Tag Archives: broadband

FCC reclassifies the internet, approves net neutrality rules

The Federal Communications Commission has just approved their plan for net neutrality, which also reclassifies broadband Internet as a public utility.

Under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, the reclassification of the internet as a public utility allows the FCC to place regulations on Internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast and Verizon. These regulations would mandate these service providers to transmit all Internet content at the same speed, regardless of what interests are involved, according to Newsweek.

According to engadget, the FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, said, “It [the internet] is our printing press; it is our town square; it is our individual soap box and our shared platform for opportunity… That is why open internet policies matter. That is why I support network neutrality.”

Net neutrality, also known as open Internet, is an idea which says all Internet networks and content are equally available to all legal content generators, according to USA Today. Therefore, a practice called “paid prioritization” which results in ISPs showing preference towards companies who pay more for higher transmission speed of content, would be illegal.

The new reclassification also affects wireless data providers. The new plan places similar regulations on phone companies as those placed on other ISPs.

However, some people have spoken out against the new net neutrality plan.

Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s senior executive vice president-external and legislative affairs, said, “What doesn’t make sense, and has never made sense, is to take a regulatory framework developed for Ma Bell in the 1930s and make her great grandchildren, with technologies and options undreamed of eighty years ago, live under it.”

Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai said, according to FOX News, the plan represents a shift of power to allow the government to control the internet. Pai also warned the new plan would result in intended and unintended consequences, such as rate regulations. “The order explicitly opens the door to billions of dollars in new taxes… Read my lips: More new taxes are coming. It’s just a matter of when.”

The FCC has said the new regulations will be posted online soon and will be published in the Federal Register. The new regulations will also go into affect 60 days after their publication.

President Obama wants more competition amongst broadband providers

Many people, when in the market for broadband subscriptions, can only pick from telephone or cable providers, but President Obama wants local governments to be able to provide broadband services to citizens too.

A report released by the White House says the president wants to “end laws that harm broadband service competition,” and this would seemingly start in 19 states which restrict their governments from offering broadband to citizens.

“Laws in 19 states—some specifically written by special interests trying to stifle new competitors—have held back broadband access and, with it, economic opportunity,” the report reads. “Today President Obama is announcing a new effort to support local choice in broadband, formally opposing measures that limit the range of options to available to communities to spur expanded local broadband infrastructure… the Administration is filing a letter with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging it to join this effort…”

While big tech companies, such as Comcast, will surely fight this as they have in the past, this new push by the president is lawful. According to the New York Times, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia stated the FCC had the power to strike down state laws which could hinder the ability to invest in the state’s infrastructure, which includes Internet infrastructure.

Two states have already filed complaints to the FCC on similar grounds.

Tennessee and North Carolina have petitioned the FCC to preempt state laws which forbid those state’s local governments the ability to construct their own broadband networks and provide their citizens with the Internet. According to Recode, Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the FCC, is expected to make a ruling on these two cases soon.

The new push from the president does not stop at allowing local governments to provide their own broadband services to the community.

The report also says the president wants to establish a “Broadband Opportunity Council” which will have the “singular goal of speeding up broadband deployment and promoting adoptions,” for all citizens. The public will also be able to bring grievances related to “unnecessary regulatory barriers” with concern to their broadband, before the council, which will address the issues.

According to ARS Techinca, President Obama believes the community-based broadband services could boost the competition and ultimately help Internet users. “In markets where private competition is anemic,” said the president, “towns and cities can build their own middle-mile networks and offer competitive access to the private sector… municipalities are creating more choices for consumers, fostering competition and creating opportunities for economic growth.”