The Federal Communications Commission was in Seattle soliciting public testimony in an effort to regulate the Internet. The Seattle Times kindly published a column of mine arguing that the FCC should focus on spurring investment, not more regulation.
A Chinese American entrepreneur engineer named Henry Gao has written a Chinese book paralleling, enriching and affirming the more far reaching propositions in Telecosm. His theme is that the history of communications networks has passed through three eras: 1) the telegraph (data with delay and buffering); 2) the public switched telephone network (PSTN for real-time two-way voice), and 3) now back to the telegraph (the data-rich Internet protocols and layers, with many asynch buffers and best efforts and lost bits). Today under the stress of an interactive video exaflood, there is a new fork in the road. On the one hand, the industry wants to continue on its current path back to a new video best efforts telegraph — an Read More ›
Pew Research Center surveys find that only 22% percent of the public say they can “trust the government in Washington almost always or most of the time, among the lowest measures in half a century,” according to Andrew Kohut. Just 40% say it is a good idea for the government to exert more control over the economy, while a 51% majority says it is not. The one exception Pew found was public support for stricter regulation of the way major financial companies do business, which is favored by a 61% to 31% margin.
Protecting the Internet from the heavy hand of government regulation is not just a Republican goal. The following excerpt is from a 1999 speech by former FCC Chairman William E. Kennard (appointed by President Bill Clinton): What I would like to do is take the opportunity here today to talk to you a little bit about why I believe the best way to achieve these values is to resist the urge to regulate right now. One reason is because of my vision that we will have multiple broadband pipes — cable, DSL, broadband wireless, satellite, terrestrial broadcast. That is why I think the debate that we are having today about unbundling and access to this cable pipe is fundamentally different Read More ›
Telecommunications reform (HB 168) was amended in the Georgia State Senate to protect the Public Service Commission’s authority to resolve consumer complaints against providers of old-fashioned telephone service. Good politics, perhaps, but PSC jurisdiction for consumer issues is redundant since the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs already protects consumers. And although it may sound counterintuitive, PSC authority can actually harm consumers by restraining full and fair competition. That’s because the PSC only has jurisdiction to resolve consumer complaints affecting wireline telephone service, but not wireless or VoIP services with which they compete. If the PSC isn’t careful, it can create unequal marketplace advantages and burdens depending on the type of technology competitors use to deliver their services. Nevertheless, HB 168 Read More ›
Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell, reacting to a proposal to reclassify broadband as a “telecommunications” service under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, in an interview with Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post: Here’s the bottom line, to talk about going to Title II is talking about doing something relatively epic, novel and unprecedented. It doesn’t mean they couldn’t do it, but I might challenge it. * * * * I hate the idea of Title II for broadband. I think we would really regret it because for a regulator versed in what it means, it means thousands and thousands of pages that would fall into this space and we would spend our lifetime trying to clean it Read More ›
A federal takeover of the Internet, according to President Obama’s former special assistant for science, technology and innovation policy, is as simple as formally relabelling Internet access services as “telecommunications services,” rather than “information services,” as they are called now. Susan Crawford argues that this wouldn’t be unprecedented at all. Until August 2005, the commission required that companies providing high-speed access to the Internet over telephone lines not discriminate among Web sites * * * * But under the Bush administration the F.C.C. deregulated high-speed Internet providers, arguing that cable Internet access was different from the kind of high-speed Internet access provided by phone companies * * * * This was a radical move, because it reversed the long-held assumption Read More ›
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the authority the FCC used to regulate Internet access providers is very limited. The ruling is obviously a victory for broadband Internet access providers. But it is also a victory for the rest of us. As the court noted, the legal interpretation the FCC fought to defend “would virtually free the Commission from its congressional tether.” In Comcast v. FCC, the court said it was okay for Comcast to discriminate against peer-to-peer file sharing as necessary to manage scarce network capacity. The opinion was written by Judge David S. Tatel, a Clinton nominee. The question before the court was whether the FCC has any jurisdiction to regulate Internet access Read More ›
The National Broadband Plan is going to take a while to digest. The following recommendations are included in the description of how the FCC plans to subsidize broadband — which may be necessary if it frightens away private investment with network neutrality regulation which deprives private investors of a fair return on their capital: RECOMMENDATION 8.2: The FCC should create the Connect America Fund (CAF). (p. 145-46) RECOMMENDATION 8.3: The FCC should create the Mobility Fund. (p. 146) RECOMMENDATION 8.4: The FCC should design new USF funds in a tax-efficient manner to minimize the size of the gap. (p. 146) RECOMMENDATION 8.6: The FCC should take action to shift up to $15.5 billion over the next decade from the current Read More ›
Tom Tauke, a top Verizon executive: In my view, the current statute is badly out of date. Now is the time to focus on updating the law affecting the Internet. To fulfill broadband’s potential it’s time for Congress to take a fresh look at our nation’s communications policy framework. Tauke’s top recommendations include: A behavioral advertising policy that requires an easy to use process for affirmative consent from a user before that user can be tracked on-line should apply to all players engaged in behavioral advertising, regardless of where they sit in the space and what technology is used. Competitive subsidies that are technologically neutral and targeted solely for the benefit of consumers, not corporate intermediaries, would be one alternative Read More ›