Hardening the Oligopoly in Wireless Broadband

Art Brodsky of Public Knowledge has some incredibly insightful analysis on the proposed purchase of T-Mobile by of AT&T.

The $39 billion deal would effectively reduce the number of national wireless broadband service providers to three (AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint – and as a Sprint customer, why do I have a feeling this development will f*ck me, too?).

Brodsky’s piece catalogs the immense amount of backstage preparation AT&T accomplished to sow the seeds of government approval for the buyout. However, he also touches on one implication of this deal that deserves more attention: it’s “the one issue that never seems to go away – Net Neutrality.” Read More

Net Neutrality’s Nebulous Future

Just before the end of the year, the Federal Communications Commission made a second try at preserving principles of openness on the Internet – often clumsily called “net neutrality,” but better contextualized as an effort to prevent data discrimination.

There’s been loads of coverage of the decision and predictions of its ultimate success as a regulatory tool. Advocates and critics alike are correct when they say that the issue is more than just one thing – it’s multiple attributes of Internet freedom that are on the line here. Read More

Dear Santa: Please Bring Sanity

I’m not a big fan of the consumptive nature of the “holiday season,” though I do love me some reading. One of the latest on my wish list is Tim Wu’s new tome, The Master Switch. The book itself examines the rise of “information empires” within U.S. communications history, ranging from radio to the Internet.

Wu occupies an interesting place in the media policymaking world: he’s not been afraid to speak his mind, and he’s also remained independent enough to look at our information environment from a strategic perspective, instead of getting embroiled in tactical distractions. Read More

Politics-Based Policy, or Policy-Based Politics?

If you haven’t yet read Harold Feld’s humorous critique on the handling of network neutrality as a “political issue” during the recent elections, it’s worth the time.

Harold calls out two functional weaknesses in what constitutes the public interest constituency in D.C.: the desire to score quick political points with no long-term value and the penchant to react in a knee-jerk fashion when the drive to score backfires. Read More

Faster Facebook or Accurate Forecasts?

The Obama administration’s hunger for wireless broadband spectrum reminds me of a junkie seeking their next fix – they’ll do anything to get more.

In addition to freezing applications for rural low-power DTV stations and threatening to appropriate spectrum from the General Mobile Radio Service (think two-way radio applications, such as those used by industry and public safety agencies), a new proposal would trim the spectrum allocated to weather satellites.

Those of you living east of the Rockies this week got a taste of a “megastorm” which swept the country; the pressure-center of this continental weather-maker was “one of the deepest…ever observed in the continental U.S., outside of a hurricane.” Fortunately, it transited a land mass; if it were over water, this weather system would have qualified as a Category 3 storm. Read More