No Naked DSL for You

FCC today announced that states cannot force phone operators to offer naked DSL service. Naked DSL, in case you did not know, is a phone line that is purely used for a DSL connection, and carriers no voice or no voice related charges. This ruling makes absolute sense because you cannot have 50 states making different rules.

Kevin Werbach thinks this the end of broadband service, and sees sinister shadows.

The FCC ruling makes broadband an extension of phone service, rather than the reverse. It ties the data applications of the future to the anchor of the public switched telephone network. That’s perverse. Voice is the application, not connectivity. We’ll never have real competition if the incumbents get paid even when customers want to switch to a competitor.

Blame it on TGI Friday cheer but I am not that despondent. The competition he talks about is as dead as the disastrous Telecom Act of 1996. Time to live with the harsh reality of capitalism. There maybe no competition on the copper line side, there cable. As Mike Masnick points out,

These telcos still don’t seem to realize that the only thing they’re doing is making cable modems look more attractive than DSL for anyone who doesn’t want a local phone line, but would prefer a mobile phone or VoIP.

I cherish the idea of two 500 pound sumo wrestlers trying to rip each others guts out. Cable and Bell battles will be equally entertaining.

Where I think FCC has failed us, is in articulating a national level policy which should mandate that pure DSL services should be made available. Phone companies should look at car companies for a cue – you can get a Honda sans all the trimmings or you can get it fully loaded. Phone operators, similarly should offer a pure DSL line for those who want (Qwest’s adoption rate shows that there aren’t too many!) and fully loaded packages to those who want the convenience. This is going to make for happy customers.