Friday, July 29, 2022

"Hot Topics in Copyright Law & Policy" Video Now Available


Watch the YouTube video of the Free State Foundation's webinar on current legal and public policy issues in copyright, held July 28, 2022.


A panel of prominent copyright experts addressed copyright hot topics such as music royalties, the proposed American Music Fairness Act, needed Digital Millennium Copyright Act reform, problematic state legislation licensing of ebooks, and the American Law Institute's misguided Copyright Restatement project.


Participants were Jessica Richard – Vice President, Federal Public Policy, RIAA, Devlin Hartline – Legal Fellow, Hudson Institute's Forum for IP, and Adam Mossoff – Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School, GMU. Free State Foundation Director of Policy Studies & Senior Fellow Seth Cooper moderated the discussion. FSF President Randolph May opened and closed the webinar.


Tweet: #FSFCopyright

Thursday, July 28, 2022

House Passes Bill on FCC Spectrum Auction Authority and Lower 3 GHz Band

On July 27, the House of Representatives passed the Spectrum Innovation Act of 2022 (H.R. 7624). The House deserves credit for passing the bill, which will help ensure a continuing supply of spectrum to meet future demands for next-gen wireless services.  

The bill was the subject of my blog from July 13. As stated in that blog, the Spectrum Innovation Act would extend the FCC's auction authority to March 2024. It also would authorize the Secretary of Commerce to identify 200 MHz in the lower 3 GHz band "for non-Federal use, shared Federal and non-Federal use, or a combination thereof." The bill authorizes the Commission to conduct an auction for spectrum licenses in the band. 


As reported by many outlets, the Spectrum Innovation Act also dedicates several billion dollars from future spectrum license auction proceeds to fund next-gen 911 services as well as the "rip-and-replace" program that is intended to help protect national security by removing Chinese-made equipment from U.S. communications networks. 


The Spectrum Innovation Act now goes to the Senate, and hopefully it will receive timely consideration. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Comcast's "Internet Essentials" and Similar Programs Make a Difference

 For the past decade, Free State Foundation scholars have chronicled new developments regarding Comcast's "Internet Essentials" program and the progress the program has achieved in furthering more ubiquitous broadband adoption, especially for low-income persons.

As recited in a September 2021 Free State Foundation blog postComcast’s $700 million investment in Internet Essentials already had connected 10 million Americans to high-speed broadband and, during that time, Internet Essentials was responsible for 40% of new Internet subscriptions by low-income families with school-aged children. For details on recent expansions of the Internet Essentials program, see these FSF blogs published in 2020, 2019, 2018and 2017.

Comcast's Internet Essentials program is an undertaking that involves very substantial private investment, and as a recent NCTA post shows, by making broadband much more accessible to low income persons, it creates educational, entrepreneurial, and social opportunities that otherwise might not available.


Of course, other cable operators like Charter have programs similar to Comcast's to provide subsidies to support accessibility by low-income persons. NCTA reports that over 14 million people have been connected through the cable industry's low-cost broadband adoption programs. And similar efforts by non-cable ISPs like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and many others have connected many more.


All these private sector efforts should be applauded. They all contribute to closing the digital divide.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

GAO Gives NTIA a To-Do List on Spectrum Management

On July 22, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report urging NTIA to implement a series of policy recommendations that GAO previously made regarding spectrum management. GAO's report lists those recommendations, one of which is that NTIA and the FCC update their memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding their respective roles and coordination on spectrum policy issues. 

For more on this topic, see the February 2022 Perspectives from FSF Scholars by Free State Foundation President Randolph May and I titled "Congress Should Require Better Agency Coordination on Spectrum Policy" as well as a short blog titled "Congress Should Set Parameters for Improved Interagency Spectrum Coordination." 

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Register Now! FSF Webinar on Copyright Law & Policy - July 28!

FSF Webinar on Copyright Law & Policy 




WHAT:  "Hot Topics in Copyright Law & Policy," a Webinar 


WHERE:  Via Zoom


WHEN:  Thursday, July 28 – 1:30 PM - 2:00 PM 


The Free State Foundation will host a webinar on current legal and public policy issues in copyright on Thursday, July 28, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. EST via Zoom


A panel of prominent copyright experts will address copyright topics such as music royalties, DMCA reform, state legislation licensing ebooks, and ALI's Copyright Restatement project.


