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FCC

NAM to FCC: Unnecessary Regulations Stifle Innovation Investment

By | Shopfloor Policy, Technology | No Comments

All five commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are testifying today in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee. The FCC has been exercising its regulatory authority quite liberally lately, and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) joined other associations to send a message this morning: Undue regulatory burdens are putting our nation’s future innovation at risk.

The NAM signed a joint-industry letter to the leaders of the subcommittee calling attention to one of the most recent regulatory overreaches by the FCC: an attempt to create a new set of privacy requirements that would apply to only one industry. This is an unnecessary attempt by the FCC to extend its authority when another agency, the Federal Trade Commission, already has a robust privacy protection regime, which currently applies to all industries. The NAM also officially filed comments with the FCC on this issue in May of this year.

We applaud congressional leaders holding these agency leaders responsible. At a time when manufacturers are leveraging the internet across their shop floors and in the products made there, we cannot afford regulations that only accomplish one goal: thwarting investment in our nation’s telecommunications infrastructure.

Appeals Court Errs on Net Neutrality; NAM Will Press for Legal Fight in Higher Court

By | Shopfloor Legal | No Comments

By Patrick Forrest, vice president and deputy general counsel and Cedrick Dalluge, legal fellow, National Association of Manufacturers

On June 14, 2016, a federal appeals court ruled to uphold new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulatory action on “net neutrality” classifying broadband providers not as an information service, but as a telecommunications provider.

The FCC heavily relied on a Great Depressionera statute enacted long before the internet was created to create its rule. Congress in 1934 never intended its Communications Act to govern 21st-century internet operations. Rather than substantively analyzing the FCC’s rule, the court insulated itself by deferring to the agency.

The court also rejected the business communities’ argument that reclassification will undermine investment in broadband infrastructure. Ironically, the court relied on the FCC assertion that “major infrastructure providers have indicated that they will, in fact, continue to invest under the framework. Those same parties later walked away from those statements, but the court emphasized that the FCC’s conclusions don’t have to be “the ones that we would reach on our own,” they only have to be “reasonable, and the majority concluded they were.

Consequently, the court failed to conduct a reasonable analysis regarding the operational business impact this rule would have on broadband providers, creating an opening for the possible deterioration of services. Overregulation risks providers diverting money from the development of new networks and technologies, stifling investment in U.S. broadband.

In dissent, Judge Williams correctly found the FCC’s order violates basic principles of agency rule-making. Regarding reclassifying broadband services on the basis of the 1934 statute, Judge Williams writes that the FCC’s justification “fails for want of reasoned decision making.” Beyond that, in crafting its rule, the FCC relied on changed factual circumstances and weak policy decisions. Judge Williams’ grave concerns regarding this ruling, shared by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), demand greater consideration.

By handing down this ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit dictated the future of internet use. In effect, the court allowed the FCC to usurp the legislative process to pursue an inefficient quick fix to a complicated issue.

The NAM, as a leader on this issue, will continue this fight. Likely the ultimate decision-making body will be the Supreme Court, and the NAM is committed to seeing this issue through to the end.

As FCC Releases Rules to Regulate Internet Like Rotary Phones, Millennials Across America Google ‘Rotary Phones’

By | Technology | No Comments

The Federal Communications Commission has just released their so-called “Open Internet” order it approved last month. As the NAM has said in the past, this move to regulate the Internet will have a serious impact on manufacturers.

By applying a more than 70 year old law designed to regulate the use of rotary phones on the Internet growth in innovation and infrastructure will halt and burden manufacturers with more uncertainty. Manufacturing companies and facilities are dependent on the use of the Internet infrastructure and have leveraged the use of this free and open technology to become innovative, productive and advanced job creators here in the United States. Read More

FCC Chair Confirms He Will Regulate the Internet

By | Technology | No Comments

In an op-ed today in Wired Magazine, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler confirmed today he plans to regulate the open internet. He intends to apply 1930’s era telecommunications law to 21st century technology. This is discouraging news for all manufacturers that depend on a robust internet to run their shopfloors and deliver superior products. As members of the NAM said in a joint letter to Congress and NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said in USA Today, this regulation will result in a disincentive to invest in our broadband infrastructure which will chill innovation in the manufacturing sector. The NAM will continue to work closely with both sides of the aisle and Capitol Hill on their efforts to update our nation’s telecommunications laws to reflect our innovative industry.

