Is there a “Silver Lining” of Sequestration?

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Friday, absent Congressional and Presidential action, the Budget Control Act’s Sequester kicks in, forcing across-the-board spending cuts of $1.1 trillion spread out over nine years, with $85 billion cuts coming in 2013.  Without question, this reduction in federal spending will impact the economy, particularly as we measure it.  Government spending is a component of aggregate demand, and reduced demand in the economy will have its consequences.  Also, government spending is a component of Gross Domestic Product (about 23% of it), and since recessions are indicated (in part) by declining GDP, a cut in federal spending increases the probability of an Continue Reading »

The FCC Contradicts Their Facts (Again) To Justify Expanded Broadband Regulation…

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Last year, we released a paper entitled Justifying the Ends:  Section 706 and the Regulation of Broadband (and forthcoming, Journal of Internet Law) where we demonstrated how the Federal Communications Commission deliberately ignored its own evidence to support expanded regulatory jurisdiction over IP-based services.  With the release of its new Measuring Broadband America Report last week, the FCC once again undermines its factual predicate for Internet regulation.  Let me explain. 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.  Under Section 706(a) of Continue Reading »

The Misuse of International Broadband Rankings Continues…

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According to a just-released report by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) entitled The Whole Picture:  Where America’s Broadband Networks Really Stand, “Despite the frequent claims that the United States lags in international broadband comparisons, the studies cited to support this claim are out-of-date, poorly-focused, and/or analytically deficient.”  We couldn’t agree more, and extend our kudos to Richard Bennett, Luke Steward, and Rob Atkinson for a thorough and dispassionate analysis of broadband deployment and adoption across developed economies.  Indeed, I suspect ITIF’s report will become the ”go to” document of the most current basic statistics on where the U.S. Continue Reading »

Copyright and Wireless Carterfone…

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Recently, a renewed interest in long-term contracts and the practice of locking handsets to networks has emerged from an unlikely source:  Copyright law. Making a very long and complicated story short, under Section 1201(a)(1)(A) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), it is unlawful to circumvent certain technological measures employed by or on behalf of copyright owners to protect their works.   That said, copyright law always embeds some balance between owner and user, and Section 1201(a)(1)(B) limits the prohibition for subsection (A) by exempting those persons who are “adversely affected by virtue of such prohibition in their ability to make 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 »

Looking Ahead to 2013…

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Over the course of the last several weeks, we at the Phoenix Center held Part I and Part II of our Annual U.S. Telecoms Symposium.  Part I, held on December 6th, focused on the impact of the recent election on U.S. broadband policy; while the more “wonky” Part II, held last week on January 3rd, focused on emerging issues in broadband policy for 2013.  As always, we had a fantastic array of speakers at both events, and the presentations were excellent.  While interested folks are welcome to watch the video of the full proceedings on-line (Part I may be viewed Continue Reading »

Is it Time to End Asymmetric Regulation?

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This week, USTelecom filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission requesting the agency to issue a declaratory ruling that incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) are no longer subject to dominant carrier regulation when providing interstate mass market and enterprise switched access services.  As the Commission begins to evaluate USTelecom’s petition, we need to keep in mind that the policy question at the heart of this proceeding is not necessarily one of de-regulation per se (although deregulation is the end objective of USTelecom’s petition), but one of regulatory symmetry.  That is, does it make sense to maintain asymmetric regulation for Continue Reading »

A Little Kvelling About 2012…

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With the holidays rapidly approaching, I thought I would use our final post of the year to provide a brief summary of the Phoenix Center’s many activities in 2012.   (We will be releasing a comprehensive summary of our activities in our Annual Report after the New Year.)  As always, the Phoenix Center in 2012 was both prolific and influential. To begin, the Phoenix Center issued eight (8) scholarly papers in 2012.  The topics we covered involved a wide range of issues, including on-line intellectual property theft, spectrum exhaust, usage-based pricing, the secondary market for spectrum, the effect of regulation on 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 »