Marcus Hedenberg, Reporter, Broadband Breakfast News
WASHINGTON, July 29, 2014 – In a webinar on Thursday, July 17, the Fiber to the Home Council hosted a webinar with Federal Communications Commission officials on a $100 million fund for expanding broadband capabilities to rural communities. FCC officials encouraged companies to apply for the funds, but also cautioning them of the heavy commitment.
The FCC voted at its July 11 monthly meeting to authorize the experiments, and applicants have until Oct. 14 to bid for funding. The $100 million will be split into three categories, said Jonathan Chambers, Chief of the FCC’s Office of Strategic Planning & Policy Analysis. About $75 million will be used for testing networks that service plans at 25 Megabit per second downloads and 5 Mbps uploads. Another $15 million will go to testing delivery service at 10 Mbps down/1 Mbps upload speeds in high cost areas. The remaining $10 million will go to 10 Mbps down/1 Mbps upload service in remote rural areas.
I like the spirit behind Chairman Wheeler’s move to allow municipalities to determine their own broadband future, but unfortunately he does not have the legal standing to take in the matter. The constitution is pretty clear on states’ rights, and the FCC’s regulatory authority is not sufficient to override the Constitution. Wheeler will lose this battle should he chose to fight it. I wish the 25 or so state legislatures would review these laws that they have passed and either repeal them or change the wording to allow communities to develop business relationships that promote open access broadband in a taxpayer neutral fashion.
By: John Eggerton
National Conference of State Legislatures (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The National Conference of State Legislatures wrote FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler this week to say they would challenge the constitutionality of any attempt to preempt state laws restricting municipal broadband networks.
Wheeler has said those laws are attempts by ISP incumbents, including cable operators, to prevent competition and that he wants to use the FCC’s authority to loosen “legal restrictions on the ability of cities and towns to offer broadband services to consumers in their communities.”
AT&T partially has the right idea by supporting traffic prioritization at the users’ request but they present it as selling more bandwidth instead of guaranteeing maximum latency and jitter. The user should be able to specify if they want their traffic prioritized whether they pay a service provider for that option or whether they purchase an option to label certain traffic from the ISP. AT&T wants to use this as an opportunity to sell a higher tier of service so they can drive up ARPU instead of selling a guaranteed maximum latency and jitter rate that is much less expensive to provide. Is AT&T being disingenuous or are the people presenting the public face truly ignorant on the subject of traffic management? I am beginning to wonder.
AT&T (Photo credit: MrVJTod)
U.S. telco in favour of enforcing net neutrality under section 706 but wants to give customers option to pay for Internet fast lanes.
AT&T has somehow managed to simultaneously support a ban on paid prioritisation while at the same time recommending that prioritisation agreements should be permissible.
In a blog post late Thursday, the U.S. telco came out in favour of reinstating the Federal Communications Commission‘s net neutrality rules “including banning paid prioritisation – where an ISP prioritises packets over the consumer’s last mile broadband Internet access service without being directed to perform that prioritisation by the consumer”.
Although I agree with Rep. Blackburn that government involvement in communications is a states’ rights issue, I find it rather ironic that she is going about it with a federal law. I have applauded Chairman Wheeler’s support of allowing municipalities to take control of their broadband destiny even though I do not believe that they should be in the communications services business. I do not believe that the FCC has the authority to trump state law in saying that states cannot pass laws prohibiting cities from building and operating broadband networks. This fact is why I am deeply suspicious of Rep. Blackburn’s bill.
The LightReading article below is a good synopsis of the situation without the typical editorializing I have seen in many other publications. I agree that there should be no state laws prohibiting local governments from determining their broadband destiny, but I do not believe that they should become a service provider like so many of them attempt. The communications’ industry moves much quicker than electric or water utilities, and the market works better when there are more competitors not one that can operate with an unfair advantage. I do support local governments building and selling the infrastructure though.
My favorite recent headline about the ongoing legislative brouhaha over municipal networks is this one, from a publication called The Escapist: “Tenn. Congresswoman Valiantly Protects ISPs from Evil Municipal Broadband.”
That sarcasm is a reference to an amendment attached by US House of Representatives Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) to the fiscal 2015 Financial Services appropriations bill that would keep regulators from modifying state laws prohibiting municipalities from building and operating broadband networks. The amendment was approved 223-200 in the House last week, but a final version of the bill must still be passed by the House and Senate and signed by President Obama to become law.
The big news in the story was that this network will be open access, but Lightwave glossed over that point. Even though Vodafone will be one of the premiere service providers, other service providers can also lease capacity on the network infrastructure from ESB. This model should be emulated in many other areas of the world to promote broadband competition. It would reduce the chatter over net neutrality in the U.S. if we saw more open access broadband networks.
Irish power utility ESB has selected Vodafone as its partner on a €450 million project to deploy an open-accessfiber to the building (FTTB) network across Ireland. The fiber-optic network initially will reach 500,000 premises in 50 towns, leveraging ESB’s existing overhead and underground infrastructure.
The FTTB network will deliver download rates of 200 Mbps to 1 Gbps, the partners say. This will represent a significant upgrade for most subscribers, based on data from Irish telecommunications regulator ComReg that indicates 43% of fixed-line broadband users in Ireland receive speeds of less than 10 Mbps.
Santa Fe, New Mexico is the latest city to support its own municipal broadband infrastructure. The city is launching a million dollar effort to build out its own fiber optic infrastructure with the goal of increasing both broadband access and competition among broadband providers.
Santa Fe has slower broadband than large surrounding cities like Albuquerque, which undermines local economic development, and frustrates residents according to city officials who have recently faced backlash from broadband providers. Incumbent providers in Santa Fe say they may consider litigation and that the project won’t drive up speeds. We’ve seen this movie before in municipalities where officials take action when providers fail to provide adequate services. Continue reading
Alas some common sense on net neutrality. The preponderance of misinformation that surrounds this topic is amazing. There are political forces at work here that are usurping the underlying technical and business discussion for their own political agenda. Most of the public are not aware of what is happening behind the scenes and who are pulling the strings.
Marcus Hedenberg, Reporter, Broadband Breakfast News
Logo of the United States Federal Communications Commission, used on their website prior to 2002 or 2003, and still used on some publications and areas of their website. The central part of the logo is also used on products which conform to FCC requirements. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
WASHINGTON, July 1, 2014 – At an informal Phoenix Center roundtable on Tuesday, June 24, Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O’Rielly criticized net neutrality and urged fellow critics to take advantage of the FCC’s open comment period on the topic.
Comedians like John Oliver of the Daily Show might have a flare for butchering the facts, O’Rielly said, but a jolt to the system is what public discourse desperately needs to get people talking about net neutrality.