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Senate Upholds FCC Open Internet Rules



WASHINGTON Friday November 10, 2011. Thursday afternoon, the Senate voted 52 – 46 to defeat S.J Res 6 which would have overturned the Federal Communication Commissions Open Internet Rules.

The rules are now set to go into effect on Nov 20, but they still face challenges in the courts from companies like Metro PCS, Verizon that argue, the FCC has over stepped its authority.  Free Press is also challenging the rules in court arguing that the rules do not go far enough in keeping the internet open and neutral.

We put together a couple highlights and statements from Senators over the past couple of days to share.

Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Chairman of the Commerce Sub Committee on Communications Technology and the Internet released a statement after the vote saying, “This is a victory for innovation, consumers, and common sense.  Today, the Senate refused to hand over the Internet to a small group of corporate interests, and we need to keep up the fight because we know this isn’t the last we’ve heard of the assault on net neutrality.”

Kerry, in his statements in front of the Senate on Wednesday said that the argument that the FCC is going to regulate the internet is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing argument.”  He added, “The truth is that if the rules are overturned, every innovator on the Internet will be exposed to the risk that before they innovate, before they create a new product, they’re going to have to go to somebody and say, “Mother, may I do this?”, and then there will be a price attached to that.”

Kerry then compared the Net Neutrality debate to the popular Occupy Wall Street Protests, “The other side is coming here and trying to create a new structure where the process will be gamed once again in favor of the most powerful. I mean, this is really part of the whole debate that’s going on in America today about the 99% who feel like everything is gamed against them and the system is geared by the people who have the money and the people who have the power who get what they want. That’s what this debate is about.”

Senator Al Franken (D-MN) expressed his disapproval of the Resolution on the Senator floor by stating “When this resolution of disapproval passed the House back in April, I hoped that would be the end of it. I hoped that my colleagues would recognize that we should let agencies do their jobs-and not employ an arcane procedure to erase a rule that the FCC started thinking about in 2004 under Republican Chairman Michael Powell, and again in 2005 when a different Republican Chairman, this time, Kevin Martin adopted a unanimous policy statement on net neutrality.”

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) spoke on Wednesday as a strong supporter of the resolution to overturn the “”What we hear from businesses is that they need the regulatory agencies to follow the rule of law and strike a proper balance between the many important national interests that our laws protect. And when it comes to regulation, in my opinion, this administration has gone further. They have pushed past that rule of law in striking that proper balance. What we’re seeing is a level of overreach that I think is unprecedented by the agencies reaching out, expanding their jurisdiction, if you will, and working to advance or setting policy as opposed to just implementing the laws that have been passed.”

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce and Transportation Committee repeatedly stated that the Resolution that she introduced was necessary to prevent the administration from imposing destructive regulations that will freeze the economy and cause a loss of jobs.

We think it is interesting that Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) a former supporter of Net Neutrality sent a letter to the Senate on Monday encouraging them to support the resolution of disapproval on the premise that the FCC should refrain from rulemaking until Congress has developed a proper framework for the openness of the internet.

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.


FCC Announces New RDOF Accountability and Transparency Measures, Additional Funding

Results of verifications, audits and speed and latency testing for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund will be made public.



Photo of reels of cabling in Hinsdale, Mont., in August 2016 by Tony Webster used with permission

WASHINGTON, January 28, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission on Friday said that it will implement new accountability and transparency measures, and make public the results of verifications, audits and speed and latency testing for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

The measures are part of a new known as the Rural Broadband Accountability Fund that monitors several universal service high-cost programs.

Additionally announced in a press release, the Rural Broadband Accountability Fund will speed up the FCC’s audit and verification processes.

Audits and verifications are projected to double in 2022 as compared to 2021 and include on-site audits, and a particular focus will be placed on auditing and verifying the largest-dollar and highest-risk RDOF recipients.

