Lost in all the hoopla around Vonage decision, most of us ignored the important bit of news. Michael Powell said is staying on as the chairman of the FCC. This has a lot of implications. VoIP providers infact got a double bonus with this bit of news. Why? For no one has promoted VoIP more unabashedly as Chairman Powell. He can fight the VoIP battle for the industry. His staying back telegraphs the message that he is VoIP backer for the long term. I have disagreed with his policies and comments numerous times, but VoIP is where his record is unblemished.
(Wow! I said something nice about someone twice in a day: I must be losing my edge or just simply mellowing out!) There is more good news for folks who are building businesses based on unlicensed wireless spectrum. Powell has always cast a favorable eye on such operations. I was chatting with Ron Sege, CEO & President of Tropos Networks this afternoon, and he think continuity at FCC will be good in terms of steadying the choppy telecom waters.
Probe Investment Research believes that “Wireless spectrum, is the most important issue facing the Bush administration and the FCC.” Over next four years a lot of spectrum is going to go be auctioned: 110MHz in 3G spectrum and a minimum of 60MHz in UHF spectrum could be auctioned. I agree. Still Powell could push hard for un-licensing the 700 MHz spectrum, which could mean more opportunities. I think if Powell stays we could see a more concerted bush for Digital TV and more draconian standards on broadcast television. FCC under Powell has no love for broadcasters and is likely to push for taking the spectrum out of their hands and putting it in the hands of the masses. With Powell there is a good chance of some more unlicensed spectrum in higher bands. In addition, Powell is the man to push for freeing up as much as 276MHz in additional UHF spectrum unlicensed use. Now given his track record of siding with the Bells, I don’t think folks in Silicon Valley should count on getting too much spectrum — it will be doled out in slivers, enough to keep a delicate compromise between Bush-backing baby bells, and their competitors. Now if he could stop spreading the broadband-over-powerline FUD!