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FCC

CES Panel Debates Net Neutrality, With Carriers Complaining About FCC Rules

LAS VEGAS, January 6, 2011 – Government and industry representatives gathered Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show for a panel discussion on the merits of the FCC’s recent Open Internet Order and its effects on the broadband industry.

Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post moderated the panel, instigating discussions ranging from whether the FCC had the appropriate authority to issue the Order, to what impact participants felt it would have on the future of the Internet.

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LAS VEGAS, January 6, 2011 – Government and industry representatives gathered Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show for a panel discussion on the merits of the FCC’s recent Open Internet Order and its effects on the broadband industry.

Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post moderated the panel, which was part of the Tech Policy Summit series at CES, instigating discussions ranging from whether the FCC had the appropriate authority to issue the Order, to what impact participants felt it would have on the future of the Internet.

The FCC Open Internet Order lays out three principles by which internet service providers (ISPs) must abide.  First, ISPs must provide services in a transparent manner by disclosing their network management practices and performance characteristics.  Second, network providers must not block lawful content from their customers, and third, providers may not unreasonably discriminate by prioritizing certain network traffic without sufficient reason.

A representative from each of network providers AT&T and Verizon indicated that their companies opposed the order.  Both, however, indicated that they felt the FCC had done a good job in a difficult position.

“The FCC did a great job of dealing with this issue,” said Tom Tauke, an executive vice president of public affairs and policy at Verizon.  “The fact is that Congress hasn’t addressed this issue… the FCC was working on shaky statutory authority.”

James Cicconi, senior vice president of external and legislative affairs at AT&T, asserted that the regulation was unnecessary and imposed a burden on the industry based on hypothetical situations.

“The problem when you’re dealing with hypotheticals, is that there is an infinite variety,” he said.  “If you try to legislate or regulate every one of them, you can shut down what you’re trying to protect.”

Rick Whitt, Washington media and telecommunications counsel for Google, supported the measure due to its moderate nature.

“This should be seen as an interim step – nothing happens in big steps in Washington,” said Whitt, going on to call the policy one “not of ‘wait and see,’ but rather of ‘watch and see.'”

The issue has also become a lightning rod for political debate, with many Republicans in the House vowing to use the newly-acquired majority to strike down the Order.

Neil Fried, Republican chief counsel on communications and technology matters for the Energy and Commerce Committee in the House of Representatives, indicated that reversing the Order was a high priority for Republicans in the 112th Congress.

“Net Neutrality is where we start on our tech policy docket,” he said, calling the Order a burden on business.

Roger Sherman, Democratic chief counsel for communications and technology policy for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, countered Fried’s assertions.

“We think it’s just the opposite. We think net neutrality protects the internet,” said Sherman, while leaving the possibility of alternative solutions on the table.  “If the GOP wants to open this issue and talk about ways to protect the internet rather than just gut what the FCC has done, we’re certainly open to that”

Jonathan began his career as a journalist before turning his focus to law and policy. He is an attorney licensed in Texas and the District of Columbia and has worked previously as a political reporter, in political campaign communications and on Capitol Hill. He holds a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Washington and a J.D. from Villanova Law School, where he focused his studies on Internet and intellectual property law and policy. He lives in Washington, D.C., where he roots for Seattle sports teams and plays guitar in his free time.

FCC

Cable Group NCTA Says Deny Exclusive Multitenant Access, But Not Wiring, Agreements

NCTA said the FCC should deny exclusive access to these buildings, but not exclusive wiring agreements.

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Michael Powell, president and CEO of NCTA

WASHINGTON, September 8, 2021 – The internet and television association NCTA is suggesting that the Federal Communications Commission deny all broadband providers exclusive access to multitenant buildings, but to continue allowing exclusive wiring agreements.

On Tuesday, the FCC opened a new round of comments into its examination of competitive broadband options for residents of apartments, multi-tenant and office buildings.

In a Tuesday ex parte notice to the commission, which follows a formal meeting with agency staff on September 2, the NCTA said the record shows that deployment, competition, and consumer choice in multiple tenant environments “are strong,” and that the FCC can “promote even greater deployment and competition by prohibiting not just cable operators, other covered [multiple video programming distributors], and telecommunications carriers, but all broadband providers from entering into MTE exclusive access agreements.