The agency also announced that it would commit more than $1.2 billion more to RDOF, the largest funding round for the program to date.

The new funding will bring broadband service to more than 1 million locations through deployments in 32 states, with 23 broadband providers assisting the effort.

Going forward, the commission will deny waivers, it said, “for winning bidders that have not made appropriate efforts to secure state approvals or prosecute their applications.”

All winning bidders will undergo “an exhaustive technical, financial, and legal review.”

Finally, the commission says a list of areas will be published which details where providers have defaulted, “making those places available for other broadband funding opportunities.”

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Federal Communications Commission Approves New Provider Transparency Requirements

Broadband providers must now create “broadband nutrition labels” which list pricing and speed information.



Photo of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel from January 2015 by the Internet Education Foundation used with permission

WASHINGTON, January 28, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to require that broadband providers create “broadband nutrition labels” that list information on the pricing and speed of internet service they provide.

The labels mimic food nutrition labels in format and aim to increase transparency of providers in their marketing to consumers.

With their approval at the commission’s monthly open meeting Thursday, Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said the new rules are crucial to consumers being able to find the best deals on broadband service for their personal needs.

Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel praised the label format, saying that it allows consumers to “easily compare” information and that it is “black and white, simple to read, and easy to understand.”

The long-simmering idea was enacted by Congress in the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed by the president on November 15. It directed the FCC to revive the project by one year from the law’s passage.

On Thursday, Joshua Stager, New America’s deputy director for broadband and competition policy at its Open Technology Institute, called the vote “a welcome step forward and a win for consumers.” The think tank began promoting the idea last decade, and it had been endorsed by the Obama administration before being canned by the Trump administration.

Industry group Wireless Internet Service Providers Association said the transparency afforded by the new policy “provides consumers with important tools to make informed choices.”

Additionally in Thursday’s meeting, when the agency tentatively revoked telecom operator China Unicom Americas’ operating authority in the United States, the agency said they had reached out to the Department of Justice for assistance in responding to what they say are potential threats from the China-based company. This inter-agency review is routinely part of determinations involving foreign-owned telecommunications companies.

The agency also updated its definition of “library” to make clear that Tribal libraries are eligible to receive funds under the Universal Service Fund’s E-rate program.

Starks emphasized that the commission’s action represented progress on digital inclusion efforts, but that unfamiliarity of Tribal libraries with the E-rate program remains a problem.

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Federal Communications Commission Implements Rules for Affordable Connectivity Program

The agency implemented new rules on the Affordable Connectivity Program, which makes a new subsidy permanent.



Photo of Jessica Rosenworcel by Rob Kunzig of Morning Consult

WASHINGTON, January 24, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission adopted rules Friday for its Affordable Connectivity Program that changes and, in some cases narrows, the eligibility requirements for the subsidy to allow for more households to be connected.

An extension of the former Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which offered discounts to broadband service providers to subsidize connectivity and devices, the new program will make it easier for providers to get in the program by automatically making eligible providers in good standing.

Additionally, the FCC maintains that the monthly discount on broadband service is limited to one internet discount per household rather than allowing the benefit for separate members of a household. “Adopting a one-per-household limitation best ensures that Program funding is available to the largest possible number of eligible households,” the agency said in its report.

To accommodate the volume of eligible households enrolling in the ACP, the FCC allowed providers until March 22 – 60 days after its Friday order is published in the Federal Register– to make necessary changes to ensure that the ACP can be applied to providers’ currently sold plans.

“So much of our day to day—work, education, healthcare and more—has migrated online. As a result, it’s more apparent than ever before that broadband is no longer nice-to-have, it’s need-to-have, for everyone, everywhere,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “But there are far too many households across the country that are wrestling with how to pay for gas and groceries and also keep up with the broadband bill. This program, like its predecessor, can make a meaningful difference.”

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act transformed the EBB to the longer-term Affordable Connectivity Program by allocating an additional $14.2 billion to it.

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