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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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.
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Setting the record straight on usage-based pricing

Last week, the Government Accountability Office released some preliminary findings from its ongoing investigation of usage-based pricing. This investigation came in response to a May 2013 request by Representative Anna Eshoo, the ranking Democrat on the House Commerce Subcommittee on Communications. Although the GAO stressed that its findings were preliminary, and that its final report would be completed in November, Representative Eshoo seized upon the release, urging FCC Chairman Wheeler to regulate “data caps” (notably, the GAO never used this loaded and somewhat misleading term), which Eshoo portrayed as a “new threat to the free and open Internet.” In light of this rhetoric, it is worthwhile to review what the GAO actually said, and to set the record straight on the issue of usage-based pricing.
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Title II does not prohibit paid prioritization

Much of the controversy surrounding the FCC’s net neutrality proceeding involves the issue of paid prioritization: whether an Internet content or application provider can pay for priority delivery or minimum guaranteed speed over last-mile broadband networks. Opponents of prioritization have endorsed reclassification under Title II as the only solution to prohibit such agreements. But a careful look at the history of Title II’s nondiscrimination obligations shows that this is not the panacea that net neutrality advocates seek – because, as Chairman Tom Wheeler has repeatedly stated, Title II would permit prioritization. Title II Section 202 prohibits telecommunications providers from engaging in “unreasonable discrimination.” Courts and the Commission have subjected Section 202 claims to a three-part inquiry. The plaintiff must show that two services are “like” services, and that customers of the two services have been treated differently in the provision of the service. If the plaintiff meets these two hurdles, the burden then shifts to the telecommunications provider to show that the disparity in service is reasonable.