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.
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.
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.
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.
I had high hopes for this article because the author successfully saw the link between the two concepts. Maybe he read my tweets. There is a definite correlation between municipal broadband and net neutrality, but I have only read one or two articles that actually get it right.
Municipal broadband evolved from the concept that the cost of building these networks is prohibitive so it is a function that the government could provide. That concept is fine when no service provider is serving an area but most of the municipal broadband deployments have one or two franchised providers. This situation results in the government competing with private enterprise. Granted that a duopoly does not create a competitive market, but the government has several advantages over private enterprise that makes it an unfair competitor. Also, any subsidization of broadband networks by taxpayers creates an unfair advantage.
The reason that there are not more competitors for broadband network is that they are extremely expensive to build. Investors do not like waiting almost 10 years to see if their investment is going to yield a profit which is what would happen with 3 or more competitors. People seem to overlook that fact when accusing the incumbents of snuffing out the competition. Economics have snuffed out the competition.
Highlighting Broadband Access at Kent Island High School (Photo credit: MDGovpics)
Editorial: The USCM is asking the federal government to address a local problem unless they would like a federal takeover of education like Common Core has started. Education is a local issue and should be addressed at the local level just like broadband access. The mayors state that broadband access is just as important as a “chalkboard and textbooks” but the federal government doesn’t purchase those supplies either. School districts should work with their city and county governments that grant franchises to telephone and cable companies to provide inexpensive broadband access to schools. Instead of continuing the outdated concept of Community Access Channels, they should redirect that money to low-cost educational access. Another alternative would be to build their own municipal broadband infrastructure, and build in the cost of educational use into the least price of the network. There are several solutions that municipalities can implement without resorting to asking the FCC to add another tax on communication services.
A group of mayors is urging the Obama administration to bring high-speed Internet to more schools and libraries around the country.
“In its Verizon v. FCC decision, the Court of Appeals invited the Commission to act to preserve a free and open Internet,” he said. “I accept that invitation, and in the coming days, I will be outlining how I propose to proceed.”