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.
Yesterday the Internet Innovation Alliance posted the video stream from its event entitled, “Title II Regulation and its Potential Impact on Deployment of 21st Century Broadband Networks and Services,” featuring FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai. The video is available HERE.
Any decision about FCC regulation of the broadband Internet must account for the sunset of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and the evolution of the Internet since the FCC issued its Cable Modem Order in 2002. The PSTN sunset and the design features of next generation networks have significant implications for Title II reclassification.
Reclassification Would Require Revisiting the Communications Act’s Core Definitional Conundrum
Title II regulates communications “services”, not particular types of infrastructure. For example, the definition of “telecommunications service” applies “regardless of the facilities used.” See 47 USC § 153(53).
The definitions of “information” and “telecommunications” services adopted in the 1996 Act track the distinction between “basic” and “enhanced” services that was adopted by the FCC in the Computer II proceeding’s Final Decision. See Verizon v. FCC, 740 F.3d 623, 630 (DC Cir. 2014).
In a post-PSTN world, there will no longer be any “basic” service as it was understood in the Computer II era or “telecommunications” as that term is defined in the 1996 Act.
Title II reclassification would thus require the FCC to revisit the core definitional conundrum of the Communications Act. The likely result is that many services that are currently unregulated would be subject to Title II regulation, including services that were once considered part of the Internet’s “edge”. Read More
Washington, January 30, 2013 – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today launched a proceeding to conduct trials for the transition of the plain old telephone network to all Internet Protocol (IP) networks, known as the IP-transition. The following is a statement by Fred Campbell, Executive Director of the Center for Boundless Innovation in Technology (CBIT):
“CBIT applauds the FCC’s decision to move forward on IP-transition trials. Consumers are abandoning plain old telephone service in droves for the superior functionality provided by high-speed Internet connections. But outdated regulations are discouraging investment in new infrastructure by diverting funds to maintain the aging telephone network. These trials will examine how communications policies must change to keep up with ongoing consumer demand.
The trials are a critical first step, but today’s action is only the end of the beginning. The faster the IP-transition is completed, the faster we will see new, competitive investment in modern communications infrastructure and new competitive choices for millions of Americans.”
The Center for Boundless Innovation in Technology (CBIT) advocates for market oriented government policies to advance innovation in technology. Additional information, blog posts and commentary about CBIT can be found on the CBIT website, cbit.org.
It’s The Day After the court ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) cannot treat Internet service providers (ISPs) as common carriers and the Internet is still working. The largest ISPs have already committed to maintaining an open Internet despite the court’s ruling, and there is no reason to believe that will change any time soon. The Internet is not – I repeat, is not – in imminent danger. It is safe to leave the bomb shelter.
Don’t believe the doomsayers who claim the ruling leaves consumers with no protection from ISPs. They are wrong. In the unlikely event that Internet openness is seriously threatened, the government retains authority to intervene. Although the FCC cannot impose common carrier regulations on ISPs, the court held that the FCC has “authority to promote broadband deployment by regulating how broadband providers treat edge providers.” And, to the extent the FCC lacks authority to prevent anticompetitive, deceptive, or unfair practices by ISPs, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has such authority. Read More
Yesterday’s decision requiring AT&T to continue offering seven-year term discounts on POTS lines while the FCC conducts a meritless investigation is more than a drag – it is a government shackle on the deployment of modern IP-based infrastructure to rural and low-income consumers.
In early 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued the National Broadband Plan (Plan) to ensure that all people of the United States have access to broadband Internet communications. The Plan concluded that “broadband is a foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness and a better way of life” and urged that everyone “must now act and rise to our era’s infrastructure challenge.” (Plan at XI, XV) Yesterday the FCC threatened to turn its back on this call to action when it suspended revisions to AT&T tariffs that sought to stop offering term discount plans of five to seven years for 1960s era “Plain Old Telephone Service” (POTS) technology using circuit switched “special access” lines. The FCC suspended the tariff revisions for five months to investigate their “lawfulness” (even though the remaining tariff rates have already been conclusively presumed to be just and reasonable).
