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.
FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly testifies before a House panel on Capitol Hill in Washington December 12, 2013. REUTERS

Commissioner O’Rielly’s crusade for FCC process reform

Following the harsh spotlight that the net neutrality proceeding placed on the FCC’s operations, there has been renewed interest in the topic of FCC process reform. Late last month, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a bipartisan bill designed to “improve transparency, accountability, and predictability” at the agency. Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has launched a task force to tackle reforms suggested by a 2014 staff working group. And perhaps none have taken more interest in this topic than FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, who has penned several blog posts in recent months challenging the commission to change “business as usual” in specific ways. But what does “process reform” mean in practice?
Data caps by Shutterstock.com

5 things OTI gets wrong about data caps. Including using the term “data caps.”

Earlier this month, the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) released a short paper attacking usage-based broadband pricing. Provocatively entitled “Artificial Scarcity,” it purports to show “how data caps harm consumers and innovation.” But the report is short on evidence in support of its proposition, and overall it fails to present a balanced view of various broadband pricing strategies. While there are several points worth discussing, this blog post will focus on five key errors.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler testifies before a Senate hearing on the FCC's 2016 budget on Capitol Hill. May 2015. REUTERS

Lifeline needs revolutionary, not evolutionary, change

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted along party lines to update the Lifeline program for the digital age. Established in 1985, Lifeline was designed to help low-income consumers afford telephone service, access to which “has been crucial to full participation in our society and economy.” Now that the Internet has displaced the telephone as the nation’s primary communications network, the agency has decided that the Lifeline program should evolve as well. The commission is right to focus on broadband access and to work towards narrowing America’s digital divide. But its proposed order is notable for how little the agency has dared to dream. The change to Lifeline should not be evolutionary – it should be revolutionary.
Net neutrality by Shutterstock

Net neutrality and the return of state regulators

Recent history is littered with the corpses of once-venerable institutions whose very existences were disrupted by the Internet. Blockbuster Video. Borders. The Encyclopedia Britannica desk set. Legal geeks like me might add another entry to this pantheon: state telecommunications regulators. In the heady days of the Bell monopoly, state regulators reigned alongside the FCC as co-sovereigns, setting the rates and terms of service for intrastate communications, which many considered more essential than long-distance. But as the Internet replaced the telephone system as America’s primary telecommunications network, state authority receded. The FCC classified broadband as an information service and largely preempted state regulation. State regulators may not have disappeared completely, but it appeared that, like local newspapers, they were destined for a much more circumscribed role in the Internet age.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler testifies before a Senate hearing in Washington, May 12, 2015. REUTERS

Regulating interconnection: The FCC has a role to play, but it’s more limited than they’d like

Barring a stay, the FCC’s Open Internet order is set to take effect later this month. And although much of the analysis thus far has focused on the rules regulating traffic over last-mile broadband networks, the most far-reaching aspect may prove to be the commission’s decision to regulate interconnection. It is also perhaps the most surprising aspect. Since launching its net neutrality proceeding in 2009, the commission repeatedly insisted that it had no desire to regulate the Internet. As late as mid-2014, Chairman Tom Wheeler explained that interconnection is “not a net neutrality issue” and a commission spokesman clarified that “[p]eering and interconnection are not under consideration in the Open Internet proceeding.”