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Paul Merrell

Rural America and the 5G Digital Divide. Telecoms Expanding Their "Toxic Infrastructure" - Global ResearchGlobal Research - Centre for Research on Globalization - 0 views

  • While there is considerable telecom hubris regarding the 5G rollout and increasing speculation that the next generation of wireless is not yet ready for Prime Time, the industry continues to make promises to Rural America that it has no intention of fulfilling. Decades-long promises to deliver digital Utopia to rural America by T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T have never materialized.  
  • In 2017, the USDA reported that 29% of American farms had no internet access. The FCC says that 14 million rural Americans and 1.2 million Americans living on tribal lands do not have 4G LTE on their phones, and that 30 million rural residents do not have broadband service compared to 2% of urban residents.  It’s beginning to sound like a Third World country. Despite an FCC $4.5 billion annual subsidy to carriers to provide broadband service in rural areas, the FCC reports that ‘over 24 million Americans do not have access to high-speed internet service, the bulk of them in rural area”while a  Microsoft Study found that  “162 million people across the US do not have internet service at broadband speeds.” At the same time, only three cable companies have access to 70% of the market in a sweetheart deal to hike rates as they avoid competition and the FCC looks the other way.  The FCC believes that it would cost $40 billion to bring broadband access to 98% of the country with expansion in rural America even more expensive.  While the FCC has pledged a $2 billion, ten year plan to identify rural wireless locations, only 4 million rural American businesses and homes will be targeted, a mere drop in the bucket. Which brings us to rural mapping: Since the advent of the digital age, there have been no accurate maps identifying where broadband service is available in rural America and where it is not available.  The FCC has a long history of promulgating unreliable and unverified carrier-provided numbers as the Commission has repeatedly ‘bungled efforts to produce accurate broadband maps” that would have facilitated rural coverage. During the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on April 10th regarding broadband mapping, critical testimony questioned whether the FCC and/or the telecom industry have either the commitment or the proficiency to provide 5G to rural America.  Members of the Committee shared concerns that 5G might put rural America further behind the curve so as to never catch up with the rest of the country
Paul Merrell

Bankrolled by broadband donors, lawmakers lobby FCC on net neutrality | Ars Technica - 1 views

  • The 28 House members who lobbied the Federal Communications Commission to drop net neutrality this week have received more than twice the amount in campaign contributions from the broadband sector than the average for all House members. These lawmakers, including the top House leadership, warned the FCC that regulating broadband like a public utility "harms" providers, would be "fatal to the Internet," and could "limit economic freedom."​ According to research provided Friday by Maplight, the 28 House members received, on average, $26,832 from the "cable & satellite TV production & distribution" sector over a two-year period ending in December. According to the data, that's 2.3 times more than the House average of $11,651. What's more, one of the lawmakers who told the FCC that he had "grave concern" (PDF) about the proposed regulation took more money from that sector than any other member of the House. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) was the top sector recipient, netting more than $109,000 over the two-year period, the Maplight data shows.
  • Dan Newman, cofounder and president of Maplight, the California research group that reveals money in politics, said the figures show that "it's hard to take seriously politicians' claims that they are acting in the public interest when their campaigns are funded by companies seeking huge financial benefits for themselves." Signing a letter to the FCC along with Walden, who chairs the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, were three other key members of the same committee: Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI), Robert Latta (R-OH), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). Over the two-year period, Upton took in $65,000, Latta took $51,000, and Blackburn took $32,500. In a letter (PDF) those representatives sent to the FCC two days before Thursday's raucous FCC net neutrality hearing, the four wrote that they had "grave concern" over the FCC's consideration of "reclassifying Internet broadband service as an old-fashioned 'Title II common carrier service.'" The letter added that a switchover "harms broadband providers, the American economy, and ultimately broadband consumers, actually doing so would be fatal to the Internet as we know it."
  • Not every one of the 28 members who publicly lobbied the FCC against net neutrality in advance of Thursday's FCC public hearing received campaign financing from the industry. One representative took no money: Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV). In all, the FCC received at least three letters from House lawmakers with 28 signatures urging caution on classifying broadband as a telecommunications service, which would open up the sector to stricter "common carrier" rules, according to letters the members made publicly available. The US has long applied common carrier status to the telephone network, providing justification for universal service obligations that guarantee affordable phone service to all Americans and other rules that promote competition and consumer choice. Some consumer advocates say that common carrier status is needed for the FCC to impose strong network neutrality rules that would force ISPs to treat all traffic equally, not degrading competing services or speeding up Web services in exchange for payment. ISPs have argued that common carrier rules would saddle them with too much regulation and would force them to spend less on network upgrades and be less innovative.
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  • Of the 28 House members signing on to the three letters, Republicans received, on average, $59,812 from the industry over the two-year period compared to $13,640 for Democrats, according to the Maplight data. Another letter (PDF) sent to the FCC this week from four top members of the House, including Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), argued in favor of cable companies: "We are writing to respectfully urge you to halt your consideration of any plan to impose antiquated regulation on the Internet, and to warn that implementation of such a plan will needlessly inhibit the creation of American private sector jobs, limit economic freedom and innovation, and threaten to derail one of our economy's most vibrant sectors," they wrote. Over the two-year period, Boehner received $75,450; Cantor got $80,800; McCarthy got $33,000; and McMorris Rodgers got $31,500.
  • The third letter (PDF) forwarded to the FCC this week was signed by 20 House members. "We respectfully urge you to consider the effect that regressing to a Title II approach might have on private companies' ability to attract capital and their continued incentives to invest and innovate, as well as the potentially negative impact on job creation that might result from any reduction in funding or investment," the letter said. Here are the 28 lawmakers who lobbied the FCC this week and their reported campaign contributions:
Paul Merrell

