FCC talking with AT&T about limiting FaceTime to certain plans
One of the new features in Apple's iOS6 release due this fall is an enhancement to the FaceTime video call feature, allowing it to function on any cellular network. Friday, AT&T announced that the privilege only extends to users on its new "Mobile Share" programs, and not for users grandfathered on the unlimited or tiered data plans. Public Knowledge, a nonprofit Internet law group, believes that preventing other customers from using FaceTime violates net neutrality rules by blocking a service that competes with its own.
Carrier blasts FCC over neutrality proposals
Verizon has stepped up its rhetoric against the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality proposals, arguing that such rules represent a violation of free speech and property rights. In a US Court of Appeals filing, as part of an ongoing lawsuit focusing on net neutrality regulations established in 2010, the carrier further claims that the FCC lacks the authority to impose or enforce the laws.
iTunes, Hulu, Netflix traffic allegedly discriminated against
The Justice Department is allegedly in the midst of a large-scale antitrust investigation focusing on potentially anticompetitive practices by cable companies that compete with online video purveyors such as Apple's iTunes store, Hulu, or Netflix. Regulators are said to be attempting to determine if Comcast violated a net-neutrality agreement to not discriminate against competitors that send data through its Internet service to reach customers, though the broad probe is claimed to involve other cable companies.
Bars deep packet inspection, wiretapping data
The government of the Netherlands has become the first European country to pass a net neutrality law. The legal precedent prevents internet service providers from traffic management except in the cases of congestion and network security, and also includes restrictions on ISPs performing deep packet inspection and other similar wiretapping techniques.
Decision could strip FCC of any regulatory clout
Verizon and MetroPCS will be able to move forward with their lawsuit against the FCC and its net neutrality rules. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the case. The FCC had argued that the court didn't have jurisdiction in the matter.
SEC allows issue to come to shareholder vote
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has reportedly ordered AT&T, Verizon and Sprint to allow net neutrality proposals to be included in annual shareholder votes. The move is said to be partially inspired by pressure from shareholder groups such as Trillium Asset Management, which represents high-profile AT&T investors including Mike D of the Beastie Boys and his wife Tamra Davis, director of "Half Baked" and "Billy Madison."
Terms would complicate unlicensed wireless space
A set of proposals drafted by House Commerce Committee Republicans in the US House of Representatives aims to overcome the looming spectrum crisis, however many of the authors' specific strategies have been met with criticism. The discussion draft includes new rules for spectrum auctions, licensed and unlicensed spectrum, and net neutrality for wireless networks.
May renew conflict over net neutrality rules
For the second time in as many years, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to issue a report critical of the way broadband service is being extended. Last year's annual "706" report was the first time the commission gave the industry a failing grade for the implementation of broadband service. Those findings were used as part of the rationale for net neutrality regulations proposed by the FCC last year.
Companies to be clear on restrictions
Most Internet providers in the UK are reportedly ready to adopt a set of principles that aims to ensure transparency surrounding throttling and other traffic management systems. The UK government think-tank Broadband Stakeholders Group (BSG) suggests the large majority, if not all, of the country's ISPs will agree to the proposal.
FCC accused of creating "two Internets"
Senator Al Franken has publicly bashed the FCC over several recent decisions, including the NBC/Comcast merger and new regulations for net neutrality. In a speech at a Netroots Nation event, Franken declared that the latest net-neutrality rules are "not strong enough" without stricter terms for wireless networks and paid prioritization.
Apple co-founder argues against monopolization
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has sent an open letter to the FCC, arguing in support of extensive protections for net neutrality. The plea suggests the Commission is the only agency "still wearing a white hat," as few other government agencies are generally viewed as helping to protect the rights of the population.
FCC asked to push its own regulations
Several Democratic members of the US House of Representatives are urging the FCC to ignore the net neutrality proposal drafted by Google and Verizon. The legislators have asked the Commission to create its own regulations to preserve the open Internet, rather than relying on corporations to dictate the terms.
Commission to bring net neutrality to wireless
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, speaking to attendees of the CTIA's fall event in San Diego, asserted the Commission's position on the expansion of net neutrality regulations to include mobile devices. Genachowski believes the FCC should maintain openness, "whether a person accesses the Internet from a wireless laptop or a netbook."
Comcast VoIP scandal
Comcast is not treating VoIP traffic as fairly as the law demands, the FCC alleges. In a letter issued by general counsel Matthew Berry and wireless competition bureau chief Dana Shaffer, the FCC notes that whereas Comcast's Digital Voice VoIP service is unimpeded, third-party VoIP technologies remain subject to supposedly "protocol agnostic" bandwidth throttling. The cable provider has an obligation to explain why the disparity was omitted in earlier filings, according to the letter.
250GB Comcast cap in Oct.?
Cable Internet provider Comcast may be implementing a 250GB transfer cap as soon as October 1st, anonymous sources claim. The company has been moving towards more neutral bandwidth-limiting techniques, following an FCC ruling that sabotaging BitTorrent traffic violates net neutrality policies. Although BitTorrent seeds are frequently used to share pirated material, they are also used for legitimate peer-to-peer distribution, and the FCC has noted that blocking BitTorrent unnecessarily favors some forms of Internet traffic over others.
Bell Canada congestion
Bell Canada has been made to disclose figures for the actual congestion of its Internet connections, according to Broadband Reports. The information was demanded by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which is responding to complaints that Bell has been throttling peer-to-peer traffic -- such as BitTorrent transfers -- as delivered to its ring of wholesale ISPs. By doing so, it is alleged, Bell made it impossible for third parties to compete with Bell's own Sympatico Internet service. The throttling was necessary to cope with network demands, Bell has responded.
