Comments come in as expected, with threats of lawsuit and more work needed
As expected, the Federal Communication Commission's votes today have not gone unnoticed by the telecommunications and Internet industry. There are no surprises in the commentary generated by the vote, with posturing and veiled threats being delivered by those impacted negatively by the vote.
Fight likely to continue in House, Senate over depth of FCC power
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved the net neutrality rules, including Title II regulation of Internet Service Providers as proposed by FCC Chair Tom Wheeler, with minor modifications. The vote wasn't unanimous, nor was it expected to be, and predictably split across party lines. The two Democratic members and the Chair voted to approve the contentious policy, and the two Republican members voted against it.
Revisions come at Google, advocacy group request for language clarification
On the eve of the net neutrality vote at the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), chairman Tom Wheeler has reportedly made some changes to the proposal. Reportedly extracted by request of Google and some other public interest groups is a clause that could allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to charge websites for delivered content.
New proposals may weaken 'paid prioritization' ban, throttling restrictions
One of the three Federal Communications Commission board members previously expected to vote in favor of Chair Tom Wheeler's Title II net neutrality proposal has thrown a spanner in the works by suggesting some changes that could possibly dilute the effectiveness of the proposal. Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has asked Wheeler for some changes that wouldn't challenge the overall concept of the proposal, but could weaken FCC enforcement of some key aspects.
Republican commissioners ask for special treatment, delay on historic vote
Following the lead of Republicans in Congress, the two GOP commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are doing their bit to try to stop or at least slow down a planned vote this week on FCC Chair Tom Wheeler's net neutrality proposal, which fixes the current hodge-podge of neutrality exceptions and violations by removing the power to "gatekeep" the Internet from big Internet Service Providers (ISPs) through Title II "public utility" regulation.
Spectrum auction in 2016 in danger of being dominated by AT&T, Verizon
The Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) needs to improve its auction rules ahead of another 600MHz spectrum auction set to take place next year, the CEO of T-Mobile has urged. John Legere warns that the next auction could be dominated by larger carriers AT&T and Verizon, and that "If the government wants a competitive wireless market, they need to establish action rules to reflect that."
Press conference by Pai met with angry protestors seeking Title II
Current US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) member Ajit Pai (R) and ex-FCC chairman Michael Powell (R) have come out in opposition to current chairman Tom Wheeler's net neutrality and Title II regulation plan for broadband and cellular data carriers. Both men, aligned with the Republican party and seemingly operating in parallel with efforts in the House and Senate to stop the measure, are calling the chairman's proposal unnecessary given the current climate, and injurious to investment in US broadband.
Senate DHS chief's committee calling for FCC reasoning, communications
Following a similar move by the House, the Senate has launched its own investigation on the US Federal Communications Commission's upcoming call for Title II legislation of ISPs. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) is giving the FCC two weeks to provide documents related to, and reasoning for, the call for "what new factors" after President Obama's remarks induced the FCC to apply Title II reclassification.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sees red, charges
The House Committee on Oversight and Government reform has written to US Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler, and has demanded that the regulatory agency produce any and all communiation between the FCC and the White House. The Republicans on the committee claim to see "an improper influence" from President Obama at the core of the FCC commissioner's recent mandate of Title II regulation of ISPs, and are demanding the documentation to back up their claims, and potentially torpedo the effort.
Proposal to be submitted for FCC discussion before end of the week
Officially launching what will become a highly-contentious fight in Washington DC, US Federal Communications Commission commissioner Tom Wheeler has officially stated that he is submitting "the strongest open Internet protections ever proposed by the FCC," which calls for the banning of paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. The move by the chairman was expected, with AT&T and Verizon both threatening lawsuits to block the regulation.
Argues that prioritization, throttling are 'information services'
Carrier AT&T has filed two notices with the Federal Communications Commission that argue against the planned introduction of a proposal by FCC Chair Tom Wheeler to reclassify broadband and mobile data providers as "common carriers" under Title II. The proposal, yet to be formally introduced, would get rid of paid-prioritization deals, ensure net neutrality, cease blocking and throttling users without cause, and require more transparency in dealings by ISPs.
