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FCC hit over ‘rate floor’ increase

April 21, 2014

by Julian Hattem
Hillicon Valley

The Federal Communications Commission is coming under pressure for its attempt to raise the minimum amount that companies can charge for basic phone service and still get a government subsidy.

The commission’s “rate floor” is scheduled to go up from $14 to $20.46 this year, despite protest from members of both parties.

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Tech industry pushing FCC for more Wi-Fi airwaves in 2015 spectrum auction

April 21, 2014

by Kate Tummarello
Hillicon Valley

The tech industry is pressuring the Obama administration to set aside more free, unlicensed airwaves that help fuel Wi-Fi networks, a demand that will create tension as the government tries to also boost revenue-producing licensed airwaves.

Next year, the Federal Communications Commission will auction off airwaves worth billions to wireless companies. While the agency has pledged to set aside some unlicensed airwaves — which fuel consumer electronic devices like garage door openers and Wi-Fi routers — some fear the FCC might not reserve enough of the valuable airwaves as it tries to meet congressionally set revenue goals.

The highly anticipated 2015 auction will involve buying airwaves back from broadcasters and then selling new licenses for those airwaves to spectrum-hungry wireless companies looking to expand their networks.

While most focus on the battle between wireless companies over the agency’s plans to limit certain companies in the auction, the tech industry is watching to see how much of the available spectrum the FCC will set aside for unlicensed use.

The agency announced Friday that it would be reserving some space for unlicensed use in the 2015 auction, including in the “guard bands,” which are airwaves set aside between licensed spectrum to prevent interference between different services and uses.

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Ideological assumptions: Why data do not always resolve policy disputes

April 21, 2014

by Roslyn Layton
Tech Policy Daily

It seems the more data we have in the policy world, the less we agree. Two people can look at the same statistic and make different conclusions because of their individual assumptions.

Lord, Lee, and Lepper did groundbreaking work on attitude polarization in 1979. They studied the issue of capital punishment and found that people easily accept evidence that confirms their existing point of view while subjecting contradictory evidence to more criticism.  TechPolicyDaily.com contributor Richard Bennett explores ideology trumping factual analysis in an insightful blog.

Consider the many ways to interpret the US Internet adoption rate of 81%, as identified by the ITU. Some might interpret this as low, even calling it a market failure, especially when compared to the Nordic countries and the Netherlands which have adoption rates of at least 90%. Others might suggest that the Nordics don’t make fair comparisons, as their populations rank them among states such as North Carolina, Minnesota, and Oregon; and the Netherlands is the size of Maryland. Others might take the opposite view: that the US adoption rate is extremely high given that the world average is 41.8%.  Others still would interpret 81% as a market success story, where widely available broadband networks and an explosion of user-friendly mobile devices have transformed the country in less than a generation.  Another interpretation, using Rogers’ diffusion of innovation theory, suggests that technological adoption tops out at 85% and demanding anything higher becomes coercive; there are always laggards who refuse to adopt technology. Yet another interpretation is that adoption rate needs to be evaluated by demographics, that overall adoption rate obscures differences in age and income.

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Procrustes at the FCC

April 21, 2014

by Randolph J. May
Free State Foundation

The Federal Communications Commission has a Procrustean problem. The agency would do well to acknowledge it as a means of reforming its regulatory process.
I borrow from FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen’s address, “The Procrustean Problem with Prescriptive Regulation,” delivered at the Free State Foundation’s Sixth Annual Telecom Policy Conference on March 18. If you missed the conference and haven’t seen the C-SPAN video of Commissioner Ohlhausen’s speech or read it, you should. It ought to be required reading at the FCC.
In her speech, Commissioner Ohlhausen briefly relates the Greek myth of Procrustes:”Procrustes was a rogue blacksmith, a son of the sea god Poseidon, who offered weary travelers a bed for the night. He even built an iron bed especially for his guests. But there was a catch: if the visitor was too small for the bed, Procrustes would forcefully stretch the guest’s limbs until they fit. If the visitor was too big for the bed, Procrustes would amputate limbs as necessary to fit them to the bed. Eventually, Procrustes met his demise at the hand of Greek hero Theseus, who fit Procrustes to his own bed by cutting off his head.”

