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FCC

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.

Why the Verizon-Cable Agreement Increases Competition

 

Reports that the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the Verizon Wireless-Cable agreement spotlights an old truism: What one looks for, one sees. What the Government ultimately sees here largely will depend on whether the Government looks backward through an analog competitive lens or looks forward through an Internet competitive convergence lens. In a nutshell, if they look backwards with 1996 cable-telco Silo-Vision lenses, they will see an agreement not predicted in 1996; however if they look forward with 2012 Internet-Vision lenses that see 4G LTE wireless, iPhones/Android, VoIP, DBS, video streaming, Netflix, cable modems, DSL, FIOS, Skype voice/video file-sharing, cloud-computing etc. – they will see an agreement that is not at all surprising or problematic given the competitive context of today and the future.

Where's the Market for Online Privacy?

Why are market forces so weak in protecting users’ online privacy?

The main reason is that the online marketplace is economically structured around users being a commodity, data, to be aggregated and mined, not customers to be served and protected in a competitive marketplace. That’s because the overriding economic force that created the free and open commercial Internet – the predominant Silicon Valley venture capital/IPO value creation model – was and remains largely antithetical to protecting online privacy.

The Silicon Valley venture capital/IPO driven model is laser-focused on achieving Internet audience/user scale fastest in order to gain first-mover advantage and then rapid dominance of a new product or service segment. This predominant Internet economic model is predicated on a precious few investments achieving such rapid user scale that it: warrants a buy-out at an enormous premium multiple; enables fast and exceptionally-profitable liquidity (via the new secondary derivative market for private venture shares or employee options); or broad liquidity via a public IPO.

What is the essential critical element of achieving audience/user scale fastest? Free. No direct cost to the user fuels fastest, frictionless, viral adoption. This free economic model presupposes online advertising as an eventual monetization mechanism and shuns products and services directly paid for by the user because their inherent time-to-market is too slow and their upfront sunk cost of sales and customer service is too high for this predominant value creation model.

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.

Seven Ways the World is Changing the Internet

Since most people focus on how the Internet is changing the world, few focus on the reverse -- how much the world is changing the Internet.

See My Forbes Tech Capitalist blog post to learn the "Seven Ways the World is Changing the Internet."

 

Obsolete Television Law Needs Modernization

Important free market communications legislation introduced in mid-December warrants flagging because it brings needed attention to a real and growing problem, how obsolete communications law stifles innovation, growth and consumer benefit.

See my Forbes Tech Capitalist post on the DeMint-Scalise bill, “The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act.

Does FCC Want to Become The Federal Video Programming Commission?

This week an FCC Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) ordered Comcast to carry The Tennis Channel in the same tier and channel neighborhood as The Golf Channel and Versus, another sports channel.  

  • Given the deep flaws in the ALJ's highly-intrusive, and micro-managing decision, there are several good reasons the FCC should overturn the ALJ's decision upon appeal.

1.  Implements Obsolete Law: The section of law at issue here, Section 616 of the 1992 Cable Act, is predicated on early 1990s market conditions of cable being a monopoly video distributor with large ownership interests in cable channels. Two decades later, that market assessment predicate is obsolete as cable now has only 60% of the video distribution market and dramatically less ownership interests in cable channels. At core the FCC has to decide if it is fair, sound or legitimate competition policy to completely ignore current competition facts.

Emily Litella Meets Google Wallet

To see how the call for the FCC to investigate the allegation that Verizon is blocking Google Wallet is a misinformed Emily Litella rant, please see my Forbes Tech Capitalist Blog post here.

In Defense of Rule of Law & "Cyber-Conservatism"

Many thanks to Adam Thierer of the Technology Liberation Front, for selecting my book, Search & Destroy, as a top twenty most Important Cyber-Law & Info-Tech Policy books of 2011 because “it represented the beginning of an articulation of a philosophy of “cyber-conservatism.”  I also thank Adam for his critical and insightful review of Search & Destroy, which clearly delineates his principled cyber-libertarian differences with my principled “cyber-conservative” views.

Verizon-Cable Spectrum: Is FCC Open to Competition?

The out-of-the-box thinking that led to Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House to sell $3.6b of AWS spectrum to competitor Verizon is a watershed competitive development which ultimately will flush out the real FCC.

 

 

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths