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CTIA – The Wireless Association

Subcommittee Hearing Assesses Spectrum Clearing and Sharing Approaches

in Congress/House of Representatives/Spectrum/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2013 – Witnesses from government agencies and private industry underscored the importance of making more efficient use of radio-frequency spectrum, including sharing and utilization of new technology, at a hearing on Thursday afternoon.

In his opening remarks at the Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., discussed the importance of freeing spectrum for commercial use through actions such as the upcoming incentive auctions.

“Such auctions can help make spectrum available to meet the growing demand from mobile broadband services,” he said.

Several committee members expressed concerns that the Department of Defense was not working adequately to prepare for changes in spectrum use. Teri Takai, Chief Information Officer for Defense, was unable to provide any estimates on the cost of sharing spectrum or moving Defense networks to different bands.

Takai said that many spectral functions, particularly in regard to aeronautical uses, cannot share frequencies with commercial users without risk of interference.

However, Takai also noted that some functions can be shared, and the department would be willing to do so. Takai said that Defense has been awaiting a final decision from the Federal Communications Commission before moving forward any further on a study regarding spectrum relocation.

 

The block of spectrum between 1755 and 1780 Megahertz (MHz) was also a significant topic of discussion.

Christopher Guttman-McCabe, executive vice president of CTIA – The Wireless Association, noted that the block is adjacent to spectrum already in commercial use. Therefore, he said, it could easily be integrated into private networks. Most other developed countries have this band designated for commercial use. Guttman-McCabe urged the committee to follow the example of these other nations.

Currently, the 1755-1780 MHz band is utilized partly by Defense for training purposes. Takai argued that the department needs all of this spectrum for training purposes. However, Guttman-McCabe said that that block of spectrum would be unable to be used in nearly any country where the military might be deployed – a point that he said detracted from Takai’s arguments.

Although clearing of federal spectrum for auction was a main topic, the hearing also covered other solutions to the spectrum crunch.

Dean Brenner, senior vice president of government affairs for Qualcomm, claimed that small, low-power cellular base stations, sometimes called femtocells, had a significant role to play in future wireless networks. Between 10 to 20 percent of people would have them installed in their homes within the next five years, said Brenner.

Additionally, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., suggested that spectrum sharing between government agencies, rather than between agencies and the private sector, was a more promising direction. However, Karl Nebbia, associate administrator in the Office of Spectrum Management for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, pointed out that this already occurs quite often.

“Federal agencies have almost no exclusive spectrum to a particular agency,” Nebbia said. Nebbia’s agency is part of the Commerce Department.

Wireless Consumer Usage Notification Guidelines Agreed to by Industry and Consumer Groups

in FCC/Mobile Broadband/Transparency/Wireless by

WASHINGTON Monday October 17, 2011 – FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, CTIA The Wireless Association’s President and CEO Steve Largent and Consumers Union’s Policy Counsel Parul Desai  held a press conference at Brookings Institute yesterday morning to announce new “Wireless Consumer Usage Notification Guidelines.”

Building upon their Consumer Empowerment Agenda, the FCC has been working with the wireless industry and public interest groups to protect consumers from sudden and unexpected charges on their monthly wireless bills otherwise known as “Bill Shock.”

“Bill Shock is a real consumer problem that needs to be fixed, and there are ways to do this easily and inexpensively, using technology that is widely available,” stated the Chairman.

The FCC has proposed three steps that wireless companies should take. These steps are:

  1. Send voice or text alerts to notify consumers when they approach and when they reach monthly plan limits for voice, data, and text that would result in overage charges.
  2. Send alerts when consumers are about to incur international roaming charges that are not covered by their monthly plans; and
  3. Clearly disclose any tools that mobile providers offer to let consumers set their own usage limits and monitor their usage balances.

Largent explained that the CTIA will update its “Consumer Code of Wireless Conduct” to include a provision that will require carriers to provide free alerts to consumers, before and after they reach monthly limits on voice text and data.  CTIA additionally will plan to include notifications to inform consumers of international roaming charges when traveling abroad.

