– by Jason Llorenz, Esq.
December 2, 2011
Following this week’s release of the FCC’s controversial internal report critical of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, much of the back-and-forth has focused on the details—how many jobs would be created, what percentage of the population would get access to LTE, how much spectrum is really available, etc.
Obviously these are important questions—and there’s clearly merit to criticisms that the FCC cherry-picked facts to support its views—but what’s received less attention is what the entire process may have revealed about the FCC.
As The Dallas Morning News pointed out in a spot-on editorial this morning, throughout the AT&T/T-Mobile review, the FCC has taken a narrow, “old-school” view of competition that is out of touch with the realities of the modern telecom business:
Simply declaring that a big telecom firm is getting bigger, that big is always bad and that jobs might be lost ignores the economics of scale and other technological and procedural efficiencies that lead to new products and services… In the long run, the ability to move data quickly and affordably translates into thousands of new jobs and more efficient commerce, both within telecommunications and other industries.
Telecom innovation moves fast. It is hard for anyone to keep up. But that’s no excuse for the regulators charged with fostering a robust and competitive marketplace. We can not hold on to dated conceptions of competition or ideas about the telecom industry based on old “ACME steel” conceptions of mergers. This ignores the complexities of the world we are moving toward — where wireless competition comes from multiple places and an expanding list of players.
On Wednesday of this week the FCC released a report on broadband adoption which acknowledged that one third of Americans don’t have broadband at home, and warned that the U.S. is falling behind our global competition.
But as the AT&T/T-Mobile review reminds us, we are not going to catch up unless government, industry and all players can approach this brave new world in a way that stimulates investment and makes new ventures possible.
Jason A. Llorenz, Esq. is Executive Director of the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP). You can follow him on Twitter at @hispanicttp and learn more at: www.httponline.org. Email at: Jason@httponline.org. Twitter: @hispanicttp