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Google's Poor & Defiant Settlement Record

Google's poor and defiant track record in respecting government agreements and settlements is likely one of the reasons the FTC hired an undefeated former Federal prosecutor and litigator to lead their Google antitrust probe and potential litigation against Google. The EU and the FTC are naturally exceptionally skeptical about negotiating an antitrust settlement with Google, given the substantial evidence that shows Google is consistently less-than-trustworthy in abiding by its agreements with Governments.

Specifically, the evidence shows that Google has not abided by either of its privacy agreements with the FTC concerning Street-View WiSpy or Google-Buzz, nor has Google fully-abided by its criminal Non-Prosecution-Agreement with the DOJ concerning its advertising of illegal prescription drug imports. In addition, Google attempted to broadly game the justice system in negotiating a Google Book Settlement that would have rewarded it with a partial monopoly for its mass copyright infringement.

"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.

Consumer Groups' Advocacy Hypocrisy

Consumer groups by definition are supposed to be protecting consumers' interests -- not be pushing a special interest political agenda under the guise of the "public interest." Let's spotlight a recent and blatant hypocrisy whereby consumer groups near-completely ignored an instance of obvious widespread consumer harm (the FCC's proposed fine of Google for obstructing its Street View wiretapping investigation), while in another contemporaneous issue, consumer groups gang-pummeled a non-issue to push a political Internet commons agenda (strongly objecting to Comcast's new market offering where XBox usage does not apply to a user's 250 Gig monthly data cap.)

Google Street View Wiretapping: Why is Google obstructing a Federal wiretapping investigation affecting the privacy of literally tens of millions of American households' -- not a consumer protection issue? How come consumer groups routinely and loudly call for FCC investigations of broadband companies' legal marketplace actions, but are silent on the obvious obstruction of a Federal investigation into Google allegedly being involved in potentially the largest wiretapping and mass invasion of citizens' privacy by a corporation in U.S. history? How is it in consumers' interest for the government to not be able to determine if Google actually violated Federal law or not?

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.

Why Google Thinks It is Above the Law

Google often acts as if it thinks it is above the law. That may be the most plausible explanation for why Google is under antitrust investigation on five continents, has had 35+ privacy scandals, and has been sued for eight different kinds of infringement/theft from most every content industry.

I. Cover-ups

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.

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.

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:

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths