When it comes to broadband, no one has made more news in the past six months than Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler. Net Neutrality. Internet fast lanes. Municipal-owned broadband systems. Title II. It ain't broadband if it can't deliver at 25 Mbps.
Whether you own or manage an MDU, regulate at the state or local level, work for a citizen group or a broadband provider, innovate and share new content, sell hardware or software, or conceive, design or build broadband networks, you can't afford to miss this!
Jim Baller of the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC), will be introducing Chairman Wheeler.
Get an early glimpse of the year to come. Commissioner Wheeler's remarks will help set the tone for the week. Wheeler has led the FCC in approving multiple major policy decisions. If the courts agree, these decisions will affect the Internet for decades to come:
Broadband has been redefined as 25 Mbps download, 3 Mbps upload. Last summer, Wheeler called this the minimum, "table stakes."
After a year in which network operators were accused of deliberately slowing the speed of content providers such as Netflix, Wheeler called for a ban on "fast lanes," for which providers would have to pay an extra toll.
To make the fast lane ban stick, Wheeler called for regulating – lightly – network operators under Title II of the Telecommunications Act; this had actually been suggested by the US District Court for DC when it overruled the FCC in an earlier case. As with telephone service providers (who have operated under Title II since 1934), broadband providers would have to act in the "public interest" and would be banned from "unjust or unreasonable" business practices. The FCC would not, Wheeler says, use Title II to regulate rates or to tax broadband communications. The FCC would, however, have to investigate pricing and service complaints from consumers and other broadband users.
Finally, the FCC made a first move to strike down state restrictions on municipalities that seek to build their own broadband networks after commercial service providers have refused to improve service. The move came in favor of petitions from EPB in Chattanooga, TN, and the City of Wilson, NC, to ignore laws in their states that prevented them from extending their fiber service to nearby communities.
The Fast Lane leads to Austin and the Broadband Summit, April 13-16, 2015.