FCC’s Martin Loves Duopoly

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Whichever way you slice it, FCC commish Kevin Martin, a Bush loyalist and Republican to boot, prefers a duopoly. He doesn’t want either the cable or the phone guys to share their infrastructure with their rivals. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal he outlines his vision of broadband for all. Commish Martin talks a great game. Read the article you will come away convinced. He believes that cable and phone companies will make a strong effort to get broadband to everyone if they don’t have to spend money on networks, that eventually they have to share with competitors. A life long telecom policy wonk, it is no surprise that some of his views reflect those of Beltway lobbyists. Well, given that in ten years he won’t be running the FCC or dealing with the duopoly, I remain skeptical of this claim. But that’s just me. Martin taps into his childhood, growing up in rural North Carolina, as one of the motivations for his quest to get broadband to the rural masses. He hasn’t been paying attention to the fracas in Lafayette, Lousiana. He hasn’t been following all the tussles over munibroadband. Given the mixed signals from FCC for past five years, I would like Martin to do two things which will send a strong signals that he is watching out for the little guy who pays his salary with his tax dollars.

1. Set a clear timetable for freeing the spectrum from the clutches of television networks for “broadband wireless” so that there can be a viable third option.
2. Set a clear and concise policy on redlining and what kind of stiff penalties will be imposed on incumbents by FCC if they fail in their duties.
3. Perhaps propose a seperation of wireless and wireline operations of the incumbents. I think three options in the market would ensure that new technologies get deployed and market forces keep everyone honest.

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Bill Gurley

You are correct again sir. You can’t suggest they shouldn’t share without embracing new and independent facility based competitors. That is why Lafeyette matters, and that is why muni wireless matters.

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