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Computerworld Opinion: Unregulated sector calls for regulation of converging broadband competitors

In a stunningly naive, parochial, and innacurate opinion piece, "Keeping a lid on broadband," Computerworld national correspondent Kevin Mitchell has scathing criticism of current free market communications policies (that by the way were modeled after the computer sector's free market and innovation successes) and calls for government bureaucrats to regulate most everything of import in the communications sector.   

I am stunned that in the journalistic "world of computers" there could be such a naive and parochial view of the real-world ramifications of technological and digital convergence -- the rapidly blurring lines between computing, communications and storage. Mr. Mitchell writes like the tech sector and computing in general is an impregnable and immutable island that should forever be insulated and protected from competitive and market forces occuring outside the tech sector.

  • To the extent that Mr. Mitchell is inviting the Federal Government to micro-manage the economics and operations of the communications sector -- did it ever occur to him that such calls for aggressive regulatory intervention would inevitably backfire and creep into his beloved unregulated tech sector which is rushing into the communications business?  
  • Is Mr. Mitchell unaware that:
    • Current Federal policy and legal precedent is for technology neutrality and regulatory parity?
    • The tech sector is rapidly getting into the communications business at most every level?  
    • The tech sector is home of "winner-take-all" competitive dynamics, network effects and economies of scale advantages?
    • The tech sector's market shares and practical barriers to competitive entry are more formidable in tech than they are in communications?
      • If Mr. Mitchell is calling for price regulation of broadband and wireless, which the government declares is competitive and does not have market power, what is his parochial position on regulation of the market power of Microsoft, Intel, eBay or Google which all have revenue market shares over 80-90%?
  •  Mr. Mitchell is naive and parochial, if he thinks that:
    • Technological convergence should only benefit the tech sector, and
    • Regulation should only apply to communications companies and not tech companies engaged in communications businesses.   

Mr. Mitchell is also inaccurate in his piece.

  • He starts his bromide with a patently inaccurate claim that "deregulation of telecommunications was an unmitigated disaster for U.S. businesses."
  • Huh. What planet has he been writing from?
    • The U.S. is the only major country to successfully develop facilities-based broadband competition which has resulted in more facilities based competition, consumer choice and investment than anywhere else in the world.
      • The U.S. is the only country with two independent national residential broadband infrastructures; no other country has a universally deployed alternative cable infrastructure.
      • Because we had markets and not bureaucrats running our wireless markets, American wireless consumers enjoy the lowest wireless prices (save for Hong Kong) and by far the most wireless usage, almost four times more than consumers in Europe or Asia.
      • America also has more wifi hotspots than anywhere in the world, by far.
      • Because we have markets and consumers directing our broadband investments and deployments not government, the American market has relatively stressed mobility over stationary broadband.
        • Mr. Mitchell apparently has a parochial view that Government should prioritize investment in stationary broadband over wireless broadband because that would somehow favor innovation?
        • Does Mr. Mitchell really want bureaucrats telling consumers what innovations they will get or should unfettered consumer demand remain the grist of American Innovation?

Mr. Mitchell then concludes suggesting that net neutrality regulation, open access and structural separation, are somehow the pathway to promote American innovation. 

  • Once again, Mr. Mitchell exposes his parochial and pro-regulation bias.
  • In essence, Mr. Mitchell is saying the government should stifle innovation in communications through regulation, in order to not stifle innovation in silicon valley and the tech sector?
    • Did it ever occur to Mr. Mitchell that one of the key elements of American innovation is keeping Government red tape out of the process?