Category Archives: Industry Structure and Market Performance

New America Foundation Misinterprets International Data (Again)…

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In a recent report entitled The Cost of Connectivity, the New America Foundation (“New America”) attempts to compare the prices of “triple play” offerings of video, phone, and Internet services across 22 cities worldwide to show that “that U.S. consumers in major cities tend to pay higher prices for slower speeds compared to consumers abroad.”  Unfortunately, when it comes to measuring and comparing prices, New America has a demonstrated penchant for careless work.  Upon inspection, New America’s new study appears to be unexceptional in that regard—the empirics are sloppy and the conclusions are unsupported.  In fact, New America presents evidence Continue Reading »

Copyright and Wireless Carterfone (Part Deux)…

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Last month, I authored a blog discussing the Librarian of Congress’s recent decision not to exempt handset unlocking of new phones from the anti-circumvention petitions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”).  Since that blog was posted, copyright-reform activists launched an on-line campaign to have the White House “ask the Librarian of Congress to rescind this decision, and failing that, champion a bill that makes unlocking permanently legal.”  Last week, in a post by R. David Edelman, Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation Policy, entitled It’s Time to Legalize Cell Phone Unlocking, the White House joined in the dispute stating: The Continue Reading »

Sloppy Research Sinks Susan Crawford’s Book…

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This month, Cardozo Law School Professor and former Special Assistant for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy to President Barack Obama Susan Crawford released her new book entitled Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age.  Professor Crawford is known as a tireless and vocal advocate for government intervention in and the regulation of telecommunications, and is perhaps the most recognized advocate for the construction of a government-funded and regulated fiber-optic Internet network servicing all American homes and businesses.  Many vigorously oppose Professor Crawford’s ideas by claiming they are overly regulatory and too expensive, but many Continue Reading »

When the CLECs Jumped the Shark…

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Last month, I authored a blog entitled It’s Time to Start the Conversation on the IP Transition where I argued that we could no longer postpone the development of a cohesive regulatory paradigm to manage the complicated issue of facilitating the transition from legacy TDM networks to the more efficient IP-based networks.  This view is shared by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai,who has long-proposed the creation of an “IP Transition Taskforce.”  And now, the chorus of supporters widens to include FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who announced today that the FCC intends to form an agency-wide “Technology Transitions Policy Task Force” that Continue Reading »

Economic Theory in Action: The FCC’s Assault on the Mobile Broadband Consumer…

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Recently, I spotted an interesting blog by Scott Wallsten at the Technology Policy Institute.  In this blog, Scott discusses the FCC’s recent decision that Verizon violated the open access rules of the 700 MHz C-Block auction by charging its customers an additional $20 per month on its data plans to tether a device.  In response, Verizon paid a fine and now allows tethering on all new data plans.  However, Scott observes that: Verizon effectively abandoned the post-paid market for light users after the FCC decision.  Verizon no longer offers individual plans.  Even consumers with only a single smartphone must purchase Continue Reading »

Professor Susan Crawford and the Looming “Cable Monopoly”…

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Next month, a new book entitled Captive Audience:  The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age (Yale University Press 2012) from Cardozo Law School Professor Susan Crawford will hit the bookshelves.  According to her publisher’s blurb, Professor Crawford’s book will examine how the United States has “created the biggest monopoly since the breakup of Standard Oil a century ago.”  But what is this “monopoly” to which Professor Crawford refers?  While the publisher’s promotional blurb is silent on this question, according to a 2010 paper authored by Professor Crawford in the Yale Law and Policy Review, it appears Continue Reading »

The FCC’s Special Access Fiasco: No Data and Wrong Policy Question…

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Late Wednesday night, the Federal Communications Commission released a Report and Order that would suspend, on an “interim” basis, its rules for automatic grants of pricing flexibility for special access services “in light of significant evidence” that the current deregulatory trigger—i.e., two competitors have collocated in a single Metropolitan Statistical Area (“MSA”)—is “not working as predicted.”  In particular, the Commission found that the geographic territories contained in most MSAs are “overly broad” and, in contrast, most competitive entry is occurring only in areas with “extremely concentrated demand.”  Although the Commission concedes that it “currently lack[s] the necessary data to identify Continue Reading »

How the FCC “Rigs the Game” for Broadband Regulation Under Section 706…

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Over the last several years, we have seen the Federal Communications Commission put forth a rather clever argument to expand its regulatory authority over broadband services.  The argument goes basically like this:  Under Section 706(a) of the Communications Act, the Commission “shall encourage the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans … by utilizing … price cap regulation, regulatory forbearance, measures that promote competition in the local telecommunications market, or other regulating methods that remove barriers to infrastructure investment.”  As part of its mandate, Section 706(b) requires the Commission to conduct a regular Continue Reading »

Susan Crawford and the Economics of the Wireless Industry…

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Last week, Professor Susan Crawford authored an op-ed entitled What’s Good for Verizon and AT&T Is Terrible for American Consumers.  While Professor Crawford’s emotional argument is a bit scattered, her depiction of an industry in transition provides a useful foundation for discussing the future of broadband in the United States. First, Professor Crawford argues that wireless broadband is a “commodity,” and one that consumers are increasingly using as a substitute for traditional “voice” and “texting” services.  This substitution is arguably true and, as such, we should therefore expect to see broadband providers increasingly employing and experimenting with a variety of Continue Reading »

How the Retransmission Fight May Affect MVPD Industry Structure…

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One of the growing hot-button issues of late has been the fight between programming networks (including traditional broadcast networks) and multichannel video programming distributors (“MVPDs”) over retransmission fees.  As we have seen with increasing frequency, as a programming carriage contract expiration deadline looms larger, either the MVPD pays up, or the channel goes dark.  Just this week, DirecTV just dropped a whopping SEVENTEEN channels owned by Viacom—running the full gamut from MTV to Comedy Central—from their lineup when the parties failed to reach a commercial agreement. In retaliation, Viacom pulled much of their coveted programming from free Internet outlets.  Needless Continue Reading »