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Tech at Night: FCC, AT&T

Tech at Night

It’s the calm before the storm. House Republicans have taken every ordinary measure to work with the President and get the regulatory excesses under control. The administration has refused though, and now the House is preparing to get tough.

This buildup applies not just to the FCC, but also to the EPA and other runaway parts of the executive, but here I’m focused on the FCC. I’ve covered earlier efforts recently in this space, but now it continues as Fred Upton and Cliff Stearns are getting bipartisan support for continuing pressure on the FCC, increasing oversight into the area of public safety communications.

As someone who has encouraged the assignment of spectrum for public safety, I think greater oversight into what equipment would be used on that spectrum can only help. If we’re not going to use market forces to assign the spectrum, we’d sure better ensure market forces are brought in where they are needed: buying that equipment. Unlike spectrum licensing, phones do have more than one source.

There’s a preacher out there saying Net Neutrality is “wicked.” Apart from that loaded language though, even Hillicon Valley admits he’s using the kind of common sense arguments that drove the Net Neutrality repeal vote in the House.

Of course, the other issue gradually building up strength is the AT&T/T-Mobile deal, and specifically the regulatory fight over it. AT&T is making the case that with the deal, many more Americans will have access to 4G wireless Internet than without. This makes sense because without the combined spectrum, AT&T won’t have enough to deploy LTE to compete effectively with Verizon. Without the combined capital investments, T-Mobile may not be able to deploy a true 4G technology at all. So yes, this acquisition would increase, not decrease, competition going forward. Government must stay out of the way.

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