Confirmed Speakers Include:


Adam Mossoff – Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School, GMU


Jessica Richard – Vice President, Federal Public Policy, RIAA


Devlin Hartline – Legal Fellow, Hudson Institute's Forum for IP


Additional speaker to be announced.




Wednesday, July 20, 2022

DISH Network Reports Progress on its Nationwide 5G Buildout

On July 14, DISH Network submitted to the FCC its "5G Buildout Status Report." The report summarizes DISH's progress in building out its 5G network capabilities and offerings as part of its plan to become a nationwide wireless provider. 

Pursuant to the T-Mobile/Sprint merger and legal settlement, DISH acquired Sprint's Boost Mobile brand as well as spectrum licenses, along with buildout obligations. DISH is operating Boost as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) and simultaneously deploying a standalone 5G network. A 2020 FCC order requires DISH to follow through on commitments it made to offer 5G broadband services to at least 20% of the U.S. population and deploy a core network for its spectrum licenses in certain bands. 

According to DISH's 5G Buildout Status Report:

DISH is pleased to certify that, as of June 14, 2022, we offer 5G Broadband Service to 72,769,696 people in the United States. This coverage equals approximately 22 percent of the total U.S. population according to the 2020 U.S. Census with respect to DISH’s AWS-4 and AWS H Block licenses; DISH covers more than 25 percent of the population in those markets where DISH holds a Lower 700 MHz E Block license. (Emphasis in the original.)

According to DISH, its 5G service offerings became available to more than 120 cities by June 14, 2022. Its service interconnects with third party networks for 4G and 5G data roaming when out of DISH's footprint. 

Given all the unforeseen obstacles DISH has faced stemming from government-imposed lockdowns, labor shortages, microchip shortages, and supply chain problems, DISH's apparent progress is commendable. And DISH's ongoing efforts to deploy a nationwide standalone 5G network are another indicator of the competitive state of the broadband marketplace. For more on the competitiveness of the broadband services market, check out the comments that the Free State Foundation filed in July for the FCC's 2022 Communications Marketplace Report proceeding. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Capital Expenditures by US Broadband Providers Surged in 2021

Capital expenditures by U.S. broadband providers surged to over $86 billion in 2021, according to US Telecom's 2021 Broadband Capex Report. US Telecom's report was released on July 18. 

The $86.1 billion annual capex total is particularly remarkable considering the economic difficulties that broadband providers faced in 2021, including microchip shortages, labor shortages, supply chain problems, and the ramping up of inflation. The $86.1 billion in capex for 2021 significantly exceeded the $79.4 annual expenditure total for broadband providers in 2020. (For more on that, see US Telecom's 2020 Broadband Capex Report.) According to US Telecom's 2021 report, U.S. broadband providers have invested over $2 trillion in network infrastructure since 1996. In past reports, US Telecom has pointed out that these estimates likely are conservative because they exclude annual investment by small U.S. broadband providers as well as U.S. satellite broadband providers.

Continuing strong investment is clear indicator of a healthy and competitive broadband services market. (On July 1 of this year, the Free State Foundation offered many other data points about the market's vibrancy in comments it filed in the FCC's 2022 Communications Marketplace Report proceeding.) Importantly, the massive capital expenditure reported by US Telecom is expanding access to next-generation broadband services and delivering faster and more reliable speeds to more Americans.  

Monday, July 18, 2022

Save the Date! FSF Webinar on Copyright Law & Policy - July 28!

FSF Webinar on Copyright Law & Policy 




WHAT:  "Hot Topics in Copyright Law & Policy," a Webinar 


WHERE:  Via Zoom


WHEN:  Thursday, July 28 – 1:30 PM - 2:00 PM 


The Free State Foundation will host a webinar on current legal and public policy issues in copyright on Thursday, July 28, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. EST via Zoom


A panel of prominent copyright experts will address copyright topics such as music royalties, DMCA reform, state legislation licensing ebooks, and ALI's Copyright Restatement project.


