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How Netflix Poisoned The Net Neutrality Debate

November 25, 2014

Larry Downes


Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any worse for President Obama’s recently-appointed FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the fight over “net neutrality” and the fate of the private Internet has now become a political football in gridlocked Washington.

Days after the mid-term elections, the President posted a video strongly advocating his own “plan” for net neutrality rules, upping the volume on this year’s loud, confusing, and often intentionally misdirected debate on how best to maintain the open Internet.

The FCC, which by law is independent of the White House, has been considering new rules since a federal appeals court in January largely voided on jurisdictional grounds an earlier effort from 2010. In May, based on guidance from the court, the agencyproposed a revised version that differed only slightly from the 2010 rules. Read More…

The FCC’s Taxman Cometh

November 25, 2014

The Wall Street Journal

If there’s an upside to President Obama ’s executive overreach, it’s that Congressional Republicans can reassert their constitutional powers. A good place to start would be reclaiming taxing authority from the bureaucracy, starting at the Federal Communications Commission.

FCC chief Tom Wheeler illustrated the problem last week when he announced an expansion to E-rate, an Al Gore-era program tucked in the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Originally sold to connect students to the “information superhighway,” E-rate uses taxpayer money to subsidize telephone and Internet service to rural schools and libraries. It’s funded out of the Universal Service Fund, or USF. Read More…

Sprint Wanted to Offer a Facebook-Only Internet Plan for Phones. The Government Blocked It.

November 24, 2014

by James Gattuso

The Daily Signal

Like Theodore Roosevelt, Barack Obama knows that the presidency makes an effective bully pulpit — even when you have historically low approval ratings.

He showed that earlier this month when — in an unusually deep wade into the decision-making process at the supposedly independent Federal Communications Commission — the president came out four-square in favor of imposing “common carrier,” or public utility, regulation on America’s Internet service providers.

He also voiced support for an outright ban on what is called “paid prioritization,” under which providers of Internet content could pay for premium service in the delivery of their material to consumers. Read More…

Midcontinent CEO speaks out against Internet regulation

November 24, 2014

Bryan Horwath

Aberdeen News

Midcontinent CEO Pat McAdaragh spoke out against a plan proposed by President Barack Obama to regulate the Internet, according to a news release.

“This is a very troubling statement,” McAdaragh said in the release. “While we don’t believe a network neutrality problem actually exists, the (Federal Communications Commission) has established a procedure to review and consider regulatory alternatives and should continue to work with Congress to establish appropriate policies. Midcontinent has never blocked any legal content and has no intention to do so. Frankly, our customers wouldn’t stand for it. We will continue to support a light regulatory approach that will allow us to continue investing in the expansion of our network, keep prices reasonable and promote the best interests of our customers.”

McAdaragh’s statement was in response to Obama calling for Title II regulation of the Internet earlier this month. The release called the idea a “reversal of the longstanding, bipartisan policy of lightly regulating the Internet.”

Obama’s Net-Neutrality Plan Could Mean New Internet Fees

November 21, 2014

Brendan Sasso
National Journal

President Obama thrilled liberals and Internet activists last week by calling for the “strongest possible” net-neutrality regulations to ensure that all Internet traffic is treated equally.

But his plan, which is still under consideration by the Federal Communications Commission, has raised a host of thorny regulatory questions unrelated to net neutrality, such as whether to impose government fees on Internet service.

Just hours after the White House released Obama’s statement, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler met in a conference room in his agency’s headquarters with public interest advocates. According to two people at the meeting, Wheeler warned that implementing Obama’s plan would not be easy. The FCC would have to consider a range of issues, including whether to create a new fee on monthly Internet bills, Wheeler said. Read More…

Beyond Hypothetical: How FCC Internet Regulation Would Hurt Consumers

November 25, 2014

James Gattuso, Michael Sargent

The Heritage Foundation


The FCC has proposed new regulations for Internet service providers, so-called net neutrality rules; the specific practices such rules would ban are unclear. While much will depend on the how the final rules are written, regulation advocates have given some indication of the types of practices they would target. Most of the practices identified by regulation supporters as activities that should be prohibited are in fact beneficial to consumers, or are conducted by challengers to the dominant firms in the marketplace. These cases—identified as examples of neutrality violations by regulation supporters themselves—show that efforts to further regulate the open Internet would hurt the very consumers these advocates claim to protect. Read More…

The broadband grass is not greener in France.

