Tag - Net neutrality
A challenge to the sweeping "net neutrality" rules issued by the FCC in 2015 has been rejected by the Washington, DC US Circuit Court of Appeals. The court, which had previously rejected some of the FCC's earlier net neutrality proposals in a 2-1 ruling that forces AT&T and a national ISP industry group, which brought the challenge, to obey federal regulations that prevent the extortionate practice of blocking or slowing some internet traffic and prioritizing those that agree to pay the providers a fee.
In the 2015 Open Internet Order (also referred to as the net neutrality order) the Commission enhanced the rule governing broadband providers' disclosure of commercial terms, network performance, and network management practices. During the debate and framing of the regulation, the US Federal Communications Commission found that consumers needed an easy way to understand specifics of broadband offerings, and required that providers convey the required information in a simple format that would enable consumers to easily compare services of different broadband providers. In a press conference earlier today, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler rolled out the new labels in conjunction with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray.
Facebook's project to provide people in developing countries access to essential websites has come under fire in India, with the local telecommunications regulator banning free mobile data programs that appear to go against net neutrality principles. Free Basics, the Facebook-created service is no longer allowed to operate in the country, after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) instituted new regulations effectively forbidding it.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is looking into how telecommunications providers offer free allocations of data to their subscribers. AT&T, Comcast, and T-Mobile have all been sent requests by the FCC for more information about these programs operate, with the possibility that the carriers and cable companies providing them to customers may be doing so against net neutrality principles.
The European Union's crusade against roaming charges has received crucial support from the European Parliament, after being given the all-clear, at the same time as new net neutrality measures. Proposals to scrap roaming charges completely across the continent have been approved by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in a vote, and though they won't be removed completely until mid-2017, consumers in the region can expect to start feeling the effects of changes in the law from April next year.
Sprint has launched a new price plan today that it hopes will make the cost of the service simpler to subscribers signing up to it. At the same time, the carrier has also come under fire for including a policy in the "All-In" plan's small print, limiting the amount of data transferred for specific types of network traffic, a move which some may consider to be against the basic principles of net neutrality.
Europe is one step closer to ending mobile phone roaming charges throughout the continent, after the European Parliament agreed on new rules to forbid them once and for all. According to the deal, agreed to last night in the final days of Latvia's European Union Council presidency, roaming charges as a whole in the region will be scrapped in the next two years, with the agreement also -- surprisingly -- including stricter net neutrality rules that would apply across the continent.
As predicted by Verizon when it announced the deal, Verizon Communications and AOL today announced the successful completion of Verizon's tender offer to purchase all outstanding shares of AOL for $50 per share in cash. As a result, AOL shares will no longer be traded on the New York Stock Exchange, and AOL is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Verizon. The sale includes AOL properties like Engadget, The Huffington Post, and Tech Crunch -- all staunch defenders of Net Neutrality and the US Federal Communication Commission's Open Internet regulation.
Citing comments leading up to the establishment of the Open Internet regulation, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) consumer and governmental affairs bureau chief today appointed Parul P. Desai to serve as the Open Internet ombudsperson, the public's primary point of contact within the agency. Desai will be responsible for fielding formal inquiries, informal questions, and any complaints that may arise related to the Open Internet rules from both consumers and industry sources.
Following a review period after publication in the Federal Register, on Friday, the FCC's Open Internet order went into effect. Service providers are now officially reclassified as Title II carriers, and will be governed with a "light touch." Opinions and debate swirls around the topic along industry and party lines. However, for now, Open Internet rule is in effect.
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WhatsApp now handles over 100M calls daily
WhatsApp is celebrating that it is being used for over 100 million calls every day. In a brief notice, the Facebook-owned messaging platform advises the voice-calling feature it rolled out to its users last year now deals with an average of over 1,100 calls initiated per second. Earlier this year, it increased the security of its calls and other messages, by introducing end-to-end encryption on all platforms. http://bit.ly/292HqCX
Adele's '25' album now streaming
Recording artist Adele has "pulled a Kanye" after saying that her current album "25" would not be available for streaming. The seven-month-old record, which has yielded a number of hit singles, is now available for streaming on all the major streaming services, such as Apple Music and Spotify, as of today in most major markets, with worldwide distribution to come. Reportedly, the singer had demanded streaming be limited to paid subscribers -- a condition that has hurt some streamers with artists, who aren't paid royalties for free or trial listens . Apple pays performers its normal royalty rates during its free trial, avoiding the issue -- and having repeated success in both signing up exclusives and placing those exclusives into the top of the charts. http://ti.me/28U7NOu
SanDisk iXpand case has battery, storage
A new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s case from SanDisk appears to be the "holy grail" of accessories: a stylish and protective case that offers both extra storage as well as the option of extra battery power as well. The iXpand Memory case offers either 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of additional storage incorporated into the case, and an optional add-on battery pack (sold separately) adds up to an extra day or more of charge. Through the associated iXpand app, camera photos and videos can be automatically stored on the extra storage, optionally password-protected, The cost for the case is (in order of storage capacity) $60, $100, and $130. The battery pack's release data has not yet been announced, but the add-on should retail for an additional $30. http://bit.ly/291epHu
Fifth Hong Kong store to open June 30
The 46th official Apple store in what the company calls the "Greater China" region will open at 10AM local time in Hong Kong's New Town Plaza in the Sha Tin district on Thursday, June 30, according to a new page on Apple's retail website. Despite slowing growth due to economic turmoil in China, the country is still Apple's fastest-growing market. The new story will be the fifth for Hong Kong, a lucrative market for Apple thanks to the high concentration of wealth there and a thriving "gray" market. Normal store hours for the new store will be 10AM to 10PM every day. http://apple.co/291diaT
Apple Music bug bites very short songs
There appears to be a reproducible bug in the current version of iTunes -- version 12.4.1, running on OS X 10.11.5, both the current non-beta versions of the respective software -- that causes a streamed song to become "stuck" in endless buffering if the streamed item just before this happened was 60 seconds or less in length. The problem appears to stem from code in iTunes that signals the next track to start downloading one minute before the currently-playing track is done, and thus songs shorter than one minute don't trigger the download. Locally-stored music is unaffected by the bug, and the problem does not appear to exist in either the macOS Sierra developer beta or versions of iTunes earlier than 12.4, and does not affect the iOS Music app at all. http://bit.ly/291cN0l
Walmart Pay expands to 15 states
Walmart, one of the key progenitors of the failed CurrentC mobile payment system that was distinguished from Apple Pay by its ability to collect and share customer financial and buying data among its participants, has expanded the soft rollout of its alternative solution "Walmart Pay" to an additional 15 US states following a pilot program in Arkansas and Texas last month. Walmart continues to resist adding Apple Pay. The system, built into the Walmart app for iOS and Android, works with a complicated system of the camera scanning a purchase code at the register, then generating a QR code which is then scanned by the register. The system is available now in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington, DC. http://apple.co/28SqZfu
Amazon refreshes entry-level Kindle
Amazon has added a new Kindle to its ebook reader range, one that is thinner and lighter than the previous entry-level model. Offering a six-inch 167-dpi touchscreen display, a doubled 4GB of storage, and an option for a white casing, the new model also adds in the ability to export highlights and notes to an email account as a PDF. Two versions of the all-new Kindle are available, priced at $80 including "Special Offers" and $100 without. http://amzn.to/28Q4c3R