Julius Genachowski Archives - Shopfloor

Internet Regulation is a Policy Decision that Congress Should Make

By | Communications, Regulations, Technology | One Comment

Manufacturers appreciate efforts at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to bring closure to the debate over regulating the Internet. Providing certainty in this area will encourage the deployment of new broadband services and the jobs that go with them. But  comments today by FCC Commissioner Julius Genachowski and his plan for the Commission to adopt a Net Neutrality Order at its December 21st Open Meeting just create more uncertainty. We share the views of Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker that the decision of “whether the Internet should be regulated is a decision best left to the directly elected representatives of the American people.”

Ensuring the deployment of new broadband lines and high-speed wireless data services is critical to manufacturers across the nation – these are the companies that can create the jobs we need to strengthen our economy. In the end, Congress needs to step in and adopt a comprehensive broadband policy, and it should be aimed at the deployment of services, open access and smart resource allocation, including policies that:

  • Remove barriers to entry that prevent broadband providers from offering high-speed information services to homes and businesses;
  • Balance the need for regulations against the potential to dampen private industry’s incentive to invest in broadband technology;
  • Encourage federal and state regulators to monitor the rollout of broadband services;
  • Support a federal framework to ensure fair, technology-neutral competition for all providers; and
  • Allow for the continued public/private collaboration to improve the security of the network through incentive-based legislative and regulatory tools.

In the words of Commissioner Baker, “We all believe in an open Internet.  It is open today, it is fast moving, and it serves as a vibrant growth engine for our economy and job creation.  Let’s not rush to undermine it.”

Dorothy Coleman is vice president of tax and domestic economic policy for the National Association of Manufacturers.

The Broadband Rubicon

By | Communications, Regulations | No Comments

When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 AD with his legions in tow, defying the Senates’ prohibitions on generals entering Italy proper with their troops, he uttered the famous words “the die is cast” (alea iacta est, to be specific).  Caesar being Caesar, he probably did so through gritted teeth, his sword to his breast, with his flinty stare focused firmly on the Capitoline Hill.

Two thousand years later a different die was cast, by another Julius with his eye on another Capitol Hill crossing his own Rubicon, and defying the will of another Senate.  At today’s Open FCC Meeting, Chairman Julius Genachowski led the Commission in voting in favor of moving forward with opening a proceeding that will inevitably redefine how the FCC regulates broadband services by imposing common carrier rules to the Internet.

Of course, what’s at stake with the roll of today’s die is a bit different from Caesar’s toss: with Old Julius, it was only the fate of Roman Empire.  Today’s stakes are far bigger – the fate of the nation’s information structure.  Why is this bigger you ask?  Let’s put it this way: the manufacturers who build the networks, the manufacturers who own the networks, the manufacturers who rely on new networks being built, could all see up to $62 billion in broadband investment dry up, costing over half-a million jobs.

According to a study released by New York Law School, the report estimates that if New Julius’s “Third Way” broadband plan is instituted, broadband providers and related industries may cut their investments by 10 percent to 30 percent from 2010 to 2015 in response to additional regulation. At 30 percent, the economy might sustain an $80 billion hit, according to Charles Davidson, director of the law school’s Advanced Communications Law & Policy Institute, which released the report on June 16.

What about the pesky Senate?  New Julius is facing his own dilemma as 282 Members of Congress, including 77 Democrats demanded the FCC leave its troops at the banks of the…er…drop its plan to reclassify broadband and allow Congress to do what it was elected to do. But, hey, Congress knew about the National Broadband Plan, and that was blessed by the President. Who we hear was elected by lots of people, too.

Unless Congress decides to defund the FCC, there will be a pretty quick process in which rounds of comments, reply comments, notices of proposed rules, and more comments are flitted through in less than six months.  In fact, the first round of comments are due July 15, reply comments due August 12. And again, unless Congress defunds the FCC, it’s highly probable that New Julius will get his way, only to find that the litigious Visigoths of industry will be banging down the doors of the Commission.

How is this going to end?  Hopefully better for New Julius than it did for Old Julius.  We’d be happy if he just crossed back over the Potomac and dropped his cockamamie plan over the Memorial Bridge.

Phew, It’s About Time We Were Regulated!

By | Communications, General, Regulations | No Comments

In the oddest twist of fate, manufacturers, telecoms and consumers are all breathing a sigh of relief upon hearing that both the House and Senate Commerce Committees are contemplating a rewrite of telecommunications law to acknowledge the existence of the Internet. Ah, sweet, sweet regulation!

As you’ll remember, the FCC received a judicial noogie* from the DC Circuit when it ruled the FCC didn’t have the authority to chastise Comcast for steering Internet bandwidth away from poor, defenseless children who were stealing movies and music on BitTorrent, and instead diverting it to evil doers implicated in healthcare, education, global commerce and other nefarious, high-bandwidth practices. Nevertheless, FCC Julius Genachowski decided that he’d give himself the authority to regulate the Internet by rejiggering Title II of the Telecom Act by reclassifying it as a telecommunications service, as opposed to a data service.

Well, following hot on the heels of letters from 74 House Democrats and 37 Senate Republicans, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman and Senate Commerce Chair John Rockefeller announced that they’ll develop proposals to update the Communications Act, starting in June.

Gentlemen, you get the humble thanks of a grateful manufacturing sector. The FCC’s proposed boot-strapping of regulatory authority would’ve only served to chill broadband deployment and investment in the telecom sector, with manufacturers and consumers getting the short end of the stick. Of course, there’ll be concern over whether or not net neutrality provisions will be foisted upon network managers, but at least through a legitimate legislative process, everyone will have the opportunity to be heard. And Mr. Chairmen, you have our deepest appreciation.

* It’s a legal term of art. Really, it’s in Black’s Law Dictionary.

FCC: It’s my Third-Way or the Highway.

By | Communications, Regulations, Technology | No Comments

So now that the courts have said that the FCC doesn’t have the authority to regulate the Internet under the Comcast decision, Chairmen Waxman and Rockefeller sent FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski a nice note saying they’re too busy to determine what needs to be done, so Julius should go on ahead without them and give himself the authority to start serving up the net neutrality. Despite telling The Washington Post that they wouldn’t dream of starting in as it would ruin their appetite…

The sources said Genachowski thinks “reclassifying” broadband to allow for more regulation would be overly burdensome on carriers and would deter investment.

…FCC Chairman Genachowski told his chefs to start whipping up a banquet and ring the dinner gong on Thursday. That’s when we all found out (and the WaPo to their great chagrin) that net neutrality was not only back on the menu, but it was the main course.

The ethics of using disinformation aside (although I guess we are technically at war…), the FCC’s new Rube Goldberg plan posing as a “Third Way” to regulate without the express consent of Congress seems like a somewhat obvious power grab to effectuate a pretty specific political end, sound network management and engineering principles be damned.

Who knew this would leave us all longing for the days (and weeks, and months, and years) when the 1996 Telecom Act was worked out, where Congress actually decided what the FCC’s authority was? And not to get too nostalgic, but that was when Congress intentionally excluded broadband Internet access from Title II –- choosing not to travel down the Third-Way highway.

The NAM’s Reaction to the FCC’s ‘Net Neutrality’ Proposals

By | Communications, Regulations, Technology | No Comments

From Marc-Anthony Signorino, Director of Technology Policy, the NAM’s statement responding to FCC Chairman Genachowski’s speech:

We are concerned that new FCC rules on net neutrality could discourage investment, expansion and research and development by network equipment companies, applications and content firms, broadband network builders and other high tech firms.

We welcome the Chairman’s interest in increasing innovation and investment in high-speed networks because getting more people online working, learning and doing business will be critical to our continued economic recovery. Manufacturers rely on a robust Internet to streamline and economize their daily operations. From cost-saving VoIP to just-in-time manufacturing, high-speed broadband access has made the world a smaller place allowing even the smallest of businesses to operate on a global scale.

Our future economic growth depends on the ability of businesses and individuals to easily secure robust broadband services, not impeded by burdensome regulations. Manufacturers have invested strongly in the Internet – enabling it to become the engine of our innovation economy. We will be working closely with the FCC to assure that its new rules address real issues, and not kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

It’s the Notice of Proposed Rule Making that will provide the information needed for a more detailed reaction. Perhaps the FCC wants to only scramble the goose’s eggs. Although … with broadbands and pipelines, there’s probably a pate de foie gras metaphor that would apply.

FCC Chairman’s Net Neutrality Proposal, Principles, Points

By | Communications, Innovation, Technology | No Comments

The Federal Communications Commission has launched a new website — www.openinternet.gov — which features today’s speech at the Brookings Institution by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, “Preserving a Free and Open Internet: A Platform for Innovation, Opportunity, and Prosperity.”

Chairman Genachowski proposed making the four principles of Internet openness as Commission rules and adds two more:

Fifth Principle of Non-Discrimination

The fifth principle is one of non-discrimination — stating that broadband providers cannot discriminate against particular Internet content or applications.

Sixth Principle of Transparency

The sixth principle is a transparency principle — stating that providers of broadband Internet access must be transparent about their network management practices.

Genachowski said he would distribute proposed rules to his FCC colleagues and follow through with a proposed rule-making to bring the public into the process.

He added:
• The FCC will look at each violation on a case-by-case basis;
• Adherence to these principles would not require the disclosure of consumer PII, economically sensitive data, proprietary technologies, or network management strategies; and
• These principles would apply to all modes of internet access, including mobile architectures.

To this layman, it seemed like a very general speech. The Chairman argued, “This is not about government regulation of the Internet. It’s about fair rules of the road for companies that control access to the Internet. We will do as much as we need to do, and no more, to ensure that the Internet remains an unfettered platform for competition, creativity, and entrepreneurial activity.” Good!