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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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Why the FCC’s Net Neutrality Negotiations Failed and the Opportunity it Presents

August 9, 2010 Broadband , FCC , National Broadband Plan , Network Neutrality , Non-Discrimination

This summer has been one of the most exhausting in recent memory.  First, there has been a constant barrage of record heat and humidity.  Second, there is the continuing battle over whether and how to preserve the FCC’s authority to protect broadband consumers and ensure universal broadband access.  While the former is somewhat predictable for Washington, the latter has been like a soap opera, with lots of plot twists, make-ups and break-ups and nearly a few tears (of utter frustration).

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The FCC’s Dangerous Game of ‘Let’s Make A Deal’

August 4, 2010 AT&T , Broadband , Non-Discrimination , Verizon , Wireless

For whatever reason, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continues its misguided game of  “Let’s Make A Deal” with the big telecom empires.   Since the end of June, FCC Chief of Staff Edward Lazarus has convened representatives from AT&T, Verizon, the National Cable Telecommunications Association, Google, Skype and the Open Internet Coalition in an effort to try to have those negotiators do what FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski apparently won’t do – make a decision about the future of broadband and the Internet in this country.

As far apart as the parties are, it’s increasingly unlikely that any overarching deal will be reached, even though negotiating sessions are scheduled for today (Aug. 4) and tomorrow (Aug. 5), following a marathon Saturday session on July 31.  The Empire is stuck in 2005, giving nothing up and expecting surrender from the other side. 

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Why Do We Care About FCC Authority Over Broadband? What I told State Commissioners at NARUC,

July 22, 2010 Broadband , Comcast , FCC , Network Neutrality , Non-Discrimination

I hope someone made a videotape of my debate with Ray Gifford at NARUC. For my money, it provided the most succinct and straightforward framework for arguing about FCC broadband authority and where we ought to go from here. Ray framed it quite well as a conflict in vision between a classic Progressive Era philosophy and “economic analytics.” While I’m willing to debate in the economic analytics world (the two are not mutually exclusive, and economics informs progressive philosophy as much as concerns about public safety and consumer protection inform economic analytics), I think this makes a fairly good framework for how to approach these issues. Indeed, as a result of framing this as a difference in worldview, we avoided a lot of the acrimony and repetition that usually defines these debates.

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Internet Video and the Comcast-NBCU Merger

June 22, 2010 Broadband , Comcast , Competition , FCC , Non-Discrimination

Yesterday was the deadline for comments to the FCC regarding the proposed merger between Comcast and NBC Universal. Since one of the country’s biggest owners and operators of cable infrastructure is trying to integrate itself with one of the country’s biggest television content providers, there are a lot of potential issues that might arise. We at Public Knowledge, though, are leaving much of that for others to hash out; in our filing, we’re focused on the narrower issue of “over-the-top” Internet video–services that provide video content without owning the infrastructure that transmits the actual bits of the video. 

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