Ironically, at the open Commission meeting on Thursday, the Technology Transitions Policy Task Force will provide a status update on the National Broadband Plan’s recommendation that the FCC eliminate—within the next five to seven years—the requirement that AT&T and other carriers offer POTS technologies using circuit-switched networks (known as the “IP transition”).
Why would the FCC open a five-month investigation on Monday to determine whether it is “lawful” for AT&T to stop providing long-term discounts for services using outdated technologies the FCC will discuss eliminating altogether at its meeting on Thursday? Read More
One year ago I wrote that conservatives were the leading voices in technology policy. Conservative leadership on tech policy issues became even more apparent last week, when House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) announced plans to update the Communications Act for the Internet era (#CommActUpdate). Virtually everyone recognizes that the Act, which Rep. Walden noted was “written during the Great Depression and last updated when 56 kilobits per second via dial-up modem was state of the art,” is now hopelessly out of date. But it was conservative leadership that was willing to begin the legislative process necessary to update it.
Although the term “progressive” literally means “advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are,” some political progressives have focused their communications advocacy on maintaining the status quo. In response to the #CommActUpdate, Free Press said, “We’re not going to get a better act than we have now.” (Communications Daily, Dec. 5, 2013 (subscription required)) Free Press, which describes itself as a “movement to change media and technology policies,” also told Comm Daily, “The IP transition should be governed by the laws on the books today.” Read More
Today the Internet Innovation Alliance released a paper demonstrating three primary conclusions:
- Consumers are abandoning “plain old telephone service” (or “POTS”) in droves;
- The most regulated communications companies – i.e., the incumbent telephone companies (or “ILECs”) – are wasting enormous amounts of capital maintaining POTS rather than expanding their broadband networks; and
- As a result of this downward spiral of lost subscribers and wasted capital, ILEC wireline networks are struggling to compete with less regulated networks and communications companies – i.e., Internet, cable, and wireless companies.
The paper supports these conclusions with copious research data obtained from the FCC and other credible sources.
If there was any remaining doubt that the United States must (1) establish a deadline for shutting down the POTS network and transitioning to all Internet Protocol networks (the “IP-transition”) and (2) modernize its regulatory framework to eliminate the regulatory disparity that is hamstringing investment and competition among communications providers, the IIA paper has laid those doubts to rest for all (save those who are benefitting from the status quo, for whom I doubt any amount of data would prove sufficient).
“In today’s globally competitive era, the United States cannot continue to delay its transition to Internet-enabled infrastructure.”
Last week the Department of Defense (DoD) filed comments with the FCC in its proceeding examining the transition from outdated telephone technologies to Internet Protocol (the “IP-transition”). The comments, which were filed “on behalf of the consumer interests” of the DoD by a civilian attorney in the Army’s Regulatory Law Office (emphasis added), ask the FCC to “consider potential adverse consequences on public safety and national security” of requiring federal agencies to “prematurely transition to different technologies.”
What are these potential adverse consequences? The italicized “interests” of the DoD provide the answer: It wants to avoid incurring any costs to upgrade its outdated telephone technologies to modern, Internet Protocol technologies when its current communications contracts expire in 2017. Read More
As the “real-world” continues its inexorable march toward our all-IP future, the FCC remains stuck in the mud fighting the regulatory wars of yesteryear, wielding its traditional weapon of bureaucratic delay to mask its own agenda.
Late last Friday the Technology Transitions Policy Task Force at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a Public Notice proposing to trial three narrow issues related to the IP transition (the transition of 20th Century telephone systems to the native Internet networks of the 21st Century). Outgoing FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski says these “real-world trials [would] help accelerate the ongoing technology transitions moving us to modern broadband networks.” Though the proposed trials could prove useful, in the “real-world”, the Public Notice is more likely to discourage future investment in Internet infrastructure than to accelerate it. Read More