Items tagged with FCC

As the war over net neutrality rages on, the Internet Association fired off the latest volley by supplicating the FCC with concerns and a mandate to take decisive action on the issue. The IA’s voice is bolstered by a chorus of major tech companies, including Amazon, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Yahoo!, and more. “Segregation of the Internet into fast lanes and slow lanes will distort the market, discourage innovation and harm Internet users. The FCC must act to create strong, enforceable net neutrality rules and apply them equally to both wireless and wireline providers,” said Michael Beckerman, President and CEO of The Internet Association, in a blog post. The IA posits three... Read more...
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently deciding whether or not to approve Comcast's $45.2 billion proposed takeover of Time Warner Cable, a deal that would combine the two largest cable providers in the U.S. and give net Comcast an additional 30 million subscribers. Meanwhile, Dish Network is screaming in the FCC's ear to block the deal over concerns that it would present "serious competitive concerns." One of Dish Network's biggest concerns is the control of so-called choke points in the broadband pipeline that Comcast could use to harm competing video services. The choke points include the direct connection to consumers, the interconnection point, and managed or specialized... Read more...
Although the FCC is drawing the ire of many for its new stance on net neutrality, it’s important to remember that the agency is also doing good work to get Internet access to people who will certainly benefit from it. The FCC is “modernizing” its E-rate program to increase broadband Internet access into schools and libraries all over the country, including in rural areas. This week, the FCC hit the $1 billion funding mark, which is quite fast for the E-rate program, meaning that broadband is getting into schools more rapidly and more cheaply. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler A large part of the FCC’s push to manage the E-rate program better is to get WiFi into schools; along... Read more...
Ever since Tom Wheeler unveiled a plan last month that would allow Internet Service Providers to charge for paid content prioritization, accusations have flown thick and fast that the proposed rules would effectively kill net neutrality. On the side of "Scrap Wheeler's net neutrality plan" you have more than 100 corporations including Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter. On the side of "Allowed paid prioritization" you have... well, the ISPs who see it as a marvelous way to increase profits without improving the quality of their product. Now, a pair of Democrats -- Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) and Doris Matsui (D-Cali) have introduced a bill to the House and Senate that would require the FCC to enforce... Read more...
In case you hadn’t noticed, ISPs and Netflix aren’t exactly friendly right now. In addition to bowing to Comcast and paying extra fees (that surely stuck in Netflix’s craw), the video streaming provider passive-aggressively accused Verizon of delivering substandard network performance, and Verizon countered by blasting Netflix for what amounts to lying (allegedly). The situation is only going to get worse and uglier, and the FCC is stepping in to investigate what’s boiling under the surface. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler “Consumers must get what they pay for,” wrote FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in a letter. As the consumer’s representative we need to know what... Read more...
Is the FCC trolling ISPs (on our behalf)? The agency is considering raising the standard minimum speed for what is considered “high-speed Internet”, which would potentially force ISPs to work faster to roll out better service to more areas. Currently, broadband Internet speed is defined as 4Mbps, but according to an anonymous FCC official that spoke to the Washington Post, the FCC might bump that number up to 10Mbps or even 25Mbps. 4Mbps is nothing; you can’t even stream Netflix in HD at that speed, and forget about having a second user gobbling up bandwidth. The new definitions would also set a higher limit on upload speeds, which would jump to 2.9Mbps from the current 1Mbps.... Read more...
Back in 2011, the FCC put forth a plan that would convert some of the subsidies that bring telephone service to rural areas to Internet access. The idea is simple: Years ago, it was decided that rural areas needed the same access to current communications technology that more populated areas enjoy. Back then it was telephone service, and now it’s Internet access. A court has approved the FCC’s plan, which had been challenged extensively by various phone companies who were concerned about losing subsidies, reports the NYT. However, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the challenges as unpersuasive (or “barred from judicial review”). “After years of good... Read more...
Imagine that you're a 911 dispatcher and you receive a text message that reads, "OMG, sned hlp nao! Its an emergency! no joke, lol!" That's something emergency responders are going to have to figure out, because as of now, all four major wireless carriers in the U.S. -- Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint -- are offering text-to-911 service in select areas. It's easy to see the logic behind the move. After all, nearly everyone owns a mobile phone these days, and if you're in a situation where making a voice call just isn't feasible -- perhaps you're locked in a closet as a burglar paces back and forth deciding what to do with you, or you've been tied up and gagged but can still reach your... Read more...
More or less as expected, the FCC voted to advance the new net neutrality rules that would allow ISPs to charge certain web companies more for “fast lanes” for content. It’s a decision that net neutrality advocates are unhappy with because they see it as an unhealthy compromise, while net neutrality opponents are annoyed at the open provisions these rules leave open. The vote went 3-2 along party lines, with FCC chairman Tom Wheeler apparently doing enough to convince the other two democrats on the committee to vote along with him. Tom Wheeler This is by no means the end of political wrangling, though. This vote opens up four months of commentary and reviews, a subsequent second... Read more...
Okay, you feel strongly about net neutrality rules, but you roll your eyes at the prospect of a bunch of aging rockstars advocating for it. What do cats like Eddie Vedder, Tom Morello, Michael Stipe, Fugazi, and more have to do with any of the issues at hand? Actually, they have a really good point to bring to the fore. "The open Internet's impact on the creative community cannot be overstated," reads a letter they (and many others) signed and sent to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. "The Internet has enabled artists to connect directly with each other and with audiences. It has eliminated the barriers of geography and taken collaborations to new levels. And it has allowed people—not corporations—to... Read more...
The FCC has confirmed that it will hold a May 15 vote on a new set of policies governing net neutrality and ISP behavior -- but according to the Wall Street Journal, the commission's proposed regulation will effectively kill the idea of a level playing field. The Wall Street Journal reports that the proposed rules would prevent ISPs from blocking specific websites, but would allow them to charge services like Netflix an additional fee for better access to end users. The paper claims that all "commercially reasonable" agreements would be permitted, with deals investigated on a case-by-case basis to ascertain whether the terms are reasonable. This is the opposite of what the FCC attempted to do... Read more...
Ever since terrestrial broadcasters shut down their stations and went off the air, the FCC has been mulling what to do with sections of spectrum and how that wireless space should be allocated between wireless broadcasters and other types of use. It's a complicated issue, in that much of the frequency in question is in the valuable 1GHz band. Verizon and AT&T have both expressed a great deal of interest in sucking that bandwidth down -- but given the strength and reach of the two carriers, the FCC is evaluating rules that would limit their spectrum purchases in order to encourage competition. In response, AT&T has said that it might prefer to sit out the auction altogether rather than... Read more...
The FCC has approved an AT&T acquisition of Leap Wireless, which includes Cricket and all of its 4.6 million customers--but the agency did not greenlight the deal without caveats. AT&T does get all of Leap Wireless’ spectrum, networking equipment, and “other assets”, but the company will have to divest spectrum in some markets to avoid anti-competition problems. More notably, AT&T has agreed to launch LTE service using Leap Wireless’ unused spectrum within 90 days so that the latter’s (former) customers get access to AT&T’s 4G network, and LTE service will come to six markets in Texas within 18 months. Current Cricket coverage map But wait,... Read more...
The United States Government has filed a lawsuit against Sprint Communications requesting triple damages to the tune of $63M. Sprint's crime? Overcharging the NSA, FBI, and various other government agencies for the cost of spying on millions of Americans and turning their data over to the government. This is another "unintended consequence" of the Snowden revelations last year, though likely not one anyone anticipated. In the past, the government would've had no choice but to conduct this kind of action behind the tightest of closed doors, lest secrets leak that would reveal to the American people exactly how monitored our telecommunications are. Now, in the wake of the Snowden leaks, there's... Read more...
The FCC’s effort to impose net neutrality rules suffered a setback when a federal court threw out some important sections of the measures, but as the agency fights back against Verizon, et al, it has a powerful ally in the White House. Well, sort of. In a statement on the We The People blog (in response to a petition to get the common carrier designation fixed), Gene Sperling and Todd Park said that President Obama fully supports net neutrality and the FCC’s efforts to that end. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler “Absent net neutrality, the Internet could turn into a high-priced private toll road that would be inaccessible to the next generation of visionaries,” reads the post.... Read more...
As we’ve all had some time to digest the potential reality of a Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, there’s some thought out there that the two giants could be making a move specifically designed to target cord-cutters, those brave souls who’ve given the one-finger salute to traditional pay-TV providers and their steep fees and incommensurate product. Farhad Manjdo of the New York Times writes that the new, bigger Comcast can recoup any lost cable customers by ensuring that it provides them their Internet service. So one way or another, they get to decide how much customers in its markets pay for cable and/or Internet access. Image Source: Flickr (Mr. T in DC) From a business... Read more...
Senate democrats introduced new legislation called the Smartphone Theft Prevention Act (senate bill 2032), which would mandate a killswitch option on all smartphones. The big four wireless carriers as well as the CTIA are all on record as being against such measures, but if the bill passes, they won’t have much of a choice in the matter. Headed by Minnesota democrat Amy Klobuchar and co-signed by Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), the act would require carriers to provide the technology that would allow users to remotely wipe their phones of identifying information and brick the devices, as well. (Source: Ed Yourdon via Flickr) Klobuchar cites FCC... Read more...
The fight over net neutrality is ongoing, and the most recent punch thrown took the form of a letter that several U.S. senators, including Senator Al Franken, wrote to new FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, urging him to act quickly to fight back against a recent court ruling that vacated the anti-discrimination and anti-blocking portions of the order. “The Court’s ruling threatens the freedom of innovators to compete on an open, neutral platform,” reads the letter. “Without rules to preserve fair competition--rules to bar Internet networks operators from discriminating against one content provider over another--deep-pocketed incumbents will have the ability to enter into arrangements... Read more...
You know who’s not a fan of net neutrality? Verizon. The mobile carrier issued a challenge to--and defeated--the FCC’s order that imposes net neutrality rules that include transparency, no blocking, and no unreasonable discrimination policies. The U.S. Court of Appeals has vacated the anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules. Fortunately, the transparency portion of net neutrality is still in place, but the rest has been tripped up by technicalities. A central issue appears to be how the FCC has classified broadband providers “in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers”, or so states the court’s decision. “Because the Commission has... Read more...
There's progress, and then there's going too far. While you won't find too many technology lovers who are opposed to having Wi-Fi below 10,000 feet or being able to leave one's Kindle on from gate-to-gate, there's a fine line here that may soon be crossed. Enabling connectivity in the sky is a godsend for those who fly frequently and need to get work done, but by and large, all of this happens at a low volume level. The noise of one's keyboard is largely drowned out by the rumble of the airline engines, and there's a good reason that most in-flight Wi-Fi services don't allow VoIP or video calls. The airline is a cramped place, and any semblance of privacy is precious. But, a new report suggests... Read more...
When new FCC chairman Tom Wheeler stepped into his new job, he had some big shoes to fill after predecessor Julius Genachowski left an impressive track record behind, but Mr. Wheeler seems to be hitting the ground running. This week, he wrote a letter to the CTIA urging the group to amend its Consumer Code to change consumers’ right to unlock their mobile devices. Wheeler noted, in a not-so-subtle way, that the FCC prefers when industries promote competition voluntarily, and he said that after eight months of work between the FCC and CTIA enough is enough. “Let’s set a goal of including the full unlocking rights policy in the CTIA Consumer Code before the December holiday season.”... Read more...
Nokia may be under Microsoft's rule in the near future, but it'll be expanding its hardware reach at least once more before that deal is officially signed off on. According to a new FCC filing that surfaced over the weekend, Nokia has a tablet en route. The codenamed RX-114 is tucked away in a massive document, detailing all sorts of measurements and band testing. The FCC filing, per usual, doesn't reveal much. That said, it does show that Verizon and AT&T LTE bands will be supported, and technically, T-Mobile will be included in some regard. It's also expected to launch with Windows RT -- an operating system that may already have one foot in the grave. Nokia is expected to officialy unveil... Read more...
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