February 11, 2016 (Fight over regulating Internet rates)


Today's Events: https://www.benton.org/calendar/2016-02-11

   Sen Leahy pushes USDA to boost rural broadband speeds
   Republicans’ Latest Plan to Undermine FCC On Consumer Protection - Public Knowledge
   Fight over regulating Internet rates intensifies
   A dangerous tech policy narrative emerges: Decreasing choice to increase freedom - Mark Jamison/AEI op-ed
   New 1-Terabit Internet satellites will deliver high-speed Internet to remote areas
   Municipal Broadband M&A: Sunset Digital to Buy BVU OptiNet [links to telecompetitor]
   Google Fiber Has Comcast’s Attention [links to Benton summary]
   Comcast begs Atlanta customers not to switch to Google Fiber: touts more on-demand video, voice remote; leaves out price and data caps [links to Ars Technica]
   With New Google Fiber 100 Mbps Tier, Google Hedges on Gigabit [links to telecompetitor]

   80 Members of Congress Support Lifeline Modernization
   CAC Recommendation Regarding Modernization of the Lifeline Program - public notice

   Google to scrub web search results more widely to soothe EU objections
   Judicial Redress Bill Passes Senate [links to Benton summary]
   Judicial Redress Bill Passes House [links to Broadcasting&Cable]
   Remarks by the President on New Cybersecurity Initiatives (President Obama) [links to White House]
   Op-ed: $19 billion alone won't fix Washington's cybersecurity problem [links to Christian Science Monitor]
   Sen Feinstein Says Terrorists Only Need The Internet and Encryption To Attack [links to Vice]
   Twitter Security Chief Calls for Bolstered Cyber Regulation [links to Fast Company]

   LightSquared rebrands as Ligado Networks but spectrum plans remain cloudy [links to telecompetitor]
   Verizon LTE-U Small Cell Trials Planned [links to telecompetitor]
   AT&T/ Nokia Utility IoT Offering to Rely on Dedicated Spectrum [links to Benton summary]
   Op-Ed: The Expanding Choices in Wireless Connectivity [links to Revere Digital]
   Why It’s Taking So Long to Get to 5G [links to Vice]
   Joan Marsh: Final Thought on the Incentive Auction [links to AT&T]

   Sen Sanders Out-Raises Clinton in Silicon Valley
   Google’s Next ‘Moonshot’? Making Bernie Sanders President [links to Benton summary]
   How PBS Can Continue Explaining The Crisis Of Money In Politics During the Democratic Debate - analysis [links to Benton summary]
   Candidates, Lies and the Internet [links to Timothy Karr]
   53 percent voters between the ages of 18-29 years old say they have read about the 2016 presidential campaign on Facebook [links to Morning Consult]
   Crowdpac: little correlation between Silicon Valley’s financial backing and the ballot box [links to Revere Digital]

   FCC's Sallet Cites Gore Role in Telecom Act

   New Case Suggests the FBI Shared Data from Its Mass Hacking Campaign with the UK [links to Vice]
   Idea to retire: The “rock star” chief information officer - Brookings [links to Benton summary]

   Budget Would Grow Federal R&D by 4 Percent [links to nextgov]

   Why ‘Diverse TV’ Matters: It’s Better TV. [links to New York Times]
   FCC's Sallet: Set-Top Proposal Doesn't Threaten Copyrights [links to Broadcasting&Cable]
   Public broadcasters fear FCC ruling could deter board members from serving [links to Current]

   The only way to report on something as powerful as technology is to take a critical look, not at its superficial utility, but at its relationship with the end user and everyone else [links to Vice]

   Why it matters if Airbnb paid Beyoncé for that Facebook plug [links to Benton summary]

   Why ‘Diverse TV’ Matters: It’s Better TV. [links to New York Times]
   Watch comedian Chelsea Peretti tear Silicon Valley a new one [links to Verge, The]

   The year the pay gap disappeared
   The urgent need for Silicon Valley to lead a smart and civil conversation on inequality - WaPo op-ed [links to Benton summary]

   Technology (and Its Implementation in Schools) Is Widening the Opportunity Gap - EdSurge [links to Benton summary]

