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FCC Open Internet Rules

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Tom Wheele, the FCC Chairman, gave a range of spirited responses to a grilling from the Director of the GSMA, Anne Bouverot. She was following the line of the telcos and questioned if the FCC intervention would stifle growth and investments in the market; however she had problems reconciling her position with the fact that, despite these regulatory changes, the American industry was still prepared to invest a whopping $45 billion in new spectrum. So, on the one hand operators are crying wolf while, on the other, they are still prepared to invest massively in the industry.

Tom Wheeler was at pains to explain that the changes will not lead to more regulations. What he didn’t say, however, was that the FCC will now have—under the rules—the tools to intervene on a ‘just and reasonable’ basis. Key in all of this, is that broadband access was previously classified as ‘internet’, and internet intervention was, and still is not possible. However interventions in broadband will now become possible under the new rules.

It was also amazing to see the FCC PR machine at work after Tom’s interview, handing out brief notes from the FCC to the delegates clearly indicating that the rules don’t mean more regulations.

So watch that space. The FCC change is very fundamental and it will have widespread consequences, not just in the USA, but also in the various international forums on international telecoms issues.

Flyer handed out by the FCC

  • Implements the principle that neither government nor private actors should prevent the public from accessing lawful content, applications and services
  • NO “Regulation of the Internet”
  • NO utility-style regulation
  • NO rate regulation
  • NO tariffing
  • NO network unbundling
  • NO regulation of technical operating requirements
  • Prohibits blocking, throttling and paid prioritization
  • Mobile treated as full participant in Internet ecosystem
  • 55% of U.S access to Internet from mobile
  • Asserts jurisdiction over last mile interconnection
  • No specific regulation in Order—judgement test: what is “just and reasonable”
  • Requires transparency of information to consumers and edge providers
  • Reasonable network management exceptions
  • NO regulation of services not providing general Internet access (e.g., VoIP, energy monitoring)
  • NO new taxes or fees

Source FCC

By Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication

Paul is also a contributor of the Paul Budde Communication blog located here.

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