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Music

Bose Launches 'Hearphones' That Act Like Hearing Aids (theverge.com) 55

Bose has launched a new pair of earbuds called Hearphones that augment the sounds of the world around you, letting you select what kinds of outside noises you'd like to listen to. "Hearphones users can also pick which direction those outside noises come from, with what appears to be specific emphasis on helping people hear voices better in crowded places," reports The Verge: A "Bose Hear" app was recently added to the App Store, and offers a little more detail about what Hearphones are capable of. You can turn the "world volume" up or down, and change the direction you're hearing those sounds from. There are preset modes like "television," "focused conversation," "airplane," "doctor's office," or "gym," all of which presumably block out different sounds from different directions while letting in things like speech. A user manual was also recently submitted to the FCC. No pricing or availability can be found anywhere on Bose's website or in the app. Here's some more from that app's description: "Innovative technologies amplify softer sounds, let you turn down the distractions in noisy environments and focus on what you want to hear -- like a conversation across the table. You can also use them as controllable noise cancelling [sic] wireless headphones for your music or calls or just for quiet. Take control of the noise, and hear the world better."
Businesses

T-Mobile CFO: Less Regulation, Repeal of Net Neutrality By Trump Would Be 'Positive For My Industry' (tmonews.com) 158

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TmoNews: T-Mobile CFO Braxton Carter spoke at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York City, and he touched a bit on President-elect Donald Trump and what his election could mean for the mobile industry. Carter expects that a Trump presidency will foster an environment that'll be more positive for wireless. "It's hard to imagine, with the way the election turned out, that we're not going to have an environment, from several aspects, that is not going to be more positive for my industry," the CFO said. He went on to explain that there will likely be less regulation, something that he feels "destroys innovation and value creation." Speaking of innovation, Carter also feels that a reversal of net neutrality and the FCC's Open Internet rules would be good for innovation in the industry, saying that it "would provide opportunity for significant innovation and differentiation" and that it'd enable you to "do some very interesting things."
Network

Millions In US Still Living Life In Internet Slow Lane (arstechnica.com) 208

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Millions of Americans still have extremely slow Internet speeds, a new Federal Communications Commission report shows. While the FCC defines broadband as download speeds of 25Mbps, about 47.5 million home or business Internet connections provided speeds below that threshold. Out of 102.2 million residential and business Internet connections, 22.4 million offered download speeds less than 10Mbps, with 5.8 million of those offering less than 3Mbps. About 25.1 million connections offered at least 10Mbps but less than 25Mbps. 54.7 million households had speeds of at least 25Mbps, with 15.4 million of those at 100Mbps or higher. These are the advertised speeds, not the actual speeds consumers receive. Some customers will end up with slower speeds than what they pay for. Upload speeds are poor for many Americans as well. While the FCC uses 3Mbps as the upload broadband standard, 16 million households had packages with upload speeds less than 1Mbps. Another 27.2 million connections were between 1Mbps and 3Mbps, 30.1 million connections were between 3Mbps and 6Mbps, while 29 million were at least 6Mbps. The Internet Access Services report released last week contains data as of December 31, 2015. The 11-month gap is typical for these reports, which are based on information collected from Internet service providers. The latest data is nearly a year old, so things might look a bit better now, just as the December 2015 numbers are a little better than previous ones.
AT&T

FCC Calls Out AT&T, Verizon For 'Zero Rating' Their Own Video Apps (zdnet.com) 56

U.S. regulators are calling out AT&T and Verizon for exempting their own video apps from data caps on customers' smartphones. The FCC has sent letters to the country's biggest wireless carriers saying the way they handle the practice, known as "zero rating," can hurt competition and consumers. From a report on ZDNet: AT&T launched DirecTV Now earlier this week. AT&T Mobility customers can stream video data over LTE without impacting their data allowance. Verizon offers something similar with its go90 service. AT&T and Verizon don't see any wrongdoing. In a statement Friday, AT&T said exempting services like DirecTV Now from data caps saves customers money. Verizon said its practices are good for consumers and comply with regulations. "We will provide the FCC with additional information on why the government should not take away a service that saves consumers money," AT&T wrote in a statement Friday. The FCC hasn't released any official ruling on "zero rating," just guidance. It said on Thursday a similar letter was sent to AT&T in November, but the FCC didn't like AT&T's original response.
Republicans

Trump Appoints Third Net Neutrality Critic To FCC Advisory Team (dslreports.com) 191

Last week, President-elect Donald Trump appointed two new advisers to his transition team that will oversee his FCC and telecommunications policy agenda. Trump has added a third adviser today who, like the other two advisers, is a staunch opponent of net neutrality regulations. DSLReports adds: The incoming President chose Roslyn Layton, a visiting fellow at the broadband-industry-funded American Enterprise Institute, to help select the new FCC boss and guide the Trump administration on telecom policy. Layton joins Jeffrey Eisenach, a former Verizon consultant and vocal net neutrality critic, and Mark Jamison, a former Sprint lobbyist that has also fought tooth and nail against net neutrality; recently going so far as to argue he doesn't think telecom monopolies exist. Like Eisenach and Jamison, Layton has made a career out of fighting relentlessly against most of the FCC's more consumer-focused efforts, including net neutrality, consumer privacy rules, and increased competition in the residential broadband space. Back in October, Layton posted an article to the AEI blog proclaiming that the FCC's new privacy rules, which give consumers greater control over how their data is collected and sold, were somehow part of a "partisan endgame of corporate favoritism" that weren't necessary and only confused customers. Layton also has made it abundantly clear she supports zero rating, the practice of letting ISPs give their own (or high paying partners') content cap-exemption and therefore a competitive advantage in the market. She has similarly, again like Eisenach and Jamison, supported rolling back the FCC's classification of ISPs as common carriers under Title II, which would kill the existing net neutrality rules and greatly weaken the FCC's ability to protect consumers.
Transportation

'DroneGun' Can Take Down Aircraft From Over 1.2 Miles Away (thenextweb.com) 147

The more drones being sold around the world increases the likelihood of them being used as part of a criminal act. For example, ISIS has been using drones in Iraq to carry and drop explosives. In an effort to protect consumers, an Australian and U.S. company called DroneShield has announced a product called the DroneGun. The DroneGun "allows for a controlled management of drone payload, such as explosives, with no damage to common drone models or the surrounding environment," the maker says on its website, "due to the drones generally responding via a vertical controlled landing on the spot, or returning back to the starting point (assisting to track the operator)." The Next Web reports: DroneGun, a handheld anti-drone device, has a range of 1.2 miles. It also looks like an unlockable item in a first-person shooter. The "gun" uses a jammer to disable electronic communication across the 2.4 and 5.8 GHz frequencies. Blocking these frequencies cuts off communication between the drone and pilot (or GPS) and forces it to land safely or return to its operator -- which assists in tracking the offending party. At 13 pounds, it's a bit cumbersome, but still capable of being operated by one person. It's also mostly a point-and-shoot device and doesn't require specialized training to use. DroneGun isn't approved for use in the United States -- thanks, FCC. If approved the device could provide a useful tool for taking down drones at airports, over crowded spaces, and in war zones.
Republicans

Trump Names Two Opponents of Net Neutrality To Oversee FCC Transition Team (gizmodo.com) 395

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: President-elect Donald Trump has appointed two new advisers to his transition team that will oversee his FCC and telecommunications policy agenda. Both of the new advisers are staunch opponents of net neutrality regulations. Jeff Eisenach, one of the two newly appointed advisers, is an economist who has previously worked as a consultant for Verizon and its trade association. In September 2014, Eisenach testified before a Senate Judiciary Committee and said, "Net neutrality would not improve consumer welfare or protect the public interest." He has also worked for the conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and in a blog post wrote, "Net neutrality is crony capitalism pure and simple." Mark Jamison, the other newly appointed adviser, also has a long history of battling against net neutrality oversight. Jamison formerly worked on Sprint's lobbying team and now leads the University of Florida's Public Utility Research Center. Both Eisenach and Jamison are considered leading adversaries of net neutrality who worked hard to prevent the rules from being passed last year. For the uninitiated, the rules passed last year prevent companies internet providers from discriminating against any online content or services. For example, without net neutrality rules, internet providers like Comcast and Verizon could charge internet subscribers more for using sites like Netflix. The FCC's net neutrality rules would protect consumers from paying exorbitant fees for internet use.
Network

