Today’s Regulatory Mix: FCC’s Access Stimulation Rules Upheld, President Signs Executive Order Seeking to Restore Net Neutrality Provisions, NCTA Issues Statement Regarding Executive Order Promoting Competition in the American Economy, INCOMPAS Statement on Biden Competition Executive Order
FCC’s Access Stimulation Rules Upheld
A federal appeals court upheld an FCC order discouraging local telephone service providers that, according to the agency, artificially boost the volume of incoming long-distance calls in a practice known as “access stimulation” or “traffic pumping.” The FCC’s 2019 Report and Order in WC docket 18-155 shifted responsibility for paying for terminating tandem switching and transport rates from interexchange carriers to local exchange carriers deemed to be engaging in access stimulation. “Fees intentionally accrued by artificially stimulating and inefficiently routing calls would appear to fall within that wide authority,” the court noted. “The Commission has ample statutory authority and its rule is reasonable.”
President Signs Executive Order Seeking to Restore Net Neutrality Provisions
President Biden signed an executive order with 72 initiatives intended to promote competition, particularly in the technology sector, and increase wages. The topics include restoring net neutrality provisions repealed during the prior administration and increasing scrutiny of tech monopolies. The order also seeks changes aimed at giving internet subscribers more choices and better service. It asks the FCC to require internet service providers to report prices and subscription rates, prevent ISPs from making deals with landlords that limit tenants’ options, and revive Obama-era net neutrality rules.
- In response to the executive order, Acting FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel stated, “Our economy thrives on competition. It is the reason the United States is home to some of the most dynamic companies in the world. I welcome this effort by the President to enhance competition in the American economy and in the nation’s communications sector.”
- FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said, “Every American should have high-quality, affordable broadband. Today’s Executive Order spotlights the values that should drive our work toward that goal: affordability, fairness, competition, innovation, and consumer choice. The tens of millions of Americans without reliable internet access are counting on us-at the FCC and across the federal government-to fight for a more vibrant and inclusive broadband marketplace. I applaud President Biden’s sustained focus on these important issues.”
- A statement released by FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington promised to continue working with his fellow Commissioners but suggested that net neutrality would be best served via legislation through Congress. “A federal net neutrality law would prevent the proliferation of incompatible state-level compliance regimes. It would also protect against the risks of court challenges to the forbearance regime widely accepted by net neutrality proponents as necessary for the 2015 Open Internet Order.”
- Commissioner Brendan Carr commented that “While I welcome the Executive Order’s goal of addressing the concentration of corporate power in Silicon Valley, the Order’s FCC provisions represent a big gift to Big Tech. It embraces a backwards-looking, Obama-era approach to Internet regulation—one that would give the lobbyists at Google, Facebook, and Amazon the regulatory protections and price controls they’ve long sought while doing nothing to address Silicon Valley’s threats to free speech and an open Internet.”
NCTA Issues Statement Regarding Executive Order Promoting Competition in the American Economy
In a statement released 7/9/2021, NCTA expressed the position of The Internet & Television Association as follows: “We are disappointed that the Executive Order rehashes misleading claims about the broadband marketplace, including the tired and disproven assertion that ISPs would block or throttle consumers from accessing the internet content of their choice. America’s broadband networks have been the nation’s most resilient and critical infrastructure during the pandemic, keeping our economy moving and enabling our citizens to learn, work and stay connected from the safety of their homes. As policymakers and industry share the goal of connecting every American to robust and reliable broadband service, we hope the Administration will put the rhetoric aside and focus on constructive solutions.”
INCOMPAS Statement on Biden Competition Executive Order
INCOMPAS, the internet and competitive networks association CEO, Chip Pickering, released the following statement:
“Competition is a free market cure that supercharges innovation and investment. Broadband monopolies and limited competition have caused consumers frustration, slowed down internet speeds and driven up prices for families and businesses for far too long. We are pleased to see President Biden take action to stop broadband monopolies in apartment buildings and condo complexes, where 30 percent of Americans live.
“We welcome additional scrutiny of the large ISPs’ practices, as their legacy market power continues to squeeze competition and increase prices for consumers and business customers large and small. Competition and open internet policies create more opportunities for start-ups and small businesses eager to bring new ideas to global markets.”
The Regulatory Mix, Inteserra’s blog of telecom related 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 an Inteserra Briefing.