FCC Publishes 400 Page Document Detailing Net Neutrality Rules and Objections

FCCThe FCC’s announcement that they would be reclassifying the Internet and regulating it as a utility came with a five page summary detailing the commission’s plans.

Yesterday the FCC quietly released the full set of rules to the public, and including the dissenting opinions from the Republican members, the document is 400 pages long.

We’re currently reading through the rules now to see if there are any surprises, but so far no red flags or severe changes from the initial summary. The rules seem focused on preventing ISP’s from throttling services, and blocking any actions towards creating a tiered internet with “fastlanes”.

There’s also a pretty healthy section on Forbearance, detailing all the things that the FCC wont be enforcing like public utility pricing. Still, even though this resembles the situation we found ourselves in when the cell phone industry was reclassified, which ultimately provided for more competition and better consumer experiences, we can expect the ISP’s and carriers to start mounting an attack now that the rules are available.

You can read the rules for yourself, instead of just accepting pundit’s opinions, at the link below.

In the Matter of Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet

Explained! FCC Reclassifies Broadband as Utility, Defends Net Neutrality! We Answer Your Questions!

It was a landmark day yesterday for the FCC and advocates of a free and open internet. Two major rulings were delivered. One defending Tennessee and North Carolina efforts to build tax payer funded broadband, and the second reclassifying the entire Internet as a utility under Title II regulations. If you have questions about the announcements, Enobong Etteh from Booredatwork and I are here to answer them!

Read the FCC’s Statement on the new Broadband Internet Rules.

FCC Reclassifies Internet as a Utility, Defends Net Neutrality

FCCThis has been a crazy trip.

From Verizon suing the Government over the Open Internet Order, to proposed “Fast Lane” rules, to now. The FCC has been busy today. First, announcing it will preempt state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina which were preventing community funded broadband efforts.

Second, approving rules which will reclassify broadband internet as a common carrier utility under Title II regulations. Thankfully, unlike the OIO, these new rules will also apply to mobile networks, not just wired ones. The vote was 3-2 in favor, on party lines with the Democrat majority winning the day.

“While I see no need for net neutrality rules, I am far more troubled by the dangerous course that the Commission is now charting on Title 2 and the consequences it will have for broadband investment, edge providers and consumers,”

-Republican FCC member Michael O’Rielly, who voted against the new rules.

We can also expect much crying and gnashing of teeth from the GOP in the House and Senate, with tired FUD and scare tactics, even though companies like Sprint have already pointed out that light touch regulation can be incredibly beneficial to a market as stagnant as our telecommunications industry. You would not have carriers like T-Mobile today, if the cell phone industry hadn’t been reclassified as Title II in the mid 1990’s. You can lead an elephant to water…

It’s a day many supporters of Net Neutrality thought we’d never see, and while there will still be a number of battles to fight over who regulates the internet, and what those actions should resemble, we can at least call today a victory for pretty much anyone who uses any kind of commerce or data driven service online.

The FCC has a five page write up, detailing the new rules.



Informal Poll: Do You Have Broadband Internet at Home?

SAMSUNG CSCLast week the FCC redefined broadband internet, moving it from 4Mbps download / 1Mbps upload, to a far more modern 25Mbps down / 3Mbps up. With the stroke of a pen, now almost 20% of the population here in the United States no longer had access to “broadband” internet access?

Were you one of those folks? Has your service provider been able to keep pace with infrastructure and data needs? Drop us a comment below!

FCC Public Advisory: Blocking Personal WiFi Hotspots is Prohibited

marriott hotel logoAn interesting story has been developing in the use of WiFi hotpots in hotels.

The FCC fined Marriott hotels for blocking their customers from using their own WiFi, powered by phones and MiFi’s using 3G/4G data connections. The fine amounted to $600,000, and Marriott petitioned the commission, asserting that blocking customers was a way for them to better protect the security of the networking solutions they were offering.

The FCC responded with a public advisory yesterday reaffirming their previous stance:

Personal Wi-Fi networks, or “hot spots,” are an important way that consumers connect to the Internet. Willful or malicious interference with Wi-Fi hot spots is illegal. Wi-Fi blocking violates Section 333 of the Communications Act, as amended.1 The Enforcement Bureau has seen a disturbing trend in which hotels and other commercial establishments block wireless consumers from using their own personal Wi-Fi hot spots on the commercial establishment’s premises. As a result, the Bureau is protecting consumers by aggressively investigating and acting against such unlawful intentional interference.