Largent added that he is pressing for two of these free alerts to be made available to all consumers by October 2012, with the remaining notification to be enacted by April 2013.

“We’re encouraged that the industry is offering to provide free alerts to help customers avoid ‘bill shock,’ and we urge them to do it as quickly as possible,” noted Desai from Consumers Union. “Some companies are already providing free alerts, while others are charging extra fees for them, and we think it’s possible – and consumers deserve – to immediately receive free alerts to avoid overage charges.”

In order to ensure compliance the Chairman explained “Consumers Union and the FCC will work together to launch a new web portal on the FCC website that will allow consumers and anyone to see what types of alerts are provided by each CTIA member. This portal will allow the FCC and the public to track whether carriers have complied with their obligations. This public portal will also provide a public incentive for carriers to move quickly with implementation.”

Genachowski also noted that since the wireless industry is taking the current steps to reduce “Bill Shock”, the FCC will be placing it’s Rulemaking on hold in order to monitor compliance efforts.

The guidelines put forth by Consumers Union, CTIA and the FCC are essential for protecting consumers and driving adoption of wireless broadband countrywide.

Eshoo Introduces 4G Carrier Transparency Bill

in Congress/FCC/House of Representatives/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, June 24, 2011 – Wednesday Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) introduced legislation that would require wireless 4G carriers to provide consumers with complete and accurate information about their 4G services.

“Consumers deserve to know exactly what they’re getting for their money when they sign-up for a 4G data plan,” said Rep. Eshoo in a statement released on Wednesday.

“My legislation is simple – it will establish guidelines for understanding what 4G speed really is, and ensure that consumers have all the information they need to make an informed decision.”

The legislation would also require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to evaluate the speed and price of 4G service provided by the top ten U.S. wireless carriers. The measure would provide consumers with access to a side-by-side comparison in their service area.

Jeffrey Nelson, Executive Director of Corporate Communications at Verizon Wireless, agreed that the congresswoman identifies a very real problem, stating that some wireless companies simply rename their 3G networks “4G” despite there being a clear technological difference between the two types of networks.

“When companies exaggerate their claims, and relegate technology advances into nothing more than marketing games, they shouldn’t be surprised when elected officials insist that consumers receive truthful and accurate information,” said Nelson.

CTIA-The Wireless Association was not convinced that legislation was the answer and viewed solving the looming spectrum crunch as a more relevant in solving carrier speed problems.

“We are concerned that the bill proposes to add a new layer of regulation to a new and exciting set of services, while ignoring the fact that wireless is an inherently complex and dynamic environment in which network speeds can vary depending on a wide variety of factors,” said Jot Carpenter, CTIA-The Wireless Association Vice President of Government Affairs, in a statement on Wednesday.

According to information from Eshoo’s office, she understands that differences in service speeds exist, but feels it is necessary for carriers to be forthcoming with consumers about what they are selling.

Sites like RootMetrics.com, an independently crowd sourced carrier coverage mapping company, are made by consumers, for consumers who want to capture and use data to make informed carrier choices. Such efforts, however, demonstrate the lack of wireless carrier transparency towards consumers. Bill Moore, CEO of Rootmetrics, agreed with Rep. Eshoo about the confusion over what 4G means.

“The major carriers are each touting 4G coverage, but our testing reveals that all 4G technology is not the same,” said Moore in a response to an email query.

“In addition, it is important for consumers to know that 4G today is about data speeds, but does not have anything to do with voice.”

FCC Addresses Wireless Buildout Issues At Monthly Meeting

in FCC/Mobile Broadband/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, April 8, 2011 – The Federal Communications Commission passed a series of measures aimed at expanding mobile broadband access at its April open meeting on Thursday.

In a unanimous vote, the Commission passed an update to the pole-attachment rules. The update lowers the rate that utility companies may charge mobile providers for attaching antennas to utility poles. In the past, utility firms have charged mobile provides more than double what they charged cable companies. Under the new rules, the costs are comparable.

