Telecom 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.

Michael Powell: The Rational Choice Chairman. (5/21/01) FCC Chairman Michael Powell made several statements at Forrester Forum in Washington DC about the conduct of telecom and Internet companies, and regulation of those companies, that are consistent with a "Chicago School", or rational choice, view of economics and regulation.

Supreme Court Diminishes Electronic Privacy. (5/21/01) The Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion [PDF] in Barnicki v. Vopper, holding that a radio host cannot be sued for playing an audio recording of a cellular telephone conversation, despite a federal statute which made illegal both the interception of the conversation, and its disclosure by the radio host. The majority reasoned that the case pitted statutes banning disclosure of illegally obtained electronic communications against the First Amendment freedom of speech claims of persons with illegally obtained recordings to disclose them if their content pertains to a public issue.

Senate Commerce Committee Holds Hearing on Powell Nomination. (5/17/01) The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Michael Powell to be Chairman of the FCC. Members of the Committee uniformly praised Powell. They used the occasion to press their views, and to question Powell about his views, on various issues that fall within the jurisdiction or activity of the FCC. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the Chairman of the Committee, stated that the Committee would likely vote on the nomination on May 24.

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.

FCC Requests Comments on Whether § 271 InterLATA Services Includes Information Services. (11/16/00) The FCC issued a request for comments on whether the term "interLATA services" as used in Section 271 of the Communications Act includes "information services". Regional Bells want to provide information services across LATA boundaries without first satisfying the FCC that they have complied with the Section 271 checklist. The issue also goes to the FCC's power to regulate Internet services.

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.

Cisco Lobbyist Addresses High Tech Policy Issues. (10/20/00) Cisco lobbyist Bruce Mehlman gave an address to a FCBA luncheon in which he summarized high tech related policy issues that are current in Washington DC. He predicted that fight over spectrum for 3G wireless services, which will allow for mobile Internet access, will get ugly.

Kennard Blasts Broadcasters for Spectrum Squatting and Scant Elections Coverage. (10/11/00) FCC Chairman Kennard harshly criticized TV broadcasters for their slow deployment of digital television, and their failure to broadcast debates, other elections content, and free advertising. He stated that the broadcasters' slow conversion to digital TV constitutes "spectrum squatting". It prevents the FCC from auctioning their analog spectrum to providers of wireless services, including Internet access.

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.

Klein Advocates a Global Competition Initiative. (9/16/00) U.S. antitrust chief Joel Klein gave a speech in Brussels in which he stated that "we should move in the direction of a Global Competition Initiative." He also spoke against "sectoral regulation" of competition in industries such as telecommunications. See, Klein speech.

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.

Tristani: Should There Be Universal Service for the Internet? (9/11/00) FCC Commissioner Tristani gave a speech in Washington DC on September 7 in which she advocated redressing various digital divides. She concluded by asking whether universal service should cover the Internet. See, speech.

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.

Appeals Court Rejects AT&T's Challenge to FCC's Long Distance Decision. (8/2/00) The U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the FCC's decision to allow Bell Atlantic to provide long distance service in New York. See, Court Opinion.

House Telecom Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Reciprocal Compensation. (6/23/00) The House Telecom Subcommittee held a hearing on June 22 on HR 4445, a bill to end reciprocal compensation payments made for phone calls to connect to the Internet. See, HR 4445 IH.

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.

Appeals Court Hears Oral Argument in CALEA Case. (5/18/00) The Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in USTA v. FCC, a challenge to the FCC's CALEA, order on Wednesday, May 18. The Court did not rule.

Furchtgott-Roth Addresses the Realpolitik of FCC Regulation. (5/2/00) Harold Furchtgott-Roth gave an address on April 28 on FCC regulation. He stated the FCC does not adhere to the law, expands its jurisdiction, refuses to write regulations, is unpredictable, and treats similar parties differently. And, the FCC compares unfavorably to the DMV. See, "The Realpolitik of Regulation."

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. Files Patent Suit Against Geoworks Over Wireless Internet Technology. (4/27/00), a wireless Internet software provider, filed suit in federal court in San Francisco against competitor Geoworks, which is seeking to collect license fees for a patent which it claims implicates the Wireless Application Protocol as well as Wireless Markup Language. The suit seeks a declaratory judgment that’s technology does not infringe on Geoworks' patent, and that the patent is invalid and unenforcable. See, Complaint.

Commissioner Powell Accuses Chairman Kennard of Politicizing FCC. (4/19/00) FCC Commissioner Michael Powell accused FCC Chairman William Kennard of politicizing the Federal Communications Commission, and placing its independence and integrity at risk. The accusation concerns a political trip to California and New Mexico on Monday, April 17 by Bill Clinton, William Kennard, FCC Commissioner Gloria Tristani, and others. See, Powell Statement.

House Passes Satellite TV Loan Guarantee Bill. (4/14/00) The House passed HR 3615, the Rural Local Broadcast Signal Act, on Thursday evening, April 13, by a vote of 375 to 37. The bill will provide federal government loan guarantees to entities which provide local into local television signals in unserved and underserved markets.

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.

House Passes Bill to Restrain FCC on Low Power FM. (4/13/00) The House passed HR 3439, the Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act, by a vote of 274 to 110 on Thursday evening, April 13. The bill restricts the FCC's authority to issue low power FM licenses. See, HR 3439 RH.

Rep. Pickering Files New Telecom Merger Review Bill. (3/21/00) Rep. Pickering filed another bill to limit the FCC's authority to conduct antitrust merger review proceedings. This bill sets time limits on the FCC, and requires that any denial be based upon FCC rules. Currently, the FCC has no rules. See, HR 4019 IH.

Agreement Reached on Satellite Privatization Bill. (3/6/00) House and Senate conferees reached a agreement on the satellite privatization bill on March 1. The Senate approved the conference report by unanimous consent on March 2. The House may take up the matter on March 8.

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.

Clinton Budget for NTIA Includes Big Increase for Digital Divide Programs. (2/8/00) The Fiscal Year 2001 budget proposal released by the Clinton administration on February 7 includes a huge increase in funding for the NTIA, to be spent largely on programs related to the "digital divide".

FCC Recants Order Restricting Religious Broadcasters. (1/30/00) The FCC released an order on Friday, January 28, which vacated those portions of a previous order which restricted religious broadcasting. Last month the FCC issued an order in a license transfer proceeding that stated that much of the programming by religious broadcasters does not qualify as educational programming under FCC rules. See, original Order and Order on Reconsideration.

State of the Union Speech Short on High Tech Issues. (1/28/00) President Bill Clinton's speech to the Congress on January 27 on the "state of the union" addressed the e-rate and digital divide, and government spending on research, but little else pertaining the computer, software, Internet or communications industries.

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.

EPIC Brief Argues that FCC CALEA Order Violates Privacy Rights. (1/21/00) The Electronic Privacy Information Center and other public interest petitioners filed their brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals arguing that the FCC's CALEA Order should be vacated. EPIC argues that the Order intrudes on Internet and phone communications privacy in violation of the Fourth Amendment and federal statutes. See, EPIC's Brief.

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.

FCC Issues Statement Regarding Antitrust Merger Reviews. (1/15/00) The FCC issued a statement on Wednesday, January 12, regarding the FCC's conduct of antitrust merger reviews. The statement addresses to two frequent criticisms: that the FCC has promulgated no rules which govern its merger reviews, and that the FCC takes far too long. See, FCC Statement.

Oxley Will Introduce Bill to Reverse FCC Decision Restricting Religious Broadcasting. (1/14/00) Rep. Mike Oxley and other Representatives say they will introduce a bill when the Congress reconvenes that will reverse the FCC's recent decision restricting religious broadcasters who hold noncommercial TV licenses. See, FCC decision and Oxley bill.

FCC Names David Farber Chief Technologist. (1/7/00) The FCC named University of Pennsylvania professor David Farber to be its new Chief Technologist.

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.

FCC Approves Bell Atlantic Application to Provide Long Distance Service in New York. (12/23/99) The Federal Communications Commission approved Bell Atlantic's application to provide long distance telephone service in New York State. This is the first Section 271 application which the FCC has approved.

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.

New NTIA Chief Discusses Goals. (12/3/99) Greg Rhode, the newly appointed head of the NTIA, stated that two of his priorities for the coming year include narrowing the "digital divide" and implementing high cost reform under universal service.

Appeals Courts Flooded with Petitions for Review of FCC CALEA Order. (11/24/99) The FCC's CALEA Order, released on August 31, has been challenged in at least four separate petitions for review filed with U.S. Appeals Courts. The Order pertains to "wiretaps" of new communications technologies.

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.

U.S. and China Reach Trade Agreement. (11/16/99) The U.S. and China reached an agreement on Monday, November 15, in Beijing on ascension of China to the World Trade Organization. The details of the agreement, particularly those regarding the Internet, telecommunications, and intellectual property, were not released. U.S. telecom companies are optimistic.

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.

Bell Atlantic Files § 271 Application. (9/30/99) Bell Atlantic applied to the FCC on Wednesday, September 29 to provide long distance telephone service in New York.

NTT President Addresses Reorganization and Interconnection Charges. (9/21/99) NTT Corp. President Miyazu addressed NTT reorganization, and deflected criticism about NTT's monopolistic practices, at a lecture in Washington DC on Tuesday, September 21.

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.

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.

FCC Orders Broadcasters to Accept Political Candidates' Ads of Non Standard Length. (9/9/99) The Federal Communications Commission issued an order on September 7 which requires broadcasters to accept advertisements from federal political candidates that are not of standard length. The decision opens the way for candidates to buy five minute slots. See, FCC Order.

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 CALEA Decision Upsets Industry and Privacy Groups. (8/28/99) The FCC released a summary of its CALEA implementation decision on Friday, August 27. Industry and privacy groups accused the FCC of exceeding its authority under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, placing unreasonable financial burdens on industry, and violating the privacy and Constitutional rights of Americans. Janet Reno, Louis Freeh, and the companies that make the affected equipment were pleased.

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.