Continue reading “FCC Public Advisory: Blocking Personal WiFi Hotspots is Prohibited”

Sprint Sends Letter to FCC in Support of Title II Reclassification

sprint logoMaybe a surprising way to wrap a week full of Net Neutrality news, but the country’s fourth place carrier yesterday sent a letter to the FCC explaining its position on reclassifying the internet as a common utility under Title II.

They’re stance? It probably wont affect their products and services much.

Now to be sure, the letter does support a “light touch” regulation, where the FCC through forbearance might opt out of regulating certain aspects of the wireless industry, and give “mobile carriers the flexibility to manage our networks and to differentiate our services in the market”.

Of course, drawing that regulation line is a sticky subject between Title II supporters and opponents. Still it’s refreshing to see a carrier buck current industry trends to point out that it’s entirely likely reclassification might have only a small impact on the way broadband business is currently handled, and drawing on the history of the wireless industry, would probably be a positive move for the industry in allowing more competition.

When first launched, the mobile market was a licensed duopoly. This system was a failure, resulting in slow deployment, high prices and little innovation. In 1993, Congress revised the Telecommunications Act to allow new carriers, including Sprint, to enter the market. This competition resulted in tremendous investment in the wireless industry, broader deployment, greater innovation, and falling prices. It is absolutely true that this explosion of growth occurred under a light touch regulatory regime. Some net neutrality debaters appear to have forgotten, however, that this light touch regulatory regime emanated from Title II common carrier regulation, including Sections 201, 202 and 208 of the Communications Act.

Well done Lil’ Yellow. You can read the whole letter from Sprint’s Chief Technology Officer, Stephen Bye here (PDF Download).

If the Internet is Declared a Title II Utility, Verizon Will Only Have Itself to Blame

FCCThe fight over net neutrality is going to get uglier. President Obama recently voiced support for classifying the Internet as a common utility and ending 19 states laws preventing broadband competition, and FCC chairman Tom Wheeler might join the President after voicing support for Title II at this year’s CES.

On the other side, Conservatives are pushing another bill in the House which would completely strip the FCC of regulating Internet activity by classifying it as an “Information Service”. You can thank Congressman Bob Latta out of Ohio for that, who received around $80,000 in donations from the telecoms during the 2013-14 election year cycle.

Google is backing Title II, as the reclassification would mean they would have more access to public utility lines and infrastructure as opposed to always digging their own trenches. There’s been growing support for more publicly funded broadband at the local level, while traditional ISP’s have been lobbying to maintain their non-competitive status quo.

Verizon-logoFunnily enough we arrive at this point on the one year anniversary of an appellate court ruling in favor of Verizon in a lawsuit against the FCC and their Open Internet Order. The OIO would have enforced Net Neutrality rules on home internet and cabled broadband, but would have been pretty loose on wireless carriers.

Verizon alone sued the FCC over some fairly basic protections for keeping a level playing field, claiming it was their First Amendment right to degrade the quality of connection for competing services on their network. Other carriers have tried to circumvent Net Neutrality with “value add” benefits for consumers. People were up in arms about AT&T’s proposed Sponsored Data initiative, which would let third party companies pay to reduce the amount of data AT&T subscribers would be billed for, and T-Mobile found some success in cutting streaming music services off of customer’s bills.

Verizon’s actions a year ago in squashing the OIO means the worst possible option for carriers and ISP’s is the one gaining the most traction. It seems more likely now that in the wake of vocal opposition to the FCC’s “Fastlane” proposal, we might see an about face and a new proposal presented in favor of classifying the internet as a common utility.

US Government Acountability Office Wants FCC to Examine Home Internet Data Caps

gao-logoThe GAO released their report on Fixed Internet Usage and Usage-Based Pricing. The 41 page report details their testing and offers up their recommendations.

Their conclusion?

That the FCC should work with providers on educating consumers and developing a code of conduct for pricing and service. The FCC has already stated that they will be monitoring complaints to see if a more direct approach is necessary, but there hasn’t been much consumer uproar over capped home internet plans, especially as many groups are trying to influence the FCC’s “Fast Lane” proposal. With more of the focus on Net Neutrality and the upcoming Time Warner + Comcast merger, there’s probably far less noise being made about data caps.

This could become another battle soon however, as caps are another way ISP’s can enforce their policy and services to the detriment of their competitors, and it could have a chilling effect on consumer behavior. We’ve already covered Comcast’s horrifically bad “Flexible” plans, but it’s no surprise that more communities are following Chattanooga’s example and looking to build their own public data networks.

GAO Report: FCC Should Track the Application of Fixed Internet Usage-Based Pricing and Help Improve Consumer Education