The FCC can do nothing about this year's scuff up between Netflix and the nation's biggest ISPs, according to a Verizon FCC filing
(via Ars Technica
). Netflix and transit companies like Level 3 and Cogent spent much of the year claiming the biggest ISPs let their peering points get intentionally congested in order to force Netflix to pay these fees if they want subscribers to see normal performance. The ISPs claim this is just all run of the mill peering debates.
FCC Boss Tom Wheeler has suggested the agency could either create neutrality rules based on Title II -- or create "hybrid rules" that only declare connections between ISPs and content companies like Netflix to be governed by common carrier obligations. Verizon's filing, as you'd expect, has none of it:
"The Commission cannot under any circumstances lawfully impose Title II common-carriage requirements on interconnection, as some regulatory proponents propose. Such requirements apply only to 'common carriers,' that is, to telecommunications service providers already 'engaged as a common carrier for hire," Johnson wrote, citing US communications law and court precedents.
"As the DC Circuit has explained, when a provider is not operating as a common carrier, the Commission cannot 'relegate' that provider 'to common carrier status' by imposing common-carriage regulation. The Commission does not have 'unfettered discretion... to confer or not confer common-carrier status on a given entity depending upon the regulatory goals it seeks to achieve.'"
Of course Ars' Jon Brodkin then proceeds to note that this isn't actually true:
Despite Verizon's argument that the FCC cannot regulate interconnection, it has reason to fear that the FCC could do just that if it were to reclassify broadband as a common carrier service, as we explained in a story yesterday. An FCC intent on regulating interconnection deals wouldn't necessarily require that they occur without payment, but it could insist on reasonable rates and intervene in disputes between ISPs and companies like Netflix.
The FCC back in June stated
that they had started investigation Netflix's allegations of foul play, but hasn't publicly commented on the state of the inquiry since.
Over the week Dish Network customers lost access to the Fox News Channel
, after the two sides couldn't come to a reasonable agreement on new retransmission fees. Since then, the two sides have been telling news outlets they've simply stopped negotiating entirely, and it seems unlikely the stand off is going to be settled before Christmas, or even potentially before the start of the new year, as the pace of most business deals slow for Santa.
Dish customers lost access to the Fox News Channel over the weekend as Dish found itself in the midst of yet another retransmission feud. It has been a busy retrans dispute season for Dish, which also recently battled CBS
and Turner Broadcasting
over soaring carriage fees.
Cox Communications says the company has begun the company's migration to digital television, starting with customers in parts of Connecticut
. As with other cable providers, the migration to digital will free up spectrum used by analog video -- that spectrum being repurposed for additional VOD options, more channels, and ultimately part of the company's DOCSIS 3.1 speed bumps. Cox has stated they plan to begin migrating most of their users to 1 Gbps, DOCSIS 3.1 connections starting sometime in 2016
. Cox says some additional markets will be migrated throughout next year, but has not provided a deployment schedule.
Add Tucows' MVNO Ting to the growing list of companies pushing into the 1 Gbps field after being inspired by Google Fiber and community broadband efforts. Ting was one of several companies to try and disrupt wireless industry pricing last year by incorporating a "free" tier of mobile data service, layered with a more civil treatment of its subscribers. story continues..
Users in our Shaw forums
point out that the company thought it was a good idea to not only raise rates for all its tiers, but in a roundabout way reduce speeds for users as well by eliminating the company's fastest 100 Mbps tier (for now). These two
Reddit threads appear to have leaked Shaw's plans. Users are calling these downgrades, and argue that what Shaw is basically doing to their usage tiers is this:
• Shaw 100mbps becomes Shaw 60mbps
• Shaw 50mbps becomes Shaw 30mbps
• Shaw 25mbps becomes Shaw 15mbps
• Shaw 10mbps becomes Shaw 5mbps
It appears that existing users will be grandfathered at their existing speeds for now, but everybody
will be getting the following price hikes, as this user's chart indicates:
Confirming the leaks over at the company's forums
, Shaw officials would like users to know you shouldn't see speed reductions and price hikes as a downgrade, because they provide "greater value for customers" by providing "more value per Mbps":
These new services will introduce faster download speeds and greater value for customers who have our most popular tiers by providing more value per Mbps (Megabits Per Second) download rate.
HS 10 improves to Internet 15
HS 25 improves to Internet 30
BB 50 improves to Internet 60
Whether you consider that a speed upgrade or downgrade, the fact you're paying more remains the same. Happy new year?
As part of a broader effort to appeal to would-be cord cutters and join the modern era, Comcast's NBC Universal is preparing to offer live streams of the company's programming. According to the Wall Street Journal
, the streams will be available on computer starting next Tuesday, with tablets and smartphones supported sometime next year. The catch? As with all cable industry "TV Everywhere" initiatives, you'll need to prove you're a cable customer and authenticate your credentials before gaining access to the streams. Despite this, the NBC mantra for marketing the new initiative will be "Watch TV Without the TV."
At the beginning of the month, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai sent Netflix a curious letter
(pdf). In it, Pai politely accused Netflix of being a hypocrite on net neutrality, strongly hinting that because Netflix operates a free CDN (Open Connect, which ISPs can and have refused to use), they're violating net neutrality by advocating for "fast lanes." Both sides of the net neutrality debate have repeatedly used "fast lanes" as a sort of dirty word without functional context, and Pai's letter was no exception.
A new report indicates that the MPAA is making a renewed push to try and erode ISP safe harbor provisions, ultimately forcing them to filter and censor access to websites the entertainment industry deems infringing. Sources tell Torrent Freak
that the entertainment industry, worried about another SOPA-esque backlash, are working on ways to erode ISP safe harbors using existing law.
that HBO has scrapped plans to build their expanded, standalone HBO streaming service in house, after some significant internal strife and a series of missteps. You'll recall that HBO GO has had some large outages at inopportune times
, most notably during the season finale of "True Detective." The report claims that those outages were courtesy of a memory leak HBO CTO Otto Berkes knew about but ignored -- possibly intentionally:
According to sources, Berkes had known about a “memory leak” for nine months but decided it was a “non-issue.” That leak eventually led to the HBO Go outages. Internally, some accused Berkes of using the outages as a way to ask for more money to invest in his Seattle engineering team. He got the investment, but HBO executives have not been pleased with what he’s delivered.
Instead, it appears that HBO intends to hire MLB Advanced
to design and build next year's standalone HBO Go option, which the report claims should premiere sometime around the same time as next Spring's "Game of Thrones" new episodes.Update
: Berkes has resigned
from his post at HBO.
After several weeks of public posturing and a Friday night service blackout, Dish and CBS have struck a new retransmission fee arrangement that will keep CBS content in the Dish channel lineup. CBS announced
that the deal had been struck on Twitter, after Dish customers lost access to CBS content Friday evening as the previous extension expired.
Austin's not only getting Google Fiber, they're first in line to check out some of the updated second generation set top box hardware that Google has been cooking up for some time
. According to a product primer
(pdf) sent to me by Google, the company has consolidated their previous network and storage boxes into one device.
Earlier this week Sprint unveiled a new promotion
that the company states will allow current AT&T and Verizon customers defecting to Sprint to save 50% off their current data rates. To hear Sprint tell it, customers can either upload their current bill to the company's website
, or bring their AT&T/Verizon bill into a store, and the company will try to find you a comparable plan with a matching data allotment for half of what you're paying now.
As noted earlier today
, a new coalition of companies and consumer groups have emerged to lobby for the rejection of "Mega Comcast's" acquisition of Time Warner Cable, arguing that the deal hurts competition and innovation and will raise prices across a number of sectors, from broadband/TV. In a blog post
today, Comcast responded to the group, complaining that they're being unfairly targeted.
A new report by Bernstein Research
notes that the TV industry saw a 8% drop in cable audiences and a 9% drop in broadcast viewers during the week of November 17 through 23. For several years we've noted that these drops are particularly notable among child viewers
, a market where Netflix has significantly eroded the audience of channels like Nickelodeon.
A new study by Parks and Associates
indicates that 10% of households purchased at least one streaming media device during the first three quarters of the year, including Google's Chromecast, Amazon's Fire TV, or a Roku (game consoles and smart TVs are excluded from this measurement, so the total number is likely much higher). According to the report, Roku nabbed 29% of those sales, Google's Chromecast grabbed 20%, Apple TV nabbed 17%, and Amazon's Fire TV saw 10% of those sales. "Nearly 50 percent of video content that U.S. consumers watch on a TV set is non-linear, up from 38 percent in 2010, and it is already the majority for people 18-44," notes the firm.
Netflix's upcoming "Marco Polo" is among the most expensive television programs ever produced, notes a New York Times
piece profiling Netflix's growing media empire and the company's push further into original programming. The show, which follows the Polo family's adventures in Kublai Khan’s 13th-century empire, cost Netflix $90 million for the first season's 10 episodes -- the most expensive programming Netflix has ever undertaken. The only television production budget that's currently larger is fittingly HBO's "Game of Thrones," which (alongside the rest of HBO's content) will finally be offered via a standalone broadband streaming service sometime next year
For fifteen years now we've noted how broadband ISPs bury all manner of below-the-line fees in customer bills in order to misleadingly jack up the advertised price post sale, and for just as long industry regulators have pretended this isn't actually happening. Whether it's the use of a "regulatory recovery" fee (which isn't sanctioned or imposed by any government) or the industry's new use of "broadcast TV fees" (which is just burying programming costs below the line), it's misleading advertising and perhaps someday regulators will wake up to the practice. story continues..
For many years people wondered why cellular carriers couldn't roll over mobile data bytes in the same way they rolled over voice minutes. According to a company announcement
, C Spire will now be doing just that, the company offering plans of $40 a month for 2 GB, $55 a month for 4 GB and $65 a month for 6 GB (including unlimited talk and text) with unused data getting rolled over to the next billing cycle. If you're a contract user on a subsidized device, the plans bump to $65 a month for 2 GB, $80 a month for 4 GB and $90 a month for 6 GB. "These plans are truly customer inspired as we want consumers to use their data however they like," proclaims C Spire.
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