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Patent compromise continues

April 11, 2014

by Julian Hattem & Kate Tummarello
Hillicon Valley

Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) have reached a patent reform agreement that would increase transparency around patent infringement lawsuits and threats of lawsuits and institute a “loser-pays” system for unreasonable lawsuits, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

The lawmakers have been working over the last week to reach compromise on the more contentious patent reform provisions as the Senate Judiciary Committee repeatedly delayed consideration of Chairman Patrick Leahy’s Patent Transparency and Improvements Act. According to the person familiar with the negotiations, language of the compromise between Schumer and Cornyn is still being finalized and will be included in the updated version of the bill that the committee will consider when it returns from its two-week recess.

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Pre-NETmundial Notes

April 21, 2014

by Eli Dourado
Technology Liberation Front

Next week I’ll be in São Paulo for the NETmundial meeting, which will discuss “the future of Internet governance.” I’ll blog more while I’m there, but for now I just wanted to make a few quick notes.

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Jeffrey Eisenach talks net neutrality and Internet governance on the Diane Rehm Show

April 11, 2014

by Jeffrey Eisenach
Tech Policy Daily

On Monday, TechPolicyDaily’s own Jeffrey Eisenach appeared on the Diane Rehm Show. The segment focused on the recent EU net neutrality vote and ICANN announcement and included Laura DeNardis of American University, Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post, and Esther Dyson, founding chair of ICANN. The show featured a lively conversation about net neutrality, broadband access, and the principles of Internet governance. The full audio is available here.

For more net neutrality and Internet governance coverage, check out some of our latest posts:

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Why is New Zealand chasing Chattanooga?

April 10, 2014

by Brownyn Howell
Tech Policy Daily

Down here in New Zealand, we’re being treated to a competition run by Chorus, the largest beneficiary of the government’s fiber broadband subsidy largesse.  Gigatown pits 50 New Zealand towns in those parts of the country where Chorus is the ‘chosen’ provider (70% of the 70% of the country that will get the UFB) against each other to become “the first town in the Southern Hemisphere to access a one gigabit per second internet connection.”  Each town in the contest has its own two unique GIGATOWN hashtags – one with the town’s full name and the other with a three-letter abbreviation for the digitally challenged.  The winning town will be the one whose supporters earn the most points (adjusted for the size of the town’s population) by using #Gigatown[your town] hashtags in posts (excluding spam) to Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, WordPress, and Tumblr.

Of course, the competition is mostly a marketing ruse to drum up enthusiasm for a network that is struggling to sign up customers to its more modest-speed subsidized connections.  The winning town will certainly not be the Southern Hemisphere’s first ‘Gigatown’ by the definition above.  It won’t even be New Zealand’s first, as private, unsubsidized CityLink has provided Wellington City with a state-of-the-art dark fiber network capable of delivering these speeds for years.  In reality, the winner will become the first town in the Southern Hemisphere with guaranteed access to heavily subsidized 1 Gbps subscriptions for a three year period as well as a $200,000 development fund for entrepreneurs and innovators providing new services over the Gigabyte network (i.e. any new internet application, whether or not it actually needs gigabyte capability).  The consolation prize is a trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee for one representative from each of the five highest scoring towns (winner included) to “see for themselves the difference that Gigabit broadband can make – and inspire their own community.“

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Government-subsidized fiber: Careful what you wish for

March 26, 2014

by Brownyn Howell
Tech Policy Daily

The bold policies of the Australian and New Zealand governments to fund nationwide national fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband networks have drawn attention of late for all the wrong reasons.  So far, Australia has spent around $28,000 for each of its 260,000 residential connections, whilst New Zealand’s uptake rate after two years stands at just a little over 5% of premises passed.  The inability of such ‘grand policies’ to deliver upon the aspirations held for them is in large part due to some of the well-established reasons why politics and the telecommunications industry have historically made such uneasy bedfellows.

Politics trumps economics

First, private sector investors have to account to shareholders for the application of their funds, but governments’ accountability is to electors, whose tax liability often bears little resemblance to their voting power.  Thus, government-owned firms tend to operate less efficiently than their private sector counterparts, whilst political priorities often result in deployment schedules following political, rather than economic, priorities.

