Legislative Activity

Senators Urge FCC to Examine Zero-Rating Plans

Seven senators, including Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Al Franken (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), wrote a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler urging the FCC to “take enforcement action against harmful zero-rating offerings that violate the principles of the Open Internet Order,” which generally prohibits Internet Service Providers from prioritizing, blocking, or throttling content distributed over the Internet. Zero-rating practices allow wireless subscribers to stream video, music, applications, websites, and other services without the associated data usage being counted against the subscriber’s data caps. In the letter, the senators noted the growth of zero-rating practices in the market and argued that without oversight or enforcement such practices could discriminate against specific services, hinder competition, and stifle innovation. The senators urged the FCC to consider competition issues, paid zero-rating plans, application agnostic plans, and issues relating to consumer choice in reviewing zero-rating offers in line with the Open Internet Order.

Regulatory Activity

FCC Announces December Open Meeting Tentative Agenda

The FCC has announced that the following items are tentatively on the agenda for its December 15 Open Meeting:

  • Transition from Text Telephony (TTY) to Real-Time Text Technology. The FCC will consider a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to “help achieve the transition from TTY technology to a reliable and interoperable means of providing real-time text communication over wireless Internet protocol enabled networks and services.
  • Improving the Nation’s Public Alert and Warning Systems. “enhance the Emergency Alert System (EAS) as a tool for community emergency preparedness. The Report and Order improves alerting organization at the state and local levels, builds stronger community-based alerting exercise programs, and protects the EAS against accidental misuse and malicious intrusion. The Further Notice seeks comment on proposals to leverage technological advances to improve alerting and additional measures to preserve EAS security.”

FCC Chairman Wheeler posted to the FCC Blog on November 22 discussing the items above.

The FCC’s Open Meeting agenda announcement also stated that the following items that are currently on circulation at the FCC “may be considered, unless voted on circulation prior” to the December Open Meeting:

  • Update to Parts 2 and 25 Concerning Non-geostationary, Fixed-Satellite Service Systems and Related Matters, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
  • In the Matter of Amendment of Part 0 of the Commission’s Rules Regarding Public Information, the Inspection of Records, and Implementing the Freedom of Information Act
  • Maritime Communications/Land Mobile, LLC, Order on Reconsideration and Memorandum Opinion and Order
  • Improving the Resiliency of the Nation’s Mobile Wireless Communications Networks, Order
  • Preferred Long Distance, Inc., Memorandum Opinion and Order

The FCC’s December 15 Open Meeting is scheduled to commence at 10:30 a.m. in the Commission Meeting Room of the FCC’s headquarters at 445 12th Street S.W., and will be streamed live at fcc.gov/live.