My Insanely Long Field Guide To The Verizon/SpectrumCo/Cox Deal.

The more I look, poke and prod at the VZ/SpectrumCo/Cox deal the more convinced I am that this becomes one of the defining moments in telecom for 2012 – possibly for the foreseeable future. If AT&T/T-Mo represented the last stand for traditional antitrust , VZ/SpectrumCo represents the new frontier. Where AT&T was a frontal assault on antitrust by accumulating marketshare and spectrum, this hits antitrust up its blind side with collaborative agreements and fundamental questions about when can competitors decide to abandon entire markets to one another. Just about everything single issue in telecom – spectrum aggregation, video distribution, the nature of competition in the age of convergence, the interaction of antitrust and patent technology —  all come together in one package so amazingly complicated and wonky that average Americans will fall asleep while you explain it to them.

So, with the help of some incredibly lame innuendos to spice things up a bit, I attempt to explain below . . . . .

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Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen — another economical reposting

Don’t know why I’ve fallen into a Wetmachine non-posting funk; trying hard to get back in the swing of things. But even though I haven’t posted anything in a month or so, I’ll be Dang-blasted if I’ll let St. Urhu’s day go uncelebrated here. Attention must be paid, after all.

I don’t think I can say it any better than I did last year, (or the year before. . .) so without further ado, our best Wetmechanical salute to brave St. Urhu, who drove the grasshoppers from Finland, the land of my (some of) my fathers. And mothers.

Grasshopper, Grasshopper, buzz off why don’t ya?

That special time of year, when St. Urhu’s day elides into the name-day of St. Padraic, is again upon us. Longtime readers know that here at Wetmachine we have a special place in our hearts for this great Finno-Irish-American festival–mainly on account of I started this site and I’m a Finno-Irish American, of which there ain’t too damn many offer dere, as my late Grandfather “Pop” used to say.


Ode to Saint Urho

Ooksie kooksi coolama vee – Santia Urho is ta poy for me!

He sase out ta hoppers as pig as pirds – Neffer peefor haff I hurd tose words!

He reely tolt tose pugs of kreen – Braffest Finn I effer seen!

Some celebrate for St. Pat unt hiss nakes – Putt Urho poyka kot what it takes.

He kot tall and trong from feelia sour – Unt ate kala moyakka effery hour.

Tat’s why tat kuy could sase toes peetles – What krew as thick as chack bine neetles.

So let’s give a cheer in hower pest vay – On Sixteenth March, St. Urho’s Tay!

P.S. The Irish, sure, will take care o’ temselves on the morrow; of that I’ve do doubt.

Spectrum Efficiency v. Competition Part II: Why Do Verizon and AT&T Keep Ending Up With All The Spectrum?

Recently, I talked about the tension between spectrum efficiency and competition policy in auctions.  Briefly, for reasons I will elaborate below, the largest wireless providers (AT&T and Verizon) can extract more value out of a wireless license than their significantly smaller rivals (especially when we include the foreclosure value of keeping the license out of the hands of competitors). As a result, we should expect over time that the biggest wireless companies will eventually have an unbeatable edge in wireless capacity unless the FCC takes some measures to balance out the spectrum holdings.

Not surprisingly, the same problem surfaces when companies buy spectrum licenses from each other.  After all, a license transfer is essentially a private auction (only with less transparency and higher transaction cost – factors that work in favor of the largest companies). We should therefore expect to see the same tension around spectrum efficiency and concern for competition policy play out in license transfers.

Two recent transactions put these concerns in stark relief: AT&T’s recent acquisition of spectrum from Qualcomm and Verizon’s proposed  acquisition of licenses from Spectrumco. Both cases arguably represent an improvement in spectrum efficiency by moving the licenses from those who were ultimately unable (or unwilling) to use them efficiently to those able to pay the most for them (and therefore, presumably, extract the greatest value). At the same time, however, the transfers aggravate the existing spectrum imbalance between the largest wireless providers and competitors.

I explore the trade offs posed by these transactions, and discuss how they are essentially another version of the same spectrum efficiency v. competition policy I discussed in auctions, below . . .

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