Blog Posts by Kevin Taglang

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Independence, Net Neutrality, and E-rate are Thorny Issues at FCC Confirmation Hearing

On July 19, 2017, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing to examine the nominations of Ajit Pai, Jessica Rosenworcel, and Brendan Carr for seats on the Federal Communications Commission. Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) characterized the hearing as both an examination of the nominees and a FCC oversight hearing, “fulfilling a commitment I’ve made to hold regular, biannual oversight hearings of the Commission.” His opinions of the nominees: “In my view, the FCC will be in very good hands when all three of these nominees are confirmed.”

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Reports From the Day of Action for #NetNeutrality

On July 12, 2017, some of the world's largest companies, activists, and citizens protested the Federal Communications Commission's proposal to rollback (well, gut, really) network neutrality protections adopted in 2017. Here's a look at the news of the day.

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FCC: Brendan Carr, You Complete Me

On June 28, 2017, President Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate Brendan Carr for the last remaining open seat on the Federal Communications Commission. Actually, you might call it a “double nomination”: Carr is being put forth to complete the remaining term of former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler which expires June 30, 2018, AND a second full term beginning the next day. The nomination, officially sent to the Senate on June 29, will likely be paired with that of former FCC Jessica Rosenworcel. The two are likely to get a confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee in July. Here’s a short introduction to Brendan Carr and a look at what his nomination might mean for the FCC moving forward.

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Rural Broadband Takes Center Stage During Tech Week

This week, the White House hosted a series of meetings, dubbed “Tech Week”, between leaders of the technology sector and Trump administration officials. Broadband was a key topic there, although discussions about getting everyone access to high-speed Internet service were held outside the White House, too – in Iowa, at Congress, and at the Department of Commerce. The discussions revealed how hard it is to get a handle on the rural broadband divide, and the complexity of bridging it.

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FCC Reopens Net Neutrality Debate, Seeking “Substantive” Public Comment

On May 18, 2017, the Republican commissioners on the Federal Communications Commission voted to reopen the debate over how to best preserve an Open Internet. Launching a proceeding seeking “substantive” public comment, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposed undoing the only legal basis for network neutrality rules that has survived court challenge. The unreleased Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposes to reverse the FCC’s 2015 ruling that the transmission component of broadband Internet access service (BIAS) is a telecommunications service. The NPRM also proposes to 1) return to the FCC’s original classification of mobile broadband Internet access service as a private mobile service; and 2) eliminate the Internet conduct standard created by the 2015 Order. Finally, the NPRM questions the need for the FCC’s so-called “bright-line rules” which prohibit broadband providers from a) blocking access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices; b) impairing or degrading lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices; and c) favoring some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind—in other words, no "fast lanes." (This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates.)

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Net Neutrality’s New Chapter

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. News leaked that the Federal Communications Commission Chairman will propose new network neutrality rules to ensure a free and open Internet. People freaked out. FCC Chairman outlines his plan for net neutrality. People freak out more. FCC Chairman releases full net neutrality proposal. All Hell breaks loose. Although there’s generally been bipartisan agreement that broadband subscribers deserve consumer protection, there’s never been political consensus on how to ensure those protections. For anyone scoring at home, here's how we arrived at where we are this week. And here's what to expect in the weeks ahead.

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A Little Part of the First Amendment Dies at FCC Oversight Hearing

The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on oversight of the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday, March 8. A good time was had by all. The committee’s senators highlighted a wide range of issues during the 2+ hour hearing. Here we focus on the First Amendment, broadband deployment, network neutrality, privacy, and the future makeup of the FCC.

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The First Casualty is the Truth: Trump's Running War With the Media

In a democracy, the key role for citizens is to participate in public life. Voting, of course, is a key aspect of this participation, but, in a vital democracy, citizens’ participation is not limited to occasional trips to the voting booth: they are well-informed about public issues, watch carefully how their political leaders and representatives use their powers, and express their own opinions and interests. To be well-informed, many citizens must rely on journalists who can attend public events, question public officials, and report back to the general public. So important is this function in our democracy, citizens demanded protections for a free press and mass communication in the Bill of Rights. Since President Donald Trump’s Inauguration on January 20, 2017, many people are anxiously looking for clues as to how the Administration will interact with the press. Trump’s first week in office demonstrates that the relationship will be combative. Will the people be the losers in this fight?

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Chairman Wheeler’s Farewell Message (in Two Parts)

With President Barack Obama’s second term ending on January 20, a number of Administration officials are delivering final addresses capsulizing the advances their departments or agencies led over the last eight years. Last week, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler offered a two-part farewell highlighting the challenges we face dealing with technology-driven upheaval and cautioning policymakers not to reverse policies that ensure that broadband Internet access service is ubiquitous, competitive, affordable, open, and fair.

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Getting to Know Mark Jamison, President-elect Trump’s FCC Transition Team Co-Leader

On November 21, 2016, President-elect Doonald Trump named Mark Jamison and Jeffrey Eisenach to his “agency landing team” for the Federal Communications Commission. Jamison is a Visiting Fellow with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He is also the Gunter Professor of the Public Utility Research Center (PURC) at the University of Florida and serves as its director of telecommunications studies. Since, as a candidate, Donald Trump did not offer a telecommunications agenda, many are trying to read the tea leaves to understand how these appointments will impact how the FCC will operate over the next four years. As a professor and visiting fellow, Jamison is a prolific writer. We've been reading through his works looking for hints of what Trump Administration priorities may be.

Author's Bio

With over 18 years of experience in the field, Kevin Taglang leads the Benton Foundation’s work monitoring, analyzing and articulating the public interest stake in telecommunications legislation, regulation, and policymaking. Previously, Taglang was Senior Policy Analyst at the foundation, working on educating and engaging the nonprofit sector in communications policy debates.