New Net Neutrality Bill Announced
Democratic leaders of the House and Senate held a press conference today to unveil the Save the Internet Act which will be introduced in both the House and Senate. The bill would: (1) overturn the FCC’s 2017 “Restoring Internet Freedom” order re-classifying broadband Internet access service (BIAS) as an information service; and (2) reinstate the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order and associated rules. The bill would also prohibit the FCC from re-issuing the Restoring Internet Freedom Order or issuing new rules that were substantially the same as that Order unless the reissued or new rule was authorized by new legislation.
The legislation was unveiled at a press conference by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA), House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA), Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), House Energy and Commerce Committee Vice Chair Yvette Clarke (D-NY) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). The Save the Internet Act will be introduced and lead-sponsored by Rep. Doyle in the House and Sen. Markey in the Senate.
“The free and open Internet is a pillar of our democracy,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “It is an honor to join Democrats from both sides of the Capitol to introduce this strong legislation, which honors the will of the millions of Americans speaking out to demand an end to the Trump assault on net neutrality. Democrats are proudly taking bold action to restore net neutrality protections: lowering costs and increasing choice for consumers, giving entrepreneurs a level playing field on which to compete, helping bring broadband to every corner of the country, and ensuring that American innovation and entrepreneurialism can continue to be the envy of the world.”
In response to the new legislation, House Energy and Commerce Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR), Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Republican Leader Bob Latta (R-OH), and Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) released the following statement: “Republicans and Democrats agree, a free and open internet is fundamental to our society. Right now, without Title II, the internet remains a key driver of economic growth. Let’s come together to ensure that continues, because all sides want a permanent solution. Instead of looking to the extremes, and discarding twenty years of bipartisan consensus, we can come together on shared principles to address blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. Title II is not the answer, it paves the way for a regulated internet, an internet that does not protect the consumer nor allow for American ingenuity to thrive. We can do better.”
All three leaders have introduced their own net neutrality bills. See the Regulatory Mix dated 2/22/19.
The Regulatory Mix Today: New Net Neutrality Bill Announced, House Hearings on Net Neutrality, FirstNet Announces Updated Coverage Area and Network Resiliency, FTC Announces Agenda for its 14th Session on Competition and Consumer Protection
FirstNet Announces Updated Coverage Area and Network Resiliency
FirstNet announced that it has added more than 50,000 square miles of LTE coverage, covering an additional 1 million individuals. The added LTE coverage is a result of FirstNet’s ongoing network build initiatives to expand and enhance connectivity for consumers and first responders in both urban and rural areas – on both indoor and outdoor sites.
“The demand for data has been on a nonstop, upward trajectory for years,” said Marachel Knight, senior vice president, wireless and access engineering, construction and operations, AT&T. “Our ongoing work to launch new sites and build out our LTE network is delivering increased network speeds and capacity. By the end of this year, we expect our network capacity to increase by 50% since the end of 2017 while simultaneously laying the foundation for a 5G future.”
FirstNet has also deployed Band 14 spectrum in over 500 markets, further increasing the platform’s coverage and capacity across the country. That’s a major plus for the more than 5,250 public safety agencies using 425,000+ connections on FirstNet today. That’s also more than a 60% increase in the number of connections since the end of October 2018.
FirstNet also announced that it is bringing a tech focus to community network resiliency. Speaking at CES 2019 and CES Government 2019 this week, the First Responder Network Authority highlighted how the network is enhancing the delivery of public safety services today and encouraged innovators to bring technology to bear for America’s first responders.
“Across the country – in every state, county, city, or township – emergency managers, police, fire, EMS and dispatchers work tirelessly to help ensure that families and businesses can get back to life and prosperity as quickly as possible after disaster strikes,” said Edward Parkinson, Acting CEO, FirstNet Authority. “They will tell you, as they have told us, the ability to communicate with each other and the public is at the heart of enabling community resiliency.”
FTC Announces Agenda for its 14th Session on Competition and Consumer Protection
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the agenda for the fourteenth session of its Hearings Initiative. The session, focused on the agency’s merger retrospective program, will take place on April 12, 2019.
The FTC’s Bureau of Economics has a long tradition of conducting ex post evaluations of consummated mergers, beginning with (then) FTC staff economists David Barton and Roger Sherman’s 1984 examination of the Xidex mergers of the 1970s. Over the last two decades, FTC economists have publicly released 27 merger retrospective studies. The vast majority of merger retrospectives authored or co-authored by Bureau economists are ultimately published in peer-reviewed journals.
This Hearing will gather information from experts to help guide the FTC’s future merger retrospective research program. The Hearing will consist of four sessions. In the first session, a panel will summarize the findings of existing studies, then discuss the requirements for informative retrospective studies. The second session will examine how the findings from merger retrospectives can be used to improve enforcement agencies’ prospective merger enforcement programs, including merger simulation tools and design of merger remedies. The third session will be a panel discussion of how, or if, merger retrospectives can be used to evaluate and guide antitrust policy. In the final session, an expert panel will discuss how the FTC should focus its resources on merger retrospectives in the near future.
The FTC invites public comment on these issues, including the questions listed below. Comments can be submitted online no later than 11:59 pm EDT, May 31, 2019.
The Regulatory Mix, Inteserra’s blog of telecom related regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of an Inteserra Briefing.