SpaceX Files FCC Application For Internet Access Network With 4,425 Satellites (geekwire.com) 121

An anonymous reader quotes a report from GeekWire: SpaceX has laid out further details about a 4,425-satellite communications network that's expected to provide global broadband internet access, with its Seattle-area office playing a key role in its development. The plan is explained in an application and supporting documents filed on Tuesday with the Federal Communications Commission. In the technical information that accompanied its application, SpaceX said it would start commercial broadband service with 800 satellites. That service would cover areas of the globe from 15 degrees north to 60 degrees north, and from 15 degrees south to 60 degrees south. That leaves out some portions of Alaska, which would require a temporary waiver from the FCC. Eventually, the network would grow to 4,425 satellites, transmitting in the Ku and Ka frequency bands. "Once fully deployed, the SpaceX system will pass over virtually all parts of the Earth's surface and therefore, in principle, have the ability to provide ubiquitous global service," SpaceX said. The satellites would orbit the planet at altitudes ranging from 714 to 823 miles (1,150 to 1,325 kilometers) -- well above the International Space Station, but well below geostationary satellites. SpaceX said it would follow federal guidelines to mitigate orbital debris. Each satellite would weigh 850 pounds (386 kilograms) and measure 13 by 6 by 4 feet (4 by 1.8 by 1.2 meters), plus solar arrays, SpaceX said. Operating lifetime was estimated at five to seven years per satellite.
Government

FCC Abides By GOP Request To Stop What It's Doing, Deletes Everything From Meeting Agenda (arstechnica.com) 119

One day after republicans from the house and senate sent letters to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, urging him to avoid passing regulations before Donald Trump's inauguration as president, Wheeler appears to have complied with the request. The FCC today "announced the deletion of all items that were originally scheduled to be presented and voted on at tomorrow's meeting." Ars Technica reports: Before the change, the agenda included votes on price caps for "special access" business data services; Universal Service funding to expand mobile broadband networks; wireless roaming obligations; and requirements for audio description of TV programming for blind and visually impaired people. The only item not deleted from tomorrow's meeting is part of the "consent agenda," which means it is routine and wasn't going to be presented individually. Of the major items, the business data services proposal had received the most attention. These are dedicated wireline circuits provided by traditional phone companies like AT&T and Verizon; the services supply bandwidth for cellular data networks, indirectly affecting the price consumers pay for wireless service. The business data services are also used by banks and retailers to connect ATM machines and credit card readers, by government and corporate users to connect branch offices and data centers, and to support public safety operations and health care facilities. The now-deleted agenda item would have phased in price cap decreases of 11 percent over three years to account for "over a decade of efficiency gains" since the last price cap adjustment.
Government

How President Trump Could Destroy Net Neutrality (vice.com) 235

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Donald Trump's presidential election victory could have dire consequences for U.S. internet freedom and openness, according to several tech policy experts and public interest advocates surveyed by Motherboard on Wednesday. The Republican billionaire will likely seek to roll back hard-won consumer protections safeguarding net neutrality, the principle that all internet content should be equally accessible, as well as a host of other policies designed to protect consumers, ensure internet freedom, and promote broadband access, these experts and advocates said. In the wake of Trump's election victory, FCC Chairman Wheeler is likely to step down before the billionaire reality TV star is inaugurated in January. Incoming presidents traditionally have the prerogative to select the leader of FCC, which has broad regulatory power over the nation's cable, phone and satellite companies. It's unclear whom Trump might nominate to lead the FCC, but Ajit Pai, the Kansas-born Republican FCC commissioner and former Verizon lawyer, is likely to be a contender. Trump has tapped Jeffrey Eisenach, a conservative scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, to lead his telecom policy transition team, according to Politico. Eisenach is a well-known figure in right-wing telecommunications policy circles, with a reputation as a "crusader against regulation." One immediate consequence of Trump's election is a dimmer outlook for ATT's proposed $85 billion buyout of entertainment giant Time Warner. Last month, Trump vowed to block the deal, warning that it would result in "too much concentration of power in the hands of too few." Trump's ignorance about tech and telecom policy was on full display throughout the election season. For example, Trump blithely compared net neutrality to the FCC's old Fairness Doctrine, a bizarre and ignorant assertion for which he was roundly mocked. The Fairness Doctrine, which was eliminated decades ago, required media outlets to afford a "reasonable opportunity" for the airing of opposing views on major issues. Net neutrality has nothing to do with the Fairness Doctrine, but rather ensures that consumers have open, unfettered access to the internet. Net neutrality can't be torpedoed overnight. The FCC rules prohibiting online fast lanes and discriminatory broadband practices are now U.S. policy, and they can't be dismantled at the whim of an authoritarian president. But a Trump-backed, Republican-led FCC could simply stop enforcing the net neutrality policy, rendering it essentially toothless. That could unleash the nation's largest cable and phone companies, including Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, to expand controversial practices like "zero-rating" that are designed to circumvent net neutrality.
Television

Cable TV Price Increases Have Beaten Inflation Every Single Year For 20 Years (businessinsider.com) 112

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Business Insider: The pay TV industry is losing customers, but prices continue to climb. In fact, for U.S. cable TV in particular, price increases have outpaced inflation for every single one of the past 20 years, according to a recent FCC report surfaced by CordCutting.com. Every one! In 1995, cable cost $22.35 per month, on average. In 2015, it was $69.03. Now, it does makes sense for prices to go up for goods like cable as long as there is inflation. But cable's increases are more than double that of inflation. On average, cable prices went up 5.8% yearly for the past 20 years. Inflation clocked in at 2.2% per year, on average. Though there has been grumbling about the high prices of cable for quite some time, it has lately taken on a more serious air. That's because there is evidence that the pay-TV industry is experiencing a hiccup -- or the start of a long-term decline. The pay-TV industry lost 800,000 subscribers last quarter, according to the research firm SNL Kagan. "About 82% of households that use a TV currently subscribe to a pay-TV service," Bruce Leichtman of Leichtman Research said in a statement last month. "This is down from where it was five years ago, and similar to the penetration level eleven years ago."
AT&T

AT&T Falsely Claimed Pro-Google Fiber Rule Is Invalid, FCC Says (arstechnica.com) 22

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Federal Communications Commission has given a helping hand to Louisville, Kentucky, in the city's attempt to enforce local rules that would make it easier for Google Fiber to compete against ATT. ATT sued the local government in Louisville and Jefferson County in February to stop a One Touch Make Ready (OTMR) ordinance designed to give Google Fiber or other new competitors faster access to utility poles. Today, the US government submitted a statement of interest (full text) on behalf of the FCC, which says that one of ATT's primary legal arguments is incorrect. ATT -- also known as BellSouth Telecommunications in Kentucky -- argued that the Louisville ordinance is preempted by the FCC's pole-attachment rules. The local ordinance "conflicts with the procedures created by the FCC, and upsets the careful balances struck by the FCC in crafting its pole attachment regulations," ATT's lawsuit said. But that is false, the FCC says. The FCC does have rules ensuring reasonable access to utility poles, but states are allowed to opt out of the federal pole-attachment rules if they certify to the commission that they regulate the rates, terms, and conditions of pole attachments. Kentucky is one of 20 states that has opted out of the federal regime and imposed its own rules, the FCC noted. Accordingly, the federal pole-attachment regulations enacted under Section 224 [of the Communications Act] simply do not apply here," the FCC wrote. More generally, One Touch Make Ready rules are consistent with federal communications policies and regulations that seek expanded broadband deployment, the FCC also wrote.
AT&T

'Robocall Strike Force' Proposal Could Stop Caller ID Spoofing (onthewire.io) 97

This summer the FCC convened a "Robocall Task Force" to help consumers fight unwanted automated telemarketers, and Wednesday the coalition finally delivered a report recommending a "Do Not Originate" list so carriers could spot spoofed numbers which should be blocked. A trial of the "DNO" list that's been running for the last few weeks on some IRS numbers has resulted in a 90 percent drop in the volume of IRS scam calls, officials from AT&T, which leads the strike force, said during the FCC meeting Wednesday. The carriers on the strike force, which include Sprint, Verizon, and many others, plan to continue testing the DNO list in the coming months, with the intent to fully implement it some time next year...

