dslreports logo
site
spacer

spacer
 
   
spc
story category
Perhaps Lessig Was Right: The FCC Should be Demolished
Since It's Clear We Don't Really Want to Reform It
by Karl Bode 09:09AM Thursday May 09 2013
The Obama administration last week picked a former cable and wireless lobbyist to run the FCC. While the Wheeler pick is being applauded by some consumer groups and folks like Susan Crawford (who has spent the last year selling books that complain about revolving door politics and regulatory capture), most people are highly skeptical that a man with thirty years of lobbying under his belt is going to seriously represent the public interest. As such, it might be time to revisit the question of whether or not the FCC can be reformed, or whether it needs to be destroyed and re-built so it can get back to protecting consumer interests.

Click for full size
Author, activist and academic Larry Lessig argued "way" back in 2008 that the FCC needs to be demolished, and as the status quo roars forth and we see nothing getting changed, it might be time to revisit that scenario. To be clear, Lessig isn't suggesting we destroy the FCC and just leave companies untethered, something that the AT&T, Verizon and Comcast's of the sector would love -- he's simply arguing that the agency is too broken for reform:
quote:
The solution here is not tinkering. You can't fix DNA. You have to bury it. President Obama should get Congress to shut down the FCC and similar vestigial regulators, which put stability and special interests above the public good. In their place, Congress should create something we could call the Innovation Environment Protection Agency (iEPA), charged with a simple founding mission: "minimal intervention to maximize innovation." The iEPA's core purpose would be to protect innovation from its two historical enemies—excessive government favors, and excessive private monopoly power.
In 2008, Lessig's proposal was seen as hysterical and excessive by many, though many see any serious change as excessive and hysterical. Five years later, we've got an FCC that still only pays fleeting lip service to consumer issues, but refuses to seriously address any of them for fear of upsetting the nation's big carriers. We've also now got a lobbyist FCC chief appointment being applauded by supposed progressives and consumer advocates. What we've been trying isn't working, and maybe it's time to more seriously consider Lessig's suggestion.

view:
topics flat nest 

IowaCowboy
Want to go back to Iowa
Premium
join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon Broadban..
·Comcast

1 recommendation

Leave it to the states

The states do a much better job of regulating things than the federal government. It is much easier to move to another state than another country.

I personally think state DPUs should be given the authority to regulate last mile ISPs unless there is true competition.
karpodiem
Premium
join:2008-05-20

1 edit

1 recommendation

Re: Leave it to the states

the war for spectrum will dominate the next 5-10 years. I don't disagree with you in that the state's should regulate the last mile for cable/DSL/fiber, but I don't see much interest in the last mile coming from the national carriers.

This is where Google has a window of opportunity. Run fiber to every residence, let small-cell technology continue to mature, and offer a subsidy for every Google fiber subscriber who installs a small-cell receiver in their home, with Google wireless subscribers roaming freely between small cells (this assumes that Google will get into wireless, which will happen at some point in the next 10 years). You defeat the wireless monopoly by doubling down on 'physical' infrastructure.

I know Karl is skeptical that Google can pull this off, but Google doesn't really care about what shareholders think (notice they don't put out quarterly guidance). Google is not Microsoft. As long as Larry and Sergey are running Google, Google will continue to solve hard problems. Getting rid of Eric Schmidt was the best thing that Google has done in the last five years.
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
·MegaPath

Re: Leave it to the states

Google will never become a national player. This is only a hobby for them and everyone knows it. And as far as wireless? LOL! You don't remember them saying they were going to become a true wireless company and was bidding on the spectrum only to later say they didn't intend to do anything, but make the others pay more. This isn't how things work, and that too was just a "hobby" of Google. Google needs to stay doing what they are good at. Search and that's it. Other than that, the BoD needs to hire someone that actually doesn't get tired of their pet projects and can actually create an ROI on everything they do.
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
·MegaPath
Google will never become a national player. This is only a hobby for them and everyone knows it. And as far as wireless? LOL! You don't remember them saying they were going to become a true wireless company and was bidding on the spectrum only to later say they didn't intend to do anything, but make the others pay more. This isn't how things work, and that too was just a "hobby" of Google. Google needs to stay doing what they are good at. Search and that's it. Other than that, the BoD needs to hire someone that actually doesn't get tired of their pet projects and can actually create an ROI on everything they do.
karpodiem
Premium
join:2008-05-20

1 recommendation

Re: Leave it to the states

that was the Eric Schmidt Google. Eric Schmidt was thrown out by Larry and Sergey. Larry and Sergey have no problem taking on the carriers, if the carriers threaten to go to 'you can choose applications which don't count against your bandwidth allotment, and 1GB of general internet browsing' model. Which they will. It's inevitable. Google knows this, and is learning with these small fiber deployments, which are the stepping stone to much larger deployments. You don't become a national ISP overnight.

You don't get it. Unlike like the carriers, Google doesn't need to make an ROI. They just need to keep serving ads. Ads are what make them money. Everything else is a conduit (Google maps, Gmail, Android) for ads. Fiber is no different. As the carriers get more and more desperate in the years to come and attempt to monetize their networks by the model I described above, Google will deploy more infrastructure to more people.
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
·MegaPath

Re: Leave it to the states

And old Google? Google has shut down services since Larry was there and in charge. Google's shareholders will speak again, and its only a matter of time until they want to see $$ coming in and just not from ads.

What you don't get is YES they do need an ROI. That network has to be paid by someone and ads just won't keep paying and paying and paying. And as far as Android bringing in money, it really doesn't unless Google is busy collecting your data from it, which according to the TOS, yes they can. And Google will never deploy any more infrastructure to any more people. If they had plans on going further and keep going they wouldn't have the clauses they do with Provo and KC- KS/MO.
karpodiem
Premium
join:2008-05-20

1 recommendation

Re: Leave it to the states

...and yet Google expanded to another major city with Austin. Explain that one?

tell you what, I'm confident enough to make a $20 charity wager that Google will expand to another Top 10 (in population) US metropolitan area within the next two years. bookmark this thread and e-mail me if you win. karpodiem@gmail.com
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
·MegaPath

Re: Leave it to the states

Expanded? they haven't expanded ANYWHERE outside of the first cities. If you read what they said; it would take TIME before they were even ready. They need permits, companies to mark the current fibers/lines in the ground, permits to put hang lines on poles and a ton of other things. If you consider this expanding, then VZ needs to start striking up deals with cities to "expand" their FiOS. After all, even if its not built, according to you they've "expanded". They don't even half 40% of KC, KS/MO built out yet but yet say the uptake is 30-40%- LMAO! Yah that uptake can be that high when you have 200 homes built out to and 100 signed up.

Also Google Fiber is nothing but a hobby that will be nothing but that. They're playing with AT&T now in Texas and AT&T can deploy that Fiber much faster and cheaper that Google will ever dream of. With U-Verse already have Fiber to the neighborhoods, it can easily be added to the homes. The same with TWC and Comcast alike. Google has no clue who they are playing with in the end. Especially if they were about bringing choices; they'd move into areas that VZ has FiOS and try to under cut them; which we all know; will NEVER happen.
ssavoy
Premium
join:2007-08-16
Dallas, PA
Reviews:
·Anveo

1 recommendation

Leaving it to the states has allowed half the country fragmented to forbid any sort of municipal broadband buildout, forcing private companies to invest, which they aren't doing. They're milking whatever they have left. Verizon effectively wrote legislation in Pennsylvania that forbid any sort of municipal buildout, which is funny considering they want nothing to do with wireline services anymore.

Leaving it to the states will just cause huge gaps in connectivity. You'd be surprised how many rural politicians will buy into the BS spewed by companies like Frontier who do nothing to innovate. They get away with too much because politicians at the local and state level, for the most part, have no idea how the internet works at all.

IowaCowboy
Want to go back to Iowa
Premium
join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon Broadban..
·Comcast

Re: Leave it to the states

And Massachusetts has the guts to take on Verizon. I heard that the original plan was to sell Western Mass to FairPoint but they dropped that effort as it would be shot down by the Mass DPU. And the commonwealth entered into a settlement a few years back with VZ over their failure to make repairs.

Fortunately for VZ, Sandy did minimal damage to Massachusetts. This is the kind of state that would fine VZ by the day for an inoperable network. They fined the power companies over outages that the utilities had no control over. That you can blame for the sky high utility rates here.

I'm surprised the commonwealth has not forced them to upgrade to FiOS.
--
I've experienced ImOn (when they were McLeod USA), Mediacom, Comcast, and Time Warner and I currently have DirecTV. They are much better than broadcast TV.

I have not and will not cut the cord.

M35

@wideopenwest.com

Not just the FCC

It is all of government that is broken, not just the FCC!

cork1958
Cork
Premium
join:2000-02-26

1 recommendation

Re: Not just the FCC

said by M35 :

It is all of government that is broken, not just the FCC!

Amen to that!!
--
The Firefox alternative.
»www.mozilla.org/projects/seamonkey/

firephoto
We the people
Premium
join:2003-03-18
Brewster, WA

Re: Not just the FCC

said by cork1958:

said by M35 :

It is all of government that is broken, not just the FCC!

Amen to that!!

Luckily I won't waste a thought to that when I'm at someone's house that is on fire.

Quit generalizing in selfish ways.
--
Say no to astroturfing. actions > Ignore Author

Packeteers
Premium
join:2005-06-18
Forest Hills, NY
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

1 recommendation

Re: Not just the FCC

what's broken is the revolving door of politicians becoming lobbyists and lobbyists becoming politicians. the US government is a rigged system that no insiders have the courage to draw out and fix. when they attempt to fix things, the same lobbying groups see to it that they don't get reelected. this is why you'll never see a Susan Crawford in a government position to do anything about it.
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·EarthLink

2 recommendations

said by firephoto:

said by cork1958:

said by M35 :

It is all of government that is broken, not just the FCC!

Amen to that!!

Luckily I won't waste a thought to that when I'm at someone's house that is on fire.

Quit generalizing in selfish ways.

You go right ahead and battle that fire. I'll help you hold the hose. Please, however, don't expect me to pay a collective tax for it.

Private fire protection districts work just fine, without the need for "national standard" staffing levels yielding $150K overtime bonanzas for ... not fighting fires, and a shortage of paramedics.

It is selfish to expect someone else to pay the bill for your failure to plan, prepare, and provide for your own needs.

firephoto
We the people
Premium
join:2003-03-18
Brewster, WA

1 recommendation

Re: Not just the FCC

said by elray:

You go right ahead and battle that fire. I'll help you hold the hose. Please, however, don't expect me to pay a collective tax for it.

Private fire protection districts work just fine, without the need for "national standard" staffing levels yielding $150K overtime bonanzas for ... not fighting fires, and a shortage of paramedics.

It is selfish to expect someone else to pay the bill for your failure to plan, prepare, and provide for your own needs.

No, private or paid fire protection is great for the select individuals that can pay the fee while leaving those who cannot pay without any protection. They don't fight fire where they are not compensated, they watch property burn when not paid, and in the case of private companies fighting fire they profit off of personal and the publics losses and in the case of wildland firefighting out west they make more money when the fires get bigger because they are not paid any incentive for quickly containing fires.

And your comment is ignorant of the fact that the majority of firefighters in the United States are UNPAID Volunteers.
--
Say no to astroturfing. actions > Ignore Author
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·EarthLink

1 recommendation

Re: Not just the FCC

said by firephoto:

No, private or paid fire protection is great for the select individuals that can pay the fee while leaving those who cannot pay without any protection. They don't fight fire where they are not compensated, they watch property burn when not paid, and in the case of private companies fighting fire they profit off of personal and the publics losses and in the case of wildland firefighting out west they make more money when the fires get bigger because they are not paid any incentive for quickly containing fires.

