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CRS — Net Neutrality: Selected Legal Issues Raised by the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order (April 6, 2015)

April 15, 2015 Comments off

Net Neutrality: Selected Legal Issues Raised by the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

In February 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted an order that will impose rules governing the management of Internet traffic as it passes over broadband Internet access services (BIAS), whether those services are fixed or wireless. The rules are commonly known as “net neutrality” rules. The order was released in March 2015. According to the order, the rules ban the blocking of legal content, forbid paid prioritization of affiliated or proprietary content, and prohibit the throttling of legal content by broadband Internet access service providers (BIAS providers). The rules are subject to reasonable network management, as that term is defined by the FCC.

This is not the first time the FCC has attempted to impose some version of net neutrality rules. Most recently, the FCC issued the Open Internet Order in 2010, which would have created similar rules for the provision of broadband Internet access services. However, the bulk of those rules, with the sole exception of a disclosure rule, were struck down by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Interestingly, the court found that the FCC did have broad enough authority under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to impose the rules. However, the Communications Act of 1934, as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, permits only “telecommunications services” to be regulated as common carriers. Broadband Internet access services were classified as “information services” under the act by the FCC. Because the court found some of the rules imposed by the Open Internet Order to be common carrier regulation per se, the court found that the rules could not be applied to broadband Internet access services.

FCC Finds U.S. Broadband Deployment Not Keeping Pace

March 23, 2015 Comments off

FCC Finds U.S. Broadband Deployment Not Keeping Pace
Source: Federal Communications Commission

Broadband deployment in the United States – especially in rural areas – is failing to keep pace with today’s advanced, high-quality voice, data, graphics and video offerings, according to the 2015 Broadband Progress Report adopted today by the Federal Communications Commission. Reflecting advances in technology, market offerings by broadband providers and consumer demand, the FCC updated its broadband benchmark speeds to 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. The 4 Mbps/1 Mbps standard set in 2010 is dated and inadequate for evaluating whether advanced broadband is being deployed to all Americans in a timely way, the FCC found. Using this updated service benchmark, the 2015 report finds that 55 million Americans – 17 percent of the population – lack access to advanced broadband. Moreover, a significant digital divide remains between urban and rural America: Over half of all rural Americans lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps service.

The divide is still greater on Tribal lands and in U.S. territories, where nearly 2/3 of residents lack access to today’s speeds. And 35 percent of schools across the nation still lack access to fiber networks capable of delivering the advanced broadband required to support today’s digital-learning tools. While significant progress in broadband deployment has been made, due in part to the Commission’s action to support broadband through its Universal Service programs, these advances are not occurring broadly enough or quickly enough, the report finds. The report concludes that more work needs to be done by the private and public sectors to expand robust broadband to all Americans in a timely way, and the accompanying Notice of Inquiry seeks comment on what additional steps the FCC can take to accelerate broadband deployment.

Net Neutrality Order

March 16, 2015 Comments off

Net Neutrality Order (PDF)
Source: Federal Communications Commission

The open Internet drives the American economy and serves, every day, as a critical tool for America’s citizens to conduct commerce, communicate, educate, entertain, and engage in the world around them. The benefits of an open Internet are undisputed. But it must remain open: open for commerce, innovation, and speech; open for consumers and for the innovation created by applications developers and content companies; and open for expansion and investment by America’s broadband providers. For over a decade, the Commission has been committed to protecting and promoting an open Internet.

FCC — Sports Blackouts (updated October 1, 2014)

October 7, 2014 Comments off

Sports Blackouts
Source: Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission repealed its sports blackout rules, which prohibited cable and satellite operators from airing any sports event that was blacked out on a local broadcast station. This action removes Commission protection of the private blackout policies of sports leagues, which require local broadcast stations to black out a game if a team does not sell a certain percentage of tickets by a certain time prior to the game. Elimination of this rule, however, may not end all sports blackouts: sports leagues may choose to continue their private blackout policies through contractual arrangements with programming distributors. For more information read the news release.

A “sports blackout” occurs when a sports event that was scheduled to be televised is not aired in a particular media market. A blackout may prevent transmission of sports programming on local broadcast networks and/or non-broadcast platforms such as cable and satellite television.

Hat tip: PW

FCC Launches Broad Rulemaking to Protect and Promote the Open Internet

May 15, 2014 Comments off

FCC Launches Broad Rulemaking to Protect and Promote the Open Internet
Source: Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission today launched a rulemaking seeking public comment on how best to protect and promote an open Internet. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted today poses a broad range of questions to elicit the broadest range of input from everyone impacted by the Internet, from consumers and small businesses to providers and start-ups. The Internet is America’s most important platform for economic growth, innovation, competition, free expression, and broadband investment and deployment. The Internet has become an essential tool for Americans and for the growth of American businesses. That’s because the Internet has been open to new content, new products and new services, enabling consumers to choose whatever legal content, services and applications they desire.

The FCC has previously concluded that broadband providers have the incentive and ability to act in ways that threaten Internet openness. But today, there are no rules that stop broadband providers from trying to limit Internet openness. That is why the Notice adopted by the FCC todays starts with a fundamental question: “What is the right public policy to ensure that the Internet remains open?”

See also: Fact Sheet
See also: Blog post

New From the GAO

March 28, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Spectrum Management: FCC’s Use and Enforcement of Buildout Requirements. GAO-14-236, February 26.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-236
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661154.pdf

2. DHS Asset Forfeiture: Additional Actions Could Help Strengthen Controls over Equitable Sharing. GAO-14-318, March 28.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-318
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662079.pdf

Net Effects: The Past, Present & Future Impact of Our Networks – History, Challenges and Opportunities

December 3, 2013 Comments off

Net Effects: The Past, Present & Future Impact of Our Networks – History, Challenges and Opportunities
Source: Federal Communications Commission

Almost a month into my new job, the fact that I’ve always been a “network guy” and an intrepid history buff should come as no surprise. Reading history has reinforced the central importance networks play and revealed the common themes in successive periods of network-driven change. Now, at the FCC, I find myself joining my colleagues in a position of both responsibility and authority over how the public is affected by and interfaces with the networks that connect us.

Prior to my appointment by President Obama, I was doing research for a book about the history of networks. The new job stopped that project. However, I believe strongly that our future is informed by our past. While awaiting Senate confirmation, I tried to distill the project on which I had been working to connect what I had learned in my research to the challenges in my new job.

The result is a short, free eBook, “Net Effects: The Past, Present & Future Impact of Our Networks – History, Challenges and Opportunities”. It’s a look at the history of three network revolutions – the printing press, the railroad, and the telegraph and telephony – and how the fourth network revolution – digital communications – will be informed by those experiences.

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