Regulation

Who knew? The FCC now has its own podcast. They have maintained a blog for sometime.


FCC Open Commission Meeting – October 27, 2020

   

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel [. . . soon to Be FCC Chairwoman . . .] Speaks Up for the Public!

I support net neutrality. I believe the Federal Communications Commission got it wrong when three years ago it gave the green light to our nation’s broadband providers to block websites, throttle services, and censor online content. I believe this decision put the agency on the wrong side of the public, the wrong side of history, and the wrong side of the law.

When we went down this road three years ago—over my dissent—86% of the American public disagreed with the FCC’s decision. They found it crazy that a handful of unelected officials in Washington could limit where we go and what we do online. They found it bananas that the FCC—the agency charged with overseeing communications in this country—would somehow insist that it shouldn’t have oversight responsibility for broadband. They found it absurd that the agency would abandon the net neutrality principles that made our internet the envy of the world.

What the public understood—and the FCC did not—is that this openness is revolutionary. It means you can go where you want and do what you want online without your broadband provider getting in the way or making choices for you. It means every one of us can create without permission, build community beyond geography, organize without physical constraints, consume content we want when and where we want it, and share ideas not just around the corner but across the globe. I believe it is essential that we honor this history and sustain this openness in the future—and that is why I support net neutrality.

Today we had the opportunity for a do-over. A court sent the mess this agency made with net neutrality back to the FCC. It told us that our decision was wrong for public safety, wrong for broadband infrastructure, and wrong for low-income households. It told us try again. But this order on remand makes apparent this agency is not interested in getting it right. Instead, it doubles down, rather than recognizing the realities of the world around us.

We are in a pandemic. It has filled our hospitals, crashed our economy, and emptied our schools. So much of daily life has been upended, but the one thing that this moment has proven with certainty is how necessary it is to be online. This is true for work, for education, for healthcare, and more. This pandemic has demonstrated that access to broadband is no longer nice-to-have, it is need-to-have for everyone, everywhere.

We need a 100% policy. We need 100% of us connected to broadband. Just like with electricity. Just like with water. That’s because no individual, no household, and no community will have a fair shot at digital age success without it.

We’re not there yet. Far from it. The rollback of net neutrality did not get us any closer to broadband for all, despite the lofty promises made by the FCC. You see it in the reports of the digitally disconnected all around the country. We have adults sitting in cars in parking lots just to catch Wi-Fi to go online for work. We have kids lingering outside of fast food restaurants with laptops just to get a wireless signal so they can go to online class. We have cities and towns fearful that they will not survive this crisis without new efforts to extend broadband to their residents and businesses. And much like the effects of the virus itself, those who are struggling are disproportionately from groups that for too long have suffered systemic discrimination.

Again, we need 100% of us connected to broadband—and we need that access to be open. Today this agency will tell you that openness and net neutrality is not necessary. But know this: broadband providers have the technical ability and business incentive to discriminate and manipulate your internet traffic—and this agency has blessed their ability to do so. And when they do, you’ll be stuck. Because FCC data show that our broadband markets are not competitive. Most households in this country have no choice of broadband provider. So if your broadband provider is blocking websites, you have no alternatives. The FCC will say head to the Federal Trade Commission. But the FTC is not the expert agency for communications. The FCC will say head to state consumer protection authorities. But remember this Administration is suing states that tried to fill in the net neutrality and broadband void created when the FCC stepped out.

The decision before us today was an opportunity to step back in. It was an opportunity to rethink this agency’s rollback of net neutrality from top to bottom and front to back. I regret that it is not. Instead, it is a set of three cobbled-together arguments designed to tell the court to go away, the public that we are not interested in their opinion, and history that we lack the humility to admit our mistake. First, the court told the FCC that it failed to address the harm done to public safety by the rollback of net neutrality.

The very first sentence of the Communications Act tasks the FCC with “promoting safety of life and property.” In other words, public safety is fundamental to our mission. But the agency disregards it here and sidesteps the concerns of the court by insisting that removing net neutrality increases network investment, which will accrue to the benefit of public safety. The evidence for this is less than clear. But more importantly, it doesn’t adequately explain why this is the case when lives are on the line. Nor does it detail in any meaningful way how first responders will manage when emergency communications are throttled or blocked. This concern is not just theoretical. Among those opposing the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality are firefighters who found their service throttled when they were responding to a raging blaze. But here their fears are given short shrift. The agency simply concludes that the elimination of net neutrality is worth the risk, even when lives are at stake. This is irresponsible. Second, the court told the FCC that it failed to address the harm done to broadband infrastructure by the rollback of net neutrality.

