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[ NNSquad ] The First Amendment for sale for $39 billion dollars plus a tax on innovation
Itâs frustrating to see that cellular answer to competition is to squash it and divvy up the customers among themselves without an effective alternative.
In ATT's explanation for why they had to buy T-Mobile one of the rationales is that there is not enough of that âspectrumâ to go around. Yet UMA and the use of Wi-Fi for roaming put a lie to this claim. Instead they are going to pay big bucks for redundancy rather creating an abundant commons.
This is all predicated on the presumption that we have scarcity created by the use of spectrum as a means of allocating "wireless" space. We know that this was a fundamental error and that the exception granted to First Amendment rights is no longer justified. Yet the triumvirate of players form an effective monopoly which can force me to pay for their profligate spending.
This purchase removes the last pretense of mobility among cellular carriers in the US. You have to pay hundreds of dollars rather than just change your GSM SIM card. The competition between carriers was fairly weak but now it is effectively gone.
What till it take to make this a First Amendment issue? It's bad enough as a monopoly issue but it's really about the First Amendment and a 1920's decision to compromise it.
T-Mobile did offer a real alternative even if still within cellular. If you buy your own phone you can get a lower cost plan that doesnât bundle in a loan repayment fee. With the other carriers not only are you forced to pay for a loan you never got, you can never ever pay it off.
Without mobility between carriers there is an effective monopoly. While it make sense to buy your own phone on T-Mobile, it makes far less sense with the other carriers because you are paying for the loan anyway. Today the silos have replaced the old trusts. Appleâs has what I call its iCology which allows them to get a cut of all commerce on their platform â the very dream ATT had when it bought Continental Cablevision only to discover that it couldnât own the Web. But the cellular carriers can own our very ability to communicate among ourselves and demand a tithe for bits and, in the case of Apple, innovation.