Fifth Circuit Upholds FCC's E-Rate Program. (8/1/99) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Friday, July 30, upheld most of the FCC's order implementing the universal service support provisions of the 1996 Telecom Act, including the schools and libraries program. See, Fifth Circuit Opinion.

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.

Hollings Bill Would Force Compliance with Sec. 271. (7/6/99) Sen. Ernest Hollings introduced a bill on July 1 that would provide harsh penalties for the regional Bell operating companies that do not satisfy the Federal Communications Commission that they have opened their networks to competitors. See, S 1312 IS.

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, Snowe & Bryan Introduce Anti-Slamming Bill. (5/20/99) Sen. John McCain filed the Telecommunications Competition and Consumer Protection Act on May 19. Sen. McCain also sponsored another anti-slamming bill in the 105th Congress which passed the Senate, but was not enacted into law.

Tauzin and Burns Re-Introduce Bills to Reform E-Rate. (5/12/99) Rep. Billy Tauzin and Sen. Conrad Burns re-introduced legislation that would reform the Federal Communications Commission's schools and libraries program, which is also known as the "e-rate" and the "Gore Tax". Their bills would end FCC control of the program, fund the program for five years out of the existing excise tax on phones, and distribute the money in the form of block grants to the states.

House Panel Holds Hearing on NTIA Reauthorization. (5/11/99) The House Telecommunications Subcommittee held a hearing May 11 on reauthorization of the NTIA. The controversial topics addressed at the hearing included the NTIA's authorized funding level, the TIIAP grant program, spectrum management issues, and whether the NTIA's research laboratory should be privatized.

Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Broadband Access. (4/14/99) The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on how to facilitate the widespread deployment of broadband access to the Internet on Tuesday, April 13. AOL's Steve Case argued that cable companies should be forced to open their networks, and be subject to non-discriminatory access obligations. Several Senators rejected this regulatory approach.

FCC Releases Report on Y2K Preparedness in Telecom. (3/31/99) The FCC released a report on Tuesday, March 30, which gave high marks to the state of preparedness of the U.S. telecommunications industry for the Year 2000. However, the report cautioned that some small and medium sized companies have been proceeding too slowly.

Congressional Republicans Challenge Kennard on Regulation of Internet and Access Charges on Net Service. (3/20/99) A group of Republican Representatives and Senators wrote to FCC Chairman William Kennard on Thursday, March 18, asking him to work with them in drafting legislation that would prevent the FCC from regulating the Internet, or assessing access charges on Internet service.

House Subcommittee Holds FCC Reauthorization Hearing. (3/18/99) The House Telecommunications Subcommittee held a hearing on FCC reauthorization on Wednesday, March 17. The FCC was criticized by both Republicans and Democrats.

E-Rate Termination Bill Filed in House. (2/17/99) Rep. Tom Tancredo introduced a bill in the House on February 10 which would eliminate the e-rate, a Federal Communications Commission program for subsidizing telecommunications services and computer networking for schools and libraries. See, HR 692 IH.

Kennard Says FCC Will Not Require AT&T to Open its Cable Network. (2/4/99) FCC Chairman William Kennard stated today that the FCC will not require AT&T and TCI to open their broadband cable network. AOL and ISPs have asked the FCC to impose this as a condition for approval of the pending merger of AT&T and TCI.  Kennard made the statement during an impromptu press conference after an address to the AARP in Washington DC.  See, transcript of press conference.

Supreme Court Backs FCC Rulemaking Authority. (1/27/99)  The U.S. Supreme Court decided on Monday, January 25, that the FCC does have authority to set pricing rules for telecommunications carriers' access to local exchange carriers networks.  However, the Court ruled that the FCC exceeded its authority in promulgating Rule 319. Also, the Court upheld the FCC's "pick and choose" rule.

Burns to Introduce Satellite Privatization Bill. (1/25/99) Sen. Conrad Burns released a draft copy of a satellite privatization bill on January 22 which he intends to introduce shortly.  The House, but not the Senate, passed a similar bill in 1998.  This bill would push for privatization of INTELSAT and COMSAT.  See, draft copy of the "Satellite Services Competition and Privatization Act of 1999".

Supreme Court Denies Certiorari in SBC v. FCC. (1/21/99)  The U.S. Supreme Court denied SBC Communication's petition for writ of certiorari in its suit against the Federal Communications Commission over application of Section 271 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Rep. Oxley Calls FCC Regulation the Greatest Threat to the Internet. (1/19/99)  Rep. Mike Oxley said in a speech on Friday, January 15, that "the greatest threat to the Internet is the threat that it will be stifled by overregulation, and the greatest threat of overregulation comes, not from the Congress, but from the Federal Communications Commission."  See, copy of speech.

Sen. Burns Challenges FCC on Broadband Internet Access. (1/12/99)  Sen. Conrad Burns, Chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee, criticized the FCC's interpretation of Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, in a strongly worded letter to Chairman William Kennard on January 11.  Burns asserted that the FCC has failed to encourage the development of highspeed Internet access as required by §706.  See, copy of Sen.  Burns' letter.

See also:
 • Telecom Stories: February - June, 1998.
 • Telecom Stories: July - December, 1998.

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