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Recent Telecommunications Developments

New developments affecting the telecom industry fill newspapers and newsfeeds every day. At iCommLaw, we know that our clients need more than just the reporting of a new development. They need to know how a change in the industry affects them. Here is our take on some of the most recent initiatives:

Net Neutrality

The idea behind net neutrality is that all information should flow through the Internet equally. But this concept has been the subject of heated debate. Should heavy users be charged more for their use? Should Google and Yahoo pay more? Should carriers charge premiums for heavy use? Should the government step in to clarify issues and settle the score?

In April 2010, a federal appeals court rule that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lacked the authority to hold broadband providers to net neutrality. Comcast Corporation, one of the challengers to the FCC’s authority on this matter and America’s largest cable provider, prevailed in this decision.

The FCC had wanted to keep things as they are, while Comcast and other service providers, including ILECs, wanted to create a two-tiered information highway on the Internet with a fast and slow lane.

In response to this ruling, the FCC announced a plan in May 2010 to reclassify broadband Internet service from an information service to a telecommunications service. This reclassification would give the agency greater authority to implement portions of its National Broadband Plan and enforce net neutrality. It could also put the agency in a position to regulate rates charged to end users.

Two Congressmen issued a statement that they would hold meetings in June to examine how the Communications Act meets the needs of consumers, the telecom industry, and the FCC.

iCommLaw Response: Net neutrality is all about the degradation of QoS and the ability of certain providers to ensure that for their competitors. By having the ability to choke down the transmission speed, there will be winners and there will be losers in this bottleneck game.

Broadband Infrastructure Providers Stand to Gain Greater Rights of Way

The FCC has announced it will review federal rules regarding access to public rights of way and infrastructure as part of its national broadband plan. Such review is expected to revise the existing set of regulations, which allow substantially different rights of access and charges depending upon the type of carrier, e.g., wireless, cable, CLEC.

The FCC states that the government should take steps to improve utilization of existing infrastructure to ensure that network providers have easier access to poles, conduits, ducts, and rights of way. It also states the government should foster further infrastructure deployment by facilitating the placement of communications infrastructure on federally managed property. The idea behind these two actions is to improve the business case for deploying and upgrading broadband network infrastructure and facilitate competitive entry.

iCommLaw Response:

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