Double-talk from industry supports notion that some regulation would benefit consumers
Since President Barack Obama voiced his support for reclassification of ISPs as utilities, there has been much debate back and forth, and back again on the topic of "Title II" regulation of carriers. Would it be the dystopian nightmare anti-government zealots and the carriers proclaim, or would it provide a golden utopia of progress for consumers and American businesses alike?
Potential fine of up to $105 million by FCC the latest in a crackdown on 'cramming'
Mobile phone service provider Sprint could be facing a fine of as high as $105 million or other disciplinary actions from the FCC after a study by the agency concluded that the carrier was willfully participating in a practice called "cramming," in which users are often tricked into signing up for "premium" services (such as ringtones or special messages) from a third-party, which then adds monthly charges to the user's bill. Like AT&T and T-Mobile before it, Sprint has run afoul of authorities for taking a cut of these scams, and thus having an incentive to allow them to continue, despite customer complaints.
Upgrade from 4Mbps definition in 2011 keeps 1Mbps upstream minimum
Over the objections of carriers and cable companies, the FCC on Friday voted to change the definition of the term "broadband" to require a minimum speed of 10 megabits (one megabit equals one-eighth of a megabyte) per second (Mbps) download speed -- an upgrade from the previous definition of 4Mbps -- while keeping the old definition's requirement of at least 1Mbps upload. Although the US is far behind many other countries in typical broadband speed (and US customers pay more for the slower speed that typical prices in many other places), AT&T and Verizon, along with the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, argued that 4Mbps was sufficient for consumers.
Letter From National Association of Manufacturers claims net neutrality 'slowing business'
The U.S. National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and leaders in Congress to oppose the possible, and much more strict, proposals for Internet regulation as put forth by the FCC. The letter, which claims that the current standard of net neutrality "severely threaten continuing growth," functions as a rebuttal to a similar letter from the opposite point of view sent last May by over 100 tech companies, who argued that net neutrality was the only option that would protect Internet growth and well-being.
Replies in Comcast-TWC merger due December 23, AT&T-DirecTV by January 7, 2015
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced December 3 that it is restarting the informal "shot clocks" in the review of the $45 billion Comcast-Time Warner Cable and $48.5 billion AT&T-DirecTV proposed mergers. As the FCC is now allowing parties to review confidential information once again, it restarted the pleading cycles with new deadlines for each merger.
Group including Dish, Writers Guild of America and more urge DOJ, FCC to reject merger
A new opposition group emerged today to declare war on the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, stressing the negative effects such a deal would present to cable and Internet markets, competition and consumers. The Stop Mega Comcast Coalition proposes in a manifesto that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reject the merger.
Pai questions development of Open Connect, believes cache devices could lock others out
A commissioner from the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is asking Netflix to answer allegations that it is touting net neutrality in one hand, while constructing Internet "fast lanes" with another, by December 16. Commissioner Ajit Pai issued a letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, asking that the company reply to allegations that its development of Open Connect and decision to forego membership in the Streaming Video Alliance is actually helping tip the scales in its favor.
Hearing to question FCC commissioners over proposed rules pushed back to 2015
The US House of Representative Communications and Technology subcommittee announced it is pushing back its hearing over the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) proposed net neutrality rules. Initially, the hearing was set to take place on December 10, but the delay pushes the review into an undisclosed time in 2015.
Regulatory symbols on devices can be removed, shown in software instead
The backs of smartphones will become slightly better looking, after a bill concerning the labeling of electronic devices has been signed into law by President Obama. The E-Label Act, created by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), will allow manufacturers to leave off a large amount of the logos and other regulatory iconography from the device itself.
AT&T claims it will adhere to fiber build, but freezing any new expansion plans
Following the US Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) demand for more information about a "frozen" fiber buildout, AT&T has responded to the call late yesterday. The company claims that the announced expansion of the gigabit network is not actually frozen -- only new, unannounced expansions have been halted in the wake of the FCC's net neutrality and Title II regulation discussion, though the announcement was seen a thinly-veiled threat against the FCC.
Carrier to modify text messages, disclosures to customers, report accurate speed tests
US carrier T-Mobile and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced an agreement today that changes the way T-Mobile handles customers that go over their data caps in any given month. The FCC says T-Mobile will take steps to ensure customers are better informed about the reduced speeds, including providing accurate speed tests.
Wheeler believes lawsuits inevitable, regardless of result of discussion
US Federal Communications Commission head Tom Wheeler said that there is a specific reason why the regulatory group is taking its time with the net neutrality discussion. Speaking at a meeting on Friday, the chairman said that caution was prudent, and that the agency needs to "make sure that we understand what is going on here." Referring to Verizon, AT&T, and the other major Internet providers, he added that "the big dogs are going to sue regardless of what comes out."
Cruz doesn't think government should pick 'winners and losers' from the 'big boys'
After President Barack Obama urged the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) to consider Title II regulation of Internet service providers in order to treat them like a utility, numerous individuals and companies spoke in opposition. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was one such politician, equating net neutrality to "Obamacare" for the Internet. Though Cruz explained his reasoning during a talk in Austin, Texas late last week, his "don't mess with the Internet" sound bite seems confused. Does his stance on the way the Internet should be treated add up?
FCC lawyer calls AT&T's anti-Title II gambit
Just days after AT&T said that it would pause new gigabit fiberoptic deployments pending resolution of the net neutrality discussion, the US Federal Communications Commission has requested information on the buildout. The FCC is demanding information on the current number of households that the carrier provides fiber to, the demographic breakdown of those locations, and proof that the AT&T investment model in fiber is unprofitable as it claims now or in the future.
Roberts believes merger on track for completion in March, working on net neutrality
The merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable is moving along, according to recent statements from Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. Roberts said that his company is moving "full steam ahead" with the $45 billion deal to acquire Time Warner Cable, an acquisition that would bring an additional 11 million customers to Comcast's Internet and television services.
CEO Stephenson says provider might hold investment on fiber builds in 100 areas
During an analyst conference on Wednesday, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that the company is considering putting a hold on its build-out of gigabit fiber networks for select cities in the US until a decision is made on net neutrality rules. The company announced in April that it would be bringing high-speed fiber to 100 cities and municipalities.
Wheeler reminds critics that FCC is independent, not bound by White House
Speaking before a series of Silicon Valley company representatives, US Federal Communications Chairman Tom Wheeler has refuted President Obama's call for Title II regulation of cable companies and strict net neutrality. The chairman, when asked about the President's declaration, reminded attendees that the FCC doesn't answer to the President, with the statement that "I am an independent agency."
FCC should create net neutrality-protecting rules, insists Obama
President Barack Obama has voiced his support for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reclassify Internet services under Title II of the Telecommunications act. Wading into the net neutrality debate again, Obama has issued a statement asking for the FCC to "answer the call of almost 4 million public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality."
Verizon general counsel wants 18-year-old pro-ISP law to dictate policy
The ISP that started the entire net neutrality debate with a court win, Verizon, is threatening legal action should the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) implement Title II oversight of the telecommunications industry. Following claims that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is considering a hybrid approach to net neutrality and ISP regulation, Verizon is threatening counter-suits, claiming that doing so "fairly guarantees litigation" by multiple ISPs.
Deal would apply Title II to content providers, less regulation to consumers
Reports are circulating that US Federal Communications Commission chief Tom Wheeler is evaluating a hybrid approach to Internet regulation and net neutrality proposals. One of the four proposals would apply Title II regulation to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), but would also allow them to sell "fast lane" access, breaking up applicable fees and regulations into wholesale and retail transactions.
Court challenges by broadcasters push auction date back from the middle of 2015
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it is delaying the upcoming 2015 incentive spectrum auction until at least early 2016. In a post from Gary Epstein, the chair of the FCC's Incentive Task Force, he said that recent court filings by broadcasters are causing the agency to push back the auction for spectrum previously assigned to television broadcasts.
Mostly grandfathered plans hit by throttling, speeds cut to dial-up
The US Federal Trade Commission has launched a suit against AT&T for its admitted throttling of unlimited wireless data users. The FTC claims that AT&T has implemented the up to 90 percent slower data speeds on over 3.5 million customers a total of more than 25 million times since implementation on October 1, 2011.
Sensitive customer data stored openly on servers prompts FCC fine
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has levied a total of $10 million in fines against two carriers, for improperly storing customer data. TerraCom and YourTel America have both been hit with the fines for "lax data security practices" which allegedly left the personal data of approximately 305,000 customers in public view on unsecured servers.
Confidential programming agreements requested in early October source of the delay
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has stopped its "180-day informal time clock" in the review of the merger proposals for Comcast and Time Warner Cable, as well as AT&T and DirectTV. The reason for the stoppage involves the modified joint protective orders that the FCC created at the beginning of October, which content companies are now using to bar outside sources from reading confidential programming agreements.
Approval granted only one day after Google halted pre-orders on Android TV device
Last week, Google suddenly halted all pre-orders on the new Nexus Player set-top box after it was discovered that the company didn't have the proper US government approvals to sell the device. Google jumped the gun on selling the player, which is set to ship in November, since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had not yet granted the required approvals for Asus to begin selling the device, which it manufactured for Google. However the suspension of sales was short-lived, as the FCC approved the device for sale on Sunday.
Administration has made it clear to FCC that rules don't create tiered Internet
During a question-and-answer session at Cross Campus in Santa Monica last week, US President Barack Obama reaffirmed his stance on net neutrality, which he has held since first running for office. Holding that the concept of an open Internet is important to innovation, the President said that he expects that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will not end up creating a tiered Internet.
Suggested plan classifies broadband as Title II, Section 706 authority expanded
Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) has offered a new take on how to handle net neutrality, based on a 15-page letter he sent to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler. Where Wheeler's plan focuses on regulation through Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, and other voices want broadband reclassified as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, Waxman suggests the two be bridged for the best approach.
Procedures created to protect public interest, alleviate media firm confidentiality concerns
In the review of the proposed mergers between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, or the proposed AT&T-DirecTV deal, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) believes that reviewing the contracts and agreements made by the merger applicants and media companies is important. Last month, the FCC requested that media firms turn over information about deals with Comcast, something that the provider and media companies fought back on. However, the FCC now has plans in place to address some of their concerns in both mergers.
Clock stopped on FCC time table, grants more time to respond to 850-page response
After receiving a lengthy responses from Comcast and Time Warner Cable and several other factors, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to extend the "Replies to Responses and Oppositions" period for the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger. The period, which was originally scheduled to end October 8, is now extended to October 29. As a result, the FCC has paused its 180-day "shot clock" for transaction reviews.
Rumored HTC-produced Nexus 9 may be squarer than earlier devices
Rumors about a HTC-produced Nexus tablet are not continuing to snowball, with two new sources suggesting such a device is on the way. An image on Twitter allegedly shows the back of the fabled tablet, while a separate report stemming from an FCC filing suggests the display could have a slightly different aspect ratio compared to earlier Nexus devices.
FCC listing shows cross-platform Lenovo fitness tracker with seven-day battery
A wearable device from Lenovo has appeared at the FCC, appearing to depict a form of fitness tracker. The Lenovo SW-B100 Smartband, pictured extensively in the filing, shows a watch strap with a narrow and flat area in the middle, with a basic LED or LCD display likely to be visible on the outside of the device when worn, while a sensor which could be a heart rate monitor is spied on the inside.
Hotel blocked personal hotspots to force use of own Wi-Fi service
Marriott International has agreed to settle with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the blocking of Wi-Fi networks, by paying a $600,000 fine. The hotel chain was found to be actively blocking its customers from being able to access Wi-Fi networks from within a Nashville resort, except for the one the hotel provides.
Dueling regulatory boards fight over future of ISP regulation
Allegedly concerned about protecting the American consumer, US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) head Maureen Ohlhausen has come out as strongly against Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler's net neutrality provision -- specifically, the possibility of Title II regulation of ISPs. The comment against the possibility of regulating Internet providers as a utility is the FTC's second in September.
Improvement in customer service, expansion of low-cost broadband demanded
Several states are having regulatory discussions in governmental circles about the Comcast and Time Warner Cable merger. Two New York state agencies, the Division of Consumer Protection Utility Intervention Unit (UIU) and the Department of Public Service, are taking serious issue with the merger and are demanding concessions. As a result, the UIU's vote on its discussion has been postponed from October 2 until November 13, over "deficiencies associated with the Companies' current substandard customer service" and other issues that is sees as being generated or exacerbated by a combined company.
Provider calls Dish Network, Discovery Communications, and Netflix out in FCC response
Comcast believes that a number of companies are trying to bully the cable and Internet provider in order to get favorable terms -- in exchange for their non-opposition of the merger with Time Warner Cable. In a response to the comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the proposed merger, Comcast claims that companies are engaging in a sort of blackmail to further their own business interests at the cost of the deal.
Competition by municipal broadband, Google, and wireless declared sufficient
In a filing with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Comcast has spelled out why it believes it should be allowed to purchase Time Warner Cable. Saying that users have enough high-speed cable options including wireless and satellite, and that switching to one of the "broad range" of competitors it has such as Google Fiber, the giant believes it should be able to complete the merger without citizens or the government being concerned about a monopolistic situation.
Titan Aerospace equipment being used for flight testing
Google has filed a plan to test broadcast drones in the skies of New Mexico. A filing with the US Federal Communications Commission, one of the regulatory agencies that needs to be involved with such an endeavor, points to a test site south of Santa Fe, New Mexico and south of Las Vegas, Nevada. The tests are likely a practical test of remote Internet delivery technologies, and some of the largest drills that Google has run yet, utilizing Titan Aerospace's technology.
Exec proposes bonuses for users, websites assisting with 'congestion'
BitTorrent's Chief Executive Officer Eric Klinker has made his response to the US Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality proposal, using the "fast lane" provisions, known. Klinker believes that a model similar to that of the electric distribution in the US can be used, where users and websites get lower rates for use in times of lower demand rather than the potential conflict of interest, and double-payment, that ISPs would get for having sponsored faster access under FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal.
Zigbee in updated TiVo Mini could be used to connect to nearby smart appliances
Just one day after TiVo launched its high-capacity device, details of an update to the other end of the DVR range have leaked. According to a filing at the FCC, the company is preparing to launch a revision of the TiVo Mini, launched last year, and though it may include some form of wireless connectivity, it is possible it won't use a standard Wi-Fi connection.
Minority leader concerned with both FCC behavior, ISP policies
House Minority Leader (D-CA) Nancy Pelosi has called for broadband to be reclassified as a public utility under Title II legislation. Instead of railing against the Internet Service Providers themselves, Pelosi wants the reclassification, as she is concerned that upcoming Federal Communication Commission (FCC) rulings will result in discrimination against consumers and innovators relying on an unfettered Internet to survive.
Company failed to inform users of opt-out option for six years
Verizon has agreed to a $7.4 million dollar fine, payable to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as a result of not informing customers that they could "opt out" of Verizon marketing efforts tailored with gleaned user information. The fine, the largest of its kind, is assessed in parallel with the requirement that the company tell customers in every mailed bill that they can prevent the company from using data for advertising and marketing purposes.
256 page FCC filing lays out case for rejection of merger
Video streamer Netflix has formally objected to the Comcast and Time Warner Cable merger, with a complaint filed with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier this week. The streamer believes that the merger hampers consumer access to data, and "would set up an ecosystem that calls into question what we have to date taken for granted: that a consumer who pays for connectivity to the Internet will be able to get the content she requests."
Charter swept up in FCC info dragnet, September 11 deadline for submissions
A request for information from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been submitted to Comcast and Time Warner Cable, demanding the pair detail its Internet and programming agreements before the merger is approved. Information sought includes broadcast deals with sports leagues, Internet network management such as that with Netflix traffic, consumer data caps, and other information deemed vital which may impact relations with customers should the deal be approved.
Deal marks fourth major deal with Internet service providers
Netflix has signed a new peering deal, this time with Time Warner Cable. The deal now gives the video streamer interconnection deals with Internet service providers that cover about 68 percent of all the broadband customers in the US. Notably, the 32 percent it doesn't have deals with are smaller providers - largely carriers that have pro-net neutrality views, and haven't been found to limit or slow down Netflix traffic for users.
Organization believes that auction violates Spectrum Act, abuses discretion under APA Act
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has filed a petition with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, seeking a review of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) 2015 spectrum auction. In the filing, the NAB states that the FCC isn't taking the proper precautions to protect broadcasters that choose to retain their spectrum. According to the NAB, an updated methodology the FCC is using will result in a loss of coverage area for remaining broadcasters.
Staff deluged by comments for and against the controversial plan
Under an onslaught of remarks, both slamming and supporting Federal Communication Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler's Net Neutrality proposal, the agency has extended the second public comment phase five days, now ending September 15. The alteration was made "to ensure that members of the public have as much time as was initially anticipated to reply to initial comments in these proceedings," according to the agency.
Companies withdraw contributions after watch dog group call the donations suspect
Comcast and Time Warner Cable have withdrawn contributions to the Kaitz Dinner, a yearly event that celebrates diversity in the cable industry. News of the funding removal came after the Citizens of Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) objected to the contributions, as Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Mignon Clyburn was being honored with an award at the event.
Enquiry expands as throttling 'expands to a business issue' rather than technical hurdle
The FCC has decided to expand its investigation into Verizon's recently-announced changes in "unlimited" data for subscribers into a full review of the entire US cellular industries network management policies, with a particular focus on "throttling" policies and how they are implemented, particularly for customers still on an "unlimited" data plan. The agency is even questioning carriers about why it would need throttling policies on more-efficient LTE networks at all.
No comment given regarding possible Title II regulation of ISPs
President Obama, fielding a question at a press event, has decried part of US Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler's "net neutrality" proposal. Speaking before the US Africa Leaders Summit, the president claims that "you don't want to start getting a differentiation in how accessible the Internet is to different users" and that the proposal needs to "leave it open so the next Google and the next Facebook can succeed."
Company claims all the other wireless carriers do so, so it should as well
Verizon is the first mobile provider that the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has queried about Internet speed slowdown for certain customers on an "unlimited" data plan. In a response filed with the FCC yesterday, the wireless company explained its rationale for reneging on its "unlimited" promise, and noted that a user needs to consume 4.7GB of mobile data per month to be put in the class of users that it would throttle, for what it claims is a need to protect the experience of the rest of its customers on the network.