November 24, 2014

by: Roslyn Layton

Tech Policy Daily

The belief that somewhere else people are better off is such a common condition that psychologists have coined the term “grass is greener syndrome.” Even though Internet speeds in the US are increasing, prices are falling, and American data consumption per capita is on track to surpass current world leader South Korea, some Americans believe that their broadband is slow, expensive, and subpar compared to that of Europe. A recent article inVentureBeat feeds the misconception that the “broadband grass” is greener in Europe, and particularly in France. The VentureBeat article deploys a typical device in expatriate American literature: the mythical reinvention of Europe as somehow better than the US. In this article the author, a newly arrived American expatriate in Toulouse, France, is bubbling from a Champagne toast with recent economics Nobel winner Tirole and bragging about the cheap price of broadband. Read More…

A Backdoor Tax on the Internet

November 24, 2014

By Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.

The Heritage Foundation

Ready to pay more for Internet access? Me neither.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we can expect under the “net neutrality” rules being pushed by President Obama.

“Net neutrality” may sound harmless, but there would be nothing neutral about this change. Currently, broadband providers such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast are treated differently than traditional telephone companies and electric utilities. They aren’t subject to “common-carrier” rules that prohibit them from varying rates and services.

In short, they can offer — and charge — what they want. That’s good for consumers, because it means that in order to compete, they’re always trying to win and keep customers by offering better, faster service at lower rates. Read More…

Reclassifying broadband means higher prices

November 21, 2014

by: Steve Pociask

Tech Policy Daily

In an effort to impose net neutrality regulations, the FCC is considering the reclassification of broadband services from an “information service” to a “telecommunications service.” However, reclassifying broadband services as a regulated telecommunications service would come at a major cost to consumers.

Today, public utility property is generally taxed at a higher rate or under a broader base than other commercial property. Since reclassification would put broadband access under Title II regulation, many states are likely to use this new regulatory designation to generate additional property taxes. Moreover, states can do so without ever having to pursue the more challenging course of legislative change. For example, if ISPs are regulated by the FCC as a telecommunications service, current North Carolina law allows these companies to be taxed as a public utility service. Read More…

Top Ten Questions to Ask About Title II Utility Regulation of Internet

November 21, 2014

by Scott Cleland

The Heartland Institute

If Congress or the media seek incisive oversight/accountability questions to ask the FCC about the real world implications and unintended consequences of its Title II net neutrality plans, here are ten that fit the bill.

1. Authority? If the FCC truly needs more legal authority to do what it believes necessary in the 21st century, why doesn’t the FCC start the FCC modernization process and ask Congress for the legitimacy of real modern legislative authorities? Or is it the official position of the FCC that its core 1934 and 1996 statutory authorities are sufficiently timeless, modern and flexible to sustain the legitimacy of FCC regulation for the remainder of the 21st century? Read More…

Utility Regulation Will Make the Internet Rusty

October 10, 2014

Mike Wendy
Media Freedom

No one loves their public utilities. They’re slow, unresponsive to change, and only just good enough for government work, which isn’t saying much.

If you’d talk to progressives working in the Internet space, though, you’d hear a different story. They think that utilities, and the 19th Century regulation used to control them, are the greatest things since sliced bread.  You see, they want to make private U.S. broadband providers public utilities, and radical groups like Free Press, Public Knowledge and have pulled out all of the stops to get the Federal Communications Commission to do so.