Regulation will be proposed, but using model of 1993 cell carrier agreement
A few new details appear to have leaked out of the new proposal by Federal Communications Commission Chair Tom Wheeler, which would call for Title II regulation of Internet service by broadband providers and may also include a similar reclassification for cellular data, which up till now has been exempted. The move would increase the FCC's ability to regulate providers, but uses the "light touch" model that was adopted for mobile phone service in 1993.
Commissioner questions Dish bending rules to gain small business bid discount
Dish Network's bidding in the recent $44.9 billion AWS-3 spectrum auction has come under scrutiny by a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), for potentially bending the rules of the auction While Dish acquired a large collection of licenses for $13.3 billion, it has come under fire for picking up the licenses at a discount, something the other major carriers were unable to do.
Dish Network spends $13.3B on spectrum licenses, Verizon $10.4B
The latest spectrum auction conducted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has raised $44.9 billion. Of the bidders looking to acquire what has been termed AWS-3 spectrum, the FCC revealed AT&T spent more than any other carrier or organization, using $18.2 billion to acquire almost half the total number of licenses up for grabs in the auction.
Vote of FCC commissioners to change broadband definition passes 3-2
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has changed its definition of broadband, after commissioners voted 3-2 in favor. The previous definition of 4Mbps download, 1Mbps upload minimum speeds have been increased to 25Mbps down, 3 Mbps up, a move which pushes higher the proportion of households in the United States declared to be incapable of receiving broadband Internet access.
Preceding RM-11737 resolved with public notice against blocking
A petition by Marriott, Hilton, and an association of hotel owners asking for permission to block guests from creating their own Wi-Fi hotspots has been resolved today in a public notice by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Specifically, the blocking of personal Wi-Fi hotspots is prohibited, and will be "aggressively" investigated and acted against, according to the agency.
Failure to investigate issues with rural landlines costs Verizon dearly
Verizon has agreed to settle an investigation with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over complaints that it itself had failed to investigate issues with rural calls. After admitting its failure, Verizon has agreed to pay a fine of $2 million, as well as implementing a "compliance plan" which involves spending an extra $3 million on sorting out rural call completion issues.
'Outpouring of thoughtful and positive comments' came directly from Comcast
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) frequently puts out a call for comments as part of their decision-making process, and usually hears back from concerned citizens as well as "astroturf" industry-funded campaigns. In the case of the merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable (TWC), however, Comcast posted a thank you to the politicians, organizations and businesses that submitted comments in its favor. An investigation of those letters, however, has revealed a number of politicians who's comments were penned by Comcast employees, and simply signed off on, much like the situation where Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood sent a subpoena to Google which was later discovered to have been written by the MPAA's law firm.
Claimed lack of justification for proposed FCC broadband speed definition
Cable companies do not believe customers need to have connection speeds faster than 25Mbps, according to a letter sent by a cable lobbying group to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The letter from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) asks that the FCC avoids defining broadband as a 25Mbps downstream, 3Mbps upstream connection, due to a lack of justification.
Rumors surface of possible deals again, this time with Sprint and T-Mobile
Earlier today, web newsite The Information released statements from several unnamed sources that Google may begin offering wireless services as early as this year by reselling bandwidth from Sprint and T-Mobile. The rumor isn't anything new -- in fact the site posted a similar story last year, indicating Google would be reselling bandwidth from Sprint and Verizon. In spite of the annual speculation, the Wall Street Journal is also reporting on the subject, with additional information from the FCC.
Republicans deny Internet providers have monopoly; Democrats reluctant to strip FCC of power
As reported last week, the US House of Representatives' Energy & Commerce Committee held a hearing titled "Protecting the Internet and Consumers through Congressional Action." The hearing was to discuss the unnamed draft bill introduced by Representative Fred Upton (R-Michigan), head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota), head of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in the Senate, which purports to "draft a new law for this century" and ensure net neutrality, but strips the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of almost all enforcement authority.
Requests spectrum above 24GHz range to be allocated for networking purposes
Google has asked for the Federal Communications Commission FCC to open up spectrum for Internet services from balloons and drones. The search giant sent a letter to the Commission, suggesting that a new spectrum band above the 24GHz range could be "useful for offering broadband access via airborne platforms such as high-altitude balloons or unmanned aerial vehicles.
Unnamed measure prohibits paid prioritization but also strips FCC of 706 authority
A draft bill intended to resolve the current threats to net neutrality was announced today in the US Congress, with plans to begin hearings on it as early as next Wednesday by the US Energy & Commerce Committees. The bill purports to ensure net neutrality by prohibiting blocking, throttling, paid prioritization, and a number of other desirable perks, but also specifically strips the FCC of its existing authority to protect consumers and encourage competition.
Company owes existence to Title II implementation in 1992
Bucking the trend of monolithic Internet providers, Sprint Chief Technology Officer Stephen Bye has written to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and said that the company isn't opposed to possible Title II oversight of the wireless industry. Additionally, Bye claims that the legislation, applied properly, won't alter Sprint's wireless buildout plan at all.
Increasing focus on FCC in ongoing struggle to codify access to broadband
February might not shape up to be such a great month if you're a large national Internet provider in the US. Not only will the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) be voting on the adoption of net neutrality rules FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, all but confirmed would be Title II-based in an interview at CES last week, but it's also possible the commission will be voting on petitions supported by President Obama to overturn laws in several states that are purported to block the build-out of broadband Internet access on the municipal level.
Hotel chain states they will 'continue to look to the FCC' for guidance
Back in October, Marriott International settled with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to the tune of $600,000 for a complaint dating back to March that involved the blocking personal Wi-Fi hotspots at a Marriott resort in Nashville. It later, along with other hotels, petitioned the FCC to allow it the right to kick off hotspots. Today, the hotel chain released a statement that seems to indicate it will be backing down from the policy.
Forces company to claim 'common carrier' status to avoid FTC jurisdiction
In order to nullify a lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over charges that the carrier was still throttling users on unlimited plans even when there was no network congestion, AT&T is claiming for the purposes of the lawsuit that it qualifies as a Title II "common carrier." This is the opposite of what it has told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with regards to possible actual Title II regulation of broadband.
Carriers scared by thought of oversight, make dubious claims
Yesterday at CES FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, sat down for an interview with CEA Presedent Gary Shapiro in which he all but confirmed that the proposal to be submitted to the Commission on February 5 and voted on February 25 will adopt Title II of the Communications Act as a basis for securing net neutrality. Today, a number of the big carriers have released statements expressing displeasure.
Confirms new proposed rules will be distributed on February 5, with vote to be taken 20 days later
Today at CES in Las Vegas, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) President Gary Shapiro sat down for a "Super Session" with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, and asked what had changed in his world since they spoke at the conference in 2013. "Oh, nothing," deadpanned Wheeler, prompting laughter from the audience, "it's all exactly the same." As the discussion went on, Wheeler's responses to questions seem to be confirming earlier reports that the Commission is strongly leaning towards adopting some level of Communications Act Title II as a base for ensuring Net Neutrality, as urged by President Obama -- similar to how it was imposed on the wireless industry.
New rules are said to contain Title II regulation plans
US Federal Communications Chairman commissioner Tom Wheeler is reportedly planning on unveiling a new set of net neutrality rules in the beginning of February. The new rules, which are said to be more aggressive than originally proposed, which should incorporate feedback from the public comment process, should come to a vote at the February 26 meeting - and may finally include Title II regulation of broadband, which would apply oversight to ISPs similar to that of utilities, such as water and power.
Marriott and Hilton weigh in in favor, Google and Microsoft petition against
The FCC has been petitioned by Marriott and an association of hotel owners to allow the jamming of Wi-Fi hotspots, usually set up by guests, on their premises for reasons of "managing Wi-Fi networks and security." The petition is possibly in response to when Marriott International and Marriott Hotel Services was fined $600,000 by the FCC for knocking guests off their own Wi-Fi networks (provided by hot spots and tethering to cell phones), forcing them to pay for the hotel's Wi-Fi access.
Needs more time to review and approve, but 'pleading cycle' remains unaffected
In spite of Comcast CEO Brian Roberts' assertions earlier this month that the merger with Time Warner Cable (TWC) is going along smoothly, the FCC has paused the informal 180-day clock on its investigation into the merger, due to a total of roughly 38,000 documents submitted by TWC beyond its deadline, and after the FCC had believed it was finished with that part of its investigation into the merger.
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."