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Turning Down The Heat On Net Neutrality: A View From Our Northern Neighbor 0

Turning Down The Heat On Net Neutrality: A View From Our Northern Neighbor

Who would have predicted that net neutrality would instigate such a heated public debate? From activists invading the personal home of the FCC Chairman, to bots flooding the FCC’s comments system, to a day of action organized by Internet conglomerates, the debate over net neutrality is more acrimonious than ever. An outsider’s dispassionate outlook might help cooler heads prevail.

To turn down the heat, we would be wise to consider the regulatory perspective of our northern neighbor. In what follows, I outline three lessons from the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in its efforts to govern the Internet. Banning differential pricing has perverse consequences.

This past April, the CRTC announced that zero-rating, the practice of exempting particular content or applications from an Internet user’s data allowance, was illegal. According to the agency, zero-rating conferred an unreasonable disadvantage on non-exempt content, and violated the principle that all Internet content should be treated agnostically. However, the CRTC found itself in a pickle as a result of the decision.

Worried about the influx of Netflix and Hulu into Canada, and inspired by remarks 1 by AEI’s Roslyn Layton, industry players petitioned the CRTC to make an exception for services that promoted Canadian programming. Allowing zero-rating for Canadian content would protect companies from Internet-based competition and further the CRTC’s cultural mandate. But such an exemption would also undermine net neutrality’s premise—that broadband providers are dumb pipes, barred from exercising editorial discretion over network content.

Thus, the CRTC remained categorical and rejected calls to immunize Canadian content from the zero-rating decision. Granted, Americans are unlikely to feel strongly about Canadian cultural protection, and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai quashed an inquiry into the legality of zero-rating. Nevertheless, it is easy to imagine similar perverse consequences resulting from the Title II order’s parallel ban on paid-prioritization, which prohibits agreements for faster transmission of content.

Under the ban, it would be illegal for a broadband provider to expedite traffic to a low-income children’s literacy site; prioritize an employment resource for disadvantaged minorities; or allow an abused women’s telehealth service to bypass movie-streaming congestion. Canadian content purveyors are not the sole losers due to a hardline net neutrality approach. Bright-line rules for Internet traffic foreclose opportunities for underprivileged communities and perpetuate the digital divide.

It is okay to admit that the silos of yesteryear are inappropriate for the Internet age. Despite convergence in communications industries, US law maintains anachronistic categories of regulation, with separate regimes for broadcast, telephone, and cable. Different rules apply depending on mode of transmission, creating artificial winners and losers in the same industry.

The Canadian regime invokes similar outdated categories. Broadcasters are subject to unique rules, involving Canadian content quotas, subscriber disclosure, and mandatory fund contributions. With competitors like Netflix and Google penetrating Canada, broadcasters complained that the CRTC’s broadcast-specific rules created unfair disadvantages for Canadian media.

In determining how to cope with the flood of Internet video, the CRTC considered subjecting Netflix and Google to the same obligations as entities regulated under the Broadcasting Act. However, the agency recognized that it was institutionally ill-suited to craft ex ante rules for such a dynamic video marketplace. In a brave act of regulatory humility, it not only declined to regulate Netflix and Google under the Broadcasting Act, but also eased existing regulatory burdens 2 for broadcasters.

The FCC would be prudent to follow Canada’s example and reject anachronistic telephone monopoly rules for the dynamic Internet. In addition to significantly reducing 3 broadband investment, Title II stymies the ability of broadband providers to compete with edge providers like Google, Amazon, and Facebook, who are not subject to the same burdens, despite being arguably more powerful Internet gatekeepers. The FCC should rely on forbearance at its peril.

The FCC partially admitted the inappropriateness of applying telephone monopoly rules to broadband when it forbore from applying vast sections of Title II. One of the sections which it declined to apply to broadband was § 251, which requires incumbent local telephone companies to share their facilities with competitors on a wholesale basis. To predict what would happen if a future FCC were to reverse the decision to forbear from § 251’s “unbundling” requirements, one need only look to the CRTC’s mandatory wholesale access regime, which was expanded to include high-speed fiber-to-the-home networks in 2015.

That decision gave a windfall to broadband resellers who made no investment in the underlying infrastructure and will decrease investment in the networks by hundreds of millions of dollars 4 . To the extent that the FCC wants to promote broadband investment—particularly for rural communities—it should learn from Canada’s experience and foreclose the possibility of a future FCC reversing unbundling forbearance. —- Canada’s approach to the new communications marketplace teaches us to steer clear of bright-line rules and regulatory relics. The cost of restricting innovation is too high.

The Internet arose in a light-touch environment and regulators should stay “cool” under the pressure to subject it to government’s heavy hand. Arielle Roth is a Legal Fellow with the Hudson Institute’s Center for the Economics of the Internet. She is originally from Montreal, Canada.

References ^ remarks (www.theglobeandmail.com) ^ eased existing regulatory burdens (www.theglobeandmail.com) ^ significantly reducing (haljsinger.wordpress.com) ^ hundreds of millions of dollars (www.ic.gc.ca)

i3 Broadband Expands Residential and Business Fiber Optic Network in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois 0

i3 Broadband Expands Residential and Business Fiber Optic Network in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois

CHAMPAIGN i3 Broadband, a neighborhood provider of fiber optic Internet, today announced it will start construction in multiple neighborhoods to continue its multi year, multi million dollar investment in extending the fiber network throughout Champaign Urbana, Illinois. i3 Broadband offers ultra high speed Internet, HD TV and voice services that deliver an unmatched combination of reliability, responsiveness and value. “We are extremely excited to provide residents and businesses of Champaign-Urbana with access to the latest fiber optic technology and services that typically are reserved for much larger communities,” said Grier Raclin, president and chief executive officer of i3 Broadband. “Our Gigabit service vastly surpasses other providers’ services. Whether you have one or many devices, i3 Broadband can serve all your needs and provide the convenience and enjoyment of a reliable and simply superior Internet experience.” Unlike phone DSL or traditional cable company services, i3 Broadband’s fiber-to-the-home network allows data to travel much faster to and from users, is more reliable and has a better signal strength.

To support its fiber network expansion, i3 Broadband plans to hire local technicians and other positions later this year. i3 Broadband is the new local commercial partner working with the UC2B not-for-profit board to extend true fiber connectivity to homes and businesses. This network expansion extends the initial UC2B fiber backbone buildout in 2010-2013 that was supported by $26 million in federal and state grants, and in-kind contributions from the cities of Champaign and Urbana, and the University of Illinois.

i3 Broadband continues its active relationship with UC2B to plan neighborhood buildouts and support a community benefit fund to reduce technology adoption barriers for disadvantaged community groups. “High speed Internet is essential infrastructure for our community,” said Mayor of Urbana’s Diane Marlin. “We are very pleased that i3 Broadband will expand installation of their network in Urbana this week and look forward to the day when all neighborhoods have the connectivity required to support today’s business and educational needs.” “We’re all excited about the opportunities this expanded broadband network will provide the University of Illinois and the entire Champaign-Urbana community,” said University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Robert J. Jones. “Access to high speed, reliable and affordable Internet is truly necessary to fully participate in the information-driven society of the 21st century. This expansion brings that access one step closer for many here in our area.

We’re proud to see the UC2B initiative we all started together reaching this new milestone.” i3 Broadband will break ground on new fiber areas starting immediately, weather permitting. Interested residents and businesses can sign up at i3broadband.com or call 217-530-0333. About i3 Broadband i3 Broadband provides TV, Voice and Internet services through a 100% fiber optic network in the greater Peoria, Champaign and Urbana, Illinois markets.

For more information, visit www.i3broadband.com or call 877-976-0711.

CityFibre Gains on Competitors in UK with Aggressive New Investment in Open Access Model 0

CityFibre Gains on Competitors in UK with Aggressive New Investment in Open Access Model

BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: Major new expansion by wholesale infrastructure provider CityFibre in U.K., giving more credence to the “ open access 1 ” model that is beginning to be deployed globally. Under such a model, one entity owns the fiber infrastructure, with another selling retail internet access services to customers. Frequently, there is yet another entity that provider network operation services to the infrastructure owners.  a second entity operates the gigabit network, and a third entity sells retail internet access to customers.

In the U.K., CityFibre is aggressively gaining on the BT spinoff Openreach. || ‘Gigabit‎ Cities’ builder to double market value in £200m deal: The AIM-listed telecoms group will unveil the share sale before the stock market opens on Wednesday, Sky News learns: A telecoms infrastructure group positioning itsel‎f as a rival to BT’s Openreach division will announce on Wednesday that it is doubling its market value through an ambitious share sale. Sky News has learnt that CityFibre, which is listed on London’s junior AIM stock market, will say that it is raising up to £200m through a placing of equity with new and existing investors. The capital-raising will be backed by Woodford Investment Management, the vehicle founded by Neil Woodford, arguably Britain’s best-known fund manager.

Sources said on Tuesday that the share sale would signal an aggressive expansion by CityFibre of its fibre-to-the-home initiative across the UK. more… Source: ‘Gigabit‎ Cities’ builder to double market value in £200m deal 2 References ^ open access (broadbandbreakfast.com) ^ ‘Gigabit‎ Cities’ builder to double market value in £200m deal (news.sky.com)