2016 April

Tech Knowledge Comments on FCC Proposal to Force MVPDs to Offer Unbundled Wholesale Services

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Freedom of Speech, Satellite, Video | No Comments

Today Tech Knowledge filed the following comments at the Federal Communications Commission that address an FCC proposal to force MVPDs to offer unbundled wholesale services in the guise of creating competition in the artificial market for set-top boxes (a proposal dubbed Unlock the Box by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler). The complete comments as filed can be downloaded in PDF format HERE. (Note, the HTLM version of the comments printed below does not contain the footnotes provided in the PDF version available at the link above and filed at the FCC.)

Executive Summary

The Wholesale Proposal Is an Impermissible Common Carriage Requirement

The FCC’s proposed regulations (the “Wholesale Proposal”) would do more than merely create competition in a market for the “equipment” used to access MVPD services that is artificially separated from the underlying MVPD services themselves; the proposed rules would effectively require MVPDs to provide unbundled, nondiscriminatory access to video programming “information flows” that are an essential part of otherwise fully integrated MVPD services. The avowed purpose of the Wholesale Proposal is to enable third parties to combine MVPD’s unbundled programming with “ancillary features” to provide entirely new, “differentiated” services in competition with MVPDs’ underlying services — the same justification that has traditionally been used to impose resale and other wholesale obligations on common carriers under Title II. The FCC cannot accomplish this result in the guise of promoting competition in an artificially created market for “equipment,” because mandatory wholesale requirements are fundamentally common carriage, and the Communications Act prohibits the FCC from treating MVPDs as common carriers. Read More

Georgetown Analysis Shows FCC Special Access Regulation Intended To Give CLECs Even Higher Profits

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Regulatory State | No Comments

The FCC is examining whether AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink and other incumbent telephone companies have market power in the market for business data services (also known as “special access”). To hear their competitors like Level 3 and Windstream tell it, incumbent telcos have “locked up” the business broadband market and exercise “overwhelming control … to dictate terms and conditions” in that market. According to a recent study by Anna-Maria Kovacs at Georgetown University, however, these competitors’ services “are far more profitable” than services provided by incumbent telephone companies.

If incumbent telcos could actually exercise market power, they could unilaterally increase their profitability by either (1) charging monopoly prices (i.e., prices that are higher than would occur in a competitive market) or (2) lowering the quality of their services (e.g., by forgoing maintenance or investment in new network capabilities). These results of market power — artificially high prices or lower quality services — are what competition laws are intended to avoid.

Yet the evidence presented in the Georgetown report and the recent, sworn testimony of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler show that the way incumbent telcos are behaving in the broadband marketplace is the exact opposite of how firms with market power are expected to behave. Read More

Shining The Spotlight On The FCC: How Rules Impact Consumers And Industries

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Regulatory State | No Comments

The American Action Forum has posted a video of last week’s event examining current regulatory issues at the FCC. The event was keynoted by FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, who was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Rob Pegoraro (Yahoo Tech) with panelists Fred Campbell (Tech Knowledge), Meredith Rose (Public Knowledge), and Will Rinehart (American Action Forum). You can watch the video HERE.