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WSJ lead article highlights tradeoff of competition vs regulation

The cover story in the Wall Street Journal today "A fight over what you  can do with your cellphone; Handset makers push free features for which carriers pay for" was obviously perfectly-timed and placed by open access/net neutrality proponents trying to influence the Senate Commerce Committee hearing today on the FCC's 700 MHz auction.

  • The article offers a list of complaints for net neutrality supportive Senators to browbeat competitive wireless carriers with.

What the article ignores is the broader and essential context of this issue and debate.

Spin can't magically turn the Maine net neutrality defeat into a win

Public interest groups supportive of net neutrality like Common Cause and The Maine Civil Liberties Union are trying to "spin" the press that the non-binding net neutrality resolution passed by the Maine Senate is somehow an important first for a state.

  • The reality is that supporters of net neutrality thought that the support of net neutrality by Dorgan-Snowe co-sponsor and Maine Senator Olympia Snowe would somehow increase the chances of passing net neutrality legislation for the first time in the state of Maine.
    • They were wrong. 
    • This legislative effort in Maine failed just like it did in Michigan and Maryland, and just like it did in every Federal forum it was raised in.   
    • This Maine Senate "non-binding resolution" is simply hortatory puffery, akin to naming a state insect or a state weed.  
  • The reality is that the Maine legislature did not pass legislation and that it clearly acknowledged in its resolution its understanding that the Internet is exclusively Federal jurisdiction.
    • There is nothing that could be more Federal or "interstate" than the "INTERnet!"

This episode in Maine really is emblematic of the whole net neutrality movement.

FCC Commissioner McDowell debunks OECD broadband rankings

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell gave an outstanding speech today at the Broadband Policy Summit in which he did the single best job I have seen totally debunking the OECD rankings that purportedly indicate the US is falling behind on broadband.

Commissioner McDowell explains with example after example -- how skewed the OECD methodology is.

  • My personal favorite line in the speech was on how the OECD methodology is skewed against the US:
    • "...even if every existing broadband subscriber in America had a fiber-fed 100 mbps broadband connection, we would only rank 12th."

No shadowy spectrum earmarks for Dotcom Billionaires!

Like the discredited and shameful congressional practice of fleecing the American taxpayer with "earmarking" public funds for special interests, Frontline-Google and eBay-Skype are asking for the equivalent of special interest commercial "earmarks" from the FCC.

It is outrageous that the FCC is actually entertaining these proposed special interest scams against the American taxpayer. 

  • The FCC should keep the auction free of the corrupting influence of spectrum or policy "earmarks" for the obvious benefit of only one company lobbying the process for permission to pick the American taxpayers' pocket.

What am I talking about specifically? Two special interest spectrum/policy "earmarks" are getting a lot of press attention lately.

Markey-like Net Neutrality bill fizzles out in Maine Senate

Yet another state legislature has rejected passing a law mandating net neutrality -- this time in Maine, the home state of Senator Olympia Snowe, one of net neutrality's primary sponsors and highest profile proponents in the US Senate.

  • Moveon.org/SaveTheInternet are now 0-3 in their hand-picked states where they thought they had the best chance of passing a version of the Senate Snowe-Dorgan bill or the House Markey bill from last year -- and where they focused their efforts.  
  • Previously, Moveon.org?SaveTheInternet failed to pass net neutrality legislation in Michigan, and Maryland.

To let the net neutrality proponents save face, the Maine Senate passed a resolution, not legislation, that asks for a study on net neutrality to be completed next year.

  • This is the same outcome as has occurred at the Federal level as both the FTC and FCC are studying net neutrality and seeking comments.
    • Both the FTC and the FCC have said that they do not see a current problem in the marketplace concerning the alleged problem of net discrimination.
  • Moreover, the Maine resolution also recognizes that net neutrality is a federal issue and that Maine does not have jurisdiction over the net neutrality issue.

I fully expect that Moveon.org and SaveTheInterent will continue to waste valuable state legislative time and resources on a problem they cannot even define or prove exists.  

  • They don't seem to "get" or care that the Internet is Federal jurisdiction and Federal policymakers at every official level have rejected calls for net neutrality legislation.

President candidate Huckabee blindsided on net neutrality

Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was reported on a blog to have "supported" net neutrality in a conference call with bloggers.

  • Don't believe this is his "official" policy position for a minute.
  • When conservative Mike Huckabee learns both sides of this issue and is not blindsided on a conference call on a subject he was unfamiliar with, and which was then grossly mispresented, I am convinced he will not "support" net neutrality.
      • No legitimate economic conservative like Mike Huckabee, who wants to radically downsize the Federal Government, will support a Big Government program to regulate the Internet for the first time.
      • He clearly was not at all familiar with the issue nor that nearly all the biggest funding supporters of net neutrality are liberal groups like Moveon.org who believe in digital socialism and radically reducing intellectual property rights on the web.
      • When Mike Huckabee's campaign staff research this issue, (we recommend they read the one pagers at the top right hand side of the www.NetCompetition.org website) there is no way he will support net neutrality as part of his official campaign.
      • It would be totally inconguous with his other limited Government views.
      • The last thing conservative Mr. Huckabee would want is to put the current "free and open" Internet under Government control.
      • Not gonna happen.

This is another in a long line of supposed "endorsements" of net neutrality that result from NN proponents consistent misrepresentation of the facts and gross use of unsubstantiated allegations of a problem.

Broadband data bills favor Big Government over competition

Senate Democrats are attempting to sneak through the back door what they cannot get through the front door of the "free and open"  policy process.

The Inouye "Broadband Data Improvement Act" is really a long term trojan horse for net neutrality and heavy regulation of broadband.

  • The bill requires that the FCC "establish a new definition of second generation broadband to reflect a data rate that is not less than the data rate required  to reliably transmit full-motion, high definition video." 
    • "Reliable" "high-definition" broadband is certainly not DSL or existing cable modems.

The clever ruse in this innocuous-sounding language is to redefine broadband competition as a total abject failure, and to declare broadband market failure, so the pro-regulatory types can regulate broadband becuase it is not competitive, or is at best a future duopoly.

Welcome back to the "slimmed-down" Open Internet Coalition II

I'd like to welcome back to the playing field, the reconstituted "ItsOurNet Coalition" which inexplicably went away in January, but has now returned as "The Open Internet Coalition!"

Now we finally know what they were doing while they were gone from the scene for four months...

  • They were losing weight.
  • The coalition shed the excess pounds of Microsoft, Yahoo, and Amazon.
    • Who needs them!
    • It must have been too burdensome for Google to have to accomodate these more reasonable and less-regulatory members of the previous ItsOurNet coalition.
  • Now the new "slimmed down" coalition can be faster, more nimble and united around being pro-regulatory for others.
    • The remaining coalition members are a much tighter and cohesive bunch.
      • There's now no one big or bold enough to challenge the Big Dog and ringleader Google. 
      • There's also no one in the coalition who believes in a free market broadband policy.
      • And it is basically companies and groups whose common thread is they have hired up all the under-employed pro-regulatory staffers who hate the telcos and cablecos.
      • The remaining group is of one mind -- their nirvana "democracy".

I was frankly surprised that the new group chose not to be forthright and embrace its new "slimmed-down" public physique.

Google Sr Advisor Al Gore is the ringleader of "Google's Poodles"

Self-described "Internet inventor" and former Vice President Al Gore has a newly released book "The Assault on Reason" in which he comes out of the shadows and into the limelight as a leading public proponent of net neutrality.  

The Save the Internet coalition blogged/bragged about the book in its post: Al Gore: Net Neutrality is the key to a better democracy."  They lifted some Gore quotes that gave them lots of "warm fuzzies" inside:

  • “neutrality should be the central tenet that will set us on a path toward an open, democratic Internet where free speech and free markets are encouraged.â€?
    • Wait a minute. The term "net neutrality" was only coined as late as 2002 by a socialist Columbia Law Professor!
    • But Gore claims to have invented the Internet before 1992!
    • Who's right? 
    • Moreover, Mr. Gore, factually the net has never been neutral.
  • “More than one and a half million citizens contacted Congress and more than eight hundred organizations joined the SavetheInternet Coalition, organized by the upstart media reform organization Free Press, using innovative online mobilization tactics …â€?
    • Thank you Mr. Gore from coming out from the shadows and coming clean by publicly endorsing the efforts of, and tacitly acknowledging your strong ringleader role in managing "Google's poodles",  SaveTheInternet and FreePress.
    • The still unanswered question is how many tens of millions of dollars has Mr. Gore made from his boatload of Google options/warrants granted to him as "Senior Advisor" to Google?"
    • And where are the disclosures in the book that most all of Mr. Gore's multi-ten million dollar net worth is in Google shares -- constituting a huge undisclosed conflict of interest on the issue of net neutrality.    
  • “I truly believe the most important factor is the preservation of the Internet’s potential for becoming the new neutral marketplace of ideas that is so needed for the revitalization of American democracy,â€? he writes. “People are not only fighting for free speech online, but they are also working to keep the Internet a decentralized, ownerless medium of mass communication and commerce.â€?

Why the public interest groups are "Google's Poodles"

Nick Carr wrote a dead-on column in the Gaurdian: "The net is being carved up into information plantations."

His thesis is the irony that as the web adds more and more destinations on line, fewer people seem to be visiting them.

  • He cites statistics that in 2001, the top 10 websites accounted for 31% of page views and that in 2006 that same number grew to  40%.

What's my point? You know I always have a tie in.

This hyper-media concentration that is occurring on the web is much much greater than has occurred in traditional media.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths