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March 1, 2015

Posts in "Net Neutrality"

February 27, 2015

Weekly Wrapup: Net Neutrality and City-Owned Broadband

The Federal Communications Commission took historic action this week to claim broader regulatory authority over broadband service providers, reclassifying broadband service under a 1934 law that governs common carriers. Your Weekly Wrapup includes posts on the FCC’s net neutrality rules, city-owned broadband and a tax bill in Oregon that state lawmakers hope will attract Google Fiber and others.

FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules

Net Neutrality Meeting Highlights

Walden Wants “Better Path” on Net Neutrality

FCC Republicans Call for Delay in Net Neutrality Vote

Twitter Praises Wheeler’s Net Neutrality Proposal

Net Neutrality Wasn’t the Only Item the FCC Voted on Thursday

Oregon Senate Panel Advances Tax Bill that Lawmakers Hope Will Attract Google Fiber and Others

A Look at the FCC’s Rules Seeking to Improve 911 Call Location Accuracy

February 26, 2015

Net Neutrality Meeting Highlights

In case you missed Thursday’s historic Federal Communications Commission vote on net neutrality rules, here are some highlights.

Tom Wheeler:

“Today’s order is more powerful and more expansive than any previously considered or… suggested.”

“The Internet is the most powerful and pervasive platform on the planet. It’s simply too important to be left without rules and without a referee on the field.”

“This proposal has been described by one opponent as, quote, a secret plan to regulate the Internet. Nonsense. This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech.”

“It is important for consumers as well as companies that nothing in today’s order alters the economic model for continued network expansion. An ISP’s revenue stream will be the same tomorrow as it was yesterday.”

Mignon Clyburn:

“We worked closely with the chairman’s office to strike an appropriate balance, and yes it is true that significant changes were made at my office’s request including the elimination of a sender-side classification, but I firmly believe that these items have strengthened this item.”

“So for those in a panic about rate regulation, there are millions who can testify to… how high the bar is to when it comes to the FCC intervening… when it comes to rates and charges.”

Jessica Rosenworcel:

“The result honors the creative, collaborative and open Internet envisioned by those who were there at the start.”

Ajit Pai:

“We are flip-flopping for one reason and one reason only – President Obama told us to do so.”

“So, the FCC is abandoning a 20-year bipartisan framework for keeping the Internet free and open in favor of great Depression- era legislation designed to regulate Ma Bell. But at least we’re getting something in return, right? Wrong. The Internet is not broken. There is no problem for the government to solve.”

“To start, the commission’s decision to adopt President Obama’s plan marks a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet. It gives the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works.”

“One facet of that control is rate regulation.

Michael O’Rielly:

“Today, the majority of the commission attempts to usurp the authority of Congress by rewriting [ the] Communications Act to suit its own values and political ends. The item claims to forbear from certain monopoly-era Title II regulations but reserving the right to impose them using other provisions or at some point in the future. The commission abdicates its role as an expert agency by defining and classifying services based on unsupported and unreasonable findings.”

“Net neutrality is now the pretext for deploying Title II as far greater extent than anyone could have imagined just months ago.”

FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday approved net neutrality rules in a 3-2 vote that would reclassify broadband service as a public utility under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act.

The panel vote comes roughly a year after a federal appeals court struck down the bulk of 2010 net neutrality rules and the process for drafting new rules has drawn much public attention. The new set of rules is expected to draw litigation.

The rules would reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, the same portion of law the agency uses to regulate phone companies and other common carriers, and it would prohibit broadband providers from blocking content, throttling traffic or engaging in paid prioritization. The rules would fully apply to mobile broadband. In addition, the agency would have enforcement authority over interconnection actions.

Chairman Tom Wheeler said Thursday’s action was an “irrefutable reflection of the principal that no one, whether government or corporate, should control free and open access to the Internet.”

“This proposal has been described by one opponent as, quote, a secret plan to regulate the Internet. Nonsense,” he later said. “This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech.”

Republican commissioners gave lengthy statements in opposition, including Ajit Pai saying:

But if this order manages to survive judicial review, these will be the consequences: higher broadband prices, slower broadband speeds, less broadband deployment, less innovation and fewer options for American consumers. Put simply, President Obama’s plan to regulate the Internet is not the solution to a problem. His plan is the problem. This order imposes intrusive government regulations that won’t work to solve a problem that doesn’t exist using legal authority the FCC doesn’t have.

