Go to Appearance > Menu to set "Primary Menu"

Bringing you the latest in Gigabit Networks, broadband usage, wireless and more

Tag archive

Ed Markey

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, in Press Call with Sen. Markey, Proposes $1.5 Billion Increase in E-Rate

in FCC/Universal Service by

WASHINGTON, November 17, 2014 – Federal Communications Committee Chairman Tom Wheeler and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., on Monday proposed increasing the $1.5 billion cap to the E-rate portion of the Universal Service Fund.

Schools and libraries, who would benefit from such an increase, have been calling for it for years now. Despite requests for E-rate funds increasing annually and totalling more than $5 billion in 2012, the original funding cap of $2.25 billion for E-rate, which had been in place since 1997, was increased marginally to $2.4 billion in late 2010 to adjust for inflation.

“Our workers in the 21st century will get the skills set in school so they can compete in the global marketplace,” said Sen. Markey, who played a key role in the creation of the original E-rate when a member of the House during the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

Along with a series of policy changes aimed at enhancing affordability of service, Chairman Wheeler’s proposal would increase the cap to $3.9 billion. The move would continues the committee’s recent efforts to modernize fundamental aspects of the E-rate program.

In order to accomplish the proposed permanent increase to the E-rate cap, Americans with telephone lines would pay an additional 16¢ per month, totaling about $2 a year, in addition to the 99¢, on average, that they already pay per month. The increase will help to bring high speed connectivity, which the FCC currently defines as 100 Megabits per second, Mbps, to the 75 percent of libraries and 33 percent of schools that currently lack such a complete connection.

E-Rate Cap Graph

As laid out in a FCC fact sheet on the subject, the increase “balances two factors: (1) establishing a clear principle that the program should support the needs of all schools and libraries – rural and urban, large and small – but (2) that the program must also demand significant efficiencies in the process to ensure that each penny collected from rate payers be necessary and appropriately invested.”

Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., supported the Wheeler proposal, stating, “The E-Rate program is a critical component of our national competitiveness strategy…Rural and low-income areas must have access to the world class connections they need to take advantage of today’s digital learning tools. I urge the FCC to take this next step to put E-Rate on strong footing for generations to come.”

Broadband Coalition Launched Over Summer Urges More Competition For Consumers’ Sake

in Broadband's Impact by

WASHINGTON, September 3, 2014 – A group of leading telecommunications providers in June announced the creation of a new trade group, dubbed “Customers for Competition,” at the same location at the Library of Congress where the 1996 Telecommunications Act was signed at the Library of Congress 18 years ago.

“We will be building stories from all over the country, from customers who benefit from competition,” said Former Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss., CEO of COMPTEL, a trade group of competitive telecommunications carriers. “There is a broad group of business, individuals and communities that believe in the same principles of competition.”

Back in 1996, no one had broadband in their homes, said guest speaker Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. Today, “12-year olds believe it’s a constitutional right.”   Broadband’s prevalence and the nation’s reliance on it has united both sides of the political aisle on maintaining a free-market driven internet, he said.

Markey was joined by Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., former Commerce Committee Chairman Thomas Bliley, Jr., R-Va., and Former Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., who shared similar sentiments. Former Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps even said the U.S. “has never had a more crying need for legislation and regulation” promoting competition.

“We have some competition and we’re proud of it,” Copps said, “but we could have so much more.”

Members from various competitive providers including XO Communications, and Rural Health Telecom also spoke at the event and boiled competition’s benefits down to: choice, price and service.

“[Competition] drives us everyday to do better…to innovate and provide those services that customers need in order to do the things they do across the spectrum of businesses they represent,” said Chris Ancell, CEO of XO Communications. “To make that network work, competition needs to continue to be in place. We need to continue to have interconnection between all the networks that are out there…to have access to locations that are fundamental to businesses in terms of providing their services.”

Without competition, the Internet could descend into the same flawed monopoly that existed under the telephone system, Markey said.

“We had one phone company – 1.2 million employees, conveniently with employees in all 435 congressional districts,” Markey said. “Because we only had one phone company, consumers suffered, businesses suffered, innovation suffered.”

In a competitive environment, providers like Rural Health Telecom can offer the best possible technology to rural health care providers, which will save time, money and lives, said CEO of Rural Health Telecom Tim Koxlien.

Koxlien reminisced about how his grandfather used to stay at his family farm out in the middle of nowhere in Wisconsin.

