The Regulatory Mix, TMI’s daily blog of regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court, issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of a TMI Regulatory Bulletin.
U. S. House of Representatives
On January 15, 2014, the Communications and Technology Subcommittee held its first hearing focused on plans for an open and transparent multi-year process leading to a comprehensive Communications Act Update (#CommActUpdate).
“Few sectors of our economy are equal to the communications and technology sector when it comes to innovation, investment in the American economy, and job creation. In these tough economic times, we as policymakers should be committed to fostering this critical sector of the economy. Yet the laws that regulate this industry are outdated at best and some are affirmatively damaging,” said Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR). “It’s time for our laws to reflect our modern technological landscape – one grounded in the networks and services of our past and driven by our IP and mobile future.”
Former FCC Chairman Richard Wiley cited his nearly 50 years in the telecom sector in explaining that history shows that innovation happens most when a light regulatory touch is applied. He stated, “I would suggest that the objective of a statutory rewrite should not be to legislate premised on the current state of the marketplace or even on predictions of what it may look like in the future. Instead, Congress should consider a flexible and technologically neutral framework that will be capable of adapting to technical invention and innovation, whatever it may prove to be.”
Former Chairman Michael Powell similarly suggested that any update to the law needs to provide a legal and regulatory framework that mirrors the “simplicity” that has allowed innovation to flourish over the past twenty years. “This market requires a greater degree of business flexibility, fewer prescriptive rules, and an assurance that any government involvement is applied on a technology-neutral basis and creates a better investment climate,” said Powell. “Rather than dialog and debate around well-worn constructs like regulation and deregulation, free markets versus industrial policy, and competition and monopoly, we should talk more about simplicity – guiding our companies and our regulatory policies by the concept.”
See details about the committee’s Communications Act Update activities here.
On January 14, 2014, the Wireline Competition Bureau issued a Public Notice informing all authorized entities, including ETCs, of their obligation to begin querying the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) to determine if a prospective subscriber is currently receiving Lifeline. The notice will serve as the required 30-day notice of the obligation to begin querying the NLAD. The Bureau also reminded ETCs of the requirement to collect and provide to the NLAD specific information for new and existing Lifeline subscribers and subscriber information necessary to detect duplicative support.
See announcement here.
Court of Appeals
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Court) has issued a decision vacating the FCC’s Open Internet (aka Net Neutrality) rules on anti-discrimination and anti-blocking. The Court found that the FCC was operating within its authority to promulgate rules governing broadband providers. However, the Court found that the FCC overstepped its legal authority when it created its anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules subjecting broadband providers to “common carrier treatment.” TMI Regulatory Bulletin Service subscribers, watch for upcoming TMI Regulatory Bulletin.
On January 22, 2014, the PSC will hold a technical conference to review the proposed rule changes to Chapter 5 of its Telecommunications Rules and Regulations. The suggested revisions are intended to eliminate obsolete, unnecessary, and duplicative rules and to ensure the PSC’s Rules are clear, concise, and relevant.
See the PSC draft text here.