Posts by Jodie Griffin:

Public Knowledge is urging the Federal Communications Commission to not let Verizon’s Voice Link service get automatic approval before agencies have even finished collecting data and consumer feedback.


Today Public Knowledge officially asked the Federal Communications Commission to take Verizon’s application to replace its traditional copper-based network with its fixed wireless Voice Link service off of the FCC’s streamlined authorization procedures. Right now, Verizon’s application is set to be automatically approved if the FCC takes no action by the end of August, but by that point we won’t even have all of the relevant feedback from the public or Verizon yet to inform the FCC’s decision. Especially considering what a big deal Verizon’s post-Sandy Voice Link deployment has turned out to be, for Fire Island and for any community that could be hit by a natural disaster (hint: all of them), this isn’t a decision the FCC should rush to make before it even has all of the facts.

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Pandora’s recent purchase of a South Dakota FM radio station to obtain lower rates for its webcasting service reminds us how inefficient and illogical our music licensing system can be today.


Sparked by an op-ed penned by Pandora employee Christopher Harrison, yesterday reports surfaced that Pandora has purchased a terrestrial radio station in South Dakota. At first glance, it seems downright bizarre to see an internet radio company invest in a single FM radio station in a relatively small market. But a closer look at the thicket of licensing rules surrounding internet radio reveals how our current music licensing system can create nonsensical incentives for companies on both sides of the negotiating table.

The real reason for Pandora’s purchase of an FM radio station is Pandora’s royalty rate for musical compositions on its internet radio service. Note: this is a separate legal issue from the licensing Pandora pays for its use of sound recordings. The underlying musical composition gets its own copyright, and must be licensed in addition to the sound recording rights.

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Verizon’s new revelations about the limits of its Voice Link service in hurricane-damaged Fire Island show how important a consumer-focused framework will be for the phone network transition.


Months after Hurricane Sandy damaged Verizon’s traditional copper phone network in Fire Island, NY, Verizon has made it clear that it does not intend to repair its infrastructure in the recovering community. Instead, Verizon has announced plans to replace its wireline service in Fire Island and other hurricane-ravaged communities with an untested fixed wireless service called Voice Link.

Verizon has been eager to tell subscribers that Voice Link offers “the same 911 support” and “many of the same voice features and functions” as their old landline phones did. In New Jersey, Verizon even sent around a mailer saying “Our technicians connect Voice Link into the telephone lines in your home, allowing you to use your home telephones to make and receive calls just like you did before.”

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This is the final post in our series explaining Public Knowledge’s five fundamental principles for the transition of our phone network to IP-based technology. We’ve already discussed service to all Americans, interconnection and competition, consumer protection, and network reliability. Today we’ll dive into the last (but not least) of the five principles: public safety.

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For those who are journeying down to sunny Austin, Texas for the kick-off of the SXSW Music festival today, don’t forget to check out Public Knowledge’s panel tomorrow, where we’ll be talking about the effects of market concentration on consumers, artists, and digital platforms.

The panel, inspired by the recent merger between major record labels Universal Music Group and EMI, will also include artist advocate and principal of WYZ Girl Entertainment Lita Rosario, CEO of indie label association Merlin Charles Caldas, manager and CEO of V. Brown & Company Vernon Brown, and Paul Geller, co-founder of The BKRY and former SVP of Grooveshark.

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Last week we started unpacking Public Knowledge’s proposed Five Fundamentals to guide the upgrade of our phone network to an IP-based infrastructure. First, we explained the importance of providing basic phone service to everyone in the country, regardless of the protocols used to deliver that service.

This week, we’ll focus on the continued need for interconnection and competition among phone service providers.

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The debate around the technological transition of our phone system to an IP-based network is now well underway at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and among state and local regulators across the country. Public Knowledge has argued that we must guide this transition according to five fundamental principles: service to all Americans, interconnection and competition, consumer protection, network reliability, and public safety. These principles lie at the heart of the reliability, efficiency, and consumer-friendly aspects of the phone network that we often take for granted.

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As the debate surrounding the technological transition of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) to an all-IP network continues, it’s becoming fairly obvious that the guardians of the phone network need to handle this transition by establishing fundamental principles to guide our country’s policies moving forward. Today, Public Knowledge filed reply comments with the Federal Communications Commission urging the FCC to do just that.

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Last week we broke down the details of the Internet Radio Fairness Act, the recently proposed bill that aims to update the compulsory licenses for online radio services. This week we’ll be delving more into the real world impacts of IRFA.

At the end of the day, the proposals in IRFA are a good start toward promoting a healthy, competitive radio marketplace, but there are still a couple of missing pieces that the bill must include to truly be technology-neutral and to fairly balance the interests at stake in the radio marketplace.

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Royalties for online radio and other digital music services are a prominent topic for today’s recorded music industry, and the discussion has only grown with the recent introduction of the Internet Radio Fairness Act in the House and Senate. IRFA aims to revamp the parts of the Copyright Act that create licenses for online radio services to pay for transmitting sound recordings to their users. More specifically, IRFA would change the standard by which online radio royalty rates are set, alter the qualifications and appointment procedures for the Copyright Royalty Judges, and make several more changes to the process of setting online radio royalties.

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