Legislation and Regulation

FCC launches new site to spur discussion of agency reform

Chris Naoum, Broadband Breakfast

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday launched reboot.fcc.gov, a new interactive website attempting to foster public discussion on how to best improve the agency.

The site includes many opportunities for public input on a variety of facets of FCC operations, including greater release of FCC data, the development of new systems such a the “Consolidated Licensing System,” and the redesign of the main agency website, Ma href="http://FCC.gov">fcc.gov.

The site is broken down into five sections: systems, rules and procedures, data, engagement and redesign. The home page also offers links to the RebootBlog – this reform efforts blog – plus all current FCC initiatives and upcoming events. Each section also includes the ability for users can comment, post suggestion and then vote on suggestions, Ideascale model.

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AT&T consultant conjures evidence to claim White House is soft on net neutrality

Tim Karr, Huffington Post

There's some buzz about a recent CNET article by Larry Downes claiming that the Obama administration is backing away from Net Neutrality.

Downes knits together a loose set of assumptions to make this case. And the usual suspects have amplified his argument as proof indisputable that Net Neutrality advocates are on the ropes.

It took Nancy Scola of The American Prospect to dig up dirt on Downes that CNET failed to disclose:

"[M]issing from Downes' scary op-ed on the Obama Administration's commitment to net neutrality: any mention that one of Downes' recent clients at the consulting firm Bell Mason Group is AT&T -- one of neutrality regulation's strongest opponents."

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Is the White House backing away from net neutrality?

Larry Downes, CNet

[commentary]

The Obama administration and its allies at the Federal Communications Commission are retreating from a militant version of Net neutrality regulations first outlined by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in September.

That's my reading of a number of recent developments, underscored by comments made by government speakers on a panel on the first day of a Tech Policy Summit at CES in Las Vegas.

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Government skeptical wireless can open up broadband market

Matt Lasar, Ars Technica

Earlier this week we wrote up a Department of Justice brief urging the Federal Communications Commission to reallocate as much spectrum as possible for the wireless industry. Wireless, the DOJ says, is the best chance we've got at creating a more competitive broadband landscape. "Given the potential of wireless services to reach underserved areas and to provide an alternative to wireline broadband providers in other areas, the Commission's primary tool for promoting broadband competition should be freeing up spectrum," the DOJ told the FCC on Monday.

But now comes a policy letter from the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) suggesting that the wireless fix may not be so clear cut.

"Although early projections from [the] industry are encouraging, it is premature to predict when, or even whether, these wireless broadband services will provide the competitive alternatives that can benefit consumers of all services, including wireline," NTIA chief Larry Strickling wrote to the Commission on Wednesday.

Read the complete story.

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FCC delays broadband plan deadline by one month

Rich Karpinski, Telephony Online

The FCC will a congressionally-mandated deadline to deliver a national broadband plan, today asking Congress for a four-week extension to more hold more briefings and gain additional input.

Washington has set itself a big year, what with additional broadband stimulus funding, net neutrality discussions and the new broadband plan all looking to make their mark in the first half of 2010. How those issues are resolved will have a huge impact on industry planning and spending this year and beyond, as well as how the industry’s competitive environment evolves moving forward.

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New study suggests net neutrality is needed to avoid negative economic effects

Institute for Policy Integrity

The Internet dominated the last decade, but new pricing policies may have profound consequences for the shape of tomorrow s Web. That is one of the findings of a report called Free to Invest: Economic Benefits of Preserving Net Neutrality released this morning by the Institute for Policy Integrity (Policy Integrity).

Free to Invest compiles research and conducts analysis of the behind-the-scenes policy often referred to as net neutrality. Under net neutrality, content providers, like newspapers, blogs, and businesses, currently pay Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to upload information online but not a second fee when broadband subscribers access the data. Without net neutrality, content providers could be charged again when that information is downloaded or viewed.

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A Look at the future of TV: Comcast takeover of NBC under review

Democracy Now!

Sen. Byron Dorgan’s decision to retire from the Senate stunned many in Washington. Dorgan has been a leading opponent of media consolidation and US trade policy. We speak with the Center for Digital Democracy’s Jeff Chester about Dorgan’s retirement, as well as what the future holds for the digital media landscape with Comcast’s deal to acquire a controlling interest in NBC Universal under review, and the dispute resolved between Time Warner Cable and News Corp.

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US official: Net neutrality rules are needed

Grant Gross, IDG News Service

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission should consider regulations for broadband providers in an effort to increase competition, an official with U.S. President Barack Obama's administration said.

In most areas of the country, there's been slow progress toward "vigorous competition" among broadband providers, wrote Lawrence Strickling, assistant secretary for communications and information at the U.S. Department of Commerce and administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

"We urge the Commission to examine what in many areas of the country is at best a duopoly market and to consider what, if any, level of regulation may be appropriate to govern the behavior of duopolists," Strickling wrote in comments to the FCC about its upcoming release of a national broadband plan.

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Justifce department to take up antitrust review of Comcast-NBC deal

Cecilia Kang, Washington Post

Justice Dept. to take up antitrust review of Comcast-NBC deal

Comcast's proposed $30 billion merger with NBC Universal will be reviewed by the Justice Department for potential antitrust violations, according to sources. The merger will also be reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission for the transfer for broadcast licenses and to see how the union could affect the public.

Every merger goes through an antitrust review by either Justice or the Federal Trade Commission. According to sources familiar with the decision, Justice's antitrust division will head up the job of determining how the deal will impact competition in the video, cable and media industries.

The deal marries the nation's largest cable and broadband Internet operator with a media giant with one out of every five hours of television content under its roof.

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Church organizations praise House decision to expand low-power radio

United Church of Christ Office of Communication, Inc.

The United Church of Christ's media-justice advocacy arm and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) are celebrating a significant victory in one of its most important and longest standing legislative efforts in the area of media reform. On Wednesday evening, legislation that will expand low-power radio to 140 million people who are currently unable to receive it has been passed on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, poising the legislation for final approval in the Senate.

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