OVERNIGHT TECH: Telecom comments flood lawmakers’ inboxes

THE LEDE: Trade groups and associations have been rolling out policy prescriptions in recent days as part of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s review of the nation’s telecommunications law.

The deadline for filing comments about telecommunications competition policy was Friday and multiple organizations managed to slip in under the wire to get their voices heard. 

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New technologies “directly challenge each other in the marketplace in a manner not fully contemplated” when current law was written back in 1996, argued the Telecommunications Industry Association in its filing. Innovations that seem to cross previous boundaries are complicating the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) picture, it added, and new policies should be sure not to meddle with the different advancements. 

“A legislative focus on specific, well-defined public interest objectives will ultimately prove more durable in achieving those objectives as technology evolves, rather than an approach which micro-manages how content providers, network operators, and customers should relate to each other,” it said.

CTIA-The Wireless Association similarly advocated for a “light regulatory touch" from the FCC.

“To accommodate this changing landscape, competition should be defined flexibly to include an examination of what consumers consider product substitutes, including services offered by non-carrier providers,” the group said. 

The Energy and Commerce Committee asked the public to submit reactions to its May 19 white paper, the third analysis in the panel’s ongoing work to rewrite the Telecommunications Act. The effort is likely to take multiple years, and could shape the structure of the FCC and its rules for phones, TV and Internet for years to come.

Survey shows one-third aren’t ready for connected devices: Nearly 30 percent of the country do not have the skills to take advantage of connected devices on the so-called "Internet of things" and about 18 percent lack “advanced Internet access,” according to a new report released by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). That could leave many Americans in the dust as the country moves ahead with new technology, the think tank said. 

“As a nation, we need to make the investments so that communities and government have similar capacity to help citizens be digitally ready,” it said. “As the ‘Internet of things’ deepens the reach of technology in our lives, it is in everyone’s interest to take steps to ensure all Americans can take advantage of its benefits.”

Unlicensed spectrum generates $62 billion each year, survey finds: A new report from the Consumer Electronics Association estimated that unlicensed chunks of the spectrum, which allow Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other devices to operate, contribute about $62 billion to the U.S. economy each year.

“Unlicensed spectrum is an indispensable tool for tech entrepreneurs, innovators and consumers,” head Gary Shapiro wrote in The Hill. “This is the fuel that powers innovation in our increasingly digitized, interconnected and untethered world.” 

Cable lobby not focused on Aereo case: National Cable and Telecommunications Association chief Michael Powell has not been on the edge of his seat waiting for the Supreme Court to issue a ruling over the Web TV service Aereo.

“I don’t think that significant, quite honestly,” he said on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators” over the weekend.

He expected that the current model for TV broadcasts would not last for long, regardless of the court’s decision on Aereo.

“Technology is disruptive and if it isn’t Aereo it’s going to be something else,” he said. “I think technology will be constantly be trying to... figure out how to hack and capture that content and deliver it to consumers.”

Broadcaster head to stay on until 2018: Gordon Smith will stay on as president and chief executive of the National Association of Broadcasters through the end of 2018, the trade group announced on Monday. A former Republican senator from Oregon, Smith joined the trade group in 2009, less than a year after leaving Congress.

In a statement, Smith said he was “honored by the faith” that the group’s board put in him “to continue leading the charge.”

Internet Association gets new comms head: Noah Theran is taking over as communications director at the Internet Association. Theran, who formerly worked in real estate and at the Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications firm, comes to the Web trade group from the Private Equity Growth Capital Council.

 

ON TAP:

The ITIF will formally unveil its report at its offices at noon.

Reps. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) and Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) are hosting a briefing on the “humanitarian, environmental, educational, medical and search and rescue uses of robotics technology” on Capitol Hill at 1:00.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Silicon Valley would be one of the winners if Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) becomes the next House majority leader. 

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear arguments in a case over whether threats on Facebook count as actual threats. 

Legislation to permanently bar states and cities from placing a tax on the Internet is moving forward in the House.

House lawmakers are being asked to support a bill to place new privacy protections on people’s emails. 

Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez warned this weekend about the potential perils of companies that collect billions of bits of information about how people shop, eat, work and live. 

 

Please send tips and comments to Kate Tummarello, katet@thehill.com, and Julian Hattem, jhattem@thehill.com

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