REPOSTED TO TOP OF BLOG from7/21/2005
Your 2008 President
Harold Feld’s Tales of the Sausage Factory: Telecom Act Rewrite This is another attempt to screw over the American consumer. It’s called the Broadband Investment and Consumer Choice Act. authored by Ensign and McCain in the US Senate. It just cropped up here and has no number yet.
First the good news (by one interpretation):
1) Network providers can’t keep subscribers from using competing voice over IP services;
2) Network providers can’t keep subscribers from reaching any lawful content or using any lawful application (sometimes called %u201Cnetwork neutrality%u201D). But there is an exception. A provider can put any limitation in its terms of service. So if your provider reserves the right in its terms of service to mess with your content without alerting you, too bad. Of course, you can always negotiate for a diferent service contract. . . .
3) Network providers have to let you attach any device you want to the network. So you can buy your own fax machine or use Tivo rather than cable’s equivalent service, rather than going back to the days when you could only rent equipment from Ma Bell or Cousin Cable (The %u201CCartephone%u201D principle).
4) Cable networks can’t lock up programming in exclusive contracts to keep rivals from offering competing video services (%u201Cprogram access%u201D and closes the %u201Cterrestrial loophole%u201D). So Comcast would have to let Verizon and others have access to its Philadelphia and New England Sports Network programming. This also applies to video on demand services.
5) Keeps basic “lifeline” service available.
Now the REAL BAD NEWS:
1) Eliminates any state or local control of quality of service or prices. (While cable prices were deregulated in 1996, some states still have telephone rate controls and local governments still set cable quality of service standards).
2) Eliminates any build out requirements or %u201Canti-redlining%u201D provisions. (Most local franchises require cable companies to build out to the entire franchise area, to ensure that %u201Cless profitable customers%u201D to use the industry euphamism for minorities and poor people generally, get service on the same terms as %u201Cprofitable customers.%u201D
3) Eliminates any private right of action against video or telephone providers. Your only recourse is the FCC complaint process, handled by the vestigial state or local authority.
4) Limits FCC authority to regulate anything but 911 and very limited quality of service provisions.
5) Eliminates any requirement for phone companies or cable companies to resell capacity to third parties %u2014 %u201Cbye bye ISPs!%u201D Of course, telephone companies are still free to voluntarily allow DSL resale by thrid parties, under terms that the phone companies will set.
6) Eliminates need to open up to competing long distance providers. (Be interesting to see what happens to pre-paid long distance cards and other resellers.)
7) Any interconnection between networks (e.g., my independent facilities based wireless ISP and some internet subscriber on another network) is now effectively deregulated and subject only to private negotiation. There is a general interconnection requirement, but parties are to negotiate their own terms, subject to a complaint process at the FCC. State or local authority preempted, as is any private right of action.
8) Removes any limits on how big cable networks can get, and eliminates the ability of independent video programmers to buy their way on to cable systems (%u201Cleased access%u201D).
And, my personal favorite:
9) PREEMPT LOCAL GOVERNMENTS FROM BUILDING COMPETING NETWORKS. The Act basically adopts the %u201CPennsylvania Plan.%u201D If a local or state government wants to build a network, it must issue a request for proposal (RFP) to see if any private company wants to build the network instead. Only if no private provider offers to build a %u201Ccomparable%u201D network can the state or local government build and operate the network. Any system in existence at the time of the act is grandfathered, but only if it does not expand its network or type of service offered. If you are on the wrong side of the street when the statute passes, too bad for you.
I find this last (Section 15 of the Act) particularly outrageous in light of the fact that more than ten states have explicitly considered and rejected proposals and limitations like this.
— From the Wet machine blog
thanks to W. Bunge via the Wet Machine