Friday, March 30, 2007

Step Right Up

This post requires a little background music: Tom Waits doing "Step Right Up". I cant help but hear him rasping out that song when I read these words from chairman Martin:

broadband-wireless services need to be 'on the same footing' as wired high-speed-Internet services from cable and telephone companies.

It’s going to be important for consumers to develop that third broadband pipe as a competitor to DSL [digital subscriber line] and cable.
If only he meant that as it reads -- *consumers* developing the third broadband pipe -- we would have reason to cheer (and forgive the paternalistic use of the word "consumers"). Alas, that would be a mis-read of what is being said. Of course, the intent is to portray the FCC as looking out for the interests of consumers by ensuring that there is a third pipe in the broadband arena. One can only hope that it turns out to be the third rail and it knocks some sense into this carnival sideshow.

Martin went on to say that wireless-broadband Internet-access service will be treated as an information service under the Communications Act of 1934. What a great idea! Let's take a developing communications technology and subject it to legislation that was passed at a time when electricity was the new modern convenience. Martin goes on to say it is "critical" that broadband-wireless services receive "the same lighter regulatory treatment as other information services." The purpose of this anachronistic move becomes clear when put in the context of the upcoming wireless spectrum auction.

In case the subtlety is lost on anyone, Martin spells it out:
Martin said the biggest priority for the FCC in 2007 on the wireless front will be getting the procedures in place to auction off that spectrum in a timely and equitable manner. "Getting the government out of the way, in that sense, is the most important thing we can do."
Ring any Bells? Only one? Exactly.

But it gets worse.
Not only is he harkening back to the day when MaBell ruled like something out of the Matrix, but he is looking to avoid anything that might impose universal service.

Martin suggested that the FCC needs to examine universal-service policies "to make sure we’re not funding yesterday’s technologies.”
That's rich. Let's use 1939 communications policy, but at the same time, let's not get bogged down in anything as anachronistic as ensuring universal access.

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