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Tech at Night: LightSquared vs GPS, Geoff Davis and Rob Portman fight regulation

Tech at Night

So, LightSquared. Some say that in some nebulous way, the firm is getting unreasonable and possibly illicit support from the Obama administration. I still don’t see it though, especially after listening in on a briefing of LightSquared’s today.

The briefing discussed in depth the issues LightSquared has had with GPS manufacturers. LightSquared that they’re trying hard to be a “good neighbor” and have worked with the FCC to address all issues, to the point of giving up half their spectrum voluntarily, and standing ready to invest $50 million to help GPS makers fix the issues. Because LightSquared does claim that the only issues left involve “precision” GPS which, by design, listen on LightSquared’s spectrum.

LightSquared points out that this is legal. You can listen to whatever you want. The problem is, legally you have no leg to stand on if you receive ‘interference’ by the legitimate holder of the spectrum you’re listening to. That said, they’re still working on a solution so everyone can benefit.

Now obviously this is their side of the story. If there’s a detailed rebuttal of these claims available, I’d love to hear it and link to it in Tech at Night. I’m interested in finding the truth of this matter. We need spectrum, desperately, but I want to go into this knowing the facts.

Even as our outrageously high unemployment continues to fester, California takes on the vital issue of bookseller privacy. Schwa?

Sprint Nextel lobbies the FCC to go after AT&T, not content to have Eric “I don’t remember” Holder suing AT&T even as Sprint Nextel sues AT&T itself. Overkill? Insecurity, knowing this is actually about preventing, not protecting, competition?

The REINS Act promises to do something about burdensome regulation. With House and Senate efforts underway from Geoff Davis in the House and Rob Portman in the Senate, I do hope the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny Act passes.

Eric Schmidt can’t seem to make up his mind. Even as he begs for Government to keep out of Google’s aims for Motorola Mobility, he continues to ask for Government to pick winners and losers in the form of fascist industrial policy:

Schmidt also lamented the inability of U.S. politicians to reach compromises and make investments in the productive parts of society like other nations have. He noted many Asian nations are growing faster despite a less sophisticated education and healthcare systems.

This statement is terrible when you consider his own comments about government:

I’ll give you a formula. This is an Andy Grove formula. So I’m sitting at this dinner in 1995—Andy Grove was the CEO of Intel—and he gives this speech, and he says, “This is easy to understand. High tech runs three-times faster than normal businesses. And the government runs three-times slower than normal businesses. So we have a nine-times gap.” And I said, “Works for me.” But all of my experiences are consistent with Andy Grove’s observation.

And so what you want to do is you want to make sure that the government does not get in the way and slow things down. We’ve now all developed an ability to lobby about this stuff. We want the government [to understand] if you want to manage something, manage the outcome you want. Don’t specify the technology. Right? In other words, regulate this thing but don’t tell us how to make it technologically. Because if you do, you’ve locked in an incumbent, a specific technological view, et cetera.

He can’t even keep his story straight. If only he’d stick with this, as he said at the end of this Washington Post interview by Lillian Cunningham:

But at the time, we took the position of ‘hands off the Internet.’ You know, leave us alone. And that’s probably still the general view here. The government can make regulatory mistakes that can slow this whole thing down, and we see that and we worry about it.

Hands off the Internet. Yes. Eric, a government big enough to mess with the Internet is big enough to mess with you. Listen. Learn. Stop pushing for Net Neutrality and other power grabs, because they’ll come back and haunt you. Two words: Search. Neutrality.

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