By Anne L. Kim Posted at 1:56 p.m.
Net Neutrality

February 25, 2015

Walden Wants “Better Path” on Net Neutrality

The top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee with jurisdiction over tech said Wednesday that he hopes that once “everybody has a chance to digest” the text of net neutrality rules the Federal Communications Commission will vote on Thursday, “maybe we will find that there’s a better approach and path and that would be by legislating.” 

The proposed rules to be voted on by the FCC would reclassify broadband as a public utility under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, a move that’s drawn Republican ire and praise from Democrats. Senate and House GOP committee leaders released draft legislation last month that would bar broadband service providers from blocking content, throttling traffic and entering into deals to give priority to some content, while at the same time writing into law the FCC’s current classification of broadband as an ‘information service.” It hasn’t gotten Democratic support.

On Wednesday, Greg Walden, R-Ore., chairman of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, told reporters after a net neutrality hearing that “it’s too early to tell when we might move” on legislation, noting that he was waiting to see the agency’s rules.

“And then we have to all take time to absorb what they really did and hear from people about… the implications of the order,” he said.

Responding to a reporter’s question about how optimistic he was about getting Democrats on board, he said he anticipated that once the agency acts, perhaps some Democrats might be “freed up” to be more engaged legislatively, but deflected a reporter’s question on why he thought that would be the case, saying it was a question for Democrats.

“It’s not for lack of trying on our part,” he said. “This effort started back in December with multiple meetings and outreaches, but … has gone nowhere yet.”

“I’m hopeful when everybody has a chance to digest the… actual language of the FCC’s order, that maybe we will find that there’s a better approach and path and that would be by legislating,” he said.

February 23, 2015

FCC Republicans Call for Delay in Net Neutrality Vote

The Federal Communications Commission’s two Republican members on Monday called for delaying Thursday’s scheduled vote on net neutrality rules for at least 30 days to give the public and the commission more time to review them, but FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler showed no sign of agreeing.

Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly said in a statement Monday:

We respectfully request that FCC leadership immediately release the 332-page Internet regulation plan publicly and allow the American people a reasonable period of not less than 30 days to carefully study it. Then, after the Commission reviews the specific input it receives from the American public and makes any modifications to the plan as appropriate, we could proceed to a final vote.

“Transparency is particularly important here because the plan in front of us right now is so drastically different than the proposal the FCC adopted and put out for public comment last May,” they said in their statement.

Wheeler’s spokesperson, Kim Hart, said he had circulated his proposal to his commission colleagues three weeks before the scheduled vote:

“The FCC has received unprecedented levels of public comment on a variety of options for Open Internet rules over the past year through an open and transparent proceeding, producing a record of more than 4 million comments.  In accordance with long-standing FCC process followed in both Democratic and Republican administrations, Chairman Wheeler circulated his proposal to his fellow Commissioners for review three weeks before the scheduled vote. The Chairman has seriously considered all input he has received on this important matter, including feedback from his FCC colleagues.”

Wheeler had rebuffed calls from congressional Republicans to release a copy of the hotly debated regulations the commission will vote on, saying that to do so would violate longstanding precedent.

Wheeler wrote on Feb. 2 that he wanted to “give commissioners a three-week period to discuss in confidence the substance of an item before final decisions are released.”

The chairman proposes that the FCC claim authority to regulate the Internet as a utility under a 1934 law it uses to regulate telecommunications companies. Under that authority, the FCC would then require that the providers adhere to net neutrality, which would bar them from charging content creators to deliver their Web pages more quickly or seamlessly than other content.

Twitter Praises Wheeler’s Net Neutrality Proposal

Twitter executives on Monday praised the net neutrality proposal slated to be voted on by the Federal Communications Commission later this week.

In a blog post titled “Why Twitter faves #NetNeturality,” Will Carty, the company’s public policy manager, describes FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s net neutrality proposal as one that “will put vital consumer and competitive protections back on the books to ensure an open Internet and continue U.S. leadership in Internet policymaking.”

He also writes:

Through The Internet Association, Twitter has joined other leading Internet companies to urge the FCC to promulgate common sense net neutrality rules. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed securing the legal foundation for these rules in Title II of the Communications Act (along with other statutory authority). We strongly support ensuring that such rules include prohibitions against blocking or throttling of sites and services as well as the paid prioritization of some traffic over others. These rules should govern Internet service whether users are at their desk at home or on their smartphone across town.