The strike force members also are working on a system to classify calls into categories, such as political or charity, as a way to give consumers more information before they answer calls from unknown numbers. And, the group said it has developed a working solution for authentication between VoIP applications and traditional landline networks as another way to defeat spoofing from callers in foreign countries.

Early next year they're planning larger tests -- and the strike force has also created a new site describing how to block and report robocalls.
Communications

City ISP Makes Broadband Free Because State Law Prohibits Selling Access (arstechnica.com) 54

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A municipal ISP that was on the verge of shutting off Internet service outside its city boundaries to comply with a state law has come up with a temporary fix: it will offer broadband for free. The free Internet service for existing customers outside Wilson, North Carolina, will be available for six months, giving users more time to switch to an alternative. But Wilson also hopes that six months will be enough time to convince elected officials to change the state law that prohibits the municipal ISP from selling Internet service to non-residents. As [Ars Technica] covered previously, the Federal Communications Commission voted in February 2015 to preempt laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that prevent municipal broadband providers from expanding outside their territories. Greenlight Community Broadband in Wilson subsequently began offering service outside of Wilson. But officials in both states sued the FCC and in August won reinstatement of their laws that protect private ISPs from municipal competitors. In mid-September, the Wilson City Council reluctantly voted to turn off the fiber Internet service it provides to customers outside Wilson city limits. But that decision was reversed in a City Council vote last week, The Wilson Times reported. (The news came to our attention today via DSLReports.) A Wilson Times editorial reported: "City leaders are walking a tightrope as they balance their desire to keep Vick Family Farms in rural Nash County and 200 customers in the Edgecombe County town of Pinetops connected to Greenlight with their obligation to obey a federal court ruling that blocks the municipal broadband service from branching out beyond county lines. The council agreed Thursday night to provide six months of free internet access and phone service to Greenlight customers outside Wilson County while Wilson lobbies the General Assembly for permission to keep the town connected on a permanent basis."
Communications

A Radiologist Has the Fastest Home Internet In the US (vice.com) 135

An anonymous reader writes: Jason Koebler via Motherboard has interviewed James Busch -- a radiologist and owner of "the first 10 Gbps residential connection in the United States" -- at a coffee shop in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Motherboard reports: "For reference, the Federal Communications Commission officially classifies 'broadband' as 25 Mbps. His connection is 400 times faster than that. Busch found a way to make good use of his 1 Gbps connection, and now he's found a use for 10 Gbps, too. 'An X-ray averages around 200 megabytes, then you have PET scans and mammograms -- 3D mammograms are 10 gig files, so they're enormous,' Busch said. 'We go through terabytes a year in storage. We've calculated out that we save about 7 seconds an exam, which might seem like, 'Who cares,' but when you read 20,000 or 30,000 exams every year, it turns out to be something like 10 days of productivity you're saving just from a bandwidth upgrade.' While 10 gig connections sound excessive at the moment, Busch says his family quickly started using all of its 1 gig bandwidth. 'We ballooned into that gig within eight or nine months. With my kids watching Netflix instead of TV, with me working, we did utilize that bandwidth,' he said. 'There were situations where my daughter would be FaceTiming and the others would be streaming on the 4K TVs and they'd start screaming at each other about hogging the bandwidth. We don't see that at 10 gigs.' So why does Busch have a 10 Gbps and the rest of us don't? For one, 10 Gbps offerings are rare and scattered in mostly rural communities that have decided to build their own internet networks. Most companies that have the technology offer gigabit connections (a still cutting-edge technology only available in a handful of cities) at affordable prices and 10 Gbps connections at comparatively exorbitant ones. In Chattanooga, 1 gig connections are $69.99 per month; 10 gig connections are $299. Thus far, 10 Gbps connections are available in Chattanooga; parts of southern Vermont; Salisbury, North Carolina; and parts of Detroit and Minneapolis. But besides Busch, I couldn't find any other people in the United States who have signed up for one. EPB, the Chattanooga government-owned power utility that runs the network, confirmed that Busch is the city's only 10 Gbps residential customer. Rocket Fiber, which recently began offering 10 Gbps in Detroit, told me that it has 'no customers set in stone,' but that it's in talks with prospective ones. Representatives for U.S. Internet in Minneapolis and Fibrant in Salisbury did not respond to my requests for comment. Michel Guite, president of the Vermont Telephone Company, told me his network has no 10 Gbps customers, either."
Government

