Tech at Night

FCC reform advances in the House. Greg Walden’s FCC Process Reform Act is a needed bill, so I’m glad that it went from committee to the floor, and took minimal modification in passing. I like that it got an extra poke at FCC being more closed on FOIA requests than even CIA.

Locking in the reforms is important, and CTIA is right in saying we need a “more transparent, predictable regulatory process.”

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Tech at Night

Top story is easy to pick tonight. The legislation that’s been known in the Senate as PROTECT IP, the Internet censorship blacklist bill that promises to make a huge power grab online, Communist China-style, has come to the House. They’re calling it by two different names: E-PARASITES and Stopping Online Privacy Act, but by either name it’s just as bad.

Even as the current laws do work, this bill expands government, and puts the government’s thumb firmly on one side of the scales balanced by the DMCA. Current law attempts to provide a balance between the rights of all of us online, and the rights of copyright holders accusing others of infringement. PROTECT IP/E-PARASITES/SOPA would give copyright holders private nuclear options to knock sites offline, and government would enforce it.

No, really, how bad is it? It threatens, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube, three critical tools used by conservatives and Republicans against this administration, and this House bill would arm this administration against them. It’s insane. It’s just so poorly thought out. PROTECT IP also removes safe harbor concepts critical to the DMCA that gave ISPs reason to be fair to the little guy when pounded on by the big guy. No more, should this pass.

PROTECT IP. SOFA. E-PARASITES. I don’t care what you call it, creating national censorship blacklists to be enforced by law by all ISPs is just a terrible idea. Censorship by its very nature hinders public oversight of that censorship. In fact, some of the first things they censored in Australia’s version were lists of things censored, which meant when the censorship expanded to other topics, any discussion of that was threatened with legal action.

Kill this bill.

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Tech at Night

Net Neutrality goes to court. Great news, too: Verizon’s preferred venue won the lottery, and the Net Neutrality fight will happen in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. This is, of course, the same circuit that slapped down Net Neutrality last time in Comcast v FCC.

Oh, but here’s a big surprise. Despite the FCC claiming previously that “We look forward to defending our open Internet framework in court,” they’re actually doing everything they can not to have to defend it in court by attempting to get Verizon’s appeal dismissed. So much for that day in court.

As for Sprint Nextel, even as they sue claiming competition will be impaired if T-Mobile and AT&T join up, their own strategy update presentation admitted the truth. See the 9:46AM slide, showing the growth rate of the year-on-year net postpaid subscribers across the top four providers. In 2010, Sprint was the only one to accelerate, while AT&T saw the biggest drop in its growth. In the first half of 2011, Verizon and Sprint are accelerating, while would-be deal makers AT&T and T-Mobile look on pace to notch their third and fifth (respectively) years of slower growth.

Yes, that’s right. Sprint’s gaining subscribers at a faster clip, and is trying to keep the laggards from combining to keep the pressure (and 4G prices) up. And they’ve gotten the Barack Obama/Eric Holder Department of Justice to help, using your taxpayer dollars.

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Tech at Night

Up late tonight. Spent the better part of the last 8 hours setting up my new computer*. Lots of data to transfer around and all that. But fortunately there aren’t many new developments lately to talk about, so let’s go.

I’m going to start with LightSquared. Out of the blue, it’s been repeatedly claimed that LightSquared is “the next Solyndra,” and that some nebulous form of corruption is somehow benefiting the company. Is it possible? Certainly. But I’d like to see some proof that LightSquared received actual benefits from the Obama administration, as Solyndra got free money from the government in the form of loan guarantees.

No, I won’t accept proof that Barack Obama is a bad guy as proof that LightSquared had something going on. I’m playing the role of skeptic on this particular issue, because I don’t want it to be true. I want America to get more spectrum used for 4G wireless Internet, and I want us to have more national networks supplying 4G wireless Interent. LightSquared coming online would give us both, as LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja has said.

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Tech at Night

What would be a Monday without Democrats wanting to expand government by passing new laws and regulations? Some people aren’t careful with their things and/or their data, so Chuckie Schumer thinks there oughta be a law. I like CTIA’s response to that:

CTIA understands that when consumers have their mobile devices lost or stolen, it is an unfortunate situation as they often contain a lot of personal information. We urge Congress to not impose unnecessary regulations on the wireless industry that would cause unintended consequences.

