Cisco, Intel, IBM and more than a dozen other ISP industry hardware vendors have sent a letter
(pdf) to the FCC and Department of Commerce urging them to avoid reclassifying ISPs under Title II, insisting that doing so would stifle innovation and investment in the broadband sector.
Title II classification -- with forbearance applied to keep the FCC in check -- is something consumer advocates argue is the only sensible way forward
if consumers are to be protected, particularly on the net neutrality front. Obviously most of the letter's signees profit from selling the intelligent network gear used in all forms of network management, good and bad.
The companies insist that the current broadband market with "hands off" regulation has been an "unqualified success." "Because Title II allows for so little flexibility and innovation, it would undercut substantially the broadband providers’ incentives to make the investments necessary to fund network deployments and upgrades," states the letter.
That may be a surprise to the wireless industry, where carriers are classified under Title II, yet has seen unprecedented innovation and investment in the last decade. Verizon's FiOS service is also often classified under Title II, at least when there's tax benefits to be had
-- with no issues for companies or consumers. Groups like the EFF argue that Title II reclassification with forbearance is the only way to protect consumes from "quasi-monopolistic industry power."
Assn Title II Letter FINAL
While Netflix launched in France this week, it isn't yet available in Australia, either because the market isn't large enough to take priority in Netflix's international expansion efforts, or because the company can't secure licensing agreements with Australian broadcasters. Consumers aren't waiting; a growing number of Australians are using VPNs to dodge region restrictions so they can pay Netflix for content while living Down Under, a trend that in recent months has been making broadcasters and Australian Netflix competitors uncomfortable
In a speech made yesterday before the U.S House of Representatives Committe on Small Business, FCC boss Tom Wheeler declared that the United States should stop funding the deployment of any speeds slower than 10 Mbps downstream. The speech is part of Wheeler's recent push to raise the minimum broadband definition from 4 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up
-- something that has been greeted with a significant amount of hand-wringing from incumbent ISPs
Tom Wheeler spoke to Multichannel News
in an interview that touches on a number of subjects, covering everything from net neutrality and the reclassification of ISPs under Title II, to the possible renaming of the Washington Redskins. Wheeler doesn't show his hand on most of the subjects related to neutrality and Title II, given the agency is still fielding comments (and about to have a series of roundtable discussions on the matter
over the next two months.
Please deposit your most interesting thoughts carefully into the comment section provided below.
Google Fiber has launched us into an era where everyone has become obsessed with the 1 Gbps watermark, even if the actual number of people who can get these speeds remains relatively small
, and the need for that type of speed remains dubious. Incumbent ISPs have indeed been quick to piggyback on the idea that nobody needs 1 Gbps
, but they're largely just hoping to shift the conversation away from their aggressively uncompetitive high prices.
Both AT&T and Verizon have been downplaying T-Mobile's recent embrace of Wi-Fi calling
, telling anybody in the press who'll listen that the carrier is only rushing toward Wi-Fi calling because it's traditional cellular network isn't up to snuff. Speaking at the recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said Verizon's in no rush to offer Wi-Fi calling, and like AT&T took not-so veiled shots at T-Mobile's network
(Shammo) said Verizon needs to do "some technological work in our network to make it available," and it should come around the middle of next year. However, he said Wi-Fi calling was "never a top priority" for Verizon. "We built our voice platform so extensively [that] there was never a need for us to tell our customers, 'Oh, our network is not good enough so you need to go on Wi-Fi to complete your call.'"
T-Mobile's CEO has denied the offer is about a lower-quality network, insisting that T-Mobile is offering the option just because it makes sense. It may prove useful to those rural or heavily-wooded-area users currently relying on separate femtocells because their cell signal is poor (something that's certainly not an exclusive issue for T-Mobile).
To get their acquisition of NBC approved by regulators, Comcast proposed a merger condition requiring they provide $10, 1.5 Mbps broadband to all of the homes that qualify for the National School Lunch Program. This "Internet Essentials" program has seen significant criticism
(and even protests
) over the years for being a political show pony that in reality was intentionally hard to qualify for.
On the heels of T-Mobile's announcement last week
that they've started a heavy push toward Wi-Fi calling, AT&T says they'll also be offering Wi-Fi calling starting in 2015. AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega stated last week the company will be offering it next year, but hasn't been in a rush because, they claim, their network coverage is good enough (unlike T-Mobile's, the CEO implied).
