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News tagged: Politics


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by Karl Bode 09:04AM Thursday Jul 31 2014
FCC boss Tom Wheeler isn't particularly happy about Verizon's announcement that LTE users will be throttled, but it remains unclear what the Commission leader is going to do about it. As we noted recently, Verizon has announced the company will begin throttling unlimited LTE customers starting October 1. Verizon previously only "throttled" 3G EVDO customers by de-prioritizing 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.

Verizon's latest announcement states that not only will LTE users find their packets de-prioritized with heavy use, users may potentially find themselves throttled for an entire billing cycle. Customers can avoid the slowdowns if they subscribe to one of Verizon's shared data plans.

Though other carriers use similar network optimization efforts, FCC boss Tom Wheeler has singled out Verizon with a letter stating he finds Verizon's practices "disturbing." In it, the FCC boss warns Verizon that he is concerned Verizon is using throttling and caps as a revenue booster -- not to actually manage network congestion:
quote:
“Reasonable network management” concerns the technical management of your network; it is not a loophole designed to enhance your revenue streams. It is disturbing to me that Verizon Wireless would base its “network management” on distinctions among its customers’ data plans, rather than on network architecture or technology.
While the warning is quite harsh, it's unclear what precisely Wheeler intends to do about it. Again, other carriers use similar network optimization efforts -- it's Verizon's use of throttling to drive unlimited users on to metered plans that appears to have caught Wheeler's eye.

91 comments


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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 03:49PM Tuesday Jul 08 2014
For years the FCC has had a rather flimsy definition of what constitutes broadband, something that benefits the industry by making speed and penetration statistics look much better than they actually are. As a result, every time the FCC proposes to raise that bar -- whether that was the belated previous moves to 768 kbps or to 3 Mbps -- the all-too comfortable, uncompetitive broadband industry whines -- because it might force them to work just a little bit harder.
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by Karl Bode 08:25AM Monday Jun 30 2014
The FCC's original net neutrality rules contained ample loopholes and didn't cover wireless -- in large part because they were based on language crafted by AT&T, Verizon and Google. After Verizon successfully sued to overturn the rules (despite having written them) to gut FCC authority, the FCC' proposed new rules that aren't expected to cover wireless either.
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by Karl Bode 04:41PM Wednesday Jun 11 2014
The United States' largest community fiber broadband effort is Utah's UTOPIA, which has been under assault by large incumbent ISPs like Qwest (now CenturyLink) since before the first customer was even connected. UTOPIA has for much of a decade successfully fended off both these ISPs and a good deal of managerial incompetence on their own part, and is on the cusp of securing a significant cash boost from an Australian investment firm.
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by Karl Bode 02:45PM Monday Jun 09 2014
Last week we directed your attention to an interesting piece at Vice that explored how ISPs are using a variety of astroturf (including completely fake consumer groups, think tanks, paid consultants and lobbying firms) to fight the latest effort at net neutrality rules and Title II reclassification. One of several groups singled out was Broadband for America, a phony "coalition" designed by large ISPs to parrot ISP talking points.
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by Karl Bode 08:48AM Tuesday Jun 03 2014
The FCC's website crashed rather hard yesterday, likely after the agency was overwhelmed with users commenting on the agency's net neutrality proceeding (which you yourself can do here if you haven't done so yet). Many wondered if John Oliver's popular rant about cable companies and neutrality was to blame for the crash, though Reddit appears to be driving an ocean of annoyed traffic the FCC's direction this week as well.
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by Karl Bode 10:50AM Monday May 19 2014
Surprising nobody, data from Maplight shows that the Republican and Democrat lawmakers opposing both Title II ISP reclassification and net neutrality rules receive 2.3 times more campaign contributions from the cable industry than average. Twenty-nine members of Congress own stock in Comcast, making Comcast the 25th most held stock among members of Congress.
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by Karl Bode 04:32PM Tuesday May 13 2014
For years now Chinese hardware vendor Huawei has been used as a political bogeyman, numerous politicians claiming repeatedly that the vendor is little more than a spy for the Chinese government. These allegations came despite numerous investigations finding no evidence whatsoever, while everyone seemed to ignored many of the allegations were found to be originating from U.S.-based competitors like Cisco (Washington Post, 10/12) simply to keep Huawei out of the US market.
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by Karl Bode 08:21AM Monday Apr 28 2014
Four months after voting yes to Comcast's acquisition of NBC, FCC Commissioner Merideth Atwell Baker turned more than a few heads by taking a job at Comcast helping them lobby the government. Now the Washington Post notes that Baker will be leaving Comcast on June 1 to take a new job lobbying the government for the wireless industry.
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by Karl Bode 08:36AM Friday Apr 18 2014
The same Time Warner Cable executives who are getting massive, multi-million dollar golden parachutes from the Comcast merger are asking the company's employees to contribute to the cable operator's political action committee (PAC), even if the company may not even technically exist one year from now.

A Reddit user has posted a letter they received from Time Warner Cable, stating that while getting the Comcast merger completed is their "top priority," they'd still like it very much if employees would contribute to the company's Federal PAC:
quote:
Cable is a highly regulated industry and the outcome of current debates in Congress over video reform, Internet taxation and net neutrality will greatly impact the success of our business and our ability to serve our customers.
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by Karl Bode 10:48AM Thursday Mar 27 2014
If you'll recall, Verizon worked very closely with Google to help craft the FCC's net neutrality rules which, as a result, contained massive loopholes and didn't really cover wireless. That not being good enough for Verizon, the company then sued the FCC over the rules and won.
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by Karl Bode 10:11AM Friday Feb 07 2014
In April of last year, wireless carriers and the government announced that they'd be collaborating on building a new nationwide database to track stolen phones (specifically the IMEI number, not just the SIM card ID). The goal is to reduce the time that stolen phones remain useful, thereby drying up the market for stolen phones and reducing the ability of criminals to use the devices to dodge surveillance.
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by Karl Bode 02:07PM Tuesday Jan 28 2014
The government has reached a settlement with several of the nation's biggest Internet companies (Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft and Apple) which had (to various degrees) to be able to reveal more information on how many data requests they receive from government. While the government has allowed increased disclosure on national security letters (NSLs, or gag letters), companies have been restricted to only stating a range of numbers of such letters they've received (see Verizon's recent transparency report for example).
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by Karl Bode 08:02AM Wednesday Jan 15 2014
Regular reader Kramer See Profile tips us on a new New York Times report that indicates the NSA has long utilized technology that allows them to spy on computers even if those machines are not connected to the Internet (aka conquering the "air gap"). According to the Times, the NSA has installed "tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously" into at least 100,000 machines since 2008, allowing the agency to transmit data over a "covert channel of radio waves." The Times notes that the program, code-named Quantum, has been utilized against ally countries and enemies alike, though no evidence exists suggesting it has been used domestically.

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by Karl Bode 10:41AM Thursday Jan 02 2014
The New York Times editorial page is pushing for clemency for NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden, arguing that given the benefits his leaked information provided, he deserves more than a life "of permanent exile, fear and flight." "It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community," said the Times.

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by Karl Bode 08:50AM Wednesday Dec 18 2013
There appears to be an endless stream of chatty insiders willing to dish details on the ongoing possible acquisition of Time Warner Cable (only coincidentally driving up all participant company stocks in the process to be sure). The latest comes via Reuters, who notes that Comcast is exploring three options for their possible acquisition of Time Warner Cable. Comcast is considering a full takeover, a selective acquisition of the most sensible Time Warner Cable markets geographically, or a joint bid for the company (something other chatty insiders recently stated was not happening). It remains unclear if any of these options would ease vertical integration concerns among regulators, who are wary of Comcast's growing overall market power.

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by Karl Bode 12:41PM Friday Nov 29 2013
Back in April, wireless carriers and the government announced that they'd be collaborating on building a new nationwide database to track stolen phones (specifically the IMEI number, not just the SIM card ID). The goal is to reduce the time that stolen phones remain useful, thereby drying up the market for stolen phones and reducing the ability of criminals to use the devices to dodge surveillance.
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by Karl Bode 09:15AM Friday Nov 15 2013
Wikileaks this week released a copy of the latest version of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) that has been under construction behind closed doors for years. As we've long noted, the TPP attempts to take some of the worst aspects of U.S.
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by Karl Bode 10:25AM Thursday Nov 14 2013
One of the most notable bits in Sandvine's recent study on bandwidth and Internet traffic is that the doomsday bandwidth apocalypse scenarios breathlessly predicted by numerous analysts, lobbyists, and ISPs never materialized. While peak bandwidth usage is still healthy and growing at 40%, overall bandwidth growth continues to slow substantially, continuing to be manageable with only modest network investment.
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