Tag: FCC

US no longer the Land of the Fee

 Statue-of-LibertyThe US will finally get net neutrality after the Republicans realised that mindlessly defending telco’s rights to charge people double were going to cost them votes.

Republicans conceded that the gruelling fight with President Obama over the regulation of Internet service appears over, with the president and all those people who did not want to be charged for internet use were victorious.

The Federal Communications Commission is expected on Thursday to approve regulating Internet service like a public utility, prohibiting companies from paying for faster lanes on the Internet.

Republicans, many of which take donations from the phone companies that opposed the scheme, had slammed the plan as “Obamacare for the Internet.”  It looks like that was also a mistake, as a large chunk of Americans did well under Obamacare.

But it also became clear that the Senators needed bi-partisan support to shaft net neutrality and there was no way that the democrats would support it.

It is not over yet. The new F.C.C. rules are still likely to be tied up in a protracted court fight with the cable companies and Internet service providers that oppose it, and they could be overturned in the future by a Republican-leaning commission.

The F.C.C. plan would let the agency regulate Internet access as if it is a public good. It would follow the concept known as net neutrality or an open Internet, banning so-called paid prioritization — or fast lanes — for willing Internet content providers.

In addition, it would ban the intentional slowing of the Internet for companies that refuse to pay broadband providers. The plan would also give the F.C.C. the power to step in if unforeseen impediments are thrown up by the handful of giant companies that run many of the country’s broadband and wireless networks.

Dave Steer, director of advocacy for the Mozilla Foundation, the nonprofit technology foundation that runs Firefox said that despite the telcos out spending out outlobbying the net neutrality lobby, they still managed to lose.

In fact there is talk that the days of top-down decisions by executives investing in or divesting themselves of resources, paying lobbyists and buying advertisements might be over.  This case showed that it was possible to remove the old system by mobilising Internet customers and users.


US redefines broadband

oldphoneThe US FCC has redefined the minimum spec required to define a service as broadband.
As part of its 2015 Broadband Progress Report, the raised the minimum download speeds needed from 4Mbps to 25Mbps, and the minimum upload speed from 1Mbps to 3Mbps.

At the stroke of a pen it triples the number of US households without broadband access and means there should be some jolly cross people miffed that they bought something they thought was broadband but isn’t.

Currently, 6.3 percent of US households do not have access to broadband under the previous 4Mpbs/1Mbps threshold, while another 13.1 percent do not have access to broadband under the new 25Mbps downstream threshold.

FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler was vehement in his support for the new broadband standard. “When 80 percent of Americans can access 25-3, that’s a standard. We have a problem that 20 percent cannot. We have a responsibility to that 20 percent.”

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said: “We are never satisfied with the status quo. We want better. We continue to push the limit, and that is notable when it comes to technology… as consumers adopt and demand more from their platforms and devices, the need for broadband will increase, requiring robust networks to be in place in order to keep up. What is crystal clear to me is that the broadband speeds of yesteryear are woefully inadequate today and beyond.”

However there is a push to make the minimum broadband standards far past the new 25Mbps download threshold, up to 100Mbps.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel thinks the new threshold should be 100Mbps.

However, that would anger the telcos and cable providers who currently call the shots on internet connections in the US. Many of them would prefer to see dial up defined as broadband. As it is changing the national broadband standards to 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up is a bold move for the FCC.

Companies like AT&T and Verizon, which employ DSL services to a notable number of their users and AT&T’s fastest DSL offerings only reach 6Mbps down, while Verizon’s DSL speeds top out at 15Mbps.

In a letter sent to the FCC last week, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) made known its objections to any changes to current broadband standards, stating that examples used by supporters of raising the broadband standards “dramatically exaggerate the amount of bandwidth needed by the typical broadband user.”
The NCTA told the FCC that 25Mbps down isn’t needed for 4K streaming and that users aren’t even interested in higher quality content yet and they will take what ever the suppliers will give them or else they will have to move somewhere else.

The US is currently ranked 25th in the world in broadband speeds, thanks mostly to the fact that the telcos have nearly monopolistic power in the US and politicians in their backpocket.


US manufacturers don’t want enforced net neutrality

U.S.-ManufacturingThe US National Association of Manufacturers  (NAM) has written to congressional and Federal Communications Commission leaders to oppose stricter regulations for Internet service providers.

