What does the MN Charter VoIP decision have in common with state net neutrality? A move to federal policies

Clayton Caller recently ran an article that outlines how “Ajit Pai helped Charter kill consumer-protection rules in Minnesota” and what impact that might have on state’s voice with Net Neutrality. It’s one of those times when I wish I were a teacher again and I could stand in front of the class and say – I think this one is going to be on the test. The details are wonky but understanding what’s going on is important.

Here’s the gist of the Charter case from the article…

The new court ruling found that Minnesota‘s state government cannot regulate VoIP phone services offered by Charter and other cable companies because VoIP is an “information service” under federal law. Pai argues that the case is consistent with the FCC‘s attempt to preempt state-level net neutrality rules, in which the commission reclassified broadband as a Title I information service instead of a Title II telecommunications service.

The ruling was by the US Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, following a lawsuit filed by Charter Communications against the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC). A three-judge panel ruled against Minnesota in a 2-1 vote—the FCC had  supporting Charter‘s position in the case.

“[F]ederal law for decades has recognized that states may not regulate information services,” in response to the ruling. “The 8th Circuit‘s decision is important for reaffirming that well-established principle: ‘[A]ny state regulation of an information service conflicts with the federal policy of non-regulation‘ and is therefore preempted.”

I’ve posted about the Charter case before but I think what’s important here is bumping authority from the state to federal level…

Pai said the ruling “is wholly consistent with the approach the FCC has taken under Democratic and Republican Administrations over the last two decades, including in last year‘s Restoring Internet Freedom order,” which repealed net neutrality rules and reclassified broadband. While and other states are imposing net neutrality rules, the FCC says the reclassification should preempt any such attempts at regulating broadband at the state level.

Despite Pai‘s contention, a lawyer involved in the net neutrality case against the FCC told Ars that the 8th Circuit ruling “has no bearing” on the net neutrality case.

Last week, Representative Stephenson introduced HF 136, a state version of a Net Neutrality bill. Proponents talked about the public’s support for the idea of Net Neutrality. Opponents talks about the Net Neutrality as a federal issue, not state issue. Couple that with the fact that at the federal level there is a push for a rural broadband office within the FCC. It seems like a wave is building to move broadband policy to a federal level. What will that mean for funding, for mapping, for broadband availability, affordability and use?

Rep Kresha introduced HF 1137 – $100 million for broadband funding

The Brainerd Dispatch reports…

Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, authored a bill, H.F. 1137, that would provide $100 million to improve high-speed internet access for unserved and underserved areas of the state.

Kresha has been a strong proponent of broadband expansion throughout his first six years in the House and has successfully authored previous legislation to fund Minnesota’s Border to Border Broadband Development Grant Program, according to a new release.

Here’s more info on the bill:

Sen Rarick says broadband is a priority

The Duluth News Tribune reports…

Minnesota Republican senators strengthened their grip on the chamber’s majority Wednesday, Feb. 13, when newly elected Jason Rarick, of Pine City, was sworn into office after winning a special election to a vacant seat last week.

Rarick, a third-term state representative, won the seat vacated by Democrat Tony Lourey, who stepped down in January after Gov. Tim Walz appointed him to his cabinet. …

Rarick said his priorities are to provide money to bring more broadband access to rural Minnesota and find a permanent new source of funding for roads and bridges.

AT&T to Make Mobile 5G a Reality in at Least 21 Major Cities this Year, including Minneapolis and Chicago

The latest from AT&T…

AT&T to Make Mobile 5G a Reality in at Least 21 Major Cities this Year, including Minneapolis and Chicago

FEB 13, 2019 – It’s been about 50 days since we’ve introduced our mobile 5G+ mmWave network and a 5G capable mobile hot spot to customers. As the 5G leader in the U.S., we are pushing the industry and driving network and device performance improvements with our suppliers quickly.

In fact, due to a number of incremental improvements on both the network and device side, some of our early customers using 5G delivered over millimeter wave spectrum, which we call 5G+, have experienced speeds in the range of 200-300 megabits per second – and even as high as 400 megabits per second.* And we’ve recently observed wireless speeds surpassing 1.5 gigabits per second in field testing on our 5G+ network using a test device. **

Given this encouraging start to our 5G launch, we are moving forward in bringing 5G+ to parts of more cities in the coming months. Today, we’re adding Minneapolis, MN and Chicago, IL to our 2019 deployment roadmap.

