News tagged: net-neutrality
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In early 2011 MetroPCS joined Verizon in suing the FCC
to overturn the agency's already fairly-flimsy network neutrality rules. With MetroPCS and T-Mobile now merged, T-Mobile announced late last week that it would be withdrawing the lawsuit against the FCC they acquired as part of the deal. Groups like Public Knowledge quickly issued statements
applauding the move, and urging Verizon to do the same (not likely). "While they're not perfect, they reassure Internet companies that they will be able to reach users, they give ISPs a framework under which they can manage their networks, and they provide a mechanism for working out disputes," said the group. Disputes like, oh, when T-Mobile blocks Google Wallet
to the benefit of their own, Isis mobile payment platform -- and the FCC does nothing about it.
After taking heat from consumer groups last year for blocking Facetime video chat, AT&T made waves last week by deciding to block the new cross-platform and device video chat functionality in Google Hangouts
from running over their speedy new LTE network. As they did during the Facetime debacle, AT&T made the obscure claim that they can block any application that comes pre-loaded on a device, even if technically Hangouts doesn't come pre-loaded (AT&T's just choosing language carefully to dodge wiggle through net neutrality rule loopholes).
For much of the last year, Verizon Wireless has been blocking Google Wallet
, claiming that its use of a device's "secure element" is what has prohibited them from letting consumers use the app. Numerous people have explained in great detail (including the lawyer that filed the original complaint with the FCC
) that this excuse is simply being used to keep Google Wallet permanently stuck in approval purgatory, while the wireless industry's own, competing Isis
platform sees no such restrictions.
It is very quickly becoming clear that if you want the FCC to avoid enforcing their network neutrality rules, all you have to do is throw some half-assed, vague-sounding technical jargon at the agency to bog them down in inactivity indefinitely. With yesterday's news that AT&T is blocking yet another video chat application
in order to drive users to more expensive data plans, it's rather clear that the FCC lacks the stomach to actually enforce the rules they designed.
As part of many announcements at Google's I/O Conference this week, Google announced that they would now be integrating video chat within Google Hangouts
across platforms and devices. Well, unless you use AT&T.
Last week reports emerged
that ESPN has at least been in talks to take AT&T up on their idea of cap-exempt content contracts. In short, AT&T has been pitching content companies on the idea of paying AT&T a toll that would allow users of their specific content to bypass user caps.
Early last year we noted that AT&T, the company that really started the network neutrality debate to begin with
, had come up with yet another awful new idea: charging app makers a fee if they wanted to send data to consumers without impacting their usage caps. While AT&T presented the idea as akin to a 1-800 number for data or "free shipping," what it actually is a troll toll imposed by AT&T allowing them to rake in new cash -- and impose their power on a content ecosystem and app marketplace that operates better with companies like AT&T out of the way.
Germany's incumbent broadband provider Deutsche Telekom is taking immense heat this week for the announcement that they'll not only be capping and throttling its broadband subscribers, but that the company's own video content will not be hindered by the cap. The company announced
on Monday announced that they'll be imposing caps as low a 75 GB per month on users starting May 1, and if exceeded, users will find themselves throttled back to a paltry 384 kbps unless they pony up an unspecified fee for additional bandwidth.
Fear that Canadian regulators were going to do their job has resulted in a welcome -- though likely brief -- return to unlimited broadband in Canada. Our friends to the north are well-known for some of the most predatory and punitive broadband caps and overages anywhere, courtesy of uncompetitive broadband markets and regulatory capture. story continues..
Indicating that CBS executives learned nothing from their decision to meddle in CNET editorial policies
to prevent Dish's Hopper ad-skipping DVR from winning a CES award, CBS is now under fire for banning an ad that they falsely believed threatened business partners. CBS decided they would ban a SuperBowl ad
by home carbination machine company SodaStream because it ridiculed two of CBS's biggest ad partners, Coke and Pepsi.
You might recall that while generally seen as a champion of network neutrality, Google and BFF Verizon played starring roles in ensuring that the FCC's network neutrality rules recently passed were essentially watered down nonsense that don't apply to wireless
. Now Google's purported network neutrality principles on several other fronts appear to be getting watered down even further.
As we discussed back in 2010
, AT&T's "Microcell" service essentially acts as a miniature cell tower in a user's home -- routing cell calls over the user's broadband. While these femtocell services are useful for users with poor reception, telco business models have often crippled the devices.
Already under investigation for slowing down YouTube streams
, French ISP Free is also now taking heat for blocking -- advertisements? Free recently announced
that the ISP would start blocking advertisements for subscribers, requiring that users opt in if they want to view ad content. The blocking actually takes place courtesy of a firmware update to the company's DSL modems.
The FTC today announced
that they've closed a two-year investigation into Google for anti-trust violations, resulting in only minor changes to the search giant's business practices. The agency found that Google's search engine has succeeded because it's simply good
, not because Google acted anti-competitively.
Several European ISPs, some of which operate YouTube competitors, are under investigation by European regulators for intentially slowing down YouTube traffic. AT&T's ham-fisted plan to try and impose troll tolls on content operators (which truly started the net neutrality debate here) has over time seeped into the consciousness of European telcos, who went so far recently as to try and have a new tax imposed on content companies at the UN
The FCC has hired a new chief economist with a history of cheerleading broadband usage caps for the cable industry. According to the FCC, they've hired Steven Wildman, an economist and professor at Michigan State University, as the agency's new chief economist. story continues..
Verizon has been trying to justify their blocking of Google Wallet on Verizon phones
, insisting the app is blocked because Google Wallet uses the "secure element" on devices to store a user's Google ID. In response to complaints filed with the FCC, Verizon insists the unending blockade has nothing to do with the fact Verizon (in conjunction with AT&T and T-Mobile) is working on their own competing mobile payment platform named Isis.
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Recent news contributorsKarl Bode