Broadband Roundup: Internet Giants on Net Neutrality and FCC’s Rural Broadband Launch

FCC, Net Neutrality, Universal Service July 14th, 2014

, Reporter, Broadband Breakfast News

WASHINGTON, July 14, 2014 – Some of the world’s leading tech giants, represented by a lobbying firm called the Internet Association, have officially filed their petition for net neutrality. The companies include Google, Facebook, Netflix and Amazon, among others.

“The internet’s continued success is not inevitable,” the group wrote. “Broadband internet access providers continue to have the ability and the incentive to clog that virtuous circle.”

While the group took no stance on either Title II public utility regulation under the Communications Act, or the more limited proposed regulation under Section 706 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the group said the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal would undermine “the internet’s level playing field” by allowing paid prioritization.

The deadline for the first round of public comments is Tuesday, July 15, after which responses to those comments will be accepted until Sept. 10. So far, 647, 000 comments have been filed, according to The Verge.

Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote a Facebook post Friday to garner support for Title II reclassification of the internet. In a post, he wrote that Senator Ed Markey, D-Mass., is collecting signatures on a letter pushing regulation under Title II.

“The internet in the 21st Century is as important to our future as highways were in the 20th Century. Like a highway, the internet must remain free and open for all; not determined by the highest bidders. This is vital for jobs, commerce, innovation and a prosperous future for America. The startup industry that has a grown to employ hundreds of thousands of people was enabled by an open internet.”

The FCC also launched rural broadband experiments to ascertain how lower costs can be achieved through its Connect America Fund. Up to $100 million will be available for the experiments, divided into three groups:

  • $75 million to test construction of networks offering service plans providing 25 Megabit per second (Mpbs) downloads and 5 Mbps uploads – far in excess of the current Connect America Fund standard of 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up – for the same or lesser amounts of support than will be offered to carriers in Phase II of the Connect America Fund.
  • $15 million to test interest in delivering service at speeds of 10 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up in high cost areas.
  • $10 million for 10 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up service in areas that are extremely costly to serve.

A competitive bidding process will award funding to cost-effective projects. If successful, the process will be applied more broadly to the Connect America Fund, FCC officials said. The agency said that diverse technologies will also be tested, including fiber and wireless networks, and will be open to non-traditional providers like electric utilities, wireless internet service providers, and more.

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