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by Karl Bode 12:30PM Friday Jan 30 2015
The FCC is apparently slated to release and vote on its new Title-II based net neutrality rules on February 26, and the GOP is not happy that the agency refuses to share the rules ahead of time. Senator John Thune and Representative Fred Upton, who are busy promoting the broadband industry's own neutrality rules aimed at derailing more meaningful protections, state that they want the FCC's rules made public because they very much care about the public's participation in the conversation:
quote:
“Given the significance of the matter and the strong public participation in the commission’s proceeding to date, we believe the public and industry stakeholders alike should have the opportunity to review the text of any proposed order or rules prior to commission action,” Senate committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), House committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) — the head of the House Communications Subcommittee — said in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Thursday.

“Limited access to information is beneficial to no one — not to the consumers directly affected by commission action, not to the industries regulated by the rules and not to the commissioners seeking to make information decisions taking public feedback into consideration," they added.
On the one hand yes, the FCC's rules should be made public so that everyone can have a conversation about the specific wording. On the other hand, you can understand the FCC's logic in that revealing the rules to neutrality opponents -- who will fight them no matter what the "public conversation" entails -- only acts to give them a running start in undermining them.

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by Karl Bode 11:26AM Friday Jan 30 2015
AT&T-owned Cricket Wireless today raised the data limits on the company's prepaid plans, as well as adding a new 20 GB plan for $55. According to the Cricket announcement, Cricket Basic subscribers now get 2.5GB of data for $40 per month, while subscribers to the company's Smart tier get 5 GB of data for $50 a month. Cricket's Advanced plan now offers 20 GB of data for $60 a month. All of those options see a $5 monthly reductions if users enroll in autopay. Cricket states the company is offering prepaid users the LTE Nokia Lumia 635 for free, the LTE Motorola Moto G for $25, or the LTE HTC Desire 510 for $80 after mail-in rebates.

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by Karl Bode 09:44AM Friday Jan 30 2015
Normally advertisement dispute ads between ISPs are handled by the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau, a sort of self-regulated industry mechanism to handle disputes so that regulators don't get involved. Occasionally though disputes end in lawsuit, like this week when Cablevision announced it would be suing Verizon over Wi-Fi network claims.
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by Bill Neilson 09:02AM Friday Jan 30 2015
ESPN had a record breaking last month with the success of the college football Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl match-ups ranking as the number 1 and number 2 most watched cable telecasts of all time respectively with over 28 million viewers each. This was followed by the NFC Wild Card game on ESPN attracting 21.67 million viewers to become the eighth most watched cable program of all time.
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by Karl Bode 08:40AM Friday Jan 30 2015
T-Mobile today unveiled a new $50, unlimited LTE Prepaid plan under their MetroPCS brand. According to the T-Mobile announcement, the new, $10 less expensive offering is the "undisputed best Unlimited LTE data plan" now available. MetroPCS and T-Mobile also note the offer won't have an expiration date if users sign up for the option before April 5. "Every MetroPCS customer with a 4G LTE data bucket will get an additional gigabyte of 4G LTE data on T-Mobile's network starting today – automatically," notes the release.

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by Karl Bode 05:24PM Thursday Jan 29 2015
Phillip Swann at TV Predictions notes that Verizon, Time Warner Cable and Cox have all recently either lowered the price of traditional HBO or are offering promotional HBO offers. The reason? They're likely trying to get out ahead of this year's release of a standalone HBO streaming option. The long-awaited option was announced last October and is expected to launch sometime around April. Of course many wonder if the ISPs themselves will be the ones selling the HBO streaming service, and I can't help but wonder if there will be any caveats to ease the impact on pay TV subscriber tallies (like requiring users subscribe to a certain price and speed tier of broadband service).

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by Karl Bode 03:02PM Thursday Jan 29 2015
Remember how the broadband and wireless industries have been claiming that Title II net neutrality rules will chill network investment? Well that doesn't appear to be a problem when it came to the recent AWS-3 spectrum auction. The auction just closed with an FCC record $44.899 billion in total bids. While bids are confidential for now (probably until February when payment is due), most analysts believe that AT&T and Verizon grabbed the lion's share of the spectrum, with T-Mobile and Dish also making a much more modest investment.

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by Karl Bode 12:54PM Thursday Jan 29 2015
After hinting at such a move for some time, the FCC today voted (along partisan lines, of course) to bump the standard definition of broadband from 4 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up, to 25 Mbps down, 3 Mbps up. It's a change the broadband industry and friends aren't happy with, because it will only further highlight the fact that a lack of competition has left large portions of the country with pricey and slow broadband service.
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by Karl Bode 10:39AM Thursday Jan 29 2015
Anonymous sources tell Bloomberg News that the FCC will be taking a much stronger oversight role when it comes to the interconnection deals struck between companies like Netflix and ISPs. The FCC has been investigation such deals ever since Netflix, Level 3 and Cogent began claiming that large ISPs were intentionally letting peering point capacity degrade to force companies like Netflix into direct interconnection deals.
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by Karl Bode 09:11AM Thursday Jan 29 2015
On the heels of fresh Google Fiber launch announcements in Nashville, Charlotte, Atlanta and Durham/Raleigh, Google is again reiterating their doubts that new net neutrality rules will impact broadband investment, something companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast continue to insist.

