Thanks to Drew Clark of Broadband Breakfast and Professor Andrew Odlyzko, published this great article.
Archive for the ‘Telecommunications’ Category.
I had known that Sotomayor was to speak at the luncheon of the Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA), but I thought that it would be platitudes and of no interest. I knew that she could not answer the difficult questions, such as how the fairness rules in Specht v. Netscape might be updated (the case that occurred because AOL bought Netscape and made Netscape suck by adding adware), or what she really thinks of Scalia. She could not discuss any matter that might come before the Supreme Court in the future, and would not even talk about role models or personal influences.
She had a lot to say and a room full of several hundred schmoozing lawyers fell silent as soon as she reached the podium. She talked about how people react now when she walks in the room — even her extended family. “I’m still Sonya,” she tells her family. She said that she used to sit in the back of the room and watch people react, but now she’s often in the front row or even the speaker.
Most of what she said was directed at the college students who have scholarships from the FCBA, and a few of her comments were directed to law students like me who have summer internship stipends thanks to the FCBA. The students were asked to write questions and all were good questions. One student asked how she stays connected to regular people. She said that she likes talking to young people. So at the FCBA, she sat with the high school students. When invited to a high school, she likes to do at least one activity with the middle school students.
Another asked if she had any regrets about law school. She said that she regrets not having pursued a judicial clerkship after graduating (but she was personally recruited by Morgenthau to join the Manhattan DA’s office).
The students each received a copy of her book (I had given my DC host a copy but did not have a copy myself). I would not usually write about what a woman was wearing, but in the book, Sotomayor talks about acquiring dress sense late in life. She wore a red jacket with zippers that was impressive but that also helped make her seem approachable. It was a brilliant choice.
Perhaps there’s one legal question she could have answered: has the Supreme Court ever considered naming sections with words? At the moment, it uses roman numerals and capital letters. Some justice’s opinions might be clearer with section titles, but Sotomayor’s do not need them.
When critics reviewed her book, they said that although her opinions are dry and dispassionate, her book is full of warmth. It’s true. If you have a chance to her you speak, you must go!
America’s National Broadband plan seems predicated on the idea that smartphones can serve poor people. The cellcos are telling Wall Street’s financial analysts and the policy makers in Washington that there are more cell phone-based internet connections in the world than fixed wireless or wireline connections. But skeptics are starting to show that those cellphones may be underused, overpriced, and come with caps. Meanwhile, cellcos’ core businesses are threatened. Prices will rise and service caps will fall. Washington — and policymakers around the world — should allocate more resources and spectrum to services that deliver true internet, not the restricted walled garden of the cellcos.
This debate was central to the fascinating discussion at the State of Telecom event at Columbia’s Instititue of Tele-Information, held in mid-October. I attended the afternoon sessions.
Many people in the U.S. use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service today. But I contend that the FCC has killed the technology. How can I make this assertion? After all, there are over 20 million VoIP subscribers in the U.S.
However, the VoIP services that exist today are a shadow of what the technology makes possible. VoIP has been choked so that it no longer disrupts telephone service. VoIP has been fenced in by the FCC so that it offers no more than telephone, a move that was intended to protect cellular and wireline phone companies.
The FCC plans to force the cellcos to warn users who are about to incur a large bill. Let’s see if this gets past the lobbyists and the courts. Gut check time for the FCC.
While most branches of the Obama adminstration are seeking to describe their policies as bipartisan, the FCC today chose to describe its new internet policy as a Third Way.
The Third Way is a phrase made popular by Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. It describes an attempt to navigate a path between socialism and the free market. Given the extent to which the Obama administration’s opponents attack so many things it proposes as “socialism”, it is courageous of the FCC to use this term. (To be fair, the FCC says it’s seeking a middle road between re-regulation of a utility and the unfettered free market.)
The FCC does not want to regulate the internet if the internet is defined as the websites and services that we use when we connect to the internet. The FCC wants to regulate the price that users pay to connect to the internet and to be able to police monopoly power at the access level. To this end, the FCC refuses to abandon the great mistake of 2002 in which the FCC first decided that the internet was comprised of both a telecommunications component and an information service.
The problem with this splitting of the internet atom is that the internet consists of interdependent services.
” Reading AT&T’s announcement that the nationwide rollout of its femtocell product–called the Microcell 3G–is about to begin called into sharp relief the level at which I expect to get screwed by the phone company. About halfway through decoding the PR doublespeak, I had an epiphany. It was if I suddenly saw the words on the page for the very first time. “
(h/t Karl Bode’s twitter feed)
“Of course the lesson learned is that in the Internet age, the harder a company works to stifle criticism, the more attention that criticism gets. The better path is perhaps to listen to what your customers are saying about your business practices, and change them where possible if you value your customers,” Bode writes.
The legal documents are here: