Shortly after the Federal Communications Commission issued its Open Internet Order, I authored a short Perspective where I highlighted the fact that the FCC’s use of Section 706 as an independent source of authority “has introduced, perhaps inadvertently, significant questions of federalism that need to be considered.”  My observation was simple:  because Section 706 applies equally to both the FCC and to “each State Commission with regulatory jurisdiction over telecommunications services”, if the Commission can exert its jurisdiction over broadband Internet services (the authority to do so now confirmed by the D.C. Circuit in Verizon v. FCC) under Section 706, then States also have every …
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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, …
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Six years ago, the Phoenix Center released (and later published) a paper entitled Network Neutrality and Foreclosing Market Exchange: A Transaction Cost Analysis.  In that paper, we analyzed the effects of network neutrality proposals that foreclose or severely limit market transactions between content providers and broadband service providers.  Our model revealed that under plausible conditions, rules that prohibit efficient commercial transactions between content and broadband service providers could, in fact, be bad for all participants: consumers would pay higher prices, the profits of the broadband service provider would decline, and the sales of Internet content providers would also decline.  As a result, such proposals would …
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Last year, we released a paper entitled Justifying the Ends:  Section 706 and the Regulation of Broadband (and forthcoming, Journal of Internet Law) where we demonstrated how the Federal Communications Commission deliberately ignored its own evidence to support expanded regulatory jurisdiction over IP-based services.  With the release of its new Measuring Broadband America Report last week, the FCC once again undermines its factual predicate for Internet regulation.  Let me explain. Over the last several years, we have seen the Federal Communications Commission put forth a rather clever argument to expand its regulatory authority over broadband services.  Under Section 706(a) of the Communications Act, the Commission …
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Over the course of the last several weeks, we at the Phoenix Center held Part I and Part II of our Annual U.S. Telecoms Symposium.  Part I, held on December 6th, focused on the impact of the recent election on U.S. broadband policy; while the more “wonky” Part II, held last week on January 3rd, focused on emerging issues in broadband policy for 2013.  As always, we had a fantastic array of speakers at both events, and the presentations were excellent.  While interested folks are welcome to watch the video of the full proceedings on-line (Part I may be viewed here; while Part II may …
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Recently, I spotted an interesting blog by Scott Wallsten at the Technology Policy Institute.  In this blog, Scott discusses the FCC’s recent decision that Verizon violated the open access rules of the 700 MHz C-Block auction by charging its customers an additional $20 per month on its data plans to tether a device.  In response, Verizon paid a fine and now allows tethering on all new data plans.  However, Scott observes that: Verizon effectively abandoned the post-paid market for light users after the FCC decision.  Verizon no longer offers individual plans.  Even consumers with only a single smartphone must purchase a shared data plan.  That’s …
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Next month, a new book entitled Captive Audience:  The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age (Yale University Press 2012) from Cardozo Law School Professor Susan Crawford will hit the bookshelves.  According to her publisher’s blurb, Professor Crawford’s book will examine how the United States has “created the biggest monopoly since the breakup of Standard Oil a century ago.”  But what is this “monopoly” to which Professor Crawford refers?  While the publisher’s promotional blurb is silent on this question, according to a 2010 paper authored by Professor Crawford in the Yale Law and Policy Review, it appears that she is talking about …
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Last week, George and I returned from an amazing trip to Peru where we held two days of workshops with OSIPTEL—the Peruvian telecoms regulator—as part of a project for USAID.  As we covered a wide range of topics, we were once again reminded that while language and individual political nuances among various countries may differ, the fundamental economics—and concurrent complex policy issues—facing telecom regulators remain universal.  That is, how do we get more broadband deployed when it isn’t necessarily profitable to do so? In light of this universal question, we spent a significant amount of time talking about the economics of the “last mile” and …
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Last week, Professor Susan Crawford authored an op-ed entitled What’s Good for Verizon and AT&T Is Terrible for American Consumers.  While Professor Crawford’s emotional argument is a bit scattered, her depiction of an industry in transition provides a useful foundation for discussing the future of broadband in the United States. First, Professor Crawford argues that wireless broadband is a “commodity,” and one that consumers are increasingly using as a substitute for traditional “voice” and “texting” services.  This substitution is arguably true and, as such, we should therefore expect to see broadband providers increasingly employing and experimenting with a variety of pricing plans in an effort …
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In his recent keynote speech at the CTIA show in New Orleans, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski reiterated his (and the industry’s) concern that the “demand for mobile services is on pace to exceed the capacity of our mobile networks” and, therefore, we must “tackle the capacity challenge.” The Chairman has previously foretold of a future where spectrum exhaust could make “consumers [...] face slower speeds, more dropped connections, and higher prices.” Plainly, spectrum exhaust remains a key challenge for both mobile service providers and policymakers. The Chairman also took the chance in his CTIA speech to challenge what we and others have said …
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