Results tagged “regulatory burden”

October 31, 2013 2:14 PM

Stuff [Free Press] Doesn't Want You to Know

[The craziest thing happened to me a couple months ago.  You've heard about this NSA spying thing, right?  It has outraged consumers, governments, businesses across the globe, and yearns for us all to consider installing a pretty serious VPN/encryption lockdown.  Anyway, based on what they've seen of my wildly eclectic interests/borderline insanity, the NSA claims that--from what they can tell about my disordered personality--I share online behavioral patterns that they have only seen with some of the world's most unstable/dangerous criminal minds and if they knew more about me they could get a better handle on where the bad guys are (online, anyway).  So they made me a deal: I come clean about the full extent of my online interests/browsing behavior, and they give me the stuff they pull on all of you. "Stuff [They] Don't Want You to Know*" is an occasional blog series where I share some of this information with you.]

So, anyway--to answer your questions--I now know a lot of messed up things about a lot more people these days.  Given the date, and the overall spookiness in the atmosphere today, I'm sure the more inquisitive of you want to know whether I know all about the AT&T-UFO connection. Well, as a matter of fact, I do.  But trust me when I say this: you can't handle the truth.  For now, that vault's just going to have to remain closed.

So let's pull back the curtain on something you can handle.  I recently came into possession of a number of texts/emails between our regulation-happy friends at Free Press and all their regulation-happy friends in the policy world, like Susan Crawford and Tim Wu.  Some of these were texts that seem to have been traded during hearings to take their minds off the inevitable IP transition, and others appear to be just how they were passing the time on long plane or car trips.  And, yeah, you heard right.  Apparently, they do use their phones on planes; and, no, they haven't taken the "it can wait" pledge not to text and drive.

Despite their private contempt for public safety on the highways, and the regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration, one thing's for sure:  these guys do love themselves some regulation (as long as it doesn't, you know, cramp their style).  How much do they dig regulation, you might ask?  Well, they have a little game that they like to play, and I'm going to tell you about it, because it's actually been kind of funny to watch the results.

Here's the game: you take any movie and substitute the words "regulation," "regulator," or "regulate" for any one word in the title of the movie.  So here's how it works, from some actual Free Press private communications:

Regulate Me to Hell (Drag Me to Hell)
The Good, the Bad, and the Regulators
The Silence of the Regulators
12 Angry Regulators
Inherit the Regulation
Regulations of Steel
Fifty Shades of Regulation (DQ'd b/c not a movie yet)
It Takes a Regulation
Texas Chainsaw Regulation
Planet of the Regulators
Gone With the Regulation
Regulators on a Plane
T3: Rise of the Regulations
The Regulations of Narnia
Birth of a Regulation
Triumph of the Regulation

I know; the last two surprised me, too--but, you have to admit, the titles work as films glorifying regulation. Pretty funny, huh?  You could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw this stuff--I didn't even know those guys had a sense of humor. 

Who knows?  Maybe this game will catch on and we'll see Randy May and Scott Cleland trading their own regulation-game quips at the next Free State Foundation Conference . . .

*"Stuff [They] Don't Want You to Know" is a series of occasional blog posts that are entirely fictional and intended to poke gentle fun at figures within the telecom policy world.  Nothing in this series should be mistaken for the truth.

October 11, 2013 12:58 PM

Surprise! FCC Regulations Promote Investment

Earlier this week, the Internet Innovation Alliance released a study on old networks, new networks, wireless networks, red networks, blue networks; who's using them, and how much they cost.  Coming in at 45 pages, including numerous pictures (each worth ~1000 words), the IIA had more to say than Sen. Ted Cruz on bath salts.  Luckily, you've got me to unpack this baby for you.  

In short, the IIA report dramatically shows what every FCC commenter has ever said in support of their comments: and that is that if FCC adopts the regulatory (vs. de-regulatory) policies advocated, then these policies will promote investment above and beyond the level necessary to deliver the regulated service.  To be clear--FCC regulations (they have to be affirmative burdens on regulated firms) promote investment.

Let's take a closer look.  According to IIA, only 5% of households depend on "POTS" (plain old telephone service), and the switched telephone network handles only about 1% of the voice traffic handled by IP networks (wireline + wireless + cable + CLEC).  Yet, and here's the kicker, from 2006 through 2011 more than half of incumbent LEC investment was used to support the POTS network in order to comply with . . . wait for it . . . FCC regulations!  

This investment--which was clearly not necessary to deliver voice service to consumers--amounted to over $13.5 billion dollars/year.  This is investment that can only be attributed to successful regulation.  I'd say former Chairman Julius Genachowski has something else to crow about . . . as if he needed another feather in his cap.
The impact of this report cannot be understated.  The Commission has scarcely seen such vindication of its efforts.  While the IIA tries to shy away from its pro-regulatory conclusions by saying that but for the FCC's legacy rules, more resources would have been diverted to providing advanced IP services that consumers want to use, this is idle speculation from self-interested parties.  The IIA knows full well that maintenance of this "museum network" is critical to our country's economic recovery.

Interestingly, the IIA study confirms what the left has been saying for years: cable needs to be regulated.  Why?  Well regulation certainly won't make them better companies--apathy is in their DNA--but regulation will make them pay their fair share.  Take, for example, Comcast's customer service rating: a resounding "disappointing", but only a step away from "terrible."  Verizon comes in almost even (the result you would expect in a competitive market).

The only difference between the two companies?  Verizon is contributing to the economy, and Comcast is getting a free ride--regulation-wise.  If Comcast were regulated, would they all of a sudden improve by providing "mediocre" or "somewhat acceptable" customer service?  No!  Of course, not--they would in all likelihood remain competitive with Verizon, but they would be contributing to US economic development.

Perhaps the party that comes off looking the worst out of this study is US Telecom.   US Telecom, in case you don't know, is the trade association of the incumbent LECs, and US Telecom has repeatedly fought the Commission's efforts to preserve these pro-recovery, pro-investment regulations. 

US Telecom filed an extensive petition last year explaining why a ton of legacy regulations no longer serve any useful purpose.  In fact, US Telecom has another petition pending with the Commission right now, seeking to remove some of these regulations by having its members declared "non-dominant" in the provision of wireline telecommunications services. 

In its arguments, US Telecom conveniently fails to list "investment" [for the sake of regulation] as a useful purpose of regulation.  This omission, of course, makes the US Telecom requests look deceptively reasonable.

Hopefully, the Commission will see through this shameless ploy and do what's right for the economy.  Frankly, it matters little whether 5% or .0005% of consumers use incumbent LEC wireline services: dominant is dominant, and dominant = regulations, dammit.  You know who "gets it?"  The competitors of the US Telecom members, that's who. 

Because of the government shutdown (costing countless jobs from regulations that are simply not being adopted), I couldn't check the FCC website to see who else had the foresight to oppose the US Telecom petition, but I did manage to find these opposition comments from CompTel here and here.  Thank goodness someone cares about preserving the investment burdens incentives of their competitors.