The FCC Will Bother Me

If you are a CLEC, the FCC will certainly bother you and that bothering may come sooner than you would like as the Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required) in this excellent article that Chairman Martin, who many people say looks like Harry Potter plans on freeing up the LECs from having to share their networks so they may compete more favorably with the cable companies. The FCC was going to do this eventually. We all knew it was coming. I am just so saddened at the whole incident, I don’t know what to do but rant. Consumers are going to lose big time when the decision is made… Whenever that is.

LECs sob out loud and proclaim cable companies have an advantage over them in providing broadband as cablecos are unregulated. Lost in this argument is the Greek-god like levels of incompetence that have been a hallmark of the local exchange carriers for years. Does anyone other than me remember ISDN, the original broadband solution? This was a technology that worked and it has been around for well over a decade.

You know why LECs couldn’t roll ISDN out successfully? There is no technical reason except for a lack of common sense, the inability to execute a business plan that didn’t have to do with selling voice and finally, they were just too fat and happy to have to worry about it.

These are the same companies we are now helping. Spoon feeding in fact.

Here is a chilling paragraph from the Wall Street story that should make the average consumer’s blood boil:

The change, which likely would take effect this fall, would allow phone companies to kick competitors such as EarthLink Inc. and America Online, a division of Time Warner Inc., off their DSL systems. If independent Internet providers can’t reach terms with phone or cable companies, they could be forced to either focus on providing dial-up Internet service or emerging technologies such as high-speed wireless Internet.

Now if you missed this point… The US is rapidly losing the broadband race to over a dozen other countries. We are not deploying fast enough. The few solid competitors that we do have who have innovated and given consumers real broadband choice with excellent service are about to be run out of town.

This wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that the FCC is eliminating competitors to improve the competitive landscape. I have said this before, I feel like I am in a Twilight Zone episode when I read statements like this. Somehow less competition is more.

If you really want universal broadband, give tax credits to the young hungry ISPs that move like lightening and can’t wait to roll out the latest technology.

Simply stated, if you were going to bank on an airline to provide us with the future of high-speed transportation, would you bet on Southwest and Jet Blue or American and Delta? Entrenched players are not innovators. They are masters at gaming the system to their advantage and whining endlessly about how unfair their lives are.

Moreover entrenched cable companies and LECs are generally hated by customers because of their slow service. These companies should be the last to be rewarded, not the first.

LECs were notorious for doing everything they could both legal and illegal to kill the CLEC market. They seem to have finally succeeded.

Tomorrow could be the saddest day the US broadband market has ever seen. In a few years I predict we will slip further behind in the broadband race. At this time it will become abundantly clear that killing off broadband competitors to help companies that are universally hated and have a poor track record in innovating was a bad idea.

I truly hope I am way off base and the US does take its rightful place as the world’s broadband leader. Hopefully Chairman Martin knows a magic spell or incantation that will ensure we can all communicate at 1 gigabit per second in the near future.

  • Tom Andrus
    August 3, 2005 at 9:36 pm

    This is not good news for those of us who are working hard to create competitive high-speed services. But, it isn’t anything new, we have been fighting this uphill battle with an arm tied behind out back blindfolded for quite awhile. The real loser is becoming the American public. Keep your fingers crossed that alternative broadband (muni wifi, BPL, Wimax, munifiber, etc.)end up open platforms which allow customers to choose their provider and also allows providers to innovate. We need to get American broadband back to where it should be.
    Today these new alternatives are starting to look good, which is why the incumbents are doing everything they can to get them scuttled.
    People like Earthlink will keep fighting the good fight and rolling out new services but if the population don’t start to recognize what is going on, not only will they be stuck with sub par broadband with no choice of provider but they will also start to lose services(voip, video, etc.) and eventually content. If that doesn’t sound possible just compare the services available on your mobile phone with what is available in Korea, Japan and Europe and then ask why would someone disable bluetooth on phones built to use bluetooth?
    The above are my opinions and mine alone; they do not represent Earthlink’s statements or policies. But with my opinions you can see why I work at Earthlink.

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