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 Briefing.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed H.R. 2666, the No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act, as amended, by a vote of 29 to 19. H.R. 2666 would prevent the FCC from regulating rates charged for broadband Internet access service. The amendment would clarify that broadband Internet access service (BIAS) does not include data roaming or interconnection and that the following FCC authority remains in effect: (1) to condition a BIAS providers’ receipt of universal support on the regulation of rates changed by such provider for regulated services; (2) to enforce the FCC’s truth-in-billing rules; and (3) to enforce rules relating to paid prioritization. The amendment also defines “rates” as “the amount charged by a provider of broadband Internet access service for the delivery of broadband Internet traffic.
In response to the Committee action, Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI) said: “We were assured by President Obama and Chairman Wheeler that the Commission was not going to use Title II to regulate rates for broadband. This bill will enshrine that commitment into law, simply ensuring the FCC cannot use its self-declared expansive authority over the Internet to engage in rate regulation.” Communications and Technology Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) added: “This legislation leaves in place FCC authority to protect consumers from fraudulent actions, such as cramming and slamming, as well as breach of contract by carriers. Meanwhile, it gives certainty to innovators in the Internet marketplace so that they can continue to develop new services to save consumers money without having their creativity second guessed, after-the-fact by Washington bureaucrats.”
The Tennessee legislature is considering two identical bills, SB2200 and HB2133, that redefine “broadband Internet service” to mean an asymmetrical connection to the Internet from a home computer with an expected download data transfer of at least 1.5 megabits per second, or, after July 1, 2016, an expected download data transfer of at least 25 megabits per second. The bills would also direct the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, starting July 1, 2016, and annually thereafter, to prepare a report listing highest broadband Internet download speed that each holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority advertises to customers in each county the provider serves. If approved, the bill would effect upon becoming a law. The bills are currently being considered by the House Business and Utilities Subcommittee and the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.
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