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.
Sep 22, 2017 10:00:00 AM
As a new net neutrality decision nears, there is an extremely important ongoing case at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that is not getting the attention it warrants. The case is AT&T v. the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and it arose from a 2014 FTC complaint charging AT&T with failing to adequately warn unlimited-data customers that their data speeds would be reduced, or throttled, if they used too much data in a given billing cycle.
Sep 8, 2017 10:00:00 AM
It was a lazy summer for the FCC. The two new commissioners acclimated themselves to their new compadres, speeches were given and vacations were enjoyed. There were few meaningful decisions. That will change this Autumn, as a decision on net neutrality is expected in November or December while a proposal to change the definition of broadband has the potential to attract broad public attention (and vehement disagreement). Here is what we know to date about these issues. First up is net neutrality:
There have been about 25 million comments filed by the general public. While many of the comments are form letters, it appears that most of the unique comments favor continuing the current net neutrality regime. That includes the continued classification of broadband Internet access service (BIAS) as a Title II telecommunications service. Many write about this issue, although it would be a shock if more than one commenter per 100 actually knows the difference between Title I and Title II regulation.
Sep 1, 2017 10:00:00 AM
In an extremely important test for the FCC, three African-American low-income residents of Cleveland, Ohio have filed a complaint with the FCC alleging that AT&T is discriminating against low-income Cleveland neighborhoods by offering them lower quality high-speed broadband services than are offered to "higher-earning" neighborhoods. They assert this is in violation of the Communications Act’s prohibition against unreasonable discrimination.
Aug 25, 2017 10:00:00 AM
The next test for the Trump-era FCC is here. Reply comments were filed on August 15, 2017 in the proceeding which will determine whether originating or terminating access charges will apply to toll-free 8YY calls.
The large IXCs believe at a minimum that the current situation in which they pay originating access is untenable. They argue that with the transition of most terminating access charges to bill-and keep nearing transition, industry bad actors have moved their arbitrage schemes to originating access including 8YY calls. As AT&T notes:
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.
Aug 11, 2017 10:00:00 AM
The FCC’s Business Data Services Order (BDS) became effective on August 1, 2017 after the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a Motion to Stay the Order filed by Windstream Services, LLC, Ad Hoc Telecom Users Committee, BT Americas, Inc., and INCOMPAS. The Court gave no reason for its decision.
Although the Order was not stayed, it is important to note that the appeal of the Order itself will now be heard and ruled upon by the Eighth Circuit. That Court determined that it had the appropriate expertise to review the Order and refused a request that it transfer the case to the more experienced DC Circuit Court. It is important to note that a court’s refusal to stay an order does not always mean that it will ultimately find the order lawful. That decision will likely be made on the BDS Order within the next year.
Aug 4, 2017 10:00:00 AM
The telecommunications industry got a big victory this week when the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the FCC’s 2015 Pole Attachment Order which mandated rules equalizing the pole attachment rates paid by telecommunications providers and cable owners. Cable company rates are calculated separately under rules ratified by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987 and have historically been lower than rates paid by telecoms. The decision is extremely important to telecommunications companies because of the large amounts of money involved. By some estimates, pole attachment rentals, comprise up to 1 percent of operating costs for some companies. Moreover, telecom companies have asserted for years that high pole attachment rates delay broadband deployment and force prices out of the reach of many consumers.