   Google to scrub web search results more widely to soothe EU objections
   New Case Suggests the FBI Shared Data from Its Mass Hacking Campaign with the UK [links to Vice]
   French anti-terror bill moves forward amid civil liberties debate [links to Christian Science Monitor]
   Phone line cost rises 33% since 2010 in UK [links to Financial Times]
   Should India's Internet Be Free Of Charge, Or Free Of Control? [links to Benton summary]

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[SOURCE: The Hill, AUTHOR: Mario Trujillo]
Sen Patrick Leahy (D-VT) called on the Agriculture Department to follow the Federal Communications Commission's lead and raise the standard for high-speed Internet for its rural broadband loan program. The program gives money to Internet providers to build out broadband infrastructure in underserved areas. “There is no doubt that the FCC has set an aggressive speed standard by which to measure progress, but considering 92 percent of urban Americans have access to the FCC’s baseline speed, it is not out of line with what is being widely offered today,” Sen Leahy wrote in a letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack. The FCC in 2015 increased its minimum broadband download speed standard more than six-fold, from 4 Mbps to 25 Mbps. It also raised its upload speed standard to 4 Mbps. But the Agriculture Department only requires 4 Mbps/1 Mbps to qualify for the loan program. While the Agriculture Department sets its benchmark much lower than the FCC, it urges loan applicants to allow for faster 25 Mbps speeds. The secretary is allowed to boost the speed benchmark for the program every two years. Sen Leahy pointed out that some Internet service providers like Comcast recommend between 16 Mbps to 25 Mbps speeds for home and small business use. “Rural Americans cannot thrive if entrepreneurs have to leave for urban centers in order to access the tools needed to start or grow their business,” Sen Leahy said.
benton.org/headlines/sen-leahy-pushes-usda-boost-rural-broadband-speeds | Hill, The
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[SOURCE: Public Knowledge, AUTHOR: Kate Forscey]
[Commentary] On tomorrow’s episode of Attempts to Undermine the Efficacy of the Federal Communications Commission, the House Commerce Committee’s Communications Subcommittee will mark up HR 2666, the so called “No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act”. Ostensibly, the one-paragraph bill seems straightforward, prohibiting the FCC from “rate regulation,” or regulating “the rates charged for broadband Internet access service,” as defined by the Commission’s 2015 Open Internet Order. But in fact, the inclusion of the sweeping phrase “without regard to any other provision of law,” combined with copious remarks from last month’s hearing, suggest that the bill is simply another effort to gut the FCC’s ability to enforce network neutrality and protect broadband subscribers from overcharges and carrier abuse. Flatly, there are a number of suspicious things about this bill. It’s moving aggressively quickly. It’s apparently a continuance of the strategy launched by FCC Commissioner Aji Pai and others at the outset of 2015. And frankly, many people trying to move the item forward don’t seem to be genuinely interested in negotiating a compromise. But if we’re realistic, it’s probably what it looks like: an attempt by certain people who opposed Title II reclassification of broadband Internet access to circumvent the Open Internet Order because this time, Comcast and other big Internet service providers, who seem to be so persuasive over there, just didn’t get what they want.
benton.org/headlines/republicans-latest-plan-undermine-fcc-consumer-protection | Public Knowledge
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[SOURCE: The Hill, AUTHOR: Mario Trujillo, David McCabe]
Republicans on the House Commerce Committee’s communications subcommittee are expected to advance a bill they say is aimed at making sure the Federal Communications Commission does not use its new rules to regulate and set the monthly rates that Internet service providers charge customers. Republicans tried and failed to insert the language into a spending bill in 2015. But network neutrality advocates caution the single paragraph bill is overly broad, and is likely a guise to blunt other consumer protections at the FCC. The FCC's rules specifically avoid applying those kind of utility-style rate regulations, through a process known as forbearance. Democrats will offer their own amendment that would codify the FCC's forbearance language. Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) said that the GOP legislation would make sure "no future FCC abuses" its power. The Democratic amendment is meant to call Republicans' bluff on the legislation's "stated goal." "[I]t was my sincere hope that we would reach agreement on the two net neutrality-related bills under consideration at today’s markup," said Subcommittee Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-CA). "Unfortunately we have not, despite many hours of staff time, working in consultation with the FCC, academic experts, public interest groups, industry and other key stakeholders for technical guidance."
benton.org/headlines/fight-over-regulating-internet-rates-intensifies | Hill, The | Multichannel News
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[SOURCE: American Enterprise Institute, AUTHOR: Mark Jamison]
