The Telecommunications Act of 1996, however crappy it was, it worked well for the Bells. It allowed them to sell long distance services, a hardball business that was only IXCs to lose. Still doing their thing, the bells slowly saw off the competition from CLECs (many of them deserved to die for they were based on greed and dumb money.) The as the bust accelerated, the UNE-P rules were seen off, and then the Bells got the right to build brand new networks and did not have to share with them. In other words, with carefully spent lobbying dollars, and masterful business/political strategy, Bells got whatever they wanted.
Till recently, when they met their match in local governments. The locals quickly dispatched the Bells state-wide video franchise plans, and Bells know this is a battle they cannot win easily. So what do they do? Wave Stars and Stripes, plead nationalism and cry… big bad broadband policy makers are pushing us down the broadband ladder. So lets change the national policies! Boohoo!
Why do I bring this up? Verizon Executive Vice President Thomas J. Tauke was today out saying we need a new national broadband policy (which locals cannot control) and reform of the video franchise process is important for consumers and the future of broadband.
“There remains a real disconnect between the broadband market and broadband policy,” Tauke said. “We need action in Congress and at the FCC.”
Do we need a broadband policy? Not really. We need competition, but we are not going to get that… will we!
Video competition “will result in an explosion of new services for consumers,” Tauke said. “But we need to change the policy on franchising.” Tauke said, “we need a fully functioning FCC,” adding that “it is hard to make bold policy when you have one vacancy and two lame ducks.” He called for the White House to be “active and attentive” on the matter.
(Given that Bells have been big supporters of Republicans, it knows that Congress and White House might be more receptive to its demands than those pesky locals.) (Some data about top contributors in the 2004 elections and top recipients!)
I think there is already an explosion of services. How about giving consumers 100 megabits per second and letting them figure out what they want to do with it. Downloadable video, not IPTV makes more and more sense over the new fiber networks Verizon is building. Why build the same-old television, when you can build a new TV. Not a passive TV, but something better. A sort of hosted TiVo where consumers go to the web and build their own TV channel which comes down the fiber. Thinking different is hard, but in the end that is what is going to make Bells broadband standout, not complaining from the roof tops.