[arin-ppml] IPv6 Heretic thoughts

Milton L Mueller mueller at syr.edu
Sat Sep 6 23:03:40 EDT 2008

> -----Original Message-----
> It is largely for these reasons that I don't support a transfer
> For one, I'm not all convinced that the radio spectrum auctions have
> actually proven to be good.

You're comparing market allocation of a scarce resource to some
idealized - and nonexistent - alternative, an alternative in which it is
assumed that somehow everything miraculously works just the way you
think it ought to. 

What you have to do is compare transfers (or spectrum auctions) with the
REAL policies and practices that preceded them, or that are feasible
alternatives to them. 

The alternative in many spectrum cases were "beauty contests," a.k.a.
comparative hearings, in which applicants hired tons of lawyers and
poured all kinds of flashy documents into an administrative docket and
relentlessly lobbied commissioners and staffers. It was ridiculous and
the FCC knew it. Do you think it was cheap? Do you think it was fair and
unbiased? Do you think anyone could play on equal terms? Wrong.

Can you explain to me why the powerful, wealthy and wired Washington
incumbents "with the most money", such as the broadcasters and Motorola,
were the ones who strongly opposed auctions? Answer was obvious to
anyone in the situation: they knew they had the political clout to get
what they wanted out of the DC machine - for free. The massive spectrum
grant to broadcasters during the DTV transition being a case in point.

The basic fallacy underlying your position is that you are still
comparing contention for a scarce resource with the prior situation, in
which there was RIR allocation of a non-scarce resource. Well, sure, if
a resource isn't scarce it doesn't make a lot of sense to have a
competitive bid for it. But it is scarce. Define a policy that handles
that scarcity, one that works for at least a decade, maybe two. Make a
credible case that it works better than the simple expedient of allowing
party A to transfer unneeded addresses to party B who needs them. Don't
duck the question by talking about IPv6, or by yearning for the good old
days before scarcity existed. Don't try to tell me that organizations
are suddenly going to willingly surrender any address resources they
don't need. Tell me how you will handle that. I'm genuinely interested,
because I've heard a lot of negative comments about markets but not a
whisper about superior methods for handling the address scarcity. 

> Sure, the companies with the most bucks won
> and the government got billions, but some of the deployments have not
> been so smooth. In some cases the cost of buying the spectrum has
> hampered the business case for the network, either by driving up the
> consumer costs (after all, it's the end user who pays for all business

So how would you have decided to allocate/assign this spectrum? Cuz if
you say "comparative hearings" I'll respond that it simply was not a
viable option given the scope and scale of the allocations that needed
to be made, and that the contention would have resulted in bribery and
corruption, and discriminatory decisions.

And if you say "lotteries" I'll remind you of the cellular fiasco of the
early 1980s. 

Perhaps you'd say something like, "some very wise people should give the
scarce resource to the very best and most deserving applicants." And of
course that assumes away the whole problem. 

> To put it simply. I hate derivative markets.

...Which tells me that either you're being rhetorical or that you don't
know what a derivative market is. Paying for IP addresses is not a
derivative market or anything close to it. It is no different than
paying for routers or bidding for the best technical people. IP
addresses are an input to the provision of Internet service. I pay for
them, when I hire an ISP. 

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