The update also includes a new deadline under which pole attachment requests must be resolved. The new rules require utility companies to respond to the request within 148 days.

“It’s not sexy or very exciting and you can quickly get lost in the weeds, but clarifying the rules surrounding rates and access to poles has been on the Commission’s to-do list for longer than I’ve been here—and that’s a long time,” Commissioner Michael Copps said in a statement. “Pole attachments are without a doubt one of the critical inputs when communications providers assess the economics of deploying advanced telecommunications networks. “

Chairman Julius Genachowski called pole attachments the “blood and guts” of the telecommunications infrastructure.

As a companion to the pole-attachment rules, the Commission also issued a Notice of Inquiry requesting comment on current tower siting and right of way requirements.

The wireless trade association, CTIA, commended the FCC through a statement saying, “In stressing the need to unlock greater efficiencies in rights-of way and wireless facilities siting policies to speed broadband deployment, today’s Notice of Inquiry recognizes that work remains to improve wireless infrastructure buildout.”

In a 3-2 party-line vote, the Commission also approved an order that will require wireless broadband providers to enter into data roaming contracts with other wireless broadband providers. This new order will allow subscribers of regional carriers to access data services out of their network.  Similar rules exist for voice roaming.  The Commission found that many larger mobile broadband providers have refused to negotiate any 3G or 4G roaming agreements.

“The news of AT&T’s attempt to purchase T-Mobile makes it even more important for the FCC to continue to make sure that consumers have affordable choices in the marketplace,” said Parual Desai, Policy Counsel for Consumers Union. “This data roaming rule will help in that effort and we will work with the FCC to work on other important competitive issues such as interoperability, special access and spectrum policy.”

The Republican commissioners supported the idea of data roaming agreements but felt that the agency did not have the legal authority to impose the agreements.

“Very often when we act here at the Commission, someone says we’ve exceeded our authority.  But the truth is that these claims of overreaching are themselves an overreach,” said Chairman Genachowski. “During the last four years, the federal courts have issued 16 published merits decisions addressing direct statutory challenges to FCC orders.  The FCC prevailed in 15 of the 16 challenges—94 percent of the time.  I am confident that the same result will pertain here, if this order is challenged.”

Both Verizon and AT&T released statements in which they opposed the data roaming order. The companies claim that they will now have less incentive to expand their wireless broadband infrastructure if they must share it with their competitors.

“By forcing carriers that have invested in wireless infrastructure to make those networks available to competitors that avoid this investment, at a price ultimately determined by the FCC, today’s order discourages network investment in less profitable areas,” said Verizon executive vice president of public affairs, policy and communications, Tom Tauke. “That is directly contrary to the interests of rural America and the development of facilities-based competition and potential job creation.”

In contrast, Sprint supported the order asserting that access to data roaming services is necessary to expand wireless broadband services to the entire nation.

By unanimous vote the Commission also adopted a Notice of Inquiry asking for information on how the nation can “strengthen the reliability and resilience” of the communications network.

“Our Nation’s own experiences, in the aftermath of disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, and violent storms like the one which struck my parent’s neighborhood in South Carolina this week, highlight the importance of having our networks protected from potential failures,” said Commissioner Mignon Clyburn in her statement of support. “The NOI asks important questions about critical features in preventing the outages such as the need for backup power, and backhaul redundancy.”

ASCAP Music Licensing Fees Voided for Yahoo, RealNetworks

in Copyright by

SAN FRANCISCO, September 28, 2010 –  A U.S. rate-setting court’s formula for establishing the fees that Yahoo! and RealNetworks must pay the nation’s dominant music licensing group is fundamentally flawed because it uses inconsistent data sets and because the benchmarks it uses aren’t relevant or comparable, said a U.S. appeals court Tuesday.