FCC Imposes ISP Privacy Rules and Takes Aim At Mandatory Arbitration (arstechnica.com) 51

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Federal Communications Commission today imposed new privacy rules on Internet service providers, and the Commission said it has begun working on rules that could limit the use of mandatory arbitration clauses in the contracts customers sign with ISPs. The new privacy rules require ISPs to get opt-in consent from consumers before sharing Web browsing data and other private information with advertisers and other third parties. The rules apply both to home Internet service providers like Comcast and mobile data carriers like Verizon Wireless. The commission's Democratic majority ensured the rules' passage in a 3-2 vote, with Republicans dissenting. Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn was disappointed that the rules passed today did not include any action on mandatory arbitration clauses that prevent consumers from suing ISPs. But Chairman Tom Wheeler said that issue will be addressed in a separate rule-making. In the case of privacy rules, the FCC passed the NPRM in March and the final rules today. Clyburn argued that the FCC could have imposed mandatory arbitration restrictions today, because the privacy NPRM sought public comment about whether to ban mandatory arbitration. Under the FCC rules, ISPs that want to share consumer data with third parties such as advertisers must obtain opt-in consent for the most sensitive information and give customers the ability to opt out of sharing less sensitive information. Here's how the FCC describes the new opt-in and opt-out requirements: "Opt-in: ISPs are required to obtain affirmative 'opt-in' consent from consumers to use and share sensitive information. The rules specify categories of information that are considered sensitive, which include precise geo-location, financial information, health information, children's information, Social Security numbers, Web browsing history, app usage history, and the content of communications. Opt-out: ISPs would be allowed to use and share non-sensitive information unless a customer 'opts-out.' All other individually identifiable customer information -- for example, e-mail address or service tier information -- would be considered non-sensitive, and the use and sharing of that information would be subject to opt-out consent, consistent with consumer expectations. Exceptions to consent requirements: Customer consent is inferred for certain purposes specified in the statute, including the provision of broadband service or billing and collection. For the use of this information, no additional customer consent is required beyond the creation of the customer-ISP relationship." ISPs must clearly notify customers about the types of information they collect, specify how they use and share the information, and identify the types of entities they share the information with.
AI

AI-Powered Body Scanners Could Soon Speed Up Your Airport Check-in (theguardian.com) 111

An anonymous reader shares a report on the Guardian:A startup bankrolled by Bill Gates is about to conduct the first public trials of high-speed body scanners powered by artificial intelligence (AI), the Guardian can reveal. According to documents filed with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Boston-based Evolv Technology is planning to test its system at Union Station in Washington DC, in Los Angeles's Union Station metro and at Denver international airport. Evolv uses the same millimetre-wave radio frequencies as the controversial, and painfully slow, body scanners now found at many airport security checkpoints. However, the new device can complete its scan in a fraction of second, using computer vision and machine learning to spot guns and bombs. This means passengers can simply walk through a scanning gate without stopping or even slowing down -- like the hi-tech scanners seen in the 1990 sci-fi film Total Recall. A nearby security guard with a tablet is then shown either an "all-clear" sign, or a photo of the person with suspicious areas highlighted. Evolv says the system can scan 800 people an hour, without anyone having to remove their keys, coins or cellphones.
Google

