Beyond beltway, groups say the FCC must protect broadband

Media Action Grassroots Network

Nationwide, community groups respond to killed Waxman bill, claim FCC authority over broadband is the only sure way to protect consumers

A coalition of 60 community organizations from across the US and leaders representing small businesses, communities of color and America s'poor says while clear rules of the road for high speed broadband Internet are needed, getting those rules from Congress isn't the way.

Coalition spokespeople suggest that the lack of Net Neutrality protection for wireless broadband in the recent Waxman bill was unacceptable, failed to meet equity standards and could have slowed the road to economic prosperity for America's rural, struggling suburban and urban communities of color.

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Waxman's net neutrality bill would strip FCC of authority, leave out wireless net

Eliza Krigman, CongressDaily Tech Daily Dose

With precious little time left in the 111th Congress, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman's efforts to advance a net neutrality bill may be more of a messaging tool than anything else, observers say.

"A lot of legislation is introduced not because of its likelihood of enactment, but to send a message that will ricochet around the Hill and agencies," said Andrew Lipman, head of the telecommunications, media and technology group at the law firm Bingham.

Against steep odds, Waxman, D-Calif., has been leading an effort to shepherd a measure through Congress that would codify some principles to protect the openness of the Internet.

A draft bill leaked to Tech Daily Dose on Monday revealed a framework that would apply nondiscrimination principles to wireline broadband but not wireless and direct the FCC to deal with enforcement on a case-by-case basis, rather than through rulemaking. Under the draft, the commission would be prohibited from reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service under title II of the Communications Act, which would apply a more stringent regulatory regime.


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Seattle's slow progress towards community fiber: an update

Christopher Mitchell, MuniNetworks

If Seattle moves forward on the Community Fiber Network it has been considering, it will be the largest such network in the nation. However, as we recently noted, progress has been slow.

The City's Seattle Jobs Plan proposes a publicly owned fiber network as a smart investment. The report notes that Seattle applied for BTOP stimulus funding from NTIA, but the recent notice of awards suggests that Seattle will not receive any grants or loans. Way back in March, City Councilmember Bruce Harrell published a lengthy post about Seattle's options. Harrell is a pivotal official on this issue and his post suggests he has given it a lot of thought. The post seems geared toward those pushing for a community fiber network. The overall message is that this is a hard decision… which is fine, but the Council seems more ready to wait out the clock than actually make a decision.

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Chattanooga launches 1 Gbps broadband service

W. David Gardner, Information Week

The more than 1,100 communities which have submitted applications to Google for 1 Gbps broadband service won't have to sit on the edge of their chairs anymore wondering which community will get the service first. None of them will get it. The first 1 Gbps net service -- the fastest in the U.S. -- is being offered by the city of Chattanooga.

The city-owned Electric Power Board utility announced this week that it is offering the ultra high-speed service to all 170,000 homes and businesses in its service area. There's a drawback, however: the 1 Gbps service will cost $350 a month. As is often the case in telecommunications, the first price is usually the highest and is generally followed by a strong of lower prices so residents can hold out hope that the price will eventually decline.

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Copps: Why the FCC can't do its job on broadband access

Michael Copps, Washington Post

The Aug. 26 Washington Post editorial "An open, innovative Internet" wrongly stated that a court decided the Federal Communications Commission has no authority over Internet service providers. What the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said was that the section (Title I) of the communications statute cited by agency lawyers did not support the FCC ruling against Comcast's blocking of BitTorrent. This was a predictable outcome of FCC actions during the Bush administration that consciously moved broadband Internet access from Title II, which would have supported the commission's authority, to a murky place that invited court challenge.

This was a major flip-flop from the historic -- and successful -- approach of forbidding discrimination on our communications networks. Now is the time to put broadband back under Title II, where it belongs -- and under which many smaller companies continue to offer Internet access to the public.

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OK Go on net neutrality: A lesson from the music industry

Damien Kulash, Washington Post

On the Internet, when I send my ones and zeros somewhere, they shouldn't have to wait in line behind the ones and zeros of wealthier people or corporations. That's the way the Net was designed, and it's central to a concept called "net neutrality," which ensures that Internet service providers can't pick favorites.

