What’s Hot List 10/30/15

Even a Net-Neutral Internet Isn’t a Title II Public Utility (Wall Street Journal 10/27)


Regarding Holman Jenkins’s “Obama’s Next Broadband Blunder” (Business World, Oct. 21): One sentence of a letter I wrote Mr. Jenkins years ago regarding net neutrality was used in his column to suggest I believe “it would be a mistake to trust the cable industry to build our broadband future because cable [has] a basic conflict of interest.”

Having been at the birthing of net neutrality as the important issue it is today, I feel I should clarify my position: Net neutrality should mean only that telephone and cable companies must be prohibited from building out their networks in ways which leave certain regions, towns, neighborhoods and reservations without high-quality broadband access—i.e., no “red lining”; telephone and cable companies owning programming and Internet content must not discriminate against competing content created by third parties, and Internet users using massive amounts of a distributor’s broadband capacity—“bandwidth hogs”—must pay for that high volume above the charges paid by smaller users of the network.


Europe has approved ‘net neutrality,’ but not the kind advocates wanted (Washington Post- The Switch Blog 10/27)

The European Parliament has voted to approve new rules for Internet providers in major legislation that is nevertheless being slammed by net neutrality advocates who say the regulation is filled with loopholes.

The bill was passed with none of the amendments that consumer advocates and tech firms were pushing for in a last-ditch effort this week. Critics said the bill did not do enough to prevent Internet providers from classifying favored types of Web traffic as “specialized services” that are more lightly regulated. They also said it gives carriers too much freedom to exempt favored partners from customer data caps, a practice known as “zero rating.”

Verizon follows AT&T, asks FCC to let it enable Wi-Fi calling (The Verge 10/25)

Verizon is finally taking steps to enable Wi-Fi calling on its network. The carrier has submitted a petition to the FCC requesting that the regulatory body grant it a waiver identical to the one it gave to AT&T earlier this month.

Enabling Wi-Fi calling is tricky because the underlying technology doesn’t reliably support TTY (teletypewriter), a decades-old service used by the hearing impaired. AT&T complained to the FCC last month that competitors T-Mobile and Sprint merely disregarded the rules around TTY support when they launched Wi-Fi calling. To make matters worse, according to AT&T, the FCC was taking months to approve the carrier’s outstanding petition to the FCC.


Senate passes cybersecurity information sharing bill despite privacy fears (Washington Post- The Switch Blog 10/27)

The Senate on Tuesday passed a cybersecurity bill that would give companies legal immunity for sharing data with the federal government, over the protests of some lawmakers and consumer advocates who say that the legislation does not adequately protect Americans’ privacy.

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA, must now be reconciled with legislation passed earlier this year by the House.

The Obama administration and lawmakers in both parties have been seeking for years to enact information-sharing legislation, and it now seems likely to become law.

Net neutrality proponents have joined forces with the greatest threat to free speech (The Hill Blog 10/27)

Today’s #SubCommTech hearing on net neutrality will focus on the economic impacts of the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) decision to regulate the Internet as a “common carrier” service. But as the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals prepares to decide the legality of the FCC’s new Internet regulations, people are starting to recognize there is something far more important than money at stake. The case may redefine free speech in a way that subjects the Internet to the sort of censorship that prevailed during the era of McCarthyism in the United States.

While some may view the danger to free expression posed by the FCC’s net neutrality rules asfarfetched, our nation’s history proves otherwise. The McCarthy era during the Second Red Scare of the mid-twentieth century demonstrated how easily our government could ride roughshod over free expression without eternal vigilance over the protections of the First Amendment. Unfortunately, it is human nature to discount the severity of a threat that largely predates living memory and allow our vigilance to wane when even the gravest of perils becomes shrouded by time.

Court Gives ISPs, FCC Two Hours to Make Net-Neutrality Case (Multichannel 10/28)

A federal court has set oral argument for ISPs and others’ challenge of the FCC’s Open Internet order, giving them and the FCC the total two hours of argument time they had asked for.


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has also set the three-judge panel, which will be Judges David Tatel (he was on the panel that rejected the previous net neutrality rules), Sri Srinivasan, and Senior Judge Stephen Williams, Senior Circuit Judge


ISPs will get 30 minutes to make their argument against Title II reclassification of Internet access, while the FCC will get 25 minutes (It is ceding five minutes of its time to intervenors supporting the FCC).

FCC’s move puts U.S. in stronger position for 5G leadership (Fierce Wireless 10/26)

The FCC took a huge step forward last week in getting the U.S. better positioned to compete in the race to 5G when it decided to propose new flexible service rules in the 28, 37, 39 and 64-71 GHz bands.

To be sure, a lot of interested parties would have liked to have seen more spectrum opened up in higher bands. As the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) points out, NYU Wireless described frequencies above 100 GHz as a “technical playground” that could lead to new technical innovations.

FCC Chairman Wheeler Plans To Give Special Access Favors To Former Lobbying Clients (Forbes 10/26)

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) new investigation into the “tariff pricing plans” of AT&T ngIf: ticker T +0.00% ngIf: show_card end ngIf: ticker , CenturyLink ngIf: ticker CTL +1.71% ngIf: show_card end ngIf: ticker , Frontier, and Verizon for data services provided to businesses—commonly known as “special access” services—reeks of special favors for cable companies FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler once represented. The FCC claims “a more systematic inquiry” into telephone companies’ pricing plans is necessary to determine their reasonableness. But the FCC’s framework for this tariff investigation is so sloppy and unsystematic that the outcome appears to have been predetermined.

What is 5G and Why Should Lawmakers Care? (Washington Post 10/26)

A decision last week by the FCC to open large swaths of high-frequency radio spectrum for use in next generation wireless networks marks a turning point in the mobile revolution. A new standard, known as 5G, is coming soon.

In addition to blazing fast speeds for tomorrow’s mobile devices, 5G networks will be the platform for new innovations, including the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, ultra high-definition video, remote health care, and augmented reality. Along with many disruptors yet to be imagined.


The FCC’s “Competition” Agenda (Forbes 10/23)

Many battles in the communications industry pit one behemoth against another. When the negotiation focuses on dividing a fixed pie, the proverbial elbows sharpen, and competitors look for ways to extract a greater slice for themselves.

In these “zero-sum games,” a regulator who is willing to tilt the playing field in favor of one party in the name of “competition” can be a powerful force in redirecting profits. But for what end?