“There was telemedicine that helped my grandfather, at the time, stay in that house – just a little simple thing of having a call button to say ‘I need help’ in the middle of nowhere in West Central Wisconsin,” Koxlien said. “The technology’s changed a lot and it’s through innovation that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 [made possible] …promoting and pursuing better tele-health legislation that can help us do more than just having a button around a person’s neck.”

Apart from the improvements technological booms could make to standards of living, Public Knowledge President Gene Kimmelman said the Internet is above all “about freedom of expression” and the ability for people to exercise their basic rights to participate in a democracy.

“The 1996 Telecom Act was the future back then. It is the future today. It is the future tomorrow,” said Markey, “because it embraces and embodies the principles that are essential to guaranteeing that we have an ongoing revolution in technology and accessibility within our society.”

Critics at Digital Policy Institute Say Net Neutrality Is a Solution In Search of a Problem

in Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON, July 22, 2014 – As the Federal Communications Commission received more than a million comments on the agency’s push for net neutrality regulations governing the conduct of broadband providers, critics argued on July 15 that net neutrality is a counter-intuitive solution in search of a problem.

Moreover, these critics said, “common carriage” regulation under the Communications Act would actually prohibit broadband providers from engaging in paid discrimination against content providers like proponents claim.

An event hosted by the Digital Policy Institute included Babette Boliek, associate professor of law at Pepperdine University, former FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth, Hal Singer, principal at Economists Incorporated, and Brent Skorup, research fellow at the Mercatus Institute at George Mason University.

Although net neutrality proponents fear internet service providers might block or degrade services they don’t like, Skorup said that such behavior would be bad for business. ISPs concern themselves first and foremost with bringing consumers fast broadband connections. Degrading their platform would be to “shoot themselves in the foot.”

Boliek said she’d like no regulation at all from the Federal Communications Commission. Managing any concerns that ISPs would block or degrade a service like Netflix, “is exactly what antitrust and consumer protection laws would protect you from.” This approach waits to solve a problem until it actually arises.

Hastily slapping net neutrality rules on the internet would raise prices, stifle innovation, reduce quality of internet services in the United States, Furchtgott-Roth said.

There is precedence for less regulated industries outperforming heavily regulated ones, Boliek added.

“It is no surprise that the technology that has had this lighter regulatory touch has enjoyed greater investment, greater information, greater growth, and greater consumer satisfaction,” Boliek said. “This happened  when landlines were still controlled under Title I. Cable, on the other hand, did not have this severe regulation that is Title II. And we know the story of cable and broadband. It has taken off at a greater speed, rate and popularity.”

Mobile is part of the story, too, she said. Initially treated like landlines telephones under Title II, mobile phones were “abysmal,” Boliek said.  “Cell phones did not take off until after those regulations had been lifted.”

The experts at the panel agreed that if regulation is to happen, it’s better to lean toward a “light-handed approach.”

But proponents take the opposite view. Michael Weinberg, vice president at Public Knowledge, said on July 15 that Title II was “the only way to protect a single, open internet.” Democratic senators Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Al Franken of Minnesota, Chuck Schumer of New York, and Ron Wyden of Oregon reinforced their desire for common carriage regulation in a joint letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. They argued that Section 706 of the Telecom Act of 1996 – the provision upon which Wheeler has thus far relied in his efforts to impose net neutrality – was inadequate to meet the requirement that businesses serve everyone.

“Sanctioning paid prioritization would allow discrimination and irrevocably change the internet as we know it,” the senators wrote. “Small businesses, content creators and internet users must not be held hostage by an increasingly consolidated broadband industry. Start-ups should not find themselves unable to get a foot in the door, deterred from making the kind of investments that make the internet the engine for creativity and economic growth we know today. Consumers should not be faced with fewer choices at ever higher prices while ISPs monetize their data and dictate who succeeds and who fails online.”

At the Digital Policy Institute event, economist Singer said that Title II was nothing but harmful.

“Using Title II to solve this problem is the equivalent of using a fire hose in your kitchen to eliminate the risk of a fire,” Singer said. “Certainly, it does the job but the ancillary harm it can cause swamps the benefits, especially if there’s a less invasive remedy that will do the trick.”

While proponents argue that forbearance, or the ability for the FCC to excuse compliance with portions of the regulations, eases concerns about Title II reclassification, Singer said it’s “pretty far-fetched” to assume that every single future commission will “forbear” the same way every time.

