Regulatory State

Statement On Ajit Pai’s Designation as FCC Chairman

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Washington, DC, January 23, 2017 – Fred Campbell, director of Tech Knowledge, issued the following statement regarding the designation of Ajit Pai as the 34th Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission:

“There is no one more qualified to guide the FCC for the next four years. Chairman Pai’s intelligence, experience, and humility will serve the American people well. The future of communications regulation could not be any brighter.”

Tech Knowledge promotes market-oriented technology policies on behalf of the public interest. Additional information about Tech Knowledge can be found on our website, techknowledge.center.

Tech Knowledge Statement: Trump Victory A New Hope For FCC

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Regulatory State | No Comments

Haymarket, VA, November 9, 2016 – Fred Campbell, director of Tech Knowledge, issued the following statement regarding the election of Donald Trump as the next President of the United States:

“Trump’s victory offers new hope that the Federal Communications Commission will renew its faith in the dynamism of private enterprise and the competitive spirit. The agency’s pre-Obama policy of relying primarily on competitive market forces to drive investment and innovation in communications networks and services enabled the dynamic internet economy that we know and love. The Obama Administration’s love for top-down government mandates threatened to destroy that economy, but it’s not too late. The Trump Administration has a prime opportunity to level the playing field at the FCC and work with Congress on legislation that will benefit all Americans.”

Tech Knowledge promotes market-oriented technology policies on behalf of the public interest. Additional information about Tech Knowledge can be found on our website, techknowledge.center.

Tech Knowledge Statement on FCC’s Business Data Services Proposal

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Regulatory State | No Comments

Haymarket, VA, October 7, 2016 – Fred Campbell, director of Tech Knowledge, issued the following statement regarding the FCC’s proposal to impose new price regulations and classify packet-based business data services as a common carrier service:

“The FCC’s proposal to subject packet-based business data connections to its Title II jurisdiction reveals the terrible truth about Wheeler’s approach to net neutrality — the alleged need to protect edge providers using Title II was merely an excuse for the FCC to regulate the internet from end-to-end just like it once regulated the plain old telephone network.

There is no edge provider justification for the FCC to dictate terms in commercial disputes involving data connections for big businesses. The proposal is nothing more than 1930’s style government intervention for the sake of helping businesses the current administration favors at the expense of those it doesn’t. The other commissioners should reject Wheeler’s latest attempt at government economic planning 2.0 and let all carriers compete on an equal footing.”

Tech Knowledge promotes market-oriented technology policies on behalf of the public interest. Additional information about Tech Knowledge can be found on our website, techknowledge.center.

Statement on Court Reversing FCC’s Municipal Broadband Order

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Regulatory State | No Comments

Haymarket, VA, August 10, 2016 – Fred Campbell, director of Tech Knowledge, issued the following statement regarding the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision reversing the FCC’s rule preempting state-level restrictions on municipal broadband deployments:

“The court’s ruling makes doubly clear that the FCC does not have the power to pick the decision maker in non-federal government infrastructure projects. The FCC’s rule let local city officials make broadband deployment decisions throughout entire states, despite contrary decisions by state-level officials. This attempt by the FCC to ‘reorder the decision-making structure of a state and its municipalities trenches on the core sovereignty of that state.’

There are other good reasons why the FCC shouldn’t be interposing itself into relationships between state and local government officials. Geographic, economic, and other factors can vary widely across a single state, which puts state-level officials in a better position to serve state-wide interests than municipal officials. And one-size-fits-all policies designed by federal bureaucrats in Washington can be a particularly blunt instrument for dealing with the diverse needs of different states. Many municipal broadband deployments have ended in failures that ended up costing taxpayers.

The current FCC’s preference for ubiquitous fiber deployments despite their enormous costs — the FCC’s chief strategist declared, ‘I wouldn’t move to a place that just has fixed wireless’ — is likely unreasonable in most rural areas. The risks of pushing a fiber-only policy were highlighted just yesterday by Google’s surprise announcement that it’s putting plans on hold to provide fiber internet in Silicon Valley while it explores more cost-effective wireless alternatives. If the largest company in the world (Google) can’t justify the cost of fiber in the wealthy enclaves of Silicon Valley, it’s hard to see how the FCC can justify overriding the judgments of state officials in a starry-eyed push for nationwide fiber deployment.

This ruling means the FCC can’t gamble on its fiber internet agenda using the states’ money.”

Tech Knowledge promotes market-oriented technology policies on behalf of the public interest. Additional information about Tech Knowledge can be found on our website, techknowledge.center.

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.

Event: Special Access Re-Regulation at TIA Spring Policy Summit 2016

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Regulatory State | No Comments

The FCC appears poised to extend antiquated special access regulations using the pretext that additional asymmetric regulation of new broadband investment would enhance competition.

Join Tech Knowledge and IIA on March 9 in Washington, DC for for a timely discussion about the state of competition in the market for business communications services and the FCC’s pending special access proceedings at the Telecommunications Industry Association’s Spring Policy Summit 2016.

An eminent panel of experts from both sides of the aisle will discuss the issues at stake in the special access debate, including:

  • Bruce Mehlman, Co-Chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance and former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Technology Policy
  • Fred Campbell, Director, Tech Knowledge and former FCC Wireless Bureau Chief
  • Hal Singer, Senior Fellow, Progressive Policy Institute and adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business
  • Patrick Brogan, Vice President – Industry Analysis, USTelecom
  • Berge Ayvazian, Principle Consultant, Wireless 20/20

Register: Click HERE.

Where: Hotel Monaco 700 F Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

When: Wednesday, March 9, 2016, from 1:15 to 2:05 pm

Tech Knowledge Statement On FCC Proposal To Modify Regulations Governing Set-Top Boxes

Posted by | Regulatory State, Video | No Comments

For Immediate Release

 

Tech Knowledge Statement On FCC Proposal To Modify Regulations Governing Set-Top Boxes

Haymarket, VA, February 18, 2016 – Fred Campbell, Director of Tech Knowledge, released the following statement with respect to the Federal Communications Commission’s adoption at its February open meeting of a proposal to modify regulations governing cable and satellite set-top boxes:

The slogan for today’s FCC meeting, “Unlock The Box,” isn’t about unlocking cable and satellite set-top boxes. It’s about shifting some of the value of their underlying programming rights to Google and other powerful Internet companies.

In the STELA Reauthorization (STELAR) Act of 2014, Congress charged the FCC with establishing a working group of technical experts to recommend standards for promoting the “competitive availability of navigation devices,” not search engines and programming guides. But promoting Google’s ability to add cable and satellite programming packages to its online monopoly search engine and to create Google-branded programming guides is what the FCC’s proposed plan would ultimately do. The plan would allow Google to rebrand other video service providers’s programming packages as Google’s own and permit Google to track the behavior of video consumers in order to enhance Google’s advertising and other affiliated businesses.

The expert group established by the FCC at Congress’s behest recommended two different approaches — the approach proposed by the FCC today as well as an apps-based approach that would promote the competitive availability of navigation devices without compromising the value of existing programming packages or the contractual rights of programmers. But the fact sheet released by Chairman Wheeler in January didn’t mention the expert committee’s apps-based recommendation. The fact sheet informed the public about the Chairman’s preferred plan only, as if the only choice were between his plan or nothing at all.

Operating a government agency in this sort of shade does not serve the public interest. The public deserved to know about both options before editorial staffs around the nation began proclaiming their support for the only option the Chairman chose to present.

 Tech Knowledge promotes market-oriented technology policies on behalf of the public interest. Additional information about Tech Knowledge can be found on its website, tech knowledge.center.

Is Net Neutrality ‘The Law’ Or ‘The Great Internet Power Grab’?

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Net Neutrality Series 2.0, Regulatory State | No Comments

Sometime in the next several months, a federal appellate court will choose between two narratives used to describe the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision earlier this year to regulate the Internet as a public utility using “net neutrality” rules:

  1. Was the FCC simply implementing the law as Congress had always intended; or
  2. Was net neutrality a ploy for an Internet power grab by three unelected bureaucrats?

A twitter conversation with net neutrality proponent Matt Wood, policy director at Free Press, indicates that the FCC’s version of “net neutrality” is the government’s “great Internet power grab.” The law does not require the FCC to regulate the Internet as public utility, and in the view of net neutrality opponents, the law does not even permit the FCC to do so. To the extent Congress has expressly addressed the “Internet” in the Communications Act, the law states, “It is the policy of the United States . . . to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that [previously] exist[ed] for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation.”

This truth is the reason that Free Press is so vehement about its disingenuous suggestion that “the law” has always required the FCC to regulate the Internet as a public utility. Read More

What Does ‘Competition’ Mean At The FCC?

Posted by | Regulatory State, Wireless | No Comments

The question I would ask Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler at tomorrow’s congressional oversight hearing is, how does the agency define “competition”? The answer to this one question—the FCC does not have a definition of competition that it applies consistently—is a symbol of everything that is wrong with the agency.

Chairman Wheeler chose “competition, competition, competition” as his guiding principle without defining what “competition” means at the FCC. Relying on a guiding principle with no specified meaning is like steering a ship with no rudder: There is no telling where the ship (FCC) will end up after it leaves port (e.g., initiates a new regulatory proceeding).

The FCC’s rudderless approach to competition results in discriminatory regulations that erode public trust in the agency’s impartiality and the rule of law. For example, scholars on both sides of the aisle have long recognized that the FCC’s use of its merger authority “lead[s] to one set of rules for those who have merged and another set of rules for similarly situated parties who have not.” Even worse, discriminatory regulations that are adopted in the name of “competition” during FCC merger review are not practically subject to judicial review. Read More