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More evidence U.S. competitiveness is NOT falling behind & OECD broadband report is bunk

I guess the World Economic Forum folks did not "get the memo" from net neutality proponents that the U.S. is supposed to be falling behind competitively because of broadband. 

The Wall Street Journal reported today that: "U.S. tops Report on Competitiveness By World Economic Forum.

The OECD's questionable methodology  ranks the U.S. 15th in the world on broadband; however, FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell gave a great speech that systematically debunked the OECD's agenda-driven methodology and rankings.   

  • Neutrality proponents often cite the OECD rankings as "proof" that net neutrality regulation is needed in order to improve American competitiveness in the world.

However, both the World Economic Forum and the Economist Intelligence Unit rank the US at or near the top of the world in competitiveness.

Sen. Clinton's innovation agenda encouragingly excludes net neutrality

While I doubt I'll ever be accused of being a supporter of Senator Hillary Clinton, I must commend her and her campaign for sound political judgement when it's due.

Unsolicited advice for Frontline Wireless' new Open Access Advisory council

Reed Hundt's Frontline Wireless,  is reportedly forming a high-profile "Open Access Advisory Council" for the 700 MHz spectrum auction, which includes "net neutrality" term-coiner and celebrity Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu.

I have two pieces of unsolicited advice for Frontline's new advisory council."

More whining from "Whiny Techies" at SaveTheInternet

The charge that many supporters of net neutrality were economically illiterate by Washington Post's lead business columnist Steve Pearlstein in "Whiny Techies II" a few weeks ago which I posted on, prompted more whining from Tim Karr of FreePress/SaveTheInternet Coalition in a Letter to the Editor.

  • Karr: "Supporters of net neutrality aren't asking that users pay one fee for all grades of access. We want a truly competitive marketplace where people can choose from numerous broadband companies offering access at different speeds and costs."

Let's have some fun un-packing Mr. Karr's disingenuousness.

Call for "National Broadband Strategy" is "code" for a Government Industrial Policy

Senator Kerry's recent echoing of the call for a "National Broadband Strategy" by House Telecom Chairman Markey and FCC Commissioner Copps -- is really a slick coordinated bicameral campaign to reverse current national communications competition policy and replace it with a Government industrial policy.  

Calling for a "National Broadband Strategy"  implies we don't have one when we do -- and it is the law  of the land -- the 1996 Telecom Act -- and it was supported by over 95% of Democrats and Republicans when it passed during the Clinton administration -- and by the way it is working.

  • The purpose of the law is our "national communcations policy/strategy": "To promote competition and reduce regulation in order to secure lower choices and higher quality services...and encourage the rapid deployment of new technologies."
  • The part covering the Internet: ""To preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet..., unfettered by Federal or state regulation."
  • The part covering promoting new technologies, Section 706: "The Commission...shall encourage deployment on a reasonable and timely basis of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans..."

What's wrong with that national broadband strategy?

  • Nothing.

What's wrong with the progress and achievement of that strategy to date?

  • Nothing.

Lets review the facts, not the spin that those promoting a new industrial policy cannot support with facts.

Cities learning there is no wireless "free lunch"

It seems the "pixie dust" of "free" municipal wifi isn't so "magical" after all.

To quote one of my conservative heroes, the late great Milton Friedman, "there is no free lunch."

  • The article chronicles the growing trend that cities around the country are finally learning that simple economic lesson -- which should have been obvious to them from the start.
  • But how could the cities forget the economic truism that "there is no free lunch" and let their expectations so far exceed reality?
    • The answer lies in how many companies, who routinely expect a "free lunch" from communications carriers (like net neutrality supporters: Google, eBay-Skype, Amazon, Intel et.al), whispered in these cities ears that they could easily have free or very low cost wireless broadband access.
      • The problem that these net neutrality/open access proponents brushed under the rug was that building and operating a wireless broadband network, even a lower cost WiFi or WiMax network, still costs a substantial amount of money, and requires substantial resources and expertise to pull off at a minimum quality level.

Bottomline:  What I hope cities take away from this painful lesson is what they were taught when they were young: "if it looks too good to be true, it is."

I am a panelist with Tim Wu at Future of Music Conference 9-17

I am on a Broadband Policy panel on Monday at 4:45 at the Future of Music Summit with a couple of the lead folks who champion net neutrality: Professor Tim Wu, who coined the term, and Ben Scott, of Free Press who has slickly popularized it in close coordination with Moveon.org.

  • Should be interesting, the panel appears to be fairly balanced: one against NN (me) and the rest of the panel avidly for it.
  • Wish me luck.

 Leveling the Playing Field: how does broadband policy affect musicians?

Congress and the FCC are currently working a series of initiatives designed to revise the telecommunications regulatory framework, with everything from spectrum reform, to broadband deployment, to network neutrality on the table. How will proposed revisions impact musicians, citizens and technologists? How does broadband policy intersect with concerns about protecting intellectual property? What would a pro-musician Telecom Act look like?

Charles Bissell Musician, The Wrens

Scott Cleland Chairman, NetCompetition.org

Peter Gordon President, Thirsty Ear

Jason Oxman Vice President, Communications, Consumer Electronics Association

Google's wireless credibility hurt by abandoning San Fran's WiFi effort

Google's credibility as a real and reliable wireless carrier has taken a big hit in that Tech Daily is reporting that a Google/Earthlink's "sweeping plan to blanket San Francisco with a high speed Internet network is officially dead."

With much fanfare Google has said it would bring free WiFi to San Francisco at an estimated cost of $15 million with partner Earthlink, which now is experiencing financial problems and layoffs.

Google as editor of content and defender of free speech...when convenient

The Financial Times had a noteworthy article about Google's role as an editor of content and defender of free speech -- when Google finds it convenient: "Thailand lifts Youtube ban after Google agrees to block some clips."

This article is an interesting juxtaposition to Google CEO Eric Schmidt's very recent comments on the importance of free speech at a speech before the Progress and Freedom Foundation

  • "We need to defend freedom of speech as more speech comes on line. ...Let’s do this in the right way. Let’s preserve the openness and the freedom of speech principles. You could use Internet censorship, for example, as a non-tariff trade barrier, which we all need to fight because governments, especially non-U.S. governments, have an incentive to some degree to control the populations -- to do all the things that are obvious if you’re afraid of empowering your citizens."

 The FT article is a good opportunity to review if Google's actions support Google's rhetoric when it comes to Google defending free speech...

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths