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Category Archives: FCC

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The Johnny Appleseed of the Internet Anticipated Net Neutrality Issues

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, Net Neutrality

We think of the Internet as a computer science or engineering project. And it certainly was. But did you know that according to Robert Taylor, the founder of Xerox PARC’s computer science laboratory, the fundamental vision for the modern Internet came from a psychologist? Well, neither did I, until I came across what seems to… Continue Reading

Net Neutrality—Analyzing Georgetown’s Position

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, Lawsuits, Net Neutrality

Georgetown University’s business school (specifically the Center for Business and Public Policy) submitted an Amicus Brief in the currently pending net neutrality lawsuit at the D.C. Circuit. It is highly critical of the FCC and dependent upon ideas that are deeply suspect. The Brief is based on the “Economic Policy Vignette.” Economic Flaws. The policy paper… Continue Reading

Retransmission Consent Reform—The “Must Haves” for Cable and Satellite Companies

Posted in FCC, Legal Developments

Retransmission consent refers to the system by which pay TV providers (principally cable and satellite companies, which for convenience we will call “CableCos” and which FCCers call MVPDs) pay broadcast TV stations to carry the programming they broadcast. Years ago the payments were marginal or non-existent. Today the payments are growing, in part because increasingly… Continue Reading

FCC Approves Lawn Robots

Posted in FCC, Technology

With a gleeful nod to all 15-year-old boys out there, yesterday the FCC approved the first lawn robot. The manufacturer —iRobot—claims that this Roomba-for-the-Yard device “has the potential for reducing deaths and injuries, reducing emissions and noise pollution, and improving quality of life related to residential lawn mowing.” Frankly, given our own shaky experiences with… Continue Reading

How Washington Works—The Problem of the AWS-3 Wireless Auction

Posted in FCC

In a wireless auction earlier this year, Dish purchased in conjunction with two entities US$13 billion of wireless licenses for approximately US$10 billion. It did so by structuring a bid in the AWS-3 auction through two “small business” entities to which it lent billions of dollars. We haven’t done the analysis, but presumably the arrangement… Continue Reading

FilmOn: (Alki) David Stuns Goliath in On-Demand and Mobile TV Victory

Posted in FCC, Intellectual Property, Legal Developments

Last week FilmOn quietly obtained a very important, preliminary decision from a California federal District Court that found that non-traditional, on-demand and mobile TV companies (the “Internet TV” providers) are entitled to a compulsory license under the Copyright Act. If upheld, this ruling will allow Internet TV providers to compete effectively with traditional cable and satellite… Continue Reading

FCC Proposes to Fine AT&T Significantly

Posted in FCC, Legal Developments, Net Neutrality

Today the FCC proposes to fine AT&T US$100 million for its practice of selling its customers “unlimited” data plans which it subsequently limited by throttling back data speeds as much as 90% (sometimes, to dial-up levels) without being clear about the extent of the throttling. This proposed fine is based upon the FCC’s “Open Internet Transparency… Continue Reading

FCC Commissioner Pai Asks Congress to Partly Defund Agency

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, Legal Developments, Net Neutrality

Yesterday FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai testified before the House Appropriations Committee, and in his lengthy statement, asked that Congress defund the FCC–or at least that part of the FCC that would implement the FCC’s recent net neutrality decision. There is a certain irony here. Commissioner Pai’s objection to the net neutrality decision stemmed from his… Continue Reading

Net Neutrality–FCC’s Pai Disdainful of Netflix

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, Legal Developments, Net Neutrality

Last Friday FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai issued a statement that is worth studying. Its context is net neutrality, though that term is not referenced. In the short statement, Commissioner Pai describes “allegations” against Netflix (which frankly, we don’t fully understand) and notes that he met with Netflix about these allegations. Pai’s statement complains that Netflix would… Continue Reading

FCC Seeks to Become a Cybersecurity Enforcer with a $10 Million Sword

Posted in FCC, FTC, Privacy and Data Security

Last Friday, the FCC released a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (“Notice”) ordering TerraCom, Inc. and YourTel America, Inc. to pay a $10 million forfeiture for the companies’ failure to reasonably secure electronic customer information. In doing so, the FCC relied on Title II (i.e., the “common carrier” provisions) of the Communications Act of… Continue Reading

Net Neutrality: Back to Basics – Blocking Access to the Internet Can Be Entirely Rational

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, Legal Developments, Net Neutrality

The debate over net neutrality has been marked by extreme rhetoric. Those that support regulation designed to keep the Internet “free” and “open” assert that Internet access providers left to their own devices will interfere in the marketplace, thereby stifling innovation and competition. This is a legitimate concern. A free and open marketplace will generally… Continue Reading

Aereo: Retransmission Consent Is the Next Intriguing Question

Posted in FCC, Legal Developments

In a recent article, we said that the Supreme Court’s decision in the Aereo case doesn’t answer the most interesting question: Can Aereo now offer a lawful service by paying copyright fees to broadcasters in accordance with the compulsory copyright license for cable television services provided for in the Copyright Act and administered by the U.S…. Continue Reading

Net Neutrality: Can Antitrust Save the Internet?