Singer did, however, take the more moderate approach that abuses should be judged on a case-by-case basis.

“Title II doesn’t strike the right balance, which is weighing the incentives of the ISPs to invest at the core against the incentives of the content providers to invest at the edges.”

More importantly, Title II “does not do what proponents purport it does” – namely, prevent discrimination, Furchtgott-Roth said. Even under Title II rules, common carriers can still discriminate, albeit in a more diminished capacity.

“It’s hard to believe that Congress intended the old monopoly telephone price regulation to apply to the broadband networks that we have today, which very fast moving [and] dynamic,” he said.

Singer and Furchtgott-Roth questioned whether Wheeler would have the three votes necessary to pass net neutrality rules under either Section 706 or Title II.

Broadband Roundup: FCC, Congress and Broadband Providers Clash On Municipal Broadband

in Broadband Roundup/Broadband's Impact by

WASHINGTON, July 17, 2004 – The House of Representatives passed an amendment Wednesday  in a 223-220 vote to prevent the Federal Communications Commission from preempting state laws that forbid municipal broadband networks, the National Journal reported.

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., spearheaded the proposal, according to Ars Technica, on the argument that the FCC has no authority to overturn state legislation.

“We don’t need unelected federal agency bureaucrats in Washington telling our states what they can and can’t do with respect to protecting their limited taxpayer dollars and private enterprises.”

“States have spoken and said we should be careful and deliberate in how we allow public entry into our vibrant communications marketplace, a sector of our economy that invests tens of billions of dollars each year, accounts for tens of thousands of jobs, and serves millions of consumers.”

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has argued that restrictions on city-owned broadband raise competitive barriers in the industry. In a blog post last month, he commended city leaders in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for spurring economic growth.

“The facts speak for themselves: competition works – when it is allowed to. Throughout the country where we have seen competitive broadband providers come in to a market, prices have gone down and broadband speeds have gone up. No wonder incumbent broadband providers want to legislate rather than innovate.”

Comcast executive David Cohen said at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing that while cities “should be allowed to” build their own networks, “taxpayer subsidy of poorly-run and ultimately bankrupt broadband networks don’t benefit anyone,” according to The Consumerist.

AT&T’s John Stankey, in an exchange with Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass, said “we don’t believe that private companies should actually compete against public-subsidized, taxpayer cost to capital in that market.” Markey retorted that “prices would go down dramatically” if it did happen.

In Partisan Vote, FCC Passes a Modified E-Rate Proposal for Spending Funds on Wi-Fi Connectivity

in FCC/Universal Service by

WASHINGTON, July 15, 2014 – The Federal Communications Commission on Friday voted to modernize of its E-Rate program Friday, reallocating funds from technologies considered obsolete to Wi-Fi based connectivity in schools and libraries. However, owing to strong skepticism from opponents over funding, the proposal was scaled back to $2 billion, down from its original $5 billion.

The 3-2 vote came when FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler secured support from the other two Democratic-appointed commissioners. But Republican-appointed Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly dissented.

Wi-Fi versus Broadband Connectivity

Previously, education groups like National Association of Federally Impacted Schools and the National Education Association had criticized the proposal for leaving rural and suburban schools with no funds for basic internet connectivity, sometimes referred to as Priority I services. The final proposal agreed that funds for Wi-Fi and internal connections, called Priority II service would not be funded at the expense of Priority I services.

“Part of the problem is [our schools] are not all totally hooked up to the point where they can even consider Wi-Fi or modernized things to do with the Internet,” said NAFIS Executive Director John Forkenbrock.

In past years, nearly 50 percent of the FCC’s $2.4 billion E-Rate funds went to non-broadband legacy services including paging, email and voice service. Opponents to the proposal – among both educators and Republicans –questioned whether cutting back on these services would be sufficient to fund a new E-Rate Wi-Fi program for as many as five years.

Even with the reduced proposal budget of $2 billion from 2016 to 2018, Pai and O’Rielly blasted the agency’s Wi-Fi spending. Both said that some of the $2 billion for Wi-Fi would have to be collected through higher fees on phone bills.

“It always seems to be easier for some people to take more money from American people via taxes and fees, rather than do the hard work,” O’Rielly said. “If more money is justified for E-Rate, let’s dig in and find offsets, not stick it to hardworking poor and middle-class Americans.”

The Need for E-Rate Reform

Democratic-appointed Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel took the opposite view: not enough of the proposed funds are being allocated toward Wi-Fi. She called for increased annual funding overall to meet the demand that is roughly double the E-Rate’s expenditure.