In an attempt to woo GOP lawmakers Google has actually kept their public support of net neutrality to a minimum the last few years, but talked this week to the Washington Post briefly to note they don't think the FCC's new rules will hurt them in the slightest:
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"The sort of open Internet rules that the [Federal Communications Commission] is currently discussing aren't an impediment to those plans," Google said in a statement, "and they didn't impact our decision to invest in Fiber."
In fact, Google previously told the FCC they thought Title II could actually help Google Fiber deployment by streamlining their access to utility poles. In addition to net neutrality, Google's new Google Fiber launch locations are all designed to draw attention to municipal broadband issues as well, since all four locations reside in states that have some form of protectionist state law written by ISP lawyers to help keep competition at bay.

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by Karl Bode 08:24AM Thursday Jan 29 2015
AT&T's fourth quarter earnings indicate that the company's U-Verse related growth is slowing rapidly as the company shifts the lion's share of attention (and money) toward wireless. AT&T said the company added just 73,000 U-verse TV customers in the fourth quarter, down from the 216,000 added in the third quarter and the 194,000 subscribers added during the quarter a year ago. AT&T fared much better on the broadband front, adding 405,000 net broadband users during the fourth quarter.

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by Karl Bode 07:49AM Thursday Jan 29 2015
New York State regulators have put off a decision on Comcast's $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable for a third time. "Because of the proposed merger's potential impact on consumers, and the complexity of the issues raised in the proceeding, Gov. Cuomo has asked the PSC to do a full and complete review of all of the issues surrounding the transaction," the NY PSC tells the Albany Times Union. "This is a complex matter and requires consideration of numerous facts that can affect millions of New Yorkers." A merger most thought would see guaranteed approval is now being seen as much less of a sure thing.

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by Revcb 07:30AM Thursday Jan 29 2015

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by Karl Bode 05:31PM Wednesday Jan 28 2015
Just when you think you can go a month without a Comcast support horror story making headlines, a Comcast support horror story makes headlines. The Consumerist notes that one Comcast customer was surprised to see that his first name had been changed to "a**hole" when he received his monthly bill.
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by Karl Bode 02:41PM Wednesday Jan 28 2015
You can add TracFone to the large list of wireless operators who simply don't understand what the word "unlimited" means. The FTC's complaint (pdf, via The Consumerist) notes that starting in 2009, TracFone advertised and sold a number of "unlimited" data offers under the Straight Talk, Net10, Simple Mobile, and Telcel America brands, but failed to inform consumers that these plans would be throttled after a certain amount of usage.

"In numerous instances, TracFone failed to disclose or adequately disclose its practice of enforcing fixed limits on the amount of mobile data service its customers could use in a thirty-day service period," the FTC said in a statement.

"In fact, until at least September 2013, TracFone did not state in most of its advertising or terms and conditions that it would suspend or throttle its customers’ mobile data service if they used more than a fixed amount of mobile data in a thirty-day service period."

As part of a settlement with the FTC TracFone is handing out $40 million in consumer refunds, which impacted customers can head here to collect.

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by Karl Bode 12:48PM Wednesday Jan 28 2015
As we noted earlier this month, things haven't been going particularly well for AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile's mobile payment platform, SoftCard. Already struggling for brand attention, the company had to change its name from ISIS due to the Islamic extremist group of the same name, and is now laying off employees as part of a reorganization.
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by Karl Bode 10:16AM Wednesday Jan 28 2015
Rumors had existed for years that Google was planning to get into wireless service, though last week Google's plans to launch an MVNO became notably more solid. What we know so far: Code named "Nova," Google's MVNO will have a heavy emphasis on free Wi-Fi calling and will use both the Sprint and T-Mobile networks.
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by Karl Bode 09:12AM Wednesday Jan 28 2015
Back in October we noted that Marriott agreed to pay a $600,000 fine to the FCC for blocking user access to their own tethered phones or mobile hotspots, instead forcing convention center attendees to use Marriott's pricey Wi-Fi. At the time we noted how this was a pretty clear example of Marriott simply using technology in an uncompetitive fashion, though in filings since Marriott has attempted to argue they were only looking out for the welfare and security of their customers.
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by Karl Bode 08:31AM Wednesday Jan 28 2015
Last year, Frontier Communications CEO Maggie Wilderotter stated that people don't really need 1 Gbps, and that the 3 to 6 Mbps most of her customers can get was just fine for most people. Last summer, trying to downplay the fact said 3-6 Mbps is painfully uncompetitive, Wilderotter called Google Fiber "hype" that "confuses customers," and that even talking about 1 Gbps services was something that was "disrespectful" to the customer base.
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by Revcb 06:35AM Wednesday Jan 28 2015

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