The recent Strategic Review of Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) reveals a budget blowout from A$43 billion to A$72.6 billion in just four years, for a project running around 50% behind the schedule and downscaled significantly over time in order to constrain political damage.  Meanwhile, building is ahead of schedule in New Zealand’s privately-constructed Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB), as the key performance metrics and access to government funds are linked to meeting pre-agreed build targets.  However, uptake has been extremely modest.  In part, this arises from the political priority to connect (predominantly government-owned) schools and hospitals first, rather than building to meet the needs of the (private) consumers based on willingness to pay.

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Relinquishing U.S Oversight of the Internet – My PBS NewsHour Appearance

March 25, 2014

by Randolph J. May
Free State Foundation

I was interviewed on the PBS NewsHour, on March 24, 2014, along with Vint Cerf, Google’s Chief Evangelist, about the Obama Administration’s recently-announced plans to transfer oversight of the Internet to some yet-to-be-determined entity.

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IFC Reply Comments to FCC: Title II Reclassification Unjustified, Unnecessary

August 12, 2010

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of Framework for Broadband Internet Service                    

GN Docket No. 10-127

FCC Docket No. 10-114

 Reply Comments

of the Undersigned Members of the

INTERNET FREEDOM COALITION

Introduction

The Commission is being asked by Free Press and other organizations to pursue a radical course of action – reclassifying information services as telecommunications services in order to regulate the Internet for the first time.  We write to urge the Commission to keep the Internet free of new government regulation and taxation and to refrain from rushing into such a potentially disastrous course of action.

Analysts are only beginning to grasp the extent of the disruptive and destructive consequences of regulating the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act, and the Commission is in no position to predict the outcome, much less assure Americans it will be positive.  Americans have heard political leaders admit that we will not know the full extent or nature of massive health care and financial services regulations until after the underlying legislation has been passed.  Now, Americans are facing the imposition of an even lesser-understood regulatory regime over the Internet without the benefit of any legislative process whatsoever.

CLICK HERE FOR PDF

IFC Supplemental Reply Comments: FCC Lacks Authority, Justification for Reclassifying Internet as Title II Service

April 26, 2010

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
Preserving the Open Internet              GN Docket No. 09-191                                  
Broadband Industry Practices            WC Docket No. 07-52

Supplemental Reply Comments of the Internet Freedom Coalition

Just two days prior to the Commission’s deadline for reply comments regarding the above Notice of Proposed Rulemakings, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in Comcast v. FCC that the Commission has no authority to enact Net Neutrality rules.  The deadline for comments was extended, particularly to facilitate discussion of other methods of promulgating Net Neutrality regulations.

 Beginning with comments on the National Broadband Plan filed by Public Knowledge in January, a small number of organizations have since proposed classifying the Internet as a Title II common carrier service as a way of asserting the Commission’s authority to enact Net Neutrality regulations.  The Internet Freedom Coalition respectfully submits these reply comments in strong opposition to any effort to reclassify the Internet as a Title II service.

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IFC Reply Comments to FCC: Refuting Free Press’ Arguments for Regulating the Internet

April 26, 2010

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of                                           
Preserving the Open Internet                      GN Docket No. 09-191
Broadband Industry Practices                    WC Docket No. 07-52

Reply Comments of the Internet Freedom Coalition

The following comments are submitted by the undersigned members of the Internet Freedom Coalition.  They are submitted in reply to comments filed by proponents of Network Neutrality regulations, and are attributable only to the signatories.

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Internet Freedom Coalition Comments to the FCC, Opposing Network Neutrality Regulations

February 23, 2010

Before the

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

Washington, DC 20554

In the Matter of
Preserving the Open Internet,                 GN Docket No. 09-191
Broadband Industry Practices                WC Docket No. 07–52; FCC 09–93
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

 Comments of the Internet Freedom Coalition

 Introduction

 The Internet Freedom Coalition is an ad hoc coalition of organizations and individuals committed to the continued growth and improvement of the Internet, who believe regulations and taxes are harmful to those ends. The Internet Freedom Coalition believes that a free and open Internet is beneficial, but argues that regulatory intervention in the well-functioning marketplace that has thus far produced a vast, free and open network would unnecessarily limit the current and future supply of bandwidth, and would harm both producers and consumers. These comments are attributable only to the individual signatories.

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