Blog - Page 14

States update telecom statutes


This week Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed Senate Bill 107, which modernizes the Illinois Telecommuncations Act. According to a press release,

Investment in broadband and wireless technology is a key to creating better jobs and providing unique educational opportunities across Illinois,” said Governor Quinn. “I am proud to sign this law to encourage private investment in these critical technologies, which will put more people to work and protect consumers.


Also, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland signed Senate Bill 162, which updates Ohio’s seriously outmoded telephone regulations. According to a statement by the governor,

This bill is common sense regulatory reform. It modernizes Ohio’s telecommunications laws, even removing more than 50 references to the ‘telegraph’ in the Ohio Revised Code. By reducing archaic red tape, we are making the state more competitive and sending a clear message to telecommunication businesses that we welcome your investments in Ohio.


Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue signed House Bill 168 on June 4.
Telecom regulatory reform is urgently needed to protect and promote investment, innovation and consumer choice. George Gilder and I have authored several reports (see this, this, this and this) documenting the problem and making several recommendations. The Illinois, Ohio and Georgia legislation include many of the ideas which are needed to spur critical private sector investment in broadband infrastructure which will lead to job creation and retention.
A report by Connected Nation projects a reasonably-achievable 7 percent increase in broadband adoption would produce over 105,000 jobs in Illinois, 96,000 jobs in Ohio and 71,000 jobs in Georgia annually.. These jobs would not only in be communications equipment and services, but also in manufacturing and service industries (especially finance, education and health care).

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Wisdom for a novice

Rep. John D. Dingell, Jr. (D-MI), Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives, Chairman Emeritus of the Energy & Commerce Committee (1981-95 and 2007-09) in a letter last week to young FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski regarding Genachowski’s proposal to apply telephone-style regulation to the Internet: I fear your “third way” risks reversal by the courts, especially given the scope of its efforts to expand the Commission’s authority. It also puts at risk significant past and future investments, perhaps to the detriment of the Nation’s economic recovery and continued technological leadership. More importantly, it may paralyze more holistic regulatory efforts to keep the Internet open to consumers, advance cybersecurity, protect consumer data privacy, and ensure universal access to and deployment of Read More ›

Free Press: Holier than thou

National Journal notes ($) that while Free Press frequently taps the media to slam its opponents as fronts for special interests who won’t reveal their funding, much of Free Press’s own funding is concealed. Free Press staff members “want to call everyone else a front group … [but] they don’t subject themselves to the same scrutiny,” [Phil] Kerpen [of Americans for Prosperity] contended. The charges of Astroturfing that Free Press aims at other groups, [Mike] McCurry [a former White House spokesman, who now runs Public Strategies Washington, a government-relations firm whose Arts+Labs coalition supports the telecoms in the net-neutrality debate] said, carry “a little whiff of hypocrisy.” Always better to debate the arguments, isn’t it? Shooting the messenger is usually Read More ›

New effort to update Communications Act

Congress will revisit the Communications Act of 1934 (see this and this) in the aftermath of an appellate court decision limiting the Federal Communications Commission’s ability to regulate the Internet. “Stakeholders” will be invited to participate in a series of bipartisan, issue-focused “meetings” beginning in June, according to the congressional statements. Hopefully congressional leaders are contemplating a transparent process consisting of public hearings. If they are planning closed-door listening sessions with special interest representatives, that could encourage self-serving agendas and obscure horse-trading which can wind up costing consumers a bundle. Before it wrote the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Senate Commerce Committee alone compiled an 817-page hearing record (S. Hrg. 103-599) on the basis of hearings on Feb. 23, Mar. Read More ›

Lawmakers caution FCC on Internet regulation

A letter signed by 74 House Democrats warns FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski that imposing telephone-style regulation on the Internet could undermine a bipartisan consensus that has resulted in broadband industry infrastructure investment of approximately $60 billion per year. In the last decade, multiple providers and the hundreds of thousands of workers they employ have brought high speed connections to 95 percent of U.S. households where two-thirds of Americans now access the Internet through broadband at home. The lawmakers claim Genachowski’s proposal to regulate broadband services will create uncertainty that will “jeopardize jobs and deter needed investment for years to come,” and requests that the FCC refrain from taking further steps to regulate broadband services without additional direction from Congress. A Read More ›

Throwing good money after bad

Municipal broadband networks sound like a great idea, and they were a hot trend a few years ago. For one thing, promoters claimed they weren’t going to cost taxpayers a dime. Many attempts were made to blanket towns and cities with ubiquitous, free, public-spirited broadband service, but most of these projects resulted in cost-overruns, construction delays and ultimately poor service. Many were abandoned. That is, supporters walked away from a bad investment rather than build upon it. In Tennessee, the legislature is considering a “technical” amendment that would allow municipalities to use “public money” and “public debt” to deploy broadband on an “open access” basis “within or without” that municipality’s, and (with permission) any other municipality’s, boundaries. This is not Read More ›

Gilder Was Prescient; How About Now?

The popular Instanpundit correctly cites George Gilder for his early prediction of the Internet (what he called the Teleputer): “LIFE AFTER LIFE AFTER TELEVISION: With nearly 20 years of hindsight, the blurb for George Gilder’s book Life After Television, published in 1992, shortly before the first browser was available for consumers to access the still-nascent World Wide Web, sounds remarkably prescient: “Gilder’s thesis, written in layman’s terms, is that the United States will soon lose its rightful preeminence in the telecommunications field to foreign competitors, particularly the Japanese. Unless, that is, American business executives, legislators, judges, and consumers look beyond separate, limited, and hierarchical forms of communication such as television, telephones, and online databases to a multifunctional, interactive, and democratic Read More ›

Telecom crash redux

The FCC’s newest plan for seizing control of the last-mile broadband connections we all use to access the Internet would classify broadband as a ‘telecommunications service,’ which will put the FCC under constant pressure to resurrect the “unbundling” regulations that precipitated the telecom crash of 2000 by requiring owners of last-mile links to homes and offices to share their lines with rivals. Remember the CLECs? They were essentially a hothouse product of regulation, and they not only failed to deliver bandwidth but they brought down the whole high tech economy. As a result of that carnage the FCC drew back, last-mile bandwidth was declared to be an ‘information service,’ and thus not subject to the labyrinthine rules that were applied Read More ›

Another FCC attempt to regulate broadband

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski outlined his game plan for asserting FCC control over broadband services this week in a speech entitled: “The Third Way: A Narrowly Tailored Broadband Framework.” This is the FCC’s third major attempt to regulate broadband services, as my colleague Jim Harper pointed out in conversation today. I think it will also be the FCC’s third strike. Genachowski is engaging in a futile attempt to slice and dice the Internet as a definitional matter for the purpose of expanding his agency’s regulatory grasp while hopefully containing many of the harmful consequences of regulatory overreach. Regulating an essential component of the Internet as a “telecommunications service” would still amount to a form of Internet regulation in violation of Read More ›

FCC Power Grab Further Pummels Economy

A sudden decision by the head of the Federal Communications Commission to accept Net Neutrality rules flies in the face of the economic arguments–and the fairness arguments–against such a departure. Hance Haney made the case earlier this week in the Seattle Times. “An open Internet where broadband providers do not block access to websites or discriminate between content or applications isn’t a vision,” he writes. “It’s a description of the unregulated Internet we already enjoy today. Those in Washington, D.C., who want to change it could stymie it instead and damage the economy.” He was speaking of the FCC. Read it all here.