Our weekly take on some of the biggest stories in startup and tech policy. To receive this weekly digest in your inbox, sign up at http://engine.is/digest.
Engine Voices Support for International Entrepreneur Program. For years, the startup and tech communities have been advocating for a pathway that would encourage the most promising immigrant entrepreneurs to start and scale their companies in the U.S. While no program currently allows for this, a recent proposal from the White House could change that. The International Entrepreneur Rule, proposed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in August, will allow qualifying foreign entrepreneurs to live in the U.S. to build their startup for up to five years. On Monday, Engine and New York-based technology trade group Tech:NYC submitted comments supporting the rule and recommending a number of targeted modifications, which we believe will allow the Rule to have an even greater positive impact. You can learn more and read the full comments here.
Help Support Residents’ Choice in Broadband. In San Francisco, you can order pizza from one of dozens of restaurants in the city. But you can’t do that with your internet. While federal law says a property owner cannot keep a broadband provider out of their building, some landlords have sidestepped this, setting up “revenue sharing” agreements with certain broadband providers and refusing competitors access to the building. However, this could change soon. On Tuesday, SF Supervisor Mark Farrell introduced an ordinance that will give residents more freedom in choosing a broadband provider. Under the ordinance, if a resident requests a provider, then the building owner must let that provider into the building (subject to some reasonable requirements around space limitations, compensation for costs directly incurred, etc). You help make ensure this important ordinance is passed by weighing in with the SF Board of Supervisors. And we’ve made it easy for you—learn more here.
CA’s Self-Driving Car Proposal Gets Pushback. The California DMV held a public workshop on Wednesday to discuss draft regulations for autonomous vehicles in the state. The DMV’s proposal would require that manufacturers adhere to the federal rules released last month, which are currently voluntary. Automakers and Google raised concerns with this provision, cautioning policymakers that it could impede their ability to continue to develop and test the vehicles. For their part, state officials explained that they are eager to get autonomous vehicles on the street, but not at the risk of public safety. They called for concrete suggestions from the policy community and other stakeholders, to which many have responded. The DMV said it will be considering the comments it has received over the next several months, but did not give a specific timeline for final regulations.
T-Mobile & FCC Reach Settlement Over Unlimited Data Plans. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and T-Mobile reached a $48 million settlement this week over the mobile service provider’s failure to disclose that it had placed speed and data restrictions on “unlimited” plans once users hit a specific threshold. After investigation, the agency argued that this practice violated both the 2010 net neutrality rules’ transparency provisions and 2015 Open Internet Order’s ban on throttling. The majority of the settlement, $35.5 million, will be offered as consumer benefits to customers with unlimited data plans. Another portion, at least $5 million, will go to low-income school districts to increase student access to internet-capable devices. In a statement, T-Mobile expressed that it was pleased that the settlement could increase transparency for customers and offer assistance to schools. Last year, the FCC sought to fine AT&T $100 million in a similar case, but the company has contested the penalty.
6 Ways to Grow a Startup Community in Your Own Backyard. Engine has logged more than 5,000 miles and visited 24 entrepreneurial ecosystems over the past two years as partners on the Rise of the Rest tours. And along the way, we’ve seen some of the key ways that policymakers are encouraging startup growth in their regions. In an op-ed published in Entrepreneur this week, Emma shares some of these lessons and looks at how the local leaders we met on the most recent Rise of the Rest tour are applying them in their own communities.