Friday, July 22, 2011

The Academics’ Blessing and Curse

            One of the true joys available to academics is having the time to stay current on the literature.  Particularly during the summer I read many law review articles, FCC and court decisions, books and sponsored research.  I’m rethinking the wisdom in devoting time to separate the plausible from absolute falsity in sponsored research.  I get so agitated and motivated to fire up a rebuttal to set the record straight.  And just who will find about such work, much less read it?
            Of course a rather obscure academic like me has little chance of getting much of a forum.  I don’t have a deep pocketed benefactor underwriting a campaign to get my work prominently displayed, cited, quoted and believed.  All I can offer to anyone who finds out about me is a fair minded assessment of the situation with an eye toward finding facts and detecting falsity.  So when three prominent researchers tell the world how competitive the wireless marketplace is I have to read their work.
            Recently I am told that significant market entry stands as a major reason to conclude how competitive the wireless marketplace is.  The authors identify the following carriers as proof positive that the Big Four national carriers, with 92% market share, face a robustly competitive market: Clearwire, Leap, MetroPCS, LightSquared and the super regional carriers like U.S. Cellular, Cellular South, and Atlantic TeleNetwork.
            At first blush I thought that the claim of spectrum scarcity must be bogus what with all of these presumably new carriers. But examine the list closely and first ask which of these carriers acquired new spectrum and new licenses say in the last four years.  Answer: two,; Clearwire and Lightsquared.  Then ask which of these two new carriers provide commercial service right now?  Answer: one, Clearwire.  Finally ask whether Clearwire offers a competitive alternative to what commercial mobile radio service operators offer?  Answer: It depends.  If you are looking for a Clearwire smartphone to make and receive both telephone and Internet calls, Clearwire does not deliver.  Clearwire works primarily with lap top computers equipped with a USB dongle providing a wireless tether.
            Of course the authors of this particular sponsored research know this.  But what’s wrong with interpreting the facts a tad differently?  For me the answer is: a lot!  But even with a largely free summer it is absolutely foolish of me to attempt to set the record straight when the process all but guarantees that my work will get ignored.

1 comment:

chris said...

Well, I read it and get informed - so it's certainly a public service! Keep up the good work.