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Lawyers must be culled like rabbits – Nokia VP

Regulators too

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Nokia's Erik Anderson, an American Finn, has enlivened many a presentation in the past. Now that he's Senior Vice President for business applications, the company's best communicator shows no sign of getting dull.

Anderson spoke to The Register about the deregulation lobby, which is girding its loins for a fight ahead over the US wireless spectrum. US consumers already enjoy the "choice" of four incompatible digital wireless air interfaces (CDMA, GSM, TDMA, IDEN) - a choice that only a nerd would care about - with the result that capital investment is so low that cellphones rarely work indoors, and carriers exploit the differences in technologies to tighten their lock-ins.

Anderson seems to have the measure of the lobbyists.

"Such arguments very quickly get wrapped up in ideology," he told us. "And any ideological position can be taken to absurdity."

"Competition requires rules, just like football. It can be healthy or it can be unhealthy."

"In an unregulated environment the winner takes all. The only relevant thing is to kill your competitor. Winning or keeping your customers doesn't matter"

"What would happen if the roads were unregulated?" he asks. "What if safety regulations were scrapped and the largest and heaviest cars were considered the safest? People would be driving tanks down the street."

Actually, at times it feels that they already are. Only tanks don't roll over so easily.

"Deregulation is one reaction to the mess," he told us. "But that mess is a reaction against the regulation philosophy. People look for easy answers. We deregulated the power industry in California with spectacular results. It really needs a more thoughtful analysis of competitive forces."

As for spectrum deregulation itself, Anderson believes that the spectrum is a finite resource (and you can hear the sound of a hundred Apple PowerBooks being thrown to the floor in horror). So much for "Open Spectrum".

Anderson takes a more subtle position than the ideologues, noting that government can make decision by inaction, too.

But he doesn't sound like he believes that the regulators should be allowed to grow comfortable, he explains.

"Legal services are drawing the blood out of the US economy. Speaking as an American living abroad - and this is my own position not Nokia's - I find it incredible that you can buy a house with a two or three page contract here, while it would run to thirty or forty pages in the US," he says.

"'Odd' is the word - it's not entirely natural."

"No one is eating the regulators, and they spread like rabbits. A Ronald Reagan only comes along every fifty years or so. The trouble is no one is eating the lawyers."®

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