Keep the Internet Open for Business

By | Technology | No Comments

The internet has helped drive manufacturing growth over the last two decades. The NAM witnessed this first-hand just last week at the International Consumer Electronics Show. The innovative ways manufacturers are using internet-based technology was the dominant theme found throughout the more than two million square feet of exhibit space. It was also made very clear by these same manufacturers that any unnecessary regulation of the internet may severely stifle this innovation.

We were pleased to see the D.C. Circuit agree yesterday when it decided that 20th century regulations should not be applied to the internet. NAM member companies have leveraged the internet to grow their business, their product and service offerings, to communicate with their customers and employees, and to revolutionize their shop floors.

For this growth to continue the internet needs to stay open for business and therefore the laws currently governing this space need to be updated. The Court’s decision affirms that telecommunication laws need to be brought into the 21st century in order to foster more innovation in the manufacturing industry. The NAM looks forward to working with Congress as they consider how to modernize our legal and regulatory system to reflect today’s technologies and the way that manufacturers use the internet.

NAM Tells FCC Not to Harm GPS

By | Technology | No Comments

As part of its consideration on whether to allow a company called LightSquared to launch a wireless communications network, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created a “Technical Working Group” to determine how the network would impact Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and related applications.

The results of the working group recently came in and they found that the LightSquared network will cause significant interference to the signals used by GPS. This is no surprise to NAM members who have been following this issue.

Manufacturers leverage GPS technology for a variety of uses from precision agriculture to inventory tracking and cannot afford the service being compromised. As part of our effort to ensure the business of manufacturers is not adversely impacted, the NAM sent a letter to the FCC urging them that no network should be deployed that harms the GPS devices or applications. 

The NAM remains committed to deploying wireless broadband technology across the country but not at the expense of GPS technology critical to manufacturers.  

Brian Raymond is director of technology and domestic economic policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

AT&T and T-Mobile: Sign of Growing Confidence in the Economy

By | Communications, Economy, Regulations | No Comments

Marketplace Morning Report’s Chris Farrell is excited about AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile for what it means for the U.S. economy. From “The positive side of the AT&T-T-Mobile merger“:

CEOs for the past couple of years have been scared. They’ve been in a survival mode. Well, they’re now leaving the bunker. They’re willing to take a risk; they’re going to buy a business, they’re going to expand. And so, the famous phrase of John Maynard Keynes: Animal spirits of capitalism, at least in the executive suite, are being unleashed.

Extra points to Farrell for invoking Schumpeter’s “creative destruction”: “I think we’re seeing more growth, I think we’re seeing more opportunity. So overall, job creation. But if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, job losses.”

The Hill also blogs today on the predictable opposition for reactionary “consumer groups,” with a good response from AT&T. From “Groups say AT&T merger is job killer“:

“We have a metric that every billion dollars results in 7,000 new jobs, so I think that’s bringing new jobs to the economy, bringing new jobs to the country, extending a critical infrastructure to the country, and I think it’s good for the overall economy,” AT&T executive Ralph de la Vega said in a CNBC interview on Tuesday.

“We have said we are going to invest an additional $8 billion — $8 billion — in infrastructure to facilitate us making this merger work and extending LTE to 95 percent of the population,” he said.

Block efficiency, innovation and investment, and jobs will wither away.

Darn. Left? Left? Or Take a Right? My GPS Just Stopped Working

By | Communications, Regulations, Technology | No Comments

So we were reading the latest GPS World Magazine and thought the article, “Act Now to Protect GPS Signal” did a nice job describing the problems industries have with a proposal to develop a cell phone/broadband service that could disrupt GPS. The website has a short and clear report, as well:

Threat to GPS. You may be following the very serious interference issue that threatens the GPS signal. LightSquared is developing high wireless bandwidth capabilities (4G-LTE) for wireless operators. LightSquared received an unnervingly fast-tracked FCC conditional waiver that permits it to broadcast a new terrestrial broadband service from 1,500-watt terrestrial transmitters. This will be in the portion of the L Band that is immediately adjacent to the band used by GPS. The FCC waiver was required as LightSquared’s FCC license only extended to dual-mode phones, but LightSquared wants to offer the option of terrestrial-only, hence the waiver. According to industry experts, the LightSquared terrestrial broadband signal is about 1 billion times the received power of the GPS signal on Earth. This may result in wide-scale GPS interference and jamming worldwide. As a result of ensuing uproar, a working group conducted by LightSquared and the U.S. GPS Industry Council was formed to study the issue.