To prevent your device from being lost or stolen, we recommend the following tips:

  1. Know and use the security features on your device (e.g. password locks).
  2. Use the personalization feature and put your name and a different phone number (and/or email address) so if someone finds your device, they can contact you to return it.
  3. Download an app that allows you to track and lock your wireless devices remotely.
  4. Keep a back-up of your contacts, calendar, etc somewhere else (e.g. computer).
  5. Never leave your device so that it can be easily picked up and don’t give your device to a person you don’t know.
  6. If you are a person who has a tendency to lose things, you may want to consider mobile device insurance. Make sure you know what the insurance plan does and does not cover.

You can’t legislate good sense.

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Tech at Night: AT&T, T-Mobile, NAB, Spectrum

On July 25, 2011, in General, by Neil Stevens
Tech at Night

It was mentioned in the previous Tech at Night’s comments, but here it is directly: the NAB has come out against incentive auctions to free up spectrum for wireless Internet. I say we should dismiss their concerns. Incentive auctions are voluntary and compensate the original spectrum holders. Rights are respected, as we get a superior spectrum allocation for American needs.

For once, the FCC has the right idea.

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Tech at Night

Can we just start shooting the hackers? It seems like it’s war on the Internet these days, and the more there is for me to cover, the more work it is churning out Tech at Night!

Lulzsec denies the allies are in Baghdad the leader is arrested despite an earlier claim on Twitter that it was true.

Anyway, Shame on the Daily Mail for trying to turn a Lulzsec hacker into a sob story. He’s a criminal gangster who couldn’t hold a real job. Let him rot.

How bad is Lulzsec? Even other hacker gangs hate them. I assume it’s because others realize that Lulzsec’s insane overreach is going to bring the hammer of justice down on the entire field. Especially when they’re targeting security experts, besides. It’s true, too: The FBI is on the march here, on the heels of arrests already made in Spain, Turkey, and the UK.

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Tech at Night

Lots to cover tonight, thanks in part to skipping Monday for Memorial Day. But of course I’ll start with my own post on the AT&T/T-Mobile deal, explaining from the ground up why the George Soros/Sprint arguments contradict themselves. Government should get out of the way, especially state governments like California’s getting too big for their britches. It’ll be better for all of us who buy wireless services.

Speaking of states running amok, here’s the bill that tax-and-spend Texans have put the Amazon tax into. Unless I’m mistaken, which is possible since I’m not particularly familiar with Texas inside baseball, SB 1 is being considered in the special session of the legislature. Let’s hope Texas can strip that tax out, after Governor Perry already vetoed it once. Texas needs to be America’s example of small government. Texans: get loud and back up the Governor! Give the Governor a harrumph!

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Tech at Night

The final House vote is coming to repeal Net Neutrality via the Congressional Review Act. I’m pretty interested to see how many Democrats we can get in the House, because it may give a clue of how many Democrats we can get in the Senate. Remember: under the CRA we only need 51, not 60.

I hope we don’t have to fire up the CRA next over socialist wireless data roaming regulation. As I pointed out earlier this week, Sprint stopped investing in its network, while AT&T and Verizon spent even more. So now Sprint customers end up having to roam more when off of Sprint’s network. Should Sprint be allowed to make up for that by getting the government to force a special deal? I don’t think so. Regulation should reward investors and punish free riders. Only then do we truly look out for the public, the people who need more investment made.

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Tech at Night: AT&T, T-Mobile, FCC, Patents

On March 24, 2011, in General, by Neil Stevens
Tech at Night

So the top story this week is going to be the AT&T acquisition of T-Mobile USA. There’s a lot being said about it, about unions, about competition, but the story I’m seeing emerging is that this deal is about spectrum. AT&T sees in T-Mobile a way to get the spectrum it needs going forward. In fact, even power grabbing FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said to the CTIA that this is an issue:

If we do nothing in the face of the looming spectrum crunch, many consumers will face higher prices – as the market is forced to respond to supply and demand – and frustrating service – connections that drop, apps that run unreliably or too slowly.

So not only is T-Mobile a sensible purchase for AT&T in the short run, due to their use of similar technology, but in the long run this is the kind of purchase AT&T may need to be able to compete with Verizon. Verizon, of course, already got more spectrum when it bought the C Block of old television spectrum in 2008.

So if we want competition now and in the future, we need to let the deal happen.

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