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FCC

Senate Upholds FCC Open Internet Rules

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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

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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