New American Foundation announced a new program that “will create a pipeline of technologists into Congressional offices to improve policymaking.”

Love the “to improve policymaking” line.  Good stuff.  But, gee, that looks an awful lot like hard-wiring (Silicon Valley) lobbyists directly into Capitol Hill. And, that doesn’t seem quite right.

Imagine if a company like Comcast did that? Oh, boy. That would raise a stink, don’t you think?

Anyway, in a statement, NAF noted:

The Open Technology Institute at New America (OTI) is excited to announce the launch of TechCongress, a new nonpartisan fellowship program that will place technologists in Congressional offices to inject greater technical expertise into the policymaking process. Led by Travis Moore, a former legislative and operations director in the office of former Rep. Henry Waxman, TechCongress is expected to begin placing fellows on the Hill in early 2016. TechCongress is the first of several new projects coming from OTI that are aimed at bridging the divide between the tech and policy communities… (Emphasis added)

The program will be initially funded by Reid Hoffman, a billionaire entrepreneur who co-founded LinkedIn. Hoffman is also a political activist of sorts, having co-founded the PAC with Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. And, he’s also given $150,000 to Larry Lessig’s (pro-Net Neutrality, anti-First Amendment, etc.) MayDayPAC.

Silicon Valley hard-wires its lobbyists on Capitol Hill.

Not satisfied with all its policy wins of late, Silicon Valley hard-wires its lobbyists into Capitol Hill to improve its odds (and further hoodwink Americans).

NAF is a well known progressive, pro-Google (funded) lobbying, er, advocacy shop in DC. In fact, its current chairman is Google’s Eric Schmidt.

Think those technologists / lobbyists are going to give the straight stuff on Net Neutrality, or privacy regulation, or search neutrality, or ad blocking, or Wi-spying, or…

…you get the idea.

Leave it to the Left to skirt the very campaign finance laws and First Amendment restrictions it has shackled the rest of us with. “Do as I say, not as I do, plebs.”

But, you know, it’s A-OK because their message is on the side of our “better angels.”

Yeah, sure it is.


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Remember when Sprint endorsed the FCC’s passage of Title II for ISPs and mobile providers, stating:

Sprint does not believe that a light touch application of Title II, including appropriate forbearance, would harm the continued investment in, and deployment of, mobile broadband services.

Well, it seems they’ve had a change of heart, or something. As Ars Technica reports:

Sprint has decided to skip a major auction of low-band spectrum in a move that could save the company billions of dollars but make it harder to compete against cellular market leaders Verizon Wireless and AT&T.

Sprint is sitting out the historic auction, even with FCC rules that would have helped it have a leg-up against its largest competitors, AT&T and Verizon, to invest in the spectrum.  That’s pretty crazy.

Could this be an indication that we’re seeing a disturbing trend of sorts?

Warning - Title II may stop infrastructure investment.

Warning – Title II may stop infrastructure investment.

You may remember what Chuck Dolan (who’s selling Cablevision to French company Altice) expressed a couple weeks back, with Dow Jones News reporting:

Charles ‘Chuck’ Dolan sees certain industry developments, such as utility-style ‘net neutrality’ regulations…as negatives for the future, making it a good time to cash out…

You may also remember this recent writing from PPI’s Hal Singer, who reports that infrastructure providers are on a significant downward swing regarding their capex this year, which is more than likely due to the FCC’s new Title II regime.

Perhaps Sprint is just making a bad business decision in avoiding the spectrum auction? Who knows? I can’t help but think, however, that the FCC’s new rules, which expose Sprint to new burdens, have more than just a little to do with its questionable decision.

How so? As Singer puts it:

Regulations that reduce the expected rate of return on a given class of capital investments or raise the cost of capital will cause such investments to fall at the margin.

Stated more plainly – the uncertainty, obligations and related costs of the FCC’s new Title II regime for wireless providers likely tipped the balance against Sprint’s already questionable participation in the auction.  It certainly couldn’t have helped them get their paddles out.

In passing the President’s, er, the FCC’s Title II utility regulation of the Internet this spring, Chairman Tom Wheeler swore the new rules would boost infrastructure development. So far, it doesn’t seem to be happening the way he and his supporters said it would.

Goodness. Who da’ thunk?


It has become abundantly clear that, aside from Google, one of the main groups working to stall permission-less innovation, as well as broadband competition, is the cable industry. More specifically, Big Cable has been moving in overdrive to create fear, uncertainty and doubt around the proposed rollout of LTE-U (i.e., LTE cell services designed to operate over unlicensed spectrum to relieve cell site congestion) by the competitive mobile carriers, hoping that the FCC helps it forestall or squash this nascent technological competition under the guise of protecting Wi-Fi.

The cable industry isn’t called the cable industry for nothing – it depends on its cables to offer consumers broadband and content; it’s not a mobile offering. Though it leads the telephone companies in the provision of wired broadband, its overall share of the broadband market is dwarfed by the explosion of mobile broadband use – i.e., smartphones. To give you an idea, approximately 55 million Americans subscribe to cable-provided broadband, and about 182 million Americans own a smartphone. Numerous other industry statistics confirm this, revealing that mobile broadband is more than three-times the size of the entire U.S. wired broadband market, and growing.

In an effort to deal with this, the cable industry has deployed a Wi-Fi network of its own in unlicensed spectrum to extend its wired infrastructure, giving its users some sort of wireless (but not truly mobile) experience. To this end, it dominates hot spots around America, placing nearly 400,000 of them nationwide for its subscribers to access the Internet on their mobile devices outside of the home or office.