[Commentary] More and more, tech policy ideas embrace obvious contradictions and lean on manufactured numbers masquerading as data that, in reality, would not deserve a passing grade in elementary school math. The result is that they hurt the very people they claim to want to help:
Prohibiting fast lanes on the Internet hurts small content providers who need economical ways to differentiate themselves from the likes of Google. Differentiation is key to success in tech markets.
Prohibitions on sponsored data, also known as zero rating, make broadband services less affordable for the poor. FCC Chairman Wheeler justified new regulations of set-top boxes (STBs) by quoting (without attribution) a “study” claiming that the devices have increased in price by 185% since 1994. That result is at best an apples to oranges comparison of 1994 STBs that only descrambled channels to 2015 STBs that record, handle high-definition content, and support two-way interactivity, among other features. The FCC redefined broadband, choosing a speed that only a limited number customers are buying and then claiming market failure. Why is this happening? It appears to be a combination of rent seeking — where a business, bureaucracy or politician seeks regulations that give them a bigger slice of the economic pie without enlarging the pie itself — and a view of tech policy that conflates control with freedom.
[Jamison is the director and Gunter Professor of the Public Utility Research Center at the University of Florida]
benton.org/headlines/dangerous-tech-policy-narrative-emerges-decreasing-choice-increase-freedom | American Enterprise Institute
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[SOURCE: The Verge, AUTHOR: Sean O'Kane]
US-based satellite company ViaSat is teaming up with Boeing to create and deliver three new satellites that will deliver high-speed Internet to remote areas around the world. The partnership was announced Feb 9, months before the company is scheduled to launch its previous generation satellite, ViaSat-2, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The new ViaSat-3 satellites will be capable of much more. Each satellite will carry with it a total network capacity of 1 Terabyte per second (Tbps), about triple what ViaSat-2 is capable of. That will allow ViaSat to deliver 100 Mbps service to remote residential properties in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. The company claims that work is already underway on the first two satellites, and that Boeing is already preparing them for launches by the end of 2019. Beyond residential connections, ViaSat says the new satellites will be capable of increasing in-flight connectivity on commercial airlines, business-class jets, and government aircraft. They will also be able to provide 1 Gbps connections to "maritime, oceanic and other corporate enterprise applications such as oil and gas platforms." All told, the company says the three new satellites could deliver twice (or more) the total network capacity of the 400 or so commercial communications satellites currently orbiting the Earth combined.
benton.org/headlines/new-1-terabit-internet-satellites-will-deliver-high-speed-internet-remote-areas | Verge, The
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[SOURCE: House of Representatives Commerce Committee, AUTHOR: ]
Eighty House Democrats sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler supporting the FCC's effort to modernize Lifeline to include broadband subsidies. The letter includes recommendations that the lawmakers say would help the program better serve its target constituency of low-income Americans. "To best serve these Americans, the Lifeline subsidy should be made portable to all telecommunications services whether offered as standalone services, or as bundle packages," they said. "This would allow the consumers to elect which service best meets their individual needs, applying the subsidy as a credit."
benton.org/headlines/80-members-congress-support-lifeline-modernization | House of Representatives Commerce Committee
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[SOURCE: Federal Communications Commission, AUTHOR: Public Notice]
The Federal Communications Commission’s Consumer Advisory Committee adopted a recommendation on modernization of the FCC’s Lifeline program. The CAC recommends:
The FCC act expeditiously to include robust broadband service in the Lifeline program;
In order to promote efficiency and program integrity the eligibility determination and renewals of eligibility be handled by a third party administrator(s);
The FCC reform the Lifeline program to promote competition and ensure robust consumer choice, including products for consumers with disabilities, and enable Lifeline consumers to change service providers and technology platforms at their discretion while still ensuring program participants face minimal barriers to participation, including accessibility for consumers with disabilities;
The FCC improve Lifeline enrollment and outreach through collaboration with community based organizations and anchor institutions and coordination with the federal anti-poverty programs including establishment of automated enrollment procedures, with priority attention paid to the programs conferring Lifeline eligibility. However, regardless of enrollment coordination and cooperation by federal agencies, the program must continue to accept participation in a wide variety of social service programs, or demonstration of income eligibility, as qualification criteria for the program; and
