Kevin (not Ken... can't believe they got this wrong, and it still isn't corrected!) Werbach and Susan Crawford have been named by the Administration-Elect as FCC Review Team Leads.
I can't speak much to Susan Crawford, though she's enthusiastically recommended by people I respect, like David Isenberg.
I can speak enthusiastically about Werbach. He's ex-FCC, and one of those rare lawyers who can think out of the box when it comes to wireless issues, and can grasp that the technology can largely eclipse the legalisms and regulation that was needed when we were still using wireless technology of the 19th century (slightly updated throughout most of the 20th century). It bodes well that Werbach will have a hand in initially shaping the FCC under the Obama administration. I think Werbach would make a terrific FCC commissioner and/or chairman.
What do I think the agenda of the "Obama" FCC should be? Glad you asked :-)
1) Network Neutrality I'm a reluctant convert to this, as I had hoped that the market would create opportunities for new, wireless-based competitors who could compete on the basis of the total cluelessness of the incumbent carriers screwing around with people's bits in transit. But the carriers are waging war in subtle ways, being open only when forced to after years of litigation. They brought it upon themselves, and I think that the only way to insure that the Internet will continue to be useful and innovative is to craft an ironclad "hands off the bits" regulations.
2) Equivalent of the Rural Electrification Act for Broadband Internet Access We've screwed around with this for far too long. We have the Universal Service Fund, but that's restricted, because of intense lobbying by the telcos, to strictly voice telephony. It needs to be opened up to apply to broadband. I think the fairest and sanest way to do this is to provide the equivalent of monthly coupons for ten years of an amount like $50/month for customers in 20% or so most rural areas - lowest population density. You can give your coupon to the provider of your choice - the one that does the best job of broadband bits to the actual customer. I think BWIA will be the sanest way to do this, but rural power co-ops should be enabled to run fiber networks to their power customers. Unlike telephony services, Internet services are a lot like providing power. Just move the bits, maintain the network and bill the customer. It needs to be restricted to reasonable speeds - say 8 Mbps and faster, and low latency (sorry satellite - we really need low latency for VOIP, telepresence, telehealth, teleeducation, etc.). For this idea to work, the control over where the payments are made must remain firmly in the hands of the customer; else "too cozy" arrangements will develop that the incumbents can game.
3) Extend White Spaces concept to BWIA-compatible spectrum We've got incredible amounts of spectrum available in rural areas... not even all the wireless telephony spectrum is in use! Let alone 2.3 GHz WCS, 2.5 GHz, 1.7/2.3 AWS, 700 MHz , etc. If you (provably) aren't using it in a given area (spectrum surveys by credible independent entities), then others should be able to "stake a claim" on "squatting" on that spectrum for a period of, say, a year. Let 'em license-holders yap - if they aren't using it, no one is being harmed by someone else willing to commit resources to using it.
To Be Continued...
By Steve Stroh
This article is Copyright © 2008 by Steve Stroh except for specifically-marked excerpts. Excerpts and links are expressly permitted (and encouraged).
This article was written and posted via Broadband Wireless Internet Access (BWIA) ; Sprint Mobile Broadband service using a Sierra Wireless 595U USB modem - 1xEV-DO Rev. A on a MacBook Pro laptop.