FCC Chairman's Open-Market Rhetoric Is A Sham

F.C.C. Chairman Kevin Martin, a true believer in letting big business consolidate however and whenever it pleases, has delivered what history will judge to be one of the most disingenous speeches ever before the CTIA wireless industry group.Martin praised himself and his fellow fat cats for guaranteeing "openness" in the wireless business. Does this man live in the same country as the rest of us?

Martin is correct in noting that the wireless subscriber base has grown dramatically. Unfortunately, he neglects to realize that a handful of wireless carriers offering the same subscription options for the same price over closed networks of dubious quality neither benefits the 242 million consumers he purports to represent nor validates the "free market" he so robustly embraces. Anyone traveling to Europe and Asia can only marvel at how pathetically backward U.S. wireless pricing, bundling, quality,and applications are in comparison. That's because the FCC under Martin shirks any attempt at real regulation and closes the networks off to developers and other service and solution providers, guaranteeing high profits to the lucky, select few that operate in Martin's closed universe. That's his idea of an open market, and the rest of us suffer greatly because of it.

The fact that Martin spoke out again against Skype's year-old petition to require existing operators to open their networks to other developers, handset-makers and service providers like Skype indicates he remains a handmaiden to the business interests that pushed for his appointment. Martin's FCC majority -- and guess what political party they represent? -- has repeatedly turned a blind eye to broadcast media consolidation in the U.S. That partisan majority also endorses a closed Internet that benefits a select few. Now, Martin is preparing to empower the telecom industry's existing hierarchy to crush smaller competitors. Although Martin is stupendously misguided, he's certainly consistent.


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