Tuesday, May 31, 2022

#FSFConf14: FCC Commissioner Carr Addresses Agency Coordination and Connecting Unserved Americans

The Free State Foundation's Fourteenth Annual Policy Conference – #FSFConf14 – took place on May 6 in Washington D.C. The conference's kickoff panel included current FCC Commissioners Brendan Carr and Nathan Simington, along with former FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. Among the communications law and policy topics discussed by the panelists was the implementation massive broadband subsidy programs such as the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program ("BEAD Program").

During the panel, Commissioner Carr had much to say regarding interagency coordination and oversight of BEAD and other broadband subsidy programs: 

We now have, for the first time that I am are of, significant federal resources and enough federal resources to actually eliminate the digital divide in this country. Now the hard part is over. The exceptionally difficult part is still to come, which is implementing those programs. And I remain very concerned that we do not have the right policy cuts and in place and the right coordination across agencies to effectively get those dollars into the ground connecting communities. 


From my count, if you look across the agencies that have been given federal dollars over last 18 months, money that could be used for broadband and that is eligible for broadband infrastructure, by my count, its over $800 billion… If you assume the number [we need to end the digital divide in this country] is $80 billion, we've got ten times that amount of money that's already been appropriated or budgeted for the agencies. And I'm very concerned that we’re going to flash forward a couple of years, the $800 billion dollars is going to be gone and we’re still going to have a significant portion of the digital divide that we didn’t close.

Commissioner Carr related to the audience at #FSFConf14 that he sent letters to several federal agencies asking them how they are going to distribute funds, what maps they are going to use, and whether they are fully coordinated. He added that: "[h]alf never responded" and "[A]nswers that did come didn't give comfort.


Apart from the interagency coordination challenge, Commissioner Carr also offered his On the policy perspective in administering BEAD and other federal subsidy programs for broadband:

We have to prioritize the unserved. These are communities that have zero megabits per second over zero megabits per second. There are still too many of them in this country. And I understand the desire to get everybody to megabit speeds. I understand the desire to get multiple choices for your broadband dollars. But we have to elevate and prioritize those communities that are truly on wrong side of digital divide. … I don’t think we’re doing that across a lot of measures, in part because we’re defining lack of service as potentially places that have almost 80 over 20 and we’re treating them the same for a prioritization mechanism as zero over zero. That makes no sense, in my mind. 

For more from Commissioner Carr as well as from Commissioner Nathan Simington and former Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, check out the video for #FSFConf14. Views expressed by Commissioner Clyburn during the panel regarding the broadband subsidy programs and agency sharing of information are quoted in a May 27 blog post. 


Free State Foundation scholars also have weighed in on important implementation issues for BEAD and other broadband subsidy programs. See FSF Senior Fellow Andrew Long's May 24 Perspectives from FSF Scholars, "Future Guidance Can Fix NTIA’s Flawed 'Fiber-First' Approach" and my May 26 Perspectives, "NTIA's Broadband Subsidies Must Respect State Law Limits on Government-Owned Networks." Also, in a May 13 Media Advisory, I emphasized the importance of NTIA and the states prioritizing broadband deployment to truly unserved Americans and not subsidizing overbuilds or open access network management models that won't help connect anyone.  


(*Note: The #FSFConf14 quotes contained in this blog are based on an unofficial, edited transcription made by the author of this blog. The edits were made for purposes of readability but none of the meaning was changed in doing so.)

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Memorial Day 2022

This is my sixteenth consecutive Memorial Day message. You can find the previous fifteen at the end of this one.

This year I am reproducing below virtually verbatim what I said last year. In rereading last year’s message, I find that what I said then is what I want to say now too. There are only so many ways to talk about sacrifices that should never be forgotten and to honor ideals that we should always cherish and seek to preserve. So please read on, and best wishes to you and your family for a safe and meaningful Memorial Day.

 *    *     *     *     *

While this year's message will be more personal than many others, Memorial Day, above all, is always about memory. About taking time to remember those men and women in our Armed Forces who paid the ultimate price defending our country and protecting our freedom.

My father, Aaron May, served in the 68th Armored Infantry Battalion of the famed 14th Armored Division that landed in Marseilles, France on October 29, 1944. The troops first saw combat on November 20, 1944. After 167 days of combat, the Division fired its last shots on May 2, 1945.

On May 2-3, 1944, after already liberating thousands of Allied prisoners of war as the Division's troops battled eastward from France and into Germany, they liberated some of the subcamps at the large Dachau Concentration Camp complex as well as other nearby camps holding Jewish prisoners. It was a full 40 years later before my father talked about what he saw, smelled, and heard at Dachau – about the unimaginably emaciated survivors who were little more than skeletons, about the unforgettable pervasive stench of death, and about the cries of desperation for help and of joy at the prospect of liberation.

It’s no wonder that the 14th Armored Division quickly earned the unofficial nickname “The Liberators.” More than a half-century later, on October 22, 2002, the Secretary of the Army awarded the Division what is called a "Distinctive Designation" in recognition of its unique accomplishments. From that date on, the Division will forever be carried on the rolls of the Army as the "LIBERATORS."

My father made it home and was discharged in December 1945. Memorial Day is about remembering all those who did not.

And we’ll dishonor their sacrifice if we don’t recognize that we can continue, as the Founders put it in the Constitution’s Preamble, to seek “a more perfect Union,” without using the faults of our past, including the stain of slavery, as weapons primarily intended as wedges to divide us. Or as swords intended to diminish the force of the fundamental principles upon which America was founded – again, as the Constitution's Preamble has it, to "establish Justice" and "to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."   

My father and I talked often about politics. Having fought against Nazi tyranny and witnessed first-hand Nazi death camps, he was always fearful of extremes in American politics. I’m not sure whether he was familiar with Ben Franklin’s famous (but perhaps apocryphal) retort when asked by Elizabeth Powel what the Constitutional Convention had bequeathed America: "A republic, if you can keep it." But I know, based on his wartime experience and his gut instincts, that, indeed, he worried whether we could keep it.

During our discussions, my father often – too often I sometimes thought as a young man – said that, in America, our politics must not veer too far from the Center, that they must not lurch to the extremes.

From my own Center-Right perspective, I am no longer as certain as I have been throughout most of my adult life that the Center – and by that, I mean the Center-Right and the Center-Left – can hold. In my view, the mainstream media contributes, wittingly or not, to our dysfunctional politics by not calling out far-left extremism in the same way that it dwells on the far-right. Both are problematic.

Moreover, the metastasizing Cancel Culture, which has the effect of shrinking the public space in which matters of legitimate public concern ought to be debated, only serves to deepen our political and philosophical divisions, especially in light of the leftward bias exhibited by the dominant social media platforms in the exercise of their "cancellation" discretion.

In his most recent Wall Street Journal column, Daniel Henninger wrote this: "America's current waves of violence – right-wing militias, left-wing anarchists, street protesters, urban gangs, anti-Semitic assaults and solo nut cases – are pushing the country to a dangerous level of disorder."

Were he still living, my father would be fearful for our country's future.

In his Farewell Address, Ronald Reagan declared: "If we forget what we did, we won't know who we are. I am warning of an eradication of that – of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit."

On this Memorial Day, and every Memorial Day, we should honor all those servicemen and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in World War II, and in all of America's wars, by remembering. And by recommitting to the ideals for which they fought, and which are embodied in our Constitution: To “establish Justice” and “to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” If we don't, and there is an erosion of the uniquely American spirit, they shall have died in vain.

I wish you and your family the best for a safe, healthy, happy, and meaningful Memorial Day!

PS – My past Memorial Day messages are here: 2021 2020 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007.



Friday, May 27, 2022

#FSFConf14: Agency Sharing of Information is Essential for Broadband Program Success

The Free State Foundation's Fourteenth Annual Policy Conference  #FSFConf14 – was held on May 6 in Washington D.C. The first conference panel featured current FCC Commissioners Brendan Carr and Nathan Simington as well as former FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. Among several topics discussed was monumental challenge facing NTIA as well as other federal and state agencies, in coordinating on the implementation massive broadband subsidy programs such as the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program ("BEAD Program").

During the panel's conversation, Former Commissioner Clyburn emphasized "sharing of information" as being essential for implementing subsidy programs for expanding broadband Internet to unserved and underserved areas, promoting adoption, and other broadband-related purposes. She emphasized the need for the agencies to ensure that efficiencies are being realized: "One way we realize that is information being shared in a workable sort of clearinghouse manner, where all of it is on the table... That helps deployment, that helps with efficiency, that helps with ensuring that these programs are as waste fraud and abuse free as possible."

A few days after #FSFConf14, several federal agencies jointly announced the May 9 signing of a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") in order to "collaborate around the collection and reporting of certain data and metrics broadband derived from programs administered by the FCC, the programs administered by the Rural Utilities Services of the USDA, the programs administered by or coordinated through NTIA, and the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund (CFP) and the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) administered by Treasury (Covered Data)."


Hopefully, NTIA and other agencies that are parties to the MOU will have a fruitful exchange of information to ensure that their respective broadband subsidy programs are effectively implemented to expand broadband access to unserved Americans and achieve other program goals. 


At #FSFConf14, former Commissioner Clyburn also offered insights on the beneficial uses of information sharing: "[t]he sharing of intelligence will make it easier to reduce intentional fraud and abuse." Also, "[u]sing and incorporating analytical tools will help mitigate risk and hold wrongdoers accountable" as well as for "[i]dentifying and excluding companies that have applied for multiple loans, or have applications other than in the same name, or are using the same IP address, and checking the banking history." From the beginning, as we are getting firmer grounding from all of these agencies, including the FCC, all of those things need to be in place and in front of mind. Everyone wants this to work."


(*Note: The #FSFConf14 quotes contained in this blog are based on an unofficial, edited transcription made by the author of this blog. The edits were made for purposes of readability but none of the meaning was changed in doing so.)

Thursday, May 26, 2022

#FSFConf14 Speakers on Need for Federal Privacy Law

At the Free State Foundation's recent Fourteenth Annual Policy Conference, FTC Commissioners Christine Wilson and Noah Phillips voiced their support for a federal data privacy regime. And on May 23, 2022, another speaker at #FSFConf14, USTelecom President & CEO Jonathan Spalter, authored a blog post urging the Biden Administration and Congress to work together "on this essential national priority."

In the meantime, Connecticut has compounded the confusion and chaos wrought by multiple, inconsistent state-level comprehensive data privacy statutes. On May 10, 2022, Governor Ned Lamont signed into law "An Act Concerning Personal Data Privacy and Online Monitoring." Connecticut is the fifth state to date – following California (twice), Virginia, Colorado, and Utah – to fill the federal void.

Nevertheless – and forgive me if I sound like a broken record – recent reporting suggests that federal lawmakers may be making progress behind the scenes toward a workable consensus on data privacy.

During #FSFConf14's "The View from the FTC," a Fireside Chat hosted by Maureen Ohlhausen, former FTC Acting Chairman and Commissioner (a video of which is available here), Commissioner Wilson echoed that optimistic sentiment (direct link here). Describing herself as one who "tend[s] to be a Pollyanna," she stated that "I'm actually hopeful, more hopeful than I have been, because I hear there's a concerted push to get federal privacy legislation across the finish line soon."

Commissioner Wilson also reiterated her position that federal privacy legislation is necessary:

I have been advocating for federal privacy legislation almost from the day that I was sworn in as a Commissioner. And I do think it's important, I think there is a market failure that needs to be addressed. I think consumers have very little understanding of the data that's collected from them and how that data is collected, used, and sold.

I also think that businesses need guardrails, they need to understand the rules of the road. And right now we have states with conflicting opinions about what those guardrails should be, and we have a developing international regime also with conflicting ideas. And so, businesses need clarity and certainty in order to know how to comply with the law, but also to invest and to grow. 

