The FCC has painted itself and net neutrality into a corner

Subject: General Tech | January 14, 2014 - 01:27 PM |
Tagged: net neutrality, legal, FCC

The US FCC has been told they do not have the authority to enforce its Network Neutrality rules as they have defined the Internet as something unique and therefor not covered under the existing common carriage regulations.  These regulations have evolved for over 100 years from when they first referred to actual physical carriages transporting goods and have since expanded to less physical services such as cable TV.  That has allowed government agencies to regulate providers and transporters of goods and services by accounting for almost any business practice that has been used since this regulations inception.  Unfortunately as the FCC has chosen to define broadband internet as a distinct service the ruling today does make legal sense, there are no legal statutes on the books specifically about Net Neutrality and now the debate should shift to whether it is wiser to attempt to create a brand new set of regulations or if the FCC should attempt to change its stance and attempt to have common carrier regulations apply to broadband suppliers and their negotiations with both edge providers and end users.  It is worth following the link from Slashdot to the ruling, it is 80 pages long but contains a lot of the history of the legal decisions that have lead to this point as well as containing some amusing analogies.  After all, it is not like at least one mobile provider is already set to take advantage of the current unenforceable nature of net neutrality regulations. 

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"According to a report from Gizmodo, a U.S. Appeals Court has invalidated the FCC's Net Neutrality rules. From the decision: 'Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such."

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Source: Slashdot

FCC Approves Softbank Acquisition of Sprint Nextel, and Sprint's Acquisition of Clearwire

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2013 - 07:40 PM |
Tagged: Sprint, spectrum, softbank, LTE, FCC, clearwire, 4g lte

The FCC recently approved the acquisitions of Clearwire and Sprint Nextel by Japanese company Softbank. The deals have already been approved by the shareholders and the US DoJ. Now, with the FCC red tape out of the way, the acquisitions can move forward and are expected to be completed later this month.

Specifically, Sprint Nextel will be acquiring Clearwire, and it will in turn be bought out by Softbank.Softbank is Japans third largest mobile carrier with approximately 22% of the market last year. Sprint shareholders approved the acquisition on June 25th in a deal now valued at around $21.6 billion. The FCC commented that the deal would have "no adverse competitive effects" due to the merger because Softbank and Sprint are not domestic competitors.

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In fact, the FCC believes that the SoftBank acquisition may help competition among the wireless carriers in the US as SoftBank will be able to add resources and expertise to Sprint, including adding additional captial to aid in Sprint's Network Vision plans to roll out nationwide LTE and upgrade all of its existing towers to multinode base stations that can operate on multiple simultaneous bands, including Sprint's 800 MHz and 1.9GHz spectrum. The Clearwire 2.5GHz spectrum may also play a part in the Network Vision upgrade and add even more bandwidth to Sprint's LTE arsenal.

Sprint/SoftBank plans to bring LTE to 200 million people in the US by the end of 2013, with more upgrades coming in the future. The extra resources from SoftBank will help Sprint to take on Verizon and AT&T in the US, which is both good news for consumers and for Sprint.

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In addition to SoftBank acquiring Sprint Nextel, Sprint will be acquiring Clearwire for $2.2 billion. This will give Sprint full control over the 2.5GHz spectrum, and is happening in spite of Dish's complaints and counter bids. Sprint will control a wide range of spectrum that will rival both AT&T and Verizion, in fact.

In all, the approximately $23.8 billion deal will see a reinvigorated Sprint, and increased pressue on Verizion, AT&T, and T-Mobile to offer competitive plans and pricing (though the effects will not be immediate). It is not clear from the various announcements if Sprint will remain branded as such, or what will happen to the MVNOs that operate on its network. It is an exciting time for Sprint though, and I hope that it works out to better wireless options for US consumers.

What do you think about the merger of Clearwire, Sprint Nextel, and SoftBank?

Source: FCC