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Thursday, June 3, 2004

Tech Central's Catch Me If You Can
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Maybe the folks who run the Tech Central website really don't even think about what they write anymore, at least with respect to telecom. In the interest of honesty, they ought to at least attach a footnote to their tag line "Where Free Markets Meet Technology". The footnote: "Except with regard to telecom where we favor regulated markets over free ones."

Responding to Tech Central's constant stream of increasingly harsh rhetoric would be a full time job, and a boring one at that, that only a masochist would undertake. Take the piece "Telecom's Catch 22" that was published today by Duane Freese. The only catch is that it is inaccurate.

Take just a couple of examples of mischaracterization that apear in the short piece purportedly setting up the legal "Catch 22". Freese says that the Supreme Court in Trinko "said that the antitrust laws don't apply to telecom because of the 1996 act." Wrong. What the court said is this: "But just as the 1996 Act preserves claims that satisfy existing antitrust standards, it does not go beyond existing antitrust standards...." Precisely contrary to Freese's claim.

Take the characterization of the USTA I decision. Freese asserts that the court held that UNE rates must be set "locality by locality". Of course, it did no such thing. It held that the FCC had not explained adequately why it used a national list of UNEs and should look to a more "granular" approach. The court certainly did not say that the FCC should delegate the ultimate decisionmaking authority regarding the scope of available UNEs to state commissions.

Oh yes. Freese's piece contains the obligatory incantation, referring to the "raw monopoly power" of the Bells.

Do these guys that claim to hang out "where free markets meet technology" have any idea of what's going on in the real world with wireless competition, VoIP competition, cable telephony competition, and the like? I think they really do--but choose to close their eyes.

Here's what last quarter's No. 1 Wall Street Journal telecom analyst, Vik Grover of Needham & Co., said as reported in the May 17 edition: "Large regional phone companies are suffering from so much competition and change in technology that their business model is no longer viable." WSJ, May 17, subscription required.

Raw monopoly power? Who are do these Tech Central folks think they are kidding?

The TC communications commentators may suppose they are constructing elaborate Catch 22s. But I think they are playing a game of "Catch me if you can"!

posted by Randolph May @ 5:41 PM | General

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