Jan 5, 2018 10:00:00 AM
Happy New Year! 2018 is set to be the most unusual year ever for the telecom industry. In every other year I can remember, there were a set of issues everyone knew the FCC was likely to grapple with. Last year with a brand new conservative Commission it was obvious that Chairman Ajit Pai was going to reverse the 2015 net neutrality rules, eliminate one-sided ISP privacy rules (with the help of Congress) and deregulate ILEC special access services. In addition, the Commission improved the pole attachment rules, modified the Lifeline program and began looking at additional switched access reform. It was easy to criticize the FCC for many of its actions, but no one could accuse the FCC of inaction, even when they had less than a full complement of five commissioners.
Topics: regulatory updates, FCC, ILECs, Net Neutrality, Open Internet, internet regulation, open internet order, federal trade commission, internet freedom, CCMI, ajit pai, ftc, litigation, internet freedom order, open internet preservation act, congress
Dec 22, 2017 10:00:00 AM
I know this may sound strange to you young guys and gals out there, but at one time I was a big fan of the FCC. I admired the way commissioners of both parties put aside their obvious political differences to work together for the betterment of the American people.
The Commission's success stories are numerous, including developing a universal service program that made telephone service affordable for virtually all Americans, implementing the requirements of the 1996 Telecom Act to break up the Bell companies and establish competition in both the local and long-distance markets, and establishing harmonious relationships with state public utility commissions to protect individuals and companies.
Dec 15, 2017 10:00:00 AM
There is no question that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is feeling the heat for his agency voting 3-2 to eliminate the 2015 net neutrality rules. The new "Light Regulation" or as some would call "No Regulation" Internet Order ("Order) is scheduled to become effective early next year unless stayed by a court (more about that later).
We know Pai is under the gun because earlier this week his FCC issued a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) explaining how the Commission will work jointly with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to protect consumers on a case-by-case basis when a complaint is filed against an ISP. The MOU will become effective on the effective date of the Order
Before we discuss why we believe the MOU to be virtually useless, here are some of its key points:
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.