Category Archives: Legal Issues

Title II Regulations a ‘Net’ Loss for Innovation and Consumers

The FCC’s move is especially regrettable because it is wholly unnecessary.

FCC’s ‘Throwback Thursday’ Move Imposes 1930s Rules on the Internet

1930-ish-phone-copy

That little beauty to the right was the current state-of-the-art in 1937. That’s when what we call “toll quality” calling was supposedly set down as a standard.

The Federal Communications Commission approved an order urged by President Obama that imposes rules on broadband Internet services that were written in the era of the steam locomotive and the telegraph. The following statement should be attributed to Michael E. Glover, Verizon senior vice president, public policy and government affairs:

“Today’s decision by the FCC to encumber broadband Internet services with badly antiquated regulations is a radical step that presages a time of uncertainty for consumers, innovators and investors. Over the past two decades a bipartisan, light- touch policy approach unleashed unprecedented investment and enabled the broadband Internet age consumers now enjoy.

“The FCC today chose to change the way the commercial Internet has operated since its creation. Changing a platform that has been so successful should be done, if at all, only after careful policy analysis, full transparency, and by the legislature, which is constitutionally charged with determining policy. As a result, it is likely that history will judge today’s actions as misguided.

“The FCC’s move is especially regrettable because it is wholly unnecessary. The FCC had targeted tools available to preserve an open Internet, but instead chose to use this order as an excuse to adopt 300- plus pages of broad and open- ended regulatory arcana that will have unintended negative consequences for consumers and various parts of the Internet ecosystem for years to come.

“What has been and will remain constant before, during and after the existence of any regulations is Verizon’s commitment to an open Internet that provides consumers with competitive broadband choices and Internet access when, where, and how they want.”


 

Many telecoms have acted poorly, but there is absolutely NO EXCUSE for 332 pages of new regulations that nobody was allowed to review before they were voted on. The FCC is not an imperial body, unaccountable to congress or anyone else – although clearly Wheeler thinks he is by snubbing a request to appear before Congress. This cloak-and-dagger approach is absurd, and if the entire Title 2 scheme falls (which it should), it will be in part because of the way Wheeler and the FCC acted – essentially as a mouthpiece of the Obama Administration – in regards to the process.

Wake up, people. The scope of what the FCC has now asserted they are authorized to control is far beyond what was intended when the agency was created. This has become true of far too many commissions, agencies and departments in the Federal government. I recommend “Is Administrative Law Unlawful” by Philip Hamburger. We have become so used to the massive scale of the federal government (particularly the power now concentrated under the executive branch departments and agencies), we barely realize that what we live with today wouldn’t be tolerated by any reasonable standard of limited, enumerated powers, judicial restraint and the concept of co-equal branches of government even 50 or 60 years ago, much less 100 or 200+ years ago.

 

Stop FCC From Nullifying State Municipal Broadband Laws
North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis

North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis is committed to preserving the American Dream for younger generations and supports common sense policies that will generate economic growth and opportunities for working families.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) today introduced legislation to prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from overriding state and local municipal broadband laws.

Earlier today, the FCC voted to effectively overturn North Carolina and Tennessee state laws that set requirements and conditions on municipalities competing with the private sector in the broadband marketplace.

The Tillis-Blackburn legislation says that the FCC cannot pre-empt states with municipal broadband laws already on the books, or any other states that subsequently adopt such municipal broadband laws. The bill also includes a Sense of Congress stating that the FCC does not have the legal authority to prohibit states from implementing municipal broadband restrictions. Original co-sponsors of the federal legislation included Representatives Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Robert Pittenger (R-NC), Renee Ellmers (R-NC), Mark Meadows (R-NC), and David Rouzer (R-NC).

“It is disturbing, yet not surprising, that the FCC and Chairman Wheeler are attempting to deny the sovereign right of states to make their own laws,” said Senator Tillis. “After witnessing how some local governments wasted taxpayer dollars and accumulated millions in debt through poor decision making, the legislatures of states like North Carolina and Tennessee passed commonsense, bipartisan laws that protect hardworking taxpayers and maintain the fairness of free-market competition. Representative Blackburn and I recognize the need for Congress to step in and take action to keep unelected bureaucrats from acting contrary to the expressed will of the American people through their state legislatures.”

“The FCC’s decision to grant the petitions of Chattanooga, Tennessee and Wilson, North Carolina is a troubling power grab,” said Congressman Blackburn. “States are sovereign entities that have Constitutional rights, which should be respected rather than trampled upon. They know best how to manage their limited taxpayer dollars and financial ventures. Ironically, they will now be burdened by the poor judgment of a federal government that is over $18 trillion in debt and clearly cannot manage its own affairs.

