July 12, 2007

Google’s Proposal Dropped? [10:25 pm]

If this APWire article is to be believed, Commissioner Martin has caved in to the incumbent carriers: Questions Raised Over Broadband Planpdf

If they’re lucky, Americans have two choices for getting high-speed Internet access: the local cable company or the local telephone company.

Hoping to increase competition, regulators have promised that a third choice will become available when TV broadcasters abandon part of the airwaves as part of the digital revolution.

But a proposal previewed this week by the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission suggests that dreams of a ”third pipe” for broadband is really a pipe dream.

A critical provision that some say is needed to attract a new broadband competitor did not make it into the draft.

Some technology companies like Google, as well as a number of public interest groups, want the FCC to require licensees in at least one swath of the 700 MHz spectrum being auctioned to offer wireless services on a ”wholesale basis.”

Also offering some insight into the real nature of the fight: How to Sell the Airwaves? - pdf

Ensuring that the deep-pocketed carriers pay top dollar for the spectrum is a high priority for FCC commissioners because the auction proceeds have already been allocated by Congress, according to two commission staff members who spoke on the condition on anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

That could reduce support for Martin’s proposal for an open network, which appeals to the two Democratic commissioners, the staff members said.

But the open access conditions could strengthen Martin’s chances of gaining majority support for his preference for large geographic licenses — an idea he’s had a hard time selling to the Democratic commissioners. [...]

See also Carving Up The Wireless Spectrum (pdf) on Reed Hundt and the Frontline proposal.

Also, the LATimes editorial on the current draft: Access on the airwavespdf

Critics in the mobile phone industry complain that Martin’s rules favor Google at the taxpayers’ expense. And they’re probably right about the cost — attaching regulatory strings to the frequencies will almost certainly reduce what they fetch at auction. But the point isn’t to raise the most money for the Treasury, it’s to generate the broadest public benefit from these valuable public airwaves. Martin’s proposal could inspire the same kind of inventiveness that’s been a hallmark of the Web. Still, his draft doesn’t go far enough. The FCC should also require winning bidders to provide wholesale access to their networks, at least for the frequencies in question. That’s the best way to increase competition in broadband.

The subcommittee hearing of July 11 — Wireless Innovation and Consumer Protection — Tim Wu testified (local copy) (Washpost coverage — FCC Auction Should Allow for Open Wireless Network, Say Lawmakerspdf)

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Slow Learners [5:30 pm]

But, I guess this is progress — but, really! Private online photos really aren’tpdf

Theresa O’Neill, a career counselor at Rutgers University-Newark, urges students to take down their online photos while looking for a job.

“Think of it as being in a very large, public place like Yankee Stadium, taking the microphone and broadcasting your personal information to 50,000 people there,” she said. “If you don’t want everyone in the stadium to know the details of your personal life, then keep them to yourself.”

At least some people are listening. A survey last year by the Web site CollegeGrad.com found that 47 percent of recent graduates had changed or planned to change their Web pages because they were looking for a job.

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