I was up on Capitol Hill this morning covering the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on wireless issues and Senator Klobuchar’s bill. I’ve cooked up some thoughts on that issue before. However, I wanted to throw some related and other thoughts for you all to chew on…
Best Opening Statement this morning - Senator Jim DeMint (South Carolina) asking colleagues on the Committee why they would want to regulate an industry that is thriving and delivering for consumers. DeMint went on to discuss how he receives plenty of complaints regarding how the Government handles passports, food stamps, social security benefits, veterans’ benefits etc. Accordingly, he asked “what problems for America’s wireless consumers require the resources of Congress and the bureaucrats at the FCC to solve?”
Odd Statement this morning – Senator McCaskill (Missouri) has strong opinions about the “line-standing” business and will offer a bill to end this practice. In the District of Communications, if there is a hearing with high demand, many businesses will hire a line-stander so that they can cover the hearing. Our firm somtimes will utilize these services. I have a solution – stream all of the hearings online. I prefer to watch them in the office.
Best interaction of the hearing (Senator Klobuchar and Mr. McAdam, CEO, Verizon Wireless) - Bear with me as I set the stage – Senator Klobuchar discussing service quality issues and wanting carriers to report dropped calls to the FCC. Mr. McAdam took the time to discuss that there are a number of factors that affect service quality and mentioned that the type of device also can be part of the equation. He mentioned the Motorola Razr as an example of a phone that consumers wanted but due to the slim design may experience more problems…. McAdam brought up a California bill that would mandate that the CPUC approve devices to check service quality. Ms. Klobuchar fired back that “her bill didn’t do that.” Mr. McAdam let her know that her bill allows state law to preempt federal rules (last section of her bill – section 12 Preemption).
Wireless Broadband Deployment Act – Senator Pryor (Arkansas) has offered a bill that will eliminate any ambiguity of the current wireless rules and proposes one wireless framework to prevent promulgation of a patchwork of different state laws. Senator Pryor’s bill will help smaller regional carriers compete with the large national carriers (a small regional carrier trying to deal with 8 different state laws does not help them compete). It will also ignite the industry (less complexity and certainty in the regs= investment) forward. Analogous to what occurred in 1993 when Congress applied a light regulatory touch to wireless. On a related note, this is the same bill which passed the Senate Commerce Committee with bipartisan support (15-7) in the 109th Congress.
Off Topic – Today’s Roll Call (subscription) reports that a former Senator (who is now a lobbyist) was on the Senate floor while the Senate was considering an appropriations bill. A clear violation of the rules that Congress recently passed. Senator DeMint’s quote from the article – “most of the ethics bill is eyewash and window dressing.”
What are YOUR thoughts?
Dish Disclosure – CTIA – the Wireless Association is a client…