“I’m pleased to be working with Senator Tillis on this important issue. As former state legislators, we strongly believe in States’ rights and will fight the FCC’s liberal agenda. Chairman Wheeler’s regulatory appetite appears to know no bounds and is seeping dangerously into the lives of Americans. It is time for Congress to assert itself and protect States once again from unelected Washington bureaucrats.”

BACKGROUND

In 2006, the City of Wilson, North Carolina, borrowed at least $34.6 million to build a government-owned broadband network, without a vote of its citizens. In support of the borrowing, Wilson’s broadband business plan claimed that the fiber project would be cash positive in year three of its operation; however, the projection failed to materialize, as Wilson lost $2.1 million in FY2008; $1.1 million in FY2009; $1.4 million in FY2010; $1.06 million in FY2011; and $1.3 million in FY2012.

In 2011, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law (S.L. 2011-84) that protects taxpayers by barring local governments from using tax dollars to cross-subsidize other local accounts and requiring a vote of citizens to authorize new debt used to fund the broadband service. The law grandfathered the City of Wilson, North Carolina, and two other municipal broadband providers, but required them to follow the requirements set in the legislation if they attempted to expand their service. Wilson subsequently asked for a waiver from those rules, resulting in today’s FCC ruling.

Good news: FCC promotes broadband competition

You may have heard that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) just put in place rules to protect ‘net neutrality.’ That’s big news. But there was another important decision today to help keep the Internet competitive and open — and while it’s getting less attention, it may be just as important.

As part of its agenda to encourage meaningful competition in high speed broadband for all Americans, the FCC supported allowing cities to make their own decisions about investing in new broadband networks. More needs to be done to drive innovation in bigger, faster broadband, but this is a good step. Click on the image below to take action.

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House Republicans Voice Opposition to FCC’s Net Neutrality Plan

As a historic vote looms to give the Federal Communications Commission power over Internet Service Providers to enforce net neutrality, House Republicans are attempting to sway the FCC away from the proposal.

Leading up to Thursday when the FCC votes on the new rules, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) called the FCC’s proposal “net nonsense,” remarking that it’s going to fail to gain court approval.

Under the proposal by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, ISPs would fall under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, giving the FCC authority to implement and enforce open internet protections. This would essentially stop providers like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Sprint and T-Mobile from favoring certain Internet traffic under most conditions. They had previously been treated as lightly regulated “information services”.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) believe they have a better way.

These Republicans have put forth legislation in the House (PDF) that would give the FCC authority to administer some tenets of net neutrality such as paid prioritization of content, but not give the FCC broader oversight over ISPs. They also believe this legislation will resist court challenges that the FCC is overstepping its bounds.

Wheeler, a former government lobbyist and telecom industry insider, had previously proposed in 2014 that ISPs should be allowed to prioritize certain online traffic to create an internet “fast lane” that was panned by Net Neutrality activists. In contrast, his latest regulations are far more in line with President Barack Obama’s Net Neutrality stance, spurring congressional committee investigations into the White House’s influence over the FCC, which is supposed to operate as an independent agency.

Upton has also noted that Chairman Wheeler has refused to testify the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and that he “refuses to directly answer growing concerns about how the rules were developed, how they are structured, and how they will stand up to judicial scrutiny.”

This story will be updated with the results of the FCC vote on Thursday.

Questions Remain Ahead: Net Neutrality FCC Vote is Today

tom wheelerI have never liked Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the FCC. I always thought he was on the wrong side of the argument when he was Chairman of the National Cable Television Association. I just don’t trust the man and now he is going to plop down a 317-page+ piece of regulation that most people interpret as “net neutrality”. Guess what, it’s not.

Posted on CNET are 8 burning questions about Net neutrality you should read. CNET breaks down everything you need to know about complicated, but critical, issue.

I think everyone wants net neutrality, but for some reason I don’t think it takes more than 300 pages to get the job done. What is he trying to fix, and more important what is broken? The FCC is voting during an open meeting today, Thursday February 26th at 10:30 am ET on whether to reclassify broadband access as a telecommunications service under Title II which by the way is very outdated, was originally written in 1988 before the internet was readily available to the public.

  • Will it contain fees?
  • Will it contain restrictions?
  • Will the Internet be regulated?
  • Will it impinge upon some content?
  • Will it add operating expense to your business?
  • Will it include net neutrality? I guarantee it, I just don’t know the flavor.

I found another great post on NPR everyone should read The FCC’s Net Neutrality Vote: Here’s What You Need To Know

I can’t write a blog outlining the horrors or even the beautiful free skies of net neutrality until I see the regulation. I can’t because I am not an FCC commissioner and only their eyes are allowed to see.