And your comment is ignorant of the fact that the majority of firefighters in the United States are UNPAID Volunteers.

If you can afford to buy or rent a house, condo or apartment, you can afford to pay for fire service, especially if its private.

If your house burns because you didn't pay for your private fire service, so be it.

If you can't afford rent, then you don't have a roof to worry about losing.

I made no reference to the large number of volunteer departments, since they are not germane to the discussion in this era. Ideally, perhaps in a post-blue-state-municipal-bankruptcy clime, we can return to a sense of community where we no longer expect our neighbors to pay our bills, and indeed, volunteer fire departments will be the norm again.

firephoto
We the people
Premium
join:2003-03-18
Brewster, WA

Re: Not just the FCC

said by elray:

said by firephoto:

No, private or paid fire protection is great for the select individuals that can pay the fee while leaving those who cannot pay without any protection. They don't fight fire where they are not compensated, they watch property burn when not paid, and in the case of private companies fighting fire they profit off of personal and the publics losses and in the case of wildland firefighting out west they make more money when the fires get bigger because they are not paid any incentive for quickly containing fires.

And your comment is ignorant of the fact that the majority of firefighters in the United States are UNPAID Volunteers.

If you can afford to buy or rent a house, condo or apartment, you can afford to pay for fire service, especially if its private.

If your house burns because you didn't pay for your private fire service, so be it.

If you can't afford rent, then you don't have a roof to worry about losing.

I made no reference to the large number of volunteer departments, since they are not germane to the discussion in this era. Ideally, perhaps in a post-blue-state-municipal-bankruptcy clime, we can return to a sense of community where we no longer expect our neighbors to pay our bills, and indeed, volunteer fire departments will be the norm again.

You're just full of bs, you bemoan firefighter pay, say volunteers isn't part of this discussion then wish for this utopia where volunteers rule again. Guess what? Exactly like I already said, the MAJORITY, THE MOST, MOST ALL, firefighters in this country are VOLUNTEER.

Quit distorting reality with lies and propaganda to paint your own utopia.
--
Say no to astroturfing. actions > Ignore Author
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·EarthLink

1 recommendation

Re: Not just the FCC

said by firephoto:

You're just full of bs, you bemoan firefighter pay, say volunteers isn't part of this discussion then wish for this utopia where volunteers rule again. Guess what? Exactly like I already said, the MAJORITY, THE MOST, MOST ALL, firefighters in this country are VOLUNTEER.

Quit distorting reality with lies and propaganda to paint your own utopia.

The reality is that in our fair blue state, firefighters make six-figure salaries, and unfortunately, that isn't going to change in a generation. Not until after the bankruptcies, and a societal reckoning that the status quo class warfare approach is unsustainable.

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

1 recommendation

said by firephoto:

said by cork1958:

said by M35 :

It is all of government that is broken, not just the FCC!

Amen to that!!

Luckily I won't waste a thought to that when I'm at someone's house that is on fire.

Quit generalizing in selfish ways.

Volunteer fire companies do a great job without government involvement.
--
"If you want to anger a conservative lie to him.
If you want to anger a liberal tell him the truth."

jap
Premium
join:2003-08-10
038xx
said by cork1958:

Amen to that!!

Well, at least you're aware that it's a religeous claim.

AnonMe

@comcastbusiness.net

States vs Feds

FCC is definitely broken, states generally do a much better and more effective job than the federal government. The Public Utilities Commission here in NH (and probably many states) is just as bad as the FCC. The big companies own the PUC, they have no backbone to stand up to anyone, they don't understand most of what they make decisions about.

Take a look at what NC decided in that state about eliminating their own broadband competition. I'd like to think as bad as the FCC is, they wouldn't allow that to happen on a federal level.

