Last week, Representative Henry Waxman—the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee—wrote a letter to Federal Communications Chairman Tom Wheeler where he proposed a new and quite peculiar “hybrid” legal theory to support aggressive new Open Internet Rules.  Under Mr. Waxman’s three-step theory, the FCC would first reclassify broadband Internet access as a Title II common carrier telecommunications service.  Next, Mr. Waxman would have the Commission use its authority under Section 10 to forbear from nearly all of Title II—including even Section 201 (requiring “just and reasonable” rates) and Section 202 (prohibiting “unreasonable discrimination”). Finally, having dispensed with Title II yet—presumably retaining …
Read more

Last month, Larry Spiwak and I released a paper entitled Tariffing the Internet: Pricing Implications of Classifying Broadband as a Title II Telecommunications Service. In this paper (and companion op-ed), we set out to answer a critical question—how exactly does reclassifying broadband as a Title II, common-carrier telecommunications service protect the Open Internet?  Despite the millions of comments filed in the FCC’s Open Internet Docket, this most basic question has yet to be asked much less answered.  If the Commission does reclassify, then the agency must design, implement and administer a particular set of rules that achieves the desired goal and is consistent with the …
Read more

Yesterday, the Phoenix Center held a Teleforum to present our paper Tariffing the Internet: Pricing Implications of Classifying Broadband as a Title II Telecommunications Service and to discuss its implications with a series of experts. (We hope to post the video of the event on the Phoenix Center’s Phoenix Center’s YouTube Channel shortly.)  To summarize the paper, we show that if the Federal Communications Commission uses Title II common carrier telecommunications regulations to protect the “Open Internet,” then all edge providers (e.g., Google, Netflix, and your personal website) will be required to make direct payments to Broadband Service Providers (“BSPs” like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon) …
Read more

Last week, the D.C. Circuit in Verizon v. FCC issued its much-anticipated ruling on the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order.  In this decision, the court found that because the FCC had determined that broadband is not being deployed on a reasonable and timely basis to all Americans, Section 706 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act vests the agency “with affirmative authority to enact measures encouraging the deployment of broadband infrastructure” and, by extension, the power “to promulgate rules governing broadband providers’ treatment of Internet traffic.” (Slip Op. at 4.)  While the court remanded both the “no blocking” and “non-discrimination” portions of the Open Internet Order, …
Read more

Aujourd’hui ce qui ne vaut pas la peine d’être dit, on le chante.   This line, from Le Barbier de Séville, is translated as, “Nowadays what isn’t worth saying is sung.”  International comparisons of broadband services certainly fall into this category, and this week the New America Foundation is singing again with a 2013 update to its 2012 Cost of Connectivity Report.  While New America’s 2013 Report has garnered some glowing accolades in the press (see, e.g., here and here), the hard reality is that New America’s 2013 Report continues to commit all of the numerous technical errors I highlighted in my earlier blog critiquing …
Read more

In a recent article, Washington Post technology reporter Timothy Lee suggested that “broadband speeds were stagnating in the United States”, resulting in “slow innovation and poor customer service.” Comcast—the nation’s largest broadband service provider—begged to differ, and provided Mr. Lee with hard evidence indicating that the opposite was true. While Mr. Lee subsequently admitted his error and conceded that “Comcast’s service really has been getting faster”, Mr. Lee attempts to use the same data to argue that Comcast is “acting more and more like a monopolist.” Specifically, Mr. Lee contends that these data reveal that Comcast is “focus[ing] on maximizing its own profits, without worrying …
Read more

The Federal Communications Commission is at a crossroads.  Burdened with implementing laws designed for a market structure of a bygone era—and with little prospect of a comprehensive legislative update on the horizon—incoming FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler faces a daunting task to adapt and modernize the agency’s approach to regulation so that we can remove, in President Obama’s words, those rules which have “outlived their usefulness.”  Equally as important, Mr. Wheeler has the related and no less daunting task of re-establishing the FCC’s credibility with the industry, Capitol Hill, the courts and (most importantly) the public as the “expert” agency which not only uniquely understands the …
Read more

Two weeks ago, the Federal Communications Commission released its Fifteenth Report on the assessment of competition in the market for the delivery of video programming.  As both George and I were members of the core team of FCC staffers who wrote the very First Cable Report (and its insightful Appendix H) way back in 1995, I could not help but marvel at the growth and development of the industry over the last eighteen years. Of particular note to me were the FCC’s findings that not only do nearly 131 million (approximately 99%) of American homes have access to three multichannel video programming distributors or “MVPDs” …
Read more

Two weeks ago, the Phoenix Center held its Second Annual Rooftop Policy Roundtable where we focused our attention on the complex issue of the IP Transition.  We really appreciated everybody coming out to the event, particularly given the Washington DC heat and humidity (not to mention the thunderstorm).  After giving myself some time to think about the excellent conversations we had, I thought I would use this blog to highlight what I believe to be the major takeaways from the event. First, it became immediately apparent (at least to me) that the IP Transition is not a discrete issue; instead, the IP Transition concerns the …
Read more

Get Adobe Flash player