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Finally, Net Neutrality is Within Sight

net 1Today, we celebrated. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has signaled that the Commission is finally making real progress on net neutrality. But the fight isn’t over by a long shot.

Proponents of net neutrality claim that big telecom companies seek to impose a tiered service model in order to control the pipeline and thereby remove competition, create artificial scarcity, and oblige subscribers to buy their otherwise uncompetitive services. Many believe net neutrality to be primarily important as a preservation of current freedoms. Prominent supporters of net neutrality include Vint Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol, and Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the Web.

See also: Secret Multi-Billion Dollar Wireless Scam, Reed Hundt’s True Legacy

Until recently “net neutrality” was little more than a buzzword to most Americans, an arcane concept within an equally arcane sector of telecommunications law. But fierce resistance to a plan proposed last spring by Chairman Wheeler that Internet advocates said would have undermined net neutrality — the concept that all data on the Net must be treated equally by Internet service providers (ISPs) — has pushed this once obscure idea into the DC limelight.

Joshua Kopstein at Al Jazeera America

“The plan Wheeler announced last May would have permitted ISPs such as Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner to give faster, priority access to sites and services able to pay for it as long as those deals were deemed commercially reasonable. But in a surprising about-face, he is now proposing rules that ban that practice by treating wired and wireless broadband Internet as a public utility under Title II of the Telecommunications Act — much like the telephone system.”

But Wheeler has changed his tune for the better –

“The Internet must be fast, fair and open. That is the message I’ve heard from consumers and innovators across this nation,” Wheeler wrote today in an article for Wired. “That is the principle that has enabled the Internet to become an unprecedented platform for innovation and human expression … The proposal I present to the commission will ensure the Internet remains open, now and in the future, for all Americans.”

This sudden turnabout of recent months has shocked the big telecoms and even net neutrality advocates, who until recently had relatively few powerful allies in their corner. Read more

Secret Multi-Billion Dollar Wireless Scam
Reed Hundt’s True Legacy

Last month we politely called it a “Great Airwaves Giveaway” – how major telecoms had ripped off the system by gaming billions in airwave licenses without proper compensation, with a little help from the FCC dating all the way back to the early 90s FCC of then Chairman Reed Hundt.

The Secret $8 Billion Wireless Scam

Well, it gets worse, so now the gloves are off: AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon gamed the regulatory system and were able to garner over $8 billion worth of discounted spectrum by posing as “very small businesses.” It was a massive rip-off of wireless spectrum that blocked legitimate small competitors from offering services, as they were “out-bid” by deep-pocketed impostors.

Is this the legacy that past FCC Chairman Reed Hundt is so proud of? (see Reed Hundt’s latest and The Great Airwaves Robbery)

On May 11, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing astutely titled, “The AT&T/T-Mobile Merger: Is Humpty Dumpty Being Put Back Together Again?”

At the hearing, Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, raised a fundamental challenge: “At present, four companies control nearly 90 percent of the national wireless market. The proposed acquisition would further consolidate an already concentrated market for wireless communication.”

SOURCE:  David Rosen and Bruce Kushnick | AlterNet

The four companies that control the market (and their estimated market share) are: AT&T (26.8%), Verizon (26.0%), Sprint (22.9%) and T-Mobile (11.0%). With the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile, AT&T (44.0%) and Verizon (30.5%) will control nearly three-fourths of the market; Sprint’s share will increase to 16 percent; and the rest of the providers will drop to 6.3 percent.

If history is our guide, the FCC will approve the merger and come up with loosey-goosey voluntary commitments. And Verizon will most likely seek to acquire Sprint. This will return the U.S. to a wireless duopoly.

In 1984, when AT&T was broken up, only two wireless licenses were allowed per market. The local Bell Operating phone companies received one of the licenses for their entire territories and the second license was put up for bid.

Read more

The Great Airwaves… Giveaway?