“The district court did not adequately support the reasonableness of its method for measuring the value of the internet companies’ music use,” wrote Judge John M. Walker in the Tuesday opinion for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on behalf of himself, Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs and Judge Debra Ann Livingston.

The judges also said that the rate court’s establishment of benchmarks using the rates cable companies and broadcast stations pay for licensing music was inappropriate because the nature and scope of the online companies’ use of music differed significantly.

“The district court did not adequately support the reasonableness of the 2.5% royalty rate applied to he value of the internet companies’ music use,” wrote Walker.

The judges also sided with Yahoo! when it faulted the rate court for relying on inconsistent sets of data sources for coming up with its music licensing formula. And they said that the rate court’s attempt to come up with a simple 2.5% across-the-board license for the two online services is imprecise, and does not take into account the different kinds of services that both Yahoo! and RealNetworks offer.

The three-judge panel also found that the rate court did not give enough of a rationale for basing its licensing fee formula on the amount of time a piece of music is streamed, rather than on page views, which is the primary driver of advertising revenue.

“The district court must follow an approach more tailored to the varying nature and scope of Yahoo!’s music use,” wrote Walker.

And Yahoo can’t be compared to television stations because its business isn’t as reliant on music as the television industry, argued the three judges.

“Nearly every program on a television station somehow utilizes musical works,” wrote Walker. “In contrast, only a fraction of the traffic on Yahoo!’s web site uses music — much of Yahoo!’s web site does not implicate any music whatsoever. Given that Yahoo!’s revenue base relies far less on ASCAP content than the television networks’ revenue base, we believe that comparing percentages of overall revenue bases is of little probative value in this benchmark analysis.”

ASCAP stands for the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. It’s responsible for licensing 45% of the legal music online and represents 295,000 people in the music business.

The judges pointed to Yahoo!’s more specific licensing terms with BMI, another licensing body, for the different kinds of uses of music as an example of how licensing agreements can be more reflective of the nature of the use of the music.

ASCAP’s agreements with Turner Broadcasting for its various cable stations also accommodate different kinds of licenses depending on how each station uses music, noted Walker.

The appellate court did agree with the lower court on one separate, but key issue in this case that was also on appeal: That downloads do not constitute a public performance of a work as defined under current copyright law.

“Jimmy Hendrix memorably (or not, depending on one’s sensibility) offered a “rendition” of the Star-Spangled Banner at Woodstock when he performed it aloud in 1969,” Walker wrote.  Yo-Yo Ma “plays” the Cello Suite No. 1 when he draws the bow across his cello strings to audibly reproduce the notes that Bach inscribed. Music is neither recited, rendered, nor played when a recording (electronic or otherwise) is simply delivered to a potential listener.”

Spectrum Bills Move Quickly Through House Subcommittee

in Wireless by

WASHINGTON, January 21, 2010 – The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet approved by voice vote legislation to inventory and help reallocate the nation’s wireless spectrum. The panel marked up and unanimously approved H.R. 3125, the Radio Spectrum Inventory Act, and H.R. 3019, the Spectrum Relocation Improvement Act of 2009.

Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher, D-Va., expressed gratitude for the bipartisan process by which the bills had been drafted and introduced, and noted the growing importance of wireless spectrum to the nation’s economic health and recovery.

“As more and more Americans use data-intensive smartphones and as services like mobile video emerge, the demand for spectrum to support these applications and devices will grow dramatically,” he said. “Additional spectrum for commercial wireless services will be needed and it will be needed soon. ”

The only amendment to either bill was a substitute amendment to H.R. 3125 authored by Boucher. Among the changes in the amendment, which was adopted by voice vote, were provisions strengthening protections for spectrum users who fear disclosure of their usage information could harm national security. The bill previously would have only allowed Federal agencies to object to disclosure of their spectrum use.

Boucher’s amendment also added language that would require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and Federal Communications Commission to update and maintain the national spectrum inventory on a regular basis, including making note of spectrum auctions and any manner of frequency license transfers or reassignments.

The Subcommittee also reported out favorably the Spectrum Relocation Improvement Act of 2009. The bill, which was not amended, would hasten the process by which spectrum users clear bands when directed so new licensees could take possession of spectrum that had previously been won at auction.

The bill seeks to address delays by Federal agencies in clearing bands of spectrum purchased by T-Mobile to build out the carrier’s 3G network. The carrier has reported numerous delays by Federal agencies which cite national security concerns in refusing to release the spectrum.

Steve Largent, president of CTIA-The Wireless Association, which represents the nation’s mobile industry, was pleased by the Subcommittee’s quick action on the bill. But Largent expressed concern at the prospect of spectrum not being available to consumers, calling it “our industry’s backbone,” and warned of dire consequences in delaying further. “[R]apidly growing consumer demand for mobile broadband services means that we are facing a brewing spectrum crisis,” he said. “These bills begin the process of helping free up additional spectrum for mobile broadband services.”

Largent called on the full committee to take action and move the bill quickly: “We hope that the inventory and relocation improvement processes will precede and follow, respectively, a process to reallocate significant spectrum for advanced wireless services so that America’s wireless industry can continue to be the world’s leader.”

Both bills move to the full Energy and Commerce Committee, which must approve them before either can be called up for a vote on the House floor. Similar Spectrum inventory language is also pending before the Senate Commerce Committee in the form of legislation sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.

Wireless Industry Official, Consumer Advocate Face Off On Net Neutrality

in FCC/Net Neutrality/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, December 15, 2009 – A representative from a wireless industry focused trade association and a co-founder of a consumer advocate group faced off Tuesday on the heated topic about whether the Federal Communications Commission should regulate Internet access to support Net neutrality or open Internet principles.

CTIA-The Wireless Association Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Chris Guttman-McCabe and Public Knowledge’s President & Co-founder Gigi Sohn said they agree Internet service providers should be transparent, provide disclosure to consumers and other companies as to how they are running their businesses, and they should have the ability to manage their networks reasonably.

However, the agreement ended there. Guttman-McCabe said the FCC hasn’t made a good case for why the proposed regulations should exist. He warned of more harm and unintended consequences while currently so much is going right in the internet space.

Sohn, on the other hand, argued that the last four years of “no mans land,” or no official regulation on Net neutrality principles, “hasn’t benefited anyone” but added that the Internet is currently “working really well.” Sohn doesn’t think ISPs should be able to pick winners and losers. According to Sohn, the proposed Net neutrality rules are “very narrow.”

“As I said in the debate, if these rules are enacted, their impact would go well beyond what the FCC has envisioned – fundamentally changing the wireless industry in a negative way,” Guttman-McCabe said following the debate.

CTIA argues that the FCC “should recognize the unique aspects of wireless that militate against applying wireline net neutrality rules to a wireless world. Without the ability to adapt, evolve, and respond to the changing wireless environment through reasonable network management, a consumer’s intensive network use can harm all other users in the vicinity.”

“Wireless carriers actively manage their networks to both ensure the highest-quality Internet experience for all consumers – not only the few who demand inordinate amounts of bandwidth and capacity – and to ensure that services that are time-sensitive are given the resources to function properly,” said CTIA in a statement. CTIA warns that the regulation of one area — such as broadband Internet access providers — will impact all parts of the “interdependent wireless ecosystem.”

Sohn said she is concerned that the FCC’s current definition of reasonable network management is too “loose goosey.” She doesn’t want large wireless carriers to be able to prioritize data. Sohn said “the question is no longer whether we will have Net neutrality regulation” but how it can be done right in a way that protects consumers.

BroadbandCensus.com People Column: Tech Lobby, Wireless Board Changes

in Broadband's Impact/Premium Content by

WASHINGTON, October 30, 2009 – CTIA-The Wireless Association announced Friday that it has a newly elected board of director officers. AT&T Mobility President and CEO Ralph de la Vega will serve as CTIA’s chairman, Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse will act as vice chairman, Asurion CEO Bret Comolli as treasurer, Cellcom President and CEO Patrick Riordan as secretary and T-Mobile USA President and CEO Robert Dotson as chairman emeritus.

