Former FCC Boss Michael Powell Still Hallucinating Competition
2004 called, and would like its 'free market' rhetoric back...
You might recall former FCC Commissioner Michael Powell, who like his replacement Kevin Martin, had a nasty habit of proclaiming there was a vast ocean of broadband competition, while using non-existent and flawed data
. Powell also had the nasty habit of over-hyping possible "third" pipe competition to the uncompetitive duopoly market guys like Powell helped to create; you'll recall he was a great champion of problematic broadband over powerline technology, going so far as to call it the "great broadband hope." The FCC was even nice enough to hide interference data
for the BPL industry's benefit.
BPL is all but dead, and Powell has moved from the FCC to a series of positions at industry think tanks, and is now apparently even blogging for the broadband industry's latest lobbying creation, Broadband For America
. Broadband For America, as we discussed last September
, is a lobbying coalition that claims to be an altruistic collaboration between "150 organizations" to advance broadband, but is really just a PR vehicle for the nation's biggest carriers.
Powell lobbying for industry carriers is no surprise, nor is the fact that he's still hallucinating competition where none exists in his latest blog post
, where he vaguely argues (albeit painfully vaguely) that Google's investment in FTTH is an example of how the free market works organically without intervention from the government. The problem is that Google is a search giant launching a limited FTTH trial to (in part) highlight competitive problems in the sector, and, as Mike Masnick over at Techdirt
correctly notes, the U.S. broadband sector is about as far from "free market" as you can get:
First, Google has only announced stuff, it hasn't done anything yet, and even if it does, it appears the trials will be quite limited. But the bigger issue is this myth that the current market is this free and open market unencumbered by bad gov't regulation. The history of the broadband market is the history of government's subsidizing and favoring large incumbent telcos. The idea that suddenly everyone wants to "protect the free market" for internet access, when the market has never been a free market is pretty silly. What they mean is actually to protect the market for incumbents. Unless, of course, the incumbents are willing to pay back all the subsidies and preferential treatment they've received from the government over the years?
To answer that rhetorical question: they aren't. And contrary to crowd wisdom, carriers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon don't support a "free market," they support endless subsidies and love being propped up by government and taxpayer money (especially when there's no strings attached). They also love regulation -- when it's levied against the other guy
, be that smaller ISPs, VoIP operators, or content companies. Again, while Google's announcement is nice, it doesn't really indicate much of anything. The search giant will primarily use the network to test video advertising, while collecting wholesale access and network data they can use against Powell and friends in DC telecom lobbying debates.
Re: magic 8 ball
said by tmc8080:well said but you said healthcare and really its more healthcare insurance is where its really bad.
although this pales in comparison to greed of other industries: energy, banks, healthcare, defense-- that is no excuse for gouging the consumer across the board over the past decade or more.
why should companies care, even the supreme court seems to be corrupt with this new court case about lobbying and giving as much money as special interest group want. the individual is worthless, long live the big interest groups I am sure legal corruption will be the norm not the exception.
but, but, ISPs are investing billions... In his blog post Powell repeats the NCTA-style line that "the national network providers have spent over $100 billion in the past two years building out and upgrading their networks."
Well, sure, they invested in capital equipment... but what these shills always fail to note is 1) Much of this investment is conducted to replace aging, fully depreciated capital assets; 2) Substantial portions of this investment isn't to deliver broadband per se, but to deliver HD, HD VOD, and other TV services; 3) These providers during this period also reaped ever increasing levels of revenues and profit -- it's not as if they are going around being the altruistic broadband fairy. The ISP industry is one that has proved to be recession proof, and as the credit and asset bubbles burst, investors are finding the telecoms to be one of the safer sectors to plop money -- something that will continue even if we get some minor consumer protection rules like net neutrality.
But hey Mr. Powell, you've earned whatever AT&T and NCTA are paying you. Heck of a job.