Broadband News

House Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on Broadband Bills. (5/22/01) The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing HR 1698, the "American Broadband Competition Act of 2001," and HR 1697, the "Broadband Competition and Incentives Act of 2001," a pair of bills introduced on May 3, 2001 by Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). The Committee also heard testimony on HR 1542, a bill sponsored by Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA) and Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), and reported by the House Commerce Committee on May 9. The sponsors and supporters of all of these bills assert that they will incent widespread deployment of broadband services.

FCC Chairman Powell Addresses Forrester Forum. (5/21/01) FCC Chairman Michael Powell spoke and answered questions at a Forrester Research Telecom Forum in Washington DC. He addressed the status of local competition, the success of the Telecom Act of 1996, Alcatel's possible acquisition of Lucent, legislation pending in Congress regarding broadband deployment, enforcement of telecom laws, and other issues.

NTIA to Write Rules on 3G Relocation Reimbursement. (1/18/01) The NTIA released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding compensation of incumbent federal agency users in the 1755-1850 MHz band that may be required to modify their systems as a result of spectrum reallocation to the private sector for 3G wireless uses. Most of these incumbent users are military. Third Generation (3G) wireless services are intended to bring broadband Internet access to portable devices.

FCC Approves AOL Time Warner Merger. (1/12/01) The FCC approved the merger of AOL and Time Warner with conditions regarding open access to broadband cable Internet access and interoperability of advanced instant messaging services.

Appeals Court Overturns FCC Separate Affiliate Order. (1/11/01) The Court of Appeals ruled in ASCENT v. FCC that the FCC's order in its SBC Ameritech merger proceeding permitting SBC to offer advanced services, such as DSL, through a separate affiliate violates the Communications Act. The Court vacated the Order. See, Opinion.

FCC Releases Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for 3G Wireless Spectrum. (1/5/01) The FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in which it seeks public comment to assist it in identifying and allocating spectrum for use by Third Generation wireless systems. 3G is intended to bring broadband wireless Internet access to mobile devices.

NTIA Chief Reports on 3G Wireless in Asia. (12/13/00) NTIA chief Greg Rohde met with reporters on Tuesday, December 12 to report on the ITU's Asia Telecom 2000 conference, and his bilateral talks on 3G wireless technologies with other government officials. "We are going to see Asia play a very significant role in the development of the Internet," said Rohde. See, transcript.

Court Rules that Open Access Ordinance Violates First Amendment Rights of Cable Operators. (11/15/00) The U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the cable operators in the Broward County cable access case. It held that the county ordinance requiring cable operators to provide their competitors with access to their broadband cable Internet access facilities violates the First Amendment rights of the cable operators. See, opinion.

FCC Discusses Secondary Markets for Wireless Spectrum. (11/10/00) The FCC discussed and adopted, but did not release copies of, a Policy Statement and a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, pertaining to taking steps towards allowing secondary markets in wireless spectrum rights. FCC staff and Commissioners said that they seek to avoid shortages in spectrum for wireless telecommunications and mobile Internet access devices.

Mobile Internet Access Devices and the FCC. (11/10/00) The technology to provide widely available and inexpensive broadband Internet access devices is being developed and deployed. One possible set back for this new technology could be the availability and efficient use of radio spectrum for these devices -- spectrum that is tightly managed by the FCC.

NTIA Hosts First Public Meeting on 3G Spectrum. (11/3/00) The NTIA hosted a public meeting attended by government officials and industry representatives to address the selection and allocation of spectrum for 3G wireless systems. 3G is intended to bring broadband wireless Internet access to mobile devices.

FCC Issues Notice of Inquiry Regarding Open Access. (9/28/00) The FCC issued a Notice of Inquiry regarding what regulatory treatment it ought to give to broadband Internet access services over cable, copper and other facilities. The FCC seeks public comment.

FCC Regulators Give SBC Permission to Build DSL Facilities. (9/11/00) The FCC released a second order in its SBC Ameritech merger review proceeding. This order modifies the condition imposed upon SBC in its first order that a separate affiliate must own equipment used to provide advanced services. This new order means that SBC can provide DSL service through neighborhood broadband gateways to be deployed as part of its $6 Billion Project Pronto.

Goodlatte and Boucher Request FCC Rule Making on Open Access, Oppose Conditions on AOL TW Merger. (9/11/00) Two of the House of Representatives leading Internet proponents, Reps. Boucher and Goodlatte, wrote a letter to the FCC and FTC on September 7 requesting that the FCC institute a formal rule making proceeding to promulgate open access rules that apply to all technologies and companies, but that neither the FTC nor the FCC impose any open access conditions in their AOL Time Warner merger reviews. See, letter.

FCC Permits Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum Devices in the 2.4 GHz Band. (9/4/00) The FCC amended its rules to allow frequency hopping spread spectrum systems in the 2.4 GHz band. The goal is to allow wider bandwidths so that Internet devices will operate at higher data speeds, thereby enabling the development of new and improved products such as wireless computer local area networks and wireless cable modems.

Ninth Circuit Reverses District Court in AT&T v. Portland. (6/22/00) The U.S. Court of Appeals issued its opinion reversing the District Court in AT&T v. Portland. The appeals court concluded that Portland cannot condition approval of the transfer of the TCI cable franchise upon AT&T's granting open access to its broadband cable facilities to competing ISPs. See, Opinion.

FCC Approves AT&T MediaOne Merger. (6/5/00) The FCC conditionally approved AT&T's acquisition of cable company MediaOne. AT&T must reduce its share of MVPD subscribers to 30%. However, the FCC imposed no "open access" requirement.

Economist Credits Gore with Retarding Broadband Infrastructure Development. (4/28/00) AEI economist Thomas Hazlett assessed the economic and political consequences of government regulation of communications at a conference in Washington DC on April 27. Among his conclusions were that the Cable Act of 1992 was a disaster for broadband infrastructure deployment, and that then Sen. Al Gore played a big role in passing the Act.

Consumer Groups Seek FCC Restructuring of AOL Time Warner and AT&T Media One. (4/26/00) Several consumer groups filed a petition with the FCC on April 26 seeking restructuring of the companies involved in the AOL Time Warner merger and the AT&T MediaOne merger.

House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Broadband Wireless Internet. (4/14/00) The House Technology Subcommittee held a hearing on broadband wireless Internet technologies on Thursday morning, April 13. Witnesses from wireless companies described their technologies, and offered policy recommendations, including encouraging market-driven standards, promoting free trade, removing the spectrum cap, making more spectrum available, and providing for forced access to multi-unit dwellings.

Senate Antitrust Subcommittee Discusses Media Mergers. (3/23/00) The Senate Antitrust Subcommittee held a hearing on antitrust issues handled by the FTC and Justice Department. Senators expressed concern about consolidation of media companies. FTC Chairman Pitofsky responded that he is not sure that there is more concentration now, due to technological developments such as the Internet.

Time Warner and AOL Sign Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Open Access. (3/1/00) Time Warner and AOL signed a nonbinding Memorandum of Understanding stating that they will provide open access to competing ISPs to their broadband cable systems. See, Memorandum of Understanding.

Open Access Proponents Condemn Media Mergers. (2/26/00) A group of liberal activists held a panel discussion at the National Press Club in Washington DC on Wednesday, February 23, to complain about the consequences of the mergers of AOL and Time Warner, and AT&T and MediaOne, and to demand open access to the Internet. See, Lessig Address.

FCC Rejects ISP's Request for Leased Access to Cable. (2/19/00) The FCC issued an Order on February 18 in which it denied the request of a small ISP for leased access to TCI's cable facilities in Spokane, Washington. The FCC ruled that the mandatory access requirements of one section of the Cable Act apply to "video programming", but not ISP access. Otherwise, the FCC muddied its already vague interpretation of whether and how the Cable Act might apply to Internet access via cable facilities. See, FCC Order.

FCC Officials Meet with Bar about Antitrust Merger Reviews. (1/24/00) The FCC's Christopher Wright and James Bird met with lawyers specializing in antitrust and telecommunications law on Friday, January 21, to discuss the FCC's handling of merger reviews involving telecom and Internet companies.

FCC Report on Multichannel Video Programming Addresses Broadband. (1/20/00) The FCC issued its sixth annual report to the Congress on multichannel video programming. As usual, much of the report deals with cable TV competition. In addition, the report addresses developments in broadband Internet access services. It concludes that analog telephone dial-up modems will remain the principal means of accessing the Internet for at least the next several years.

Pittsburgh Adopts Non-Discriminatory Open Access to Broadband Cable. (12/29/99) The Pittsburgh City Council approved an agreement with AT&T Cable Services that provides that AT&T must provide ISPs open access to its broadband cable facilities in the event that AT&T provides, or is compelled to provide, open access elsewhere.

Judge Dismisses Two Plaintiffs in Broward County Cable Access Case. (12/10/99)  The federal judge presiding over the open access case in Broward County, Florida, dismissed the complaints of two cable company plaintiffs on the grounds that they lack standing. Four local cable companies filed suit challenging a Broward County ordinance passed last July which requires that cable companies provide competing ISPs access to their broadband Internet access transport facilities. See also, Ordinance, Complaint, and Order.

Appeals Court Upholds FCC SMATV Decision. (12/9/99) The U.S. Court of Appeals on December 7 upheld a decision of the FCC that SMATV providers are not cable operators that have to obtain franchises from local governments. The FCC and courts have yet to take a position on other classification issues, such as the status of broadband Internet access over cable. See, Opinion in Chicago v. FCC.

AT&T to Allow Broadband Cable Internet Access Customers Choice of ISP. (12/7/99) AT&T and Mindspring delivered a letter to FCC Chairman William Kennard dated December 6 which states that AT&T will allow broadband customers a choice of ISP without having to subscribe to any other ISP, starting in mid 2002. See, AT&T letter to FCC.

FCC Orders Line Sharing for High Speed Internet Access. (11/19/99) The FCC ordered incumbent local exchange carriers to share lines with competitive local exchange carriers for the purpose of providing high speed Internet access. The order was issued on November 18, but will not be implemented for months.

GTEi Files Antitrust Suit Against Cable Companies Over Open Access. (10/28/99) GTEi filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on October 25 against TCI, Comcast, and At Home alleging that bundling broadband data transport service with ISP service violates the Sherman Antitrust Act. GTEi's complaint requests money and an injunction. See, Complaint.

AOL and AT&T Debate Cable Access. (10/5/99) George Vradenburg of AOL and Elaine McHale of AT&T debated whether cable companies which provide Internet access should be required to provide access to competing ISPs at a Georgetown Law School forum today. FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth also participated in the panel discussion. See, statements of Vradenburg, McHale, and Furchtgott-Roth.

Open Access Proponents File Amicus Briefs in Portland Case. (9/15/99) Several entities which support open access to broadband cable Internet facilities filed friend of the court briefs with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Tuesday, September 14. A brief filed on behalf of several consumer groups argued that free speech interests would be furthered by Portland's open access decision. See, consumer amici brief and local governments' brief.

Portland Files Opposition Brief in Cable Access Appeal. (9/12/99) The City of Portland, the Oregon Internet Service Providers' Association, and GTE and U S West filed their opposition briefs with the Ninth Circuit in AT&T v. Portland on September 7. AT&T's reply brief, and amicus briefs of open access proponents, are due this week. See, briefs of Portland, ORISPA, and GTE/USWest.

AT&T and Friends File Briefs in the Portland Cable Access Case (9/3/99) News Analysis. AT&T and its supporters have filed their briefs with the Court of Appeals in the Portland cable access case. They predictably argue that the City of Portland does not have authority to mandate "open access" to broadband Internet access provided over cable facilities. However, their legal reasoning includes the argument that the FCC has authority to regulate this form of broadband Internet access as a "cable service", which would add to the FCC's Internet regulatory powers.

Is Broadband Internet Access a Title 47 Cable Service? (9/3/99) News Analysis. There is one thing that almost everyone involved in the Portland broadband cable Internet access case can agree upon -- that the Cable Act is the controlling legal authority in the case. Yet the language of the Act which defines its scope does not include broadband Internet services provided over cable facilities.

The Consequences of the Portland Case for the FCC and the Internet (9/3/99) This is the third news analysis article in a three part series on the Portland cable access case.

FCC Files Amicus Curiae Brief in Cable Access Case. (8/16/99) The Federal Communications Commission filed a "friend of the court" brief today with the Ninth Circuit in AT&T v. Portland, an appeal from a trial court decision upholding the City of Portland's open cable access decision. See, FCC Brief.

Pickering Introduces Bill to Limit Length of FCC Merger Reviews. (8/11/99) Rep. Chip Pickering introduced a bill on August 5 to limit the Federal Communication Commission to 60 days in most merger and acquisition reviews. The bill is one of several that would limit the FCC. See, HR 2783 IH.

Commissioner Says FCC Extorts Companies with Non-existent Merger Review Authority. (7/23/99) The FCC is using merger review authority which it does not have to extort companies, said FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth at a Federalist Society event in the Capitol Building on Thursday, July 22. See, transcript of address.

Tauzin Introduces High Speed Internet Access Bill. (7/5/99) Rep. Billy Tauzin and Rep. John Dingell introduced a bill to deregulate some high speed data services on July 1, 1999. This is just one of a growing number of bills designed to speed the deployment of high speed Internet access to the public. Like many other pending bills, it gives regulatory breaks to the local phone companies to spur the deployment of ADSL service. See, HR 2420 IH.

Kennard Opposes Open Cable Access in Speech to NCTA. (6/16/99) FCC Chairman William Kennard criticized the decision of the City of Portland to mandate open cable access, and the U.S. District Court decision which upheld it, in a speech to the National Cable Television Association in Chicago on June 15. See, copy of speech.

Judge Upholds Portland's Open Cable Access Rule. (6/7/99) U.S District Court Judge Owen Panner upheld the City of Portland's ordinance requiring AT&T to open its cable network to Internet service providers on Friday, June 4. AT&T vowed to continue the legal fight. See, copy of Court Opinion.

McCain Introduces Broadband Internet Access Bill. (5/15/99) Sen. John McCain introduced the Internet Regulatory Freedom Act on Thursday, May 13. This is the fourth bill to be introduced in Congress in the last three weeks which is intended to spur the deployment of high speed Internet access by phone companies by reducing the regulatory burdens placed on them by the Telecom Act of 1996. See, S 1043 IS.

Sen. Brownback Introduces Broadband Access Bill. (5/3/99) Sen. Sam Brownback introduced the Broadband Internet Regulatory Relief Act on Monday, April 26. Sen. Brownback stated that the "bill is intended to speed up the deployment of broadband networks throughout the United States and to make residential high-speed Internet access a widely-available service." See, S 877 IS.


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