National Broadband Plan

FCC Tariff Decision Is Not Consistent with the IP Transition, the National Broadband Plan, or the Law

Posted by | Broadband Internet | No Comments

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on Monday to determine whether it is “lawful” for AT&T to stop providing long-term discounts for services using outdated technologies the FCC will discuss eliminating altogether at its meeting on Thursday?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

IIA Paper Shows FCC Inaction on IP-Transition Threatens Harm to Consumers, Competition, and the Economy

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Regulatory State | 5 Comments

Today the Internet Innovation Alliance released a paper demonstrating three primary conclusions:

  1. Consumers are abandoning “plain old telephone service” (or “POTS”) in droves;
  2. 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
  3. 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).

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Liberty – Not Chinese Industrial Policy – Drives Innovation in America

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Freedom of Speech, Regulatory State | One Comment

Last week on The Diane Rehm Show, Susan Crawford, former special assistant to President Obama for science, technology, and innovation policy, claimed that China “makes us look like a backwater when it comes to [broadband] connectivity.” When she was asked how this could be, Ms. Crawford responded:

It happened because of [Chinese industrial] policy. You can call that overregulation. It’s the way we make innovation happen in America.

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FCC Wireless Bureau Ignores Incentives in the Broadcast Incentive Auction

Posted by | Wireless | No Comments

” . . . the cooperative process envisioned by the National Broadband Plan is at risk of shifting to the traditionally contentious band plan process that has delayed spectrum auctions in the past.”

The National Broadband Plan proposed a new way to reassign reallocated spectrum. The Plan noted that, “Contentious spectrum proceedings can be time-consuming, sometimes taking many years to resolve, and incurring significant opportunity costs.” It proposed “shifting [this] contentious process to a cooperative one” to “accelerate productive use of encumbered spectrum” by “motivating existing licensees to voluntarily clear spectrum through incentive auctions.” Congress implemented this recommendation through legislation requiring the FCC to transition additional broadcast spectrum to mobile use through a voluntary incentive auction process rather than traditional FCC mandates.

Among other things, the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking initiating the broadcast incentive auction proceeding proposed a “lead” band plan approach and several alternative options, including the “down from 51” approach. An overwhelming majority of broadcasters, wireless providers, equipment manufacturers, and consumer groups rejected the “lead” approach and endorsed the alternative “down from 51” approach. This remarkably broad consensus on the basic approach to the band plan promised to meet the goals of the National Broadband Plan by accelerating the proceeding and motivating voluntary participation in the auction.

That promise was broken when the FCC’s Wireless Bureau unilaterally decided to issue a Public Notice seeking additional comment on a variation of the FCC’s “lead” proposal as well as a TDD approach to the band plan. The Bureau issued this notice over the objection of FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who issued a separate statement expressing his concern that seeking comment on additional approaches to the band plan when there is a “growing consensus” in favor of the “down from 51” approach could unnecessarily delay the incentive auction. This statement “peeved” Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge, who declared that there is no consensus and that the “down from 51” plan would be a “disaster.” As a result, the cooperative process envisioned by the National Broadband Plan is at risk of shifting to the traditionally contentious band plan process that has delayed spectrum auctions in the past. Read More

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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Don’t Let the Doublespeak Fool You: When CLECs Say “Packet-Mode,” They Mean “Regulate the Internet”

Posted by | Broadband Internet | No Comments

When CLECs say “packet mode,” don’t let the doublespeak fool you. They are asking for heavy-handed economic regulation of the Internet itself, just like many countries at the ITU.

Last week, I wrote about the failure of the CLECs to provide consumers with the additional choices in communications services Congress had envisioned in 1996. I noted that, now that the antiquated telephone network is about to sunset, CLECs must bear responsibility for their own decisions to forgo investment in their own infrastructure and rely on lines leased with temporary government subsidies. The desperation of CLECs to avoid this reality is apparent in their use of doublespeak to conceal their true intent: convincing the FCC to regulate the Internet like plain old telephone service.

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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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AT&T Accelerates Internet Transformation with Massive Investment in Broadband Infrastructure

Posted by | Broadband Internet | No Comments

Today AT&T announced that it would invest an additional $14 billion in the next three years to expand its 4G LTE network to cover 300 million people and expand its wired all-IP broadband infrastructure to 75 percent of its customer locations throughout its 22-state wired service area. For many consumers, this investment will provide their first opportunity for access to high-speed broadband at home. For many others, it will provide their first opportunity to make a choice among competing providers of high-speed broadband services. This impressive commitment to transition outdated communications infrastructure to an all-IP future will benefit millions of consumers and accelerate our Internet transformation nationwide.

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America’s Internet Transformation Demands an All-IP Future

Posted by | Broadband Internet | One Comment

If the FCC stops moving forward on Internet transformation, the universal service and intercarrier compensation reform order will become a death warrant for telephone companies.

CLIP hosted an event earlier this month to discuss Internet transformation. What is Internet transformation? In a recent op-ed, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai noted that it “is really two different things—a technology revolution and a regulatory transition.” Read More

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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