FCC Just Couldn't Stop Voting

from the election-day-festivities dept

Well, it’s election day and apparently the FCC commissioners liked voting so much they took votes on just about everything. Amazingly, it looks like they even made some good decisions. The big one, of course, and the one that will get the most press, is the unanimous vote to free up television “white space” spectrum. While the NAB made a last ditch effort to stop this, the FCC made the right call here. This spectrum can be put to much better use, which can have a huge impact on increasing innovation and wireless technologies. This is a big win. The FCC also approved Sprint and Clearwire’s deal to set up a joint venture for their WiMax operations, as well as allowing Verizon to buy Alltel. Both of those deals make sense as well, so it’s good to see them approved.

Other than that, the FCC said that it’s going to start looking into the pricing policies of cable companies… and Verizon. Who’s missing? FCC boss Kevin Martin’s best friends over at AT&T. To be honest, while it’s quite likely that the cable companies and the telcos (yes, including AT&T) are abusing their oligopoly position, the answer shouldn’t be having the FCC act as a watchdog over pricing policies, but for a better system to be set up that encourages real competition. In the meantime, though, can someone explain why AT&T was left out of the bunch?

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: alltel, at&t, clearwire, comcast, google, sprint, time warner, verizon

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Comments on “FCC Just Couldn't Stop Voting”

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chris (profile) says:


competition in telecommunications? what the hell is that?

locking out competitors is how the telecommunications game is played. all this competition talk is just crazy.

what’s next? customers service that serves customers? health care that actually cares about people’s health?

woo look at me i’m a crazy person. i say things that are crazy!

Russ says:

Why not AT&T

What is being investigated is the movement of channels from analog (which is free and doesn’t require an STB) to a digital package (which requires an MRC and an STB). Traditional cable cos are doing this and Verizon has done it as well. I am pretty sure that AT&T never supported reception of analog video without an STB so AT&T can’t be accused of changing anything.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Alltel - The Scrappy Competitor That Was

Alltel’s merger into VZW is not necessarily a violation of anti-trust statutes, but I would certainly contend that it is NOT a positive development for the consumer.

Alltel has consistently been a well-run, profitable business that survived by being aggressive, highly competitive, and “taking it to the big boys”.

With its earlier acquisition of Western Wireless, Alltel’s network footprint actually covers the most square miles in the USA – although since rural, not serving the most subscribers. From that large geography including the mid-West and South-East, Alltel pushed innovation, and offered price pressure on the larger national brands. Their EV-DO data services, for just one example, were offered to laptops at $10 less than Verizon’s. Alltel was big enough that Verizon eventually responded.

Witness the Alltel TV ads that have run for years, where Alltel retail store guy “Chad” constantly sticks it to the other telco retail guys by giving the customer what he wants, and offering better value. Alltel has delighted in direct comparison, and taking shots at the bigger national brands. (http://ca.youtube.com/results?search_query=alltel+commercial&search_type=&aq=f)

All this scrappy competition will be lost with the purchase of Alltel, and as they get absorbed into Verizon, our telecom industry will return to our quasi-oligopoly comfort zone.

Harold Feld says:

Nature of Investigation

I believe the exclusion of AT&T is because the focus is not just pricing generally, but specifically whether the decision to go to all digital and require customers to get a box, and the decision on what programs to put on digital v. remain on analog, violates any FCC rules. To the best of my knowledge, AT&T has not been converting its U-verse to digital and forcing customers to migrate in the same way other cable cos have.

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