Dec 1, 2017 10:00:00 AM
On the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday, the FCC decided to give ISPs an early Christmas present when it made public a draft "Internet Freedom" Declaratory Ruling, Report and Order, and Order ("Internet Freedom Order") it intends to vote into law on December 14, 2017. The Internet Freedom Order would completely overturn the FCC's 2015 Open Internet Order and turn over almost all regulatory authority over the Internet to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Here is a summary of the key points of the draft Order and its implications:
Nov 24, 2017 10:00:00 AM
The ever-growing partisan split at the FCC hit new levels of acrimony last week when the FCC on a 3-2 vote decided to immediately limit Lifeline benefits to rural Tribal areas. While that was controversial enough, it was a proposal to limit Lifeline participation to facilities-based providers only that caused the two Democratic commissioners to see red. Here are the details:
Lifeline is part of the Universal Service Fund and is administered by the Universal Service Fund Administrative Company (USAC). The program works by providing low-income Americans with a monthly dial-tone line discount. Specifically, it provides a subsidy of up to $9.25 a month for Americans below 135% of the poverty line. Lifeline is available to eligible low-income consumers in every state, territory, commonwealth, and on Tribal lands. Tribal customers are also eligible to obtain $25 per month in additional subsidies.
Nov 17, 2017 10:00:00 AM
Internet edge (content) providers have always been some of the leading advocates for keeping the 2015 Open Internet rules for ISPs in place, including forbidding the blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization of Internet traffic. For example, Twitter wrote in a blog post earlier this year that, "[w]ithout net neutrality in force, ISPs would even be able to block content they don't like, reject apps and content that compete with their own offerings, and arbitrarily discriminate against particular content providers by prioritizing certain Internet traffic over theirs."
Nov 10, 2017 10:00:00 AM
In less than two weeks the FCC is expected to make public its highly anticipated Net Neutrality Order in which it is expected to both reclassify broadband Internet access service (BIAS) as a Title I information service and eliminate most if not all of the existing net neutrality rules. ISPs are ready to rejoice. They have spent the last two years loathing and trying to overturn the strict rules established in 2015 and are finally about to get their wish. They face one problem however, many state commissions are poised to write their own net neutrality rules, many potentially in conflict with the upcoming Order. This is especially true in states led by Democrats who are adamantly opposed to any changes to the existing rules.
Nov 3, 2017 10:00:00 AM
It's been six long years since the FCC took the first steps to fix the hopelessly muddled inter-carrier compensation system when it began reducing most terminating switched access charges to bill-and-keep. However, concerned about lost access revenues for rural ILECs, the Commission left originating access charges untouched and only mandated reductions in tandem-switched transport when the terminating price cap carrier owned the tandem in that serving area. Moreover, for rate-of-return ILECs, these charges were capped at interstate levels and not reduced any further.
Oct 27, 2017 10:00:00 AM
Some good news from the FCC! This week it adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking industry comments on how best to move toward complete nationwide number portability (NNP) while at the same time, promoting competition between all service providers and encouraging the efficient routing of calls throughout the network. Industry comments are due 30 days after this item (Docket 17-244) appears in the Federal Register.
Oct 20, 2017 10:00:00 AM
The FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on September 28, 2017 in Docket 17-192 proposing changes to its rules for certain toll-free number assignments. Industry comments are due on November 13, 2017.
The NPRM is significant because for the first time since toll-free numbers were introduced in 1967 the Commission would use a competitive auction to assign approximately 17,000 sought after numbers in the new 833 code.
Oct 13, 2017 10:00:00 AM
On October 4, 2017, to the surprise of almost no one, Public Knowledge, the Consumer Federation of America, and the New Networks Institute appealed the recent FCC's Business Data Services (BDS) Order to the 8th Circuit Court. The consumer advocate organizations argue that the FCC's competitive market test used to deregulate ILEC DS1 and DS3 special access services is "ludicrous." Specifically, they claim it is inconsistent with competition law, unsupported by the record and will lead to higher prices in the BDS market, which will be ultimately borne by consumers. We believe these criticisms hit the mark.
Oct 6, 2017 10:00:00 AM
As we enter the baseball playoffs, ISPs are covering all their bases in their efforts to overturn the FCC's 2015 Open Internet (Net Neutrality) Order. On September 28, 2017, AT&T, USTelecom and CenturyLink filed petitions with the U.S. Supreme Court, requesting the High Court to overturn the decisions of the DC Circuit Appeals in which a panel of judges supported the 2015 Open Internet Order and then refused to let the case be reheard by the entire Court. In legal terms, the Petitioners filed a "Writ of Certiorari."
Sep 29, 2017 10:00:00 AM
I can't be the only one to miss the days when one had confidence that a key FCC decision would be based on facts and analysis rather than political payback and subterfuge, can I? Because these constantly flawed 3-2 FCC decisions are getting old and extremely annoying.
This week in its latest partisan decision the Commission approved its 20th Annual Mobile Wireless Competition Report by concluding that the wireless market is competitive. This decision bothered me in several ways. First, it is clear that in reaching its conclusion, the current FCC was paying back the previous FCC for refusing to make such a finding. Second, by refusing to define "effective competition," and failing to conduct an extensive analysis of the market it is obvious that the outcome of this "investigation" was pre-ordained. Third, and most significantly, by concluding that the wireless market is working so well that it does not need onerous regulation, this Report could pave the way for the FCC supporting the rumored merger between Sprint and T-Mobile.