Communications politics and control

The net neutrality debate continues. FCC Imposes New Wireless Roaming Rules and FCC Proposes New Rules For Wireless Signal Boosters identify two campaigns on the wireless front.

The analogy is in the breakup of the telephone company back when landlines were the only common telephone service. A first step was that of requiring the telephone company to allow the connection of user equipment to their network. That opened up a consumer market for telephones and allowed modems and facsimile machines to become more common.

A second step was that of requiring the telephone company to allow access to their infrastructure. This allowed competitors to tap into telephone switches and use telephone lines to customer premises. In many ways, this step is similar to the new wireless roaming rules. The difference is that the telephone company had wires run to each customer while not the access is via spectrum licensed from the FCC.

The Signal Booster ruling is all about protecting the spectrum that cell carriers have licensed from the FCC. If the signal boosting is not done properly, it can create havoc by causing various forms of interference with wireless networks.

As in net neutrality, the fundamental issue is that of getting high speed I’net access anywhere with any equipment at minimal cost or effort. The wireless roaming rules are an effort to eliminate the competitive advantage that companies have developed in their coverage area by building cell towers. That will make those coverage maps that have been in advertisements of little relevance.

The question is just how far the government should go in removing areas that communications companies can use to distinguish their products and services.

It is the rationale for removing competitive advantage that needs careful attention. This is the idea that there is a monopoly and if the government didn’t require companies to bill as the government sees fit and to allow anyone to use their equipment as the government sees fit, the companies could lord it over their customers as a monopolist. That view is so week that it needs rationalizing and that rationalizing is what needs to be examined to find out where the truth actually lies.

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