On The Lobby Front

Thomas Gann has been serving as the vice president of government relations at the antivirus and cyber security McAfee. And Intel has hired Republican Ryan Triplette and Democrat Peter Muller as directors of government relations. Triplette previously served as chief intellectual property counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee for Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., and Muller recently served as director of government relations for the biotechnology firm Genentech. He also was the chief of staff for eight years for then-Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., who’s now undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.

In the section of this article included as premium content, the People Column includes information about new lobbyists for Qualcomm, Google, plus tech jobs that have recently opened and are waiting to be filled.

Content available for Paid and Trial Subscribers of BroadbandCensus.com Premium Content. Click here to subscribe.

[private_Premium Content][private_Free Trial]Greg Farmer is now heading the Washington, D.C., office of Qualcomm, Roll Call reported this week. Farmer currently works in government affairs with Nortel Networks. He has served as chief of staff to then-Rep. Buddy MacKay, D-Fla., and as undersecretary of Commerce in the Clinton administration. Meanwhile, the software firm Blackboard has hired Republican Erin Tario, formerly of the National Association of Home Builders, as a manager of government relations, the publication reported.

Also on the people front, Frannie Wellings, a former staffer to Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., is joining Google as a federal policy outreach manager and the White House has nominated Philip Coyle, III, of California, to be an associate director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Tech Jobs Waiting To Be Filled

As of yet, Microsoft has not named its new big communications cheese in Washington, D.C. The person would be filling the shoes of Ginny Terzano who left to head the communications practice for the Dewey Square Group. Microsoft is also still listing a director of federal government affairs post with a focus on Senate Republicans. The person would be responsible for developing the company’s federal political, policy, and relationship goals related to intellectual property rights protection, electronic commerce, telecommunications, high-skilled immigration, trade, Internet safety, competition policy, education and workforce development.

Google has a number of Washington-based jobs it continues to advertise for including: Academic Relations Manager, Privacy Policy Counsel, Small Business Community Outreach Manager and a Policy Associate opening.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is still advertising a newly created position of vice president of government affairs that will be responsible for policy development and advocacy before the U.S., Latin America, and Canadian governments.

Meanwhile, DigitalSociety.org is looking to hire a tech policy analyst/expert to cover digital content and commerce issues.

Please send any people tips to people@BroadbandCensus.com.

About BroadbandCensus.com

BroadbandCensus.com was launched in January 2008, and uses “crowdsourcing” to collect the Broadband SPARC: Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition. The news on BroadbandCensus.com is produced by Broadband Census News LLC, a subsidiary of Broadband Census LLC that was created in July 2009.

A recent split of operations helps to clarify the mission of BroadbandCensus.com. Broadband Census Data LLC offers commercial broadband verification services to cities, states, carriers and broadband users. Created in July 2009, Broadband Census Data LLC produced a joint application in the NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program with Virginia Tech’s eCorridors Program. In August 2009, BroadbandCensus.com released a beta map of Columbia, South Carolina, in partnership with Benedict-Allen Community Development Corporation.

Broadband Census News LLC offers daily and weekly reporting, as well as the Broadband Breakfast Club. The Broadband Breakfast Club has been inviting top experts and policy-makers to share breakfast and perspectives on broadband technology and internet policy since October 2008. Both Broadband Census News LLC and Broadband Census Data LLC are subsidiaries of Broadband Census LLC, and are organized in the Commonwealth of Virginia. About BroadbandCensus.com.[/private_Premium Content][/private_Free Trial]

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FCC Takes First Step to Formally Regulate the Internet Through Proposed Neutrality Rules

in Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON, October 22, 2009 – The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday approved controversial proposed rules governing internet access during its monthly public meeting. Commissioners on all sides of the debate stressed the importance of having an open internet, and in engaging in constructive dialogue on the issue going forward.

