Skip to content

OPLIN 4cast #532: What is the FCC doing with our internet?

Posted in 4cast

People didn’t seem to pay much attention in days gone by to what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was doing. Most of the FCC’s business seemed to be none of our business, but the FCC regulates many aspects of the internet in the United States, and since the internet has become so important to us, so too have the FCC’s activities become consequential. Over the past decade, the FCC has become politically divided and made many decisions that are now being rescinded by the new administration in Washington. Recent policy reversals affecting the Lifeline program, internet privacy and net neutrality are concerning to advocates for a consumer-friendly internet, and the retraction of an FCC report on E-rate modernization has alarmed the American Library Association. While it is not yet clear if the FCC will be making any changes to E-rate, in the past few weeks it has certainly become clear that the new FCC will be very different from the old FCC in its approach to the internet.

  • Think the internet is polarized? Just look at the FCC these days (Wired | Klint Finley)  “[…Former FCC Chairman Tom] Wheeler pursued an agenda more in line with that of consumer advocacy groups, regardless of what the telco industry wanted. First, Wheeler embraced reclassifying internet providers to increase the FCC’s ability to enforce net neutrality. Then, under his leadership, the FCC passed strict privacy rules for internet providers, expanded the Lifeline program to subsidize internet access in addition to phone service, and was set to vote on a proposal that could have ended pay TV’s providers’ cable box monopoly. Republicans on the commission opposed each of these acts.”
  • FCC Chairman and his predecessor set the stage for another battle over net neutrality (Variety | Ted Johnson)  “Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, [current FCC Chairman Ajit] Pai said that it has become ‘evident that the FCC made a mistake’ in its passage of net neutrality rules in 2015, in which the agency reclassified internet service as a common carrier. Pai, along with other critics of the move, consider the approach ‘last-century, utility-style regulation to today’s broadband networks.’ […] In his speech, he said that they ‘recognize that government does have a role to play when it comes to broadband.’ ‘So our approach will be not zero regulation, but light-touch regulation — rules backed by long-standing principles of competition law,’ he said. Pai, however, will likely face opposition to any effort to repeal or weaken the rules, as Democrats on Capitol Hill already have held a press conference to warn of such a move and public interest groups have been mobilizing for a new battle for the open internet.”
  • FCC rescinds claim that AT&T and Verizon violated net neutrality (Ars Technica | Jon Brodkin)  “[FCC Democratic Commissioner Mignon] Clyburn pointed out that Pai was previously critical of the FCC ‘for not providing sufficient reasoning behind its decisions.’ ‘My office requested more than the allotted two days to review the dozen items released today. We were rebuffed,’ Clyburn said. […] Pai issued a statement of his own, saying the FCC’s previous leadership ‘released a series of controversial orders and reports’ during ‘the waning days’ of the Obama administration. ‘In some cases, commissioners were given no advance notice whatsoever of these midnight regulations,’ Pai said. ‘In other cases, they were issued over the objection of two of the four commissioners. And in all cases, their release ran contrary to the wishes expressed by the leadership of our congressional oversight committees.’”
  • Thune open to moving new broadband infrastructure spending through FCC (Morning Consult | Brendan Bordelon)  “The Universal Service Fund [program of the FCC] allocates $4.5 billion annually, from user fees, for rural broadband investment. Additional congressional appropriations would be on top of that, and [Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John] Thune said he believes the USF could administer congressional funds appropriately given their experience in the broadband marketplace. ‘I like what the FCC is doing, I think that’s a step in the right direction,’ Thune said. ‘Having visibility into that — into all those funds — and figuring how best to streamline them and be able to have some accountability measures, I think is something I’d like to see the FCC do more with.’”

Articles from Ohio Web Library: