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Net Neutrality

FreePress' Latest Net Neutrality Folly -- Pushing for Shareholder Votes

FreePress' latest net neutrality folly and political agitation is pushing the SEC to make shareholders from AT&T, Verizon and Sprint vote on inappropriate, ill-advised, and unwarranted proposed shareholder resolutions in favor of wireless net neutrality in the weeks ahead.

Let me count the ways this is a waste of time and abuse of process.

First, it inappropriately and destructively attempts to politicize non-political entities, by trying to force a public political position from non-political corporate entities, whose contractual and fiduciary responsibility to shareholders is to economically/financially grow the value and profitability of the corporation.

Second, the appropriate place to have political votes is in legitimate political processes, elections or representative votes or decisions by elected officials at the appropriate local, state, and Federal level, which enjoy the constitutional, political, and relevant authority and legitimacy to decide political issues in a meaningful, substantive and productive way.

Third, the operative authority here for shareholders, the companies' shareholder agreements, corporate charter, and bylaws, are legally grounded on a contractual agreement between the company and shareholder to protect and grow the shareholders investment in the company, not to promote extra-political positions that actually could endanger the underlying purpose of the shareholders agreements.

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.

 

Verizon-Cable: Opponents Need FCC to Overreach its Authority

The March 21st Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing reviewing the Verizon-cable agreements provides Congress with an opportunity to learn:

  • How the metamorphosis of communications competition is increasing competition;
  • How the Government has created artificial and temporary spectrum scarcity in failing to free up more spectrum for broadband use in a timely fashion; and
  • How unfair, arbitrary and capricious the FCC review process has become in reviewing market transactions.

Given that the DOJ has such weak grounds and facts under antitrust law to challenge the Verizon-cable commercial agreements, and given that the spectrum transfer is in the public interest in multiple dimensions, opponents appear to be pushing the FCC to do whatever necessary to try and block Verizon-cable under the FCC's make-it-up-as-they-go-along public interest standard.

Mobile Payments Ignite New Competitive Free-for-All

Mobile technology advances are dramatically increasing the intensity of competition broadly online and offline. The technological convenience of using a smart phone, tablet etc. rather than a card or cash to pay for goods and services, wherever one may be, is igniting a competitive free-for-all.

  • That's because the technological shift to devices rather than cards creates a huge potential competitive opportunity for most everyone in the competitive ecosystem to potentially disintermediate other industries -- i.e. Wrest control of the customer relationship, customers' private information, interests and metadata, and also the bundling of marketing coupons and promotions, in markets with transactions in the trillions of dollars annually.

Activists and regulators who fear a potential new communications "opoly" lurking around every corner -- in need of preemptive government intervention to protect consumers from the convenience, savings and benefits of a highly-competitive marketplace -- need to take a breath, enjoy, and get out of the way of this amazing technological convergence and innovation over mobile payments.

Debunking the Carping over Broadband Usage-Pricing

Activist carping about the commercial Internet being commercial is revving up again, this time with the carping focused on framing new broadband usage-pricing innovations by Time Warner Cable and AT&T, as somehow a violation of the "open web."

To cut to the quick and translate what is really going on politically here, this activist carping is the latest attempt to revive and re-fight the manufactured net neutrality debate between:

Why the Verizon-Cable Agreement is in the Public Interest

 

The evidence below shows the Verizon-Cable agreement is clearly in the public interest, if the FCC fairly reviews the agreement and all of the relevant facts, in the full context of the highly competitive wireless ecosystem.

Top Reasons Why Verizon-Cable Agreement is in the Public Interest

Increases competition: The agreement increases competition because it enables:

 

Spotlighting Threat of UN Regulation of Internet at CPAC Today

I will  be on the CPAC Digital Liberty panel today with FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, Kelly Cobb of ATR and Ryan Radia of CEI.

The very important sleeper issue I expect we will spotlight for the CPAC audience is the imminent threat to the Internet from a China/Russia-led effort to get the United Nations' International Telecommunications Union to regulate the Internet similar to the way they regulate telephony and postal service, via a renegotiation of the treaty that affects telecommunications in Dubai in December 2012.

UN regulation of the Internet would kill the proverbial goose that laid the golden egg, by locking in the past and making innovation difficult in the future.

This is a not so subtle effort to undermine and slow America's high tech innovation leadership in the world by miring U.S. Internet companies in the ITU regulatory swamp.

UN regulation of the Internet is a big, under-appreciated, looming threat to freedom and economic growth.

Spectrum: To Auction or Not to Auction?

The FCC's recent call for unbounded spectrum auction authority spotlights an important debate over whether some of this scarce and extremely valuable wireless spectrum should be auctioned or not.

  • Ironically the FCC is asking Congress to give it spectrum auction authority to not auction spectrum.
  • In other words, the FCC is asking to be unilaterally empowered to decide not to auction some spectrum so it can deem it "unlicensed spectrum," like that used for WiFi and garage door openers.

There are huge fiscal problems with the FCC's position, given our nation's severe fiscal situation: a trillion dollar Federal budget deficit and a ballooning multi-trillion dollar public debt.

First, the real world effect of the FCC's gambit here is to try and get revenue-raising legislation to not raise many billions of dollars.

FCC Seeks Unbounded Spectrum Auction Authority

At CES, the FCC signaled that it opposed any effort by Congress to give the FCC policy direction or to establish any checks and balances on the FCC in authorizing incentive auctions of prime TV broadcast spectrum.

See my Forbes Tech Capitalist post "FCC Seeks Unbounded Spectrum Auction Authority" to see why the the FCC's lack of regulatory humility here is so stunning.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths