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by Karl Bode 06:33PM Monday Jul 28 2014
As we noted last week, two different cities with their own broadband networks (Wilson, NC and Chattanooga, Tennessee) have formally asked the FCC to declare that laws in their states hindering community broadband aren't enforceable, giving FCC boss Tom Wheeler the perfect opportunity to back up claims that he'd take action. Such bills are written and lobbied for by companies like Comcast, AT&T and Time Warner Cable, and often restrict local citizen rights to determine for themselves what the best course of action for their community is.

To get the bureaucratic ball rolling, the FCC has formally issued a public notice (pdf) asking for public and corporate comment on their intervention when it comes to such protectionist laws.

"Both Petitioners allege that state laws restrict their ability to expand their broadband service offerings to surrounding areas where customers have expressed interest in these services, and they request that the Commission preempt such laws," observes the FCC. Chattanooga's EPB claims a Comcast-backed law lets them offer voice services over fiber lines, but prohibits them from offering broadband over those same lines if it's outside their existing utility footprint.

While the public notice opens the door to a potentially protracted discussion about whether the FCC should intervene in these instances, that doesn't necessarily mean the agency will have the political fortitude to actually do so. Incumbent ISPs have already had Rep. Martha Blackburn push a bill stripping FCC funding should they act, and has used proxy groups to threaten lawsuits against the FCC.

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by Karl Bode 04:32PM Monday Jul 28 2014
Last fall Comcast began tinkering with a new bundle that offered HBO, basic cable, and 25 Mbps broadband. While Comcast offers the bundle initially under promotion for $40-$50 a month (depending on your market), though it doesn't include HD content and the price jumps to a less sexy $70=$80 a month after one year.
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by Karl Bode 02:19PM Monday Jul 28 2014
T-Mobile offered up a new deal on Monday that significantly undercuts most of the company's competitors, specifically Sprint and their Framily plans. According to an announcement posted by T-Mobile CEO John Legere, the company is now offering a Simple Choice plan at $100 a month that provides 10 GB of data over four lines -- the only catch being that each line is limited to 2.5 GB of data each before a specific user is throttled.
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by Karl Bode 12:33PM Monday Jul 28 2014
Last week, AT&T announced that the company would be bringing its 1 Gbps "Gigapower" service to portions of Dallas. Now, according to a new announcement by the company, AT&T states they'll also eventually be offering 1 Gbps connectivity to at least some customers in Nashville, Tennessee. "Specific locations of availability and pricing for the Nashville market will be announced at a later date," notes the company. As noted in detail, AT&T remains ambiguous about precise deployment numbers because they're only planning to target very select, high-end development communities for this ultra-fast service, but wants the public relations benefit of the perception of a much larger deployment.

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by Karl Bode 11:13AM Monday Jul 28 2014
Regulators have formally approved Frontier's acquisition of AT&T's networks and operations in the state of Connecticut. According to an announcement by the companies, the $2 billion deal to acquire AT&T’s local wireline, broadband and video operations in Connecticut (originally announced last December) has received approval from the FCC. The deal has already received approval from the Depatment of Justice, but is still awaiting approval from Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA). AT&T is working to back away from millions of DSL users they don't want to upgrade under the guise of the "IP transition."

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by Karl Bode 08:51AM Monday Jul 28 2014
Since 2012 Comcast has offered an ultra-fast speed option that started at 305 Mbps, then was bumped to 505 Mbps in late 2013. The service is technically a coaxial/fiber hybrid offering that isn't available to all users in a Comcast territory -- and it isn't cheap.
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by Karl Bode 08:51AM Monday Jul 28 2014
back in 2011 both AT&T and Apple were sued for pitching a $30 unlimited data plan for the 3G-enabled iPad, then withdrawing the unlimited data plan option one month after Apple began selling the device. Last year AT&T and Apple settled the lawsuit, and those impacted users are now receiving checks for $40. Don't spend it all in one place, kids!

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by Karl Bode 06:20PM Friday Jul 25 2014
Get it off your chest and into the comment section below.

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by Karl Bode 04:53PM Friday Jul 25 2014
Last month Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced the "Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act (pdf), which aims to make unlocking one's cell phone technically legal again, even if it doesn't fully address the myriad of problems with the DMCA. In January of last year unlocking your cellphone technically became illegal after the Librarian of Congress removed it from the DMCA exception list.
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by Karl Bode 03:31PM Friday Jul 25 2014
Historically, incumbent ISPs like to try and win debates by simply flipping arguments completely on their head, even if doing so frequently doesn't make any coherent sense. For example, if you're a cable company accused of violating free speech and net neutrality, you can claim that net neutrality rules violate your First Amendment rights.
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by Karl Bode 01:35PM Friday Jul 25 2014
Several years back Verizon implemented what they call "network optimization" for their 3G network, though their LTE network wasn't impacted. As Verizon explained it to me at the time, the system de-prioritizes user packets if that user is in the top 5% of the heaviest users and if a local tower (or node) is suffering from congestion.
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by Karl Bode 11:41AM Friday Jul 25 2014
We've already noted many times how despite the chorus of cries when they were struck down -- the FCC's original network neutrality rules didn't actually do much of anything. Crafted from language provided by AT&T, Google and Verizon, the rules contained numerous loopholes letting companies do effectively whatever they wanted -- provided they offered up a flimsy, reasonable-sounding faux-technical justification for it.
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by Karl Bode 08:24AM Friday Jul 25 2014
A report over at ProPublica breathlessly proclaims this week that there's a new advertising and tracking system that's "virtually impossible to block." The technology, being developed by a company called AddThis, utilizes something called "canvas fingerprinting." Canvas fingerprinting, first discussed in a 2012 paper by Keaton Mowery and Hovav Shacham (pdf), uses your computer's unique graphics rendering capabilities (graphics card, browser, driver variant) to track your movements across the Internet --without storing any data locally.

Reliability of canvas fingerprinting has been somewhat iffy; especially on wireless networks (where device hardware and software is far more uniform), and large scale Internet use is far off if it happens at all.
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by Karl Bode 08:23AM Friday Jul 25 2014
Verizon has announced that the company will be dropping the $5 monthly fee for the NFL Mobile app, allowing customers to get NFL news and watch games for free -- provided they're on Verizon's MORE Everything shared data plans. According to the announcement, NFL Mobile provides live streaming video of Thursday, Sunday and Monday night NFL games as well as Sunday afternoon games in local markets, the latest news, schedules and scores from around the league. Verizon clearly hopes the offer will lure more users on to shared data plans (a study this week showed Verizon leads the industry at getting users off of grandfathered unlimited plans), and that you'll eat more data by watching the games over cellular instead of Wi-Fi.

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by Karl Bode 06:09PM Thursday Jul 24 2014
Back in March AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson insisted that AT&T's 1 Gbps "Gigapower" service would arrive in Dallas sometime this summer, but like much of the company's 1 Gbps deployment, specifics (deployment areas, total cost, number of users) was left ambiguous. Today AT&T got a little more specific, stating the company would be offering the ultra-fast service in "Dallas, Fort Worth, and surrounding cities" before the summer is out.
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by Karl Bode 03:11PM Thursday Jul 24 2014
New FCC boss Tom Wheeler has now stated several times he's going to take aim at incumbent-ISP state laws that ban or prohibit towns and cities from deploying their own broadband -- even in cases where nobody else will. Chattanooga utility EPB broadband is ready for Wheeler to actually start following through with this promise any day now, and is giving the FCC boss the opportunity to show his rhetoric on the subject isn't empty.
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by Karl Bode 01:38PM Thursday Jul 24 2014
Insisting they're interested in protecting states rights, the rather official-sounding "National Conference of State Legislatures" this week sent a letter (pdf) to the FCC, saying it intends to file a lawsuit if the agency acts to pre-empt state bans on community broadband builds.

FCC boss Tom Wheeler has lately proclaimed several times he intends to take actions against such bans, which are usually written and lobbied for by incumbent ISPs, eager to thwart the faster, cheaper services such networks can provide.
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by Karl Bode 11:26AM Thursday Jul 24 2014
A few months ago I noted how Verizon had been claiming that we shouldn't have tough consumer net neutrality protections -- because they could harm deaf people and the disabled. To hear Verizon tell it, banning the creation of "fast lanes" would in turn harm services for the deaf and disabled, though as I noted at the time this was quite the straw man and red herring (straw herring?) that even the disabled didn't agree with.

Now Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica directs your attention to the fact that some additional deaf and disabled groups have responded to Verizon's recent claims, and they're not particularly impressed with Verizon's use of their disability as a revenue-protection tool. In comments filed with the FCC, a number of deaf advocacy groups like the National Association of the Deaf make their positions clear:
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"We also take this opportunity to express our concern over the reported contentions of at least one broadband provider that the Commission should facilitate 'fast lanes'—essentially permitting paid prioritization—for the sake of accessibility. While we strongly believe that Internet-based services and applications must be made accessible, we also believe that doing so is possible on an open network and without the need for broadband providers to specifically identify traffic from accessibility applications and separate it out for special treatment."
Not only do the deaf groups disagree with Verizon's bogus contention that Verizon's fighting net neutrality on their behalf, groups ranging from the National Association of the Deaf ranging to the American Association of People with Disabilities also strongly support the reclassification of ISPS as utilities under the Communications Act, something Verizon and other large ISPs have vehemently opposed.

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by Karl Bode 08:30AM Thursday Jul 24 2014
AT&T has released the company's second quarter earnings report, indicating the company posted a net profit of $3.55 billion on revenues of $32.6 billion. The company added 1 million net postpaid subscribers on the quarter, most of them being smartphone subscribers.
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by Karl Bode 08:29AM Thursday Jul 24 2014
As I noted last month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has been cooking up a new open-source firmware that the group claims will make it easier for users to more securely share their Wi-Fi connection. The EFF's new firmware is now available for download, though the group warns the firmware (based on the CeroWRT fork of OpenWRT) is a "work in progress and is intended only for developers and people willing to deal with the bleeding edge." If any of our numerous bleeding edge readers are willing to experiment with the firmware, we'd love to pay you to share your thoughts with the DSLReports community.

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