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FCC net neutrality mavens impose forced wireless broadband sharing

Written By : Chris Wysocki
April 10, 2011

Maybe now that Congress is done haggling over miniscule budget cuts they can return their attention to the Obama Administration’s net neutrality power grab. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is hell-bent on redistributing the networks built by AT&T and Verizon to every penny ante bit player who comes along.

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Why build your own wireless network when you can get Socialists R Us to force the existing networks to carry your traffic for you? The FCC cleverly calls it “equal access” but it’s anything but equal. So now we have a new player such as Burt’s Broadband and Bait Shop who can set up one mobile access point, and instantly be granted an unfettered ability for his customers to use every AT&T or Verizon 3G or 4G hotspot nationwide.

Burt gets all the benefits of a nationwide broadband network for little or no capital investment. That is what the government calls “net neutrality.”

I call it “theft.”

If Burt wants to play with the Big Boys he’d better pony up the money and the time and the wherewithal to build his own damn data network. Networks ain’t cheap, or easy, and they don’t grow on trees either.

But, without all the overhead of the bigger carriers Burt can charge less. A lot less. That’s seductive to the Naderites who believe everything should be free. But why would AT&T or Verizon keep building state-of-the-art networks if the government is going to interfere in their business plans?

The FCC order does say the existing carriers must be compensated on “commercially reasonable terms.” Sounds good, right? Sure, until you realize it is the FCC who gets to decide the definition of “reasonable.”

There are areas where it costs more to provide good wireless broadband coverage than in others. The first time somebody’s grandma (especially if she’s a member of a designated prefered minority group) gets hit with a bill for what it actually costs to provide her cut-rate service you can bet the consumer advocates will be hounding the FCC for relief.

Then suddenly all wireless roaming charges will be set by the government, even if they don’t begin to cover the actual costs incurred.

Don’t believe me? That’s exactly how the FCC regulates land line telephone service. There’s a whole bureaucracy dedicated to ensuring the residents of East Nowhereville don’t “overpay” for their phone service. And anther bureaucracy assigned the task of doling out taxes levied on the phone companies to hopefully cover the actual costs involved.

As we all know, when our money is laundered via the government invariably some of it is siphoned off to lubricate the wheels of bureaucracy. And of course the government isn’t particularly concerned about efficiency either. So the overall cost of a government regulated system is always higher than what the free market would have produced.

The big carriers enter into free market roaming agreements every day. They do them at a price point which makes sense from the perspective of their investment in infrastructure and overall capacity. But again, that means some small-time players will pay more than others. The social justice types can’t countenance that fact. And so the FCC steps in to regulate yet another innovative and useful commercial service into submission. All in the interests of “fairness,” of course.

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(Cross-posted from WyBlog.us. Follow me on Twitter @WyBlog.)

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