“We can’t expect to compete if we educate the next generation with a support system frozen in the age of dial-up,” said Rosenworcel.

NEA President Van Roekel said the FCC was right to not hastily alter the fundamental structure of the E-Rate program without guaranteed funding. He said that more needs to be done in the long term.

“If we are serious about ensuring equity in our schools, all the demand for ongoing internet connectivity must be met—especially in high-needs schools,” Roekel said. “Shifting our goals to establish Wi-Fi in targeted school districts, without increasing the cap, could undermine the historical importance and significance of the E-Rate Program.

Similar sentiments were shared by Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., who said that “while the need to promote Wi-Fi in all schools and libraries is more important than ever, it should not come at the expense of bringing broadband to the brick and mortar building itself. To truly ensure our students and the public can best compete in our interconnected 21st century economy, the FCC must still take action to increase the program’s permanent funding cap.”

But at Friday’s meeting, Wheeler said that significant change to the program was necessary.

“No responsible business would stick with an information technology plan developed in 1998,” Wheeler said. “We owe the same rigorous self-examination to our schools and libraries.”

Significant Criticism Preceded Vote

In the lead up to the agency vote on Friday, more than a dozen education advocacy groups wrote the FCC a joint statement saying that the proposed changes “will only dilute an already over-subscribed E-Rate program.” While “nominal savings may be realized by eliminating legacy services,” it doesn’t guarantee additional funding.

In particular, NAFIS took issue with Wheeler’s proposal to take funds from Priority I internet access and shift them to Priority II internal connections and wireless internet.

Wheeler’s previous proposals could have imposed harm if it had phased down support for the internet access portion of Priority I services, said Mary Kusler, who heads the government relations department at the National Education Association.

“For 18 years this has been an incredibly successful program. However, for the past 18 years, there has been over $5 billion worth of applications” every year, she said, ”so we’ve essentially had double the requests for discounts than money available. What we see in [Wheeler's] proposal is an attempt to divert the attention away from that connectivity point to this idea of ensuring Wi-Fi access…and while Wi-Fi is certainly a piece of the puzzle, we are very concerned that it’s really only connecting those that already have connectivity.”

Aspen Institute fellow Blair Levin expressed much greater optimism about modernization in a blog post with the Benton Foundation. He said funding for old legacy services constitutes roughly $1.2 billion of E-Rate spending and would be a significant source of cost saving.

The Universal Service Administrative Corporation estimated that it committed $9.8 million for email services and almost $28 for web hosting in the funding year 2011. Another $934,000 that same year went to paging services in response to more than 500 E-Rate requests despite the technology being viewed as obsolete today. Another 100 requests called for $95,000 in funding commitments to dial-up services.

Considerably more savings can be seen by phasing down support for telephone services, said Kusler, calling it a “double edged sword.” Although it will allow more money to be devoted to internet connectivity, “at the same time, it’s a fixed cost at the local level that is not gonna go away. So if school districts start having to pay their full share of telephone bills, they’re going to have to make up that funding somewhere else.”

Levin added that another major source of cost savings will come through programs like “volume discounts through consortia-enabled bulk purchasing, and improved pricing transparency.”

In the lead up to Friday’s meeting, Sens  Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., and Markey warned that a per-student or square foot distribution method for Wi-Fi could result in a sub-optimal solution.

“As the founders of the E-Rate program, we applaud your commitment to schools and libraries across the country. Nothing short of our international competitiveness and children’s future are at stake with E-Rate modernization. That is why it is so important for you to take the time necessary to get this right.”

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

in FCC/Net Neutrality/Universal Service by

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.

Broadband Roundup: With Aereo off the Air for Now, Alternatives Seek Advantage, and Legislators Advocate for Municipal Broadband

in Broadband Roundup/Copyright/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2014 -Following the Supreme Court’s blow last week against Aereo, the video streaming service has shut down indefinitely as it drags back into the lower courts. Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia wrote a letter to consumers explaining the decision.

“We have decided to pause our operations temporarily as we consult with the court and map out our next steps,” Kanojia said. “All of our users will be refunded their last paid month…the spectrum that the broadcasters use to transmit over the air programming belongs to the American public and we believe you should have a right to access that live programming whether your antenna sits on the roof of your home, on top of your television or in the cloud.”