Confirmed Speakers Include:


Adam Mossoff – Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School, GMU


Jessica Richard – Vice President, Federal Public Policy, RIAA


Devlin Hartline – Legal Fellow, Hudson Institute's Forum for IP


Additional speaker to be announced.





SAVE THE DATE – July 28, 2022!

Friday, July 15, 2022

FCC Proposes Rule Clarifications to Stop Gaming of the Access Charge System

On July 14, the FCC voted to adopt a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to address a new form of access stimulation arbitrage of the intercarrier compensation system that allegedly involves involving call flow IP enabled (IPES) Providers. 

Access charges are a vestige of the legacy intercarrier compensation system. As the Commission's Notice points out, access charges were intended to compensate carriers for use of their networks by other carriers. Although the rates were once cost-based and tied to normal call traffic volumes, they have since been capped. Some local carriers have exploited this by artificially stimulating terminating calls through arrangements with high-volume calling services such as "free" conference calling services and chat lines. According to the Notice, the resulting high call volumes generate revenues far in excess of costs that the access charges were designed to cover.

In its 2011 USF/ICC Transformation Order, the Commission adopted rules to stop the problem of access stimulation (also called "traffic pumping") for those terminating tandem switching and transport services that have not transitioned to bill-and-keep. (The problem was subject of a December 2010 blog post). And in 2019, the Commission updated those rules to prevent new arbitrager tactics. The update to those rules was upheld by the D.C. Circuit in 2021.

Based on input from interexchange carriers (IXCs), the Commission's Notice suggests the rules need to be clarified once more to prohibit new forms of access stimulation involving call flow IP enabled (IPES) Providers. Apparently, some IPES Providers have claimed that the Commission's Access Stimulation Rules do not apply to voice traffic that terminates to "IPES numbers." 


To address this apparent problem, the Commission's Notice states: 

[W]e propose that when traffic is delivered to an IPES Provider by a LEC or an Intermediate Access Provider and the terminating-to-originating traffic ratios of the IPES Provider exceed the triggers in the Access Stimulation Rules, the IPES Provider will be deemed to be engaged in access stimulation. In such cases, we propose that the Intermediate Access Provider would be prohibited from imposing tariffed terminating tandem switching and transport access charges on IXCs sending traffic to the IPES Provider or the IPES Provider’s end-user customer. 

To be sure, access stimulation is a complicated and even arcane subject. But there is no justification for gaming the intercarrier compensation system and sticking interexchange carriers with bogus charges. If IPES Provider-related arbitrage is taking place as alleged, then some kind of clarification of the rules by the Commission is in order. To that end, the Commission's vote to approve the Notice makes good sense.  

Thursday, July 14, 2022

House Committee Advances Bill on FCC Spectrum Auction Authority and Lower 3 GHz Band

As widely reported, on July 13 the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 52-0 to recommend passage of the Spectrum Innovation Act of 2022. The Committee approved a substitute bill rolled together a handful of spectrum-related bills that previously were introduced in the 117th Congress. This a necessary and welcome development for helping to maintain a supply of new spectrum resources for next-generation wireless services.

The FCC's authority to conduct spectrum auctions is set to expire in September of this year. Among its provisions, the Spectrum Innovation Act would extend the Commission's auction authority to March 2024. And the Act, if it becomes law, would authorize the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with other executive agencies and with the Commission, to identify at least 200 MHz in the 3.1-3.45 GHz band "for non-Federal use, shared Federal and non-Federal use, or a combination thereof." And the Commission would be authorized to conduct a competitive bidding auction for spectrum licenses in the lower 3 GHz band. 

This legislation is important for the future of wireless services and the U.S. economy. Hopefully, the House of Representatives will promptly vote on the legislation and the Senate likewise will take concerted action. 

The need to extend the Commission's spectrum auction authority and the desirability of a lower 3 GHz band auction mandate from Congress were subjects that came up during the Free State Foundation's Fourteenth Annual Policy Conference  #FSFConf14  in Washington D.C. on May 6 of this year. (Panel videos from #FSFConf14 are available here and here.) Also, a prior version of the Spectrum Innovation Act was the subject of my May 3 blog post.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

NTIA and Executive Agencies No-Show on Federal GPS Devices and L-Band

On June 30, Ligado Networks filed a quarterly report to update the FCC regarding Ligado's exchange of information with federal agency GPS users. In an April 2020 order, the Commission authorized Ligado to deploy a mixed-mobile/terrestrial satellite broadband network using long-idle L-band spectrum. The order requires that federally-owned GPS devices potentially affected by Ligado's network are to be identified and then expeditiously repaired or replaced at Ligado's expense. However, federal executive agencies do not appear to be all that concerned about signal interference, since none of them have provided Ligado with any information about at-risk GPS devices.

Ligado's report states: "Despite our numerous requests, we still have not received any information about government devices that may experience harmful interference from Ligado's operations; indeed, we have not received any information at all from these agencies." The Department of Defense and some other executive branch agencies have opposed Ligado's next-generation wireless network, claiming in the press and in filings to the FCC that new operations in the L-band would interfere with federal users in adjacent spectrum. But if federally-owned GPS devices were truly at risk of harmful interference from Ligado's next-generation network operations in neighboring L-band spectrum, one would expect those agencies to provide information identifying those devices requiring repair or replacement, consistent with the requirements of the Commission's order. 

Interestingly, NTIA seems to be in possession of the sort of information that has repeatedly been requested of it. Ligado has discovered communications between NTIA and other executive agencies from 2018 indicating that NTIA asked for and actually received information about federal GPS devices from at least some of those agencies. Adds Ligado's report: "It is unclear why NTIA has never provided this information either to Ligado or the FCC as called for in the April 2020 Order." Passing that information along would seem be a simple task. But the withholding of that data by NTIA lends further support to the idea that no federally-owned GPS devices are actually at risk of harmful interference.

Additionally, continuing radio silence by executive agencies in response to Ligado's requests for information raises doubts about NTIA's credibility in representing the executive branch on spectrum matters and in coordinating with the FCC on spectrum policy. On March 30 of this year, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson announced a new Spectrum Coordination Initiative that includes monthly meetings between the two agencies on spectrum policy and the establishment of a task force to update the agencies' memorandum of understanding (MOU) on spectrum coordination. The much-touted initiative, including an updated MOU, may yet bear fruit by facilitating a much-needed replenishment of scare spectrum resources for commercial uses, including next-gen wireless services. However, all the initiatives, agreements, and procedures for improving interagency spectrum coordination will seem like empty posturing if federal agencies refuse to cooperate with Commission orders and exchange information in good faith.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

District Court Rules That Rights-of-Way Fees on Broadband Networks Are Preempted

On June 29, a U.S. District Court determined that a 2016 city ordinance that imposed a fee for all utility services provided over the city's rights-of-way (ROW) is preempted by Section 522(7)(C) of the Communications Act, as interpreted by FCC orders. At issue in Comcast of Oregon II v. City of Beaverton, was the preemptive effect of the FCC's 2019 order that interprets the Cable Act provisions that place limits on the ability of local franchising authorities (LFAs) to impose fees on broadband services. 

The Commission's 2019 order was upheld, for the most part, by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in City of Eugene v. FCC (2021). The order contains several provisions that prohibit LFAs from collecting fees from a cable operator's provision of non-cable services such as broadband Internet access services. One such provision states: "LFAs may not lawfully impose fees for the provision of information services (such as broadband Internet access) via a franchised cable system." The prohibition on LFAs regulating non-cable services provided via cable networks is known as the "mixed-use" rule. The rule is based on Section 544(b)(1) of the Cable Act, which states that an LFA "in its request for proposals for a franchise… may establish requirements for facilities and equipment, but may not… establish requirements for video programming or other information services[.]"

The District Court determined that the City of Beaverton's 2016 ordinance "imposes a fee on Comcast's provision of broadband service, which the [2019 order] as upheld by the Sixth Circuit directly prohibits. The City's fee, therefore, is preempted under 47 U.S.C. § 556(c)." Also, the District Court rejected the City of Beaverton's argument the 2016 ordinance does not constitute a preempted fee on broadband services because the fee applies generally to all utilities using public rights of way. As the District Court recognized, the Sixth Circuit foreclosed LFA's from avoiding the Cable Act restrictions by using police powers or other sources of governmental authority to indirectly impose fees on non-cable services like broadband. The District Court wrote: "The City may not 'end-run' § 544(b)(1) by also applying the fee to other utilities that also use public rights-of-way."


The opinion in Comcast of Oregon II v. City of Beaverton addresses other issues, with a lengthy analysis accompanying the court's retroactive application of the 2019 order. In any event, what is most important is that the decision provides practical enforcement of the Commission's policy of prohibiting cost and other regulatory barriers to broadband Internet access services. The Commission's 2019 order rightly disallows the imposition of fees that would divert cable operator resources from next-generation broadband network upgrades and would put cable operators at a competitive disadvantage in the broadband services market. 


In December 2018, Free State Foundation President Randolph May and I filed reply comments with the FCC in the proceeding for its 2019 order. 

Friday, July 08, 2022

T-Mobile's CDMA Network Sunset Did Not Harm Competition

My July 7 blog post covered most of the misleading and regurgitated evidence alleged by plaintiffs in Dale v. Deutsche Telekom AG, a private antitrust lawsuit challenging the T-Mobile/Sprint merger. I left for this blog a separate discussion about one particular claim: The Dale plaintiffs claim – wrongly – that T-Mobile's early sunsetting of Sprint's CDMA network harmed competition by stifling DISH Network's chances to succeed in entering the wireless market. But rapid migration to next-generation mobile networks benefit consumers with more capacious, speedy, and reliable services.

Because that's a mouthful, let's first understand the facts. As a condition of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger, the DOJ Antitrust Division required T-Mobile to spin off Sprint's largest mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) brand, Boost Mobile, to DISH. The purpose of this spinoff was to facilitate DISH's entry into the mobile broadband market. Combining the acquired MVNO brand with its own network infrastructure potentially would enable DISH to take Sprint's place as the fourth largest facilities-based mobile broadband provider. Boost Mobile had roughly 9.3 million subscribers at the time the merger consummated, so transferring it to DISH gave DISH a pool of customers to kickstart its business.
Most of Boost Mobile's customers relied on Sprint's antiquated CDMA network, an inferior legacy technology inadequate for the provisioning of 5G service. Sprint's continued reliance on CDMA technology is one of the many reasons it struggled as a company. CDMA is incompatible with "GSM," the higher quality network technology used by T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon. Some former Sprint customers and most of Boost Mobile's customers had old CDMA-only devices that could not connect to GSM networks. Upon the CDMA network sunset, these devices would become useless for those customers, and those customers would need to buy new phones to continue receiving service. In other words, Boost Mobile customers were hemmed in by Sprint's prior bad business decision in selecting CDMA technology that was finally facing its demise.

But as Free State Foundation Director of Policy Studies Seth Cooper explained in an August 2021 Perspectives from FSF Scholars, T-Mobile's choice to sunset the 3G CDMA network it acquired improved mobile broadband service quality for nearly every T-Mobile customer. Knowing this result would be likely, the FCC's 2019 order approving the T-Mobile/Sprint merger declined to require T-Mobile to continue CDMA network operations. Notably, T-Mobile or Boost customers would enjoy the benefits of the network sunset if they upgraded their devices.

Enter the Dale complaint. The Dale plaintiffs allege that T-Mobile sunset its CDMA network earlier than it previously indicated to sabotage DISH's chances at successfully entering the mobile broadband market. In their view, the CDMA sunset forced the customers DISH acquired from Boost Mobile to buy new devices, making them highly vulnerable to "churn" or "switching" to another provider. With DISH then hemorrhaging customers, its revenues would sink and its costs would increase, making it more difficult to construct a nationwide 5G network. And this supposedly would make T-Mobile's settlement commitments to sell network services to DISH meaningless, because DISH's mobile business would quickly lose its customers, making it dead-on-arrival. The complaint then points to the fact that DISH cut an eventual network services agreement with AT&T instead of T-Mobile as more evidence of T-Mobile harming competition.

But the Dale claimants ignores two critical facts. First, the terms of DISH's network usage agreement with AT&T appear to be better than its original agreement with T-Mobile. The contract with AT&T is for a duration of 10 years, while T-Mobile's agreement with DISH is for a duration of 7 years. And the deal does not appear to have increased costs for DISH. The Dale plaintiffs might contend that, even if DISH got a better deal with AT&T, T-Mobile's CDMA sunset still harmed competition by rendering DISH customers' devices useless because AT&T does not have an active CDMA network.

