32 Years of the Digest ... founded August 21, 1981
The Telecom Digest for April 2, 2014
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Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2014 22:03:45 -0700 (PDT) From: Neal McLain <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Incentive Auction Plan B: Government-Subsidized Cable? Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> By FHH Law, CommLawBlog, April 1, 2014 To the bafflement of many, the FCC has consolidated its Incentive Auction and Open Internet proceedings. The public notice announcing that move sheds no light on exactly what the Commission might have in mind -- the only reason given is that the FCC wants to 'streamline consideration of issues common to both dockets'. Interestingly, it also mentions (in a footnote, maybe because it figures that nobody reads the footnotes anyway) that the soon-to-be-incoming Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger will also get channeled into the Grand Unified Docket. Interests common to both dockets? What could those be? And what's the Comcast merger got to do with anything? Thanks to our old friend, the hilariously-named Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), we have an idea. The PRA, of course, requires the FCC to run new 'information collections' past the Office of Management and Budget. And PRA requests have to be published in the Federal Register, where they seem to be largely ignored by everybody but us. (Our motto: We read them because we know you won't.) And what should appear in this morning's Federal Register? A PRA notice indicating that the Commission is contemplating reallocation of at least some of the $1.75 billion TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund to a program that would provide universal cable TV service to everybody in the U.S. (The PRA notice describes, very generally, two questionnaires the FCC plans to send out - one to all U.S. households to determine who's got cable and who doesn't, and one to all U.S. cable providers, to get an idea of subscription prices.) Continued: http://www.commlawblog.com/2014/04/articles/fhh/incentive-auction-plan-b-governmentsubsidized-cable/index.html -or- http://tinyurl.com/opym9te Well, golly gee -- that's one of my pet theories! Of course, T-D readers would expect that from an old cable guy like me. But my theory goes something like this: as the value of electromagnetic spectrum rises vis-a-vis the cost of providing ultrabasic CATV (or satellite TV) service to the remaining OTA viewers, at some point the graphs must cross ("ultrabasic" being defined as the signals of the former OTA stations, plus some sort of "home screen" with a list of available signals). This is all just a theory of course -- I have no data to back it up. The mechanism for government assistance of nationwide CATV service already exists: the USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS, formerly the REA). RUS supports rural development of electricity, telephone, water and waste disposal infrastructure but it does not support CATV or any sort of communications network except telephone. http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/utilities_lp.html Maybe the time is coming when the graphs will cross. Maybe the emphasis on nationwide internet access will hasten that day. Hey, I can dream, can't I? Neal McLain
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2014 20:20:35 -0700 (PDT) From: Neal McLain <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: And Then There Were Four (Nationwide Wireless Carriers) Message-ID: <email@example.com> By Donald Evans, ComLawBlog, March 31, 2014 FCC approval of AT&T acquisition of Leap Wireless reduces roster of nationwide carriers by 20%. The FCC has taken another giant step toward reconstitution of the old Ma Bell monopoly by approving AT&T's acquisition of Leap Wireless, which operates nationally under the Cricket brand. Leap was the fifth largest facilities-based wireless carrier in the U.S., so it was surprising that the proposal for it to become part of the second largest carrier elicited so little opposition from anti-trust regulators, the public interest community, or even the remaining smaller competing carriers. The deal received little more than a shrug from the FCC's Eighth Floor, which let the Wireless Bureau, rather than the commissioners themselves, resolve the matter. This curious lack of high level interest contrasted sharply with the strong signals from federal regulators that any move by Sprint to acquire T-Mobile (Number Three buying Number Four) would be regarded with extreme disfavor. How come Number Two buying Number Five didn't even merit a glance? Continued: http://www.commlawblog.com/2014/03/articles/cellular/and-then-there-were-four-nationwide-wireless-carriers/ -or- http://tinyurl.com/pkrnq3x Neal McLain
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