In moving forward, the FCC is also wisely avoiding unnecessary and overly burdensome regulation. The Commission is embracing the same kind of “light touch” regulatory approach that the Congress and the Commission has pursued with respect to wireless services since the 1990s. We’re also pleased that in recent weeks on Capitol Hill, we’ve seen a return to bipartisan support for net neutrality rules. We welcome the discussion of possible statutory rules that could codify these principles.

The Week Ahead: FCC Vote on Net Neutrality Rules and More

It’s a big week in Washington with the Federal Communications Commission’s vote on net neutrality rules. A slew of events and congressional hearings are also on tap. Get ready for a busy, busy week, folks.

Monday 

New America hosts a day-long event titled “Cybersecurity for a New America: Big Ideas and New Voices.”

Tuesday

COMPTEL hosts a day-long policy summit.

The Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy hosts an event on rewriting the 1934 Communications Act.

The Hudson Institute hosts an event titled “American Broadband Under Title II.”

A subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee holds a space exploration hearing.

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation hosts an event on cross-border data flows.

Wednesday

A House Appropriations subcommittee holds an oversight hearing on the Justice and Commerce Departments and NASA.

A subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee holds a hearing on the net neutrality proposal before the Federal Communications Commission.

The House Homeland Security Committee holds a hearing on the President’s cybersecurity information-sharing proposal.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee holds a hearing titled “FCC Process: Examining the Relationship Between the FCC and the White House.”

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation hosts a panel discussion on net neutrality and network management.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee holds a hearing titled “Preserving the Multistakeholder Model of Internet Governance.”

Thursday

BakerHostetler hosts a day-long symposium on Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.

The Federal Communications Commission votes on net neutrality rules and an order addressing two municipal broadband petitions.

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee holds a hearing on patent demand letters, which allege someone is infringing on a patent.

The House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on the U.S. Copyright Office.

The heads of the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology testify beforeHouse Science, Space and Technology subcommittee on their fiscal 2016 budget requests.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker testifies beforeSenate Appropriations subcommittee on the department’s fiscal 2016 budget request.

Friday

A House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee holds a hearing on NASA’s commercial crew program.

February 20, 2015

Chaffetz Inquiry Into FCC on Net Neutrality Continues

The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee wants to see emails between administration officials and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler  that VICE News obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The committee, chaired by Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, has been investigating whether the White House inappropriately influenced the FCC in its proposed net neutrality rules.

In a letter to Wheeler on Friday, Chaffetz wrote that the emails released through a FOIA request by VICE News were “heavily redacted” and states:

The e-mail exchanges are relevant to the Committee’s investigation, and they were covered by my document request letter of February 6, 2015. I requested, among other things, all communications between and among FCC personnel and the White House, the National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration relating to net neutrality, the open internet proceeding, the classification of broadband, or the regulation of broadband internet access service between January 14, 2014, and the present.

An initial Feb. 6 letter requesting documents gave the agency until Friday to respond. According to a committee aide, the panel hasn’t yet received documents in response to the initial letter.

The letter sent on Friday goes on to request “unredacted copies of these e-mails to the Committee as soon as possible, but no later than 5:00 p.m. on February 23, 2015,” and points to specific emails between Wheeler and administration officials. The letter footnotes the VICE story as well as some emails released through a FOIA request on the site MuckRock.com.

Kim Hart, a spokeswoman for Wheeler, said in an email that they’ve received the letter and are reviewing it.

By Anne L. Kim Posted at 3:51 p.m.
Net Neutrality

February 17, 2015

Wheeler Defends Net Neutrality Proposal

Critics of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal for net neutrality rules have argued that it would  impose heavy regulation of broadband service under an outdated regime that would have harmful results. On Tuesday, Wheeler continued countering such arguments.

“Yet, we hear the ISP surrogates running around talking about the end of the world” saying it’s old-fashioned monopoly utility regulation, which means the “end of Western civilization,” he said at a meeting of the National Association of Rural Utility Commissioners.

“But let me be real specific,” he said. “It does not contain rate regulation. It does not contain tariffing. It does not contain unbundling. Now, I think that’s the troika that defines utility regulation.” (He was referring to regulation of Internet service provider rates, the addition of taxes and tariffs and requiring the providers to “unbundle” or open their local delivery lines to competitors at wholesale prices.)

Tools for utility regulation are “absent from our activities,” Wheeler said.

“And so the attack is – let’s drag out this ill-informed, non-fact based statement” that the rules would impose utility regulation and thwart the Internet’s future, he later said.

“It just simply isn’t the facts,” he said.

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