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U.S. Net Neutrality Movement in Retreat

Recent evidence confirms that the U.S. net neutrality movement is in substantial retreat and trying to fall back to more defensible ground, on which to make its next stand. The movement is by no means defeated overall, as it is resilient, well-funded and organized. It is actually in ascendance in Europe with the European Parliament's vote supporting net neutrality.

Importantly FreePress, the clear leader of the net neutrality movement via its six-year stewardship of SaveTheInternet.com, recently asked the D.C. Court of Appeals for permission to withdraw its legal challenge to the FCC's net neutrality rules for not being strict enough. After six years of full-throated constant campaigning for net neutrality legislation or FCC regulation in the U.S., it is remarkable that FreePress has quietly retreated from the latest and most pivotal net neutrality battlefield in the U.S. -- i.e. whether or not the FCC's net neutrality regulations stand or are thrown out by the D.C. Court of Appeals. FreePress' emailed statement to reporters said: "We felt that there were better ways to accomplish our goals of promoting Internet freedom, and decided to direct our resources elsewhere in the continued campaign to preserve the open Internet."

Why U.S. Communications Law is Obsolete -- My Daily Caller Op-ed

Please don't miss my latest Daily Caller Op-ed: "Why U.S. Communications Law is Obsolete" here.

You won't look at current communications law the same way again.


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Obsolete Communications Law Op-ed Series:

SCOTUS Indecency Ruling's Effect on Net Neutrality

The Supreme Court's 8-0 decision on FCC vs. Fox, vacated the FCC's indecency penalties against Fox and ABC for "fleeting expletives and momentary nudity" because the FCC violated constitutional "due process protection against vague regulations" for failing to provide fair notice of what would be "actionably indecent."

How is this decision relevant to net neutrality?

First, "net neutrality" is like "obscenity" or "indecency", in that it's often in the eye of the beholder, and is devilishly difficult to define definitively. The tweet-length provision of law in question (Section 1464) is: "Whoever utters any obscene, indecent, or profane language by means of radio communications shall be fined…"

The term "net neutrality" -- that proponents have gone so far as to hype as "the first amendment of the Internet" -- can be found nowhere in law. The concept is wholly organic to the FCC, in that it started as a concept in a speech that called for no regulation for it, became an unenforceable FCC policy statement, was then used as the basis for an enforcement action, and then became an FCC order that has been challenged in court for being unconstitutional, arbitrary and capricious, and without statutory authority.

FCC Special Access: Communications Obsolete-ism vs Modernism -- My Daily Caller Op-ed (Part 3 in Series)

Please read my latest Daily Caller Op-ed: "FCC Special Access: Communications Obsolete-ism vs. Modernism" here.

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Obsolete Communications Law Op-ed Series:

Part 1: "Obsolete communications law stifles innovation, harms consumers"

Part 2: "The FCC's Public Interest Test Problem"

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Precursor Special Access Research Series:

Part 5: "FCC: Forced Access Economics & Selective Math"

Part 4: "Special Access Facts Show More Not Less Competition"

Part 3: "What's the Broadband Plan Implementation Vision? Affirming Competition Policy? Or the Retro-genda?

Part 2: "Special Access Nostalgia for Telecom's Bronze Age is No Path to 21st Century Broadband Leadership"

Verizon-Cable: The Foundation of a Fifth National Wireless Competitor (Part 10 of a series)

Are the FCC and DOJ paying attention? They say they want more wireless competition. Well the foundations of an economically-viable fifth national wireless broadband network are staring them in the face in the pending Verizon-Cable spectrum transaction, if only they would get on with approving it.

Critics and skeptics of the transaction have an obsolete and myopic view that competition must develop in the way that Congress first envisioned it seventeen years ago in the 1996 Telecom Act -- before the commercial Internet, residential WiFi, broadband wireless, smart phones or tablet computers ever existed. Critics are blind to the technology innovations, competitive developments and hybrid-business models that now are enabling the cable industry to transform into a potentially disruptive fifth national wireless broadband competitor long term.

FreePress' and Public Knowledge's desperate campaign to: discredit competition policy, twist any competitive development into anti-competitive behavior, and block the Verizon-Cable transaction -- can't overcome the obvious facts that this Verizon-Cable transaction is exceptionally pro-competitive.

The FCC's Public Interest Test Problem - My Daily Caller Op-ed (Part 2 in a series)

Please read my latest Daily Caller Op-ed: "The FCC's Public Interest Test Problem" here.

Part 1 of my Obsolete Communications Law series: "Obsolete communications law stifles innovation, hurts consumers" -- is here.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths