Federal Communications Commission

Broadband Framework Category

Join The Discussion...

June 17th, 2010 by George Krebs

We're using our online discussion and deliberation platforms to encourage civic participation on the important issues surrounding broadband in America.

Your ideas and comments on issues related to the Broadband Framework NOI will help the agency determine the best legal framework to apply to broadband Internet services.

Follow the links below to make your voice heard:

Vote to Adopt the Broadband Framework Notice of Inquiry

June 17th, 2010 by Christopher Killion

At its public business meeting today, the FCC voted to adopt the Broadband Framework Notice of Inquiry (NOI). This NOI launches an open proceeding through which the agency will seek public comment on issues related to the future of broadband in America.

The NOI seeks input on the best legal framework to apply to broadband Internet services—such as cable modem and telephone company DSL services—in order to promote competition, innovation, and investment in broadband services; to protect consumers; and to implement important aspects of the National Broadband Plan.  A decision in April by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Comcast Corp. v. FCC raised serious questions about the Commission’s ability to rely on its current legal framework—which treats broadband Internet service as solely an “information service”—when moving forward on these policy objectives.

The NOI asks questions about three approaches in particular, while also inviting new ideas.  First, the NOI seeks comment on how the Commission could most effectively perform its responsibilities within the current information service classification.  Second, the NOI asks for comment on the legal and practical consequences of classifying Internet connectivity as a “telecommunications service” to which all the requirements of Title II of the Communications Act (the provisions that apply to telephone-type services) would apply.  Finally, the NOI invites comment on a third way modeled on the successful “Regulatory Treatment of Mobile Services” set out in the Communications Act. Under this third way approach, the Commission would: (i) reaffirm that Internet information services should remain generally unregulated; (ii) identify the Internet connectivity service that is offered as part of wired broadband Internet service (and only this connectivity service) as a telecommunications service; and (iii) forbear under authority Congress provided in the Communications Act from applying all provisions of Title II other than the small number that are needed to implement fundamental universal service, competition, and consumer protection policies that have received broad support. 

The NOI also seeks comment on the appropriate classification of wireless broadband Internet services, as well as on other discrete issues, including the states’ role with respect to broadband Internet service.  The NOI does not contemplate a change in the Commission’s treatment of, or authority over, Internet content, applications, or services.

The Broadband Framework NOI commences a thorough, objective examination of a topic that is being debated in the pages of the press, in the blogosphere, and at industry conferences.  We look forward to hearing your views. 

Cross-posted to The Official FCC Blog.

Live Blogging the June Open Commission Meeting

June 17th, 2010 by George Krebs

10:30am ET
We've created a handy FAQ for questions about the broadband framework discussed today or for more background. In opening the meeting, Chairman Genachowski welcomes a delegation from Pakistan and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn’s mother, Emily Clyburn.

10:44am ET
There is but one item on today’s agenda. Today we will hear a presentation on the legal framework surrounding broadband. To start Deputy Counsel Julie Veach of the Office of the General Counsel gives the history of the steps the Commission has taken toward protecting the sanctity of the Internet and protecting consumers. This timeline is dotted with benchmark events; such as the Telecommunications Act of 1996, AT&T v. City of Portland (9th Circuit), and NCTA v. Brand X Internet Services (Supreme Court). An overview of Comcast v. FCC is given.

10:55am ET
The office then lays out the options between Title I and Title II. There are drawbacks to both that don’t fully cover the intricacy of the Internet. The panelists then introduce the third way. As the general counsel note, this route is “modeled on successful ‘Regulatory Treatment of Mobile Services.’” Internet would be classified as an information service but this option would forbear on a nationwide basis from all but a small number of core Title II provisions.

A number of questions will inevitably arise. One such question is, “How should the Commission treat wireless broadband Internet services?
11:14am ET

The Commission was on shaky ground prior to the Comcast decision, Commissioner Copps declares. “We need to reclaim our authority.” Commissioner Copps likens this path forward to protecting the Internet onramp. “We are not talking, even remotely, about regulating the Internet. It’s about making sure consumers have maxim control over the having access to the Internet.”

11:24am ET
Commissioner McDowell speaks next. He qualifies his comments by noting that ninety percent of the Commission’s work is bipartisan and unanimous. This proceeding, however, falls under the ten percent upon which there is disagreement. The Commission is seeking to apply19th century railroad regulation to a 21st century technology, he argues. His presentation features supporting statements and quotes from news publications and members of congress. While the proposal is well intentioned, “This may have the unintended consequence of stunting growth.”

11:35am ET
Commissioner Clyburn jumps right in and censures industry for overstating the dangers posed by the new framework. They view any government regulation as an imposition, she says. “If it were up to big business, the FCC would never get the opinion of consumers.” The Commissioner supports the proposal and advocates for regulation that keeps consumers as our most important constituency.
11:40am ET
In her remarks Commissioner Baker dissents. “We won't have clear legal jurisdiction on broadband unless Congress gives it to us,” she says. Little attention has been paid to the statistics. She points to ninety-one percent of Americans who are happy with their Broadband access. “Reclassifying an entire segment of the Internet is not necessary.”
11:53am ET
As the last speaker, Chairman Genachoswki addresses several angles and concerns that have arisen out of the question on the proper broadband framework. The FCC’s processes are complementary to the congressional effort to update the Communications Act, he says. We need to ensure the Commission stands on solid legal ground as we consider how to approach the broadband framework. “We do so today in an open and balanced way.” While industry would prefer being unchecked, “A system of checks and balances in the telecommunications sector has served our country well for decades and decades and has spurred trillions of dollars in investment.”
The Commission's work has determined that the third way approach is the best way forward. That said the Chairman emphasizes, “I remain open minded and welcome the process of new ideas.” Robust debate produces the best outcomes.
In conclusion, the Chairman takes a vote. He, Commissioner Copps, and Commissioner Clyburn vote in favor of the measure; Commissioner McDowell and Commission Baker dissent. The ayes have it.

A Third-Way Legal Framework For Addressing The Comcast Dilemma

May 6th, 2010 by Austin Schlick - General Counsel

When the D.C. Circuit issued its opinion in the Comcast/BitTorrent case, it was clear the decision could affect a significant number of important recommendations in the National Broadband Plan, the Commission’s Open Internet proceeding, and other policy initiatives related to broadband.  In light of the uncertainty created by the decision, the Chairman asked me to investigate all of the options available to the Commission.  Other FCC staff and I have developed a proposal that we believe resolves the doubt created by the D.C. Circuit’s opinion while providing a firm legal basis for the Commission’s limited, but vital role with respect to broadband.  Whether, all things considered, the legal response to Comcast sketched out in our proposal is the best one for the Commission to adopt would be for the five FCC Commissioners to answer after public comment and private study.  In my judgment, it’s a question worth asking.

Read more about the proposal here.

Read Chairman Genachowski’s statement discussing his reasons for seeking comment on the proposal here.

Capture The Phone Numbers Using Your Camera Phone

If you have a camera and a 2D matrix code reader on your mobile phone, you can capture the FCC Phone numbers right to your phone by following these three easy steps:
Step 1: Take a photograph of one of the codes below using the camera on your mobile phone.
Step 2: Use your phone's Datamatrix or QR Code reader to decode the information on the photograph. Please note, these code readers are device specific and are available to download on the internet.
Step 3: Store the decoded address information to your phone's address book and use it with your Maps or GPS application.

Datamatrix and QR FCC Phones