After over nine hours of debate over mostly failed amendments, and delays, legislation that would re-regulate internet access by reinstating the Federal Communications Commission's 2015 Open Internet Order's Title II-based net neutrality rules is on its way to a vote in the full House, where it is likely to pass. An amended version of the Save the Internet Act (HR 1644) was approved by the House Commerce Committee on a party-line vote.
With the US.Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit signaling it planned to hold the Feb. 1 oral argument in Mozilla vs.
Rep Anna Eshoo (D-CA) wants the Federal Communications Commission to tap into more state and local government input on broadband deployment, suggesting the FCC’s goal now is to serve industry and tie the hands of those local governments. That came in a letter Rep Eshoo sent to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the other commissioners Nov 7. Rep Eshoo wants to see more state and local officials on the FCC's Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC).
The respective parties have filed their opening briefs in Chinese telecom Huawei's challenge to the Federal Communications Commission's initial determination that its technology is a national security risk and must be excluded from broadband subsidies — and likely ripped and replaced from existing networks. The FCC voted unanimously on June 30 to affirm its initial designation that Huawei (and ZTE) are suspect, which means no carrier can use tech from either company to build out broadband and be eligible for any of the government's billions of dollars in Universal Service Fund subsidies for
House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA) said that a lot of broadband internet access service providers, "for whatever reason," claim they have service where they don't, something he said everyone knows "has been going on for years." He said that since Democrats and Republicans agree that broadband maps aren't good, the Federal Communications Commission would just be throwing $20 million out the window by starting to give out most of the Rural Development Opportunities Fund (RDOF) subsidy money.
Federal Communications Commissioner Geoffrey Starks spoke about internet inequality during a USTelecom webinar "The Role of Connectivity in Digital Equity and Inclusion." Commissioner Starks said he uses the term internet inequality rather than the digital divide because beyond the issue of access was the issue of affordability. He said there are millions of Americans who simply can't afford the internet. While the rural digital divide is very important, Commissioner Starks said the lack of connectivity in certain urban areas was a problem he was increasingly fixated on.
Mozilla and others that had challenged the Federal Communications Commission's deregulation of internet access in the 2017 Restoring Internet Freedom Order (RIFO) have decided not to take that challenge to the Supreme Court. This moves the issue to the states that implemented their own net neutrality legislation in response to the FCC's RIFO. The deadline was July 6, and Mozilla signaled there would be no challenge in the high court. "After careful consideration, Mozilla—as well as its partners in this litigation—are not seeking Supreme Court review of the DC Circuit decision," Mozilla.
Senate Democrats are attempting to add their distance learning E-Rate funding bill to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) have proposed their Emergency Educational Connections Act as an amendment on the bill. The bill would ensure that all K-12 students have access to "adequate" home broadband connectivity and devices during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill would clarify that E-rate could be used for equipment and service at "locations other than the school."
House Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) took to the House floor to talk up the massive Moving Forward Act infrastructure bill, including its $100 billion in funding for broadband buildouts he says will close the digital divide. The $1.5 trillion-plus bill would allocate billions to subsidize broadband competition--including from municipal providers--in "underserved" areas which could mean where service is already provided by private capitol at just short of gig speeds. "T
The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) has come up with an estimate of how much it has cost its members to Keep Americans Connected over the life of the Federal Communications Commission-prompted voluntary pledge that they do so during the pandemic. According to WISPA, which polled its members on June 23, the average cost was over $30,000 per operator. That was based on an average sub count of 1,500. The costs broke down this way: $25,000 to cover nonpayment; $3,200 in waived late fees, and $4,500 in free Wi-Fi.