Recently, though, big telecommunications companies have argued that their investment in the Net's infrastructure should allow them more control over how it's used. The concerned nerds of the world are up in arms, and there's been a long, loud public debate, during which the Federal Communications Commission appeared to develop a plan to preserve net neutrality.

The FCC's latest action on the question came partly in response to a federal appeals court ruling in April that appeared to limit the agency's authority over Internet service providers. In May, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski issued a plan to classify the Internet under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act. In English, that means the agency would be legally recognizing a fact so obvious that I feel silly even typing it: We use the Internet to communicate. With that radical notion established, the FCC would have jurisdiction to protect the public interest on the Net, including enforcing neutrality. Since announcing its intent, though, the FCC hasn't followed through, and the corporations involved are trying to take the reins before the public servants do.

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Franken to speak at FCC Future of the Internet hearing in Minneapolis

Andy Birkey, Minnesota Independent

UPDATE: @reclaimthemedia will tweet comments on tonight's hearing, starting around 3pm PDT. Sen. Al Franken spoke out on net neutrality ahead of a Minnesota visit by officials from the Federal Communications Commission to discuss the same issue. The FCC will hold a hearing at South High School in Minneapolis at 6 pm tonight. Franken said on Tuesday that if telecoms have their way, consumers will end up paying much more and have less open access to the internet.

“Net neutrality means everything travels at the same speed,” said Franken. He said that telecoms want consumers to “pay for the pipes.”

“The internet service providers want to pay for faster, premium access to people who will pay for it,” he said. “That means someone will get FOX before they will get you,” he told Access to Democracy host Alan Miller.

“Ultimately what I’m afraid of,” said Franken, “is that the internet service providers will be made up of about five companies.”

Here's more information from Main Street Project.

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Democratic Reps lay out "true Open Internet principles"

Office of Rep. Jay Inslee

This morning, Rep. Jay Inslee (WA-01), Rep. Ed Markey (MA-07), Rep. Anna Eshoo (CA-14), and Rep. Mike Doyle (PA-14), all members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, laid out a set of open internet principles in a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski. The letter addresses directly the recent policy proposal from Google and Verizon by laying out principles that would keep the internet open, implement the FCC s broadband plan to increase broadband access, and deny broadband service providers the ability to control consumer choice.

"Americans online experience shouldn't be dictated by corporate CEO's," said Rep. Inslee. "Innovation and creativity online have given rise to millions of jobs and tremendous economic growth, in large part because individual consumers have been free to access what they want. The principles we have set forth in this letter coincide with that fact. Net neutrality is not about imposing a new set of rules, net neutrality is about preserving the open Internet and empowering consumers and small businesses to bring the next generation of entrepreneurial drive to the world wide web."

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Public interest groups to FCC chair: Google/Verizon proposal fails; FCC must act

Media and Democracy Coalition

In a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, MDC member groups highlighted how a policy proposal from Google and Verizon fails to protect the Open Internet. The groups call on the Commission to act swiftly to oversee broadband and adopt strong Open Internet rules. You can download a PDF of the letter here.

Julius Genachowski
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th St SW
Washington, D.C. 20554

cc: Commissioner Michael Copps
Commissioner Robert McDowell
Commission Mignon Clyburn
Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker

August 12, 2010

Dear Chairman Genachowski:

We would like to thank you for meeting with representatives of the public interest community last week and providing us with the opportunity to articulate a framework for broadband oversight and open Internet policy to which the undersigned organizations remain committed.

In light of this week’s announcement from Google and Verizon, we wish to highlight the ways in which the companies’ proposed policy fails to meet the framework we discussed, thus does not protect an open Internet.

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How the Google/Verizon proposal could kill the internet in 5 years

Annalee Newitz, i09

Earlier this week Google and Verizon pledged to uphold a set of network principles that could transform the internet into a husk of its former self. Let's look down the barrel of the Googlezon future.

Keep in mind that the two-page Googlezon proposal, which you can read here, isn't law, though both companies have requested that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) turn it into a formal regulation. Even if it isn't law, though, Googlezon has stated it will follow the proposal's principles. And mostly those principles are harbingers of a dystopian media future.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey