The Internet

FCC Proposes To Extend So-Called "Obamaphone" Program To Broadband 215

Posted by samzenpus
from the internet-to-the-people dept.
jfruh writes: The FCC's Lifeline program subsidizes phone service for very poor Americans; it gained notoriety under the label "Obamaphone," even though the program started under Reagan and was extended to cell phones under Clinton. Now the FCC is proposing that the program, which is funded by a fee on telecom providers, be extended to broadband, on the logic that high-speed internet is as necessary today as telephone service was a generation ago.
Government

North Carolina Still Wants To Block Municipal Broadband 289

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-competition-has-no-place-in-capitalism dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In February, when the FCC rolled out its net neutrality rules, it also voted to override state laws that let Texas and North Carolina block ISPs created by local governments and public utilities. These laws frequently leave citizens facing a monopoly or duopoly with no recourse, so the FCC abolished them. Now, North Carolina has sued the FCC to get them back. State Attorney General Roy Cooper claims, "the FCC unlawfully inserted itself between the State and the State's political subdivisions." He adds that the new rule is "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion within the meaning of the Administrative Procedure Act; and is otherwise contrary to law."
Cellphones

FCC May Stop 911 Access For NSI Phones 211

Posted by timothy
from the why-we-can't-have-nice-things dept.
An anonymous reader writes: It's generally known that if you call 911 from a cell phone in the USA, you will be connected to the nearest Public Safety Access Point, whether or not the phone has an active account. This is the basis for programs that distribute donated phones for emergency-only use. However, the FCC has proposed a rule change that would eliminate the requirement for telephone companies to connect 911 calls made by NSI (non-service-initialized) phones. The main reason for the proposed rule change are the problems caused by fraudulent 911 calls made through NSI phones. Yet respondents cited by the FCC show that as many as 30% of 911 calls from NSI phones are for legitimate emergencies. The comment period for the proposed rule change ends on June 6th, 2015.
Verizon

Verizon, Sprint Agree To Pay Combined $158 Million Over Cramming Charges 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-only-incredibly-profitable-instead-of-ridiculously-profitable dept.
mpicpp sends news that Verizon has agreed to pay $90 million (PDF), and Sprint another $68 million (PDF), to settle claims that they placed unauthorized charges on their customers's bills. The process, known as "cramming," has already cost T-Mobile and AT&T settlements in the tens of millions as well. Most of the settlement money will go towards setting up refund programs, but Verizon and Sprint will be able to keep 30% and 35% of the fees they collected, respectively. In response to the news, both companies issued vague statements about "putting customers first." They are now banned from charging for premium text message services and must set up systems to ensure informed consent for third-party charges.
The Internet

FCC Tosses Petition Challenging Its New Internet Regulations 133

Posted by timothy
from the well-what-else-would-they-do? dept.
A petition submitted to the FCC by several of the players (including AT&T, CenturyLink, and USTelecom) who would be most affected by the agency's recently asserted Internet regulatory powers has been rejected by the agency's leadership. The Internet providers, along with the CTIA trade association, asserted that the FCC's Open Internet order is aganst the public interest. Per The Verge, the Commission last Friday "denied the petition, issuing an order that states its classification of broadband internet as a telecommunications service "falls well within the Commission's statutory authority, is consistent with Supreme Court precedent, and fully complies with the Administrative Procedure Act."
The Internet

Rand Paul Moves To Block New "Net Neutrality" Rules 438

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-isps? dept.
SonicSpike writes with news about another bump in the road for net neutrality. U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a Republican presidential hopeful, on Wednesday introduced a resolution to block new regulations on Internet service providers, saying they would 'wrap the Internet in red tape.' The 'net neutrality' rules, which are slated to take effect in June, are backed by the Obama administration and were passed by the Democratic majority of the Federal Communications Commission in February. AT&T Inc and wireless and cable trade associations are challenging them in court. Paul's resolution, if adopted, would allow the Senate to fast-track a vote to establish that Congress disapproves of the FCC's new rules and moves to nullify them.
Businesses

ATT, DirecTV Mega-Merger May Go Through 82

Posted by timothy
from the so-long-as-the-destruction-is-creative dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Hot on the heels of Comcast's failed attempt to swallow up Time Warner Cable, AT&T's pursuit of satellite provider DirecTV is plowing forward. What would be the result of a wireline and cellular mega-monopoly buying one of only two subscription satellite TV providers? Has to be worse than a Comcast/TWC marriage ... at least there, the territories and services offered didn't overlap at all, but AT&T offers voice, data, and television in many markets already. Adding satellite would stifle competition for television services (and to a lesser extent, because satellite is only best suited for rural installations, data).
Government

