The NewsDemon Blog

FCC Attempts Third Way To Regulate ISPs

May 10th, 2010

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced his third attempt at gaining acceptance for online neutrality last week, sparking yet another furor over the issue as it could affect USENET newsgroup access. This time, he’s proposing a narrower approach toward reclassifying broadband access services as telecommunications services, in the hope that this might win over the industry.

The move comes in the wake a federal appeals court ruling that concluded the FCC overstepped its authority in attempting to prevent Comcast’s Internet throttling, an action that has thrown into disarray the commission’s plans to codify net neutrality regulations.

The basis of the FCC’s general broadband plan is to provide broadband Internet access to more Americans, in part by limiting the ability of ISPs to restrict the amount of bandwidth users consume, and by barring them from showing preference to their own traffic or to traffic generated by users who pay a premium for bandwidth.

Grouping ISPs with telephone companies would give the FCC the authority to impose so-called net neutrality—prohibiting an ISP from slowing or denying user access to an application or service–a say-so it sought but was denied in the Comcast ruling.  Currently, companies like Comcast have no restriction on bandwidth throttling, which can result in drastic reductions in speed and access time.

The opposition consisting of most ISPS minus Sprint, has been lining up to criticize the proposal, arguing that any type of regulation will stifle investment because complying with the regulation is expensive and onerous.

Carriers don’t like FCC chairman Julius Genachowski’s “Third Way” proposal for net neutrality because it would bring them under increased regulation by classifying broadband as a “telecommunications service.” Public interest groups generally maintain Gonachowski’s approach would lead to delivery of faster broadband services to more Americans including many who have been shortchanged in rural areas.

“We believe this is without legal basis. Make no mistake—when it regulates the networks that comprise the Internet, the FCC is in fact, and for the first time, regulating the Internet itself… We feel confident that if the FCC proceeds down this path, the federal courts will ultimately reach the same conclusion.” – from ATT

Many newsgroup subscribers say that they didn’t trust the notion that the FCC would take only a limited approach to the new regulations, and that the “Trojan Horse” of this good intention is to choke ISPs on other issues and matters down the line.

 

Broadband Intiative: Free Wi-Fi USENET Access Nationwide

March 12th, 2010

fcc-free-wifi-broadband

Could another influx of USENET newsgroup subscribers be on the horizon? At the Digital Inclusion Summit in Washington on Tuesday, Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said his agency is considering establishing “free or very low cost” wireless Internet service for the entire nation.

“In order to ensure long-term American competitiveness, we must not leave one-third of the nation behind,” Genachowski said. “The National Broadband Plan provides a vision for federal, state and local leadership and partnerships with private and nonprofit communities that will bridge the digital divide and transform America into a nation where broadband expands opportunities for all.”

The FCC provided few details about how it would carry out such a plan and who would qualify, but will make a recommendation under the National Broadband Plan set for release next week. The agency will determine details later. The number of Americans online grew nearly threefold from 85 million to 231 million between 1998 and 2008, according to reports from Usenet newsgroups. The FCC plan would extend broadband online service to an estimated 93 million Americans who the agency describes as being “left behind in the digital age.” and could dramatically help grow the USENET newsgroup community.

Both the FCC and the National Telecommunications & Information Administration are charged with mapping out where broadband is, and isn’t, as part of the national plan to deploy broadband nationwide. Debate has already begun over the proposal to offer the cheap or free wireless broadband, which would involve taking back at least some of the privately owned TV spectrum.

The cost of the plan, which will be submitted to Congress on March 17, is said to be in the neighborhood of $25 billion. According to the FCC, 4 percent of American homes do not have access to broadband Internet, and three in 10 people in the U.S. do not have high-speed Internet because of factors such as price. A survey by the FCC provides a great detail of figures of those without access in the US.