The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled a hearing on the 700 MHz Auction. “The 700 MHz Auction: Public Safety and Competition Issues,” will take place on Thursday June 14 at 10 a.m. in the Senate Russell Bldg (come early if you want a seat, or hire a professional.
We can expect the usual panoply of industry representatives and, with the Democrats back in charge, possibly a public advocate or two. But the real question remains whether the Senate (and their colleagues in the House) will listen to the more than 250,000 Americans who have already told the FCC they are tired of business as usual.
The incumbents keep repeating to anyone who will listen that consumers live in a competitive nirvana with so much gosh-darned innovation and such incredibly low prices that the only thing they have to complain about is how good they have it. Hah hah! Amazingly, however, whenever the people actually get a chance to express their opinion, they don't sound overwhelmed with joy. To the contrary, especially when compared to what folks in other countries have, people say they feel overcharged and underserved by an increasingly concentrated market.
So keep a carefull eye on the Senate Hearing next week. We'll know by the opening statements and the questions that ask whether memebrs of Congress can hear the growing outcry from their constituents over the happy chorus of incumbents singing paens of praise to deregulation. If the Senators ask the incumbents why are customers feeling so frustrated with their providers, why do prices keep going up, and why can't our wireless subscribers do one tenth the things they can do with cellphones in Asia, then we'll know that — to borrow a catch phrase — they can hear us now. On the other hand, if the opening statements and the questions put to witnesses sound like hymns to the Gods of the Market Place and warn the FCC not to “pick winners” and not to “burden with undue regulation” this “fiercely competitive marketplace,” then we will know we need to pump up the volume.