Thursday, March 7, 2019
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Democratic leaders of the House and Senate unveiled the Save the Internet Act that will keep the internet open and free. The legislation will reverse the repeal by Trump’s Federal Communications Commission in late 2017 of critical net neutrality protections. The Save the Internet Act enacts the three legacy net neutrality principles – no blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritization – and empowers the FCC to prohibit unjust, unreasonable and discriminatory practices. The legislation also ensures consumers can make informed decisions when shopping for internet plans and restores the FCC’s authority to fund broadband access and deployment, particularly for rural communities and struggling Americans. The Save the Internet Act codifies the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order in a similar manner to last year’s Congressional Review Act that passed the Senate and had bipartisan support in the House.
See bill text
30 years on, the web has been "hijacked by crooks" who could destroy it, world wide web creator Tim Berners-Lee said. It's morphed into a platform where disinformation spreads like a contagion, hate foments and personal privacy has been relinquished to the highest bidder looking to make a quick buck. Now, the 63-year-old said, he's working to fix the online world he helped create, and launched two major efforts in Nov to turn the web around. The first is the Contract for the Web, which he says will make the web more trustworthy and less susceptible to some of today's problems. The other is a new platform called Solid, which gives users control over their data. The Solid project, which he's developing with researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is meant to give people more control over their personal data, which today is being bought and sold without their permission. The idea is to give people "pods" for storing data, which would let them decide where and how their information is used by apps that are separate from the data storage.
The National Digital Inclusion Alliance is proud to have facilitated digital inclusion visits for newly appointed Federal Communications Commissioner Geoffrey Starks. After he attended a forum on the rural and urban broadband digital divide hosted by Rep Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO), Commissioner Starks attended a meeting of the Kansas City Coalition for Digital Inclusion, sharing why digital equity is important to him. He stated “Who’s job is it to make sure everyone has internet at home? It’s my job. It’s our job.” Commissioner Starks then visited Connecting For Good’s NE Wyandotte County Computer Center. Within the first 30 days of being in office, Commissioner Starks visited with digital inclusion practitioners. We have a new champion.
For certain spectrum blocks in the 700 MHz band, licensees that fail to meet the Federal Communications Commission’s construction benchmarks keep the areas of the license that they serve, and the remaining unserved areas are returned to the Commission’s inventory for relicensing. This approach provides other parties with opportunities to acquire spectrum that is not adequately built out and to serve communities that might otherwise not receive service. This Public Notice describes the process for relicensing unserved areas, beginning with the “keep-what-you-serve” (KWYS) rules applicable to failing licensees, and ending with the specific rules and requirements for licensees that acquire unserved areas through the relicensing process, including through auction where necessary.
The Federal Communications Commission's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau seeks comment on a petition for declaratory ruling, or in the alternative a petition for a partial waiver, filed by Verizon on February 22, 2019, in WT Docket No. 06-150, regarding section 27.16(e) of the Commission’s C Block licensing rules (the handset locking rule). Specifically, Verizon requests that the FCC declare that the handset locking rule permits Verizon to adopt a temporary, 60-day lock on the 4G LTE handsets it provides, to ensure that the handsets are purchased by bona fide customers. Verizon currently sells unlocked 4G LTE handsets that can be used on any carrier’s compatible 4G LTE network. With respect to whether its temporary locking proposal is consistent with the handset locking rule, Verizon asserts that the rule is ambiguous and that clarification is needed. In the alternative, Verizon asks that to the extent that the FCC declines to issue a declaratory ruling, or the FCC decides that its proposal is inconsistent with the handset locking rule, the FCC grant Verizon a partial waiver of the handset locking rule.
Comments Due: April 4, 2019 Reply Comments Due: April 19, 2019
A proposal from the Donald Trump 2020 re-election campaign to create a national, wholesale 5G network is drawing criticism from FCC commissioners on both sides of the aisle. Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr joined Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel in speaking out against the plan. Commissioner Carr wrote, "The US won the race to 4G and secured billions of dollars in growth for the US economy by relying on America’s exceptional free market values. We must double down on that winning playbook instead of copying China's." Commissioner Rosenworcel said that the concern over 5G is a worthy one, but a national network isn't the right way to go."There is a worldwide race to 5G, and other nations are poised to win," she said. "But this proposed remedy really misses the mark. It’s not the right way forward."
The Trump re-election campaign’s wireless open access proposal was a poorly vetted scheme possibly intended to score political points. It was squelched almost immediately after it became public, as shocked White House staff members complained that it contradicted the administration’s support for competing wireless networks. The twist? Open access wireless is actually a terrific idea. Some forward-thinking Democrats and public interest advocates have been pushing it for decades. Why would the Trump campaign endorse open access? Rivada Networks, a politically connected firm that counts Peter Thiel, a prominent Trump donor, among its investors, appears to be positioning itself for the lucrative contract to provide the technology for such a system. Mr. Trump’s political advisers see the open access plan as a way to improve wireless service in rural areas, a gift to the president’s base. These motivations should not obscure the value of open access. The communications industry has already shown that a competitive open market sometimes can’t develop without government action. Tech-savvy Democrats should welcome the embrace of their open access vision. Even if it means being more supportive of a Trump campaign position than the White House.
[Werbach, a professor at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, served as an adviser on telecommunication policy in the Clinton and Obama administrations]
The Democratic National Committee will not allow Fox News to broadcast any of its 2020 presidential primary debates, citing a recent report about the close relationship between the Trump administration and the conservative cable network. "I believe that a key pathway to victory is to continue to expand our electorate and reach all voters. That is why I have made it a priority to talk to a broad array of potential media partners, including FOX News," DNC Chairman Tom Perez said. "Recent reporting in the New Yorker on the inappropriate relationship between President Trump, his administration and FOX News has led me to conclude that the network is not in a position to host a fair and neutral debate for our candidates. Therefore, FOX News will not serve as a media partner for the 2020 Democratic primary debates," the statement adds.
World Trade Organization members launched talks on how to govern global digital commerce, for the first time tackling 21st century trade issues that have sparked intense rivalry among the US, Europe and China. At stake is a global framework to regulate digital trade in goods and services, a market that is currently subject to a patchwork of different rules. Such a system would potentially remove obstacles such as cross-border sales barriers that disrupt access to services and hinder growth in online trade, enabling small companies to access global markets and helping giants tap a bigger market.
Benton (www.benton.org) provides the only free, reliable, and non-partisan daily digest that curates and distributes news related to universal broadband, while connecting communications, democracy, and public interest issues. Posted Monday through Friday, this service provides updates on important industry developments, policy issues, and other related news events. While the summaries are factually accurate, their sometimes informal tone may not always represent the tone of the original articles. Headlines are compiled by Kevin Taglang (headlines AT benton DOT org) and Robbie McBeath (rmcbeath AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.
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