Connect with us

Broadband's Impact

Web Content Producers Favor Net Neutrality, Reject Regulation of Search Engines

WASHINGTON, December 16, 2009 – Web content producers applauded the efforts of the Federal Communications Commission to turn Net neutrality principles into enforceable rules – but lawyers, academics and commissioners were divided on whether the agency should begin regulating the internet in the name of democracy and economic growth.

“The genius of the Internet is its openness, its dynamism and its availability to one and all,” said FCC Commissioner Michael Copps in his opening statements at a Tuesday afternoon workshop on “Democratic Engagement and the Open Internet.”

Published

on

WASHINGTON, December 16, 2009 – Web content producers applauded the efforts of the Federal Communications Commission to turn Net neutrality principles into enforceable rules – but lawyers, academics and commissioners were divided on whether the agency should begin regulating the internet in the name of democracy and economic growth.

“The genius of the Internet is its openness, its dynamism and its availability to one and all,” said FCC Commissioner Michael Copps in his opening statements at a Tuesday afternoon workshop on “Democratic Engagement and the Open Internet.”

“History teaches us that when a company has the technical capacity and a financial incentive to interfere, there will be some bad apples who will,” Copps continued. “Given what’s at stake, we need hard and fast rules…to keep them from doing so.”

Commissioner Robert McDowell said that throughout 15 years of development of the private internet, a bipartisan government has allowed for the Internet to grow unfettered by government regulation.

McDowell noted that the Constitution is a check on the government’s ability to limit speech. When the government guesses wrong and imposes a regulatory regime based on unfounded fears about the future, a market failure might soon follow.

Stuart Benjamin, the FCC’s latest scholar in residence, moderated the panel. Benjamin is a noted First Amendment scholar from Duke Law School, where he also teaches telecommunications law.

He began the workshop with the statements of web content producers, bloggers and actors. John Moore, CEO of Rowdy Orbit IPTV, supported a clear alternative platform and unobstructed direct line to under-served and minority viewing audiences.

People of color can go online, control their own cost, and connect with like minded people to create content without going through the approval process with a corporate executive. Garlin Gilchrist, director of new media at the Center for Community Change, wanted to inspire others to build stronger communities and promote passion for technologies. A truly open internet will allow local non-profits to connect with donors in their area, and open internet allows for funding from more outlets, said Gilchrist.

Michelle Combs from the Christian Coalition of America said that she wanted to protect her ability to Tweet and send YouTube videos to her constituents during a political race or when an amendment comes up in Congress that her organization opposes.

Glenn Reynolds, founder of Instapundit.com, added that low barriers of entry have created an entirely new face of journalism and information-sharing. He cited how independent journalists are now able to provide live commentary from Iraq, when many small broadcasters cannot afford such a luxury.

Bob Corn-Revere, a partner at Davis Wright and Tremaine and a self proclaimed student of the First Amendment, agreed that content regulation might be threat to the open internet. He agreed with McDowell’s view that Net neutrality rules were not the answer.

Jack Balkin, from Yale Law School disagreed with Corn-Revere. Balkin said that the open internet is crucial to freedom of speech and democracy because it allows people to actively participate in decentralized innovation, form new digital networks, and allows for freedom from prior government constraints. People can reach all audiences and route around gatekeeper with great new tools and applications. Balkin finished, “the First Amendment protects speech, not business models.”

Andrew Schwartzman from the Media Access Project, followed up on Balkin’s comments by asking, “Whose First Amendment right are we talking about? … An internet service provider is not serving as a speaker while it is serving as a conduit.”

Benjamin then asked the panelists, how serious was the problem of providers blocking internet access, if all past instances of blocking have been cured by currently existing open internet principles?

Content producers seemed to agree that the real danger lies in the fact that it is not clear what gate keepers will try to block. Reynolds said that while providers might have a First Amendment right to speak, they do not have the right to be an avatar for the speech of their customers.

To Benjamin’s second point, that there would be no consumer pushback to network management if consumers didn’t discover anything wrong, Balkin said, “Much of the problem is what we do not know and what we cannot find.”

Added Schwartzman: transparency is very important when most Americans have a very limited choice of provider and a very high switching cost.

The last question from Benjamin and audience members asked whether it would also be necessary to regulate search engines as well as internet providers. Here a clear majority that believed that search engines are not carriers and therefore do not need to be regulated.