The National Association of Manufacturers is one of the founding members of the Coalition to Save Our GPS announced earlier this month. Today the coalition announced its new members, representing major industries. From “UPS, TomTom, the American Car Rental Association, Four Key Aviation Groups and Others Sign on to Expanding Coalition Amid Fears of GPS Interference“:

New members representing a variety of concerned industries including aviation, transportation, technology, shipping, and consumer manufacturers are concerned about a serious threat to the Global Positioning System (GPS) – a national utility upon which millions of Americans rely every day.” GPS now provides smaller airports with equivalent levels of safety to those serving large commercial airlines,” said National Business Aviation Association Senior Vice President for Operations and Administration, Steve Brown. “But unlike carrier airports there are no alternate sources of landing guidance if the GPS experiences interference of any kind. The continued protection of satellite navigation is imperative to safety of flight.”

Meanwhile, LightSquared is moving forward on the business front.

Keep the Economy Moving in the Right Direction, Save GPS

By | Communications, Regulations, Technology | No Comments

The National Association of Manufacturers is one of the founding members of the Coalition to Save Our GPS, a new group dedicated to ensuring the reach and effectiveness of the Global Positioning System.

From the news release,”‘Coalition to Save Our GPS’ Launched,”

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – Representatives from a wide variety of industries and companies announced today that they have joined together to form the “Coalition to Save Our GPS” to resolve a serious threat to the Global Positioning System (GPS) – a national utility upon which millions of Americans rely every day.

The threat stems from a recent highly unusual decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to grant a conditional waiver allowing the dramatic expansion of terrestrial use of the satellite spectrum immediately neighboring that of GPS, potentially causing severe interference to millions of GPS receivers. The conditional waiver was granted to a company called LightSquared.

A representative of one of the founding members of the coalition, Trimble Vice President and General Counsel Jim Kirkland, will testify on this issue on Friday, March 11 before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science of the House Appropriations Committee.

“GPS is essential to Americans every day – it’s in our cars, the airplanes in which we fly and the ambulances, police cars and fire trucks that help keep us safe. It’s also used in many industrial applications and even synchronizes our wireless, computer and utility networks,” the group said in a statement.  “LightSquared’s plans to build up to 40,000 ground stations transmitting radio signals one billion times more powerful than GPS signals as received on earth  could mean 40,000 ‘dead spots’ – each miles in diameter – disrupting the vitally important services GPS provides.” Read More

An Unconstitutional Power Grab that Will Kill Millions of Jobs

By | Energy, Global Warming, Regulations | One Comment

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity, take on the Imperial EPA in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, “How Congress Can Stop the EPA’s Power Grab“:

On Jan. 2, the Environmental Protection Agency will officially begin regulating the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. This move represents an unconstitutional power grab that will kill millions of jobs—unless Congress steps in.

The gist …

The best solution is for Congress to overturn the EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas regulations outright. If Democrats refuse to join Republicans in doing so, then they should at least join a sensible bipartisan compromise to mandate that the EPA delay its regulations until the courts complete their examination of the agency’s endangerment finding and proposed rules.

Like the plaintiffs, we have significant doubt that EPA regulations can survive judicial scrutiny. And the worst of all possible outcomes would be the EPA initiating a regulatory regime that is then struck down by the courts.

The National Association of Manufacturers is actively challenging the EPA’s attempt to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and especially its targeting of specific emitters — power plants and refineries — for which the agency has no statutory authority. A summary of the NAM’s active court proceedings is here.

See also Hugh Hewitt’s blog, “Obama’s EPA and the 2012 Elections.”

The EPA is just one of the Executive Branch agencies attempting to replace Congress as the policymaking branch of government, a power grab that threatens the economy and the U.S. separation of powers. Conn Carroll at the Heritage Foundation reports on other, more recent examples of the aggressive regulatory state in “Big Government Strikes Back,” citing the HHS’s plan to impose federal price controls on health insurance and the FCC’s “net neutrality” rules.