Tales of the Sausage Factory

Obama Moving Appointments Along in Telecom — Strickling Named, Genachowski & Adelstein Likely to Go Late April/Early May.

The Obama Administration has nominated Larry Strickling for the post of Administrator of the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA). While long anticipated, the nomination was delayed until Commerce actually had a Secretary — it being polite to give the person running the Department at least the opportunity for input into who his assistant secretaries will be. It also looks like, contrary to my analysis last week, that Genachowski may come on board as soon as late April/Early May when Congress comes back from recess rather than after the DTV transition in June, and that Adelstein will simultaneously move to RUS. This would mean that the Obama administration would have their primary media/telecom team on board within the first 100 days, with the balance of the FCC waiting for the Republicans to come to some sort of consensus on whom to recommend for the second Republican slot.

More below . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Why Yoo Is So Wrong on AT&T Net Neutrality Condition

Professor Christopher Yoo of Vanderbilt sent an email to Dave Farber’s Interesting People list explaining why the inclusion of network neutrality conditions in the AT&T/BS merger agreement violates the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

I usually disagree with Yoo on matters regulatory (he being of the neo-con deregulatory school, I being of the pragmatic regulation for a real world school). But that’s a matter of opinion. Here, however, he’s legally and factually just plain wrong. While he’s entitled to argue that he thinks “regulation by merger” sucks rocks (a point with which, no surprise, I disagree), the idea that the merger conditions run afoul of the APA is contrary to statute, contrary to case law, and contrary to the facts of the instant case (with which Professor Yoo seems surprisingly unfamiliar).

Usually, I wouldn’t bother to respond to something like this, but it got picked up by Communications Daily and seems to be making the rounds among tech folk unfamiliar with the case law in question. So while no offense to an opponent who usually knows his stuff, I explain in blistering detail what’s wrong with Yoo’s argument below….

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Not Only Will the Lion Lie Down With the Lamb, He Will Make Big Bucks Opening a Feed Store (While Still Running a Butcher Shop on the Side)

Y’all remember how AT&T (under its old name SBC) launched over a hundred lobbyists into the Texas legislature to kill muni broadband in TX? How it tried to kill muni broadband in Indiana? Not just once, but twice?

Guess what? AT&T has now cut a deal to build a muni wifi system in Springfield, Il. The article quotes an AT&T spokescritter as saying that AT&T expects to close many more such deals, and will seek them out where it makes economic sense.

Whoa! What happened to all of that rhetoric about the brave incumbent telco capitalist captain of industry going eyeball to eyeball with the evil Socialist menace of a publically financed internet? Answer: increasingly, the incumbents have realized this is a losing issue for them and have decided to figure out how to make money out of it.

While I take this as the latest and most potent sign that the move to outright kill muni broadband has run out of steam, I think a note of caution is advisable as well. Some victory snark and reflections on the future challenges for both muni broadband and other forms of community-based broadband below.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

A Quick Update on Sessions Bill

My good buddies at Free Press have have created a page on the Sessions bill. As I mentioned last time, that’s the bill that would make it illegal for municipalities to provide new broadband, cable or telecom networks that compete with any private offerings.

As Free Press discovered, Mr. Sessions has about $500K in SBC stock options. Understandable that he might get upset if SBC had to _gasp_ compete for a living.

So take a minute to visit the Free Press site. Among other things, it has a simple way for you to tell your Congresscritter that you, unlike Mr. Sessions, would like to see competition in the broadband market.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

How SBC Lost TX- And What It means More Broadly

Sorry to all, especially John, for being on an unintended hiatus. Got lots poppin’ at work and at home.

In a down to the wire fight, SBC suffered major defeat in Texas on two major legislative initiatives: one to prohibit municipal broadband, the other to remove local franchising requirements for their new fiber systems. In response, SBC Alum and wholly owned subsidiary Pete Sessions (R-TX), to introduce a new federal anti-muni bill, reconfirming my view that most major corporations behave astounding like 6 year old children.

How the Bell companies blew it represents a fascinating case study. Contrary to what a few folks have suggested, it was not an “accident”. In fact, it may, possibly, suggests some interesting things about how progressive politics (by which I do not mean “Democratic Party” I mean genuinely progressive regardless of party) may work for the next few years. My lengthy random musings below . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Quick Updates

A quick update. Regretably, I have been too busy since coming back to type up my notes from the last day of the Media Reform Conference. I will say that Bill Moyers gave an amazing speech about the current attempt by the Bush administration to co-opt public television. Hopefully, I’ll have time to write up my take on the conflict around the Corporation for Public Broadcasting later. For other updates, see below . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Lose one round in Florida

Florida, which has a number of good muni systems, has passd an anti-muni bill out of subcommittee and out to the FL House of Rep.

If anyone in FL is reading this, get on the horn to your state rep today. Tell them to show the same courage against Bell South that folks in Indiana showed against SBC and that folks in NE and TX are showing.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

A Big Win in TX, But It's Just Round One

SaveMuniWireles.org, a group opposed to the anti-muni bill in TX, reports that the anti-muni provisions of the legislature’s gift package to SBC (the local baby Bell) has been stripped. But hang on to your seats folks, because it goes to the floor next week and SBC is fighting hard.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Tales of the Sausage Factory: A Win In Indiana!

Sorry I’m behind, but there is a _lot_ going on. First, the good news: as reported Muniwireless and elsewhere, the Indiana anti-muni bill has gone down in flaming defeat!

Score one for the good guys and reinvigorate my faith in democracy. For more, see below . . .

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