This proposed takeover puts our mobile broadband future at a crossroads. We can choose the open, competitive road best traveled, and protect American consumers, innovation and our economy, or we can choose the dead end that merely protects only AT&T and leads the rest of us back down the dirt road to Ma Bell.

That’s Vonya B. McCann, senior vice president of government affairs for Sprint, doing her best to channel Robert Frost. Sprint formally asked the FCC to deny AT&T’s plan to acquire T-Mobile.

Sprint has much to gain from that merger not going through. As I wrote on Friday, the company is currently third in what’s shaping up as a two-horse race in wireless. Some think Sprint’s public stance against the T-Mobile deal is just an attempt to win some favorable concessions. 

But Sprint is disputing that cynical claim. In a press release about its FCC filing Tuesday, Sprint said it has “concluded the proposed acquisition cannot be remedied through divestitures or conditions.” Sprint, pulling no punches, also referred to AT&T and Verizon as the “Twin Bell duopolists.”

Sort of makes me wonder if AT&T and Verizon have powers like the Wonder Twins of “Super Friends” fame! Wonder Twin Bell powers … activate! Form of … an iPhone 4! Shape of … a water bucket! And if I take this tortured analogy one step further, is T-Mobile the equivalent of Gleek, the annoying space monkey sidekick?   

Anyway, Sprint may have a tough time stopping the marriage of AT&T with the house of Dwayne Wade and the polka dot dress-favoring spokesgirl. But this should be a fun battle to watch. — Paul

Stop the Net neutrality nonsense!


Photo: vagawi

Aaaaaahhhh!!! We’re all gonna die!

At least that’s what my inbox told me. I received dozens of statements from Internet providers, content companies, industry lobby groups and open Internet lobby shops weighing in on the FCC’s new, revised, latest, really-this-is-the-last-time-we-do this plan for Net neutrality.

Apparently, the FCC just poisoned the water supply, unleashed its nuclear arsenal and summoned the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.

These are actual statements I received in the past 18 hours:

"It’s a corporate giveaway." "It will harm consumers and stifle network investment." "The net neutrality regime proposed today by the FCC will endanger competition, innovation, network investment, and consumer welfare." "It is an unwanted and unwarranted exercise in agency hubris." "The FCC is using dubious legislative authority." "This represents a checkmate by the phone and cable companies." "This proposal retreats from real consumer protections."

There aren’t many things I actively hate in life, but two are cantaloupe and doomsday scenarios.

Let’s face it: The broadband companies have done a pretty admirable job in the past decade of providing more-than-adequate service without any regulation. But let’s also recognize that the explosion of online video is going to be an enormous bandwidth burden that could disrupt service quality.

A little regulation that says “you have to treat all content equally” will force broadband providers to increase their bandwidth and network speeds — something that will benefit consumers, even if their prices go up somewhat. But a decision not to enforce the much more stringent ”Title II” regulation would seem to be a reasonable compromise, acknowledging that broadband companies shouldn’t be punished, since they haven’t done anything wrong.

To be fair, there were a small handful of reasonable statements I received yesterday.

"This is very sensible." "It’s a workable balance." "The proposal is a commonsense compromise." "We believe the Chairman’s plan will be broadly supported." "We believe any action in this area is unnecessary … but the proposed rules are less onerous than previous proposals."

Net neutrality is a serious, but hard-to-understand issue. Let’s all be reasonable and construct an Internet policy framework for the future, rather than try to scare the not-so-tech-savvy public into thinking that broadband companies are going to pick and choose what websites you can visit or pretend that regulation will send your monthly bill up $50 a month.

That’s what the FCC did on Wednesday, and it should be commended for that. -David