As Deputy Editor, Chris Naoum is curating expert opinions, and writing and editing articles on Broadband Breakfast issue areas. Chris served as Policy Counsel for Future of Music Coalition, Legal Research Fellow for the Benton Foundation and law clerk for a media company, and previously worked as a legal clerk in the office of Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. He received his B.A. from Emory University and his J.D. and M.A. in Television Radio and Film Policy from Syracuse University.

Broadband's Impact

Broadband Breakfast on October 27, 2021 — When ‘Greenfield’ Fiber Meets ‘Brownfield’ Multiple Dwelling Units

What options do owners of, operators in, and tenants within MDUs have for better-quality broadband?

Published

on

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can watch the October 27, 2021, event on this page. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021, 12 Noon ET — “When Greenfield Fiber Meets Brownfield Multiple Dwelling Units”

Bringing fiber to the premises is sometimes only half the battle. For example, bringing fiber to an MDU may not mean that every tenant will get better-quality broadband. In the case of multiple dwelling units or multi-tenant housing, it isn’t easy to completely rewire an existing building with fiber-to-the-unit. Further, the Biden Administration and the Federal Communications Commission are pushing real estate owners to eliminate or minimize exclusive MDU broadband contacts. What options do the owners of, operators in, and tenants within MDUs have to enjoy both competitive and better-quality broadband?

Panelists:

  • Kevin Donnelly, Vice President, Government Affairs, Technology and Strategic Initiatives, National Multifamily Housing Council
  • Jenna Leventoff, Senior Policy Counsel, Public Knowledge
  • Pierre Trudeau, President and Chief Technology Officer, Positron Access
  • Other Guests have been invited
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast

Kevin Donnelly is Vice President for Government Affairs, Technology and Strategic Initiatives at the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and represents the interests of the multifamily industry before the federal government focusing on technology, connectivity, risk management and their intersection with housing policy. Kevin is a part of NMHC’s Innovation and Technology team and leads its Intelligent Buildings and Connectivity Committee.  Kevin has spent over 15 years in the public policy arena at leading real estate trade associations and on Capitol Hill. Kevin received his BA from Rutgers University and his Masters in Public Management from Johns Hopkins University.

Jenna Leventoff is a Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge, where she focuses on broadband deployment and adoption. Prior to joining Public Knowledge, Jenna served as a Senior Policy Analyst for the Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC) at the National Skills Coalition, where she led WDQC’s state policy advocacy and technical assistance efforts on state data system development and use. She also served as an Associate at Upturn, where she analyzed the civil rights implications of new technologies, and as Manager and Legal Counsel of the International Intellectual Property Institute, where she led the organization’s efforts to utilize intellectual property for international economic development. Jenna received her J.D, cum laude, and B.A from Case Western Reserve University.

Pierre Trudeau is President and Chief Technology Officer, Positron Access.

Drew ClarkEditor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast, also serves as Of Counsel to The CommLaw Group. He has helped fiber-based and fixed wireless providers negotiate telecom leases and fiber IRUs, litigate to operate in the public right of way, and argue regulatory classifications before federal and state authorities. He has also worked with cities on structuring Public-Private Partnerships for better broadband access for their communities. Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

Continue Reading

Education

National Non-Profit to Launch Joint Initiative to Close Broadband Affordability and Homework Gap

EducationSuperHighway is signing up partners and will launch November 4.

Published

on

Evan Marwell, founder and CEO of Education Super Highway.

WASHINGTON, October 18, 2021 – National non-profit Education Super Highway is set to launch a campaign next month that will work with internet service providers to identify students without broadband and expand programs that will help connect the unconnected.

On November 4, the No Home Left Offline initiative will launch to close the digital divide for 18 million American households that “have access to the Internet but can’t afford to connect,” according to a Monday press release.

The campaign will publish a detailed report with “crucial data insights into the broadband affordability gap and the opportunities that exist to close it,” use data to identify unconnected households and students, and launch broadband adoption and free apartment Wi-Fi programs in Washington D.C.

The non-profit and ISPs will share information confidentially to identify students without broadband at home and “enable states and school districts to purchase Internet service for families through sponsored service agreements,” the website said.

The initiative will run on five principles: identify student need, have ISPs create sponsored service offerings for school districts or other entities, set eligibility standards, minimize the amount of information necessary to sign up families, and protect privacy.

The non-profit said 82 percent of Washington D.C.’s total unconnected households – a total of just over 100,000 people – have access to the internet but can’t afford to connect.

“This ‘broadband affordability gap’ keeps 47 million Americans offline, is present in every state, and disproportionately impacts low-income, Black, and Latinx communities,” the release said. “Without high-speed Internet access at home, families in Washington DC can’t send their children to school, work remotely, or access healthcare, job training, the social safety net, or critical government services.”