Why? Read More…

Free State Foundation Comments

September 17, 2014

by Free State Foundation

On the issue of            )           AT&T and Direct TV merger

I. Introduction and Summary
These comments are filed in response to the Commission’s request for comments
concerning the agency’s review of the transfer of control of licenses in connection with the
proposed acquisition of DIRECTV by AT&T Inc. These comments do not endorse or oppose the
proposed merger. Rather, their purpose is to set out baseline principles by which the Commission
should evaluate this as well as other mergers and to provide a summary analysis of
AT&T/DIRECTV in light of those principles.
Mergers and acquisitions are competitive entrepreneurial activities Read More…

Free-Market Advocates’ Comments to FCC, Opposing Internet Regulation

July 15, 2014

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of  Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet

GN Docket No. 14-28

Comments of

Free-Market Advocates Opposed to Internet Regulation

For 10 years officials at the Federal Communications Commission have told Americans that the Internet will “break” unless the agency steps in to keep it “free and open.”  All the while, the Internet’s privately driven development has been vibrant, relentless and universal.  Nevertheless, at points during this same period the Commission twice sought to encumber the Internet with restrictive common carrier-like, Net Neutrality regulations.  In response to each of these actions, the DC Circuit twice struck down the agency’s overreach.  In the latest DC Circuit ruling – Verizon v. FCC[1] – the Court struck down the main thrust of the Commission’s arguments, but found that the Commission had some authority under Section 706 of the Communications Act.   The Commission has apparently undertaken the present Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to once again establish a regulatory regime in the absence of a market failure or a clear Congressional grant of authority.

The Internet is “free and open,” making the vast “network of networks” an integral engine for societal growth, participatory democracy and global commerce.  Its healthy development came primarily through the lack of government regulation, not because of it.  Although the Court seems to have offered the FCC a very narrow pathway to impose some form of Net Neutrality regulation on the Internet, nothing demands that the FCC go forward with its present plans.

Read More…

IFC Reply Comments to FCC: Title II Reclassification Unjustified, Unnecessary

August 12, 2010

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of Framework for Broadband Internet Service                    

GN Docket No. 10-127

FCC Docket No. 10-114

 Reply Comments

of the Undersigned Members of the



The Commission is being asked by Free Press and other organizations to pursue a radical course of action – reclassifying information services as telecommunications services in order to regulate the Internet for the first time.  We write to urge the Commission to keep the Internet free of new government regulation and taxation and to refrain from rushing into such a potentially disastrous course of action.

Analysts are only beginning to grasp the extent of the disruptive and destructive consequences of regulating the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act, and the Commission is in no position to predict the outcome, much less assure Americans it will be positive.  Americans have heard political leaders admit that we will not know the full extent or nature of massive health care and financial services regulations until after the underlying legislation has been passed.  Now, Americans are facing the imposition of an even lesser-understood regulatory regime over the Internet without the benefit of any legislative process whatsoever.


IFC Supplemental Reply Comments: FCC Lacks Authority, Justification for Reclassifying Internet as Title II Service

April 26, 2010

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
Preserving the Open Internet              GN Docket No. 09-191                                  
Broadband Industry Practices            WC Docket No. 07-52

Supplemental Reply Comments of the Internet Freedom Coalition

Just two days prior to the Commission’s deadline for reply comments regarding the above Notice of Proposed Rulemakings, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in Comcast v. FCC that the Commission has no authority to enact Net Neutrality rules.  The deadline for comments was extended, particularly to facilitate discussion of other methods of promulgating Net Neutrality regulations.

 Beginning with comments on the National Broadband Plan filed by Public Knowledge in January, a small number of organizations have since proposed classifying the Internet as a Title II common carrier service as a way of asserting the Commission’s authority to enact Net Neutrality regulations.  The Internet Freedom Coalition respectfully submits these reply comments in strong opposition to any effort to reclassify the Internet as a Title II service.

Read More…

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