Make no doubt about it – LTE-U is a competitive threat to Big Cable because it will provide consumers with a better wireless service. But you wouldn’t know that from their public spin. It’s warning all who can hear that LTE-U will somehow interfere with Wi-Fi for everyone if and when it gets rolled out. And, at the FCC (which should know better), it’s peddling the story, that (I paraphrase) “Well, we prefer that the industry work out the emerging LTE-U interference standards like it always has with Wi-Fi. But, hey, it’s looking like we can’t (according to us and the groups we support), so we need the Commission to make rules that, er, protect our interests, er, that is, protect the Wi-Fi commons and the public interest.”

Tests clearly show that LTE-U coexists and “plays nicely” with Wi-Fi. The cable industry claims otherwise, and is using every excuse in the book to delay its implementation, going so far as to urge the FCC “to act” and ensure the “right standards” are in place, basically regulating unregulated unlicensed spectrum where innovation has flourished.

Though the mobile providers have every incentive to make LTE-U work with others (including its own subsidiaries that offer wired broadband), Big Cable has every incentive to delay and seek its own Wi-Fi interference.

Like a bully…

…as the attached video (above) illustrates.


We were told by the FCC that its “virtuous cycle” Net Neutrality regulations would boost investment in network infrastructure. MediaFreedom has long-argued that that is preposterous.

Emerging data are confirming MediaFreedom’s point of view.

Of note, a new study by PPI’s Hal Singer shows that there have only been two previous downturns in broadband capex – after the meltdown from 2000-2003; and the “Great Recession” from 2008-2009. And, now it looks like 2015 will see another significant downturn in investment.

The culprit? You guessed it – the FCC’s “modernized” Title II / Net Neutrality regime.

But, hey, if you don’t believe facts and figures, try this news from Charles Dolan, who just indicated he’s selling his family’s cable business – Cablevision, the nation’s 5th largest – to French company Altice for $18 billion. There are a number of reasons why, but, as Dow Jones Business News reports, chief among them is that:

“Charles ‘Chuck’ Dolan sees certain industry developments, such as utility-style ‘net neutrality’ regulations…as negatives for the future, making it a good time to cash out…”

Gosh, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler assured us that the President’s, er, the FCC’s “modernized Title II regulation [would] encourage investment.”  Was he wrong?

In a word – Yes.

Like taxes, regulations – with their never-receding cost and uncertain nature – do not make people want to invest. Chuck Dolan seems to be proving that verity.

I’m digressing a bit here, but one cannot but help wonder if the real reason that the FCC and its anti-property supporters (like Free Press) so admire Net Neutrality regulation is because these rules will result in a hollowed-out, zombie broadband industry. Something ripe for the picking, to be outright controlled by the government itself, or its cozy friends willing to do its bidding.

Think I’m crazy? Well, Free Press founder Robert McChesney once noted:

“At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies. We are not at that point yet. But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.”

Looks like Net Neutrality is well on its way toward achieving Free Press’ / McChesney’s socialist “utopia.”

The FCC's Net Neutrality rules are doing their part to create zombie broadband networks, working to hollow-out investment one network at a time.

The FCC’s Net Neutrality rules are doing their part to create zombie broadband networks (like the zombie pictured crossing the street), working to hollow-out investment one ISP at a time.


The Two Faces of Free Press – Why Trust Either One?

September 11, 2015

Welcome to the two faces of the radical, anti-free speech group, Free Press. One that says Comcast is immorally cheap by withholding broadband deployment, among other things, in Philadelphia (and, by extension, everywhere it operates).  And one that says Comcast is a model corporate citizen that is wildly investing in new broadband because of the […]

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LTE-U Is Best Left to the Industry to Develop, Not the FCC

September 8, 2015

There’s a brewing dispute about the potential rollout of LTE-U. LTE-U is an LTE service which operates over unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum. It is being developed by a group of chipmakers, device manufacturers and carriers as one option, among others, to help reduce congestion on crowded cell networks. Those wanting to roll it out assure those who […]

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Etsy the Net Neutrality Beard

August 19, 2015

Etsy is an Internet hub for the third-party sale of goods and crafts. The company has been exceedingly active in pushing for Net Neutrality at the FCC. It did so by stepping into the little guy’s shoes, ostensibly championing his / her costly, uphill plight, decrying in one such agency filing that “strong rules” would […]

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Obamanet Gets a Court Date

August 17, 2015

Wall Street Journal’s L. Gordon Crovitz has a good write-up / general summary today of the legal arguments in the federal court appeal against ObamaNet (a.k.a. Net Neutrality), scheduled for December 4, 2015. As Crovitz sees it, the case is about whether permissionless innovation which built the Internet can continue, or whether regulators can come in, […]

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AT&T “Agrees” to FCC DirectTV Purchase Concessions

July 22, 2015

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is recommending that the $49 billion purchase by AT&T of DirectTV go through. But, not without some conditions placed upon AT&T, which include: stronger Net Neutrality rules, such as more restrictions to prevent discrimination against online video competition, and submission of all completed interconnection agreements to the agency; greater gigabit / […]

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T-Mo Ain’t No Po’ Telco

July 1, 2015

Poor ole T-Mobile has been spinning a good yarn of late. Its CEO, John Legere, has been singing the little guy blues, demanding that the FCC set aside more “beach front,” low-band spectrum in the upcoming spectrum auction so that its main competitors, AT&T and Verizon, won’t get it. Recently, the FCC has indicated it […]

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