathe slowly, drop their magnifying glass, look up and take in the big world all around them. They are not just missing the forest for the trees, they are missing the leaves, stems, branches, trees, forest and sky, because they can't take their magnifying glass off of the leaf with which they are myopically obsessed.

Broadband data usage caps are a very small, normal, and essential part of a healthy and economically-sustainable Internet ecosystem. Pricing is the central mechanism for any marketplace to balance supply and demand and to create economic incentives and disincentives for behavior that can drive costs. There is nothing wrong with pricing caps, tiers, and other pricing mechanisms that are used to manage networks, avoid network congestion, achieve a return on investment, manage a business model, differentiate a business, and/or earn a profit.

AAI's Analysis of Verizon-Cable Is Industrial Policy Not Antitrust

Reading through The American Antitrust Institute's white paper on Verizon-Cable, it is striking how little analysis is relevant to antitrust/market-competition and how it is basically a thinly-veiled tacit pitch for the DOJ and the FCC to pursue an aggressive industrial policy for the wireless industry.

The white paper presumes that because the DOJ blocked the AT&T/T-Mobile merger to preserve T-Mobile as a disruptive fourth wireless competitor, and because T-Mobile now claims it needs more spectrum, that the government should intervene somehow to effectively redirect the spectrum to T-Mobile and away from Verizon.

The huge flaw in the AAI's analysis is its central presumption, which is contrary to longstanding spectrum auction law, that the government, not market forces, should allocate spectrum. The analysis ignores that the law of the land allocates spectrum via property rights and auctions enabling the spectrum to find the party that most economically values it and has the most economic incentive to put it to productive use. The AAI's analysis appears biased against existing law in assuming that the only or primary reason that the largest wireless providers would want more spectrum would be to anti-competitively keep it from its smaller competitors, and not the obvious and real reason that they want to provide better, faster, more reliable mobile broadband service to more people in more of the country to make more money.

Objecting to Obsolete Obligations

The Washington Post's lead story today, "Landline Rules Frustrate Telecoms," puts a needed spotlight on obsolete communications law that: falsely assumes the telecom marketplace is still a monopoly with no consumer choice; and still mandates telecom companies subsidize below-cost, copper-line telephone service to households as if it were still a government-sanctioned monopoly.

A bit of history is warranted here. This century-old political arrangement -- the 1913 Kingsbury Commitment between the Federal Government and AT&T -- effectively established a government-sanctioned monopoly in return for universal telephone service to all Americans and utility rate of return regulation. In 1996, Congress reformed Federal communications policy by ending monopoly and promoting competition. Today, despite copper telephone networks losing half of their customer base to cable, wireless, VoIP, broadband and other Internet competitors (and losing most of their most profitable landline customers) many legacy telecom legal requirements, like subsidized below-cost telephone service, live on despite being obsolete. This means that in today's fiercely competitive voice service marketplace, mandating that only one provider must provide subsidized below-cost, copper-line service to potentially millions of households, is a classic un-funded mandate and a hidden, unfair, investment-distorting business tax on only one competitor.

T-Mobile to FCC: Give us a Do-Over and Verizon's Cable Spectrum Too

T-Mobile demanded last week that the FCC deny the Verizon-Cable spectrum license transfer, apparently so Deutsche Telecom/T-Mobile could get it at a deep FCC managed-market discount.

The FCC is not Deutsche Telecom/T-Mobile's personal do-over button that they can push and magically reset the marketplace to an earlier time more to their liking. All other players have made market-driven decisions and have to live with them, and so should Deutsche Telecom/T-Mobile. That's the essence of free-market competition, companies move forward or backward based on their own market-driven choices. It's not competition or a market, if those who don't like the outcome of their own market decisions, run to government for a do over and quasi-international bail-out.

Let's review how T-Mobile got to this point.

For years T-Mobile has been a seller of its spectrum; because its parent Deutsche Telecom has long wanted to exit the U.S. market because it requires more capital investment than they are willing or financially able to expend.

The FCC's Visible Hand Picked Job Losers in Blocking AT&T-T-Mobile

T-Mobile's announcement of 1,900 job layoffs is an unfortunate real world consequence of the FCC overreaching its authority, breaking precedent, and disregarding FCC procedure in releasing an unapproved and biased staff report, in order to politically block the AT&T-T-Mobile merger just a few months ago.

A pillar of the FCC's political justification for blocking the AT&T-T-Mobile merger was that FCC staff did not believe the companies' analysis of the effect on jobs with and without approval of the merger. The FCC rejected AT&T's commitment to bring 5,000 call center jobs back to the U.S., if the merger was approved. In rejecting the merger and its job creating commitments and analysis, the FCC helped cause these particular 1,900 call center jobs to be lost at T-Mobile. That's because the FCC staff, (who admit to not having no expertise in this area) claim to know better than an employer of over a quarter of a million people how new jobs are created in today's marketplace.

Verizon-Cable Hearing Exposes Weakness of Opposition

 

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on the proposed Verizon-Cable spectrum sale flushed out the opposition's best arguments and evidence and they proved surprisingly weak and sparse.

Behind the façade of FreePress' trademark bumper-sticker bluster of "a competition crisis," "a creeping duopoly," and "spectrum warehousing," there was very little substance to back up their pejorative assertions.

FreePress' bogus duopoly deception is the core weakness of the opposition to this commercial agreement. To believe there is a Verizon-AT&T wireless duopoly, one has to:

Verizon-Cable Senate Hearing - Competitive Reality vs. FreePress Fiction

 

Hopefully, the March 21st Senate Judiciary Subcommittee oversight hearing on the Verizon-Cable spectrum transaction will be a fair hearing based on the competitive facts and the law, and is not allowed to be hijacked politically by FreePress' signature gamesmanship.

I. FreePress Fiction

It is disturbing that two of the three hearing witnesses opposing the Verizon-Cable agreement are from FreePress: Joel Kelsey, FreePress' Policy Advisor and Tim Wu, who was FreePress' Chairman just thirteen months ago and has been a longtime FreePress board member.

It is curious and troubling that the Senate Subcommittee specializing in "competition policy" would seek testimony from two anti-profit, anti-property-rights adherents who don't believe competition policy can work.

 

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths