Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) will keynote “Legal Code: Reframing the Divide by Addressing Broadband Access Through Affordability and Inclusion”, a virtual event co-hosted by Kelley Drye and Silicon Flatirons on May 12th from 2:00-4:00 PM (ET) that will explore issues surrounding broadband affordability. The COVID-19 pandemic shined a spotlight on the Digital Divide and Digital Inequality, and with it, illuminated the broader issue of digital inclusion and internet access as a civil right. Over the last four years, efforts to close the Digital Divide have been geared largely toward access to networks in rural America, but pandemic related displacement is driving a shift in focus toward affordability in both rural and urban areas. This shift is most clearly evidenced by the recently adopted Emergency Broadband Benefit program, which gives broadband providers the unique opportunity to help fight Digital Inequality by offering subsidized discounts on robust Internet service and connected devices capable of helping low-income Americans connect to classrooms, jobs, and telehealth. Other recent efforts include the schools and libraries-focused Emergency Connectivity Fund, which aims to address a homework gap that transformed into a school-year-long remote learning gap.

This event will examine the pandemic’s impact on how we think about the digital divide and digital inequality, the new administration’s approach, and related activity in Congress, at the FCC, and at other federal agencies.

Agenda
Introduction & Opening Remarks

  • Amie Stepanovich, Executive Director, Silicon Flatirons

Keynote

  • Ron Wyden, U.S. Senator for Oregon

Panel: Conceptualizing and Navigating Paths to Affordability and Inclusion

  • John J. Heitmann (Moderator), Partner, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP
  • Chris M. Laughlin (Moderator), Associate, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP
  • Kate Black, Acting Chief Policy Advisor, Federal Communications Commission
  • Jose Cortes, Chair, Regulatory and Government Affairs Committee, National Lifeline Association
  • Claire Park, Policy Program Associate, New America’s Open Technology Institute
  • Trinity Thorpe-Lubneuski, Senior Director, Internet Essentials, Comcast

Click here for more information and to register.


Continue Reading Join Kelley Drye and Silicon Flatirons for a Discussion of the Digital Divide and Digital Inequality

As COVID-19 has reached pandemic levels, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has been active to keep communications services available through various waivers and actions. Kelley Drye’s Communications practice group is tracking these actions and what they mean for communications service providers. CommLaw Monitor will provide regular updates to its analysis of the latest regulatory and legislative actions impacting your business. Subscribe to receive these alerts.

If you have any questions, please contact your usual Kelley Drye attorney or any member of the Communications Practice Group. For more information on labor, advertising, and other issues, visit Kelley Drye’s COVID-19 Response Resource Center.


Continue Reading COVID-19: What Communications Service Providers Need to Know

Today, a divided FCC adopted enforceable "net neutrality" rules for the first time.  By a 3-2 vote, with all three Democrats voting in favor and both Republicans voting against, the Commission adopted a Report and Order in its Open Internet inquiry.  As Chairman Genachowski announced last month, the new rules rely upon the FCC’s "Title I" authority to adopt "basic rules of the road" to preserve the open Internet "as a platform for innovation, investment, competition and free expression."

To win the support of the other Democratic Commissioners, the Chairman agreed to several changes from his proposal last month.  Most notably, the Order applies the transparency rule and a limited blocking prohibition to wireless carriers, and — although the exact extent is unclear — appears to bar wireline broadband service providers from engaging in paid prioritization of Internet content.  The Order also adopts a definition of the "broadband Internet access services" to which the rules apply.

Commissioners Copps and Clyburn pronounced this action imperfect but sufficient to enable them to permit adoption of the Chairman’s proposal.  On the other hand, both Commissioners McDowell and Baker dissented from the Order.  Both strongly objected to the Commission’s claim of exisiting authority over Internet network management.  Commissioner McDowell also asserted that the Order would create "irreparable harm" — a factor considered by courts in granting a stay of agency orders.

The FCC action is described in more detail below.  UPDATED:  A PUBLIC NOTICE WITH THE RULES WAS RELEASED.  SEE BELOW


Continue Reading FCC Adopts Net Neutrality Rules, Endorses Accelerated Docket Complaints for Violations

Since April, the FCC has been struggling with how to react to the Court’s reversal of the Comcast P2P blocking order.  Today, Chairman Genachowski announced that he plans to move forward to adopt net neutrality rules at the FCC’s December 21 open meeting.  That announcement was met with prompt condemnation from the Republican commissioners and measured support from his fellow Democratic commissioners.

Genachowski’s speech abandons his prior proposal for a "third way" to resolve this issue.  His current approach relies upon the same Title I authority that the court of appeals found lacking, although presumably the Chairman intends to provide a better rationale connecting the rules to the Commission’s authority.  One issue that should not get lost in the shuffle, however, is that Chairman Genachowski is proposing to adopt enforceable rules that bind broadband providers for the first time.  This would replace the 2005 Policy Statement, which, as we’ve pointed out, creates enforcement problems of its own.

Follow the jump below to read the statements released today.


Continue Reading FCC’s Genachowski Proposes Net Neutrality Rules, Creates Firestorm