Phone Number Stability And The Neustar-Telcordia Fight, Why The NANC Meeting Makes Me Nervous.

[Unrelated Wetmachine Update: We now have email alerts back. You can also follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. Never miss another extremely dense, wonky telecom blog post again! We now return to our actual content.]

I confess I have become something of a nervous Nellie about telephone numbers.


Boring, humdrum, 10-digit numbers that sit at the base of the telephone system. Most of us never think about how they work. But we rely on them for a Hell of a lot. Contrary to popular belief, what defines the “public switched network” (PSTN) is not a particular technology or means of transmission, but the use of phone numbers in the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) (47 C.F.R. 20.3).


Which is why I worry about the upcoming meeting of the North American Numbering Council (NANC) on Thursday. Folks expect that the NANC will address the the current fight between Neustar and Telcordia (now owned by Erickson) to become (or remain) the Local Number Portability Administrator (LNPA) when the current contract with Neustar runs out in 2015. While no one without a financial stake in the outcome (outside a handful of wonks obsessed with phone numbers) has followed this much, the possibility that we may create a destabilizing tug of war around the maintenance of phone numbers during the IP Transition gives me serious tummy queasies when I think about it.


At the same time, I recognize that any delay ends up favoring the current incumbent LNPA (Neustar) and that as a pro-competition guy I would like to see Telcordia give Neustar a run for the money and not get subjected to endless delays.


But . . . . tummy queasies! Possible meltdown of the phone system and stuff.


Details below . . .


Continue reading

Email Updates Are Back!

So, not only do we have working RSS feeds (which is pretty surprising, since I didn’t know I fixed them… I guess I must have been sleep admin’ing again…) we also have the ability to send out email alerts for new posts!

To get Wetmachine email:

  • If you are already logged into a Wetmachine account (or you’ve logged in using Twitter, Facebook, or other popular social media sites), just go on over to your Profile page and click the Subscribe2 link (or just use this direct link). From here, you can choose which posts will be emailed to you, and what format they are in.
  • If you have an account and you’re not logged in, go here to fix that.
  • Don’t have an account? Register for one or log in using a social media account.
  • Don’t want all of this account nonsense? Just use the link in the right-hand column (or [subscribe2 link=’this link right here’]) to just enter your email address. You’ll get alerts for all posts on Wetmachine, and you’ll just get them in plain text.
  • Is even that too invasive? Don’t trust us with your email address? Well… uh… we have the RSS feeds.

Note that we won’t try to reinstate people who used to get email updates before. Many of these addresses are probably no longer valid. Plus, we prefer to have you opt-in again rather than potentially annoying you all with unwanted mail.

Our RSS Feed Is Back!

A number of folks have asked me for awhile what happened to our RSS feed. I recognize that because we post infrequently here (damn you, life, for getting in the way of my blogging!) having an RSS feed really helps people to know when we’ve added something.

The answer is that Wetmachine is kept going on the technical side by the voluntary efforts of Gary Gray and John Sundman. Because of various problems, we needed to migrate Wetmachine awhile ago from one hosting company to another and make various other changes. As a result, the RSS plug in we were using broke. Making sure the site actually worked and stayed up and running took priority over finding a new RSS plug in, and it took Gary awhile to find a plug in that would work with the new site.

In any event, thanks to Gary’s hard work, you can now once again ensure that you will never miss another article by following the side bar on the right down to the RSS button. Please do. Also, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter, because Lord knows you can now follow individual air molecules on Facebook and Twitter.


Stay tuned . . . .





Few thing are sacred here at Wetmachine, but St. Urho-Patrick’s day(s) is one of them.

Alas tis true, as my dwindling parish of Wetmachine readers well knows, all two of you, that I’ve sadly neglected my home site here at Wetmachine over the last few years. The reasons for this neglect are many and various, and mostly bullshit. So I’m not going to go into them because I’ll just confuse & piss off my own self. I do feel bad that I’ve posted here so seldom in recent years (and grateful to my fellow Wetmechanics who’ve kept the lights on & the water bill paid in my absence). But I shan’t promise to post more, although that’s my intention, inasmuch as I’ve made similar promises before and broken them, which is kind of debilitating to me, even if nobody else notices. BUT ENOUGH OF THIS NAVEL-NOODLING, WE’RE HERE TO TALK UHRO.

Now listen, I’m not going to educate y’all about blessed St. Urho; that’s why God created the Internet & its idiot bastard offspring Google (google), Microsoft (bing), and Yahoo (who cares) (and too-also its not so idiot nor illegitimate stepchild DuckDuckGo); that is, so you can look St. Urho up yourself. I’m only going point out that March 16 is, by longstanding (all the way back to the 1950’s) tradition, St. Urho’s Day, dear to Finnish-Americans everywhere, and March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day, dear to Irish Americans almost everywhere (although not so much in places where people have gotten sick of all the St. Patrick’s day bullshit, another tale altogether).

Wherefore thus obviously to people like myself of Finnish-Irish heritage (with a minor in Swedish-Scottish), this name-day pairing is doubly sacred. As in, “make it a double”. Or, as I said in an earlier and somewhat more eloquent post a few years back before my brains went on vacation,


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.



Wherefore let it be known that the logical Urho-Padraic menorah was lighted this year at Wetmachine. Selah.

A Guide To The Mechanics of the Comcast/TWC Deal. Part IV: Congress, The White House And The Public.

If you read most of the reporting on the Comcast/TWC deal, you would think that Congress and the White House play a huge role. In reality, as I alluded to in the Part I intro, not so much. The political stuff tends to get over-reported in part because it’s easier (it took me about 3000 words just to explain how the antitrust and the FCC review work never mind any actual reporting), and in part because everyone assumes that Washington is a corrupt cesspit where politics invariably determine outcomes.


As always, while the political matters, it plays a much more complicated role in the mix. Below, I will unpack how the political pieces (including public input) play into the actual legal and merits analysis. Again, keep in mind that I’m not talking about merits here. I’m just trying to explain how the process works so people can keep track over the course of the merger review (which will last a minimum of 6 months and may well run for more than a year).


Political details below . . . .

Continue reading

A Guide To The Mechanics of the Comcast/TWC Deal. Part III: The Federal Communications Commission.

In Part II, I described how the Department of Justice will conduct its antitrust review of the Comcast/TWC. Here, I describe how the Federal Communications Commission will conduct its review under the Communications Act. While the FCC and the DoJ will coordinate their reviews and work together, the two agencies have very different procedures and operate under very different legal standards. (For those wondering why, you can see this article I wrote on the subject about 15 years ago.)


Details on FCC process below . . .

Continue reading

A Guide to The Mechanics of the Comcast/TWC Deal. Part II: Antitrust Review

In Part I, I gave a general overview of the regulatory review process for the Comcast/TWC Deal. In Part II, I describe how the antitrust review works (which, in this case, will be conducted by the Department of Justice Antitrust Division). Keep in mind I am not discussing any of the arguments on the merits. I’m just trying to give people a sense of how the process will work and where they can weigh in if they feel so inclined.

Part III will address the review by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under the Communications Act.  Part IV will talk about Congress, the White House and the public.


Antitrust process described below . . .


Continue reading

A Guide To The Mechanics of the Comcast/TWC Deal. Part I: Introduction

Those unfamiliar with how the merger review process works will want to know what happens next in the Comcast purchase of Time Warner Cable (TWC). In this 4 part series, I sketch out how the application will proceed and what role Congress plays in all this. I’m going to save for another time the arguments on the merits and what the likelihood is of blocking the deal (or getting stronger conditions than Comcast/TWC have already put on the table). I intend this simply as mechanical guide so that folks playing at home can follow the action, and weigh in as they see fit.

Continue reading