Comcast Sues Nashville To Halt Rules That Give Google Fiber Faster Access To Utility Poles (arstechnica.com) 95

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Comcast yesterday sued the Nashville metro government and mayor to stop a new ordinance designed to give Google Fiber faster access to utility poles. Comcast's complaint in U.S. District Court in Nashville (full text) is similar to one already filed by AT&T last month. Both ISPs are trying to invalidate a One Touch Make Ready ordinance that lets new ISPs make all of the necessary wire adjustments on utility poles themselves instead of having to wait for incumbent providers like AT&T and Comcast to send work crews to move their own wires. The ordinance was passed largely to benefit Google Fiber, which is offering service in Nashville but says that it hasn't been able to deploy faster because it is waiting to get access to thousands of poles. Nearly all the Nashville utility poles are owned either by the municipal Nashville Electric Service or AT&T. Because Comcast has wires on many of the poles, it has some control over how quickly Google Fiber can expand its network. When Google Fiber wants to attach wires to a new pole, it needs to wait for ISPs like Comcast to move their wires to make room for Google Fiber's. The Nashville One Touch Make Ready ordinance "permits third parties to move, alter, or rearrange components of Comcast's communications network attached to utility poles without Comcast's consent, authorization, or oversight, and with far less notice than is required by federal law and by an existing Comcast contract with Metro Nashville," Comcast's complaint said. Comcast asked the court to declare the ordinance invalid and permanently enjoin Nashville from enforcing it. The pre-existing Make Ready process "seek[s] to ensure that all providers can share available pole space cooperatively and safely, without interfering with or damaging any provider's equipment or services," Comcast said. The new procedures mandated by Nashville "are so intrusive that, tellingly, Metro Nashville has wholly exempted its own utility pole attachments from the Ordinance's coverage." Even though Google Fiber announced yesterday that it will pause operations and cut 9% of its staff, the ISP said it would continue operations in Nashville.
AT&T

AT&T Buys Time Warner For $85B. Is The Mass Media Consolidating? (reuters.com) 132

Though regulators may not agree, "Time Warner and AT&T reps claim this is necessary just to compete," warns Mr D from 63. Reuters reports: The tie-up of AT&T Inc and Time Warner Inc, bringing together one of the country's largest wireless and pay TV providers and cable networks like HBO, CNN and TBS, could kick off a new round of industry consolidation amid massive changes in how people watch TV... Media content companies are having an increasingly difficult time as standalone entities, creating an opportunity for telecom, satellite and cable providers to make acquisitions, analysts say. Media firms face pressure to access distribution as more younger viewers cut their cable cords and watch their favorite shows on mobile devices. Distribution companies, meanwhile, see acquiring content as a way to diversify revenue.
The deal reflects "big changes in consumption of video particularly among millennials," according to one former FCC commissioner, and the article also reports that the deal "will face serious opposition." Massachusetts Democrat Edward Markey warned "we need more competition, not more consolidation... Less competition has historically resulted in fewer choices and higher prices for consumers..." And in a Saturday speech, Donald Trump called it " an example of the power structure I'm fighting...too much concentration of power in the hands of too few."
Communications

T-Mobile Fined $48 Million By FCC For Mischaracterizing 'Unlimited' Plan and Throttling Users' Data (bloomberg.com) 151

T-Mobile will have to pay $48 million in fines after reaching a settlement with the FCC over the way it promoted its unlimited data plans. T-Mobile's unlimited data plans don't charge you for going over a certain data limit, but the carrier can slow down connection speeds after you reach a certain threshold. From a Bloomberg report: The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday announced the settlement, including a $7.5 million fine and $35.5 million worth of discounted gear or data for customers of third-largest U.S. wireless carrier T-Mobile and its MetroPCS unit. An investigation found that company policy allows T-Mobile to decrease data speeds when customers on plans sold as unlimited exceed a monthly data threshold, the FCC said in a news release. The agency heard from hundreds of "unhappy" customers who complained of slow speeds and said they weren't receiving what they were sold, according to the news release.

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