Items tagged "Regulation"

Press Release

Public Knowledge Asks Consumer Protections In Cable-Broadcaster Battles

March 3, 2010 Press Release , Regulation

Background: There is yet another dispute between broadcasters and cable, this one involving WABC-TV in New York City and Cablevision, which provides service to Long Island, Westchester County, Brooklyn and the Bronx. If unresolved, cable subscribers would lose access to broadcast programming starting Sunday.

The following statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

“It's a shame consumers are once again caught in the middle of a dispute between cable companies and TV broadcasters over the terms of popular programming being carried on cable systems. The previous dispute came right before the Super Bowl. Now millions of viewers might miss the Oscars. It's an unfortunate situation in which the system is obviously broken. This sad state of affairs has to change or consumers will, time after time, lose again either through loss of programming or higher cable rates.

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Press Release

Public Knowledge Statement on FCC Inquiry into Google Voice

October 9, 2009 Press Release , Regulation

The following statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

“The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau today asked some very legitimate questions about the nature of Google Voice, beginning an inquiry that PK Legal Director Harold Feld on Oct. 1 urged the Commission to undertake. In trying to determine how the service works, and what place it has in telecommunications law, the Commission is starting down a worthwhile path to examine the changing nature of today’s telecommunications service. That inquiry should be more far-reaching than this relatively isolated case. We learned recently that another VoIP provider, Speakeasy.com, reserved the right to block calls to rural areas.

“We should be clear that the Commission’s inquiry has nothing to do with issues of an open, non-discriminatory Internet, as AT&T alleged when it brought the issue of Google Voice to the Commission’s attention last month.

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Post

Lessons from the Derecho: When Industry Self-Regulation Is Not Enough

January 16, 2013 Deregulation , FCC , Regulation , Verizon

The FCC released a fairly thorough report on the widespread 9-1-1 failure that followed the June 2012 “derecho” windstorm. For those who don’t remember, the derecho differs from most weather events by coming up almost without warning. According to the report, carriers had approximately two hours of warning from the time the derecho started in the Ohio Valley to when it hit the D.C. Metro region.

As a consequence of the damage done by the derecho, Northern Virginia experienced a massive failure of its 9-1-1 network, leaving over 1 million people with working phones (at least in some places) but no access to 9-1-1.  West Virginia experienced systemic problems as well, as a did a scattering of locations in other states impacted by the derecho. Verizon maintains the network in Northern Virginia, while West Virginia is managed by Frontier.

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Post

Government-Ordered Wireless Shutdowns: Possibly Unconstitutional, Likely Illegal, Never a Great Idea

March 14, 2012 FCC , Jamming , Mobile Communication , Public Safety , Regulation

As Kara noted last week, the FCC is asking you to comment on when it’s appropriate for government agencies to cut off cellular services in the interests of public safety. For a variety of reasons, my initial answer to that is “rarely, if ever.” Aside from definite knowledge of a cell phone-triggered bomb, or a freak occurrence where the 800-900MHz range somehow interfered with a pacemaker, it just doesn’t seem like a particularly good idea. There’s a host of reasons why, and a lot of them were argued in the wake of BART’s October shutdown of cell service in anticipation of a protest. But this isn’t about BART; it’s about preventing future unnecessary shutdowns.

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Post

FCC Says Goodbye to Waivers and Hello to a New Rule for Digital Cable Technology

December 1, 2011 FCC , Innovation , Regulation , Set-Top Box

For many years, consumers were able to save some money on their cable bills by simply subscribing to a basic tier of programming.  For additional programming, subscribers had to pay for a set-top box provided by the cable company.  This worked fine when cable companies transmitted the programming in an analog format.  But times, and technology, are changing.  Now even the basic tier, like the more expensive ones, is going digital, and that means consumers will have to pay for a box even if they didn’t have one before.  In response to these events, the Federal Communications Commission proposed a new rule.  Public Knowledge applauds the FCC for proposing the rule in response to digital cable technology and protecting subscribers from being hit too hard as a result of the digital transition. 

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Post

AT&T Is Right: Comcast Does Not Deserve An “Access Charge Bail Out” As Part of USF Reform

October 26, 2011 Enforcement , FCC , Network Neutrality , Regulation , Wireline

It says something about the messed up world of telecom today that the “Connect America Fund” the FCC will vote on tomorrow has become the “what the heck are we going to do about IP-based interconnection” proceeding. In particular, the rather high-profile spat between AT&T and Comcast (and other cable companies) over access charges illustrates exactly the kind of cosmic cluster#@$! we predicted would happen if the FCC failed to classify broadband as a Title II telecom service.

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Post

Why I’m Amused Rather Than Outraged Over New “Industry Negotiations” — And What The Democrats Need

August 20, 2010 Non-Discrimination , Regulation , Verizon , Wireless , Wireline

I occassionally suspect my colleagues in the Public Interest community lack a sense of humor — although perhaps it is simply that I am in a more relaxed frame of mind after my annual vacation from the 21st Century. I am neither surprised nor outraged at the recent news that members of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC) are picking up where the FCC “secret meetings” left off and trying to come up with a net neutrality consensus framework. To me, it seems rather sad and funny. My only surprise is that even in Washington, the notion of an industry trade association working with its members is anything unusual or significant. I mean, that’s what industry trade associations do after all.

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Post

An Adventure in Bureaucracy

June 30, 2010 Copyright Office , Regulation

One of my research assignments as an intern here at PK involves looking at the organization and function of the Copyright Office, which exists as a part of the Library of Congress. In this research, I wanted to consider the various rules and regulations governing the Office and the Library in general. It turns out that, in addition to the relevant Federal statutes, the Library’s rules and the Office’s rules published in the Federal Register, and the Copyright Office’s “Compendium” of internal practices, all of which are available to the public online, there’s another body of regulations that are harder to find. These Library of Congress Regulations (“LCR”) are legally binding on the Library, but take some digging to find.

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Post

Kerry, Other Ds, Defend FCC Going Ahead on Broadband Authority NOI.

June 15, 2010 Broadband , FCC , Network Neutrality , Regulation

Dems on the Hill are waking up to round two on the fight over the future of broadband. Specifically, Senators Kerry (D-MA), Cantwell (D-WA), Udall (D-NM) and Wyden (D-OR) sent this letter to Senators Inouye (D-HI) and Cochran (R-MS) — the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriation Committee — arguing that no one should use the appropriations process to prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from moving forward with its proposed Notice Of Inquiry (NOI) asking what to do for legal authority for the National Broadband Plan and to protect consumers now that the U.S. Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit has gutted the FCC’s previous theory of authority. Here’s the money quote:

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Post

Revamping Retransmission Consent: Cable Customers as Company Collateral

June 9, 2010 FCC , MVPD , Regulation

The broadcast “retransmission consent” regulatory structure isn’t exactly the hottest topic of the moment, so you might wonder why PK recently filed Reply Comments (and joined the Petition for Rulemaking) urging the FCC to revamp its rules governing negotiations between over-the-air broadcasters and cable companies.

Getting the retransmission consent rules right is important if the FCC wants to protect consumer choice by ensuring a vibrant marketplace for multichannel video programming distributors (including cable companies, digital broadcast satellite, incumbent local exchange carriers, and online video distributors).  Right now consumers are caught in the middle, and are being used as pawns in the negotiations for cable companies’ rights to offer broadcast programming to their customers.  In recent years, these negotiations have consistently resulted in either higher cable rates for consumers or loss of programming.  PK’s reply comments urge the FCC to stop letting consumers get trampled in a system that was intended to benefit the public by preserving “free” over-the-air broadcasting.

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