Connect with us

Broadband's Impact

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Launches His Biggest Battle: Eliminating Net Neutrality Regulations

Published

on

WASHINGTON, November 21, 2017 – In a move that could further infuriate an already-energized coalition of technology industry power players, consumer advocates, and progressive interest groups, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday unveiled plans to undo the net neutrality rules that put in place in some form or another since the early years of the Obama administration.

“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Pai said in a statement.

“Instead, the FCC would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”

Pai’s general proposal has faced widespread opposition since it was announced this year. After the FCC published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comments on whether to undo rules reclassifying broadband under Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, roughly 21 million comments were submitted via the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System.

That’s more than any other agency proceeding, and the vast majority were of those of retaining the strong net neutrality provisions put in place by former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in February 2015.

Those Wheeler net neutrality rules – which are still technically in force – require broadband internet access providers to live by common carrier requirements to which telephone companies have long been subject.

One way of looking at this is that the phone company cannot charge users different rates for a fax call versus a voice call. Nor can it degrade call quality for fax owners.

In a likewise manner, an internet provider cannot, under the rules, slow down a customer’s bandwidth because they are watching Netflix instead of Hulu, or charge extra to for businesses to enable their website to show up more quickly when customers access them using an internet connection.

What Pai’s net neutrality deregulation might mean for the internet

Those groundrules could change if Pai – a former Verizon Communications lawyer named chairman by President Donald Trump in January after having served as a commissioner at the agency since 2012 — gets his way.

Pai proposes to return broadband internet access service to its’ original classification as a lightly-regulated information service under Title I of the Telecommunications Act. Further, his proposal would repeal the “policy statement” about net neutrality originally put in place under George W. Bush Administration FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.

Although the Martin rules didn’t have the force of law or regulation, they paved the way for future FCC regulations that prohibited internet providers from throttling content or offering paid prioritization for some data, save for an exception carved out for “reasonable network management.”

Under Pai’s new rules, internet providers would be free to prioritize traffic for a fee, or to prioritize traffic of affiliated companies. The limitation is that the internet providers disclose such a practice.

Internet providers were once penalized for violating such a practice during Bush administration. In 2008, the Martin FCC fined Comcast for throttling traffic outside of the “reasonable network management” exception to the agency’s “policy statement.”

Now, if approved by the FCC, Pai’s FCC would completely deregulate network neutrality rules. And the onus for enforcing its disclosure requirements would land at the Federal Trade Commission. It could punish internet providers for throttling traffic in violation of its stated practices.

Under the Pai proposal, state regulators would also be barred from stepping into the deregulatory breach

States looking to step into the regulatory void and protect consumers might also find themselves disappointed under Pai’s proposal. The FCC’s new rules would specifically pre-empt state law or regulation imposing a common carrier requirement on internet providers.

Even regulations governing internet providers that operate entirely within one state would be subject to this preemption, senior FCC officials said, because the internet the provider is connected to is a nationwide network.

Despite the public outcry and tsunami of public comments, FCC officials downplayed its significance during a press conference call reviewing the proposal.

Despite the record number of citizen comments through the FCC’s filing system, agency officials said that most people’s comments were irrelevant to the FCC’s decision-making process because they only contained opinions – not facts, legal arguments or economic analyses.

A regulatory policy that the FCC says is based upon economic analysis

Economic analyses were at the heart of Pai’s proposal, officials said. They cited cost-benefit analyses showing investment in broadband networks falling since the adoption of network neutrality rules.

But when asked for specific examples, officials told reporters that the analyses would be available as part of the draft rules, which were to be released on Wednesday.

The FCC’s desire to take into account the economic impact of network neutrality regulations doesn’t appear to include the views of Silicon Valley, the heartbeat of the information technology sector.

The tech industry is almost unitedly opposed to Pai’s plans: They strongly supported the adoption of the Obama-era regulations.

In July, the Internet Association, which represents Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other large technology companies, filed comments warning that allowing paid prioritization would harm tech giants and also stunt the rising generation of startups.

The new rules would put them “at the mercy of ISPs who would face minimal constraints on their ability to charge [the industry] for prioritized access,” the Internet Association said.

Initial legislative reactions to the Pai proposal are beginning to come forward

In a statement, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, decried the new rules, which appear to favor large broadband providers over technology companies or consumer voices – at least as expressed in the FCC’s comments.

“Today, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai confirmed his long-term goal to unravel net neutrality protections, demonstrating that he is on the wrong side of history, startups, consumers and the public interest,” said Lofgren, who district includes most of Silicon Valley.

“As millions of Americans voice their support for a free and open internet, Chairman Pai’s proposal hands the internet over to the largest Internet Service Providers who can throttle, assess a toll or block content,” she said.

Lofgren noted that under the current rules, an entire ecosystem of apps and new technologies has developed because of those rules’ protections.

“The net neutrality protections have advanced competition and innovation, created more startups and entrepreneurs, and have been judicially approved. Repealing these protections is an assault on what has made the internet what it is… an open and dynamic platform,” she said.

“This is not the end of a battle but the beginning of a new one that I will engage in to protect the open internet for my constituents and all Americans.”

 

Broadband's Impact

Reason 4 to Attend Broadband Mapping Masterclass: Measuring Actual Speeds

The 4th of 5 reasons to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass with Drew Clark on 9/27 at 12 Noon ET

Published

on

WASHINGTON, September 26, 2022 – The fourth reason to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass with Drew Clark on September 27, 2022, is to understand the role that speed tests are playing in the discussion about actual speeds versus available speeds – and its importance for federal and state efforts to distribute broadband infrastructure funds.

Broadband Breakfast is hosting the 2-hour Broadband Mapping Masterclass to help Internet Service Providers, mapping and GIS consultants, and people in everyday communities concerned about broadband mapping.

This 2-hour Masterclass, available for only $99, will help you navigate the treacherous waters around broadband mapping. The live Broadband Mapping Masterclass is being recorded, and those who make a one-time $99 payment will obtain a guaranteed place during the live session.

ENROLL TODAY for our Zoom Webinar through PayPal.

Registrants will also receive unlimited on-demand access to the Masterclass recording. And they will receive Broadband Breakfast’s premium research report on broadband mapping.

Learn More about Why You Should Participate in the Broadband Mapping Masterclass

We’re presenting five additional reasons to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass.

Additional reason number 4 to attend the Masterclass

The last time that the federal government initiated a significant effort to fund broadband, in 2009, the United States lacked a basic map of what we at Broadband Breakfast have for years called the Broadband SPARC: Measuring Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition by high-speed internet access providers.

The National Broadband Map was a first effort to measure availability and competition by displaying the individual providers that offered broadband on a Census block level. But it lacked any measure of broadband speeds, prices or the reliability of such information.

Over the past 13 years, we now have a great variety of robust sources of speed test data – as well as significant datasets with information about pricing and reliability of broadband. The Broadband Mapping Masterclass will explore ways in which actual speed data has and can be used to crosscheck the quality of broadband availability data released by the Federal Communications Commission.

By attending the Broadband Mapping Masterclass, you’ll learn what you need to know in order assess the quality of broadband data as made availability by federal and state agencies, and private companies and organizations.

ENROLL TODAY  to find out what happens next.

Learn More about Why You Should Participate in the Broadband Mapping Masterclass

Read more about the reasons to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass

ENROLL TODAY

 

Continue Reading

Broadband's Impact

Dianne Crocker: Recession Fears Have Real Estate Market Forecasters Hitting the Reset Button

Growing fears of recession trigger pullback on previous rosy forecasts.

Published

on

The author of this Expert Opinion is Dianne Crocker, Principal Analyst for LightBox

The lyrics to “Same As It Ever Was” by the Talking Heads certainly don’t apply to how 2022 is playing out in the commercial real estate market. Two quarters of negative economic growth has put a damper on market sentiment and triggered fears that the U.S. economy is heading for a recession. By midyear, market analysts were taking a good, hard look at their rosy forecasts from the start of the New Year and redrawing the lines.

Once upon a time…

At the start of 2022, forecasters were bullishly predicting that commercial real estate investment and lending levels would be nearly as good as 2021. This was significant, considering that 2021 set new records for deal-making and lending volume as the debt and equity capital amassed during the pandemic while looking for a home in U.S. commercial real estate.

What a difference a few quarters have made. Virtually, all the predictions that started the New Year were obsolete by mid-summer. The abrupt shift in market conditions is palpable and surprised just about everyone. Now, markets are reaching an inflection point that is in sharp contrast with the strong rebound of last year.

The two I’s: Inflation and interest rates

At the core of the recent upset in market sentiment is the persistence of high inflation, which seems to be ignoring all attempts by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates and bring prices down. Higher inflation is having a ripple effect throughout the economy, pushing up the costs of construction materials, energy, and consumer goods. Among the notable economic indicators showing stress at mid-year was the GDP, which fell for the second consecutive quarter, and the Consumer Price Index, which jumped 9.1% year-over-year in June – the highest increase in about four decades.

In July, the CPI fell to 8.5%, an encouraging sign that inflation was beginning to stabilize. By the latest August report from LightBox, however, hopes were dashed when the CPI showed little improvement, holding firm at a still high of 8.3%.