We expect 5G+ customer performance and speed to continue to improve in the coming months as we gather learnings from our real-world, commercial network, giving us a head start relative to others still looking to roll out 5G. In addition, we’re on track and expect to have a nationwide 5G network using sub-6 Ghz spectrum by early 2020.

“Getting to mobile 5G first meant pushing the industry and ourselves faster than ever before, but we did it right and blazed a trail for others to follow,” said Jeff McElfresh, President, AT&T Technology Operations. “Now that we’ve had a few weeks to let the network breathe and look at real world results, I’m very encouraged by what we’re seeing. We can’t wait to drive forward and bring 5G+ to even more consumers and businesses in the coming months.”

“It is exciting to see AT&T as one of the world’s leaders in these early innings of 5G”, says Mark Lowenstein, managing director, Mobile Ecosystem. “This promises to be an exciting year, as we learn about initial mmWave deployments, expand coverage to more cities and across additional bands of spectrum, and see more 5G devices.”

Insights from One of the First 5G Customers 

Many of our first mobile 5G customers have been small to medium sized businesses. We think 5G technology has great potential to disrupt and improve many industries and provide a direct benefit to American consumers as a result. To support this, we laid out our strategy for 5G in business last month.

We’re already working with businesses to implement 5G. The first business we connected is Deep South Studios, a full-service motion picture, television and digital media production facility in New Orleans.

“We jumped at the chance to work with AT&T as an early adopter of 5G” said Mick Flannigan, Executive Vice President, Deep South Studios. “We’re interested to see how the technology will handle transferring large amounts of HD video, including high-resolution graphics and video effects. A video production studio can really stand out because of its technology. And if you look at the capabilities of 5G, it feels limitless.”

More Cities to Get 5G this Year 

Given this encouraging start to our 5G launch, we are moving forward in bringing 5G+ to parts of more cities in the coming months. Today, we’re adding Minneapolis, MN and Chicago, IL to our 2019 deployment roadmap.

They will join our previously announced 2019 launch cities: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose.

Learn more about our path to 5G at att.com/5Gnews.

MN House Committee to hear about broadband on Feb 20

The following will happen next Wednesday. I plan to be there to livestream and take notes….

Greater Minnesota Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division

Chair: Rep. Gene Pelowski
Meeting:

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

12:45 PM to 2:15 PM

10 State Office Building


Agenda:

  1. Call To Order
  2. Roll Call
  3. Approval of Minutes
  4. Overview of the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant ProgramTestifying:
    Office of Broadband Development, Department of Employment and Economic Development
    Minnesota Telecom Alliance
    Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition
  5. Adjournment

Next Meeting:

Monday, February 25 in room 10 SOB

I got the info from:
Owen Wirth
Committee Administrator
MN House of Representatives
572 State Office Building
owen.wirth@house.mn
(651) 296-6970

NTIA Partners with MN and 7 other states on improvements to Broadband Map

From National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Today, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that it is collaborating with eight states to broaden and update the national broadband availability map. The eight states – California, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia – will contribute data and other inputs to the map.

“In order to ensure that all Americans have access to broadband, we need a more precise picture of the current services and infrastructure that are available,” said David Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator. “NTIA’s work on an updated map, in partnership with these initial states, will help policymakers around the country make better decisions as they devise broadband expansion plans.”

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 directed NTIA to update the national broadband availability map using its previously developed state partnerships. The initial eight state partners were chosen because they reflect geographic diversity, participate in NTIA’s State Broadband Leaders Network, have active state broadband plans or programs, and were willing to contribute data that can be combined with nationwide data sources to give policymakers a deeper understanding of broadband availability.

NTIA expects to seek participation from additional states, territories and federally recognized tribes that have broadband programs or related data-collection efforts. The initial map will include available nationwide data for every state combined with state-level data from the eight states.

I can’t say for sure, but it seems like having an Office of Broadband Development helps Minnesota take advantage of opportunities like this. Luck favors the prepared.