FCC Airwaves Giveaway

In the early 90s, we fought hard against the advent of high bid auction of commercial airwaves. (See USIMTA/USIPCA Lobbying History & Airwaves Auction Winner) We argued at the FCC and before Congress repeatedly, until we were hoarse and blue in the face, that auctions of communications spectrum, like cellular phone and wireless broadband frequencies would stiffle competition and freeze out the several thousand small independent “wildcatters,” whom we represented … and who we were, as well.

But we always assumed that once an auction mechanism replaced the lotteries of construction permits (ie, FCC licenses) that the airwaves would in fact be sold to the big players.

But alas, since 1993 when spectrum auctions were mandated by Congress, the US Govt. has quietly given away well over a half trillion dollars in spectrum (90% of all licensing, in fact!) that was supposed to be auctioned to the highest bidder. A 2007 study demonstrates that the lotteries that were occuring prior to 1993 were much more honest and transparent.   Well duuhh.

“The third rail of spectrum policy is the rotten, special interest politics that has driven lawmakers to give away the public’s airwaves to private interests without public compensation. In the vast stream of government reports seeking to reform spectrum policy since 1993, one looks in vain for more than a token acknowledgement, let alone a serious and sustained discussion, of this giveaway.”

The Art of Spectrum Lobbying

America’s $480 Billion Spectrum Giveaway:

How it Happened, and How to Prevent it from Recurring

Read more

TELECOM GIANTS MEET W/ PRESIDENT CLINTON

WOMAN/SMALL BUSINESS AUCTION WINNER AMID

TELECOM GIANTS MEETING WITH PRESIDENT CLINTON

WASHINGTON, March 27, 1995 /PRNewswire/ — In an industry known for huge conglomerates and on the heels of “the mother of all auctions” that raised over $7 billion for the U.S. treasury, an unlikely auction winner was among those invited to meet today with President Clinton.

FCC PCS Auction Proceeds Presented to Treasury

Clinton, Gore, and FCC Chairman Present $8 billion check to Treasury

“I feel like Lynnea in the Land of the Giants,” said Ms. Bylund. “And afterall, it’s only fair that at least one woman wins in the `mother’ of all auctions,” she said.

Earlier this month, the FCC concluded an unprecedented four-month auction of “A” and “B” block PCS spectrum. PCS is a new generation of low cost wireless voice, data, and video devices providing for anytime- anywhere, personal and business communications. Telecommunications industry watchers have called PCS licenses the “telephone franchises of the 21st century.”

Several blocks of spectrum licenses, set aside for small businesses and women and minority owned business, remain to be auctioned.

Ms. Bylund, a resident of the Los Angeles area, also heads up two national trade organizations that principally represent small business concerns in emerging wireless technologies — United States Interactive and Microwave Television Association (USIMTA), established in 1990, and United States Independent Personal Communications Association (USIPCA), established in 1991. The two organizations represent more than 4,000 members, including system owners/operators, small business license applicants, wireless entrepreneurs, equipment manufacturers, law firms and consultants.

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USIMTA/USIPCA – started 1990

catwp.USIMTA1Lynnea was the founder of two small business-based wireless trade associations – USIMTA and USIPCA – and has lobbied on Capitol Hill and at the FCC where she has spoken out strongly against the cable TV monopoly, illegal spectrum warehousing and ill-conceived congressional schemes to auction our nation’s precious airwaves to the highest bidder. Lynnea is a founder and former CEO of a Washington DC telecommunications consulting and management company that had holdings in several operating and near operating wireless communications systems and companies.

View Lynnea’s Lobbying History

USIMTA Newsletter Spring 1992 Washington DC

USIMTA Newsletter Fall 1992 Washington DC  

USIMTA Newsletter Spring 1993 Washington DC 

USIMTA Newsletter Fall 1993 Washington DC

 

World’s Biggest Auction Winner

In 1995 Lynnea Bylund became the first female in the world to be awarded a Broadband PCS operating permit – she was one of only 17 winners, along with Sprint, AT&T, Pacific Bell, etc., in the biggest cash auction in world history raising a whopping $8 billion – her company was awarded licenses to operate wireless systems in Hawaii and American Samoa – South Seas Satellite Communications Corporation and Proteus, Inc.

Read more

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