Public Knowledge

FCC Chairman Reiterates Net Neutrality Proposal at Cable Show

We're pleased to see the Chairman recognize Title II as a legitimate option for going forward with strong net neutrality rules.

We are also encouraged to hear him reiterate his opposition to fast lanes on the Internet, and his recognition that all Americans deserve access to a 'broadly available, fast and robust' web experiences. We welcome the debate that appears to be taking form in the proposal that the FCC will reveal on May 15.

We look forward to commenting on the record to prove that Title II is needed for strong net neutrality rules. It's hard to understand how the FCC's proposal, as reported, can allow avenues for paid prioritization and yet still serve as a pillar for net neutrality.

Standards that allow the web to have two lanes, with one for preferred traffic, seem to go against the principles that the FCC and the Chairman himself have said they stand for. We look forward to working with the Commission in the coming months to demonstrate why fast lanes are incompatible with net neutrality.

Will the FCC Create an Internet for the 1%?

[Commentary] The Federal Communications Commission just released information about new draft rules for an open Internet. The proposed rules reportedly would allow for broadband providers to make companies that provide services on the Internet pay for fast lane service, as long as that payment is considered “commercially reasonable.”

But what happens when what one company considers “commercially reasonable” is not considered so by another? Will this guideline work favorably for some companies who can afford to negotiate and not others? What are the implications for startup communities? How can harm to companies and consumers be measured under these rules?

For consumers, artists, activists, and creators, creating a premium Internet should raise serious concerns. Reclassifying broadband as a Title II service is the best way going forward for strong net neutrality. The digital divide in this country is real enough to too many people due to the lack of competition in the broadband market.

As income inequality rises in the United States, we are quickly approaching a future that resembles an airport, with expensive Internet connections, lack of free public Wi-Fi, high cost services, and expensive and prioritized access for those who can afford it, that caters to an elite business class.

FCC Phases in Rate Floor Increase and Proposes Increased Broadband Speed Requirements

The Federal Communications Commission announced that it would delay implementing an increase in the rate floor for high cost area funding until January 2015.

At that point the FCC will increase the rate floor incrementally instead of increasing the rate floor from $14 to $20.46 for phone service. The FCC will also conduct a new urban rate survey, and it will not apply the rate floor increase for lines with customers using the Lifeline program.

In addition to the rate floor announcement, the FCC proposed an increase in the minimum broadband speed requirements for the recipients of high cost support.

"Broadband is an evolving standard and connections should become more robust to access the growing number of services that depend on ubiquitous and reliable connectivity," said John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge. "It's good to see the FCC revisit the standards an Internet connection must meet to qualify as broadband, but there is still work to be done. Broadband connections should offer fast and reliable upload as well as download capability. The FCC must continue to update its standards as the needs of the public continue to evolve."

Won’t Someone Think of the Cloud Services?

Public Knowledge has been filing briefs in Aereo's lawsuits (and in related cases like Film On) since the beginning, but the beginning was only 2012.

The litigation has made it to the Supreme Court very quickly, and it's going to take some time to digest exactly how the Justices react to the various arguments that are presented (such as the arguments in our joint brief).

But it's worth thinking about what the implications of Aereo might be for various industries, now that the purely legal arguments have all been made. It's hard to believe the broadcasters when they say that Aereo will somehow take away their retransmission fees, and destroy their business model. How did they manage for so long -- from the middle of the 20th Century until just a few years ago -- without those fees? But even more to the point, the idea that Aereo will give cable systems a magic ticket that will enable them to stop paying the fees is a bit far-fetched.

After all, a cable system doesn't just need to carry ABC, but ESPN as well, which is under the same corporate umbrella. An Aereo win might give cable a bit more leverage against broadcast but they're still going to need to pay. T

he dollar totals around different line items might switch around but without much net effect. Instead, the consequence of an Aereo win will likely be more subtle: Aereo (and maybe services like it) that do not offer the complete cable package and are available online will continue growing, making it easier (when combined with content from other services like Amazon Instant Video) for people to "cut the cord" and do without a traditional pay TV subscription at all. Online services will find it easier to offer viewers the more flexible programming choices the marketplace has repeatedly demonstrated they want.