FCC restores net neutrality order, but court challenges loom large

The FCC voted on Thursday, April 25th along party lines to pass its order on Safeguarding and Securing the Open Internet, restoring net neutrality and reestablishing the Commission’s Title II authority over broadband services.  The restored “net neutrality” rules prevent broadband internet service providers/ISPs (e.g. Comcast and AT&T) from favoring some sites and apps over others.  The vote was taken at the FCC’s open meeting for the month of April.  Democrats on the FCC voted to restore net neutrality and Title II rules. The issue will face inevitable court challenges and is likely to be reversed if Donald Trump wins the November presidential election.

As a result of the vote, the FCC restores fundamental authority to provide effective oversight over broadband service providers, giving the Commission essential tools to:

Protect the Open Internet – Internet service providers will again be prohibited from blocking, throttling, or engaging in paid prioritization of lawful content, restoring the rules that were upheld by the D.C. Circuit in 2016.

Safeguard National Security – The Commission will have the ability to revoke the authorizations of foreign-owned entities who pose a threat to national security to operate broadband networks in the U.S. The Commission has previously exercised this authority under section 214 of the Communications Act to revoke the operating authorities of four Chinese state-owned carriers to provide voice services in the U.S. Any provider without section 214 authorization for voice services must now also cease any fixed or mobile broadband service operations in the United States.

Monitor Internet Service Outages – When workers cannot telework, students cannot study, or businesses cannot market their products because their internet service is out, the FCC can now play an active role.

Here are a few FCC commissioner comments:

“Broadband is now an essential service. Essential services, the ones we count on in every aspect of modern life, have some basic oversight. So let’s be clear about what we are doing today. This agency, the nation’s leading communications authority, believes every consumer deserves Internet access that is fast, open and fair. That is why we determine that the Federal Communications Commission should be able to assist consumers and take action when it comes to the most important communications of our time. And that’s broadband. This is common sense,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel presides at the FCC’s open meeting on Thursday, April 25, 2024.(SOURCE: FCC LIVESTREAM)

Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr offered a different opinion during a nearly 35-minute diatribe: 

“Today’s order is not about correcting a market failure. Broadband access is more vibrant and competitive than ever, no matter how you slice the reams of data,” said Carr. “Will ISPs invest as intensely when the rules of the road are opaque, when business choices can be second guessed without notice, when regulators reserve the right to dictate the rate of return or when upgrades and innovations require more and more paperwork and approvals? Uncertainty riddles every aspect of this order … I’m confident that we will right the ship, and I’m certain that the courts will overturn this unlawful power grab.”

The vote drew expected reactions from industry and consumer groups. Those in favor of the ruling celebrated, while still expressing dissatisfaction with a few “shortcomings” of the order.  Andrew Jay Schwartzman, Senior Counselor at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society said:

“Today’s vote provides welcome, if long overdue, protections for all Americans. Despite a few shortcomings, this is the most important thing the FCC can do to promote free speech, competition, public safety, and national security.  The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society would have preferred that the Commission continued the debate on whether or not broadband providers should contribute to the Universal Service Fund and that it had taken a more proactive stance toward wireless companies’ efforts to create loopholes to avoid regulation of some 5G services. But those shortcomings do not change the fact that today is a great day for internet freedom.”

On the opposition front, industry trade groups called the rules “heavy-handed” and indicated their intent to file lawsuits.

“ACA Connects will continue to support efforts, including litigation, to overturn these heavy-handed, unnecessary utility-style regulations, which only serve to discourage development of robust and reliable broadband service for all Americans,” said Grant Spellmeyer, president and CEO of ACA Connects, in an emailed statement.

“WISPA is disappointed by today’s action to impose utility regulation on the broadband industry,” said Louis Peraertz, VP of policy for the fixed wireless trade group WISPA–The Association for Broadband Without Boundaries. “Once the final Order is published, WISPA will carefully review it and determine what legal recourse we should take in order to ensure that our members can continue to provide their local communities with reliable high speed broadband service.”





Analysis: FCC attempt to restore Net Neutrality & U.S. standards for broadband reliability, security, and consumer protection

FCC Draft Net Neutrality Order reclassifies broadband access; leaves 5G network slicing unresolved

FCC Votes to Reverse Net Neutrality & No Longer Regulate Broadband Internet Services

FCC legal advisor: Potential End of ACP Is the ‘Biggest Challenge’ Facing the Broadband Marketplace

On Wednesday April 17th, broadband officials and experts called for continued pressure to replenish the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) [1.]. Some panelists during Next Century Cities’ bipartisan tech policy conference also urged community leaders to engage with their state broadband offices as NTIA approves states’ plans for the broadband, equity, access and deployment program.

Note 1. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a benefit program from the FCC that helps households pay for broadband for work, school, and healthcareThe program is separate from the FCC’s Lifeline Program. The ACP is targeted at low-income families and individuals, and may include a one-time benefit of up to $100 for a phone or internet-capable device like a tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. The program also offers a monthly service discount and one device discount per household. The FCC said that unless lawmakers act to give the program additional funding, the full $30 discount will end at the end of April. The loss of ACP will hit poor people very hard and significantly widen the digital divide.


The biggest challenge facing the broadband marketplace right now is “the potential end of ACP next month,” said Hayley Steffen, legal adviser to Commissioner Anna Gomez. Ensuring the program is funded and continues is Gomez’s “highest priority right now,” Steffen said. FCC Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau Chief Alejandro Roark agreed, noting the program has “accomplished more over the past two years to bridge our country’s digital opportunity divide than any other standalone effort in our nation’s history.”

On Monday, a coalition of 271 civil-society groups and local, state and Tribal governments sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives that urges all members to sign a discharge petition to support the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Extension Act. The legislation would provide an additional $7 billion to save a successful broadband-subsidy initiative.

Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., is circulating a discharge petition (House Resolution 1119) in a bid to force a floor vote on her Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Extension Act (HR-6929/S-3565), which would appropriate $7 billion to keep the ailing FCC broadband fund running through the end of FY 2024. ACP “has been a transformative force, empowering nearly 23 million American households in rural and urban communities with reliable, high-speed, and affordable broadband access,” Clarke said Wednesday in a statement.

“To continue this progress, I implore my colleagues to join me by signing the discharge petition. This will ensure [HR-6929] receives the vote it deserves” on the House floor. “We cannot turn our back on the progress made in closing the digital divide,” she said.

Advocating in numbers is powerful,” said TDI CEO AnnMarie Killian. ACP “really requires that we take a stance and bring forth the importance of digital inclusion for all,” Killian said. DigitalC CEO Joshua Edmonds agreed, but “at the same time, we should walk and chew gum here and look at the value and potential of community-based networks, too.”

Affordability is “a key factor” for individuals with disabilities who rely on broadband for telecom relay services, Killian said, and the end of ACP could have a “significant impact on our economically disadvantaged consumers.” Fort Collins, Colorado, Broadband Executive Director Chad Crager encouraged local officials to start considering “another solution” to addressing affordability in their communities if ACP ends. “We hope it’s renewed” and extended, Crager said, but “the reality will not be forever.”

This really is the moment for us to not give up” on advocating for ACP’s future, Roark said. ACP has been the FCC’s “best and most successful” effort at broadband affordability, Steffen said. Many households enrolled in the program will be eligible for the Lifeline benefit should ACP end, she said, but Lifeline is “definitely no replacement for ACP.” Roark also encouraged discussions on “how potentially ACP could be integrated into the USF framework.”

NTIA is “actively reviewing” states’ BEAD applications, Senior Policy Adviser Lukas Pietrzak said, noting that 48 states’ volume I proposals have already been approved (see 2403060046). “I have great expectations” for the states’ plans because “at the bare minimum, they did include Black community anchor institutions,” said Fallon Wilson, Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council vice president-policy, citing states with several historically Black colleges and universities. The challenge now is ensuring the states’ plans are executed so that those institutions actually receive funding, Wilson said.

NTIA is also preparing to announce “in the next few weeks” how many applications it received for the second round of tribal broadband connectivity program funding, said Pietrzak. Projects funded by the middle-mile infrastructure grant program are “also starting to break ground in the spring and summer,” Pietrzak said, “which is exciting to see here.” He also noted that 20,000 devices have been distributed through the connecting minority communities program.






Analysis: FCC attempt to restore Net Neutrality & U.S. standards for broadband reliability, security, and consumer protection

FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel announced the tentative agenda for the April 2024 Open Meeting scheduled for 10:30 am EDT on Thursday, April 25, 2024. As part of the agenda, the Commission will consider a draft Declaratory Ruling, Order, Report and Order, and Order on Reconsideration (Order) that would restore Net Neutrality [1.] and bring back a national standard for broadband reliability, security, and consumer protection.

Note 1.  Net neutrality is a concept that internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data on the internet equally. This means that ISPs should not block, slow down, or charge more money for access to certain websites or services. Net neutrality is important because it helps to ensure that everyone has equal access to the internet.

In 2017, the FCC repealed the net neutrality rules that had been in place since 2015. This decision was controversial, and many people believe that it will harm consumers and businesses. There are currently efforts underway to restore net neutrality rules.

If the FCC order is approved, the Chairwoman’s proposal would ensure that broadband services are treated as an essential resource deserving of FCC oversight under Title II authority [2].

Note 2.  U.S. carriers providing “telecommunications services,” are regulated under Title II. of the 1934 U.S. Communications Act.


Rosenworcel confirmed the planned commission vote in an interview with Reuters.
“The pandemic made clear that broadband is an essential service, that every one of us – no matter who we are or where we live – needs it to have a fair shot at success in the digital age,” she said.  “An essential service requires oversight and in this case we are just putting back in place the rules that have already been court-approved that ensures that broadband access is fast, open and fair.”
Rosenworcel has said the reclassification would give the FCC important new national security tools. The agency said in its initial proposal that rules could give it “more robust authority to require more entities to remove and replace” equipment and services from Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE.

What the Declaratory Ruling and Order Would Do:

 Classify broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service and classify mobile broadband Internet access service as a commercial mobile service.

 Find that reclassification would provide the Commission with additional authority to safeguard national security, advance public safety, protect consumers, and facilitate broadband deployment.

 Find that classification of broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service represents the best reading of the text of the Act, and that such reclassification accords with Commission and court precedent and is fully justified under the Commission’s long standing authority to classify services subject to its jurisdiction.

 Establish broad, tailored forbearance—including no rate regulation, no tariffing, no unbundling of last-mile facilities, and no cost accounting rules—in the FCC’s application of Title II to broadband Internet access service providers (ISPs).

What the Report and Order Would Do:

 Reinstate straightforward, clear rules that prohibit blocking, throttling, or engaging in paid or affiliated prioritization arrangements, and adopt certain enhancements to the transparency rule.

 Reinstate a general conduct standard that prohibits unreasonable interference or unreasonable disadvantage to consumers or edge providers.

 Make clear that the Commission will employ a case-by-case review under sections 201 and 202 to ensure that Internet traffic exchange practices do not harm the open Internet.

 Establish a multi-faceted enforcement framework comprised of advisory opinions, enforcement advisories, Commission-initiated investigations, and informal and formal complaints.


Legal Opinions on FCC net neutrality draft order:

Legal experts and FCC watchers say the net neutrality draft order on the FCC’s April 25th  open meeting agenda will face legal arguments similar to what the 2015 net neutrality order did, with many of the same parties involved.

An appeal of the FCC order is likely and probably would land before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, legal experts and net neutrality watchers say. Such an appeal also would feature many of the same appellants and FCC supporters say.  That appeals court dealt with the 2015 order and its subsequent repeal, telecom and tech lawyer Marc Martin of Perkins Coie said. Most of the same parties that fought in 2015 “are going to want to fight it again.”Any appeal will largely resemble the appeal of 2015’s order, said Cato Institute research fellow Brent Skorup. Major questions, Chevron deference and the First Amendment will likely be the primary legal issues, he said.The First Amendment played a large role in litigation the last time, and the FCC in the order detailed why it thinks the rules satisfy First Amendment scrutiny, he noted. Several parties might dispute in an appeal some of the FCC grounds in the order, said Stephanie Joyce, Computer & Communications Industry Association chief of staff.In the draft order, the agency tries to preempt First Amendment arguments against it. The FCC draft says the proposed general conduct standard doesn’t burden any of the 1A rights of broadband internet access service (BIAS) providers, which “are conduits, not speakers.” “When broadband providers deliver content that has been requested by their customers, they are no different from telephone companies or package delivery services like FedEx, which have never been thought to be engaging in their own expressive activity when merely carrying the messages of others,” it said.Many court watchers expect the conservative supermajority to rewrite the rules on agency deference in the same way they have overturned established precedents in recent years. Recent Supreme Court decisions have embraced its own “major questions doctrine,” holding that when an administrative agency decides an issue of major economic or political significance, a broad delegation from Congress is no longer enough.

Starting with a briefing for reporters the day before the draft order was released, the FCC argued the proposed rules would survive legal challenge. Net neutrality rules are “wildly popular,” Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in California last week, adding the draft rules are “court approved.” Rosenworcel said, “I want to make sure that they are again the law of the land.”

Major Questions:

The proposed order is “legally vulnerable,” Free State Foundation President Randolph May told Commissioner Brendan Carraccording to a filing Friday in docket 23-320. May said it was “extraordinary … for an agency to propose burdensome restrictive major regulatory mandates without any meaningful evidence of any present harm to consumers or competition.”

Daniel Deacon, assistant professor at the University of Michigan Law School, pointed to Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s dissent as a D.C. circuit judge in the 2017 en banc affirmation of the 2015 net neutrality rules. Kavanaugh argued that imposing net neutrality rules via Title II represents a “major” policy that requires clear congressional authorization under the major questions doctrine, and that such authorization was lacking, Deacon said: SCOTUS “could reach that conclusion regardless of what they end up doing in Loper Bright and Relentless.”

The commission tries to head off major questions arguments in the draft order. “We do not think the major-questions doctrine properly comes into play in this context at all,” it said. “We are simply following the best reading of the Communications Act, as demonstrated by the statute’s plain text, structure, and historical context: there is no call for deference to an interpretation that is not the statute’s most natural reading.”

The rules won’t “have the extraordinary economic and political effect required to implicate the major-questions doctrine,” according to the draft order.

While the rules “will have substantial benefits for the American public … not every regulatory action that has substantial effects is so momentous as to trigger the major-questions doctrine. The Internet will continue to sustain its enormous economic and social value under our actions today, just as it did under the 2015 Order.”

The pending net neutrality order “is the antithesis of the Supreme Court’s major-questions cases,” the FCC said. “There is nothing novel about the Commission’s exercise of its classification power here,” as the agency has exercised it numerous times, it said. “Regulating communications services and determining the proper regulatory classification of broadband falls squarely within the Federal Communications Commission’s wheelhouse,” the commission said.

Cato’s Skorup disagreed. The agency sees national security implications in net neutrality and finds that it’s important for free speech, “telegraphing they believe” it’s a major question, he said.

It’s unclear how the Supreme Court seemingly heading toward some change to its Chevron doctrine would play out in the inevitable appeal of the FCC’s order. The net neutrality issue isn’t about the FCC having superior insight into the nature of broadband but is a political question about oversight, said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, American Action Forum president. By the time a net neutrality case comes before the D.C. Circuit, there would likely be a SCOTUS ruling affecting Chevron, and the appellate court would have to be guided by it, he said.

CCIA’s Joyce said that even if SCOTUS rejects Chevron, that doesn’t apply to net neutrality, since it doesn’t involve a brand new and novel FCC action. “How can you possibly say that about whether broadband is a Title II service?” she asked. “This stuff is old.”

Some see a net neutrality legal fight charting new territory. The draft order is broader than 2015’s, with issues of national security and broadband contributing to Universal Service Fund (USF), so there are several different issues than were involved in the past, said Holtz-Eakin.