Section 224 of the Communications Act gives cable and phone companies rights to attach their facilities to utility poles when they deploy service. But when the FCC took away net neutrality it meant new broadband providers were no longer subject to this section of the law. In other words, the agency eliminated an essential way to ensure broadband providers have rights when it comes to one of the mostcostly aspects of deployment—pole attachments. Now the FCC tries to explain this isn’t a big deal. But it is. Broadband is the infrastructure of the future. If we want to reach 100% of us—and we should—removing tools that help is a bad idea. But this decision concludes it’s a price worth paying for the rollback this agency wants.

Third, the court told the FCC that it failed to address the harm done to broadband in low-income households by the rollback of net neutrality.

Section 254 of the Communications Act details the FCC’s universal service programs, including Lifeline. Lifeline is the only FCC program designed to help low-income Americans afford the cost of communications. So when the FCC’s net neutrality decision undermined the basis for supporting broadband through the Lifeline program it was natural for the court to call foul. In response, the agency just dodges. It ignores the fact that in Section 254 universal service is defined as an evolving level of telecommunications service and it offers a hodgepodge of citations to claim that its decision did not destabilize the Lifeline program. But it did. Because there is no question the program is on less firm legal ground than it was before—and that’s a shame. The future of communications is broadband, and this program should reflect that. Modernizing it is how we reach 100% of us, but this decision puts that at risk.

That brings us to Section 230 of the Communications Act. It has been in the news lately as we all grapple with the frustrations of social media. Three years ago, the FCC insisted that Section 230’s references to a competitive, free market for the internet compelled this agency to rollback net neutrality. It was bunk at the time. But now the agency’s approach to Section 230 is even more confounding.

Because following a push from the Administration, the FCC has reversed course. It now insists that this provision of the law compels the agency to regulate certain speech online. In the end, it’s not just the hypocrisy that disappoints, or the intellectual contortions required to make sense of this. It’s the dishonesty. It can’t be that the FCC points to Section 230 to disavow authority over broadband but then uses the same law to insist it can turn around and serve as the President’s speech police. What a mess. All of this is not good for consumers, for businesses, for anyone who connects and creates online.

I dissent because it doesn’t have to be this way. We can have an FCC that is responsive to consumers. We can have an FCC that accepts nothing less than connecting 100% of us to broadband so everyone, everywhere has a fair shot in the digital age. We can have an FCC that restores net neutrality, rather than doubles down on reasons to take it away. I still believe these things are possible. I still have faith that as a Nation, we can make them happen. We can revisit these matters anew. So let’s not stop here or now. Let’s persist. Let’s fight. Let’s make it happen. I believe we can and I believe we should because the future depends on it.


Key FCC Orders Upon Which to Comment — Search FCC Electronic Comment Filing System

  • Link to → Docket No. 19-226: Dec 2019 Targeted Changes to the Commission’s Rules Regarding Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields
  • Link to → Docket No. 17-108: Dec 2017 FCC Order to Repeal Net Neutrality Regulations, resulting in Oct 1, 2019 Ruling in DC Circuit Court of Appeals for Case No. 18-1051, Mozilla et al. v. FCC — Comment Date: March 30, 2020; Reply Comment Date: April 29, 2020 and public notice.
  • Link to → Docket No. 13-84: Reassessment of Federal Communications Commission Radiofrequency Exposure Limits and Policies

Background

  1. Link to members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee
  2. Link to video of the July 2018 House FCC Oversight Hearing
  3. Link to National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) Keynote speech

  4. Without Robust Net Neutrality Regulations . . .

    Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can block access to sites, extort companies for using more bandwidth than others, and cap and throttle network speeds for users — as they already have:

