Archive for the ‘FCC’ Category

Net Neutrality Neutered?

May 3, 2017

Net Neutrality Neutered?

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to roll back government oversight of high-speed internet providers and pretend internet service is not a public utility. His plan would end “net neutrality” and enable broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast to give special treatment to their own streaming videos and news sites, throttling competing content to slower upload speeds unless those content providers pay a premium to enter the “fast lane.”

Of course, as 73-year-old Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI, 5) says,  “Nobody’s got to use the Internet,” right? Right?

More:

“F.C.C. Chairman Pushes Sweeping Changes to Net Neutrality Rules,”Cecilia Kang, New York Times

“The Worst Lies From Yesterday’s Anti-Net Neutrality Speech,” Libby Watson, Gizmodo

“Here’s What Comes Next in the Fight to Save Net Neutrality,” Klint Finley, Wired

“Why the FCC’s Plans to Gut Net Neutrality Just Might Fail,” Klint Finley, Wired

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Court Upholds Net Neutrality

June 15, 2016

Court Upholds Net Neutrality

In a 2-to-1 ruling,  the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has upheld new FCC rules prohibiting Internet service providers from selectively blocking or slowing some sites and services and speeding up favored ones, observing:

“Given the tremendous impact third-party internet content has had on our society, it would be hard to deny its dominance in the broadband experience. Over the past two decades, this content has transformed nearly every aspect of our lives, from profound actions like choosing a leader, building a career, and falling in love to more quotidian ones like hailing a cab and watching a movie.”

ISPs had argued that they provide luxury “information services” and should be lightly regulated, but the court upheld the FCC’s new rules classifying them as “telecommunications services” or utilities, which are more strictly regulated. Expect this matter to be appealed to the Supreme Court.

More:

“Cable and telecom companies just lost a huge court battle on net neutrality,” Brian Fung, Washington Post

“Tom Wheeler defeats the broadband industry: Net neutrality wins in court,” Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica

“Net Neutrality Ruling Finally Rights a Terrible Wrong,” Micharl Copps, BillMoyer.com

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Internet Neutrality

February 27, 2015

Internet Neutrality

“The internet is the ultimate vehicle for free expression. The internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be the ones making the rules.” —  FCC Chair Tom Wheeler

The FCC voted to adopt stronger Network Neutrality rules on Thursday. Network Neutrality is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all internet traffic equally, that ISPs shouldn’t be allowed to block or degrade access to certain websites or services or set aside a “fast lane” to allow ISP-favored content to load more quickly. Broadband providers will now be regulated as public utilities, and it is this “Title II reclassification” move that will give the agency broader authority to establish network neutrality rules.  Expect resistance from ISPs, in the form of PR campaigns and lawsuits.

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You May Have Just Lost Broadband

February 3, 2015

You May Have Just Lost Broadband
If you’re in the USA, it could be you’ve just lost your broadband connection. Why? The FCC just changed the definition of “broadband” by raising the minimum download speed from 4Mbps to 25Mbps and the minimum upload speed from 1Mbps to 3Mbps. Anything slower isn’t considered broadband anymore. 4% of US Internet users have connections slower than 4Mbps, and the new definition adds another 13% of users with sub-broadband speeds. That’s 55 million Americans without broadband.

How does the US compare with other countries when it comes to average broadband speed? We’re tied with Bulgaria at number 25, way slower than superpowers like Moldova, Andorra and Estonia.

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FCC Chair: What USA Calls ‘Broadband’ Is Too Damn Slow

January 9, 2015

FCC Chairman: What USA Calls 'Broadband' Is Too Damn Slow
The Federal Communications Commission gets to define what constitutes “Broadband” in the USA and the absurd current minimum rate of 4 Megabits per second doesn’t cut it. 25Mbps is more like it, and that’s what the draft of an upcoming FCC report is calling for as the new minimum. Even that is absurdly slow compared to many places in the world. Of course US Internet Service Providers need to serve large spans of sparsely populated rural areas. But still.

And bear in mind that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is the former head lobbyist for America’s ISPs, and this overdue upgrade may be his feeble attempt to distract us from the fight to regulate Internet access as a public utility instead of the highly profitable near-monopoly it has been up to now.

More:

“Only 25Mbps and up will qualify as broadband under new FCC definition,” Jon Brodkin, ArsTechnica

Update:

“Obama Pushes FCC To Expand Broadband Access,” Krishnadev Calamur, NPR

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Image (“Slow Internet, after Andreas Vesalius”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Net Neutrality: Obama Observes the Obvious

November 11, 2014

Net Neutrality: Obama Observes the Obvious

The USA, which invented the Internet, is 43rd in world Internet speed, behind Estonia. High-speed broadband access costs three times as much in the US as in the UK and France, more than five times as much as in South Korea. There are only a few broadband providers in the US, and 30% of Americans can only choose one due to monopoly local access rules. So naturally, instead of upgrading their networks to world standards, American Internet Service Providers plan to selectively slow down Web access unless customers cough up even more dough.

The FCC has been considering allowing the “Internet Fast Lanes” and opened proposed regs for public comment. 4 million outraged citizens told them to shove it.

President Obama has reasonably observed that Web access is a basic utility today and should be regulated like a utility. Naturally Comcast, VerizonTime Warner Cable, and AT&T are foaming at the mouth. They argue that regulation would stifle innovation, as if their strong-arm tactics haven’t clearly done that already (see “Estonia,” above). Republicans are raging against the Net Neutrality proposal, partly because big corporations fund campaigns but mostly because Obama is for it. But the FCC is an independent agency, theoretically insulated from presidential and congressional pressure, but a few protesters sat at the foot of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s driveway, blocking his car, so he’d have a better understanding of bandwidth throttling.

More:

“President Obama Urges FCC to Implement Stronger Net Neutrality Rules,” Ezra Mechaber, White House Blog

“Obama’s big net neutrality announcement, explained,” Timothy B. Lee, Vox

“Tim Wu says Obama’s net neutrality plan is ‘bold, courageous, and just obvious,'” Nilay Patel, The Verge

“Ted Cruz’s Net Neutrality Take Isn’t Just Dumb, It’s Dangerous,” Kate Knibbs, Gizmodo

“The legal arguments against a leading net neutrality proposal are weak,” Timothy B. Lee, Vox

Obama to the FCC: Adopt ‘the strongest possible rules’ on net neutrality, including Title II,” Brian Fung , Washington Post

“President Obama urges FCC to ban paid internet ‘fast lanes,’” Anne Flaherty, AP via PBS

“Obama calls for more regulation of Internet providers, industry fires back,” Fox News

“Obama’s Net Neutrality Push,” Ed Kilgore, Washington Monthly

“Obama’s Plan to Save the Internet,” Adam Clark Estes, Gizmodo

“Barack Obama’s support for net neutrality sets precedent for the rest of the world,” Alex Hern, The Guardian

“The FCC Fires Back At the President’s Net Neutrality Plan,” Alex Wilhelm, TechCrunch

“Obama’s Net Neutrality Statement Will Start a War on K Street,” John B. Judis, The New Republic

“Why the Public Utility Model Is the Wrong Approach for Internet Regulation,” Larry Downes, Harvard Business Review

“By Backing Net Neutrality, Obama Delivers Blow to Corporate Giveaways,” Rebecca Leber, The New Republic

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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TV: Will the DC NFL Team Name Be Benched?

September 12, 2014

TV: Will the DC NFL Team Name Be Benched?

Sportscasters Tony Dungy, Phil Simms, Tom Jackson, and Lisa Salters won’t use the racist, derogatory name of DC’s NFL team. Neither will ESPN’s Lindsay Czarniak, who comes from the DC area. But what if the FCC rules that name cannot be uttered over the public airwaves?

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says he finds the name “offensive and derogatory” and believes it should be changed. He hopes DC team owner Dan Snyder will come to his senses and change the name voluntarily.

But former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt and former Commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Nicholas Johnson are urging the FCC to make an indecency case against broadcasters who use the name on the air.

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Proof Radio No Longer Matters

December 26, 2010

Proof Radio No Longer Matters

Proof radio no longer matters: Congress finally passed the Community Radio Act authorizing broadcasting by more low power FM (LPFM) nonprofit stations. After a decade of stalling it by making proponents jump through hoops, the broadcast lobby now applauds the act’s passage. Broadcasters and publishers are simply too busy working the hyper-local Web and cell phone angles, and figure no one listens to radio if they aren’t driving anyway. Even community radio blogs seem more concerned with Net Neutrality than this long-running radio issue.

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Owners of the InterWebs

April 7, 2010

Owners of the InterWebs

Thanks to the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, corporations now control the Internet, not Web-using citizens.

The DC Court ruled that the FCC cannot prohibit the Comcast Corporation from interfering with subscribers’ access to websites. Net Neutrality? Kiss it goodbye. Look for metered Net rates, a concept pioneered by Time Warner Cable. Look for cable companies to block streaming video sites and Netflicks. Look for that bright Broadband future to screech to a halt as incumbent ISPs dig in their heels.

Can the FCC regroup and reclaim jurisdiction? Maybe, but it won’t be pretty.

Think the Supreme Court will overturn Tuesday’s ruling? The Supremes already granted corporations the rights of flesh-and-blood citizens.

 

Appellate Court fans can read Judge Tatel’s opinion here. 

Suggested reading: “Is Net neutrality dead? (FAQ),” Marguerite Reardon, CNET News.

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Does US DTV Mean Full Employment for China?

June 21, 2009

 Does DTV Mean Full Employment for China?

If you are among the millions of Americans who got coupons from the Federal Government and used them to defray the cost of digital television converter boxers, the workers of China thank you.

You may have purchased your device from Radio Shack, a retail chain headquartered in Texas. The boxes may have the “Zenith” logo on the outside, trademark of an historic American brand.

But flip the DTV converter over. See the label? Made in China by the Korean company that now owns Zenuth.

Still got the cardboard box the converter was packed in? Flip it over. “Made and printed in Cailu Foamcasts Factory, Shanghai.”

Repeat the process with the new antenna you bought to receive over-the-air digital signals. Same results.

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