FCC 'very much' eyeing Web rules shakeup | TheHill - 0 views

  • The head of the Federal Communications Commission was quick to reassure lawmakers on Wednesday that his agency is seriously considering using the authority it has to regulate phone lines on Internet service providers.“Title II is very much on the table,” Chairman Tom Wheeler said during a House Small Business Committee hearing on Wednesday, referring to the section of the Communications Act that some have urged the agency to turn to for stronger rules.“I will assure you that Title II is very much a topic of conversation and on the table and something that’s we’ve specially asked for comment on,” he added.In its controversial proposal on net neutrality — the notion that Internet service companies like Comcast or Cox should be banned from slowing or block access to some websites — the agency specifically asked whether it should reclassify broadband Internet as a “telecommunications service” and open them up to Title II rules, instead of an “information service.”
  • The plan Wheeler proposed earlier this year would not rely on that authority, but would instead allow for companies to make “commercially reasonable” deals to speed up users’ service on a particular website. Critics have said that would lead to “fast lanes” on the Internet, with quicker speeds for wealthy companies and slower service everywhere else.Supporters of strong rules have told the FCC that the stronger legal backing is the best way to prevent companies from slowing users’ service or blocking their access to particular websites.Critics, however, have said that the rules were designed for telephone monopolies and would lead to utility-style regulation on the Internet. In their comments to the FCC, cable companies have said that reclassifying broadband service to use the tough rules would likely be a violation of the law, which could tie the new rules up in court for years to come.
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    Of course Comcast, et ilk don't want Title II regulation. "Hey, just because we've divvied up the turf so that we've got geographical monopolies doesn't mean we shouldn't be able to leverage our monopolies into new monopolies." But the big cable companies got where they are by buying up community-granted and regulated monopoly utility companies. As part of consolidating those markets, the soon-to-be-gnormous cable companies, lobbied to get community regulation weakened and here we are with the FCC, with the cable companies now acting as ISPs too, which is straightforward telecommunications provider service, and these guys want to be able to charge a premium to the big internet content companies for fast-service after their ISP customers have already paid for fast service? So they can slow down the competition for their own content services.  Heck, yes, FCC. No one forced Comcast and crew to become telecommunications providers. Make 'em live with telecommunications regulation like all the other telcos. They are government-created monopolies and they should be regulated as such.   
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

FCC refuses broadband industry demand to halt Title II classification | Ars Technica [# ! +Ref Note..] - 0 views

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    "by Jon Brodkin - May 8, 2015 9:45 pm UTC [http://www.dailydot.com/politics/what-is-title-ii-net-neutrality-fcc/] Share Tweet 30 The Federal Communications Commission today denied the requests of five broadband industry trade groups that asked for an immediate halt to the reclassification of Internet service providers as common carriers subject to Title II regulation."
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    "by Jon Brodkin - May 8, 2015 9:45 pm UTC [http://www.dailydot.com/politics/what-is-title-ii-net-neutrality-fcc/] Share Tweet 30 The Federal Communications Commission today denied the requests of five broadband industry trade groups that asked for an immediate halt to the reclassification of Internet service providers as common carriers subject to Title II regulation."
Paul Merrell

Vowing to Deliver High-Speed Broadband for All, Sanders Plan Would Enshrine Internet as Public Utility | Common Dreams News - 2 views

  • Vowing to take on the telecom giants that have monopolized the web for private profit, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday unveiled a $150 billion plan to make the internet a public utility, break up and tightly regulate corporate behemoths like Verizon and AT&T, and provide high-speed broadband for everyone in the United States.
  • It is outrageous that across the country millions of Americans and so many of our communities do not have access to affordable high-speed internet," Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said in a statement. "Access to the internet is a necessity in today's economy, and it should be available for all." Sanders vowed that, if elected president in 2020, he will ensure that every American household has affordable and high-speed internet by the end of his first term.
  • Sanders' plan, posted on his website, would provide $150 billion in federal funding through the Green New Deal to help states and municipalities "build publicly owned and democratically controlled, co-operative, or open access broadband networks." The proposal also calls for: Reinstating the net neutrality protections that President Donald Trump's telecom-friendly FCC repealed in 2017; Using anti-trust laws to break up internet and cable monopolies; Ensuring that all public housing in the U.S. offers free broadband; Requiring all providers to "offer a Basic Internet Plan that provides quality broadband speeds at an affordable price"; and Guaranteeing that all new broadband infrastructure is "resilient to the effects of climate change" and "capable of managing high amounts of renewable energy."
Paul Merrell

Republicans seek fast-track repeal of net neutrality | Ars Technica - 0 views

  • Republicans in Congress yesterday unveiled a new plan to fast track repeal of the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules. Introduced by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and 14 Republican co-sponsors, the "Resolution of Disapproval" would use Congress' fast track powers under the Congressional Review Act to cancel the FCC's new rules.
  • Saying the resolution "would require only a simple Senate majority to pass under special procedural rules of the Congressional Review Act," Collins' announcement called it "the quickest way to stop heavy-handed agency regulations that would slow Internet speeds, increase consumer prices and hamper infrastructure development, especially in his Northeast Georgia district." Republicans can use this method to bypass Democratic opposition in the Senate by requiring just a simple majority rather than 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, but "it would still face an almost certain veto from President Obama," National Journal wrote. "Other attempts to fast-track repeals of regulations in the past have largely been unsuccessful." This isn't the only Republican effort to overturn the FCC's net neutrality rules. Another, titled the "Internet Freedom Act," would wipe out the new net neutrality regime. Other Republican proposals would enforce some form of net neutrality rules while limiting the FCC's power to regulate broadband.
  • The FCC's rules also face lawsuits from industry consortiums that represent broadband providers. USTelecom filed suit yesterday just after the publication of the rules in the Federal Register. Today, the CTIA Wireless Association, National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), and American Cable Association (ACA) all filed lawsuits to overturn the FCC's Open Internet Order. The CTIA and NCTA are the most prominent trade groups representing the cable and wireless industries. The ACA, which represents smaller providers, said it supports net neutrality rules but opposes the FCC's decision to reclassify broadband as a common carrier service. However, a previous court decision ruled that the FCC could not impose the rules without reclassifying broadband.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

FCC Head to Revise Broadband Rules Plan - WSJ.com - 0 views

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    "By Gautham Nagesh connect May 11, 2014 7:43 p.m. ET The head of the Federal Communications Commission is revising proposed rules for regulating broadband Internet, including offering assurances that the agency won't allow companies to segregate Web traffic into fast and slow lanes."
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    "By Gautham Nagesh connect May 11, 2014 7:43 p.m. ET The head of the Federal Communications Commission is revising proposed rules for regulating broadband Internet, including offering assurances that the agency won't allow companies to segregate Web traffic into fast and slow lanes."
Paul Merrell

Comcast asks the FCC to prohibit states from enforcing net neutrality | Ars Technica - 0 views

  • Comcast met with Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai's staff this week in an attempt to prevent states from issuing net neutrality rules. As the FCC prepares to gut its net neutrality rules, broadband providers are worried that states might enact their own laws to prevent ISPs from blocking, throttling, or discriminating against online content.
  • Comcast Senior VP Frank Buono and a Comcast attorney met with Pai Chief of Staff Matthew Berry and Senior Counsel Nicholas Degani on Monday, the company said in an ex parte filing that describes the meeting. Comcast urged Pai's staff to reverse the FCC's classification of broadband as a Title II common carrier service, a move that would eliminate the legal authority the FCC uses to enforce net neutrality rules. Pai has said he intends to do just that, so Comcast will likely get its wish on that point. But Comcast also wants the FCC to go further by making a declaration that states cannot impose their own regulations on broadband. The filing said: We also emphasized that the Commission's order in this proceeding should include a clear, affirmative ruling that expressly confirms the primacy of federal law with respect to BIAS [Broadband Internet Access Service] as an interstate information service, and that preempts state and local efforts to regulate BIAS either directly or indirectly.
Paul Merrell

FCC's Wheeler Promises Net Neutrality Action 'Shortly' | Adweek - 0 views

  • he pressure is mounting on the Federal Communications Commission to revisit how it will regulate net neutrality in the wake of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals decision that tossed the rules back in the regulator's lap.
  • More than 1 million people signed the petition urging the FCC to "reassert its clear authority over our nation's communications infrastructure" and classify the transmission component of broadband Internet as a telecommunications service. While the court struck down the non-discrimination and no-blocking rules, it also ruled the FCC had the authority to regulate the Internet. That decision leaves the FCC with a thorny legal choice about whether it regulates by classifying the Internet as a telecommunications service or as an information service. In seeking to reassure the petitioners, Wheeler affirmed the commission's commitment to preserve and protect the open Internet. "We interpret the court decision as an invitation and we will accept that invitation," Wheeler said in a press conference following Thursday's meeting. "One of the great things about what the Internet does and why it needs to stay open, it enables people to organize and express themselves. A million people? That's boffo."
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    Over a million signed the petition. Wow! But note that the battle is not over. The FCC could reimplement net neutrality now if it reclassified broadband internet as a telecommunications service. That the FCC has not already set this in motion raises danger flags. All it takes is for a few contracts to be signed to give the ISPs 5th Amendment taking clause claims for damages against the government for reimplementing net neutrality the right way, A "reasonable investment-backed expectation" is the relevant 5th Amendment trigger. 
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Both Comcast And Verizon Agree To Pay Millions To Settle Overbilling Claims | Techdirt - 1 views

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    "from the but-you-can-trust-them dept The big broadband players keep trying to tell us (and politicians and regulators) how good they are and how much we can trust them. Part of their whole pitch on killing net neutrality is that they'd never do anything to harm consumers." [ # ! First... # ! #citizens' #swindling; # ! then, #government #bribing... # ! #Unfair, anyhow we look at it. # ! :/]
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    "from the but-you-can-trust-them dept The big broadband players keep trying to tell us (and politicians and regulators) how good they are and how much we can trust them. Part of their whole pitch on killing net neutrality is that they'd never do anything to harm consumers."
Paul Merrell

The FCC is about to kill the free Internet | PandoDaily - 0 views

  • The Federal Communications Commission is poised to ruin the free Internet on a technicality. The group is expected to introduce new net neutrality laws that would allow companies to pay for better access to consumers through deals similar to the one struck by Netflix and Comcast earlier this year. The argument is that those deals don’t technically fall under the net neutrality umbrella, so these new rules won’t apply to them even though they directly affect the Internet. At least the commission is being upfront about its disinterest in protecting the free Internet.
  • The Verge notes that the proposed rules will offer some protections to consumers: The Federal Communication Commission’s proposal for new net neutrality rules will allow internet service providers to charge companies for preferential treatment, effectively undermining the concept of net neutrality, according to The Wall Street Journal. The rules will reportedly allow providers to charge for preferential treatment so long as they offer that treatment to all interested parties on “commercially reasonable” terms, with the FCC will deciding whether the terms are reasonable on a case-by-case basis. Providers will not be able to block individual websites, however. The goal of net neutrality rules is to prevent service providers from discriminating between different content, allowing all types of data and all companies’ data to be treated equally. While it appears that outright blocking of individual services won’t be allowed, the Journal reports that some forms of discrimination will be allowed, though that will apparently not include slowing down websites.
  • Re/code summarizes the discontent with these proposed rules: Consumer groups have complained about that plan because they’re worried that Wheeler’s rules may not hold up in court either. A federal appeals court rejected two previous versions of net neutrality rules after finding fault in the FCC’s legal reasoning. During the latest smackdown, however, the court suggested that the FCC had some authority to impose net neutrality rules under a section of the law that gives the agency the ability to regulate the deployment of broadband lines. Internet activists would prefer that the FCC just re-regulate Internet lines under old rules designed for telephone networks, which they say would give the agency clear authority to police Internet lines. Wheeler has rejected that approach for now. Phone and cable companies, including Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, have vociferously fought that idea over the past few years.
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  • The Chicago Tribune reports on the process directing these rules: The five-member regulatory commission may vote as soon as May to formally propose the rules and collect public comment on them. Virtually all large Internet service providers, such as Verizon Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc., have pledged to abide by the principles of open Internet reinforced by these rules. But critics have raised concerns that, without a formal rule, the voluntary pledges could be pulled back over time and also leave the door open for deals that would give unequal treatment to websites or services.
  • I wrote about the European Union’s attempts to defend the free Internet: The legislation is meant to provide access to online services ‘without discrimination, restriction or interference, independent of the sender, receiver, type, content, device, service or application.’ For example, ISPs would be barred from slowing down or ‘throttling’ the speed at which one service’s videos are delivered while allowing other services to stream at normal rates. To bastardize Gertrude Stein: a byte is a byte is a byte. Such restrictions would prevent deals like the one Comcast recently made with Netflix, which will allow the service’s videos to reach consumers faster than before. Comcast is also said to be in talks with Apple for a deal that would allow videos from its new streaming video service to reach consumers faster than videos from competitors. The Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality laws don’t apply to those deals, according to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, so they are allowed to continue despite the threat they pose to the free Internet.
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    Cute. Deliberately not using the authority the court of appeals said it could use to impose net neutrality. So Europe can have net neutrality but not in the U.S.
Paul Merrell

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler: This Is How We Will Ensure Net Neutrality | WIRED - 0 views

  • That is why I am proposing that the FCC use its Title II authority to implement and enforce open internet protections. Using this authority, I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC. These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. I propose to fully apply—for the first time ever—those bright-line rules to mobile broadband. My proposal assures the rights of internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission. All of this can be accomplished while encouraging investment in broadband networks. To preserve incentives for broadband operators to invest in their networks, my proposal will modernize Title II, tailoring it for the 21st century, in order to provide returns necessary to construct competitive networks. For example, there will be no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling. Over the last 21 years, the wireless industry has invested almost $300 billion under similar rules, proving that modernized Title II regulation can encourage investment and competition.
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    Victory on Net Neutrality in sight. The FCC Chairman is circulating a draft rule that designates both cable and wireless ISPs as "common carriers" under Title II.  
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Craig Aaron: Is the FCC Reaching Into Your Pocket to Pad Industry Profits? - 1 views

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    [Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski is preparing to make a big announcement on Thursday. It's sure to be filled with platitudes about the benefits of broadband and boosting the economy. But the devil, as always, will be in the details. And that's how we'll know whether the FCC is sticking up for the consumers they're supposed to represent, or whether we're witnessing the agency's complete capture by the industries it's supposed to regulate. ...]
Paul Merrell

FCC Turns Itself into a Deregulatory Agency - WhoWhatWhy - 2 views

  • Since taking office, President Donald Trump has wasted no time in proposing rollbacks to Obama-era federal regulations. So, it should come as no surprise that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted last month to propose changes to current regulations on Internet service providers. Spearheaded by Ajit Pai — the Trump-appointed FCC chairman and former lawyer for Verizon — the 2-1 vote is the first step in dismantling the Open Internet Order. The lone FCC Democrat, Mignon Clyburn, was overruled by Pai and fellow commissioner Michael O’Reilly. The 2015 order classified broadband internet as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Opponents of the current state of net neutrality argue that the rules are archaic and place unnecessary — even harmful — restrictions on internet service providers (ISPs), leading to lack of innovation and investment. While it’s true that policies conceived in the 1930s could hardly anticipate the complexities of the modern Internet, a complete rollback of Title II protections would leave ISPs free to favor their own services and whichever company pays for upgraded service. Considering relaxed FEC rules on media ownership and lack of antitrust enforcement, some could argue that a rollback of net neutrality is even more toxic to innovation and affordable pricing. That is, fast lanes could be created for companies with deeper pockets, effectively giving them an advantage over companies and individuals who can’t pay extra. This approach effectively penalizes small businesses, nonprofits and innovative start-ups. Today’s Internet is so vast and so pervasive that it’s hard to grasp the impact that an abandonment of net neutrality would have on every aspect of our culture.
  • While the FCC’s proposed change will touch most Americans, net neutrality remains a mystifying concept to non-techies. To help our readers better understand the issue, we have compiled some videos that explain net neutrality and its importance. The FCC will be accepting comments from the public on their website until August 16, 2017.
Paul Merrell

