Commission Meeting Happens! Begins With Gifts To Verizon and AT&T . . . .

O.K., we finally started at 3:50 p.m. Three items left, VZ/Alltel, New Clearwire, and White Spaces. I’ll split tdo my happy dance on his in two, so I can gripe about the suckiness of the mergers while doing my happy dance on white spaces unsullied by this market consolidation.

Details of merger suckiness below . . .

Meeting opened at 3:50. VZ/Alltel first. Also Pet for Decl ruling to cover foreign ownership issues for acquisition.

Merger granted – shocking but true! Also grant foreign ownership.

Adopt screen for Clearwire. Ridiculous. This is a freebie for for VZ and AT&T to grab more spectrum. Found need for regional divestitures in five additional markets. Phase down of ETC support, use counties for E911.

We got nothing. Bummer. AND Verizon gets a freebie on the screen. This sucks. By including BRS spectrum (2.5 GHz) spectrum in the spectrum screen, VZ and AT&T are now able to gobble up even more cellular carriers that use the same spectrum as their networks, while “competing” with New Clearwire and Xhom — who are struggling with entirely different spectrum and rules.

Copps: This consolidation sucks rocks. roaming partners will see a critical partner eliminated, market size will aggravate market power over equipment. Concur with roaming conditions, but dissent from rest. 4 yr extension of roaming agreement. ETC phase out. Finally, need to stop raising the spectrum screen on an ad hoc basis.

Adelstein: market power and consolidation suck. Also concur and dissent. Does not include a minimum set of conditions to address harms that have been raised.

Tate: I think this does enough. The divestitures will encourage competition and does enough for roaming. Big deal that extend Vz service to rural, and need to save Alltel from crashing and burning.

McDowell: Satisfied that spectrum screen is sufficient, consistent with past practice, and that divestitures will insure that market remains competitive. But not happy with what they did on USF.

MArtin: Well, my consolidation work here is finished . . . . .

No one mentioned Internet Policy Statement. i suspect we got hosed on this as well.

New Clearwire

More details about the screen. There’s nothing like the irony of expanding consolidation opportunities in an Order that is supposed to be creating a competitor. No shocker that the merger is approved, although the FCC gave New Clearwire a total freebie on holding them accountable for their promises to have an open network.

_sigh_ Better hope that openess is not a passing fad. If the cable guys ever come out on top and can force a restructuring or refinancing, it will screw a lot of developers, equipment manufacturers, oh yeah, and us consumers.

Copps: The license transfers here promise lots of goodies. I won’t bore you by repeating my complaint about the spectrum screen. See my full statement when published.

Adelstein: This is good for competition. Glad to approve it. This is a new entrant and potential competitor, so we should treat this differently than a merger of two existing incumbents. The public interest standard of the statute does not require us to be total morons about how to do this analysis. Just the oppositie, we are supposed to take into account things like competition and what benefits it brings to consumers. So happy to vote for it.

Tate: Hey, a merger that brings everyone together in a bundle of broadband love! Cable guys, cellular guys, Google guys, all coming together to form a new and competing service is just so cool. How could anyone not love this? Could this be the fabled third pipe of legend? The Holy Grail made of unicorn horn that frees us of the need to regulate anything? Maybe!

McDowell: Hey, I’m always happy when approving a license transfer actually creates competition. Glad we used new entrant analysis rather than incumbent analysis. Our spectrum screen here is sophisticated. Also, the fact that these guys voluntarily adopted open access just shows how right I am that the market is moving in the right direction without any kind of regulation. Oh yeah, and having Google and Comcast on the same Board of Directors will be a real hoot. But not happy that did E911 and USF.

Martin: Glad the network is embracing openness and all that. Our approach from the 700 MHz auction and C Block (did I mention I did that?) is clearly the right one. This will push the entire industry. Go us! Also glad that we did E911 and USF.

Stay tuned for the big finally . . .

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