That hypothetical criticism would fall short because of the second critical fact. T-Mobile and DISH resolved their dispute over the CDMA sunset and inked a new, lower-priced network services agreement in which T-Mobile agreed to assist with transitioning Boost Mobile customers to GSM-capable devices. Thus, even if upgrading to next-gen mobile network technology could be conceived as cognizable consumer harm, T-Mobile's agreement with DISH alleviated that harm. Indeed, T-Mobile's CDMA sunset improved mobile broadband service for virtually every customer, likewise increasing network quality competition.

In view of the facts, the complaint in Dale shows an absence of harm and a benefit to consumers. Antitrust claims with no harm and real benefits to consumers are not viable.

Antitrust law is supposed to protect competition, not competitors. Yet far too often, the crux of arguments made by antitrust claimants is harm to particular competitors. Of course, certain types of harm to particular competitors can harm competition, if there is evidence that it leads to market price increases and output reductions. But in this case, harm is nowhere near clear given the pro-competitive benefits from sunsetting legacy technologies and expanding next-generation technologies.

Under the Dale plaintiffs' ideal version of competition, T-Mobile's network infrastructure and financial resources would have been conscripted to maintain an outdated technology to the advantage of a competitor. This would have slowed 5G network deployment and made T-Mobile customers worse off. The plaintiffs in Dale should have difficulty in convincing a court to side with claims that are based on such a skewed view of competition.

Realizing the benefits of next-gen networks requires that old legacy technologies be timely sunset. For the good of consumers, 5G networks have rapidly been deployed across the U.S. DISH still has a shot to become the fourth nationwide facilities-based 5G provider, and its recent announcement that its 5G network is available to more than 20% of the US population indicates that it may be on pace.

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Misleading Evidence in Private Antitrust Suit Against T-Mobile/Sprint Merger

Dale v. Deutsche Telekom AG, a recent class action antitrust lawsuit filed in the Northern District of Illinois, alleges that the T-Mobile/Sprint merger harmed consumers by causing price increases. The Dale complaint largely rehashes arguments brought by state attorneys general that Judge Victor Marrero rejected back in 2020, but it also hangs its hat on new misleading evidence: the claim that the Consumer Price Index's "quality-controlled prices" for wireless telephone services have increased since the consummation of the merger.

The problem with that argument is that the CPI's "quality-controlled prices" do not control for quality improvements brought by 5G service.

Currently, the CPI records changes in wireless telephone plans from 4G networks to 5G networks, but does not quality adjust for these changes. The CPI continues to observe the changes in customer access of 5G networks to determine if quality differences can be quantified.

So, the tiny price increases that the CPI measured in late 2020 do not account for the increased quality brought by 5G service. That's a serious problem for the plaintiffs in Dale, because one of the reasons Judge Marrero approved the T-Mobile/Sprint merger was that he found it likely to expedite the rollout of 5G service. To that point, he seems vindicated, as OpenSignal's periodic "5G Report" repeatedly has found that T-Mobile's 5G network is delivering on its commitments and has improved on its past performance levels. So, if the CPI actually adjusted for improved quality from 5G service, it might not show price increases at all.

As a matter of antitrust law, it would be strange to find that the company with the highest-performing and continually improving network is suppressing competition. And as a reminder, antitrust law does not prevent businesses from increasing prices for improved service.

Also, since a brief small spike in late 2020, wireless prices have resumed their downward trend, and are nearing their all-time low on the CPI. Likewise, wireless telephone services are one of the only goods or services measured by the CPI currently decreasing in nominal price despite 40-year-high inflation. As I wrote in May, wireless telephone prices decreased by .7% between April 2021 and April 2022. Inflation during that period was 8.3%, so during the same time, real wireless prices decreased by 9%.

Evidence of improved 5G service quality, recent wireless price decreases, and additional evidence of increasing broadband competition – all of which Free State Foundation scholars included in their 2022 Communications Marketplace Report comments – will be hard for the Dale plaintiffs to overcome.

