The Washington Post’s Cecilia Kang sat down with former FCC Chairman Michael Powell to talk about the agency’s recent loss in its suit against Comcast and the possible effects of reclassifying broadband as a Title II service:
Q: So bottom line: are you against moving broadband under Title II, as some companies and public interest groups want?
A: I hate the idea of Title II for broadband. I think we would really regret it because for a regulator versed in what it means, it means thousands and thousands of pages that would fall into this space and we would spend our lifetime trying to clean it up. And the real worry is that we will enter another prolonged period of litigation.
Q: Where should oversight fall? Is there an appetite for Congress to take this up?
A: So it doesn’t get done in a month. What happens in the midterms of 1996 took four years to get done but we had to get it started. I think we are better off asking Congress for guidance.
Q: So do you want another Telecom Act?
A: I’d disagree that we need something that looks like the 1996 Telecom Act. The broadband statute could be dramatically simpler, targeted and wouldn’t have to be a complete replacement for the 1996 Act. It could be an addendum.
Read the full interview at the Washington Post’s Post Tech.
At Broadband.gov, FCC General Counsel Austin Schlick responds to the ruling in the Comcast/BitTorrent case, and how the agency believes it might affect its National Broadband Plan:
[Y]esterday’s decision may affect a significant number of important Plan recommendations. Among them are recommendations aimed at accelerating broadband access and adoption in rural America; connecting low-income Americans, Native American communities, and Americans with disabilities; supporting robust use of broadband by small businesses to drive productivity, growth and ongoing innovation; lowering barriers that hinder broadband deployment; strengthening public safety communications; cybersecurity; consumer protection, including transparency and disclosure; and consumer privacy. The Commission must have a sound legal basis for implementing each of these recommendations. We are assessing the implications of yesterday’s decision for each one, to ensure that the Commission has adequate authority to execute the mission laid out in the Plan.
At the Washington Post, tech writer Cecilia Kang breaks down the FCC’s options now that it has lost its case against Comcast. Those options: 1) Reclassifying broadband as a Title II service; 2) Seek power to regulate the Internet from Congress; 3) appeal the ruling.
Talk of the digital divide usually centers around connecting America’s minority communities. But many senior citizens are also affected, and as PC World reports, a new group is hoping to change that:
Broadband offers many benefits for older U.S. residents, including telemedicine, increased contact with family and friends, and shopping without leaving the house, but they subscribe to the service at a much lower rate than other people, some advocates for the elderly said Tuesday.
In an effort to change that trend, several technology vendors and groups that work with older people on Tuesday launched Project GOAL (Get Older Adults Online), an organization that plans to serve as a clearinghouse for programs and resources. Project GOAL will work with organizations working with the aging population to stress the benefits of broadband and to connect older adults with services such as computer training, said Debra Berlyn, executive director of Project GOAL.
In the wake of the FCC’s loss in federal appeals court on Tuesday, The Hill reports that early reactions on Capitol Hill are so far breaking along partisan lines. First up, a statement from Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas):
The DC Circuit’s decision should mean that litigation plays out to a logical conclusion and in the meantime, the FCC should not reclassify information services as Title 2 services... The guiding principle is already explicit in the 1996 Telecommunications Act, where the government is directed ‘to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation.’”
On the other side of the Title II debate is Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass):
This is a history-making decision. It appears to vacate the authority of the FCC to conduct oversight over broadband service and the telephone and cable giants that own the wires... I am not advocating that the FCC reclassify broadband services as a result of this decision, but I absolutely believe they maintain that legal authority and it would be entirely consistent with the history of communications law in our country if they did.
Via Ars Technica, Google’s acquisition of online advertising company AdMob is not sitting well with the Federal Trade Commission:
According to people “familiar with the matter” speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the FTC has sent letters asking AdMob’s competitors to testify about the impact of the purchase and has briefed members of Congress on its concerns. The Commission has also put together a litigation team “to prepare for a possible effort to block the deal,” though a final decision has not yet been made.
At issue is Google’s dominance in the online advertising market. But as All Things Digital reports, a rumored entry into online advertising by a Google rival may help soothe things over with the FTC:
Apple is likely to introduce its mobile ad platform Thursday at its iPhone developer event, say sources familiar with the company’s plans. Expect to hear a loud cheer from Google, Apple’s former ally and current competitor.
Why would Google applaud the entrance of a new advertising rival? Because Google is trying to convince federal regulators that it has advertising rivals so that it can proceed with its $750 million purchase of AdMob. That deal is being held up for review by the Federal Trade Commission, and there have been consistent murmurs from Washington that the purchase could be in jeopardy.
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