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WSJ's Mossberg's opinion piece inflames but doesn't inform -- a perverted view of "free" markets

I normally consider myself a big fan of Walter Mossberg's technology reviews in the Wall Street Journal, but for today I am a big critic of Mr. Mossberg's woefully uniformed and one-sided opinion piece on public policy "Free my Phone."

Obviously frustrated at the technical reality that the bandwidth availability of telecommunications devices has not kept pace with the faster growth in computer processing, Mr. Mossberg lashes out at public policy as the cause in an emotional diatribe that illogically concludes that "if the government...breaks the crippling power that the wireless carriers exert today, the free market will deliver a... happy ending."

  • First, it is odd that a Wall Street Journal writer believes that Government regulation is what makes a market "free"...  huh? 
  • Second, what is the "crippling power" that Mr. Mossberg wants to break?
    • Is it the "problem" that American wireless consumers enjoy the second lowest per minute prices in the world, a fourth of the cost Europeans pay per minute?
    • Is it the "problem" that low prices enable American wireless consumers to use wireless much more than any other Nation's consumers and almost four times more than Europeans?
    • Is it a "problem" that America enjoys the world's most facilities-based wireless competitive choices
      • Just how are the lowest prices, most usage and most facilities-based competitive choices in the world "crippling" anyone?
      • Or how do these facts warrant Mr. Mossberg calling "the U.S. the laughingstock of the mobile technology world?"
      • Why was there no mention of these extremely pertinent facts in Mr. Mossberg's opinion piece?
        • Could it be that it would undermine his case for more government regulation of the competitive wireless industry?
        • Or could it be that he only listened to the tech side of the story and not the wireless side?    
  • Third, Mr. Mossberg has a point of view about tech and wireless competition that is divorced from competitive reality.
    • The tech industry that Mr. Mossberg is more familiar with and writes about -- routinely produces markets with much less competition than wireless communications.
      • Tech industry business models routinely produce dominant providers: Microsoft ~90% operating system and Office share; Intel 80-90% microprocessor share, Ebay 95% online auction share, Google 75% search revenue share, Apple ~70% of music download share... to name some of the most prominent. 
      • In stark contrast, the leading wireless provider in the US has less than 27% market share!
        • So is it fair or objective for Mr. Mossberg to use extremely-loaded words to describe U.S. wireless carriers like; "Soviet ministries," "the devil" and "cellphone prison" that don't fit the factual reality that U.S. consumers have more real wireless facilities-based competitive choice than any country in the world? and certainly much more competition than in most of the tech industry?
          • These perjorative metaphors are designed to inflame not inform.   

Mr. Mossberg also has strong views on: "the way digital capitalism should work" and how U.S. wireless carriers "shouldn't be allowed to pick and choose what phones run on their networks, and what software and services run on those phones." 

Mr. Mossberg has obviously fallen hook, line and sinker for the lobbying line of Google, Skype and the electronic device guys, and failed to acknowlege the cold hard reality that spectrum does not have infinite bandwidth these interests claim -- and that the fact that the more people that use spectrum at any given time the less spectrum there is to use. 

  • The fact is that wireless is a shared network with real capacity limitations -- not the tech fantasy that wireless bandwidth is or should be free.
  • The cold hard facts are that a few bandwidth hogs can ruin the quality of service for everyone.
  • The FCC's network neutrality principles recognize this obvious reality and have this very important caveat:
    • The network neutrality "principles we adopt are subject to reasonable network management."  
  • Mr. Mossberg has been had and used by the Google/Skype/device lobby.
    • Every story has two-sides, but unfortunately Mr. Mossberg's opinion piece only had one.           

Bottom line:

  • I challenge the Wall Street Journal to conduct an objective poll to see if American consumers would rather have:
    • The U.S. competitive model where prices are four times lower than Europe enabling four times the average monthly usage as Europe and where consumers have the most facilities-based competitive choices in the world; or
    • The European regulatory model that emphasizes Government-set standards, government price regulations, and government mandating unlocking of phones and applications?

The trade-off that the Google/Skype/device lobby is really asking for in a very sneaky and underhanded way is that they want the consumer to pay a lot more for their wireless service so that they can siphon off wireless profits without having to pay anything for the use of the airwaves. 

  • A sweet deal and a great scam if Google/Skype can trick enough people into believing it...