The FCC is hatching out new plans that would dictate internet service providers’ freedom to manage web traffic on their networks, aiming to ensure that ISPs do not discriminate against any content in ways that could harm competition or consumers.

President Barack Obama wants the FCC to have the strictest rules possible to protect net neutrality. He suggested a legal pathway that would reclassify internet service so it is regulated like a utility.

Needless to say the telecom and cable companies think this will stop them from charging their consumers twice for the same service and they say this will be a bad idea.

NAM wrote that current proposals to regulate the Internet with early 20th Century–era laws severely threaten continued growth.  It urged everyone to oppose any efforts to regulate the open Internet.

Though business groups NAM and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have both previously submitted comments to the FCC opposing utility-style Internet regulations.

Verizon and AT&T are among 14,000 members of the manufacturers’ association, so we guess we can see where the outfit is coming from.

“The internet and technology is a critical tool for manufacturers to grow their business,” NAM Technology Policy President Brian Raymond said in an interview. “(Our members) get concerned if the government is going to slow down their business in any way and they see this as one of those ways.”

Raymond pointed out that AT&T’s recent tactic of threatening to  pause investments in new high-speed internet connections unless it gets is way is proof that an enforced open internet was a bad idea. Of course you could also argue that AT&T is just trying to scare the FCC into doing what it is told and it will lose a lose a lot of money in the long term if it does not move to high-speed internet connections.

“Whenever there’s a pause in investment by any kind of company due to regulatory uncertainty, it’s going to have a trickle-down effect on the whole manufacturing community,” Raymond said.

Verizon uses Dalek diplomacy on FCC

DayoftheDaleksUS telco Verizon has revealed its compromise on net neutrality which appears to have been drawn up by a Dalek PR – it has promised not to sue the FCC if the watchdog does exactly what it tells it to.

Verizon has promised that it will not sue to block net neutrality rules as long as they’re issued without reclassifying broadband providers as utilities.  There is a concern that Verizon would do this because that was exactly what it did last time.

In 2010, the FCC issued rules preventing Internet service providers from blocking or discriminating against traffic by relying on Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, rather than the stronger powers the FCC has under Title II, which covers utilities or “common carriers”.

Verizon sued and won, with a federal appeals court stating that the FCC could not issue what amounted to common carrier rules without first reclassifying broadband service as a utility, similar to the traditional phone network.

Ironically, that is why the FCC is now considering reclassifying broadband. It wants the next set of net neutrality rules to survive a court challenge.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said last week that whatever the FCC did, Verizon would sue it.

However Verizon Executive VP Randal Milch said that  statement was completely unfair. Verizon will not sue if the FCC uses Section 706, even though that is exactly what Verizon did last time.

Section 706 requires the FCC to encourage the deployment of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans, and it can be used to govern broadband providers’ treatment of Internet traffic.

Milch’s e-mail was made public in an ex parte letter filed with the commission yesterday. Milch wrote that rules based on Section 706 “will not be the object of a successful court challenge—by Verizon or anyone else”.

So in otherwords, the FCC will be ok provided it obeys Verizon in all things. It is a bit like the burglars threatening to sue you if your watchdog bites them as they break into your house. In this case the burglars are telling you in advance that you will not be sued if your watchdog does not bite them while they make off with your TV. You cannot be fairer than that.


Watchdog delays net neutrality ruling

pelosi-lap-dogThe FCC has decided that the only way it can keep its chums in the telcos happy and prevent themselves being lynched by an angry public is to delay making a decision on net-neutrality.

The US watchdog, which is staffed by ex-members of companies it is supposed to be watching, is in a bit of a pickle. The US people and President Barack Obama expect it to come out in favour of net neutrality.  The only problem is that the US telcos hate the idea which will stop them from creaming shedloads of cash from customers without having to provide much needed infrastructure changes.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the government regulatory body that’s spent much of 2014 deliberating whether to make the Internet a public utility has said that it will not vote on open internet rules on the December meeting agenda. That would mean rules would now be finalised in 2015.

Obama campaigned on a promise of net neutrality, the general concept that internet providers should not be able to dictate the rules of how fast customers can access certain sites. However he appointed Tom Wheeler, a former cable lobbyist, to head the FCC which was seen as appointing a fox to run the hen house.

The news that the FCC will delay its decision is particularly devastating for net neutrality proponents, because it means that the telcos can ring up their mates in the Republican-held Congress. The Republicans do not really understand net neutrality Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called the issue the “Obamacare for the internet” he later realised that it was too stupid even for a Republican senator that he retracted it. However, the Republicans see it as one of those matters that if Obama wants it, they have to oppose. Besides while the American people might want net neutrality, the telcos do not, and they that will provide the Republicans with campaign contributions to nix the idea.

FCC leaks terrible net neutrality decision

face-palmThe US FCC was expected to bow to public pressure and allow some semblance of net neutrality in the Land of the Free.

It was to be a brave move – after all a huge chunk of the FCC has connections with phone companies and the watchdog is widely seen as being in the telco pockets.

But the problem was that a huge chunk of the American public had told the FCC that they did not want the telcos strangling their bandwidth or making them pay extra for a reasonable service. In fact, more than four million Americans made it clear to the FCC that they were not going to stand for this thing.

However a new leak shows that the FCC is considering a proposal which it is called a hybrid proposal. It would expand the FCC’s powers to regulate broadband while also allowing cable providers to charge more money for fast lanes.

The “hybrid” proposal now under consideration has not been finalised but according to media leaks and discussions with interested parties they would expand the FCC’s powers to regulate broadband while also allowing a carve out for cable providers to charge more money for fast lanes. However, the rules will only allow the FCC to intervene to promote competition.

The idea is that would not upset the comms companies because they would be allowed to do what they like.

All those people who voted against such a scheme are a little miffed. Apparently, they thought if enough people voted against such a scheme the US government would have to listen. After all the US is supposed to be a democracy and follow the will of the majority and not corporates.

Apparently not.

Protesters having been gathering outside the White House and in a dozen US cities to demonstrate against a “hybrid” solution now being considered to end a stalemate over regulating the internet.


US telcos claim that 10Gps is “too fast” for broadband

the-tortoise-and-the-hareShowing that they are at the cutting edge of technology profits, the US telcos have told regulators that 10Gps is too fast for broadband.

They have asked the Federal Communications Commission not to change its definition of broadband from 4Mbps to 10Mbps.  We guess anything faster than 4Mbps requires a man on a horse with a red flag ridding in front of it.

According to AT&T, internet users get by just fine at the lower speeds and have no need for broadband that fast.

“Consumer behaviour strongly reinforces the conclusion that a 10Mbps service exceeds what many Americans need today to enable basic, high-quality transmissions,” AT&T wrote.

Verizon and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), agreed.

“The Commission should not change the baseline broadband speed threshold from 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream because a 4/1 Mbps connection is still sufficient to perform the primary functions identified in section 706 [of the Telecommunications Act]—high-quality voice, video, and data,” the NCTA wrote.

More than 47 percent of Comcast subscribers get at least 50Mbps, the company says.

The FCC has periodically raised the minimum standard for Internet service to be considered “broadband.” This affects how the commission measures industry progress in deploying sufficient Internet service to Americans, particularly in rural areas.

There are signs that the Telcos might have a job convincing FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler who thinks that  10Mbps is too low and that a 25Mbps connection is fast becoming ‘table stakes’ in 21st century communications,” he said.

If the definition is kept at 4Mbps, statistics on broadband deployment and competition make the telcos look brilliant and they don’t actually have to upgrade their aging infrastructure.

Intel fined for illegal wi-fi use

intel_log_reversedChipmaker Intel has written a $144,000 cheque to make the US Federal Communications Commission watchdog stop snapping at its heels.

An FCC investigation found the chip maker operated prototype wireless devices without FCC clearance.

It can’t have been much of an investigation given that Intel itself reported its non-compliance to the regulator.

Apparently Intel was worried in 2012 that it might have violated the agency’s rules when it tested prototype digital device models in residential areas without the FCC’s blessing.

The company also showed off  a prototype device at a trade show without proper labelling.

An Intel spokesman characterised the incident as a terrible mistake and not something it would do normally.

He said that the company had created a programme that gives the FCC confidence that it is doing its best to help ensure future compliance with the rules.