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Paul Merrell

Comcast hints at plan for paid fast lanes after net neutrality repeal | Ars Technica - 0 views

  • For years, Comcast has been promising that it won't violate the principles of net neutrality, regardless of whether the government imposes any net neutrality rules. That meant that Comcast wouldn't block or throttle lawful Internet traffic and that it wouldn't create fast lanes in order to collect tolls from Web companies that want priority access over the Comcast network.

    This was one of the ways in which Comcast argued that the Federal Communications Commission should not reclassify broadband providers as common carriers, a designation that forces ISPs to treat customers fairly in other ways. The Title II common carrier classification that makes net neutrality rules enforceable isn't necessary because ISPs won't violate net neutrality principles anyway, Comcast and other ISPs have claimed.

    But with Republican Ajit Pai now in charge at the Federal Communications Commission, Comcast's stance has changed. While the company still says it won't block or throttle Internet content, it has dropped its promise about not instituting paid prioritization.

  • Instead, Comcast now vaguely says that it won't "discriminate against lawful content" or impose "anti-competitive paid prioritization." The change in wording suggests that Comcast may offer paid fast lanes to websites or other online services, such as video streaming providers, after Pai's FCC eliminates the net neutrality rules next month.
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

Lawmakers Change Their Tone on AT&T and Time Warner Deal - The New York Times - 0 views

  • When AT&T and Time Warner announced their $85.4 billion deal in October, lawmakers greeted the acquisition frostily. Now their tone is changing.

    At a hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday that was being closely watched for how mega-mergers will be viewed in the coming Trump administration, members of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee that oversees regulatory agencies that decide on mergers said the deal merited tough scrutiny. The chief executives of AT&T and Time Warner were grilled at the hearing about a range of issues related to the deal.

    But in a change from previous comments, lawmakers also questioned whether traditional ways of evaluating mergers are growing outdated as Silicon Valley companies like Facebook and Google become massive media platforms that threaten the television industry. Their tone was more circumspect than those that immediately followed the deal’s announcement, when lawmakers had been more critical.

    I think it plain that we need a flat ban on the same company controlling both an ISP and a content company. Comcast, the ISP/content company has proved that it's willing to misuse its ISP powers to disfavor other content companies such as Hulu and Netflix via network throttling. AT&T plus Time Warner would undoubtedly do the same. And Comcast led the charge against net neutrality, attempting to expand its revenue base from its ISP subscribers to include new charges on content providing companies. We need a clean separation between ISPs and content companies.
Paul Merrell

Comcast hit with FCC's biggest cable fine ever - Oct. 11, 2016 - 0 views

  • Comcast is being forced to pay the largest fine the FCC has ever levied against a cable operator. Its offense: Charging customers for services and equipment they didn't ask for.

    The company agreed to pay a $2.3 million civil penalty and to submit to a "compliance plan," in which regulators will monitor Comcast for the next five years to ensure it cleans up its act.

  • The FCC said it received over 1,000 complaints from customers, who said Comcast charged them for premium channels, cable boxes, DVRs or other products that they never ordered.

    In many cases, the FCC said, customers expressly told Comcast that they didn't want the add-on options, but they were charged anyway.

    Complaints also describe how customers spent "significant time and energy to attempt to remove the unauthorized charges" and get refunds, the commission said.

    The complaints spurred the FCC to launch an investigation nearly two years ago. Today's settlement marks the conclusion of the probe.

    Under the five-year compliance plan, Comcast must begin sending customers special notifications every time a new charge or service is added to their bill. The company also has to add a way for customers to easily "block the addition of new services or equipment to their accounts," according to an FCC press release.

  • Comcast (CMCSA) will also be required to compensate or address complaints from customers who have disputed charges, and it will be barred from referring an account to collections or suspending an account that has a disputed charge.

    Comcast agreed to the fine without admitting any guilt.

    Investigation was instigated by Sen. Ron Wyden after receiving constituent complaints.
Paul Merrell

Comcast Plans to Drop Time Warner Cable Deal - Bloomberg Business - 0 views

  • Fourteen months after unveiling a $45.2 billion merger that would create a new Internet and cable giant, Comcast Corp. is planning to walk away from its proposed takeover of Time Warner Cable Inc., people with knowledge of the matter said.

    The decision marks a swift unraveling of a deal that awaited federal approval for more than a year. Opposition from the U.S. Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission took shape over the past week, leaving officials of the two companies to conclude the deal wouldn’t pass muster.

  • Comcast’s board will meet to finalize the decision on Thursday, and an announcement may come as soon as Friday, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Time Warner Cable executives plan to tell shareholders on an earnings conference call next Thursday how the company can survive independently, the person said.
  • On Wednesday, FCC staff joined lawyers at the Justice Department opposing the transaction. That day, FCC officials told representatives of the two companies they are leaning toward concluding the merger doesn’t help consumers, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

    The FCC’s plan to call a hearing effectively killed the deal’s chances of success. An FCC hearing can take months to complete and drag out the approval process beyond the companies’ time frame for completion. Bloomberg News reported last week that Justice Department staff was leaning against the deal. Senators including Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota, also voiced opposition.

    “Comcast’s withdrawal of its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable would be spectacularly good news for consumers,” Michael Copps, a Democratic former FCC commissioner working with Common Cause to oppose the deal, said in a statement.

    Looks like all that online lobbying from the internet community worked. 
Paul Merrell

Comcast is turning your Xfinity router into a public Wi-Fi hotspot - Dwight Silverman's... - 0 views

  • Some time on Tuesday afternoon, about 50,000 Comcast Internet customers in Houston will become part of a massive public Wi-Fi hotspot network, a number that will swell to 150,000 by the end of June.

