• The FCC has moved to dismiss both the Verizon and the MetroPCS appeals of the Open Internet Order (see January 31 edition of This Week in Telecom), arguing that the appeals, which rest on section 402(b) of the Communications Act, are premature because the Order has not been published. As of the time of this release, the motions have not been resolved. On February 2, 2011, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit denied Verizon’s motion to assign the same panel of judges that decided Comcast. On February 3, 2011, MetroPCS filed a motion to consolidate the two appeals.
  • On January 5, 2011, the FCC announced the Open Internet Challenge designed to encourage the public to create applications to monitor Internet providers’ compliance with the Open Internet rules and to encourage research into the same. One winner will get a trip to Washington, DC and will be honored at an FCC Chairman’s reception. The submission deadline is June 1, 2011, and winners will be chosen by a public vote and a panel of experts. More information can be found here.
  • On February 9, 2011, the FCC will hold a “Broadband Acceleration Conference” designed to bring together leaders from federal, state, and local government and private companies to discuss removing barriers to broadband buildout. Topics will include removing regulatory barriers involving rights-of-way, pole attachments, and tower siting, and how smart grids and other technologies might spur broadband growth. Speakers include: Phil Weiser, Senior Advisor to the National Economic Council, Director for Technology and Innovation; Peter Appel, Administrator, Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), Department of Transportation; and Scott Blake Harris, General Counsel of the Department of Energy. The conference will start at 11:00 a.m. Eastern in the Commission Meeting Room (TW-C305), 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, DC. More information is available here.
  • This past week saw extensive discussion of possible metered Internet pricing in Canada which the Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) recently approved for Bell Canada. The usage-based pricing system would have capped data usage at 25GB, down from 200GB, and would have cost more than the previous unlimited plans. This system would have forced independent Internet service providers to put similar pricing systems in place, because they rely on Bell Canada for last-mile connections. However, in response to numerous consumer complaints about the potential higher price for Internet access, the Canadian government has requested that the CRTC reverse its decision. The usage-based billing could return in some form, because the rules are only suspended and under review, but the CRTC is still open to “economic ways to discipline the use of the Internet.” More information can be found here, and here.