The move marked the beginning of a formal phase of regulating internet access. Although the FCC in August 2005 adopted a policy statement pledging fidelity to four Net neutrality principles, such a policy was never binding upon all broadband providers.

Additionally, the proposed rules go beyond those four generally-accepted neutrality principles.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a supporter of Net neutrality efforts for some time, noted that the FCC has been addressing open internet questions since 2005.

“[W]e face the dangerous combination of an uncertain legal framework with ongoing as well as emerging challenges to a free and open Internet,” he said.” Given the potentially huge consequences of having the open Internet diminished through inaction, the time is now to move forward with consideration of fair and reasonable rules of the road, rules that would be enforceable and implemented on a case-by-case basis,” he said.

Republican Commissioners Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker both expressed skepticism about the need for regulation.

During the meeting, Genachowski announced the development of a Technical Advisory Process to be launched by Julie Knapp, chief of the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology, to make sure engineering principles – and not politics – inform answers to technical questions.

Under the proposed draft rules, a broadband service provider would not be allowed to prevent users from “connecting to and using on its network the user’s choice of lawful devices that do not harm the network” or to prevent users from sending or receiving lawful content on the Internet.

The proposed rules also hold that providers cannot prevent users from running lawful applications or services. The agency said it is seeking comment on how it should address internet protocol-based offerings provided over networks used for broadband. Comments on the proposed rules are due on January 14 and reply comments on March 5.

Wireless association CTIA said Thursday that it was pleased the Commission will investigate how the proposed rules should apply to the mobile wireless broadband platform. It also noted that “the imposition of net neutrality rules will degrade the value of unencumbered licenses purchased in the most recent auctions and threaten the integrity of the auction process.”

Barbara Esbin, a senior fellow at The Progress & Freedom Foundation, said she is concerned that “the FCC is poised to take intrusive action into a well-functioning Internet ecosystem without either the demonstrated need or clear legal authority to do so.”

NetCompetition.org Chairman Scott Cleland, a vigorous critic of Net neutrality rules, said in a Thursday statement that “The fundamental unease surrounding this proposed rulemaking is whether new, expanded, and formal FCC regulations could fundamentally transform the long-privatized open internet into a de facto public information commons or morph private broadband companies into de facto public utilities.”

Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, said, “We are concerned about how the commission addresses the issues surrounding copyright enforcement. In particular, we do not believe copyright holders have the right to demand filtering of everyone’s network traffic, which would violate privacy and free speech rights of everyone online. We are also concerned about the definition and operation of managed services.”

The FCC also received praise from a number of groups, such as the Open Internet Coalition, for its diligent work to preserve Internet freedom.

Meanwhile, two unlikely bedfellows on the open Internet front emerged Wednesday night in a blog entry cross-posted on the public policy websites of Google and Verizon Wireless. The move followed comments delivered by Ivan Seidenberg, CEO of Verizon Communications, that were highly critical of net neutrality proponents.

About BroadbandCensus.com

BroadbandCensus.com was launched in January 2008, and uses “crowdsourcing” to collect the Broadband SPARC: Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition. The news on BroadbandCensus.com is produced by Broadband Census News LLC, a subsidiary of Broadband Census LLC that was created in July 2009.

A recent split of operations helps to clarify the mission of BroadbandCensus.com. Broadband Census Data LLC offers commercial broadband verification services to cities, states, carriers and broadband users. Created in July 2009, Broadband Census Data LLC produced a joint application in the NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program with Virginia Tech’s eCorridors Program. In August 2009, BroadbandCensus.com released a beta map of Columbia, South Carolina, in partnership with Benedict-Allen Community Development Corporation.

Broadband Census News LLC offers daily and weekly reporting, as well as the Broadband Breakfast Club. The Broadband Breakfast Club has been inviting top experts and policy-makers to share breakfast and perspectives on broadband technology and internet policy since October 2008. Both Broadband Census News LLC and Broadband Census Data LLC are subsidiaries of Broadband Census LLC, and are organized in the Commonwealth of Virginia. About BroadbandCensus.com.

