Category Archives: Federal Communications Commission

In Response to Criticisms of Phoenix Center Research on Net Neutrality…

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Quantifying the effect on economic outcomes of the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) regulations is vital for good policymaking.  Recently, the Commission initiated a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in which it is contemplating rolling back the Obama Administration’s controversial 2015 decision to reclassify broadband Internet access as a common carrier “telecommunications” service under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.  To aid the Agency with its review of its 2015 Open Internet Order, I  authored a number of empirical studies examining the effect of Net Neutrality regulation on investment, employment, and broadband speeds, including both original research and commentary on Continue Reading »

Economics Makes a Welcome Return in the Forthcoming BDS Order…

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As part of his efforts to increase transparency at the Federal Communications Commission, Chairman Ajit Pai recently posted a draft order in advance of this week’s April Open Meeting which purports largely to deregulate Business Data Services (“BDS”)—also known as Special Access services—in areas where incumbent providers face competition.  While Chairman Pai’s predecessor, Tom Wheeler, sought to substantially expand the regulation of BDS, his efforts were frustrated by a record (including his own outside peer review) that did not support his penchant for aggressive regulatory action.  Rather than fight economic theory and the available evidence, the Draft Order reveals that Continue Reading »

A Bit of Perspective on the Alleged Forthcoming Privacy Apocalypse…

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This week, Congress voted to strike down the Federal Communications Commission’s controversial 2016 Internet Privacy Rules under the Congressional Review Act.  As of this writing, President Trump is expected to sign the measure into law. Given the highly political nature of anything involving the word “privacy”, the usual net-roots crowd has been lighting up the internet with tails of the coming broadband privacy apocalypse by rogue Broadband Service Providers (“BSP”).  To calm things down a bit, perhaps some perspective is in order. First and foremost, as we have observed before, the common currency in the internet age for both “edge” Continue Reading »

Second Circuit Debunks FCC’s Set-Top Box Arguments

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Last February, the FCC launched yet another attempt to excise itself from (in the immortal words of former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell) the “Valley of Unattained Goals” of Section 629.  To justify its aggressive regulatory intervention, the Commission argued that (1) there is a separate market for set-top boxes over which MVPDs allegedly exercise market power; and, as such, (2) the rates consumers pay to rent set-top boxes, to put it colloquially, are “too damn high.” While such arguments make for great populist fodder, the problem is that the Commission’s foundational arguments underlying their set-top box proposal simply are not Continue Reading »

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 »

The Investment Effects of the FCC’s New Asymmetrical Privacy Regime…

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Last September, I participated in a conference sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation entitled “The Internet of Everything: Data, Networks and Opportunities.”  As part of my presentation, I discussed an essay I co-authored with Phoenix Center Chief Economist Dr. George Ford entitled Information, Investment and the Internet of Everything.  In this essay, George and I pointed out that as a consequence of the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) decision in March 2015 to reclassify broadband Internet access as a Title II common carrier “telecommunications” service in its controversial Open Internet Order, all Broadband Service Providers (“BSPs”)—whether wireline, cable or Continue Reading »

Tom Wheeler’s Recent Braggadocio…

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Last month, the Phoenix Center released a paper entitled Eroding the Rule of Law:  Regulation as Cooperative Bargaining at the FCC.  Our paper reveals how the FCC exploits its power to grant or deny regulatory relief in exchange for political concessions from the entities it regulates.  We describe such action as “issue bundling.”  As our paper explains, issue bundling occurs when the regulator and the regulated “make a deal” to combine a variety of unrelated issues in exchange for regulatory relief.  Needless to say, this rise in issue bundling raises troubling concerns about the nature of the modern regulatory state.  Among 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 »