The market is responding to a higher cost of capital as lenders tap the brakes. As the cost of capital rises with each interest rate hike and concerns of a recession intensify, many large U.S. financial institutions are pulling back on their loan originations for the rest of 2022 and into 2023. This change in tenor is a significant shift, given that 2021 was a record-breaking year for commercial real estate lending. Many lenders have already shifted to a more defensive underwriting position as they look to mitigate risks.

The Mortgage Bankers Association, which had previously predicted that lending levels in 2022 would break the $1 trillion mark for the first time revised their forecast downward in mid-July. By year-end, the MBA now expects volume to be a significant 18% below 2021 levels—and one-third lower than the bullish forecast made in February. Now, investment activity is cooling as higher borrowing costs drive some buyers from the market.

In the investment world, transactions were down by 29% at midyear due to a thinning buyer pool as higher rates impact access to debt capital. Market volatility is causing investors, lenders, and owners to rethink strategies, reconsider assumptions, and prepare for possible disruption.

Looking ahead to year-end and 2023

The rapid and diverse shifts in the market make for an uncertain forecast and certainly a more cautious investment environment. The battle between inflation and interest rates will continue over the near term. As LightBox’s investor, lender, valuation, and environmental due diligence clients move toward the 4th quarter—typically the busiest quarter of the year–unprecedented volatility is driving them to recalibrate and reforecast given recent market developments.

Continued softness in transaction volume is likely to continue as rates and valuations establish a new equilibrium. If property prices begin to level out, there will be more pressure on buyers to consider how to improve a property to get their return on investment. The next chapter of the commercial real estate market will be defined by how long inflation sticks around, how high interest rates go, and whether the economy slips into a recession (and how deeply). The greatest areas of opportunity will be found in asset classes like office and retail that are evolving away from traditional uses and morphing to meet the needs of today’s market. Until barometers stabilize, it’s important to rethink assumptions, watch developments, and recalibrate as necessary.

Dianne Crocker is the Principal Analyst for LightBox, delivering strategic analytics, best practices in risk management, market intelligence reports, educational seminars, and customized research for stakeholders in commercial real estate deals. She is a highly respected expert on commercial real estate market trends. 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 reflected in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

Continue Reading

Broadband's Impact

Reason 3 to Attend Broadband Mapping Masterclass: State Maps vs. Federal Maps

The 3rd of 5 reasons to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass with Drew Clark on 9/27 at 12 Noon ET

Published

on

WASHINGTON, September 23, 2022 – The third reason to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass with Drew Clark on September 27, 2022, is to get a handle on what state broadband officers have and are doing with broadband maps.

While much of the action has been at the Federal Communications Commission, after state allocations have been made, funding decisions will ultimately come from state broadband officers.

Broadband Breakfast is hosting the 2-hour Broadband Mapping Masterclass to help Internet Service Providers, mapping and GIS consultants, and people in everyday communities concerned about broadband mapping.

This 2-hour Masterclass, available for only $99, will help you navigate the treacherous waters around broadband mapping. The live Broadband Mapping Masterclass is being recorded, and those who make a one-time $99 payment will obtain a guaranteed place during the live session.

ENROLL TODAY for our Zoom Webinar through PayPal.

Registrants will also receive unlimited on-demand access to the Masterclass recording. And they will receive Broadband Breakfast’s premium research report on broadband mapping.

Learn More about Why You Should Participate in the Broadband Mapping Masterclass

We’re presenting five additional reasons to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass.

Additional reason number 3 to attend the Masterclass

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocates $42.5 billion for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program. Every state will receive at least $100 million in funding, but the remaining more-than $37 billion will be allocated among states based upon a formula that is primarily determined by their percentage of the unserved population. (According to IIJA, a location is “unserved” if it lacks access to broadband at 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload. An area is “underserved” if it lacks 100 Mbps * 20 Mbps broadband.)

That’s where the FCC’s updated broadband map come in: Once challenges to the map are concluded, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration will allocate that $37 billion pool according to the “denominator” that the NTIA reads out from the FCC map.

But state and their broadband offices have a trump card: They can and are developing their own maps to check, verify and challenge the FCC map. Furthermore, they are under no obligation to award funds according to the actual places that the FCC says are unserved or underserved.

In the Broadband Mapping Masterclass, you’ll learn what you need to know in order to tap into these efforts by state broadband offices.

ENROLL TODAY  to find out what happens next.

Learn More about Why You Should Participate in the Broadband Mapping Masterclass

Read more about the reasons to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass

ENROLL TODAY

 

Continue Reading

Recent

Signup for Broadband Breakfast

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

Trending