    • In 2005, Madison River Communications blocked VOIP services. The FCC put a stop to it.
    • In 2005, Comcast denied access to P2P services without notifying customers.
    • In 2007, AT&T blocked Skype and other VOIPs because they didn’t like the competition for their cellphone services.
    • In 2011, MetroPCS tried to block all streaming except YouTube. They actually sued the FCC over this.
    • In 2011, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon blocked access to tethering apps on the Android marketplace, with Google’s help.
    • In 2011, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon blocked access to Google Wallet because it competed with their payment apps.
    • In 2012, Verizon demanded Google block tethering apps on Android because it let owners avoid their $20 tethering fee. This was despite guaranteeing they wouldn’t do that as part of a winning bid on an airwaves auction. They were fined $1.25 million over this
    • In 2012, AT&T tried to block access to Facetime unless customers paid more money.
    • In 2013, Verizon stated that the only thing stopping them from favoring some content providers over other providers were the net neutrality rules in place.
    • In 2017, Time Warner Cable refused to upgrade their lines in order to get more money out of Riot Games (creators of League of Legends) and Netflix.

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Apr, 2020

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Mar, 2020

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Feb, 2020

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Jan, 2020

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Dec, 2019

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Nov, 2019

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Oct, 2019

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Sept, 2019

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Aug, 2019

FCC Open Commission Meeting – July, 2019

FCC Open Commission Meeting – June, 2019

FCC Open Commission Meeting – May, 2019

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Apr, 2019

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Mar, 2019

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Feb, 2019

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Jan, 2019</h6>


FCC Open Commission Meeting – Dec 2018

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Nov 2018

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Oct 2018

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Sept 2018

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Aug 2018

FCC Open Commission Meeting – July 2018

FCC Open Commission Meeting – June 2018

FCC Open Commission Meeting – May 2018

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Apr 2018

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Mar 2018

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Feb 2018

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Jan 2018

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Dec 2017

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Nov 2017

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Oct 2017

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Sept 2017

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Aug 2017

FCC Open Commission Meeting – July 2017

FCC Open Commission Meeting – June 2017

FCC Open Commission Meeting – May 2017

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Apr 2017

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Mar 2017

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Feb 2017

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Jan 2017

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Dec 2016

Other Stuff

This is the Guy Who Chairs the FCC? . . . Ajit Pai Channels Animal House
This is More Like It — Remarks by Representative Doyle (D-PA)
8/2/18 FCC Open Meeting: Agenda Item 3:
Accelerating Wireline Broadband Deployment By Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment
FCC Open Commission Meeting – March 22, 2018 FCC-Minority Commissioner,
Jessica Rosenworcel, Stops FCC Security and Addresses the Public

Rosenworcel: Can I ask why we are removing someone who is behaving [fine in] the audience — right here, right now?

[Pause]

Audience: She wants to talk about the environmental effects, saying the Wireless radiation from cell towers causes cancer and neurological problems at levels far below our Federal RF microwave radiation guidelines.

Rosenworcel: No, I appreciate that; I am just saying there is someone sitting here quietly and listening. I would just ask that we not remove people from the room, who are quietly listening.

Audience: What happened to the first amendment? The Ramazzini Institute results [released today] show that nonthermal RF microwave radiation exposures from cell towers causes two types of cancer: schwannomas of the heart and malignant glial brain tumors.

FCC Open Commission Meeting – Dec 2018

Conclusion: Substantial evidence of harm from RF microwave radiation exposure was discussed in an FCC Open Commission meeting.

. . . And Now Back to the FCC-Majority Propaganda Machine

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2018 — [A day after doing this,] Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai issued the following statement after President Donald Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 into law, which included the Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services Act of 2018:

“Today’s action by President Trump and Congress will help America lead the world in 5G. By fixing the upfront payments issue, this law will enable the FCC to commence a 5G spectrum auction later this year. It also includes the MOBILE NOW Act, which will lead to the identification of at least 255 MHz of licensed and unlicensed spectrum that will help the United States continue to lead in wireless innovation and deployment.

This law also addresses a number of other important Commission concerns. For example, it includes additional funding for the repacking of broadcasters required to relocate their television stations following the incentive auction. And it streamlines redundant and, in some cases, outdated reporting requirements that divert the FCC’s time and resources from more critical work.

