Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fire Sale

That's right. You are looking at a slide by someone who does not know how to use PowerPoint, someone who has accidentally stretched out the map of the United States in ways never imagined by either pro or con Mercator projection geographers, merely because the creator of this presentation did not know how to turn off or work around Microsoft's terrible defaults for document design.

To give you still more confidence in the current administration's understanding of the importance of the word "communication," I have to point out that this slide came from the FCC presentation to Congress, when the controversial chair Kevin Martin appeared before the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet to explain how -- in the recent 700 MHZ auction -- an important national resource had been divvied up among corporate speculators.

Although Martin painted a rosy picture of this virtual territory-grab, one of the commissioners, Michael Copps, disagreed.

But in important respects, as I warned when we launched our rules, we end up with the same old, same old. The nation’s two largest wireless carriers—who are also the nation’s two leading wireline voice and DSL providers—won roughly 85% of the licenses, as measured by value.

One of the more obvious "losers" in the bidding that day was Google, which didn't pick up any spectrum licenses. On the Google Public Policy Blog, corporate reps described the "cone of silence" procedures involved in the recent sale of parts of the telcom spectrum, but they also declared success by driving up bidding to reach the $4.6 billion reserve price that would trigger the "open applications" and "open handsets" license conditions.

Recently, I speculated about whether or not "open is the new organic," when thinking about how proprietary software giants like Microsoft have become converts to suddenly trendy openness advocacy. Check out "Our commitment to open broadband platforms" from Google for more.

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