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, FTC, Net Neutrality

At a hearing last Friday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte told the FCC that it should abandon its effort to enforce net neutrality and allow the antitrust agencies—the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice—to police it alone. Chairman Goodlatte suggested that the antitrust laws were sufficient to prevent discrimination, and that any… Continue Reading

Silicon Valley Misses the Mark on Network Neutrality – Again

Posted in FCC, Legal Developments, Net Neutrality

We’ve said before that “network neutrality” is a red herring. The real bottleneck is the cable television set-top box (STB). Silicon Valley continues to argue with the FCC, and with Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, about network neutrality, while saying nothing about the STB. The Courts have twice struck down FCC action on network neutrality, saying… Continue Reading

Bankruptcy Courts and the FCC – Creditors Rights Versus the Public Interest

Posted in FCC, Finance

Last week at the American Bankruptcy Institute meeting in Washington, D.C., our firm co-sponsored and participated in a mini-conference on bankruptcies that involve FCC-regulated companies. This was an opportunity to spend a few hours contemplating issues that practicing attorneys rarely get a chance to reflect upon in the midst of heated, multi-party bankruptcy proceedings. One… Continue Reading

FCC Creates New Options for Mobile Calls and Texts to Be TCPA-Compliant

Posted in FCC, Legal Developments

The FCC recently issued two important decisions granting exceptions to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) to allow calls and text messages to mobile phones without first obtaining the recipient’s consent. They likely signal that the FCC will entertain new requests for exceptions that make practical sense. Many TCPA class action nuisance cases are currently… Continue Reading

Foreign Ownership Reporting – FCC Licensees May Also Be Required to File BEA Reports

Posted in FCC

Our colleague, Amy D’Agostino, has just written an article on the international ownership reporting requirements of the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in Law360. The BEA’s mandatory reports are used for a variety of important US governmental purposes, such as the federal budget and trade and monetary policy. The reports are required to be filed by any US… Continue Reading

Will SoftBank’s Windfall from Alibaba Be Enough for Sprint to Buy T-Mobile?

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, Finance, Transactions

SoftBank, the owner of Sprint, is dedicating substantial resources to convince the US business community that greater competition for broadband service will develop in the US if Sprint is allowed to merge with T-Mobile. According to SoftBank’s chairman, Masayoshi Son, this merger would enable the combined company to obtain scope sufficient to compete with AT&T… Continue Reading

What Technology Companies Can Expect from FCC Review of the Comcast – Time Warner Cable Merger

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, Net Neutrality, Transactions

For a decade, technology companies have been prepared to unleash a wave of innovation related to how people consume cable television. The cable TV industry has generally blocked such efforts, and the FCC to date has largely sidestepped the issue. The competition authorities at the FCC and the DOJ will shortly begin reviewing the proposed… Continue Reading

How Will the New FCC Chairman’s Market Knowledge Affect Merger Reviews?

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, Transactions

New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has spent three decades immersed in the business and policy concerns of two of the most significant communications industries – cable and wireless – under the Commission’s jurisdiction. Thus, there is no doubt that he has the knowledge and experience to lead the agency. However, Chairman Wheeler’s stance on many key issues – including Net neutrality – remains unclear. One of… Continue Reading

AT&T Sponsored Data and Net Neutrality, a Video Interview with Dana Frix

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, Net Neutrality

AT&T recently announced a new mobile service offering called “Sponsored Data.” Sponsored Data is a program where a mobile phone user will not be charged for data used if the company that supplies the data pays AT&T for that data. Some questioned whether the sponsored data program would be challenged under the FCC’s so-called “Net… Continue Reading

Senator Marco Rubio Was Three for Five at Broadband Adoption Hearing

Posted in FCC, Technology

At the Senate hearing on broadband adoption yesterday, Senator Marco Rubio asked three essential questions. However, he could have asked two additional questions. After listening to testimony to the effect that broadband adoption stands at 70% in the US, Senator Rubio first asked how he could explain to his constituents why they should care about… Continue Reading