Biden’s Executive Order: Modest but sensible

With Tim Wu in the White House, Jessica Rosenworcel at the FCC, and other appointees with a clue, some less obvious but valuable ideas are moving forward in the President’s order.

Spectrum auctions under rules that are designed to help avoid excessive concentration of spectrum license holdings in the United States, so as to prevent spectrum stockpiling, warehousing of spectrum by licensees, or the creation of barriers to entry,

 Everyone following US policy knows that AT&T & Verizon spent $10’s of billions to keep spectrum out of the hands of potential competitors. Until recently, literally half of the Bells’ spectrum was unused. Adelstein’s “Use it or lose” should be law. Calabrese’s “Use it or share it” is even more powerful.

 Prohibiting unjust or unreasonable early termination fees for end-user communications contracts, enabling consumers to more easily switch providers;

Requires broadband service providers to display a broadband consumer label,

15 years ago, Republican FCC Chair Kevin Martin called for Truth in Advertising. “If they advertise 3 megabits, they should deliver 3 megabits.” That would be an important step towards net neutrality, preventing AT&T from degrading competing services. Neither Republicans nor Democrats have made it so.

Service providers to regularly report broadband price and subscription rates

Believe it or not, websites of even large carriers make it impossible to find prices. Verizon wouldn’t even tell me the fees to expect in a call to order service.

Prevent landlords and cable and Internet service providers from inhibiting tenants’ choices among providers.

Makes sense, although I haven’t found data to suggest this is a large problem

Continued development and adoption of 5G Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN)

O-RAN is a good thing and research should be supported. But DC is fooling itself about what it will do. 5G radio prices are down to $13,000 in large quantities. O-RAN 4G radios are currently 4 times more expensive per Mavenir to the FCC.

Jessica Rosenworcel and others think O-RAN will be led by the U.S., but India and Scandinavia are rapidly pulling ahead of the U.S.

Adopting through appropriate rulemaking “Net Neutrality” rules

Of course.

Here’s the original text

 To promote competition, lower prices, and a vibrant and innovative telecommunications ecosystem, the Chair of the Federal Communications Commission is encouraged to work with the rest of the Commission, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to consider:
          (i)    adopting through appropriate rulemaking “Net Neutrality” rules similar to those previously adopted under title II of the Communications Act of 1934 (Public Law 73-416, 48 Stat. 1064, 47 U.S.C. 151 et seq.), as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, in “Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet,” 80 Fed. Reg. 19738 (Apr. 13, 2015);
          (ii)   conducting future spectrum auctions under rules that are designed to help avoid excessive concentration of spectrum license holdings in the United States, so as to prevent spectrum stockpiling, warehousing of spectrum by licensees, or the creation of barriers to entry, and to improve the conditions of competition in industries that depend upon radio spectrum, including mobile communications and radio-based broadband services;
          (iii)  providing support for the continued development and adoption of 5G Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) protocols and software, continuing to attend meetings of voluntary and consensus-based standards development organizations, so as to promote or encourage a fair and representative standard-setting process, and undertaking any other measures that might promote increased openness, innovation, and competition in the markets for 5G equipment;
          (iv)   prohibiting unjust or unreasonable early termination fees for end-user communications contracts, enabling consumers to more easily switch providers;
          (v)    initiating a rulemaking that requires broadband service providers to display a broadband consumer label, such as that as described in the Public Notice of the Commission issued on April 4, 2016 (DA 16–357), so as to give consumers clear, concise, and accurate information regarding provider prices and fees, performance, and network practices;
          (vi)   initiating a rulemaking to require broadband service providers to regularly report broadband price and subscription rates to the Federal Communications Commission for the purpose of disseminating that information to the public in a useful manner, to improve price transparency and market functioning; and
          (vii)  initiating a rulemaking to prevent landlords and cable and Internet service providers from inhibiting tenants’ choices among providers.

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