While it seems likely that SCOTUS will curtail or reject the Chevron doctrine sometime this summer, that isn’t going to deter the FCC, Skorup said. But it could change how the D.C. Circuit — which upheld the 2015 net neutrality order — approaches things, he said. Given SCOTUS reversals of the D.C. Circuit on federal agency deference issues, such as 2021’s Alabama Association of Realtors decision, “I would hope the D.C. Circuit would get the message … that it needs to apply more scrutiny than it is giving agencies currently,” he said.

The net neutrality rule will undoubtedly be characterized by the reviewing court as a major question because it is an issue of ‘vast economic and political significance,’” emailed Thomas McGarity, University of Texas’ Lozano Long Professor in Administrative Law. “That being the case, Chevron will be inapplicable,” he said: “The court will only ask whether Congress has clearly authorized the agency to promulgate the rule. The clarity of the authorization will be the primary issue on appeal.”

Other lawyers said it’s not preordained that the order will be overturned.

“It’s important to remember that the only reason why broadband is an ‘information service’ is because of Chevron deference,” said Public Knowledge Senior Vice President Harold Feld. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003 ruled that cable modem service was a telecom service, he said. SCOTUS’ 2005 Brand X decision, then “reversed the 9th Circuit on the grounds of Chevron deference. In 2019, the 2017 order rolling back the 2015 net neutrality rules survived a challenge at the D.C. circuit only because of precedent,” Feld said.

Two of the judges, Patricia Millett and Robert Wilkins, indicated they would have found the rollback order “arbitrary … but for Chevron and Brand X.  One cannot help what activist judges will do,” but if the pending order is returned to the D.C. Circuit, “I would expect it to be affirmed,” Feld added.

The Supreme Court held in Brand X that the FCC has the discretion to decide how to classify broadband, emailed Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Senior Counselor Andrew Schwartzman.

“If, as is likely, the Chevron, and Brand X precedents will be modified to some degree this spring, and depending on what the Court says, the matter might then have to be resolved by analysis of the text,” he said.

Perkins Coie’s Martin said it’s likely the D.C. Circuit could affirm the FCC’s action again, as there’s consistent precedent that agency action on the matter is OK. However, if SCOTUS overturns Chevron, the appellate court may feel compelled to come out differently, he said. And if the D.C. Circuit overturns the FCC, SCOTUS could very well deny any subsequent cert petition by the agency, he said.  Schwartzman questioned whether SCOTUS will ultimately hear the case. The court is “loath to overrule precedent unless absolutely necessary,” he said.

CTIA discussed concerns about how non-broadband internet access services are treated under the draft net neutrality order circulated by Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. In meetings with staff for all five commissioners, CTIA asked the FCC to remove warnings not present in the 2015 order. Non-BIAS services, and network slicing, have emerged as major issues. The draft “favorably references non-BIAS use cases that ‘cannot be met over the Open Internet,’ but any suggestion that an offering that can function to some extent over BIAS must be offered over BIAS would be a dramatic shift from the 2015 framework,” said a filing posted Wednesday in docket 23-320. The draft also says the commission “will closely monitor any services that have a negative effect on the performance of BIAS in any given moment or the capacity available for BIAS over time” and that the commission “will be watchful of services that do not require isolated capacity.

CTIA said, “The 2015 Order did not set forth any of these rigid warnings, and for good reason. The net effect of such guidance could restrict the offering of non-BIAS services. Customers would lose out on choice and innovation, and networks would operate less efficiently.”



Link to the Draft Declaratory Ruling, Order, Report and Order, and Order on Reconsideration: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-401676A1.pdf

Link to the April 25, 2024 Meeting webpage: https://www.fcc.gov/april-2024-open-commission-meeting



FCC Draft Net Neutrality Order reclassifies broadband access; leaves 5G network slicing unresolved

FCC Votes to Reverse Net Neutrality & No Longer Regulate Broadband Internet Services

Internet Association to Join Law Suits to Restore Net Neutrality

Is FCC Net Neutrality Rollback Coming? Will that spark cablcos investment in rural/ suburban areas? 






FCC Draft Net Neutrality Order reclassifies broadband access; leaves 5G network slicing unresolved


The FCC will take a series of steps to reestablish the commission’s net neutrality framework and reclassify broadband internet access service (BIAS) as a Communications Act Title II telecom service in a 434 page declaratory ruling and order which doesn’t resolve the issue of network slicing as a paid priority 5G service.

A draft of the items to be considered during the agency’s April meeting, released Thursday, would establish “broad” and “tailored” forbearance for ISPs.  “Access to broadband Internet is now an unquestionable necessity. We also exercise broad forbearance for broadband providers as part of the Title II reclassification. Since the Commission’s abdication of authority over broadband in 2017, there has been no federal oversight over this vital service. This item would reestablish the Commission’s authority to protect consumers and safeguard the fair and open Internet, which protects free expression, encourages competition and innovation, and is critical to public safety and national security.”

Network Slicing:

The draft doesn’t make a final determination on how network slicing should be treated under the rules.  Network slicing, which requires a 5G SA core network, enables 5G network operators to create multiple virtual networks on top of a shared network. How slicing should be treated has been hotly contested.

“To the extent network slicing falls outside of BIAS, we will closely monitor these uses to evaluate if they are providing the functional equivalent of BIAS, being used to evade our open Internet rules, or otherwise undermining investment, innovation, competition, or end-user benefits in the Internet ecosystem,” the draft said.

