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Industry Groups Praise New Broadband DATA Act, Pai and Kennedy Lock Horns on C-Band, Klobuchar Antitrust

David Jelke

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Photo of Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., in December 2016 by Tammy Baker used with permission

Various internet trade groups praised the Senate’s passage of the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act on Tuesday. The bill was introduced by Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, and Sens. Gary Peters, D-Michigan, John Thune, R-S.D., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn..

DATA stipulates that the Federal Communications Commission use a new data collecting approach that utilizes “shapefiles,” effectively promoting the steps that the FCC has taken as it transitions from the roundly criticized Form 477 data to the Digital Opportunity Data Collection system.

The Internet & Television Association, more commonly known as the NCTA, made the following statement:

“We welcome Congress’ action in passing legislation that will improve our national broadband maps and enable policymakers to better target scarce resources to areas that currently lack broadband service. In particular, we commend Congress’ ratification of the FCC’s decision to use ‘shapefile’ data that will better reflect provider service areas and will result in more accurate broadband maps. We urge the President to sign this legislation and to advance our shared interest in identifying unserved areas and connecting more homes to powerful, high-speed internet service.”

US Telecom had this to say about DATA:

“The House and now the Senate have both decisively acted to transform the country’s outdated broadband maps to get a clearer picture of who has – and who still lacks – access to broadband, the 21st century’s indispensable resource. Under the leadership of Senators Wicker, Peters, Thune and Klobuchar, Congress has adopted a data-driven plan to modernize the national broadband coverage maps with the express purpose of increasing deployment in rural America.

“US Telecom members are proud to have played a part in engineering this game-changing mapping plan – and have proven that it will work. Soon enough future federal broadband spending in rural America will finally be based on the most accurate and granular map we’ve ever had.”

Pai and Kennedy lock horns over C-Band incentive payments

The FCC and Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., locked horns over incentive payments to foreign satellite companies at a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday, reports John Eggerton of Broadcasting and Cable.

Federal Commissions Chairman Ajit Pai appeared before Kennedy, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Financial Services Subcommittee, and the subcommittee greenlit an FCC budget that includes awarding foreign satellite companies $9.7 billion to clear out of the C-Band for the upcoming public auction.

“Last month’s vote on the C-Band put the interests of foreign satellite companies ahead of taxpayers,” decried FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, a Democrat who sided with Kennedy over his Republican co-commissioners.

Pai insisted that the payout was necessary to incentivize foreign satellite operators to get in line for the C-Band Auction. Pai also argued that the FCC had the authority to give out those incentive payments.

$9.7 billion is still “a lot of jack,” countered Kennedy.

Klobuchar and Booker introduce antitrust legislation targeting big tech

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, introduced new legislation Tuesday designed to deter anticompetitive abuses that distort the competitive process and harm consumers, innovation, and new business formation.

The Anticompetitive Exclusionary Conduct Prevention Act would prohibit anticompetitive exclusionary conduct that risks harm to the competitive process. It would also makes reforms to improve antitrust enforcement across the board. The bill was cosponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Cory Booker, D-N.J.

“We have a major monopoly problem in this country, which harms consumers and threatens free and fair competition across our economy. Companies need to be put on notice that exclusionary behavior that threatens competition cannot continue,” Klobuchar said.

“Our legislation will deter anticompetitive abuses, helping to protect the competitive markets that are critical to ensuring fair prices for products and services, spurring innovation, and preserving opportunity for American entrepreneurs.”

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