Wireless Industry Wants To Be New ‘Ma Bell’

May 9, 2007 Blog Posts , FCC

We have seen the wireless future, and according to the wireless industry comments filed with the FCC in the Skype petition asking the Commission to loosen the rules on what phones and services can be used on wireless networks, the future looks quite a bit like the past we thought had been discarded. PK and public-interest friends filed in support of the Skype petition.

The industry argued strenuously that it must restrict the use of some phones in order to protect its network against harm and to sustain innovation. AT&T, for example, argued: "… although AT&T does not prohibit the use of uncertified handsets, AT&T strongly encourages its customers to use certified handsets – those that are optimized for its network – and it guarantees the service of and provides technical support only for those handsets."

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Access to high-speed Internet is an economic matter

March 16, 2007 Blog Posts , Network Neutrality

Note: This item is reprinted from the March 16 edition of the Gazette (Politics and Business) published weekly in several communities in Montgomery, Prince George's, Frederick and Carroll counties in Maryland.

The big telephone and cable companies have a secret. The leadership of the House of Delegates is perfectly willing to let them keep it, taking the side of the two companies which in recent days each raised their rates while supposedly competing against each other, rather than help consumers by taking an action to help spur competition in Maryland broadband services.

There is no dispute that the Internet has become as valuable to most people as electricity or telephone service. By any measure, access to the Internet opens up a whole range of new opportunities, from students doing homework, to entrepreneurs developing new products to people who work from home.

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PK Testifies on XM-Sirius Merger

February 28, 2007 Blog Posts , Fair Use

Gigi is scheduled to testify later today before the House Judiciary Committee's Antitrust Task force on the proposed merger of satellite radio companies XM and Sirius.

We believe the merger could be approved if conditions are attached to the deal to protect consumers.

In her written statement to the Task Force Gigi did not take a position on whether the merger would pass antitrust scrutiny, but said if it did, then the deal should be approved only if it is subject three conditions:

  • the new company makes available pricing choices such as a la carte or tiered programming.

  • the new company makes 5% of its capacity available to non-commercial educational and informational programming over which it has no editorial control.

  • the new company agrees not to raise prices for three years after the merger is approved.

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It’s Getting Nasty In Annapolis

February 27, 2007 Blog Posts , Network Neutrality

The Economic Matters Committee in the Maryland House of Delegates holds its hearing at 1 p.m. today on the broadband legislation introduced by Del. Herman Taylor.

I guess we shouldn't be surprised that the other side is pulling out all sorts of disinformation, misinformation and just plain sleazy tactics to stop it.

The bill is very simple. It requires the Public Service Commission to collect data on broadband deployment around the state, so we can actually see who has the benefits of real broadband and who doesn't. Second, it suggests that the carriers like Verizon and Comcast follow a Net Neutrality policy. It's only a suggestion because, after all, the Federal government has jurisdiction over high-speed broadband services — to the extent it chooses to exercise it.

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Maryland, My Maryland — a new broadband approach

February 15, 2007 Blog Posts , Network Neutrality

The Federal government has taken away the responsibilities of the states for broadband Internet service. Heck, the Federal government has taken itself out of most responsibilities for broadband service.

That's why a bill in the Maryland legislature is refreshing — because it shows there is still a state role to play. The bill, HB 1069, by Del. Herman Taylor (D-Montgomery County), concentrates on what the Feds have left behind — the collection of accurate statistics on broadband deployment.

Taylor's bill requires any company offering high-speed broadband, defined as 768 kbps or higher, to report to the Public Service Commission on a ZIP code-plus 4 basis, about where service is being deployed, the take rate, and other information. It's technologically neutral, applying to telephone companies, cable companies, utilities, whoever.

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