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Saturday, May 29, 2010

FCC for breakfast

The E-rate is seeping further into my life. I'm making pancakes for the kids this morning, listening to "On the Media" on NPR, which is usually snarky commentary on journalistic ethics or the sorry state of print journalism, and this piece about the FCC's new direction for Internet regulation comes on. Even my Saturday morning is not safe from E-rate (I'm feeling anarthrous today).

And a colleague sent me the agenda for the FCC's next meeting, which is going to be all about whether Internet access is going to become a "telecommunications service" or remain an "information service." The three directions they are considering:
  1. Leave it an information service.
  2. Make it a telecommunications service.
  3. Make it a telecommunications service, but then waive most of the regulations that apply to telecommunications service.

I know which direction I'm betting on. The FCC has not been very consistent on most things, but they are generally consistent on this: if there is a simple solution and a complex one, they'll take the complex one.

As far as I can see, the two big questions for E-rate:

  1. Will the Internet Access category on the Eligible Services List vanish?
  2. Will Internet service providers be forced to pay into the Universal Service Fund?

I'm guessing that IA will vanish. Apparently digital transmission can be offered under IA, and since 2006 so can voice (VoIP), so the distinction is becoming meaningless.

My crystal ball says that all broadband providers will have to start paying into the fund.

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