A report over at DeepDotWeb
claims that Comcast has contacted some users telling them that they risk disconnection if they continue using the privacy-minded Tor browser. Tor (as our recent report explores
) is an entirely legal browser used by 1.2 million people, only some of whom use the browser to buy narcotics and other black market goods.
Residents of North Kansas City are unable to get Google Fiber, but they will soon have the option of getting 1 Gbps connections for free from another company -- after an initial $300 installation fee. Earlier this month the City Council of North Kansas City voted to approve a 10-year agreement with DataShack for the operation of the city's liNKCity fiber optic network. While the taxpayer-funded network will still collect revenue from business, it will soon offer 1 Gbps connections for free to residential customers after a $300 installation fee
(users also have the option of paying $100 for 100 Mbps or $50 for 50 Mbps), after which they won't pay another dime for a decade. "For the longest time, our taxpayers have been paying in to fund liNKCity," states liNKCity's Mellissa Hopkins. "We decided it was the right time to give something back to our residents."
Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam says the CEO won't rule out further expansion of the company's FiOS services, but eager customers probably shouldn't hold their breath. FiOS just passed its ten year anniversary
, though with the exception of the finishing up of promised deployments in major cities, the expansion of FiOS has been frozen for several years now. Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference last week, McAdam stated that he's not ruling out the possibility, but it would need to be a unique opportunity
"Expansion into other areas I wouldn't rule out, but it would have a very high bar," McAdam said. "If you look at some of the things that Google is doing around fiber, I think that's opened up a new model for us."
That's code for the fact that Google Fiber has made cherry picking deployment neighborhoods acceptable. Verizon might jump in and offer new FiOS deployments to upscale developments, universities, and MDUs -- but the not-small number of east coast cities waiting for serious investment (Alexandria, Baltimore, Buffalo, Boston) will likely still be waiting a very, very long time.
Following on the heels of Apple's announcement that moving forward they won't unlock devices for law enforcement or intelligence agencies
, Google has stated that they too will soon leave devices encrypted regardless of law enforcement requests and warrants. The new functionality is coming as part of Google's next operation system, which has been in the works for months. "For over three years Android has offered encryption, and keys are not stored off of the device, so they cannot be shared with law enforcement,” Google told the Washington Post
. “As part of our next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default out of the box, so you won't even have to think about turning it on.”
The slow and small but steady phenomenon known as cord cutting isn't going away. A new survey of 2,400 TV subscribers aged 24-34 indicates that around 5% of them plan to cut the cord sometime in the near future. story continues..
Back in May Verizon proclaimed
that when they did finally launch voice over LTE (VoLTE), the higher-quality voice service would arrive on a "robust" assortment of handsets. This week Verizon announced
that VoLTE, or what they're calling Advanced Calling 1.0
has launched, though for now it's only available on two phones
and the company's new iOS 8 operating system.
Representatives of state and local governments in Hartford, New Haven and Stamford have joined forces
to try and bring faster broadband networks to Connecticut. The collective group has issued an RFQ to promote the deployment of gigabit broadband networks and services in "targeted commercial corridors" and locations "with demonstrated demand." They've also put the call out to any additional under-served communities, who can add an addendum to the RFQ to get involved.
Baltimore is one of a number of cities that Verizon skipped over when deploying FiOS
, leaving most city residents with only the uncomptitive option of either sluggish Verizon DSL or Comcast (if they're lucky). They're also one of the countless cities who begged for Google Fiber attention to no avail.
Baltimore's now hoping to take matters into their own hands, and have hired a consultant to explore
a number of possible ideas ranging from reworking their protectionist citywide franchise agreement with Comcast, to possibly building some or all of the kind of network nobody else wants to:
"Baltimore is still in the exploratory stages of the initiative but the city will likely build out some of its own fiber infrastructure that it will use to lure new competitors to the area. Jason Hardebeck, the executive director of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, tells the Business Journal that the city may also consider making its own municipal Wi-Fi network that will be run more like a public utility."
Of course paying a consultant $157,000 is certainly no guarantee anything gets accomplished, but it's interesting how the one-two punch of Google Fiber and Wheeler's criticism of state protectionist broadband law
has seriously reheated a subject that for a decade had largely flown under the radar.