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Study Finds Fixed Broadband Adoption and Speed Increases Spur Economic Growth

A study released in June 2022 titled "The Contribution of Fixed Broadband to the Economic Growth of the United States Between 2010 and 2020" found that fixed broadband adoption and higher speeds have spurred economic growth and benefitted consumers. 

As observed in the Telecom Advisory Services' study – authored by Raul Katz and Juan Jung of Telecom Advisory Services, LLC – the U.S. economy grew at an average annual rate of 3.3% between 2010 and 2020. Households with fixed broadband average download speeds of at least 25 Mbps grew from less than 1% in 2010 to over 65% in 2019. As a result, fixed average download speeds rose from about 10 Mbps in 2010 to about 174 Mbps in 2020. The study sought to isolate the contributions of those developments in broadband adoption and speeds to the growth of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) over ten years.

Notably, the Telecom Advisory Services study found that fixed broadband adoption drove nearly 11% of the accumulated growth in U.S. GPD, with speed improvement contributing an additional 11.5%. According to the study, "if broadband adoption and speeds had remained at 2010 levels, in 2020 the US GDP would have been $1.3 trillion lower ($19.6 trillion, rather than $20.9 trillion). This is equivalent to almost $4,000 annual dollars less for the average American." Additionally, as a result of fixed broadband infrastructure deployments and speed increases, "consumers receive[d] a surplus linked to the fulfillment of a whole new range of applications in the areas of communications, entertainment and information." The study found that "[a]ggregated consumer surplus at the national level increased to over $186 billion in 2020 (up from $81.6 billion in 2010) as a result of increased connectivity," and an additional $186.2 billon of consumer surplus was realized through fixed broadband speed increases.  

Importantly, fixed broadband deployment and fixed broadband speeds also have improved since the end of 2019. Data points showing increased access to broadband services over the last two years, including fiber services, are summarized in the Free State Foundation's July 1 comments to the FCC for its 2022 Communications Marketplace Report proceeding. The comments are available at FSF's website

Saturday, July 02, 2022

Independence Day 2022

For this Independence Day message, my sixteenth consecutive one, I want to turn to Calvin Coolidge. It may be true that Calvin Coolidge was no Thomas Jefferson. But it is also true that Coolidge, our 30th President, is greatly underappreciated.

Coolidge was a small-government conservative. Alfred E. Smith, the Democratic nominee for President in 1928, said of Coolidge: "He was distinguished more for character than for heroic achievement" and that "his great task was to restore the dignity and prestige of the Presidency" after the scandals of the Warren Harding era. If you want to learn more, one of the best biographies is simply titled "Coolidge" by Amity Shlaes.

Coolidge acquired the nickname "Silent Cal." Upon learning of his death, writer Dorothy Parker remarked wittingly, if not somewhat cruelly, "How can they tell?"

Indeed, President Coolidge, a man with a dry sense of humor, said little that was superfluous. His address in Philadelphia on July 5, 1926, on the occasion of the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration, was anything but superfluous. Titled "The Inspiration of the Declaration of Independence," the speech deserves to be more widely read and appreciated.

While I commend Coolidge's address to you in its entirety, here are some excerpts especially worth considering this Independence Day:

"It is not so much, then, for the purpose of undertaking to proclaim new theories and principles that this annual celebration is maintained, but rather to reaffirm and reestablish those old theories and principles which time and the unerring logic of events have demonstrated to be sound. Amid all the clash of conflicting interests, amid all the welter of partisan politics, every American can turn for solace and consolation to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States with the assurance and confidence that those two great charters of freedom and justice remain firm and unshaken. Whatever perils appear, whatever dangers threaten, the Nation remains secure in the knowledge that the ultimate application of the law of the land will provide an adequate defense and protection."

"It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history. Great ideas do not burst upon the world unannounced. They are reached by a gradual development over a length of time usually proportionate to their importance. This is especially true of the principles laid down in the Declaration of Independence. Three very definite propositions were set out in its preamble regarding the nature of mankind and therefore of government. These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed."

"It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people."

For words worth considering this Independence Day – and, for that matter, every day – there is no need to attempt to improve on Silent Cal's.

Best wishes to you and your family for a safe and meaningful Independence Day 2022!





My previous Independence Day messages are here: 200720082009201020112012201320142015,  201620172018, 2019, 2020, and 2021.