Senate votes to overturn Ajit Pai's net neutrality repeal | Ars Technica - 0 views

  • The US Senate today voted to reverse the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of net neutrality rules, with all members of the Democratic caucus and three Republicans voting in favor of net neutrality. The Senate approved a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would simply undo the FCC's December 2017 vote to deregulate the broadband industry. If the CRA is approved by the House and signed by President Trump, Internet service providers would have to continue following rules that prohibit blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization.
  • Democrats face much longer odds in the House, where Republicans hold a 236-193 majority. Republicans have a slim majority in the Senate, but Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) broke ranks in order to support net neutrality and common carrier regulation of broadband providers. The vote was 52-47.
Paul Merrell

Civil Rights Groups, Funded by Telecoms, Back Donald Trump's Plan to Kill Net Neutrality - 0 views

  • Leading civil rights groups who for many years have been heavily bankrolled by the telecom industry are signaling their support for Donald Trump’s promised rollback of the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules, which prevent internet service providers from prioritizing some content providers over others. The Obama administration’s Federal Communications Commission established net neutrality by reclassifying high-speed internet as a regulated phone-like telecommunications service, as opposed to a mostly unregulated information service. The re-classification was cheered by advocates for a free and open internet. But now Trump’s new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon attorney, is pushing to repeal the net neutrality reform by rolling back that re-classification — and he’s getting help not only from a legion of telecom lobbyists, but from civil rights groups. In a little-noticed joint letter released last week, the NAACP, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, OCA (formerly known as the Organization for Chinese Americans), the National Urban League, and other civil rights organizations sharply criticized the “jurisdictional and classification problems that plagued the last FCC” — a reference to the legal mechanism used by the Obama administration to accomplish net neutrality. Instead of classifying broadband as a public utility, the letter states, open internet rules should be written by statute. What does that mean? It means the Republican-led Congress should take control of the process — the precise approach that is favored by industry.
Paul Merrell

The End of the Internet As We Know It - 2 views

  • We owe everything we love about the Web to net neutrality, the principle that the Internet is an open platform and service providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Time Warner can’t dictate where you go and what you do online. Without net neutrality, the Web would look a lot like cable, with the most popular content available only on certain tiers or with certain providers. (Imagine AT&T as the exclusive home of Netflix and Comcast as the sole source of YouTube.)
  • In 2010, the Federal Communications Commission tried to establish concrete rules to protect net neutrality. But the agency ended up caving to pressure from the biggest phone and cable companies and left huge loopholes standing in the way of a truly open Internet. And now Verizon is in court challenging those rules — and the FCC’s authority to draft and enforce them to protect consumers and promote competition. That’s because under the Bush administration, the FCC decided to give away much of its authority to oversee our broadband networks. The current FCC could fix the problem by reclaiming this authority, but it hasn’t yet. If the FCC loses the case and fails to take the necessary action to reverse course, the agency will be toothless as the biggest Internet providers run amok and destroy everything we love about the Internet. Indeed, the second it looks like the FCC is going to be defeated, you can expect all the telecoms and ISPs to join hands and declare they’ve reached an agreement to self-regulate.
  • If this happens, they’ll win and we’ll lose. Online privacy will be a thing of the past. (If you thought it already was, believe me, things could get worse.) The ISPs will try to read all of your content so they can sell you to advertisers. New “troll tolls” will force content creators and others to pay discriminatory fees just to reach people online — and will require the rest of us to pony up for “premium” content. Does that sound Orwellian? That’s because it is. But this is no far-fetched scenario. It’s time for us to stand up and fight for our online rights. We need to tell the FCC to stop messing around. It’s time for the agency to fix its past mistakes — and establish strong net neutrality protections that are 100 percent loophole-free.
Paul Merrell

