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Tech at Night: Eric Schmidt, Google, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, Clearwire

Tech at Night

So yeah, Tech at Night. I should start it at some point shouldn’t I? Hours of Spelunky are fun on a Friday evening, combining the action of a classic NES game with the exploration, power growth, and vindictive shopkeepers of Nethack, but I have things to cover tonight, so let’s go.

We’ll start with my own post, going over how Eric Schmidt really stepped in it now over his attempt to hide his own personal information on Google, even as he alternately berates and mocks everyone else who cares about privacy. If he is nominated for Commerce Secretary, Republicans must oppose him.

And some more interesting Google news: Reports are that Google is attempting to exert greater control over Android, fearing fragmentation. It was always a risk, given the tendencies of both manufacturers and service providers to do things their own way, and the freedom to do that given to them by the open licenses on Linux and other Android components. Google will be able to do this through closed licensing of special Google-centric addons, as well as through control of key trademarks. I expect major products with heavy Google branding will respect Google’s limits, but could a fork be on the way, causing even greater fragmentation? Will Google’s Tarkin-esque tightening of the grip cause handsets to slip through their fingers?

The House Republicans continue to plug away at runaway Obama programs. Friday the spotlight was on the ARRA (that is, the stimulus that only stimulated 10% unemployment and trillion dollar budget deficits). The NTIA (an industry association) and the Rural Utility Service (RUS) received $7 billion between them, an amount of money practically begging for fraud and waste. Republicans looked into the matter, and in the end, the subcommittee passed a bill to make sure some money comes back to the Treasury and also improves reporting and oversight. NTIA and RUS are saying all the right things, but I can’t see a problem with an active Congress watching over this spending.

The Epoch Times says China is getting aggressive online in its online attacks on the west. The private sector must get more careful and institute better security practices, because if the Obama administration gets to use this as pretext for more power grabs, nobody wins.

Spectrum and backhaul matter, not just how many “Gs” your handset has: Verizon’s LTE is just killing Sprint/Clearwire’s WiMax in some benchmarks. This is why the AT&T acquisition of T-Mobile must go through without delay or backdoor regulation: Verizon is incredibly well equipped to go forward with wireless Internet access that competes with the wired kind on speed. Unless AT&T can get what it needs through maneuvers like the T-Mobile deal, Verizon will feel less competition, not more.

And even Verizon is saying that the government needs to keep out of the deal. Verizon’s Tom Tauke knows that planned opposition to the AT&T/T-Mobile deal isn’t really about competition or antitrust regulation, but really about backdoor Net Neutrality and other government control of the entire Internet. Net Neutrality over wireless Internet was the most controversial idea put forward in the entire debate, which is why wireless providers were largely spared by the final FCC plan (at least, we think; as far as I know Net Neutrality still hasn’t hit the Federal Register).

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