FCC Net Neutrality Efforts Spark Interest Group Mania

in Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON, October 21, 2009 – As the Federal Communications Commission nears the monthly meeting slated for Thursday to consider new regulations regarding Net neutrality, e-mail boxes across Washington are being flooded by all manner of interest groups staking their claim over neutrality and freedom on the Internet.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s decision to take steps toward formal Net neutrality regulations is not surprising, particularly given President Barack Obama’s campaign pledge was to “strongly support the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet.”

Businesses and interest groups have taken hard-line stances for and against Net neutrality. The term deals with how broadband providers may charge differential rates for preferred business customers.

“The rise of serious challenges to the free and open Internet puts us at a crossroads,” Genachowski said in a September speech at the Brookings Institution. “We could see the Internet’s doors shut to entrepreneurs, the spirit of innovation stifled, a full and free flow of information compromised. Or we could take steps to preserve internet openness, helping ensure a future of opportunity, innovation, and a vibrant marketplace of ideas.”

Internet companies such as Amazon, Google, and Skype, among others, favor Net neutrality rules. Dan Martin of Google told BroadbandCensus.com Wednesday that “opponents are trying to confuse the issue, but network neutrality is about networks that control consumer access to the Internet, not the plethora of applications, services, and viewpoints on the Internet itself.”

“This is about ensuring that a handful of broadband corporations can’t determine what people can see, do, or say on the Internet,” he said.

The Open Internet Coalition on Wednesday hosted an animated press call with reporters. Speakers included representatives from Amazon.com and Free Press.

On the other side are carriers including AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon Communications. Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg on Wednesday warned against “pitting network providers and applications developers against each other in a zero-sum game, when the real promise of broadband is an expanding pie for everybody,” in remarks at the Supercomm conference in Chicago.

“Rather than impose rigid rules on a rapidly changing industry, the FCC should focus on creating the conditions for growth,” he said. Steve Largent, president & CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association, said in an email that “Our greatest concern is that if Net neutrality is enacted for wireless, the U.S. will lose its leadership in the wireless world.”

Adding fuel to the fire in favor of regulation have been tech CEOs, Public Knowledge and the Christian Coalition. Those concerned about the FCC’s potential action include the Chamber of Commerce, some governors, minority groups, the Free State Foundation, and National Association of Manufacturers.

A letter from a variety of non-profit groups said the “outcry over a proposal the public has yet to see is clearly intended to halt the dialogue over the proper rules of the road for an open Internet before it even starts.”

The FCC has also received a significant amount of attention from Congress, including from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. A letter signed by Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., among others, urges the FCC Chairman to “avoid tentative conclusions which favor government regulation.”

About BroadbandCensus.com

BroadbandCensus.com was launched in January 2008, and uses “crowdsourcing” to collect the Broadband SPARC: Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition. The news on BroadbandCensus.com is produced by Broadband Census News LLC, a subsidiary of Broadband Census LLC that was created in July 2009.

A recent split of operations helps to clarify the mission of BroadbandCensus.com. Broadband Census Data LLC offers commercial broadband verification services to cities, states, carriers and broadband users. Created in July 2009, Broadband Census Data LLC produced a joint application in the NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program with Virginia Tech’s eCorridors Program. In August 2009, BroadbandCensus.com released a beta map of Columbia, South Carolina, in partnership with Benedict-Allen Community Development Corporation.

Broadband Census News LLC offers daily and weekly reporting, as well as the Broadband Breakfast Club. The Broadband Breakfast Club has been inviting top experts and policy-makers to share breakfast and perspectives on broadband technology and internet policy since October 2008. Both Broadband Census News LLC and Broadband Census Data LLC are subsidiaries of Broadband Census LLC, and are organized in the Commonwealth of Virginia. About BroadbandCensus.com.

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