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The Left's Anti-competitive National Broadband Strategy; Reed Hundt yearning for monopoly regulation

The uber-communications-advisor of the left, Reed Hundt, gave an eyebrow-raising exclusive interview with Telephony-Online yesterday where he shared his views "on how to change broadband policy."  

  • In this post I will provide all Mr. Hundt's comments on this subject with my commentary annotated as we go along.
  • Why are Mr. Hundt's view's relevant to parse closely? Mr. Hundt is a thought leader and spokesperson of the left because he is exceptionally well connected to the communications policy apparatus of the left: 

Mr. Hundt's verbatim quotes "on how to change broadband policy" from the telephony Online interview are in Italics, my comments are indented and in normal script.

On how to change broadband policy: It’s important to decide that the primary broadband provider needs to be open.

  • Didn't a bipartisan Congress overwhelming "decide" in 1996 to promote competition so consumers in a free market would "decide" these things and not government?
  • And who should your "primary" broadband provider be? The legacy voice providers which reach 79% of the country per the FCC or the new entrant cable providers which reach 96% of the country per the FCC.
  • How would government decide which provider would win or lose "primary" broadband status?  

Second they can charge for the bits, but they need to be open about what they’re charging and absolutely clear about the contracts and about their performance. None of these things are true today. 

  • Thank you Mr. Hundt for allowing broadband providers to charge for their service. We were all wondering in a competitive free market if companies could "charge" for their service.
  • Since you didn't mention it, I won't take for granted that you would allow broadband providers to earn a profit, given that in your book "You say you want a revolution?" you were quite clear that you "decided" that the Bells would lose share and profits. 

Most important, we need to get over the idea that having cable and telephone companies each do an okay job is somehow better than one firm doing a great job.

  • Mr. Hundt is this your way of saying we need to "get over" a competitive free market for broadband and return to "one" monopoly "firm doing a great job."  And under what theory or ism does "one" provider with no competition do a "great" job?  
  • On what planet do the people live on that think a competitive market driven by consumer choices just is "okay," but no competitive choice or alternative would be "great."    

If you have one broadband provider or a dominant broadband provider charging a tenth of what’s being charged today and providing ten times the throughput, there’s nothing wrong with that.

  • What could be wrong with that? reality? economics? return on investment? higher taxes and ultimate cost to pay for the $75-100b it would cost?  

That would be a decent broadband policy. So instead of saying let’s nickel and dime phone companies in rural America, I’d say let’s commit to openness and bury the lines and seal the conduit and string glass all across America.

  • Manifique Monsieur! Formidable! How could we be so stupide? We should be asking ourselves: "What would France do? 

If the network is truly open and if the goal is to maximize the bandwidth and that’s what you have as your business and regulatory paradigm, then it’s not very important that you always pit cable against telephone.

  • Why is the goal just maximizing bandwidth? Why not listen to consumers who obviously like the goal of mobility too?
    • Funny how consumers have demanded more mobile connections and minutes than wireline.
    • Funny how wireless broadband is the fastest growing segment of broadband by far?
    • Have you ever thought that mobility might be a worthy national broadband goal too?
  • Silly me. I am sure you are right now on this sweeping revsion of communications policy, even though you were so very wrong before on:
    • Obliterating national cable infrastructure upgrade investment by cutting cable rates another 17% after they were already cut 10%;
    • Letting 30MHz of prime spectrum lay unused for a decade because of the NextWave auction debacle;
    • Being the regulatory pied piper that proactively set up the unsustainable business trajectory for fiber backbones and CLECs that led to mass bankruptcies after the bursting of the dotcom bubble;
    • Delaying most U.S. broadband investment for seven years until the Hundt FCC's UNE-P policy "innovation" was declared illegal by the Supreme Court; or
    • Most recently, advocating unworkable public safety rules in the 700 MHz auction through your failed Frontline gambit, that apparently will result in no winning bid and fallow public safety spectrum.
      • What a "great" record.           
  • And who needs a new entrant in cable modem service to encourage DSL deployment, who needs a Verizon Fios fiber deployment to encourage cable to invest in DOCSIS 30 to deliver 100 Mb? Who needs competitive choices when you have masterful policy advisors who have all the answers?  

It’s more important that you have at least one universal provider.

  • I am sure everyone else is as nostalgic as you Mr. Hundt for the good ole days of a national regulated universal monopoly.
    • Oh how we all miss the rotary black phones, dollar a minute long distance charges, no internet, and no wireless service.
  • Who needs all those choices and colors? those innovative breakthroughs?  the low prices? the freedom and security of mobile communications?

Going back to universal service, instead of seeing us reduce the amount of money we give to phone companies in Montana, I’d rather see us provide really high-speed access, even if it was just one company, provided they were open.

  • It's very interesting Mr. Hundt that you mention the word "open" five times in your remarks on broadband policy but don't mention the words competition, free market, or consumer choice once?

Bottom line: Mr. Hundt and his colleagues on the left are effectively advocating for an anti-competitive "national broadband policy.

  • It is "anti-competitive" because at core it seeks to replace current free market competition policy with government central planning regulation like Mr. Hundt was so fond of when he was FCC chair from 1993-97.