Over 120 regional and national carriers have signed up for the initiative.

The initiative is another in a national effort to close the “homework gap.” The Federal Communications Commission is connected schools, libraries and students using money from the Emergency Connectivity Fund, which is subsidizing devices and connections. It has received $5 billion in requested funds in just round one.

Continue Reading

Broadband's Impact

Steve Lacoff: A New Standard for the ‘Cloudification’ of Communications Services

The cloudification of communications services makes it easy to include voice, data, SMS, and video within any existing service.

Published

on

The author of this Expert Opinion is Steve Lacoff, general manager of Avalara for communications

The line of demarcation between what has traditionally been considered a telecommunications service was once very clear. It was tangible – there were wires, end points, towers, switches, facilities. Essentially, there was infrastructure required to relay voice or data from point A to point B.

Today that line is fuzzy, if not invisible. The legacy infrastructure remains, but an industry of cloud-based services that don’t require the physical connections has exploded. Voice, data, SMS, and video conferencing can now be conveniently delivered OTT. Enabled by simple API integrations, businesses can embed just one of these services or a complete communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) into an app, service, or product.

Cloudification is a game changer

This “cloudification” of communications services makes it easy to include voice, data, SMS, and video within any existing application, product, or service. These are essential components for many business models.

Consider these services we have come to rely on in our daily lives: food or grocery delivery, ride services, and business and personal communications. These require multiple methods of communication with shoppers, drivers, co-workers, watch party groups, and external business partners.

The exciting news is there is no end in sight. Use cases will continue to evolve and growth will continue to skyrocket. The scale cloud delivery accommodates is massive. These untethered, easy to embed communications services are a critical differentiator for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer buyers, and the lifeblood of the businesses providing both the end user subscriptions and the APIs.

In fact, one industry juggernaut saw H1 YoY video application service demand grow nearly 600% in 2020.

Not surprisingly, as business demand for these services increases smaller CPaaS players continue to enter the market to quickly snag market share. According to a recent IDC study, “the global market revenue for CPaaS reached $5.9bn in 2020, up from $4.26bn in 2019, and is expected to reach $17.71bn by 2024.”

Merger and acquisition activity is aligned with this hockey stick growth forecast. Large telcos, SaaS providers, and even other CPaaS providers are all on the hunt. Whether they want to add additional features to punch up their products or eliminate the competition in a very tight, nuanced market, the end game is clear – as the market expands, the players will ultimately contract leaving only the most competitive offerings.

Don’t let communications tax take you by surprise

One of the least understood risks when adding cloud-based voice, data, SMS, or video conferencing to an existing product or service is new eligibility for and exposure to the complex world of communications taxation. Making mistakes can get costly very quickly.

Here are some of the key pitfalls to keep an eye on:

  • Expanded nexus: Understanding communications tax nexus is different – and exceptionally more complicated – than sales tax. There are approximately 60,000 federal, state, local, and special taxing jurisdictions, each with uniquely complex rules that tend to change at their own pace. Rules are very different for each service.
  • More complex calculations: The more communications services you provide via API, the more complicated communications taxes will be. Each feature can be taxed at different rates in each individual jurisdiction, or the whole bundle can be taxed at one rate. It’s critical to monitor monthly to avoid audit issues.
  • Maintaining overall compliance: Just as tax rates and rules need to be maintained, so must tax and regulatory filing forms in each jurisdiction. Some of these are very long and require significant detail.  They must be filed in a timely, accurate cadence to avoid additional audit risk.

Bottom line: Don’t assume, be prepared! As these communications services become more pervasive a larger swath of technology providers will find themselves liable for communications tax. The more your business falls behind, the more it can cost you.

It pays to be proactive and prepared. Tax and legal advisory experts can help determine your level of risk, and tax and compliance software providers can help you keep up with changing rules and regulations. Don’t underestimate the ongoing value of networking with peers who are either struggling to answer the same questions or have already overcome the hurdles you’re facing today.

Steve Lacoff is General Manager of Avalara for Communications. With a focus on data, VoIP, and video streaming, Steve has spent 15 years in various product and marketing leadership roles in communications and technology industries, including Disney’s streaming services and Comcast technology solutions. Steve now drives business strategy on today’s changing industry landscape and associated tax impacts. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

Continue Reading

Recent

Signup for Broadband Breakfast

Get twice-weekly Breakfast Media news alerts.
* = required field

Trending