Prepare to Hang Up the Phone, Forever - WSJ.com - 0 views

  • At decade's end, the trusty landline telephone could be nothing more than a memory. Telecom giants AT&T T +0.31% AT&T Inc. U.S.: NYSE $35.07 +0.11 +0.31% March 28, 2014 4:00 pm Volume (Delayed 15m) : 24.66M AFTER HOURS $35.03 -0.04 -0.11% March 28, 2014 7:31 pm Volume (Delayed 15m): 85,446 P/E Ratio 10.28 Market Cap $182.60 Billion Dividend Yield 5.25% Rev. per Employee $529,844 03/29/14 Prepare to Hang Up the Phone, ... 03/21/14 AT&T Criticizes Netflix's 'Arr... 03/21/14 Samsung's Galaxy S5 Smartphone... More quote details and news » T in Your Value Your Change Short position and Verizon Communications VZ -0.57% Verizon Communications Inc. U.S.: NYSE $47.42 -0.27 -0.57% March 28, 2014 4:01 pm Volume (Delayed 15m) : 24.13M AFTER HOURS $47.47 +0.05 +0.11% March 28, 2014 7:59 pm Volume (Delayed 15m): 1.57M
  • The two providers want to lay the crumbling POTS to rest and replace it with Internet Protocol-based systems that use the same wired and wireless broadband networks that bring Web access, cable programming and, yes, even your telephone service, into your homes. You may think you have a traditional landline because your home phone plugs into a jack, but if you have bundled your phone with Internet and cable services, you're making calls over an IP network, not twisted copper wires. California, Florida, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Ohio are among states that agree telecom resources would be better redirected into modern telephone technologies and innovations, and will kill copper-based technologies in the next three years or so. Kentucky and Colorado are weighing similar laws, which force people to go wireless whether they want to or not. In Mantoloking, N.J., Verizon wants to replace the landline system, which Hurricane Sandy wiped out, with its wireless Voice Link. That would make it the first entire town to go landline-less, a move that isn't sitting well with all residents.
  • New Jersey's legislature, worried about losing data applications such as credit-card processing and alarm systems that wireless systems can't handle, wants a one-year moratorium to block that switch. It will vote on the measure this month. (Verizon tried a similar change in Fire Island, N.Y., when its copper lines were destroyed, but public opposition persuaded Verizon to install fiber-optic cable.) It's no surprise that landlines are unfashionable, considering many of us already have or are preparing to ditch them. More than 38% of adults and 45.5% of children live in households without a landline telephone, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That means two in every five U.S. homes, or 39%, are wireless, up from 26.6% three years ago. Moreover, a scant 8.5% of households relied only on a landline, while 2% were phoneless in 2013. Metropolitan residents have few worries about the end of landlines. High-speed wire and wireless services are abundant and work well, despite occasional dropped calls. Those living in rural areas, where cell towers are few and 4G capability limited, face different issues.
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  • Safety is one of them. Call 911 from a landline and the emergency operator pinpoints your exact address, down to the apartment number. Wireless phones lack those specifics, and even with GPS navigation aren't as precise. Matters are worse in rural and even suburban areas that signals don't reach, sometimes because they're blocked by buildings or the landscape. That's of concern to the Federal Communications Commission, which oversees all forms of U.S. communications services. Universal access is a tenet of its mission, and, despite the state-by-state degradation of the mandate, it's unwilling to let telecom companies simply drop geographically undesirable customers. Telecom firms need FCC approval to ax services completely, and can't do so unless there is a viable competitor to pick up the slack. Last year AT&T asked to turn off its legacy network, which could create gaps in universal coverage and will force people off the grid to get a wireless provider.
  • AT&T and the FCC will soon begin trials to explore life without copper-wired landlines. Consumers will voluntarily test IP-connected networks and their impact on towns like Carbon Hills, Ala., population 2,071. They want to know how households will reach 911, how small businesses will connect to customers, how people with medical-monitoring devices or home alarms know they will always be connected to a reliable network, and what the costs are. "We cannot be a nation of opportunity without networks of opportunity," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in unveiling the plan. "This pilot program will help us learn how fiber might be deployed where it is not now deployed…and how new forms of wireless can reach deep into the interior of rural America."
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