Aug 18, 2017 10:00:00 AM
I’m done giving the FCC the benefit of the doubt. Because of the many years I spent dealing with the ambiguity and costs of Title II, I defended Chairman Pai and company when they sought to reclassify broadband Internet access service as a Title I information service in the net neutrality proceeding, although I have my qualms about eliminating the Internet bright line rules.
I never questioned the Commission’s motives when it proposed eliminating some of the restrictions on the pricing of ILEC special access services, although the competitive market test it used to justify deregulation cannot be taken seriously.
Jul 28, 2017 10:00:00 AM
Tuesday, your faithful scribe made the ultimate sacrifice – sitting through hours of C-Span’s coverage of the U.S. House of Representatives grilling the FCC about various topics in the latest Congressional oversight hearing. As to be expected, the most popular topic among the Congressmen and women was the proposed net neutrality rules. A close second, however, was the Commission’s efforts to bring broadband to rural Americans. In fact, for Representatives from states that are heavily rural, this was clearly issue number one.
Oct 21, 2016 10:00:00 AM
This week, we get a little technical, but our subject is important and potentially impacts hundreds of ILECs. Remember back in March when the FCC released an Order in Docket 10-90 reforming the rules governing universal service support for rate-of-return (ROR) ILECs? One of the key justifications for that Order was to ensure small ILECs receive Connect America Fund (CAF) support in situations in which their end user customers choose to subscribe to broadband service only, without also subscribing to traditional plain old telephone service (POTS). Rural ILECs were becoming more and more handicapped as customers wanted broadband service only and the rules did not allow universal service support for such a stand-alone service.
Sep 16, 2016 10:00:00 AM
Congress will rue the day it included section 706 in the Telecommunications Act of 1996! Not because the idea that all Americans should have access to advanced telecommunications services is bad. After all it is just common sense that advanced services deployment should be a Congressional goal. Rather, the problem with section 706 is the imprecise language that Congress used. That inadequate language is now too often being used to advance self-serving agendas. The latest example is NETFLIX, which in a recent FCC filing has used section 706 to argue that all data caps should be illegal.
Aug 19, 2016 10:00:00 AM
The long winning streak of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler ended on August 10, 2016, when the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati sided with North Carolina and Tennessee in upholding the authority of states to pass laws that restrict municipalities from offering broadband internet services. The decision was a major defeat for the Chairman and the two other Democrats on the Commission because for the first time limits have been set on the Commission’s use of section 706 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act to advance broadband services. It is also a big victory for state rights.
Here is the background for the decision:
Mar 11, 2016 10:00:00 AM
On March 8, 2016, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler circulated an Order that would expand the Lifeline program to enable low-income consumers to use their $9.25 monthly subsidy to pay for stand-alone broadband access to the Internet. The Order is expected to be approved by a 3-2 party line vote at the Commission’s March 31st meeting. Unfortunately, in the Order, the Commission apparently does not provide any information on how the expanded program will be paid for.
For those unfamiliar with Lifeline, it was established in 1985 as a key component of the Universal Service Fund (USF). Lifeline provides a monthly subsidy for wireline or wireless service for Americans earning below 135 percent of the poverty line.
Jan 29, 2016 10:00:00 AM
In its January 28, 2016 meeting, the FCC voted to accept its Annual Broadband Progress Report. The Report keeps in place the current Commission definition for broadband and concludes that the Commission has the authority under section 706 of the Telecommunications Act to do more to bring broadband to the 34 million people in the United States that lack it today.
Jan 22, 2016 10:00:00 AM
We’ve talked before about how the FCC’s partisan divide is hurting the industry. It has clearly caused regulatory uncertainty, made new product offerings more complex and could potentially dampen future Internet and infrastructure investment. The partisan divide exists over all the most important telecommunications issues, including Internet regulation, broadband deployment, universal service and special access.
Internal emails recently released through the Freedom of Information Act (FIOR) have demonstrated that relations between FCC commissioners have become so bad that the Democratic Chairman will not circulate draft orders to the Republican commissioners until just hours before the order is scheduled for a vote. That is ridiculous! Now this partisan divide, which was so obvious to those of us who follow the Commission, has become public, which can only make matters worse.
Sep 25, 2015 9:30:00 AM
The legal battle against one of the least reported, but potentially most significant FCC orders in recent times, continues to proceed under the radar. That is the lawsuit filed by the states of Tennessee and North Carolina against the FCC’s decision to preempt state law in order to permit local municipalities in those states to build out their own broadband networks outside of their local jurisdictions to compete with Internet service providers and cable companies.
The significance of the final outcome in this case cannot be overstated. Although the FCC’s Order directly applied to only Tennessee and North Carolina, at least 20 states have enacted similar restrictions on municipal broadband deployment that almost certainly would also be impacted.
Jul 31, 2015 9:30:00 AM
On July 28, 2015, the FCC granted permission for AT&T to acquire DIRECTV and merge the two companies into one combined entity (see FCC Memorandum Opinion and Order in Docket 14-90, released July 28, 2015). We will leave it to others to discuss the merits of the deal. However, there are certain aspects that could have significant implications for broadband Internet service providers specifically and Internet regulation in general. That is the issue of whether the Commission, now that it has seized Title II authority over the Internet, will begin to control the pricing of Internet services and, in fact, all Internet behavior?