    Comcast will begin activating a feature in its Arris Touchstone Telephony Wireless Gateway Modems that sets up a public Wi-Fi hotspot alongside a residential Internet customer’s private home network. Other Comcast customers will be able to log in to the hotspots for free using a computer, smartphone or other mobile device. And once they log into one, they’ll be automatically logged in to others when their devices “see” them.

    Comcast says the hotspot – which appears as “xfinitywifi” to those searching for a Wi-Fi connection – is completely separate from the home network. Someone accessing the Net through the hotspot can’t get to the computers, printers, mobile devices, streaming boxes and more sitting on the host network.

    Comcast officials also say that people using the Internet via the hotspot won’t slow down Internet access on the home network. Additional capacity is allotted to handle the bandwidth.

    You can read more about Comcast’s reason for doing this in my report on

  • What’s interesting about this move is that, by default, the feature is being turned on without its subscribers’ prior consent. It’s an opt-out system – you have to take action to not participate. Comcast spokesman Michael Bybee said on Monday that notices about the hotspot feature were mailed to customers a few weeks ago, and email notifications will go out after it’s turned on. But it’s a good bet that this will take many Comcast customers by surprise.

    If you have one of these routers and don’t want to host a public Wi-Fi hotspot, here’s how to turn it off.

  • The additional capacity for public hotspot users is provided through a separate channel on the modem called a “service flow,” according to Comcast. But the speed of the connection reflects the tier of the subscriber hosting the hotspot. For example, if you connect to a hotspot hosted by a home user with a 25-Mbps connection, it will be slower than if you connect to a host system on the 50-Mbps tier.
    I didn't see this one coming. I've got a Comcast account and their Arris Gateway modem. In our area, several coffeehouses, etc., that already offered free wireless connections are now broadcasting Comcast Xfinity wireless. So I'm guessing that this is a planned rollout nationwide. 
Paul Merrell

Deployment of IPv6 Begins : Comcast Voices | The Official Comcast Blog - 0 views

  • Comcast has been conducting IPv6 technical trials in our production network for more than a year, and we've been working diligently on IPv6 deployment for over 6 years. After so many years of challenging preparatory work, significant technology investment, internal skills development, and close collaboration with our technology partners, I am incredibly pleased to announce that we've achieved another critical milestone in our transition to IPv6 — we have started the pilot market deployment of IPv6 to customers in selected markets!

    We're now the first large ISP in North America to start deploying IPv6. This is a significant milestone not just inside our own company but also in the industry, particularly given the chicken and egg relationship between the availability of content and software that supports IPv6 and the deployment of IPv6 to end users.

  • This first phase will support certain types of directly connected CPE, where a single computer is connected directly to a cable modem. Subsequent phases in 2011 and 2012 will support home gateway devices and variable length prefixes.

    Critically, our approach is "native dual stack" which means customers will get both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses. Some other ISPs that are less prepared may be using tunneling or large scale NAT in the network. Those approaches are likely to result in some applications (such as some real-time applications) breaking or seeming slow. Native dual stack, the approach we are using, avoids breaking or slowing applications and maintains a better and faster broadband Internet experience. Our customers buy Xfinity Internet service in large part for our great speeds, and they can rest assured that they won't have to slow down as the world transitions to IPv6, as we've "just said no to NAT" in this phase of our IPv6 transition.

  • For all the key technical details, check out this complementary blog post from John Brzozowski.
Paul Merrell

Kohl Wary Of Comcast-NBCU Deal - Tech Daily Dose - Tech Daily Dose - 0 views

  • An influential Democratic senator urged federal regulators today to only approve the proposed $30 billion merger of Comcast and NBC Universal if they determine that "sufficient conditions" are "unlikely to cause any substantial lessening of competition," CongressDaily reported.
  • Kohl detailed his views in a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney. The lawmaker recommended 11 requirements, including the divestiture of NBC's stake in the online video site Hulu, a ban on Comcast shifting marquee NBC content to cable for a decade and restricting Comcast from blocking or degrading competing video services online.

    Kohl weighed in after Congress held four hearings earlier this year on the merger and as lobbying over the transaction continues to intensify. The companies have said they're expecting a regulatory decision in the fourth quarter.

Paul Merrell

FCC Prepares to Re-Regulate Broadband Providers | Epicenter | - 0 views

  • Reversing a controversial deregulation decision made by the Bush administration, the FCC will seek to force broadband internet providers to adhere to some of the rules that have long applied to the nation’s landline phone providers.

    The decision will be announced officially tomorrow by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, according to a senior FCC official’s statement Wednesday, and will likely set off a firestorm of protests from the nation’s well-connected telecommunications industry.

    The FCC says the move is a response to a recent court ruling that called into question whether the FCC had authority to regulate how the nation’s broadband providers run their networks, including whether providers can block content. The ruling came in a case where Comcast appealed an FCC order that forbade the carrier from blocking peer-to-peer file sharing.

Paul Merrell

Yahoo! to shed open source Exchange rival? * Channel Register - 0 views

  • Yahoo! may be shedding more mojo.

    According to All Things Digital, the web giant is looking to offload Zimbra, the open-source email and collaboration outfit it acquired just two years ago for $350m. Sources tell ATD that Comcast and Google are potential buyers.

  • According to the company, it's now powering more than 50 million paid mailboxes worldwide.

    Zimbra tech is also part of Yahoo!'s web-based Mail and Calendar tools for consumer Yahooligans. And by Yahoo!'s count, the Zimbra open source community is now 30,000-developers strong, driving more than 50,000 open source downloads a month.

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