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.
Continue reading ‘How The FCC Killed VoIP’ »
Susan Crawford spoke today at NYU at Evan Korth’s Computers and Society class. I was thrilled to attend. She is an enthusiastic speaker, blogger, and activist. A professor at Cardozo Law School, she founded OneWebDay and was recently Special Assistant to the President for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy. The video is available here.
She warned that key decisions being made about the internet now could harm the U.S. forever.
Crawford opened her speech by recommending the new movie “Inside Job,” which is about the banking industry and about how regulators failed to stop it from taking risks that caused the current recession.
“There is a constant flow of people, a revolving door back and forth between the industry and the regulators. The banking industry, therefore, places key people in DC, as fundraisers as well as regulators.”
Continue reading ‘Susan Crawford Says That The US Could Become a Backwater In Broadband’ »
This is the text of the speech I gave at NYU on OneWebDay. I want to thank OneWebDay and the Internet Society of New York for their support. Streaming video includes the Q&A session, which was excellent. The Q&A starts at 25:28.
Thanks to Joly MacFie for the video.
Text of the speech:
Today, on OneWebDay, we want to urge the FCC to assert its right to protect the three key principles of the internet, principles that have made it friendly to innovation and competition. We want the FCC to insist that the internet be open, that computers be connectible from end to end without interference, and that internet management be open and transparent — not secret and in the service of the companies who pay for it to be the way it is.
OneWebDay was founded in 2006 to celebrate the internet, a uniquely organized piece of infrastructure that has become critical to all of our lives, directly for those who use it, and indirectly for those who use the services that now depend on it, such as education and banking and healthcare.
Continue reading ‘The Internet’s Three Principles’ »
A widely publicized study by the FCC on users’ perceptions of their broadband speeds (.pdf) found that 80 percent don’t even know what those speeds are supposed to be.
Also, a clear majority believe that the broadband provider should always “deliver the promised speed” — they clearly don’t know that the contract they signed but did not read merely promises a “best effort”.
Only a third of cell phone customers are pleased with the price and speed they get, though a majority are happy with the cell phone as a phone.
It is not clear at this time how or whether the survey will influence FCC policy.
Bruce Kushnick believes that FCC reform is a charade and that the FCC plans to give cash handouts to phone and cable companies by taxing all broadband connections.
This FCC policy would be wrong, especially since an FCC study just concluded that the FCC should be spending money on fixed wireless.
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.
Continue reading ‘FCC Seeks Third Way for Internet Regulation’ »
Bruce Kushnick recently pointed out to me that the FCC is using data from a period between 1997 and 2002.
The key difference between then and now is that through 2002, the ISPs still had control of the market, but today, the phone and cable companies rule.
Continue reading ‘The ISP Market Has Changed Since 2002 — Does the FCC Recognize This?’ »
The Washington, D.C. district court handed down its decision (.pdf) in the Comcast vs. FCC case on April 6, 2010.
The decision throws into focus the muddle that is current internet law in the United States.
“America needs competition among its high-speed internet providers. Open access has proved to be an effective way to do this elsewhere. Barring that, the FCC’s now-voided rules on net neutrality would have been a poor, but adequate substitute,” wrote The Economist, which is not a radical lefty ragsheet, in its response to the decision. The magazine recommended that Congress clarify the distinction between the internet and telecommunications.
All of this is necessary only because of a mistake the FCC made in 2002.
Continue reading ‘The Consequences of the Comcast vs. FCC Ruling’ »
Feld warns that the telcos are really attacking a still-unpublished National Broadband Agenda.