Kerry, Dems defend FCC action on broadband

Harold Feld, Public Knowledge

Dems on the Hill are waking up to round two on the fight over the future of broadband. Specifically, Senators Kerry (D-MA), Cantwell (D-WA), Udall (D-NM) and Wyden (D-OR) sent this letter to Senators Inouye (D-HI) and Cochran (R-MS) -- the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriation Committee -- arguing that no one should use the appropriations process to prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from moving forward with its proposed Notice Of Inquiry (NOI) asking what to do for legal authority for the National Broadband Plan and to protect consumers now that the U.S. Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit has gutted the FCC's previous theory of authority. Here's the money quote:

"Seeking public comment on all available approaches is a reasonable and responsible way to move forward and we should give it increased clarity and definition through the legislative process. Congress should not block its consideration. The Communication Act articulates and gives life to the idea that our communications networks should be open, accessible, ubiquitous, and affordable. Those values did not die with the invention of the Internet nor did the Commission's responsibility to act on them."

Read more.

FCC needs to rethink broadband regulation

Wally Bowen, Asheville Citizen-Times

Eight years ago on March 14, 2002, the five-member Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to weaken its regulatory authority over broadband Internet access via a cable modem.

The FCC press release that day predicted that the unusual move “will promote broadband deployment, which should result in better quality, lower prices and more choices for consumers.”

The vote split along party lines: Republicans, led by FCC Chairman Michael Powell, voting for; the two Democrats voting against.

The vote reclassified cable broadband from a “telecommunication” to an “information” service, thus exempting cable broadband access from “common carrier” obligations which have governed the nation's telecommunications since the days of the telegraph.

Read more.

Some clarity in war over Internet access

Tyrone Brown, Media Access Project

The fight over open access to the Internet has turned into a public relations war and a political football in Congress.

Last month, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced his proposal to clarify the agency's authority to oversee the likes of AT&T, Verizon and Comcast in their critical roles as providers of transport links to high-speed Internet access. His approach has strong support from fellow Commissioners Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn.

Since that announcement, opponents of his proposal have recruited proxies to mount a major disinformation campaign. Separate groups of Democratic and Republican congressmen have communicated their opposition to the proposal while others in Congress have supported it. Civil liberties and civil rights groups have weighed in for or against the proposal, depending on whether they see it as promoting or slowing broadband deployment and adoption.

Read more.

They don’t speak for all minorities on Net Neutrality

Craig Settles, The Hill

In the net neutrality debate, several leading civil rights organizations have come down heavily against net neutrality, as have some members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Do not assume that they speak for all people of color or for all low-income individuals in urban or rural areas.

I do not belittle or demonize those champions of many noble battles past and yet to come. However, I vigorously disagree with their position on this particular issue, and adamantly reject the assumption that it’s in minority constituents’ best interests for Congress to oppose net neutrality. As a minority business owner who also specializes in broadband strategy, and has spent years assessing the efforts of people working directly with those abandoned across the digital divide, I have a valid perspective.

Read more.

GOP Reps sign misleading letter opposing open Internet

Public Knowledge

Earlier today, 171 of 177 House Republicans signed a letter opposing the proposed actions of the Federal Communications Commission to ensure economic growth and to protect consumers.

Public Knowledge president Gigi B. Sohn responded with the following statement:

Today's House letter, combined with that signed by 74 Democrats a couple of days ago, is nothing more than a demonstration of the unparalleled political and lobbying muscle of the telecommunications industry. The biggest companies are spending millions and millions of dollars to buy this Congress. AT&T spent $6 million in the first quarter of this year alone.


Read more.

Cellphones Now Used More for Data Than for Calls

Jena Wortham, New York Times

Liza Colburn uses her cellphone constantly.

She taps out her grocery lists, records voice memos, listens to music at the gym, tracks her caloric intake and posts frequent updates to her Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The one thing she doesn’t use her cellphone for? Making calls.

“I probably only talk to someone verbally on it once a week,” said Mrs. Colburn, a 40-year-old marketing consultant in Canton, Mass., who has an iPhone.

For many Americans, cellphones have become irreplaceable tools to manage their lives and stay connected to the outside world, their families and networks of friends online. But increasingly, by several measures, that does not mean talking on them very much.

Read more.

Net neutrality? How about affordability?

Bill Schrier, Chief Seattle Geek Blog

The FCC and a large portion of the nation are wringing our collective hands about net neutrality. But the real issue is not “neutrality” but “affordability” and even “accessibility”. Clearly the future of the Nation depends upon the Internet, but a large portion of households and small businesses can’t afford Internet access at true broadband speeds. And, as cool new applications such as high-definition video develop, the gaps will only widen, and even more Americans will be left in the dust of the Net. Net Neutrality doesn’t mean much if you can’t afford a connection in the first place.

Read more.

Telecoms' secret plan to attack net neutrality

Lee Fang, Think Progress

Net neutrality, a guiding principle for preserving a free and fair Internet, means that Internet service providers are not allowed to discriminate based on content for its customers. However, telecommunications firms — like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and others — are firmly against net neutrality because they would like to increase their profits by deciding which websites customers can see, and at what speed. The telecom industry has dumped hundreds of millions of dollars into a lobby campaign against net neutrality. As the FCC now takes up net neutrality rule making, the industry is pushing an “outside approach” of hiring front groups and astroturf operatives.

Read more.

GOP bill aims to slow or stop FCC broadband reclassification

Grant Gross, IDG News Service

A U.S. lawmaker has introduced legislation to require the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to deliver a detailed cost-benefit analysis to Congress before moving forward with a plan to reclassify broadband as a regulated common-carrier service.
People who read this also read:

The bill, authored by Representative Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican, would also require the FCC to conduct a market study to show “market failure” in the broadband industry before moving forward with the plan to reclassify broadband.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s plan to reclassify broadband as a regulated service is a mistake, Stearns said at a press conference Tuesday organized by Americans for Prosperity, an antiregulation advocacy group. The effort will hurt the FCC’s goal of making broadband available to all U.S. residents, he said.

Read more.

FCC chair to unveil Internet oversight plans

Joe Flint, LA Times

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski on Thursday will disclose the agency's much-anticipated approach to regulating the Internet.

The move comes in the wake of a recent decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the FCC overstepped its bounds when it chastised broadband provider Comcast Corp. for impeding some of its customers from using the file-sharing service BitTorrent because it is a so-called bandwidth hog and slows down the Internet for everyone.

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