“The record reflects that the potential use cases for network slicing are still under development” and that carriers “are in the early stages of adopting the technique, with some moving more quickly than others.  Given the nascent nature of network slicing, we conclude that it is not appropriate at this time to make a categorical determination regarding all network slicing and the services delivered through the use of network slicing.”

Yet the document also says it agrees with NCTA “that we ‘should not allow network slicing to be used to evade [the] Open Internet rules.’”

The FCC declined to do what either side wanted” on slicing, New Street’s Blair Levin stated in a note to investors. “While this was not the clear, decisive win the wireless providers may have hoped for, we don’t believe this or a future FCC is likely to crack down on the primary uses of network slicing, which we understand to be network management techniques that better match wireless services to specific needs in ways that increase spectrum utilization.”

The text left me rather confused more than reassured,” Digital Progress Institute President Joel Thayer said Friday. The commission seems interested in addressing slicing case by case, he said: “This does not bode well for consumer-facing uses of slicing as that tech starts to develop.”

One implication is the FCC might crack down on slicing if the agency sees it as a form of paid prioritization of network traffic, said Jonathan Cannon, R Street Institute policy counsel-technology and innovation and former aide to FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington.

The report and order would: “Reinstate straightforward, clear rules that prohibit blocking, throttling, or engaging in paid or affiliated prioritization arrangements, and adopt certain enhancements to the transparency rule.”


The new FCC order would adopt “conduct-based rules” in the commission’s net neutrality framework, establishing “bright-line rules to prohibit blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization” by ISPs. An accompanying draft report and order would also reinstate a general conduct standard and establish a “multi-faceted enforcement framework.”

The draft declaratory ruling would officially reclassify broadband as a Title II service, saying the step would allow the commission to “more effectively safeguard the open internet” and establish a nationwide framework. The draft would largely adopt the commission’s 2015 rules on forbearance, making clear that the record “does not convincingly show that imposing universal service contribution requirements on BIAS is necessary at this time.”

The commission in the draft defended reclassification as a national security matter, noting it has previously taken action under Title II to address national security threats against voice services. “The nation’s communications networks are critical infrastructure, and therefore too important to leave entirely to market forces that may sometimes, but not always, align with necessary national security measures,” the item said.

The draft declaratory ruling also addresses the impact of reclassification on the commission’s universal service goals under section 254 of the Communications Act. Reclassification “will put the commission on the firmest legal ground to promote the universal service goals of section 254 by enabling the commission and states to designate BIAS-only providers” as eligible telecom carriers, the draft said, adding that BIAS-only providers would be allowed to participate in the high-cost and Lifeline programs.

The draft elaborates on the importance of reclassifying broadband to the agency’s authorities under Section 214 of the Communications Act, another issue raised by industry (see 2403070040). Reclassification “enhances the Commission’s ability to protect the nation’s communications networks from entities that pose threats to national security and law enforcement.”

We find that reclassification will significantly bolster the Commission’s ability to carry out its statutory responsibilities to safeguard national security and law enforcement,” the draft said: “There can be no question about the importance to our national security of maintaining the integrity of our critical infrastructure, including communications networks.” It noted that Congress created the FCC “for the purpose of the national defense.”

The agency dismissed arguments that reclassification isn’t justified for national security purposes: “The nation’s communications networks are critical infrastructure, and therefore too important to leave entirely to market forces that may sometimes, but not always, align with necessary national security measures.” Arguments about potential costs “are unpersuasive given that, at this point, they represent only speculation about hypothetical costs and burdens.”

A draft order on reconsideration included with Thursday’s item said the net neutrality order would resolve four outstanding petitions for reconsideration filed against the FCC’s 2020 net neutrality remand order by Incompas, California’s Santa Clara County, Public Knowledge, and jointly several public interest groups including Common Cause. “As a procedural matter, we find that we have effectively provided the relief sought by each of the Petitions through a combination of the 2023 Open Internet NPRM and today’s actions,” the draft order said. “In light of the Commission’s actions today, we grant in large part and otherwise dismiss as moot” all four petitions for reconsideration. “We agree with the petitioners that the Commission’s analysis in the [Restoring Internet Freedom] Order and RIF Remand Order was insufficient in addressing the public safety, pole attachment, and Lifeline-related repercussions of classifying BIAS as a Title I service,” the draft said.

House Commerce Committee ranking member Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and Communications Subcommittee ranking member Doris Matsui, D-Calif., praised Rosenworcel “for moving to finalize rules that reflect reality: broadband internet service is critical infrastructure and an indispensable part of American life, and it must be treated that way.” The FCC’s move for Title II reclassification shows the commission is “recognizing this reality and asserting its rightful authority over broadband providers in order to protect this vital service and the hundreds of millions who rely on it each day,” Pallone and Matsui said. The two lawmakers “have confidence that a court reviewing this action will uphold it, just as courts have done in the past.” Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., also lauded the proposal Thursday after earlier urging Rosenworcel to prevent loopholes in the rules.

The House Commerce GOP majority was tight-lipped after the draft’s release Thursday. Republican members tweeted Wednesday that the net neutrality proposal showed the commission “continues pushing Biden’s Broadband Takeover by imposing unnecessary heavy-handed regulations.”





BT Group, Ericsson and Qualcomm demo network slicing on 5G SA core network in UK

ABI Research: 5G Network Slicing Market Slows; T-Mobile says “it’s time to unleash Network Slicing”

Ericsson, Intel and Microsoft demo 5G network slicing on a Windows laptop in Sweden

Is 5G network slicing dead before arrival? Replaced by private 5G?

5G Network Slicing Tutorial + Ericsson releases 5G RAN slicing software

Network Slicing and 5G: Why it’s important, ITU-T SG 13 work, related IEEE ComSoc paper abstracts/overviews




FCC increases broadband speed benchmark (x-satellites) to 100/20 Mbit/s

The U.S. FCC voted this week to implement a 4x increase to its “broadband” benchmark, from 25/3 Mbit/s to 100/20 Mbit/s (download/upload speeds).  The Commission’s Report was issued pursuant to section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.  The FCC concluded “that advanced telecommunications capability is not being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion based on the total number of Americans.”

Using the agency’s Broadband Data Collection deployment data for the first time rather than FCC Form 477 data, the Report shows that, as of December 2022:

• Fixed terrestrial broadband service (excluding satellite) has not been physically deployed to approximately 24 million Americans, including almost 28% of Americans in rural areas, and more than 23% of people living on Tribal lands;

Mobile 5G-NR (ITU-R M.2150/3GPP Release 16) coverage has not been physically deployed at minimum speeds of 35/3 Mbps to roughly 9% of all Americans, to almost 36% of Americans in rural areas, and to more than 20% of people living on Tribal lands;

• 45 million Americans lack access to both 100/20 Mbps fixed service and 35/3 Mbps mobile 5G-NR service; and

• Based on the new 1 Gbps per 1,000 students and staff short-term benchmark for schools and classrooms, 74% of school districts meet this goal.

The Report also sets a 1 Gbps/500 Mbps long-term goal for broadband speeds to give stakeholders a collective goal towards which to strive – a better, faster, more robust system of communication for American consumers.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement discussing the agency’s new 100/20 Mbit/s benchmark.

“This fix is overdue. It aligns us with pandemic legislation like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the work of our colleagues at other agencies. It also helps us better identify the extent to which low-income neighborhoods and rural communities are underserved. And because doing big things is in our DNA, we also adopt a long-term goal of 1 Gigabit down and 500 Megabits up.”

“One more thing. The law requires that we assess how reasonable and timely the deployment of broadband is in this country.”

Don’t expect much change. As noted by Engadget, U.S. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offering speeds under the new benchmark won’t be able to call their services “broadband” on the new telecom information labels the FCC will soon begin requiring. However, ISPs and network providers are not required to hit the FCC’s new 100/20 Mbit/s speeds.

Moreover, it will not impact the NTIA’s massive $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, which already requires 100/20 Mbit/s speeds on networks receiving government subsidies.


The FCC’s definition of broadband excludes satellites at a time of frenzied investments in Internet services from space. Championed by Elon Musk’s Starlink, companies ranging from Amazon to OneWeb to Telesat are planning similar low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations for space-based Internet.

Starlink’s parent company – SpaceX – this week conducted another test of its massive Starlink rocket. That rocket is in part intended to launch Starlink’s second generation satellites.

However, the FCC has excluded such satellite efforts from most of its broadband programs. For example, it rejected Starlink’s application for government funding through its Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) program.

“It is evident that fixed wireless access (FWA) offerings already compete aggressively with traditional wired broadband services, and LEO satellite-based services are poised to do the same. Accordingly, all three should be treated as robust rivals within a single ‘home Internet’ product market,” wrote the Free State Foundation, another think tank.

According to FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, a Republican, the agency specifically excludes Starlink from its overall efforts because he thinks President Biden dislikes SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk. “The Biden Administration is choosing to prioritize its political and ideological goals at the expense of connecting Americans,” Carr alleges.

With its roughly 5,000 satellites, Starlink currently offers median speeds of around 64 Mbit/s, according to Ookla, and counts around 2.6 million customers globally.





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FCC explores shared use of the 42 GHz band

The FCC voted Thursday to launch a proceeding to consider sharing models in 500 megahertz of spectrum in the 42 GHz band. The agency believes its examination could inform how the band might best be used —particularly by smaller wireless service providers— and provide guidance on future uses of sharing models in spectrum management.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, who just returned this week from a quick trip to Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt for an ITU meeting, said that when she took over at the FCC, she believed the agency had overinvested in millimeter wave (mmWave) auctions and done too little to bring mid-band spectrum to market. She set out to change that, launching auctions in the 3.45 GHz and 2.5 GHz bands.

“With those successful mid-band efforts in the rear-view mirror, we are now turning back to millimeter wave,” Rosenworcel said in prepared remarks. “But this time we want to consider something different.  In the 42 GHz band we have 500 megahertz of greenfield airwaves with no federal or commercial incumbencies. So we are putting out ideas. We are exploring non-exclusive access models. This could entail using a technology-based sensing mechanism to help operators actively detect and avoid one another. It could involve non-exclusive nationwide licenses that leverage a database to facilitate coexistence. It could also entail site-based licensing. To get even more out of this effort we ask if our approaches could be combined with shared-used models in other spectrum bands, like the lower 37 GHz band.”

“Our goal here is to come up with a new model to lower barriers, encourage competition and maximize the opportunities in millimeter wave spectrum. In short, it’s time to be creative. I look forward to the record that develops—and then look forward to sharing our creativity with the world.”

A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) is in effect where the FCC will build a record on the benefits and drawbacks of implementing a shared licensing approach in the 42 GHz band.  The NPRM proposes licensing the 42 GHz band as five 100 megahertz channels and seeks comment on other aspects of implementing a shared licensing approach, including coordination mechanisms, buildout requirements and technical rules.

Michael Calabrese, director of Wireless Future, Open Technology Institute at New America, said his organization agrees that a shared licensing framework is the best use of the 42 GHz band, making this spectrum available to a wide range of fixed wireless ISPs, enterprises and other users.

“Coordinated sharing will be particularly powerful if the FCC adopts a common framework for the lower 37 and 42 GHz bands, giving operators as much as 1100 megahertz of bandwidth,” he said in a statement provided to Fierce. “Fixed wireless deployments are exploding, adding options and competition for high-capacity broadband at lower prices. As open access bands, wide-channel millimeter wave spectrum can fuel and accelerate this positive trend.”





5G mmWave Band n259 (42 GHz)


FCC proposes regulatory framework for space-mobile network operator collaboration

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a new regulatory framework meant to support collaboration between satellite and wireless terrestrial network operators.  In a statement last week, the FCC noted it’s aiming to leverage the growth in space-based services to connect smartphone users in remote, unserved, and underserved areas.  The FCC hopes to establish a more transparent process to support supplemental coverage from space.

Numerous such collaborations have launched recently, and the FCC seeks to establish clear and transparent processes to support supplemental coverage from space.  Connecting consumers to essential wireless services where no terrestrial mobile service is available can be life-saving in remote locations and can open up innovative opportunities for consumers and businesses.

“We will not be successful in our effort to make … always-on connectivity available to everyone, everywhere if we limit ourselves to using only one technology. We are going to need it all—fiber networks, licensed terrestrial wireless systems, next-generation unlicensed technology, and satellite broadband,” said FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel, calling this type of seamless migration among networks the “Single Network Future.” She referenced the availability of emergency SMS service on smartphones via satellite and added, “We are starting to see direct satellite-to-smartphone communication move from sci-fi fantasy to real-world prospect. … For this innovation to have a chance to deliver at scale—and for us to move toward a full Single Network Future with more providers, in more spectrum bands, and a global footprint—regulators will need to develop frameworks that support its development.”

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking’s suggested framework plans to see satellite operators collaborating with terrestrial service providers while being able to obtain FCC authorization to operate space stations on certain currently licensed, flexible-use spectrums allocated to terrestrial services. According to the FCC, it’s also looking to add a mobile-satellite service allocation on some terrestrial flexible-use bands.

“The FCC proposes allowing authorized non-geostationary orbit satellite operators to apply to access terrestrial spectrum if certain prerequisites are met, including a lease from the terrestrial licensee within a specified geographic area. A satellite operator could then serve a wireless provider’s customers should they need connectivity in remote areas, for example in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert, Lake Michigan, the 100-Mile Wilderness, or the Uinta Mountains,” said the FCC in its statement.

The FCC will also seek comment on how this framework might best support access to emergency response systems like 911 and Wireless Emergency Alerts when a consumer is connected via supplemental coverage from space. The new proceeding will also seek to build a record on whether the framework can be extended to other bands, locations, and applications that might be supported by such collaborations.

“By providing clear rules, I believe we can kick start more innovation in the space economy while also expanding wireless coverage in remote, unserved, and underserved areas. We can make mobile dead zones a thing of the past. But even better, we have an opportunity to bring our spectrum policies into the future and move past the binary choices between mobile spectrum on the one hand or satellite spectrum on the other. That means we can reshape the airwave access debates of old and develop new ways to get more out of our spectrum resources,” Rosenworcel said.


Satellite to smartphone connectivity is expected to be crucial for emergency response systems, with the FCC noting that it is seeking input from the emergency services on how its new framework can best support these services. Companies such as SpaceX, Lynk, and AST SpaceMobile are prominent in this space.

  • Apple provides emergency SOS services when it announced its iPhone 14, with the company working with Globalstar to provide satellite connectivity through emergency SOS via satellite.
  • T-Mobile linked up with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to provide mobile signal connectivity from space, promising speeds of 2-4Mbps through Starlink satellites and eliminating dead zones, using T-Mobile’s mid-band spectrum.
  • A number of telcos have recently penned satellite connectivity agreements with satellite operators including Vodafone, Globe, Zain, and TIM Brazil.





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FCC bans Huawei, ZTE, China based connected camera and 2-way radio makers

On Friday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) banned Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. from selling electronics in the U.S. by regulators who say they pose a security risk, continuing a years-long effort to limit the reach of Chinese telecommunications companies into U.S. telecommunications networks.

The FCC also named connected-camera makers Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. and Dahua Technology Co., as well as two-way radio manufacturer Hytera Communications Corp.

“The FCC is committed to protecting our national security by ensuring that untrustworthy communications equipment is not authorized for use within our borders, and we are continuing that work here,” Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a news release. “These new rules are an important part of our ongoing actions to protect the American people from national security threats involving telecommunications.”

“On March 12, 2021, we published the first-ever list of communications and services that pose an unacceptable risk to national security as required under the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act. This initial Covered List included equipment from the Chinese companies Huawei, ZTE, Hytera, Hikvision, and Dahua. Since then, we’ve added equipment and services from five additional entities. Last year I also proposed stricter data breach reporting rules and worked with the Department of State to improve how we coordinate national security issues related to submarine cable licenses.”

In the 4-0 vote, the FCC concluded the products pose a risk to data security. Past efforts to curb Chinese access include export controls to cut off key, sophisticated equipment and software. Recently US officials have weighed restrictions on TikTok over fears Chinese authorities could access US user data via the video sharing app.