FCC Chairman: a Former Cable Lobbyist Who Helped Kill the Comcast Merger 86

Posted by Soulskill
from the judging-books-by-covers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After Friday's news that the Comcast/TWC merger is dead, the Washington Post points out an interesting fact: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who was instrumental in throwing up roadblocks for the deal, used to be a lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry. "Those who predicted Wheeler would favor industry interests 'misunderstood him from the beginning — the notion that because he had represented various industries, he was suddenly in their pocket never made any sense,' said one industry lawyer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he represents clients before the FCC." The "revolving door" between government and industry is often blamed for many of the problems regulating corporations. We were worried about it ourselves when Wheeler was nominated for his current job. I guess this goes to show that it depends more on the person than on their previous job.
Businesses

Comcast Officially Gives Up On TWC Merger 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the keeping-them-small-enough-to-govern dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Confirming speculation from yesterday, Comcast announced this morning that its attempt to merge with Time Warner Cable has been terminated. The announcement was very brief, but indicated that regulatory pressure was the reason they killed the deal. CEO Brian Roberts said, "Today, we move on. Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn't agree, we could walk away." The Washington Post adds, "The move by regulators to throw up roadblocks shows that the government has grown concerned about massive media conglomerates bigfooting rivals that are finding success by streaming content over the Internet, analysts said. And after years of approving a wave of mergers in the industry — including that of Comcast and NBC Universal in 2011 — federal officials are taking a new tone, they said."
Government

Bloomberg Report Suggests Comcast & Time Warner Merger Dead 99

Posted by timothy
from the it's-very-ill dept.
andyring writes: According to Bloomberg News, the Time Warner/Comcast merger of raw evil is dead. Comcast plans as early as tomorrow to withdraw the merger proposal, "after regulators decided that the deal wouldn't help consumers, making approval unlikely" according to the story. If so, that means regulators won't have the chance to kill it themselves.
Businesses

Comcast and TWC Will Negotiate With Officials To Save Their Merger 101

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-talk-about-this dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about Comcast and Time Warner Cable's attempt to keep their proposed merger alive. "Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc. are slated to sit down for the first time on Wednesday with Justice Department officials to discuss potential remedies in hopes of keeping their $45.2 billion merger on track, according to people familiar with the matter. The parties haven't met face-to-face to hash out possible concessions in the more than 14 months since the deal was announced. Staffers at both the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission remain concerned a combined company would wield too much power in the broadband Internet market and give it unfair competitive leverage against TV channel owners and new market entrants that offer video programming online, said people with knowledge of the review."
The Internet

Republicans Introduce a Bill To Overturn Net Neutrality 441

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-neutrality dept.
New submitter grimmjeeper writes: IDG News reports, "A group of Republican lawmakers has introduced a bill that would invalidate the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's recently passed net neutrality rules. The legislation (PDF), introduced by Representative Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican, is called a resolution of disapproval, a move that allows Congress to review new federal regulations from government agencies, using an expedited legislative process."

This move should come as little surprise to anyone. While the main battle in getting net neutrality has been won, the war is far from over.
The legislation was only proposed now because the FCC's net neutrality rules were just published in the Federal Register today. In addition to the legislation, a new lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by USTelecom, a trade group representing ISPs.
United States

Reason: How To Break the Internet (in a Bad Way) 489

Posted by timothy
from the but-the-council-of-wise-men-have-decreed dept.
Widespread public sentiment favors the FCC's move to impose rules intended to establish "net neutrality"; an anonymous reader writes with a skeptical viewpoint: "No decent person," write Geoffrey Manne and Ben Sperry in a special issue of Reason, "should be *for* net neutrality." Across the board, the authors write, letting the FCC dictate ISP business practices will result in everything they say they're trying to avoid. For instance, one of the best ways to route around a big firm's brand recognition is to buy special treatment in the form of promotions, product placement and the like (payola, after all, is how rock and roll circumvented major label contempt for the genre). That will almost certainly be forbidden under the FCC's version of neutrality.
Crime

AT&T Call Centers Sold Mobile Customer Information To Criminals 92

Posted by samzenpus
from the was-that-wrong? dept.
itwbennett writes Employees at three call centers in Mexico, Colombia and the Philippines sold hundreds of thousands of AT&T customer records, including names and Social Security numbers, to criminals who attempted to use the customer information to unlock stolen mobile phones, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said. AT&T has agreed to pay a $25 million civil penalty, which is the largest related to a data breach and customer privacy in the FCC's history.
The Internet

Why Is the Internet Association Rewarding a Pro-NSA Net-Neutrality Opponent? 157

Posted by samzenpus
from the keep-your-enemies-closer dept.
First time accepted submitter erier2003 writes The decision to give a major award to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is curious given McCarthy's many questionable stances on Internet-freedom issues. For one thing, the California congressman is an avowed opponent of net neutrality. In May 2014, as the Federal Communications Commission debated new net neutrality rules, McCarthy—then the House Majority Whip, the chamber's third-highest-ranking member—signed a House GOP letter to the FCC warning that Title II regulation represented "a counterproductive effort to even further regulate the Internet."
Government

FCC Chairman: Net Rules Will Withstand Court Challenge 84

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-to-stay dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this story about FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's confidence that the net neutrality rules the agency passed last month will stand up to upcoming challenges in court."Now that the FCC is the subject of several lawsuits, and its leader, Chairman Tom Wheeler, was dragged in front of Congress repeatedly to answer the same battery of inanity, it's worth checking in to see how the agency is feeling. Is it confident that its recent vote to reclassify broadband under Title II of the Telecommunications Act will hold? Yes, unsurprisingly. Recently, Wheeler gave a speech at Ohio State University, laying out his larger philosophy regarding the open Internet. His second to last paragraph is worth reading: "One final prediction: the FCC's new rules will be upheld by the courts. The DC Circuit sent the previous Open Internet Order back to us and basically said, 'You're trying to impose common carrier-like regulation without stepping up and saying, "these are common carriers.'" We have addressed that issue, which is the underlying issue in all of the debates we've had so far. That gives me great confidence going forward that we will prevail.""
The Courts

First Lawsuits Challenging FCC's New Net Neutrality Rules Arrive 318

Posted by Soulskill
from the early-bird-gets-to-throttle-the-worm's-bandwidth dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A small ISP based in Texas and an industry trade group have become the first to file lawsuits challenging the FCC's recent net neutrality rules. The trade group, USTelecom, argues that the regulations are not "legally sustainable." Alamo Broadband claims it is facing "onerous requirements" by operating under Title II of the Communications Act. Such legal challenges were expected, and are doubtless the first of many — but few expected them to arrive so soon. While some of the new rules were considered "final" once the FCC released them on March 12, others don't go into effect until they're officially published in the Federal Register, which hasn't happened yet.
Government

ISPs Worry About FCC's 'Future Conduct' Policing 130

Posted by timothy
from the now-lookie-hyeah-boah dept.
jfruh (300774) writes "In the wake of the FCC passing net neutrality rules, the federal agency now has the authority to keep an eye on ISPs 'future conduct,' to prevent them from even starting to implement traffic-shaping plans that would violate net neutrality. Naturally, this has a lot of ISPs feeling nervous." From the article: The net neutrality rules, beginning on page 106, outline a process for staff to give advisory opinions to broadband providers who want to run a proposed business model past the agency before rolling it out. But those advisory opinions won’t have the weight of an official commission decision. The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau will be able to reconsider, rescind or revoke those advisory opinions, and the commission itself will be able to overrule them, according to the order. “It’s unclear what you’re supposed to do when you have a new innovation or a new service,” the telecom lobbyist said. “There’s just a lot of ambiguity.” Even the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of the most vocal proponents of strong net neutrality rules, urged the commission to jettison its future conduct standard.
Communications

Feds Fine Verizon $3.4 Million Over 911 Service Outage Issues 65

Posted by timothy
from the can't-get-through-to-you dept.
itwbennett writes The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has fined Verizon $3.4 million over its failure to notify police and fire departments during a 911 service outage last year. Under the commission's rules, Verizon and other carriers were required to notify emergency call centers of a six-hour outage that occurred in April. The outage involved multiple carriers and affected over 11 million people in seven states.
Google

Google's Solar-Drone Internet Tests About To Take Off 21

Posted by samzenpus
from the sky-web dept.
itwbennett writes Titan Aerospace, the drone-maker acquired last year by Google to help realize the company's ambitious plans to provide Internet access to remote areas via solar-powered drones, recently applied for and received two licenses from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to run tests over the next six months. The licenses, which are valid from March 8 until September 5, don’t give away much because Google has asked the FCC to keep many of the details confidential for commercial reasons, but they reveal the tests will take place inside a 1,345 square kilometer (520 square mile) area to the east of Albuquerque. The area includes the town of Moriarty, where Titan Aerospace is headquartered and conducts its research and development work.