Julius Genachowski

Is the FCC Seeking to Help Internet Consumers or Preserve Its Own Jurisdiction?

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Public Safety | 15 Comments

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

Internet Analogies: Remember When the Internet Was the Information Superhighway? (Part 2)

Posted by | Internet Analogies | No Comments

Why did the government impose a completely different funding mechanism on the Internet than on the Interstate Highway System? There is no substantive distinction between the shared use of local infrastructure by commercial “edge” providers on the Internet and shared use of the local infrastructure by commercial “edge” providers (e.g., FedEx) on the highways.

In Part 1 of this post, I described the history of government intervention in the funding of the Internet, which has been used to exempt commercial users from paying for the use of local Internet infrastructure. The most recent intervention, known as “net neutrality”, was ostensibly intended to protect consumers, but in practice, requires that consumers bear all the costs of maintaining and upgrading local Internet infrastructure while content and application providers pay nothing. This consumer-funded commercial subsidy model is the opposite of the approach the government took when funding the Interstate Highway System: The federal government makes commercial users pay more for their use of the highways than consumers. This fundamental difference in approach is why net neutrality advocates abandoned the “information superhighway” analogy promoted by the Clinton Administration during the 1990s. Read More

Checking the Facts in TIME

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Freedom of Speech, Media | No Comments

I had an interesting Twitter exchange yesterday with Sam Gustin, a reporter at TIME focused on business, technology, and public policy. He published a favorable article on Susan Crawford’s new book, Captive Audience, which argues that cable companies control the Internet and as a result the U.S. is no longer the global leader in broadband. I saw a link to the article in this tweet by Tim Karr:
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Conservatives Are Leading Internet Transformation

Posted by | Broadband Internet, International | One Comment

Last summer I blogged about my expectation that conservatives would embrace the Internet. Though many shared this expectation, I doubt anyone expected the Republican Party platform would provide a vision for transforming our communications infrastructure into the Twenty-First Century, or that conservatives would be leading Internet transformation in 2012. Though progressives are stereotypically viewed as tech-savvy, progressives are now following the lead of conservatives on Internet transformation.

Conservatives started leading on Internet issues early in 2012. Republican FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell was outspoken often and early on the dangers posed to the Internet by the World Conference on International Telecommunications 2012 (WCIT-12), which is going on right now in Dubai.

Many in the tech blogosphere initially attacked McDowell. Last February, ExtremeTech said McDowell’s “claims [were] factually inaccurate and hyperbolic,” and that his threat assessment “[was] completely out-of-step with the US government’s opinion.” Though it offered no apology to McDowell, this month ExtremeTech finally recognized that the ongoing negotiations in Dubai “have the potential to completely change the way the internet works, and that is terrifying.”

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Broad Consensus on Internet Transformation and Infrastructure Innovation

Posted by | Broadband Internet | No Comments

An amazing thing happened last week, and I don’t mean the election. AT&T’s “Project Velocity IP” announcement revealed a broad consensus that private investment in all-IP communications infrastructure is critical to moving our nation forward in the 21st Century. The Project’s approach to Internet transformation is disruptive to the regulatory status quo. Although disruptive proposals are usually greeted with immediate and substantial opposition, the vast majority of policymakers, pundits, and industry participants welcomed the announcement.
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U.S. Needs Internet Transformation to Win the Race for a Global Bandwidth Advantage

Posted by | Broadband Internet | No Comments

The United States cannot allow fear of an uncertain future to jeopardize its ability to win the race for a global bandwidth advantage.

The Internet is transforming communications markets around the world. The U.S. is now competing in a global market that is transitioning to all-IP networks – with or without us. If we want to remain competitive globally, we must accelerate the deployment of all-IP communications infrastructure capable of meeting the challenges of today and tomorrow.

Our approach to Internet transformation should not focus on a particular jurisdiction, a particular market segment, a particular company, or a particular result. It should focus on consumers. Like the DTV transition, the transition to all-IP networks will present challenges. But stagnation is not a viable option. The United States cannot allow fear of an uncertain future to jeopardize its ability to win the race for a global bandwidth advantage. Internet transformation is the key to unlocking a better future for every American. The only question is whether the FCC is willing to open the door.

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FCC Chairman Genachowski Is Right to Let Legacy Program Access Regulation Expire

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Video | No Comments

The limitations imposed on Internet transformation by the program access rules should be removed along with other legacy regulations that are inhibiting our transition to all-IP communications.

In 1992, Congress directed the FCC to establish “program access” regulations. These regulations generally require vertically integrated cable operators (i.e., cable operators who also own video programming) to offer their programming to rivals on reasonable terms. Congress prohibited cable operators from entering into exclusive contracts with video programming affiliates because a “cable system faces no local competition,” which gave vertically integrated cable programmers “the incentive and the ability to favor” their own distribution networks. Congress recognized, however, that additional competition could render this prohibition unnecessary, and provided that the exclusivity prohibition would sunset in ten years unless the FCC finds the prohibition continues to be necessary.

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FCC Chairman Genachowski Praises Predecessors’ Smart Policies, but Will He Heed Them?

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Wireless | No Comments

If the FCC had adopted the eligibility restrictions proposed by PISC in 2007, the United States would not have achieved the LTE leadership touted by current FCC Chairman Genachowski.

I was pleased to see FCC Chairman Genachowski praise the market-based policies of his predecessors in his remarks at Vox last week. He noted that the United States is currently leading the world in next generation mobile wireless services with 69 percent of the world’s LTE subscribers, which he attributes to “smart government policies.” He didn’t mention, however, that the “smart government policies” that led to America’s renewed mobile leadership were based on market principles adopted by the previous FCC.

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Executive Branch Makes Power Grab to Create a New Spectrum Architecture without Congress

Posted by | Wireless | 3 Comments

The findings and recommendations of the PCAST described above are an obvious attempt by the Administration to usurp Congressional authority and muscle it out of its constitutional jurisdiction over commercial spectrum use. And one would expect that some in Congress would be downright angry that the Chairman of the FCC, an independent agency, is supporting a Presidential power grab.

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Ends Justifying Means: Inconsistencies Between FCC Special Access and Verizon-SpectrumCo Orders

Posted by | Broadband Internet | No Comments

To summarize, on August 22, the FCC found it was appropriate to re-impose monopoly price cap regulations developed over twenty years ago because the FCC lacked “reliable” evidence that cable operators are competing in the special access market. On August 23, the very next day, the FCC found cable companies are “well-positioned” to compete in the special access market and are “increasingly successful” competing in that market. . . . It is impossible to reconcile these inconsistent findings.

Last week, the FCC issued two significant orders. Late Wednesday evening, the FCC issued an order suspending its pricing flexibility rules for special access services (“Special Access Order”), and on Thursday afternoon, it issued an order approving multiple transactions between Verizon Wireless and several cable companies (Comcast, Time Warner, Bright House Networks, and Cox) as well as mobile providers T-Mobile and Leap (“Verizon-Cable Order”). Read More