Aereo lost last week’s case because the Supreme Court ruled that the service was violating network television providers’ copyright by streaming their programming without paying royalties.

With Aereo gone for now, The New York Times said other streaming companies are scrambling to fill the void by luring former traditional TV customers with their own offers. Hulu, Amazon, Google and Netflix are all developing cheap alternatives.

Roku, Sling Media, TiVo, Mohu and Simple.TV are selling hardware that lets viewers stream television to digital services or view web video on TV sets.

Simple.TV lets users buy their own antenna and the $199 Simple.TV box, which records programs on a connected hard drive. Premium service features automatic recording and remote access from around the globe. And unlike Aereo, The Times said Simple.TV customers capture signals in their homes, which consequently “fits squarely into fair use,” said Simple.TV CEO Mark Ely.

Eight Democratic congressmen led by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Penn., are vigorously defending municipalities’ rights to build broadband networks. In a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, the group wrote that “local communities should have the opportunity to decide for themselves how to invest in their own infrastructure.”

The group called on the FCC to use its “full arsenal of tools” to pre-empt state laws that prevent city-owned broadband.

Speaking of the FCC, Wheeler scheduled a vote in July on rules for closed captioning online video clips for improved accessibility, according to The Hill. While the rules would only apply to online clips of video of video programming that aired on television with closed captions, Wheeler wants all online videos closed captioned in the long run.

The Digital Media Association, which represents Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Google’s YouTube, warned that “the time and cost of enabling captions is not substantially less for a 2-minute clip than for a 2-hour full-length movie.”

The National Association of Broadcasters voiced similar concern: ““the FCC must shy away from unreasonable demands that would have adverse consequences for viewers by forcing video clips off the Internet.”

Lastly, Akamai Technologies released its 1Q State of the Internet report. It revealed that global Internet speeds have increased by 24 percent over the last year and almost two percent in the last three months.

Critics on Both Ends of the FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules, With a Few Supporters in the Middle

in Broadband's Impact/FCC/Net Neutrality by

Editor’s Note: Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is attempting to craft legally unassailable rules promoting net neutrality. But he’s run into trouble from all sides. Communications providers aren’t happy. His fellow commissioners aren’t happy. And the “netroots” activists aren’t happy, either.

BroadbandBreakfast.com posts three articles on Thursday’s action at the FCC. First, the scene at 12th Street SW. Second, the reaction from interested parties. Third, what the details of the agency’s order says.

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2014 – The Federal Communication Commission’s effort to thread the needle on net neutrality with regulations that will withstand legal scrutiny while also satisfying open internet activists led to starkly divided responses to the Thursday measure.

In the camp expressing disappointment that agency Chairman Tom Wheeler didn’t go further, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a member of the Commerce Science and Transportation Committee, said that innovation over the internet in America could unless broadband were to be reclassified as a common-carrier telecommunications service.

“Internet access today is like traditional phone service decades ago – we can’t live or work without it,” Markey said. “We must stop broadband behemoths from setting up fast and slow lanes and picking winners and losers. Start-ups and small business would suffer, slowing our economy and job growth throughout Massachusetts and around the country.”

Gabe Rottman, legislative counsel and policy advisor with the American Civil Liberties Union agreed on the need to reclassify the Internet as a public utility. “This is a First Amendment issue,” he said, “because if broadband service providers are allowed to slow or block some content at will, they will be able to stifle the speech of internet users.”

Rottman did, however, express gratitude to the FCC for opening the door open to  greater regulation.

Public interest group Public Knowledge thanked the FCC for reacting to the activist pressure. “After extensive public outcry, the FCC is asking questions about the fundamental legitimacy of fast lanes and exploring the viability of Title II,” said Public Knowledge Vice President Michael Weinberg. “This shift simply would not have occurred without the outpouring of concern from organizations, companies, Members of Congress, and individuals who rely on a truly open internet every day.”

Weinberg said that the agency’s proposed “commercially reasonable” standard would open the door to a two-tiered internet of “paid prioritization.”

In the more neutral camp, the Computer and Communications Industry Association acknowledged the need for an open internet, but conceded that finding the proper legal framework was tricky.

National Cable and Telecommunications Association CEO Michael Powell said that “maintaining an open internet is not only the right thing to do, it’s vital to our ability to attract and keep our customers.” He voice deep skepticism that should the internet be reclassified under Title II of the Communications Act, the FCC’s regulatory reach would expand exponentially and lead to a potential slippery slope.

“Treating broadband as a utility-like Title II service would reverse years of settle precedent, dry up investment in broadband deployment and network upgrades, and result in protracted litigation and marketplace uncertainty,” said Powell.

Other industry-focused advocacy groups blasted the very idea of net neutrality. TechFreedom Senior Fellow Geoffrey Manne and TechFreedom President Berin Szoka said that the FCC was stepping outside its authority, denounced the proposed rule as rushed and unsubstantiated, saying that the agency had not proven that there was a problem in the first place.

“The [FCC] is trying to do what must ultimately be done by Congress: effectively rewrite the 1996 Telecommunications Act,” they said. They instead urged lawmakers to reexamine a joint 2010 proposal by Google and Verizon in 2010, as well as the Digital Age Communications Act proposed in 2006 by telecom scholars under the auspices of the Progress and Freedom Foundation, a now-defunct think tank.

Randolph May, president of the Free State Foundation non-profit group, said that sloganeering had triumphed over proper regulatory analysis. Without proper market power or cost-benefit analysis, the FCC’s evidence of harm to consumers is based on nothing more than hypotheticals.

“I’m confident that if we reach a point that America’s consumers believe that the internet needs new FCC regulations in order to somehow be saved from conjectural harms – despite the remarkable progress made in the past absent such regulations – they will make their views known to their elected representatives,” May said.

Twitter Q&A on Children’s Online Privacy with Reps. Markey and Barton

in Privacy by

New press release came across the transom about the lawmakers that have introduced bipartisan, bicameral ‘Do Not Track Kids’ Act to provide new tools for parents, protections for teens in mobile environment

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2014 – Today, Senator Edward J. Markey (@MarkeyMemo) and Rep. Joe Barton (@RepJoeBarton) are hosting a Twitter Q&A on children’s online privacy. Using the hashtag #AskKidsPriv, the lawmakers will be answering questions on Twitter about how parents can protect their children online, what tools are available to prevent online tracking of children, and their legislation The Do Not Track Kids Act.

The Do Not Track Kids Act, co-sponsored by Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) in the Senate and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) in the House, amends the historic Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA), will extend, enhance and update the provisions relating to the collection, use and disclosure of children’s personal information and establishes new protections for personal information of children and teens. Currently, COPPA covers children age 12 and younger, and it requires operators of commercial websites and online services directed to children 12 and younger to abide by various privacy safeguards as they collect, use, or disclose personal information about kids. Among several provisions, the Do Not Track Kids Act would extend protection to teens ages 13 to 15 by prohibiting Internet companies from collecting personal and location information from teens without their consent and would create an “Eraser Button” so parents and children could eliminate publicly available personal information content, when technologically feasible.

WHAT: Twitter Q&A on children’s online privacy and Do Not Track Kids Act

WHO: Senator Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Barton (R-Texas)

WHEN: 2PM TODAY ET, Wednesday, April 9, 2014

HASHTAG: #AskKidsPriv

Energy and Commerce Democrats Counter Republican Charges Over Spectrum-Bidding Measures

in FCC/Mobile Broadband/Spectrum/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2013 – On Thursday, Democratic Representatives Henry Waxman, Anna Eshoo, and Doris Matsui of California, plus Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Diana DeGette of Colorado, and Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania issued a letter to outgoing Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, responding to Republican members of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Republicans on the committee had previously expressed concerns that the incentive auctions provided for in the spectrum provisions of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 would promote anti-competitive practices. In the letter, Democrats counter that Republicans have neglected key parts of the legislation.

The authors of the letter note that the tax relief act added a new paragraph 17 to section 309(j) of the Communications Act. This paragraph contained two provisions that can be used to prevent any single bidder from acquiring an excessive number of licenses through these incentive auctions.

Subparagraph 17(A) allows all companies that meet certain requirements to bid in these auctions, although they can still be prohibited from bidding on every single block of licenses. Additionally, subparagraph 17(B) maintains the FCC’s ability to limit spectrum aggregation to promote competition.

In neglecting these paragraphs, the Democrats assert, the Republicans are mischaracterizing the legislative history of the provisions that, they contend, properly prevent single bidder from acquiring a large number of license blocks.

Additionally, the Democrats urged the FCC to have confidence in the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice.

“The Department’s involvement in wireless mergers and its competitive concerns regarding the undue concentration of spectrum have been consistent across both Republican and Democratic administrations,” the representatives said.

1 2 3
Go to Top