Daniel Lyons

Daniel Lyons

Daniel Lyons is a visiting fellow with AEI's Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy, and an associate professor at Boston College Law School, where he specializes in telecommunications and Internet regulation, as well as administrative law. Professor Lyons’ scholarship focuses on the challenges that technological development poses for legacy regulatory regimes. Among other topics, he has written on technology convergence and the need to redefine the boundary between federal and state jurisdiction over telecommunications; the relationship between net neutrality and traditional common carriage; and the importance of allowing pricing innovation in broadband markets. He is also a member of the Board of Academic Advisors for the Free State Foundation and a Fellow with the Boston Bar Association. Before joining the faculty, Professor Lyons practiced energy and telecommunications law at Munger, Tolles & Olson and at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Los Angeles. Professor Lyons earned both his bachelor’s degree and juris doctorate from Harvard University and after graduation, he clerked for Hon. Cynthia Holcomb Hall on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, California.
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Will the FCC be sued over net neutrality? Let’s hope so.

Late last month, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler lamented that the agency will likely be sued no matter what net neutrality rule the commission ultimately adopts. He noted that Comcast, Verizon, and other broadband providers (in Wheeler’s parlance, the “big dogs”) have successfully challenged the agency’s prior attempts to regulate broadband network management practice. Wheeler might also have noted that the first judicial challenge to the 2011 rules came not from industry but from Free Press, which accused the agency of not going far enough. Given this history, the politically charged nature of the issue, and recent rhetoric from interested parties, Wheeler is probably correct that another court case is inevitable. But this development should be embraced, not feared. Judicial review of the agency's decision-making is a good thing – both for the agency and for the people that it serves.
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Telecom law primer: Program access and program carriage rules

Last week, President Obama endorsed the reclassification of broadband Internet access as a public utility under Title II of the Communications Act. The president’s concern, and the concern of other net neutrality supporters, is that broadband providers may misuse their position in the Internet ecosystem to affect upstream markets for Internet-based content. Of course, this is not the first time the FCC has considered the potential for anticompetitive foreclosure by a network provider. For nearly a quarter-century, the commission has administered the program access and program carriage rules, which guard against the risk that a cable company will abuse its position as a bottleneck in the video distribution market.
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FTC overlooks true villains in AT&T cramming settlement

Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a $105 million multi-agency settlement with AT&T Mobility LLC. The FTC, along with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and various state law enforcement officials, had accused the wireless provider of unlawfully billing customers for third-party charges – a practice known as “cramming.” The settlement is a significant milestone, not only in the government’s ongoing efforts to control cramming but also in the use of...

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Preserving a lighter touch on mobile regulation

In its latest Open Internet Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed maintaining its 2010 policy of applying a lighter regulatory touch to mobile broadband providers. Some have questioned whether Chairman Tom Wheeler remains committed to this distinction for mobile regulation, particularly following his recent remarks at CTIA emphasizing the importance of maintaining the openness of the mobile Internet. But there are several key distinctions worth noting about mobile broadband that suggest it would be a mistake to simply take rules designed for a wire-based network and dump them on mobile networks. First, the mobile broadband environment is dynamic. This was, of course, a key reason why the Commission exempted wireless providers from many of the 2010 Open Internet rules. It explained that “[m]obile broadband is an earlier-stage platform than fixed broadband, and it is rapidly evolving.” The proliferation of smartphones, dedicated mobile devices, and hundreds of thousands of apps available across multiple platforms testifies to the pace of change in this sector of the Internet ecosystem.
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Net neutrality and mobile broadband innovation

We have noted previously in these pages that the FCC’s approach to net neutrality, and especially the more stringent rules for which many Open Internet proponents have pushed, may ultimately inhibit consumer choice. Net neutrality has focused ostensibly upon protecting competition and innovation in the market for Internet-based content and applications. But to do so, the movement would dramatically limit innovation in the market for broadband service: broadband providers would generally be required to offer customers access to all Internet access or none at all, and to treat all Internet traffic relatively identically. In a prior post, I discussed how this all-or-nothing approach to broadband access contrasts with the approach in many international markets, where customers are reaping the benefits of a more diverse array of innovative broadband product offerings, especially in the wireless space. For example, social media plans give consumers access to selected Internet content such as Facebook or Twitter, at a fraction of the cost of full Internet access. Co-blogger Roslyn Layton also recently discussed how partnerships between online music providers and wireless providers in Denmark are invigorating competition in both markets while delivering more choices and lower prices to consumers.