Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124
03/30/2018 03:15 PM House LABOR & COMMERCE
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HB 384-REGULATORY COMM OF AK; BROADBAND INTERNET 3:46:01 PM CHAIR KITO announced that the next order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 384, "An Act relating to the Regulatory Commission of Alaska and broadband Internet regulations." 3:46:12 PM REPRESENTATIVE DAVID GUTTENBERG, Alaska State Legislature, presented HB 384 as prime sponsor. He stated that the proposed bill represents a conflict that needs to be remediated or corrected. He said it is not clear which entity in the state is responsible for broadband. He read the definition in statute of telecommunications from AS 42.05.990(13), which reads as follows: (13) "telecommunications" means the transmission and reception of messages, impressions, pictures, and signals by means of electricity, electromagnetic waves, and any other kind of energy, force variations, or impulses whether conveyed by cable, wire, radiated through space, or transmitted through other media within a specified area or between designated points. REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG said the entities cannot establish amongst themselves who has jurisdiction on broadband internet access. He said the FCC says they don't have responsibly of any kind. He stated the RCA says it does not have authority. He said he thinks someone in the state should have authority. He added that there is no entity for consumer complaints or information. REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG spoke to the issue of mapping. He said his district appears on maps to have fast speeds, but it does not. He said he has spoken to the Department of Administration (DOA) about increasing access to the state's broadband and they also say it is not their role. He stated he thinks the RCA is the appropriate entity to oversee broadband in the state. 3:53:36 PM REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH stated his opposition to the bill, comparing it to the debate over Uber services in the previous year. He said he thinks it is a federal issue. 3:55:00 PM REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG answered the FCC has exclusive remedy to regulate, so the state would not have the ability to regulate [broadband] like a utility. He said there are things that the state can do, such as mapping. He said there is no one that could provide consumer protection. He added there are thing the FCC doesn't do, but which are not covered by an entity in the state. He said the consumers need an avenue and the FCC isn't it. He said it's up to the states. He pointed to service in the denser areas. He stated the FCC has a "hands-off" position and the state isn't providing the information. He said he does not think the [ISPs] are doing anything illegal, just looking after their business plan. He said the state has no one looking after its interests. He reiterated that he thinks the RCA is the right entity. REPRESENTATIVE STUTES asked if the proposed bill mirrors the net neutrality bill. REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG answered it does not. He said, if you don't have broadband, net neutrality isn't an issue." He said the proposed bill attempts to ensure that people have internet access. 4:00:08 PM REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked what the RCA position is. CHAIR KITO stated that representatives from the RCA would be testifying. He asked about the change Representative Guttenberg would make to the statute. REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG said that under the existing statute defining telecommunications, RCA says they don't have authority to regulate the service. He said the legal opinion is that the RCA does have authority. CHAIR KITO asked whether Representative Guttenberg was anticipating that the RCA will field complaints against the entities even if the entities are not regulated by the RCA. REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG said he is defining that RCA is covering this. CHAIR KITO asked what Representative Guttenberg wants the RCA to cover. REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG said he would like to see examples of where the state could be more competitive. He remarked there is limited competition in the state. He said the amount of money coming into the ISP carriers now prevents a lot of competition from happening. He said he thinks there are places where competition can be promoted. CHAIR KITO said he was trying to understand how the bill as it is written would institute the change for the RCA to regulate the industry. He asked said it does not seem that the RCA would be able to be proactive to increase broadband when that hasn't been their role with other utilities. 4:05:43 PM REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG said the FCC has preempted regulation by the state. He said the proposed bill would just put internet and broadband under their purview. REPRESENTATIVE STUTES asked for definitions of "they" and "it" in the context of the proposed bill. REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG answered that the FCC (they) is the only entity that can regulate broadband (it) and internet. He said the RCA can do things inside the state that the FCC is not doing. 4:08:34 PM RICH GAZAWAY, Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) Anchorage, Alaska, testified in the hearing on HB 384. He indicated he was testifying with Stephen McAlpine and David Parrish of the common carrier section. CHAIR KITO asked what the RCA would be eligible or prepared to do with respect to broadband internet. MR. GAZAWAY said that the RCA has never proclaimed that it has no jurisdiction over broadband whatsoever. He informed that the federal government has precluded much of the RCA's activity in the internet market. He said the RCA cannot impose a regulatory cost charge (RCC). He added that under the Net Neutrality order it has been further limited so that the RCA cannot require non- discriminatory access. He stated there is an informational docket open requesting information regarding broadband networks, and the RCA was told by carriers that it cannot ask for that information. He informed that any network carrying interstate service can fall under the RCA's jurisdiction. He acknowledged that the RCA does not have rate oversight jurisdiction. 4:11:03 PM REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH referred to a Legal Service memorandum stating that with the proposed bill, the RCA will still not be able to regulate any area that is preempted by federal law and any attempt by the RCA to reinstate that the FCC intends to preempt by the order would likely be unconstitutional. He shared his concern about the state attempting to define Alaska as a unique market and thereby compromise competition. MR. GAZAWAY asked whether the question is whether he agrees with the legal opinion. REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH said he is concerned about defining Alaska as different from the other 49 states. MR. GAZAWAY said the jurisdictional oversight refers to the telecommunications industry. He added there was no oversight on other entities. He said, "they are subsidized while other ISPs are not." He said there were federally funded performance grants. 4:14:34 PM REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked Mr. Gazaway whether he agrees whether broadband falls under the definition of telecommunications that has been presented. MR. GAZAWAY clarified that as staff his opinion is not binding on the commission, but he agrees. 4:15:23 PM STEPHEN MCALPINE, Commissioner, Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA), answered questions in the hearing on HB 384. He pointed out that it has been stated that the RCA is "totally preemptive." He said there are varying opinions. He said that by putting it in statute, it can only clarify that which has some doubt. REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked about voice over internet protocol (VOIP) regulation. MR. GAZAWAY answered that VOIP is not regulated by the RCA. He said payment expectations can be imposed, but states all have a different approach. He mentioned that some states have sued over the issue and there has never been a proclamation from the FCC either way. 4:17:13 PM CHAIR KITO opened public testimony on HB 384. 4:17:36 PM REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG pointed to a sheet of paper that helps see what other states have done with broadband. He spoke to a 2008 broadband taskforce report. He said it states there needs to be an entity that regulates broadband, and Alaska has none. He mentioned the universal service fund. He suggested those funds could be used for grants. He opined that Alaska, with its distances and lack of infrastructure, has to do something to promote access to broadband. 4:20:03 PM CHAIR KITO held over HB 384.