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Rep. Anna Eshoo and Silicon Valley Advocates Push Back on FCC’s Net Neutrality Change

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, California, July 6, 2017 – The world looks to the United States to see how the country treats its own inventions, Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-California, said last week at a June 26 roundtable on the subject of net neutrality at Mozilla Headquarters here.

The roundtable is part of a push to combat Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s efforts to reverse public utility regulation of broadband internet access service.

Despite increasing partisan rhetoric on the issue, Eshoo said she still doesn’t think of net neutrality as a partisan issue. And she said she preferred to think of the FCC rules as protections.

Gigi Sohn, counselor to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, said cable providers were able to choose everything that went on television and what time, but then the internet changed everything. Sohn doesn’t want to see the “cable-ization” of the internet, she said, and AT&T, Comcast and other internet providers want to turn the internet into a new form of cable.

Smaller websites won’t get the quality of service they need, and no venture capitalist would invest in a startup if it needs to pay a toll to an internet provider to get preferred carriage to customers, she said.

Nicola Boyd, cofounder of VersaMe, said there will be a decrease in investment and interest in creating new startups if the barriers are continuously increased. She said internet leveled the playing field and was the biggest accelerator of innovation.

Vishy Venugopalan, vice president of Citi Ventures, said there is a need to make sure data rails are mutual and that internet providers don’t peak into the data being sent.

Derek Wolfgram, library director of Redwood City Public Library, said Net Neutrality protects intellectual freedom and access to information for libraries. He said the removal of net neutrality protections would threaten content of all types, such as different points of views. He said he sees students sitting in cars outside the library using its internet to do school work, and that will be threatened too.

Vlad Pavlov, chief executive officer and cofounder of rollApp, said his company offers free tiers and paid tiers. According to its website, rollapp “builds an online application virtualization platform, which allows to run any application on any device with just a web browser.”

Of the more than 500 high schools that use his company’s service, only one of those schools actually uses the paid tier. If his company had to pay extra, it would likely quit offering the free tier.

Eshoo urged everyone speaking at the roundtable to put their opposition to Pai in writing. She said she don’t see anything broken with the current system, as implemented in 2015 by former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, and which needed to be fixed.

She criticized net neutrality opponents for pushing the line that net neutrality is killing investment through heavy-handed regulations.

“They’re speaking in headlines that grab people’s attention, and in a split second, they would say, ‘Well, I’m not for that,’” Eshoo said.

She said she thinks Silicon Valley, the heartbeat of innovation, is decisively for net neutrality rules.

And she criticized the Republican Party, which generally opposes net neutrality regulation. Its love for competition is gone, and they want to squash competition like a bug, she said.

(Photograph of the roundtable from Mozilla’s web site.)

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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