Against the imposition of a program spending cap, or restrictive budget that results in the program not being able to serve all eligible households.
benton.org/headlines/cac-recommendation-regarding-modernization-lifeline-program | Federal Communications Commission
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[SOURCE: Reuters, AUTHOR: Julia Fioretti]
Google will start scrubbing search results across all its websites when accessed from a European country to soothe the objections of Europe's privacy regulators to its implementation of a landmark European Union ruling, apparently. Google has been at loggerheads with several EU data protection authorities since the European Court of Justice ruled in May 2014 that people could ask search engines such as Google and Microsoft's Bing to remove inadequate or irrelevant information that appears under searches for their name - dubbed the "right to be forgotten". The French data protection authority in September threatened to fine Google if it did not scrub search results globally across all versions of its website, such as Google.com. But the company has stuck to its position that it should clean up search results only on European domains such as Google.fr or Google.de because to do otherwise would have a chilling effect on the free flow of information. Apparently, to address the concerns of European authorities, the search engine company will soon start polishing search results across all its websites when someone conducts a search from the country where the removal request originated. That means that if a German resident asks Google to de-list a link popping up under searches for his or her name, the link will not be visible on any version of Google's website, including Google.com, when the search engine is accessed from Germany. The company will filter search results according to a user's IP address, meaning people accessing Google from outside Europe will not be affected, apparently.
benton.org/headlines/google-scrub-web-search-results-more-widely-soothe-eu-objections | Reuters
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[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal, AUTHOR: Rebecca Ballhaus, Alejandro Lazo]
Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is seeing a surge of financial support from companies in Silicon Valley and is now out-raising presidential rival Hillary Clinton at the largest tech firms there, a boost that likely helped the Vermont senator’s fundraising outpace Clinton’s in January. In the last three months of 2015, Sen Sanders drew nearly $105,000 from employees at the five largest technology companies in Silicon Valley. That was about four times the amount he raised from those firms in the first quarter of his campaign, and almost $10,000 more than Clinton raised over the same period from employees at the same firms, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. The former secretary of state’s fundraising among Silicon Valley firms, meanwhile, has stayed steady over the course of the year, suggesting that Mr. Sanders is turning out donors there who were not previously making political contributions.
benton.org/headlines/sen-sanders-out-raises-clinton-silicon-valley | Wall Street Journal
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[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]
Federal Communications Commission General Counsel Jon Sallet, a former Commerce Department official and communications policy advisor to Vice President Al Gore at the time the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was being drafted, talked about a Gore theory of Internet choke points: "Vice President Gore observed that '[for] some time, in many places, there are likely to be only one or two broadband, interactive wires, probably owned by cable or telephone companies.' And then the Vice President said: 'We cannot permit the creation of information bottlenecks that adversely affect information providers who use the highways as a means of supplying their customers. Nor can we can permit bottlenecks for information consumers who desire programming that may not be available through the wires that enter their homes or offices.'" Sallet said that the Vice President's principles "were sound in 1994 and are, in my view, equally sound today." Sallet did suggest that edge providers and ISPs are not easily stovepiped for the purposes of regulation, something cable operators have also pointed out when arguing that those edge providers have escaped what they see as the FCC's heavy hand.
benton.org/headlines/fccs-sallet-cites-gore-role-telecom-act | Broadcasting&Cable
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[SOURCE: San Jose Mercury News, AUTHOR: Michelle Quinn]
A new California law makes it illegal for women and men in similar positions to be paid differently. And the Obama Administration has proposed requiring all companies employing more than 100 people report to the federal government what they pay workers broken down by job category, gender, race and ethnicity. These two measures may finally move the needle on the issue. To meet the new federal requirement, if it is approved as expected, companies will have to have more awareness of any pay gaps and start looking at how to address the issue. Or else face the wrath of state or federal regulators.
benton.org/headlines/year-pay-gap-disappeared | San Jose Mercury News
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