In 2011, Public Knowledge fought hard against the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, until it was finally called off just nine months after its announcement. The merger, which would have led to higher prices and fewer choices for consumers, faced tremendous opposition. Today, we see many of the same industry talking points for the T-Mobile/Sprint proposed merger: false claims about deployment of next-generation networks, market concentration, pricing, and rural broadband access. So we were glad to see that the Yale School of Management added a section on the AT&T/T-Mobile proposed merger as a case study to its Antitrust Enforcement Data project. The project, featuring a wide range of data, serves as a resource for information and economic analyses on antitrust enforcement.
This morning, Reuters reported that the career attorneys at the Department of Justice Antitrust Division have recommended the agency file a lawsuit to block the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger. This reporting follows Monday’s announcement by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai that he would recommend the FCC approve the deal. State Attorneys General and the California Public Utilities Commission also continue to review the transaction. Public Knowledge opposes the transaction as a member of the 4Competition Coalition, filed a Petition to Deny with the FCC, and testified against the deal on Capitol Hill.
On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on an Order and Declaratory Ruling it claims will promote deployment of next-generation wireless networks. The crux of the FCC’s action will impose stringent limits on the fees states and localities charge wireless companies to install and maintain small cells in public rights-of-way (ROW) and on other government property. Additionally, the FCC substitutes decision-making by local elected officials with its own on issues ranging from public safety to community aesthetics when a locality considers a wireless small cell application.
On April 17, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will hold a hearing on paid prioritization -- an issue that is central to the net neutrality debate. While most internet service providers (ISPs) have claimed that they have no plans to block or degrade traffic once the Federal Communications Commission's 2017 net neutrality repeal Order goes into effect (exactly when that will be remains TBD), commitments (or lack thereof) not to engage in paid prioritization have remained a moving target. These commitments are shifting with the political winds, and ISPs are including plenty of wiggle room to allow them to argue they haven’t misled consumers if they eventually choose to offer prioritization deals.
Last week, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 4986 -- a bill that, among other things, reauthorizes the Federal Communications Commission and approves the agency’s funding for fiscal years 2019 and 2020. House passage followed an announcement that the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Energy & Commerce Committee had reached an agreement to support the legislation -- framing the bill as reauthorizing the FCC and spurring deployment of 5G wireless networks across the nation.
Last year, the Federal Communications Commission voted to modernize the Lifeline program for the digital age to help low-income families, veterans, and children gain access to the internet. This week, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is poised to initiate steps to drastically roll back the program, ultimately leaving millions of Lifeline subscribers and eligible families without a service provider.
Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that will undo years of the FCC’s work to improve wireless deployments in rural areas, close the digital divide, and promote spectrum use by a wide range of users with diverse and innovative business models in the 150 megahertz between 3550-3700 MHz (the 3.5 GHz Band or Band). Adopting the NPRM is the first step to undermining the FCC’s work in the 3.5 GHz Band, and represents a rare lose-lose-lose scenario in spectrum policy making.
Today, the Federal Communications Commission took a major step to help all Americans connect to the Internet. The FCC voted to adopt an Order that, for the first time, allows low-income subscribers to use the Lifeline subsidy to help pay for critical Internet service that connects us all to education, jobs, healthcare, commerce, and other services.
As Public Knowledge has often noted, unlicensed spectrum is a key component of the mobile broadband ecosystem. Unlicensed spectrum enables our increasingly Wi-Fi dependent world, and is a “public commons” of sorts for innovators because these frequencies are open for any person and any device to use, for any (legal) purpose. Unlicensed spectrum bands are the innovation bands.
Last month, Public Knowledge filed comments urging the Federal Communications Commission to modernize its Lifeline program to support broadband Internet access service. Today, we submitted reply comments to explain that the FCC has overwhelming support to move forward and update the program.
In recent years, broadband Internet access service has become essential for Americans to participate in economic life and society. Although most Americans subscribe to some type of Internet service, low-income households adopt broadband at significantly lower rates than those with higher incomes. Less than half of households with incomes below $25,000 per year have broadband service, while 95 percent of those earning over $150,000 have access. As a result, families who are already economically disadvantaged are falling farther behind.
For many Americans, live sports are the last piece of television content that is appointment viewing. And for many Americans, the only thing of value on television is the NFL. The fact that fans want to watch sports live, along with the sheer number of viewers of NFL games, makes live streaming of sports content vital to the future of online video.
For nearly all Americans, broadband is an indispensable service that makes it possible for them to communicate, transact commerce, and participate in civic life. In fact, broadband is so critical that last month Senator Thune, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee and a bipartisan group of 60 senators, called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) to ensure that rural Americans have access to high-speed broadband.