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Matthew Berry

Phoenix Center Roundtable Features Critics of Net Neutrality Urging Fellow Critics to Make Voices Heard

in FCC/Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON, July 1, 2014 – At an informal Phoenix Center roundtable on Tuesday, June 24, Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O’Rielly criticized net neutrality and urged fellow critics to take advantage of the FCC’s open comment period on the topic.

Comedians like John Oliver of the Daily Show might have a flare for butchering the facts, O’Rielly said, but a jolt to the system is what public discourse desperately needs to get people talking about net neutrality.

O’Rielly argued that net neutrality proponents are on a crusade to fix a non-existent problem.

“Truth be told, we [at the FCC] haven’t provided any evidence of harm to consumers today,” he said. “If you read the public statements that providers have made, they have committed to existing practices which they think are beneficial to consumers…. We’re trying to impose a new rule without any harm.”

Matthew Berry, chief of staff to Commissioner Ajit Pai, said broadband regulation is unnecessary in a market with choices. A provider that blocks today is just going to be replaced by another. Jenner and Block Partner Sam Feder echoed this belief, saying that as long as the internet is competitive, the market will discipline it into openness.

O’Rielly even went on to say that the he doesn’t believe Section 706 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act actually gives the FCC any authority to regulate broadband services.

“I have deep concerns about where you can take that authority,” he said. “I believe that you can take that argument all the way over to standalone edge providers — and that’s extremely dangerous.”

If the FCC is to make thoughtful and informed decisions, then it’s up to the public to voice their concerns, O’Rielly said.

Creating Innovation-Friendly Environment and Promoting Seemless Transition to Internet Protocol Services Discussed at The Cable Show

in Broadband's Impact/FCC/IP Transition/Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON, June 11, 2013 – Creating an innovation-friendly environment and facilitating the internet protocol transition were featured as two Federal Communications Commission legal advisers spoke Tuesday at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association’s Cable Show.

The panel consisted of Matthew Berry, chief of staff for FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai and Alex Hoehn-Saric, policy director for FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. The two discussed how the FCC could best create an environment that encourages technological innovation while protecting consumers and promoting competition. Hoehn-Saric noted that the expansion of broadband infrastructure was crucial.

“No matter where you live, broadband is going to be the key to economic development,” he said.

Berry argued for the importance of updating old regulations that sometimes disincentivize investment, particularly in wireline broadband. Instead, the FCC should work to develop policies that keep pace with the changing industry.

“The FCC should not be a barrier for technological innovation that works for the benefit of consumers,” he said.

The two advisors were divided over the impact of net neutrality laws on innovation. Hoehn-Saric said that the rules are largely responsible to the rapidly advancing nature of the industry today. However, Berry argued that such innovations would have taken place regardless of whether or not the rules had been put into place.

“I think today’s environment is largely the same as yesterday’s environment, [before] the open internet rules,” Berry said.

The course of action that the FCC should take in the internet protocol transition transition was also a major topic of discussion.

Consumer protection was a high priority for Berry, particularly maintaining emergency 911 services during the transition. Now is the time to begin a pilot program, similar to the process used for the DTV transition, he said.

Hoehn-Saric agreed, adding that diverse areas should be used in order to develop a nuanced approach that will adapt to particular situations around the country.

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