As much as I hate to say it, there are certain things that need to be handled at the federal level, and dealing with huge national cell phone carriers are one of those things. I can't imagine how the little state of NH PUC would quiver in the corner when dealing with companies like AT&T and Verizon without federal backing.

atuarre
Here come the drums
Premium
join:2004-02-14
Conroe, TX

1 recommendation

Re: States vs Feds

Yea, states do a better job huh? The states were doing a good job back when companies were dumping toxic waste in peoples back yards and stuff before the EPA came along.

fg8578

join:2009-04-26
Salem, OR

Why should I care what Lessig thinks?

He's the same guy who thinks Aaron Swartz is an angel who did absolutely nothing wrong in the Pacer and JSTOR cases.
TechnoGeek

join:2013-01-07

2 recommendations

Re: Why should I care what Lessig thinks?

Um, maybe because Aaron Swartz DIDN'T do anything wrong?

As in, he used services publically available at MIT to download articles. Articles that were in public domain. And yet, because he downloaded so many, his action magically became a crime.
old_wiz_60

join:2005-06-03
Bedford, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

1 recommendation

Typical of Washington..

Hire a man who was (?) a lobbyist for cable/wireless to head the FCC. The cable/wireless people paid a lot of money to Washington to get their favorite to dismantle or ignore any consumer protection rules. This is washington bribery at it's best.

Is anyone really sure the guy is a "former" lobbyist or is he still receiving something under the table?

With wheeler in charge, you can expect cable/wireless companies to run amok.

This is similar to the government hiring MPAA/RIAA attorneys to work (control) in the DOJ, turning the DOJ into an enforcement arm for private companies who feel they don't get enough money. Once the DOJ was to protect citizens, now it is to protect corporations.
cwcjr

join:2002-08-02
Huntsville, AL

A continuing pattern...

This administration has appointed former VPs of companies under fire for their activities (#MonsantoProtectionAct and #GMOlabeling)

So why not an industry lobbyist in charge of the FCC.

#IndustryGovCollusion
dra6o0n

join:2011-08-15
Mississauga, ON

Re: A continuing pattern...

The fact that every single 'administration' through time always grow corrupted or messed up to the point of making every bad decisions worse.

Well except JFK, he was shot because of going against the 'traditions'.

asdfdfdfdf

@myvzw.com

...

I don't understand the idea. I'm not convinced that the problem with the fcc is its dna and that it can't be changed. I think the primary problem is that we are dominated by a political climate that has such overwhelming contempt for sensible government policy that there is no will to do a proper job. But let's accept the premise that it can't be reformed. So we abolish it. Then the question arises, should it be replaced with something else that will have more teeth or should we just give these companies free reign and assume the infallible capitalist market will solve all problems with no governmental interference. Lessig obviously doesn't support the latter approach and I don't either. But given the dominance of the political view that deregulation can solve all problems, the intense loathing for government policy, and the fact that abolishing the fcc isn't going to miraculously weaken the immense power of incumbent communications companies over the political class, why would anyone believe that there is any chance that
1. Such a replacement agency would ever be created
2. That such an agency would be tasked in a way that would overcome the corruptions of the present fcc, rather than be created to be another feeble pointless organization to rubber stamp the desires of the incumbents.

All of the corruption and warped political ideology that has turned the fcc into what it is would dominate any debate or construction of its replacement. Abolishing the fcc isn't going to do anything to change the balance of power, which is the key problem. Why is there any reason to believe that this would turn out better and not worse? I doubt there would be any replacement at all.
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH

We need effective regulation

Not have an FCC would not help.
dra6o0n

join:2011-08-15
Mississauga, ON
Reviews:
·ITalkBB

Looks like the 'administration' got a hold of the reign...

"The Obama administration last week picked a former cable and wireless lobbyist to run the FCC."

Yep, earlier in the Obama administration and campaign, the vibe as good and change was coming.
But as time passes, corruptions and old fashioned loose screws surfaces.