Responding to a related query regarding what the FTC can do in the interim to "to fill the gap," Commissioner Wilson noted the agency's authority under Section 5 of the FTC Act to address "unfair and deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce" and subject-matter-specific jurisdiction pursuant to other statutes, such as the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). She also highlighted a "body of consents that provide very good rules of the road."

Later in the Fireside Chat (direct link here), Commissioner Phillips, responding to a question from an audience member regarding smartphone apps, acknowledged the existence, with respect to personal data, of an "information asymmetry" – a concept familiar to those who attended Commissioner Wilson's keynote address during FSF's Twelfth Annual Policy Conference in 2020.

Given that "[c]onsumers may not understand fully what they're engaging in," Commissioner Phillips indicated his support for a "nutrition label" solution:

[O]ne of the things I've always felt would be very useful is to look more carefully at things like labels. And understand, you know, what are ways that we can get good information out to people? We do this in a lot of other areas, right?
And you think about food, right? It's maybe not efficient for me every day to, you know, if I'm at the grocery store, examine each label. But if I care, and if I want to, and the cost to you, the producer of Honey Nut Cheerios, is fairly low, that can be a really beneficial rule. A rule that is good for competition. A rule that allows consumers to shop across products, including for those features. 
So let's take what are you doing with your data, right? And Apple has a version of this, in iOS 14, they have these "nutrition labels," they call them. But it's a way of taking complex subject matter and boiling it down in terms that allow people to sort of shop across products and compare. And perhaps even to create markets around features where markets may not naturally arise.

Relatedly, USTelecom's Mr. Spalter, who participated in Free State Foundation President Randolph May's #FSFConf14 "The 'Hottest Topics' in Communications and Internet Policy" Fireside Chat (a video of which is available here), earlier this week published a blog post titled "Global Privacy Leadership Begins Here at Home."

After acknowledging the Biden Administration's "efforts toward harmonizing strong consumer privacy protections around the world" via the Global Cross-Border Privacy Rules Declaration, Mr. Spalter made the salient point that "for the U.S. to truly lead this worldwide endeavor, our nation must first lead by example here at home."

He therefore "urge[d] the Administration and Congress to work together, with a sense of urgency and purpose, to [adopt national privacy legislation] in the current legislative session." Specifically, a bill that "deliver[s] consistent online privacy protections that apply uniformly across the country and to all companies in the internet ecosystem."

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Starlink Hits 400k Subscribers, Introduces Portable Dishes

Starlink recently stated to the FCC that it has 400,000 global customers, nearly tripling from the 145,000 customers it had when I last blogged about Starlink in January. This figure includes subscribers across 36 countries, and while Starlink does not specify its US-based subscribership, its broadband service is currently available in 48 states.

Starlink also recently introduced a "portability" feature. For an extra $25 per month, Starlink subscribers can bring and use their satellite dish wherever they want. Portability should be useful for activities like camping, road trips, and generally improving Internet access in rural areas and other hard-to-serve terrains.

Image Copyright: Jud McCraine. Reshared without alterations.

Portability could increase broadband competition on the basis of product quality because it makes Starlink a hybrid between fixed and mobile offerings. The feature could differentiate Starlink from fixed broadband offerings by adding dual fixed-or-mobile capability to a single subscription. And the feature could also differentiate Starlink from existing mobile offerings by enabling mobility without the need to stay in range of wireless infrastructure.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

More Indicators of a Bright Future for Fixed Wireless Access Services

My April 25 Perspectives from FSF Scholars, "Fixed Wireless Access is Boosting Rural Broadband and Consumer Choice" highlighted the potential for 5G-enabled fixed wireless access (FWA) services to fast and affordable bring broadband connectivity to several million Americans in rural and small markets within the next few years. The Perspectives observed strong first quarter 2022 FWA subscriber additions for Verizon as confirming evidence of that potential. And my April 30 blog post spotlighted strong quarterly results in FWA service subscriber additions for T-Mobile.

And there are other news items regarding 5G-enabled FWA's outlook. According to one report, at the end of the first quarter of 2022, Verizon and T-Mobile combined have over 1.4 million subscribers to their FWA services. Moreover, on April 28, Telecompetitor reported that UScellular's Home Internet+ fixed wireless is now offered in 10 markets. It is reported that UScellular has an average of 400 MHz of spectrum in those markets. Plus, UScellular has plans to expand to "dozens" of new markets in 2022. Additionally, the Chairman of DISH Network reportedly stated that there is potential for DISH to make competitive entry in the FWA services market to reach rural America. 

For more on FWA services as an important technology platform for helping to close the digital divide and connect all Americans, check out my Perspectives.   

Monday, May 16, 2022

Broadband Funding Agencies Ink Data-Coordination MOU

On May 11, 2022, all four federal agencies responsible for distributing hundreds of billions in broadband infrastructure subsidies announced that they had agreed "to share information about and collaborate regarding the collection and reporting of certain data and metrics relating to broadband deployment."

Pursuant to their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), and consistent with arguments I made in a recent Perspectives from FSF Scholars, the FCC, NTIA, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Treasury will work together to leverage the FCC's soon-to-be-released broadband service availability maps (among other resources) to disseminate and display publicly "information about projects that have received or will receive funding from" the various programs that they administer.

As I explained in "Overlapping Broadband Appropriations Demand Agency Coordination: New FCC Maps Can Track Grants, Avert Waste," a March 2022 Perspectives, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 directed NTIA, the FCC, and Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service to "share information with each other about existing or planned projects that have received or will receive funds under the programs" for which those three agencies are responsible. That statutory requirement led to the release of an interagency agreement on June 25, 2021.

Notably, however, Treasury, which was tasked by the American Recovery Plan Act to oversee the $350 billion State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds as well as the $10 billion Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund, was not a party to that agreement.

The MOU released on May 12, 2022, which supplements rather than supplants the prior three-party agreement, addresses that concern by bringing Treasury into the fold.

Given the vast amount of money at stake in these overlapping programs designed to connect those Americans still unserved, effective coordination is essential to avoid redundant grants, overbuilds, and waste, fraud, and abuse. The transparency and enhanced oversight made possible by this latest interagency pact hopefully will ensure that such coordination indeed does take place.

Friday, May 13, 2022

MEDIA ADVISORY: NTIA Releases Notice of Funding Opportunity for the BEAD Program

The following statement may be attributed to Free State Foundation Director of Policy Studies & Senior Fellow Seth Cooper:

On May 13, NTIA released its anticipated Notice of Funding Opportunity as part of the agency's implementation of the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program ("BEAD Program"). NTIA deserves credit for getting the ball rolling on the BEAD Program. We hope that NTIA and states that participate in the program will be successful in timely, accurately, and efficiently funding the construction of broadband Internet networks that will finally reach Americans who are truly unserved by broadband services.  


At the same time, certain aspects of NTIA's Notice raise some concerns. Although the Notice does indicate that Eligible Entities shall prioritize unserved locations when scoring and awarding funding for last-mile deployment projects, much of the Notice gives the appearance of putting unserved and underserved locations on equal footing. The BEAD Program will fail in its essential purpose if Americans are still left unserved by broadband services after the $42.5 billion allocated for the program is spent. Going forward, it will be important for NTIA to emphasize that unserved locations are to be given first priority for receiving grant awards for broadband deployment. And states awarding grants should be responsible for ensuring that every last unserved location within their jurisdiction gets connected to broadband. Otherwise, BEAD Program dollars may end up going to so-called "underserved" locations wherein most Americans already have access to broadband Internet services with 80 Mbps download speeds. 


And while it is good that NTIA's Notice does not impose "open access" or "net neutrality" regulatory conditions on the awarding of funds by states under the BEAD Program, the Notice includes a misguided recommendation that states ought to favor open access wholesale last-mile broadband services in setting their criteria for awarding grants. Open access requirements do not and would not help unserved Americans gain access to broadband. It is essential that states keep focused on connecting the truly unserved and not bog down the process or the program's ultimate success by pursuing open access requirements. 

Dropping Consumer Broadband Prices Indicate Lack of Market Power

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for April 2022 shows fixed and mobile broadband prices dropping, after accounting for our nation's staggering inflation rate. Despite the aggregate CPI having a 40-year-high 8.3% annualized inflation rate, mobile broadband prices have decreased by .7% and fixed broadband prices have only increased by 1.7% over the same period. So both are decreasing on "real" (inflation adjusted) terms.

In fact, importantly, wireless broadband prices are dropping even without taking to account inflation. These price changes amount to a 6.6% and 9.0% annualized price cut for fixed and mobile broadband, respectively, providing convincing evidence rebutting assertions that broadband providers have significant market power. As the chart below displays, fixed and wireless broadband annualized prices changes are among the smallest on the CPI.

Note: The CPI refers to fixed broadband as "Internet Service" and mobile broadband as "Wireless Telephone Service"

Price cuts indicate that broadband providers cannot charge higher prices without risking significant competitive backlash. The plunge in real broadband prices is consistent with the view Free State Foundation Director of Policy Studies Seth Cooper and I advanced in our January 2022 Perspectives from FSF Scholars that "overall competitive conditions in the broadband . . . market and across service sectors within the market remained equally strong or even improved." The evidence for robust broadband competition has only strengthened since publication of our Perspectives, with further substantial subscriber growth for innovative, low-price fixed wireless subscriptions and cable MVNO offerings

Real broadband price decreases are also consistent with the benefits of infrastructure reforms implemented by the FCC over the past 5 years that removed substantial deployment barriers, such as the 2018 “Small Cell Order” and 2017 “IP Transition Order.” Removal of those barriers, combined with increasing competition, may have created an environment where provider cost reductions from infrastructure reforms are being returned to the consumer, at least in part, through real price cuts.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

ISPs Drop Case Against California's Net Neutrality Law

On May 4, broadband ISPs challenging California's net neutrality law decided against taking further legal action in ACA Connects v. Bonta. Dismissal of the case followed the Ninth Circuit's denial of the ISPs' petition for rehearing en banc. Free State Foundation scholars supported the legal position of the ISPs that the FCC's 2017 Restoring Internet Freedom Order (RIF Order) preempts California's net neutrality law. And though that case is over in the Ninth Circuit, the Second Circuit may soon reach a different conclusion about the preemptive force of the RIF Order, creating a circuit split ripe for Supreme Court review.

In ACA Connects v. Bonta, a Ninth Circuit panel held that, as a result of the FCC's decision to classify broadband Internet access service as an "information service," the agency did not decline to exercise its authority to regulate broadband; instead, the agency lacked authority to regulate broadband. In other words, Ninth Circuit determined that the Restoring Internet Freedom Order resulted in a withdrawal of FCC jurisdiction over broadband Internet access services. And the court held that because the FCC lacks jurisdiction over broadband, it can't preempt state laws. The full Ninth Circuit declined to review this decision en banc and the ISPs will not ask for Supreme Court review.

But the end of the ACA Connects litigation over California's net neutrality law does not definitively resolve the issue about the preemptive effect of the RIF Order. The Ninth Circuit's interpretation of the law is at odds with the June 2021 decision by the U.S. District Court in New York Telecommunications Association v. James. That case involves a legal challenge to New York's broadband price control law. The District Court in James determined that the New York law was preempted by the RIF Order. It recognized that the FCC has some, though limited, regulatory jurisdiction over information services under Title I of the Communications Act and can thus preempt state law on that ground. Free State Foundation Director of Policy Studies Seth Cooper explained and endorsed the District Court's reasoning in a June 2021 Perspectives from FSF Scholars.

The District Court's decision in James is now on appeal and the same preemption issue involving the Restoring Internet Freedom Order is pending before the Second Circuit. A prospective decision by the Second Circuit that recognizes the preemptive force of the RIF Order could create a circuit split with the Ninth Circuit.

