May 30, 2017
On the heels of the FCC’s adoption of the “Restoring Internet Freedom” proposed rulemaking, which proposes to end utility-style regulation of the internet, FCC Comm. Mignon Clyburn said she will work to continue Title II regulation of the internet, known as net neutrality, and ensure that communities can continue to rely on the internet as the “preeminent engine of innovation and opportunities.”
On the third day of the Wireless Infrastructure Conference, May 24, in Orlando, Florida, Clyburn spoke out against the so-called fast lanes reserved for those willing to pay more and preferences for those with business relationships with an internet service provider, which many say will be the result of killing net neutrality.
“And the 2015 Open Internet Order reflects a long-standing commitment shared by millions of Americans to protect a platform that inspires innovation and entrepreneurship, fosters freedom of speech and expression, and stimulates incentives for investment,” she said.
Clyburn passionately preached about the importance of broadband internet access to communities so that children can do homework, the unemployed can apply for jobs, the sick can obtain health care, and entrepreneurs can drive the economy.
“So as far as I am concerned – broadband is where we must all start,” she said. “To have an educated, competitive workforce in this century and beyond, we must ensure that everyone in our communities truly has access to broadband service, for all of the infrastructure builds in the world will not enable access if the service is not affordable.”
Clyburn said she met a man during a visit to skid row in Los Angeles who told here if he did not have an email address, he would have no address at all.
“That is just one example of how important connectivity is and how important it is for that person to be connected to the goods and services that will improve their life,” she said. “I think we all benefit when there is an open platform.”
Clyburn rejected the viewpoint that the internet would be better off without any regulation.
“What we have been the beneficiaries of in terms of this enabling platform did not happen by accident. It happened because there was a framework of rules that were codified,” she said. “People keep forgetting that all these things that enabled you to connect came about because there were clear rules of the road.”
As to what will happen next, Clyburn said she hopes “cooler heads” will prevail, but she will wait to see the record that is created by comments in the proceeding (FCC-17-60). There also could be a legislative solution that could restore federal regulation to the internet, she said.
February 26, 2015 — As the net neutrality drama unfolds, there was some recent news that everyone should be tuned in to. There is noise that Comcast and Time Warner Cable want to merge. If that comes to pass, the American consumer will end up as the biggest loser. That means that this new mega-conglomerate will own the OTT landscape and you and I will be locked into only one OTT provider.
If you believe Susan Crawford, a, visiting Harvard Law professor, and frequent thorn in the side of communications service providers (and why shouldn’t you?), Xfinity will be Americans’ only window on the world.
What is the big deal? Well, if this happens, and Comcast’s Xfinity service, which is cloud-based, ends up as the de facto device for set-top boxes, they would control just about all the net access at the consumer level, rendering net neutrality moot.
But the worst part is that our illustrious elected officials recently passed legislation that may just lead to that, much as the way the old Ma Bell once controlled the voice infrastructure. The passage of STELAR quietly put an end to the FCC’s ban on integrated security features in set-top boxes (the CableCARD law). While that seems like a good thing on the surface, there are consumer advocacy groups, such as Freepress, which claim that without the integration ban, consumers have even fewer opportunities to buy their own set-top DVRs and other devices. What’s more, this can, potentially, become a very un-neutral Internet, stifling competition and allowing Comcast to make the rules.
On the plus side, there has been a rising awareness lately, from those who see this as a real threat, and the bandwagon is growing. So now the chance that the merger won’t happen is increasing. But don’t get too excited. AT&T and DirecTV just merged too.
In the end, the FCC really needs to make a just call on this. Regardless of the whining of the mega-entertainment/communication behemoths, the agency should heed the calls to keep the industry competitive … your thoughts?
Ernest Worthman is the editor of Small Cell magazine.
January 13, 2015 — The number one issue for 2015 is net neutrality (NN). This is gearing up for a super slugfest. The 800 pound gorillas, like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Cox, etc. who have been lining the pockets of the Republicans, forever, so they can keep their slice of the golden fleece, golden, are bring out the big guns in this issue. They have already been admonished for throttling. And if the FCC puts them under Title II, they will no longer will they be able to favor sites with a preferential “fast lane” that sites pay premiums for. Hmmm…a level playing field; that is a novel idea.
In favor of NN, are a majority of Democrats, and most consumer advocates and the smaller players like NetFlix and Etsy. Their argument is that net neutrality offered all website players a level playing field, offering the consumer the same value proposition across the board. The Republicans, and the telecoms, on the other hand, claim that it would hinder innovation.
However, it isn’t just about the Dems and the Repubs. There are perceptions at play here. First of all, much of the consumer sees the telecom giants as bad guys. Businesses who are constantly getting dinged for “ripping” off the consumer (hidden charges, data throttling, murky contracts, etc.) so they already have a bit of a black eye, even if they have a legitimate position. Second, there is the issue of big brother again, meddling in something that, for the most part, is working pretty well. And, finally, much of the public really doesn’t care one way of the other, as long as they can stream Mad Men to five different devices, listen to The Who, Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 and play their MMO game, World of Warcraft, simultaneously.
And, there is still another player – Google. In a recent filing with the FCC, they stated that they see a silver lining in being regulated as a telecom company. As a regulated telecom service, Google Fiber would get access to utility poles and other essential infrastructure owned by utilities, just as the telecoms have had since the beginning of time. They would like to see this happen because it would promote competition and spur more investment and deployment of broadband Internet services – and provide a potential backhaul bonanza for small cell deployments, which, currently suffer from lack of ubiquitous, high-bandwidth backhaul services. Pole access is fundamental and if Title II gives Google pole access, then it might really rock the world with broadband access – good for small cells.
In the end, this is really more of a Washington power play. The Republicans, with their new-found power in Washington are just looking for ways to flex their political muscle, and this, along with Obamacare, are highly visible targets. In retrospect, NN is a good thing and the playing field should be level. And it will bode well for the small cell industry.
Ernest Worthman is the editor of agl Small Cell Magazine.