universal service

FCC Commissioner Pai’s Rural Internet Plan Is A Winner

Posted by | Broadband Internet | No Comments

Universal service, the idea that all Americans should have access to communications services, has been a core principle of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) since its founding. This principle originated with the telephone in the early 20th century, but today’s consumers are abandoning plain old telephone service in droves. The great infrastructure challenge of the 21st century is universal broadband Internet service.

This challenge remains unmet in rural America. It’s been more than five years since the FCC issued a National Broadband Plan to ensure every American has access to broadband capability. Though broadband deployment has progressed rapidly in urban areas, it is not becoming available quickly enough in rural areas, where more than half of the population still lacks access to broadband infrastructure. It is becoming increasingly clear that the FCC’s universal service policies haven’t kept pace with the broadband revolution.

Yesterday, Commissioner Ajit Pai described how the FCC could help bridge the yawning digital divide between urban and rural America without increasing the existing budget for universal service funding. Read More

Internet Analogies: Twice as Many Americans Lack Access to Public Water-Supply Systems than Fixed Broadband

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

“If broadband Internet infrastructure had been built to the same extent as public water-supply systems, more than twice as many Americans would lack fixed broadband Internet access.”

After abandoning the “information superhighway” analogy for the Internet, net neutrality advocates began analogizing the Internet to waterworks. I’ve previously discussed the fundamental difference between infrastructure that distributes commodities (e.g., water) and the Internet, which distributes speech protected by the First Amendment – a difference that is alone sufficient to reject any notion that governments should own and control the infrastructure of the Internet. For those who remain unconvinced that the means of disseminating mass communications (e.g., Internet infrastructure) is protected by the First Amendment, however, there is another flaw in the waterworks analogy: If broadband Internet infrastructure had been built to the same extent as public water-supply systems, more than twice as many Americans would lack fixed broadband Internet access. Read More

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 Turns Seventeen with No Future Plans

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Regulatory State | 2 Comments

Today marks the seventeenth birthday of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Since it became law nearly two decades ago, the 1996 Act has largely succeeded in meeting its principal goals. Ironically, its success is becoming its potential failure.

By the time most teenagers turn seventeen, they have already begun planning their future after high school. Their primary school achievements are only a beginning in a lifetime of future possibilities. For most legislation, however, there is no future after the initial goals of Congress are achieved. Fortunately, the seventeen year-old 1996 Act isn’t like most legislation.

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The IP Transition and Universal Service

Posted by | Broadband Internet | 2 Comments

Last week Dave Burstein at DSL Prime posted an analysis of AT&T’s Project VIP that raises an interesting point: The geographic service areas for telephone and cable companies are as different as the inconsistent regulations that govern them. He notes that “92% of U.S. homes can get cable modem service,” which he says leaves “5-10% of the U.S. [with] a broadband problem.” He estimates that at last half of the homes that would receive only wireless broadband from AT&T through Project VIP have access to a cable modem alternative, which means the other half are not served by cable. He also estimates that the additional 1% of AT&T customers who are not scheduled to receive high speed broadband occupy about 20-30% of the geography in AT&T’s wireline service area. Burstein’s analysis indicates that AT&T is serving vast “frontier” areas (areas with a population density of six or fewer people per square mile), and that the territory served by AT&T is substantially larger than that served by cable.

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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

Ars Technica Posts My Response to Timothy B. Lee on Google Fiber

Posted by | Broadband Internet | No Comments

Today Ars Technica published as an op-ed my response to this article by Timothy B. Lee, who had addressed my initial post about the deregulatory implications of Google Fiber. My op-ed is available here, Mr. Lee’s article is available here, and my initial post is available here.