“This is a culminating action,” said Klon Kitchen, a senior fellow at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, a public-policy think tank. “Things that began under Trump are now being carried out. The Biden administration is continuing to turn the screws on these companies because the threat isn’t changing.”

Hikvision said its video security products “present no security threat to the United States and there is no technical or legal justification for the Federal Communications Commission’s decision.” The company said the ruling will “make it more harmful and more expensive for US small businesses, local authorities, school districts, and individual consumers to protect themselves, their homes, businesses and property.”

Huawei declined to comment, while Dahua, Hytera and ZTE didn’t respond to emails sent outside normal business hours in China.

The looming FCC move didn’t come up in the bilateral meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Indonesia last week, a US official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Biden did discuss technology issues more broadly with Xi and was clear that the US will continue to take action to protect its national security, the official said.

“This is the death knell for all of them for their US operations,” said Conor Healy, director of government research for the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based surveillance research group IPVM.  “They won’t be able to introduce any new products into the US.”

Dahua and Hikvision stand to be affected most since their cameras are widely used, often by government agencies with many facilities to monitor, Healy said. Agencies including police also use handheld Hytera radios, he said.

In its order, the FCC also asked for comment on whether to revoke existing equipment authorization, Rosenworcel said in an online statement.

According to Healy, merchants could be stuck with gear that’s illegal to sell.

In 2018, Congress voted to stop federal agencies from buying gear from the five companies named by the FCC. The agency said earlier that the companies aren’t eligible to receive federal subsidies, and also has barred Chinese phone companies from doing business in the U.S.

The order released Friday was required under the Secure Equipment Act – a bill President Biden signed into law on November 2021.

The big picture: Huawei and ZTE are two of the world’s biggest suppliers of telecom equipment.

  • Countries including CanadaBritain and Australia have ramped up restrictions against the use of 5G technologies from Huawei and ZTE in recent years.
  • Huawei executives have previously said the company does not give data to the Chinese government and that its equipment is not compromised.
  • The company’s chief security officer Andy Purdy has also argued that a ban would hurt American jobs because it spends over $11 billion a year from American suppliers.




FCC establishes Space Bureau dedicated to satellite industry oversight

The Federal  Communications Commission (FCC) has set up a new bureau dedicated to improving the agency’s oversight of the satellite industry.  It is one of two new offices to come out of an internal reorganization at the FCC, which has also created a standalone office of international affairs.

According to the FCC, the changes will help the agency fulfill its statutory obligations and to keep pace with the rapidly changing satellite industry and global communications policy.  Establishing a standalone Space Bureau will elevate the importance of satellite programs and policy internally, and will also acknowledge the role of satellite communications in advancing domestic communications policy, according to the agency.

“The satellite industry is growing at a record pace, but here on the ground our regulatory frameworks for licensing them have not kept up. Over the past two years the agency has received applications for 64,000 new satellites. In addition, we are seeing new commercial models, new players, and new technologies coming together to pioneer a wide-range of new satellite services and space-based activities that need access to wireless airwaves,” said FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel in her prepared remarks.

After identifying space tourism, satellite broadband, disaster recovery efforts and more, Rosenworcel said the interest in space as a new market for investment and a home for new kinds of services is vast. She noted that “private investment in space companies has reached more than $10 billion in the last year, the highest it has ever been.”

She also said that “the space sector has been on a monumental run. Satellite operators set a new record last year for the number of satellites launched into orbit, a record they will surpass again.”

Under the Communications Act of 1934, the FCC licenses radio frequency uses by satellites and ensures that space systems reviewed by the agency have sufficient plans to mitigate orbital debris.

The FCC said also that creating the two new separate offices will allow expertise to be more consistently leveraged across the organization’s different bureaus.

Commenting on the reorganization, FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel said: “The satellite industry is growing at a record pace, but here on the ground our regulatory frameworks for licensing them have not kept up.  Over the past two years, the agency has received applications for 64,000 new satellites.  In addition, we are seeing new commercial models, new players, and new technologies coming together to pioneer a wide-range of new satellite services and space-based activities that need access to wireless airwaves.”

“Today, I announced a plan to build on this success and prepare for what comes next,” she added. “A new Space Bureau at the FCC will ensure that the agency’s resources are appropriately aligned to fulfill its statutory obligations, improve its coordination across the federal government, and support the 21st century satellite industry.”

Jennifer Warren, VP of technology, policy and regulation at Lockheed Martin, said during a panel following Rosenworcel’s announcement that the stakes are much bigger than broadband satellite launches. This new regulatory framework can clear the way for the US to be a leader in “the commercialization of space,” she said. “It’s not for the faint-hearted.”

The FCC bureau reorg “also gives encouragement to new space actors that there will be staff accessible to answer the many questions they must have as they try to enter this exciting industry,” according to Julie Zoller, Head of Global Regulatory Affairs, Project Kuiper at Amazon. “It’s a complex process, but it is one that is full of opportunity and benefits to consumers, as Chairwoman Rosenworcel mentioned. The number of broadband satellite systems is really supercharging the ability to bridge the digital divide curve at home and abroad.”

In August, the FCC signed a joint memorandum of understanding with the NTIA aimed at improving the coordination of federal spectrum management and efficient use of radio frequencies.


FCC establishes new bureau dedicated to satellite industry oversight  


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