Indeed, Free State Foundation President Randolph May believes the ISPs' termination of the ACA Connects litigation may be a strategic decision to prioritize the Second Circuit case. As quoted in the May 6 edition of Communications Daily:

ISPs might "think they have much better odds" in the 2nd Circuit case, emailed Free State Foundation President Randolph May. "The ISPs prevailed in the trial court on their claim that the New York law is preempted by the FCC's deregulatory policy established in the Restoring Internet Freedom Order," and have a good chance to win on appeal, he said. The New York law clearly involves setting rates, which "makes it an even easier preemption case for a court to understand than one" about net neutrality, said May: The possible circuit split would increase the odds of Supreme Court review. The continued litigation "highlights why it would be preferable for Congress finally to adopt a law setting forth an appropriate framework for broadband regulation," he added.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

All Videos Released from FSF's Fourteenth Annual Policy Conference

All the Videos of #FSFConf14 Are Released!


Welcome and Introduction by Randolph MayPresident, The Free State Foundation, and a Fireside Chat – The View from the FCC


Moderator: Seth Cooper, Director of Policy Studies and Senior Fellow, The Free State Foundation




Brendan Carr – Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission; Nathan Simington – Commissioner, Federal Communications CommissionMignon Clyburn – Former Commissioner and Acting Chairwoman, Federal Communications Commission

Fireside Chat – The "Hottest Topics" in Communications and Internet Policy


Moderator: Randolph May, President, The Free State Foundation 




Meredith Baker – President and CEO, CTIA – The Wireless Association; Chris Lewis  President and CEO, Public Knowledge; Michael Powell – President and CEO, NCTA - The Internet & Television Association; Jonathan Spalter – President and CEO, USTelecom – The Broadband Association

FSF's video of the "Hottest Topics" panel can be found here.


Keynote Address by Russell HanserDirector, Communications Policy Initiatives, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Introduction by Bryan Tramont, Managing Partner, Wilkinson, Barker, Knauer, LLP, with Reactions by Robert BransonPresident and CEO, Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council


FSF's video of Mr. Hanser's keynote can be found here.

Fireside Chat – The View from the FTC


ModeratorMaureen Ohlhausen – Former Acting Chairman and Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission




Christine Wilson – Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission, and Noah Phillips – Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission

FSF's video of the "View from the FTC" panel can be found here.

Monday, May 09, 2022

Video of FSF's 14th Annual Conference for Industry Panel Now Available!

The Free State Foundation's 14th Annual Conference (#FSFConf14) was held on May 6, in Washington D.C. In the days ahead, FSF scholars will have much more to say in recapping and responding to all of the fantastic insights into communications and competition policy offered by our conference participants. We are pleased that C-SPAN covered the conference. A video of the industry panel discussing hot topics in communications policy, moderated by Free State Foundation President Randolph May is now available on C-SPAN's website. The all-star panel features CTIA's Meredith Baker Attwell, NCTA's Michael Powell, Public Knowledge's Christopher Lewis, and USTelecom's Jonathan Spalter. Follow the link and check it out!

And thank you to C-SPAN!

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Spectrum Innovation Act Would Make More Mid-Band Spectrum Available for 5G Wireless

On April 28, Reps. Michael Doyle and Bob Latta introduced the Spectrum Innovation Act of 2022 – H.R. 7624. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Ben Ray Lujan and John Thune. This important legislation would require more spectrum to be reallocated for commercial and other private uses and help meet growing user demands. 

If passed by Congress, the legislation would require 200 MHz in additional spectrum in the lower 3 GHz band to be reallocated and auctioned by the FCC for non-federal use or for shared use between federal and non-federal users. Also, the legislation also would allocate $50 million for federal agency planning for the reallocation and use of the spectrum. Under the bill, spectrum auction proceeds would cover 100% of federal reallocation or sharing costs. 