Bell Can. throttling suit
Bell Canada is facing a class-action lawsuit as a result of its Internet access policies, an announcement reveals. A Quebec group called L'Union des consommateurs, along with Bell customer Myrna Raphael, are accusing Bell of false advertising, as a result of its practice of throttling traffic at peak hours. Raphael is said to have signed a three-year ADSL contract in 2006, partly on the basis of Bell's claim of "constant speed" at all times; by enabling throttling last fall, says Raphael, Bell broke its agreement.
Cox also blocking torrents
Comcast is not the only company guilty of sabotaging BitTorrent traffic, the Associated Press reports. While that company has taken the brunt of criticism for potentially violating the FCC's net neutrality policy, the AP says it has obtained the results of a worldwide study of 8,175 Internet users, which found that only three companies were all but certainly blocking connections: Comcast, Singapore's StarHub, and Cox Communications. In the case of the last, 82 out of 151 subscribers had their transfers blocked.
FCC: Comcast deceptive
Comcast may have already undermined its position in an ongoing government investigation, according to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Kevin Martin addressed the question in a recent speech at Stanford University Law School, where the subject of Comcast's peer-to-peer sabotage was raised. Martin said he was disturbed that Comcast initially denied throttling peer-to-peer content, only to later claim the practice was standard and necessary.
FCC neutrality hearing
The FCC will on Monday hold a public hearing to discuss the ramifications of traffic shaping, it has announced. The focus will specifically be on the concept of net neutrality, an FCC policy which traffic shaping is said to violate, by dictating which services and/or websites an ISP customer can use. Panels at the hearing will be staffed by academics, engineers, lobbyists and politicians, in contrast to a workshop held last year which was mostly helmed by industry representatives and supporters. The hearing is scheduled for 10AM to 4PM at the Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Second Comcast P2P lawsuit
A new lawsuit has been filed against Comcast, once again accusing the cable company of improperly handling peer-to-peer file sharing. In contrast to a previous suit filed in November, the new one specifically accuses Comcast of false advertising, for claiming that it offers "unfettered access to all the content, services, and applications that the Internet has to offer." Plaintiff Sandford Sidner observes that if he attempts to run a P2P application, his connection will "slow to a crawl," rendering it useless.
New net neutrality law
A new law backing net neutrality has been proposed by a member of the US House of Representatives, the Associated Press writes. The bill was introduced by Democrat Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, who is also the chairman of a House subcommittee on telecommunications and the Internet. Called the Internet Freedom Preservation Act, it would require the FCC to determine whether Internet providers are "blocking, thwarting or unreasonably interfering" with rights to send or access data.
Comcast changes terms
Comcast has changed the wording of its terms of service to allow controversial behavior on its part, reports say. The company was accused late last year of sabotaging BitTorrent traffic, in some cases making it unusable regardless of the intended purpose. In keeping with some of the company's excuses for traffic shaping, Section III of Comcast's new terms of service now explains that it "uses reasonable network management practices that are consistent with industry standards."
U2 manager blames ISPs
Internet service providers should be the focus of blame for continuing music piracy, says the manager for the internationally famous rock band U2. Paul McGuinness, speaking at the current MIDEM conference in Cannes, France, has argued that ISPs should be disconnecting those who download tracks illegally. ISPs have "been at our trough for too long," McGuinness says, and a part of the "shoddy, careless and downright dishonest way" in which artists have been treated in the era of digital music.
Time Warner bandwidth cap
Time Warner Cable has confirmed a leaked memo concerning bandwidth caps, the Associated Press writes. The memo indicates that in Beaumont, Texas, new customers will soon become part of a trial in which tiers are offered with maximum download limits, instead of the normally uncapped service common to American Internet providers. Alex Dudley, a spokesman for Time Warner, says that the measure is an experiment in improving network performance.
Airline Internet filtering
As airlines begin resuming in-flight Internet services, some have already decided to filter what passengers can do, writes the Associated Press. American Airlines -- confirming plans -- will be joined by Alaska Airlines in soon blocking access to VoIP services such as Skype, while companies such as Virgin America are currently contemplating a ban. The problem is that VoIP not only consumes large amounts of bandwidth, but may generate tremendous noise in a cabin from numerous ongoing conversations. Wi-Fi-enabled handsets could help circumvent the bandwidth concern.
Reaction to Rogers hijacks
Two major parties are criticizing Rogers over its experimental messaging system, a Canadian newspaper reports. The company acknowledged this week that it has been inserting its own messages into third-party websites, in a bid to warn customers nearing their maximum download limits; this has generated criticism from a number of sources, among them being Google, which is now expressing disappointment with Rogers' practices. "We are concerned about these reports," a company representative says. "As a general principle, we believe that maintaining the Internet as a neutral platform means that carriers shouldn't be able to interfere with Web content without users' permission."
Rogers hijacking webpages
Rogers, Canada's largest broadband provider, is attempting to insert its presence over otherwise unrelated websites, reports confirm. The issue first came to light thanks to a visitor to the blog of Lauren Weinstein, who noted that he encountered a Rogers message -- warning about an approaching download limit -- simply while visiting Google. Further inquiry with Rogers' VP of communications has confirmed the existence of a test program, designed to get messages to customers in a way other than e-mail or phone calls. "We're trying different things, and we'll test customer response," says VP Taanta Gupta.
FCC to limit cableco size?
The FCC may be nearing the imposition of a cap on the size of cable companies, reports say. A proposed plan currently has the vote of FCC chairman Kevin Martin, as well as the two Democrat members of the Commission, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein. This may virtually guarantee the passing of the resolution, although the two remaining commissioners have not declared their opinions. If it passes muster by the rumored December 18th deadline, the cap will limit corporations to controlling 30 percent of the cable market.