WASHINGTON, October 20, 2014 – Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said that he and President Barack Obama agree in their opposition to paid prioritization, Multichannel News reported. Obama stated his objection to the practice during his remarks at an innovation forum in California on October 9.
Although the two haven’t discussed it directly, Wheeler said at a public meeting on Friday that his position on the issue has not changed. He pointed to the wording of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released back in May where he stated, “Prioritization that deprives the consumer of what the consumer has paid for would be commercially unreasonable and therefore prohibited.”
Division still exists among agency commissioners of the federal agency. FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said in May that he does not see a “legal path for the FCC to prohibit paid prioritization or the development of a two-sided market,” either under section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, or Title II public utilities regulation of the Communications Act.
Pai said he worries about five unelected officials deciding the fate of internet regulation and prefers Congress take action on this topic. Pai has openly supported efforts by the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s work on updating the Communications Act in light of emerging technologies.
Connecticut Cities Unite in Call for Gigabit Network
Government Technology reports on the development of a Connecticut Gigabit Network. The cities of New Haven, West Hartford and Stamford have come together to jumpstart the development of gigabit networks for business and public consumption. The three mayors have asked for other cities in Connecticut to join them in their effort to address the current problems of affordability and availability of high-speed networks in their respective areas, Government Technology reports.
The responses they get will help them to gather information about how their high-speed network will work and who will build it. The cities intend to develop private-sector partners for building and operating the infrastructure and network.
Connecticut Consumer Counsel Elin Katz told Government Technology, “If you have an open access model, hopefully you can reach out to low-income populations and bring the benefit to them, and give consumers choices. That’s what’s ideal about it. We’re also trying to avoid an ‘If you build it they will come’ mindset. The one thing that’s become very clear to us is there’s a lot of consumer education involved.”
NCTA Launches Onward Internet For Millennial Support
Non-profit net neutrality advocates Public Knowledge and Free Press effectively rally support behind their positions in recent months. Groups opposed to internet utility regulation are beginning to drum up support.
In the beginning of October, a group named Onward Internet started asking people what they saw the Internet in ten years, both through their website and at oversized comment boxes located in big cities along both American coasts.
Propublica reported on Oct 9 that the National Cable and Telecommunications Association was behind Onward Internet. Onward Internet’s website was updated to include their partnership with the NCTA, who they described as being “better known as the internet’s builders and including many of its content creators.” The NTCA is the principal trade association for the U.S. cable television industry and represents more than 200 cable program networks, equipment suppliers and providers of other services to the cable industry.
NTIA Report Highlights Gaps in Home Internet Use
A report released by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration found significant gaps in American home Internet use. Entitled “Exploring the Digital Nation: Embracing the Mobile Internet”, the five-year spanning report found that 72 percent of households in 2012 had in-home broadband, leaving 28 percent of American households without internet access at home.
The two top reasons for the lack of home Internet was the lack of interest or need (48 percent) and affordability (29 percent). The report also noted that the rapid adoption of mobile internet devices appears to be narrowing the digital divide among traditionally disadvantaged groups.
The Benton Foundation published a piece on Friday , October 17, dissecting both the NTIA report, and an FCC report released on October 16 entitled “Internet Access Services: Status as of December 31, 2013.”