The organization, whose member companies include Comcast, Cox Communications and Charter Communications, also said it should continue to allow providers to enter into exclusive wiring agreements with MTE owners. Wiring just means that the provider can lay down its cables, like fiber, to connect residents.

“Exclusive wiring agreements do not deny new entrants access to MTEs. Rather, exclusive wiring agreements are pro-competitive and help ensure that state-of-the-art wiring will be deployed in MTEs to the benefit of consumers.”

The NCTA also told the FCC that there would be technical problems with simultaneous sharing of building wires by different providers and vouched for exclusive marketing arrangements, according to the notice.

The FCC’s new round of comments comes after a bill, introduced on July 30 by Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-New York, outlined plans to address exclusivity agreements between residential units and service providers, which sees providers lock out other carriers from buildings and leaving residents with only one option for internet.

Reached for comment on the filing, a spokesman for NCTA said they had nothing to add to the filing, which was signed by Mary Beth Murphy, deputy general counsel to the cable organization.

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China

Hytera’s Inclusion on FCC’s National Security Blacklist ‘Absurd,’ Client Says

Diversified Communications Group said the FCC flubbed on adding Hytera to blacklist.

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Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

WASHINGTON, September 8, 2021 – A client of a company that has been included in a list of companies the Federal Communications Commission said pose threats to the security of the country’s networks is asking the agency to reconsider including the company.

In a letter to the commission on Tuesday, Diversified Communications Group, which installs and distributes two-way radio communications devices to large companies, said the inclusion of Hytera Communications Corporation, a Chinese manufacturer of radio equipment, on a list of national security threats is “absurd” because the hardware involved is not connected to the internet and “does not transmit any sensitive or proprietary data.

“It seems that Hytera has been lumped in with other Chinese companies on the Covered List simply because they happen to manufacture electronics in the same country,” Diversified’s CEO Ryan Holte said in the letter, adding Hytera’s products have helped Diversified’s business thrive.

“This is a wrong that should be righted. Hytera is not a national security risk. They are an essential business partner to radio companies throughout the U.S.,” the CEO added.

In March, the FCC announced that it had designated Hytera among other Chinese businesses with alleged links to the Communist government. Others included Huawei, ZTE, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, and Dahua Technology.

List among a number of restrictions on Chinese companies

This list of companies was created in accordance with the Secure Networks Act, and the FCC indicated that it would continue to add companies to the list if they are deemed to “pose an unacceptable risk to national security or the security and safety of U.S. persons.”

Last month, the Senate commerce committee passed through legislation that would compel the FCC to no longer issue new equipment licenses to China-backed companies.

Last year the U.S. government took steps to ensure that federal agencies could not purchase goods or services from the aforementioned companies, and had previously added them to an economic blacklist.

In July, the FCC voted in favor of putting in place measures that would require U.S. carriers to rip and replace equipment by these alleged threat companies.

The Biden administration has been making moves to isolate alleged Chinese-linked threats to the country’s networks. In June, the White House signed an executive order limiting investments in predominantly Chinese companies that it said poses a threat to national security.

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Digital Inclusion

FCC Says 5 Million Households Now Enrolled in Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

The $3.2 billion program provides broadband and device subsidies to eligible low-income households.

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Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

August 30, 2021—The Federal Communications Commission announced Friday that five million households have enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit program.

The $3.2-billion program, which launched in May, provides a broadband subsidy of $50 per month to eligible low-income households and $75 per month for those living on native tribal lands, as well as a one-time reimbursement on a device. Over 1160 providers are participating, the FCC said, who are reimbursed the cost to provide the discounted services.

The agency has been updating the public on the number of participating households for the program. In June, the program was at just over three million and had passed four million last month. The program was part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

“Enrolling five million households into the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program in a little over three months is no small feat,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of nearly 30,000 individuals and organizations who signed up as volunteer outreach partners.”

Rosenworcel added that conversations with partners and the FCC’s analysis shows the need for “more granular data” to bring these opportunities to more eligible families.

The program’s strong demand was seen as far back as March.

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