Author Archives: George Ford

Municipal Broadband and Predatory Pricing…

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In the wake of the Federal Communication Commission’s pre-emption of state laws overseeing municipal broadband networks in North Carolina and Tennessee, I was asked by the State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF)—a non-profit organization that helps state governments develop sound policy through education, research, and training—to conduct an economic analysis of municipal broadband to help state legislators better understand the issue.  Last month, the SGLF released the final product of my effort.  The paper is both long (nearly 70 pages) and dense, using economic theory to describe what municipal broadband is and what it is not.  I don’t wish to cover Continue Reading »

The FCC’s Intellectual and Empirical Vacuum Over Market Power for Special Access Services

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It’s been over eighty years since the Communications Act of 1934 created the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) for the purpose of overseeing the nation’s communications industries.  Still, as revealed most recently in the Commission’s Tariff Investigation Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Special Access Services (hereinafter “BDS Further Notice”) the Agency has no idea how to define or measure market power in telecommunications markets.  In fact, its BDS Further Notice offers no apparent definition of market power, which is a significant deficiency for a regulatory regime allegedly based on the presence of market power. There are some hints Continue Reading »

Some Preliminary Thoughts On Dr. Rysman’s Special Access Empirical Analysis…

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As part of the Federal Communication Commission’s Tariff Investigation Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Special Access Services, the Agency included as Appendix B a commissioned empirical study by Dr. Marc Rysman of Boston University.  While there’s a lot to say about Dr. Rysman’s analysis, because it just came out two days ago I want to take the time to make sure I fully understand Dr. Rysman’s technique and modeling choices before passing judgement.  That said, while I won’t provide a thorough analysis of Dr. Rysman’s econometric analysis in this blog, there are some glaring items that are Continue Reading »

Special Access and the FCC’s Regulatory Revival…

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There is a Chinese proverb, though some call it a curse, which says “May you live in interesting times.” For those involved in telecommunications policy over the last few decades, I think it’s safe to say we are now living in interesting times. Since before and certainly after the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the communications industry has undergone a competitive and deregulatory revolution. Twenty years ago the cross-entry of phone companies into video markets and video companies into phone markets was a running joke, but no longer. It’s a reality. Video regulation, which was a disaster even under monopoly conditions, has Continue Reading »

Tariffing the Internet: A Response to Harold Feld (Part Deux)…

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On October 2, 2014, Harold Feld of Public Knowledge defiantly declared that net neutrality was not about a “terminating service” provided by broadband providers to edge providers, but rather it’s about the regulation of retail broadband service.  His position on this matter was unequivocal and characteristically bumptious.  Harold’s blog was, in part, a response to my paper, Tariffing Internet Termination:  Pricing Implications of Classifying Broadband as a Title II Telecommunications Service, in which Larry Spiwak and I detailed why the termination market was the relevant market for net neutrality regulation (see Larry’s summary here).  Ignoring the plain text of the Continue Reading »

Will the Virtuous Circle be Unbroken?

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Regardless of whether the Federal Communications Commission ultimately reclassifies broadband termination as a Title II telecommunications service or not, the agency will likely justify its efforts to regulate broadband service based on its mandate in Section 706 to “encourage the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans” using “measures that promote competition [and] remove barriers to infrastructure investment.”  Indeed, at the center of the agency’s net neutrality argument is the theory of a “virtuous circle,” whereby innovation and investment at the edge of the network increases the demand for advanced telecommunications capability” and Continue Reading »

Mr. Wheeler Agrees: It’s The “Termination Market”…

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Last Friday, the Wall Street Journal provided a peek at Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s latest plan for net neutrality.  Under the reported plan, the Chairman intends to divide the two-sided broadband market into its components—a retail and a termination service—and then reclassify the termination service as a Title II common carrier telecommunications service but leave retail services as a mostly unregulated Title I information service. As the Journal’s article states, The plan now under consideration would separate broadband into two distinct services: a retail one, in which consumers would pay broadband providers for Internet access; and a back-end Continue Reading »

Title II Reclassification and the Price Regulation of Retail Broadband Services…

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Last month, Larry Spiwak and I published a paper entitled Tariffing the Internet: Pricing Implications of Classifying Broadband as a Title II Telecommunications Service in which we outlined how the reclassification of broadband as a Title II telecommunications service would work in practice. (See Larry’s Op-Ed for a condensed version.) Since net neutrality seems aimed at prohibiting “paid prioritization,” we concluded that reclassification must lead to a positively-priced and tariffed termination service. That is, edge providers will be required to pay broadband providers to terminate their traffic. Today, they do not. No one has yet to make any reasonable argument Continue Reading »

Tariffing the Internet: A Response to Harold Feld…

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Last month, Larry Spiwak and I released a paper entitled Tariffing the Internet: Pricing Implications of Classifying Broadband as a Title II Telecommunications Service. In this paper (and companion op-ed), we set out to answer a critical question—how exactly does reclassifying broadband as a Title II, common-carrier telecommunications service protect the Open Internet?  Despite the millions of comments filed in the FCC’s Open Internet Docket, this most basic question has yet to be asked much less answered.  If the Commission does reclassify, then the agency must design, implement and administer a particular set of rules that achieves the desired goal Continue Reading »

An Epiphany at Free Press on Reclassification?

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Yesterday, the Phoenix Center held a Teleforum to present our paper Tariffing the Internet: Pricing Implications of Classifying Broadband as a Title II Telecommunications Service and to discuss its implications with a series of experts. (We hope to post the video of the event on the Phoenix Center’s Phoenix Center’s YouTube Channel shortly.)  To summarize the paper, we show that if the Federal Communications Commission uses Title II common carrier telecommunications regulations to protect the “Open Internet,” then all edge providers (e.g., Google, Netflix, and your personal website) will be required to make direct payments to Broadband Service Providers (“BSPs” Continue Reading »