Archive: July 2011

1
PBS President Discusses Future of Public Media on Broadband US TV
2
Mobile Telecommunications Market Nearly 2% of World’s GDP
3
Court Upholds FCC Media Ownership Rules But Remands Newspaper-Broadcast Cross-Ownership Rule
4
Net Neutrality Rules Under OMB Review
5
Net Neutrality Transparency Guidance Issued by FCC

PBS President Discusses Future of Public Media on Broadband US TV

Last week Paula Kerger, President and CEO of the Public Broadcasting Service, discussed the future of public broadcasting and PBS in the current, fractured, media environment where broadcast spectrum reallocation is under serious consideration. Ms. Kerger appeared on a Broadband US TV webcast live from the floor of FOSE, the government information technology conference and expo in Washington, D.C.  Kerger, who was interviewed by Broadband US TV co-hosts Marty Stern of K&L Gates and Jim Baller of the Baller Herbst Law Group, discussed the importance of widespread and affordable broadband access as well as the significance of over-the-air broadcasting for, according to Kerger, the 45 million Americans who continue to rely on broadcast reception to receive local TV stations.

Touching upon the current funding crunch faced by many public media sources following the recent economic downturn (Kerger said that about 15% of PBS funding comes from the Federal government), the conversation moved the contentious issue of spectrum reallocation. Ms. Kerger noted PBS member stations’ early use of spectrum for multicasting as well as public safety and indicated that her organization would continue to watch the Congressional spectrum debate closely. When asked to discuss the future of public broadcasting over the next decade, Ms. Kerger emphasized the increased use of multiple platforms by viewers to access PBS programming, in particular mobile applications, and the need for public media to adapt to new technologies and opportunities. 

The full interview may be seen here (Registration required).

Mobile Telecommunications Market Nearly 2% of World’s GDP

Representing the growing prevalence and indispensability of mobile telecommunications worldwide, a recent study estimates that the mobile industry comprises almost 2% of global gross domestic product. The report, released by technology consulting group Chetan Sharma, found that mobile telecommunications currently accounts for nearly $1.3 trillion in global revenue as subscriptions rise exponentially in the U.S. and international markets. Research indicates that an explosion in data usage through smartphones and other next-generation mobile devices represents a key driver of the mobile industry, bringing in approximately $67 billion in the U.S. and $300 billion worldwide. The U.S. wireless data market grew 26% and per-month data usage more than doubled from 2009 to 2010. The gains for the mobile industry follow a critical turning point late last year, as smartphones outsold personal computers for the first time in history and data devices such as e-readers and tablets saw a jump in sales. 

Global data usage growth has already led some telecommunications providers to rein in or terminate their previously unlimited data plans as worldwide demand continues to climb unabated. Cisco Systems estimated that 48 million people in the world have mobile phones while lacking electricity at home. The same report concluded that over 7.1 billion mobile-connected devices will be in use by 2015, nearly one mobile device for every person on the planet. As a result, the mobile industry will likely soon account for an even larger slice of the global GDP pie.

Court Upholds FCC Media Ownership Rules But Remands Newspaper-Broadcast Cross-Ownership Rule

In a mixed decision for the FCC, the Third Circuit remanded part of the Commission’s 2008 order relaxing the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule while upholding the order’s decision to maintain existing TV duopoly, radio ownership, and TV-radio cross-ownership rules. The remanded rule would have permitted newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership in the top 20 markets and in smaller markets under certain conditions.

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Net Neutrality Rules Under OMB Review

After a lengthy administrative delay, the FCC finally kicked off the Office of Management and Budget Review of the information collection requirements in its 2010 Open Internet Order. Today’s Federal Register published companion notices seeking comment to OMB on the network practice disclosures and complaint procedure paperwork required under the Commission’s proposed net neutrality rules. Comments to OMB on both of these notices are due by August 8, 2011.

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Net Neutrality Transparency Guidance Issued by FCC

In a preview of the disclosure obligations required by the FCC’s controversial net neutrality rules, the Commission recently issued advisory guidance to broadband service providers for meeting the transparency requirements of the 2010 Open Internet Order. The guidelines present a number of options by which broadband providers will disclose information regarding their network management practices, performance standards, and commercial terms to potential customers. The advisory guidance comes in response to requests from the broadband industry and Internet watchdog groups calling for flexible reporting requirements and regulatory clarity in advance of any enforcement of the transparency rules. Significantly, the advisory was issued by the Commission’s Enforcement Bureau and Office of General Counsel, reinforcing the potential for compliance exposure and that implementation issues will potentially be addressed in enforcement and complaint proceedings. The advisory guidance focused on five key areas:

      1.         Point-of-Sale Disclosures

The FCC clarified that the transparency rules do not require the distribution of information in hard copy or extensive training of employees regarding disclosure procedures. Broadband providers can normally meet their disclosure requirement by directing prospective customers to a web address at which the required disclosures are clearly posted and updated. In the case of “brick-and-mortar” retail outlets, broadband providers relying on the web for their point-of sale disclosure will need to make available equipment “such as a computer, tablet, or smartphone, through which customers can access the disclosures.”

      2.         Service Description

The Open Internet Order established an FCC broadband performance measurement project to assess network metrics such as connection speeds which broadband providers will need to disclose. The service description requirements vary depending on whether the provider offers fixed or mobile broadband. For fixed broadband, any provider which participates in the Commission’s performance measurement project can present the project’s results to customers to satisfy their disclosure requirement. Fixed broadband providers opting not to participate in the project may provide actual performance data based on internal testing, consumer speed reports, or reliable third-party sources.  

For mobile broadband, the FCC recognized the increased difficulties with obtaining accurate performance measurements. The guidance states that mobile providers “that have access to reliable information” may disclose the results of internal or third-party testing of mean upload and download speeds as well as mean roundtrip latency. The FCC will permit smaller mobile providers lacking advanced testing resources to provide a “typical speed range” experienced by most customers for each service tier offered along with a statement that the submitted data represents the provider’s best estimate of its service performance.

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