The Spectrum Innovation Act of 2022 is welcome legislation and it deserves a timely hearing in Congress. The bill focuses on valuable spectrum in the 3.1-3.45 GHz range. That is prime mid-band spectrum that can be used for next-generation 5G wireless services. As mentioned in my blog post from January of this year, the FCC auctioned 100 MHz of spectrum for shared federal and non-federal use in the 3.45-3.55 GHz band. The Spectrum Innovation Act would build on what was accomplished in that auction. Spectrum takes a long time to prepare for reallocation. The sooner Congress can pass this legislation the better. 


My February 2021 Perspectives from FSF Scholars, "Fast Action on the Lower 3 GHz Band Will Secure America's Future," made the case for repurposing 3.1-3.45 GHz for commercial and wireless services. That case remains just as strong today.  

Monday, May 02, 2022

Cable Continues to Gain Traction in the Mobile Wireless Market

Cable broadband operators have proved again that they are a potent source of competition in the mobile wireless market. During the first quarter 2022, Charter gained 373,000 net subscribers to its Spectrum Wireless service. This raised Charter's wireless subscriber base to 3.9 million as of the end of the first quarter, a 47.2% increase compared to a year earlier. Meanwhile, Comcast gained 318,000 subscribers to its Xfinity Mobile service. At quarter's end, Comcast's wireless subscribers had risen to almost 4.3 million. And Altice added 12,000 subscribers to its Optimum Mobile wireless service during the first quarter, reaching a total 198,000 subscribers.

Free State Foundation Legal Fellow Andrew Maglouglin and I called attention to the quick rise of cable mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and their benefits to wireless consumers in our Perspectives from FSF Scholars, "The Broadband Internet Services Market in January 2022: 5G, Cable, Fixed Wireless, Wi-Fi 6, and Fiber Are Benefitting Consumers." The impressive first quarter 2022 results reported by cable MVNOs indicate that consumers are continuing to take interest in these innovative choices for wireless services. 


Aside from positive subscriber addition numbers for early 2022, the competitive outlook for cable MVNOs is strong because of their ability to leverage their existing cable and wi-fi network infrastructure to offload mobile wireless traffic. It is reported that about 85% of Spectrum Mobile subscribers' mobile usage goes through Charter's Wi-Fi network. And Charter's joint venture with Comcast to offload traffic using CBRS spectrum reportedly is in early trial stages. Expect to hear more about cable's growing stature in the mobile wireless market. 

Sunday, May 01, 2022

Less Than One Week Away! Carr, Simington and Clyburn Lead Off #FSFConf14 on May 6! Register Now!









WHAT:  FSF's Fourteenth Annual Policy Conference


WHERE:  National Press Club, Washington, DC


WHEN:  May 6, 2022 – 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM


The Free State Foundation's Fourteenth Annual Policy Conference is on Friday, May 6, 2022, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. This annual conference is widely acknowledged to be one of the nation's premier law and policy events.


The usual guarantee applies: A truly outstanding lineup of senior officials and prominent experts from the FCC, other government agencies, industry, and think tanks will discuss and debate the most important law and policy issues of the day. These issues include the most appropriate broadband deployment and adoption measures, universal service subsidy reform, Internet freedom and net neutrality regulations, the 5G rollout and spectrum management challenges, the changing video services market and regulatory environment, protecting competition, consumer protection, and free speech in the digital world, and more.


Confirmed speakers include:

  • Meredith Baker – President and CEO, CTIA
  • Robert Branson, President and CEO, MMTC
  • Brendan Carr – Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission 
  • Mignon Clyburn - Former Commissioner and Acting Chairwoman, Federal Communications Commission
  • Russell Hanser - Director, Communications Policy Initiatives, NTIA
  • Chris Lewis - President and CEO, Public Knowledge
  • Maureen Ohlhausen – Former Acting Chairman and Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission
  • Noah Phillips – Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission
  • Michael Powell – President and CEO, NCTA
  • Nathan Simington – Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission 
  • Jonathan Spalter – President and CEO, USTelecom
  • Bryan Tramont - Managing Partner, Wilkinson Barker Knauer 
  • Christine Wilson – Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission








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