It is also noteworthy that this constitutes the first reauthorization of the FCC in decades. Reauthorization helps our agency steer a path forward in our work on behalf of the American people, and I want to thank all of the elected officials whose leadership made this day possible."


Don’t like being mislead like this? Communicate directly to Chairman Pai:

   
Chairman: Ajit Varadaraj Pai; is active on Twitter
Age: 44
Address: 4868 Old Dominion Drive, Arlington, VA 22207
Tel 1: 703-533-7359
Tel 2: 703-351-3094
Tel 3: 888-CALL FCC (225-5322)


What is really going on . . . Regulation Failures that Harm the Public Interest

For background, read/view this Bruce Kushnick primer.

The FCC is a captured agency: it is dominated by the Telecom and Cable companies that it presumably regulates.

 

  • Feb 17, 2018: AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Charter Got $58.8 Billion in Tax Benefits: We Want Lower Rates — Now!

Bruce Kushnick: "As we pointed out, in a single year, the FCC decided to make massive changes, which are part of a wish list created by AT&T.

  • Get rid of Net Neutrality
  • Get rid of basic privacy laws
  • Help to kill off competition
  • Help to close down the existing copper infrastructure, even in areas where there are no substitutes.
  • Force-march customers onto wireless service
  • Privatize publicly funded infrastructure."
  • Feb 25, 2018: We Solved Net Neutrality: “$400 Billion Broadband Scandal” Is the Evidence

Bruce Kushnick: "Every FCC 2017-2018 proceeding leaves out all state-based, utility-based “intrastate” — everything, from the broadband commitments made to upgrade the copper networks to fiber optics, the funding of these networks via rate increases, the cross-subsidies of the other lines of business using the utility construction budgets, or most surprising, that in Verizon’s territories, this funding is based on using Title II.

In fact, the FCC never acknowledges that there even is a telecommunications, state-based utility, commonly called the “PSTN”, the Public Switched Telephone Network. Verizon New York, AT&T California or AT&T Kansas are all state-based utilities that control some or most of their state’s Wireline infrastructure . . . the FCC improperly co-mingles all financial data to treat it as interstate (and under the FCC federal jurisdiction) as opposed to intrastate (state-based) to make policy decisions to benefit Verizon, AT&T et al., while harming the public interest."

  • Feb 28, 2018: Open Networks & Get the Money Back: Part of the Net Neutrality Solution

Bruce Kushnick: "Most of the construction budgets for Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility Wireless have been frauduelently dumped into various state Telecom Utilities’ Wireline construction budgets. That’s right, Grandma’s landline phone bill financed the construction of the 4G/LTE Wireless networks.

No competition has meant we get slower speeds for more money as well as no choice; and let’s screw the rural areas and low income families who end up paying extra for services they never got and will never get."

    • Mar 8, 2018: 4G/5G Densified Wireless Is the New Fiber Bait-and-Switch Scandal

    Bruce Kushnick: "If history is our guide — the speed of 5G is not going to be 1,000 Megabits per second (Mbps). It will be 1/10th of that speed, at best, and only in some locations —  it will take years and it will cost the customer multiples of what a wire would cost for the same service, like watching Netflix or cable TV over Wireline services.

    The underbelly of all of this is that there is a forced migration to Wireless. Verizon has stopped building out critical infrastructure — even though customers paid for network upgrades"

    • Mar 19, 2018: Verizon’s Proposed Settlement in New York Covers Up One of the Largest, Nationwide, Accounting Scandals in American History

    Bruce Kushnick: "Over the last 8 years, New Networks uncovered a massive financial shell game that has cost local phone and business customers billions of dollars in overcharging per state; it has blocked cities from being upgraded, or even having the state utility networks and infrastructure maintained. It created the ‘Digital Divide’, and it has allowed Verizon, AT&T et al. to use the state utility Wireline customers as a cash cow for the company’s other lines of business, especially Wireless.

    Through this shell game, Verizon has been able to seriously inflate the costs for ALL services, including your wireless services as your call or video ends up going to a cell site, and most of these sites are attached to the underlying, state-based utility wires. Verizon Wireless even has an agreement with the cable companies to bundle their wireless service where they did not upgrade to FiOS. The secret is  —  the Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility got the fiber optic wires to the cell sites paid for by the Wireline state utility budgets."