FCC Warm to "Dumb Networks", Universal Access

In comments at a recent telecom conference, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin emphasized the importance of universal access to broadband connections as well as the role of "dumb networks" in ensuring network neutrality. "Dumb networks" are a lot like the wholesale fiber networks offered by UTOPIA or iProvo where retail and wholesale operations are not operated by the same entity. Even amidst these glimmers of hope, Martin made sure he was playing to the audience of big telcos by taking a wishy-washy stance on local franchising and the upcoming 700MHz spectrum auction.

Not everyone in the FCC is content to sit out the spectrum fight. FCC Commissioner Adelstein has openly voiced support for using the 700MHz spectrum to form an open wireless network that anyone can build on top of. With such a heavyweight behind the idea of divorcing wholesale and retail broadband, television and telephone operations, it's entirely possible that the next six months could yield a major win for real competition in these spaces and provide much better service than what we've been stuck with.

Blogger Susan Crawford isn't so optimistic. She's rightfully ticked off at the abuses heaped on us by incumbents and contends that it will take nothing short of a change of leadership in both the FCC and Congress to facilitate change. Here's to hoping she's wrong. 

(See full articles here, here and here.)

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