T-Mobile has sued telecom carrier Huawei, claiming the Chinese gear manufacturer stole T-Mobile trade secrets. Specifically, T-Mobile is claiming
that Huawei has stolen software, specifications and other secrets for a cellphone-testing robot nicknamed "Tappy." In a lawsuit filed at the beginning of the month, T-Mobile alleges that Huawei employees "illicitly photographed the device," tried to smuggle components out of T-Mobile’s Bellevue, Washington lab, and when caught and subsequently banned from the facility -- tried to sneak back in. Huawei is "using T-Mobile’s stolen robot technology to test non-T-Mobile handsets and improve return rates for handsets developed and sold to other carriers," claims the lawsuit.
While it's certainly still not guaranteed, Time Warner executives recently made their strongest statement yet that they'll offer a standalone streaming version of HBO that doesn't require you have a traditional cable subscription. Historically HBO and Time Warner have stated it doesn't make economic sense
to offer such a product, as it could damage their cozy, subsidized relationship with traditional cable operators.
AT&T's attempted acquisition of DirecTV appears to getting lost in the furor over Comcast's acquisition of Time Warner Cable, something AT&T likely anticipated. Out of the gate AT&T was misleading about the benefits of the deal
, which, unlike the Comcast merger, will actually eliminate a pay TV competitor from the field.
Google has replaced current Google Fiber boss Milo Medin with ex-Qualcomm executive Dennis Kish, notes the Wall Street Journal
. The report notes that Medin will remain a Google vice president for access services and adviser to the Google Fiber team, but will now focus on other initiatives within Google.
Canada last week launched hearings on the possibility
of imposing new rules on the TV sector that could force TV operators to offer a la carte television options. While these rule-making efforts began as a way to do something about soaring TV rates and the lack of flexible purchase options for consumers, they've since morphed into an effort by incumbent Canadian cable operators to impose new regulations on to companies like Google and Netflix (something Canadian law Professor Michael Geist doesn't think will happen
While Canada may be going full speed ahead
with a possible plan to finally force cable carriers there to offer a la carte TV packages (or even simply more flexible, cost conscious options), consumers here in the States shouldn't hold their breath for such a regulatory requirement anytime soon. A report in The Hill
notes that Senate Lawmakers backed away from provisions included in the Satellite Television Access and Viewer Rights Act that would have made a la carte TV a reality.
In a sane world, protecting the Internet marketplace from giant ISPs who've all-but purchased the government would be a bi-partisan issue
, since everybody benefits from a healthy, vibrant broadband industry. But this isn't a sane world, and net neutrality over the last decade has become a highly toxic, partisan issue with Republicans generally against neutrality rules, and Democrats generally in favor of them (even if neither side understands half of the technical issues being discussed).
Cox Communications says the company is on schedule to deploy 1 Gbps services in the Phoenix area sometime before the end of the year
. Back in May Cox announced
that they'd soon offer 1 Gbps fiber in parts of Phoenix, Las Vegas and Omaha, with most of the company's other areas getting such speeds starting in 2016 once the DOCSIS 3.1 standard sees commercial launch.
If you're like me, you've tried to explain the concept of net neutrality to the non-technical, only to have them nod a lot but generally get a glassy, far-off look in their eyes (though admittedly that could just be my painful lack of charm). With protests heating up around the FCC's so-called "fast lane" proposal, which critics insist gives telecom giants everything they want, comedians have been forced to do their best to amusingly explain the concept. John Oliver recently did a fairly decent job of it
, and now Jimmy Kimmel tries his hand at it (hat tip to Techdirt
In a new blog post
Verizon hopes to somehow assure consumers and the public that they really are great lovers of an open Internet, despite a very long and clear history of proving the exact opposite. Verizon has spent $100 million to lobby Congress on net neutrality since 2009, and successfully sued to overturn FCC neutrality rules they themselves helped write
just in case the FCC ever seriously decided to help consumers.
Speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media Conference this week, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts stated he was "cautiously optimistic
" his company's mega-merger gets regulatory approval, despite the growing chorus of opposition to the deal. "All of the cable deals have always gone through," Roberts said. "The process is underway in earnest and we've got many states and local communities to already approve of the transfer." Comcast has set up this website
and this list of people throwing their support behind the merger
, and has worked hard to recommend voluntary conditions to regulators, such as a several year adherence to the FCC's defunct (and never very tough to begin with) net neutrality rules, and a continuation of Comcast's low-income "Internet Essentials
Janko Roettgers over at GigaOM
scoops the news that Dish's long-in-gestation Internet TV effort is likely to use the "NuTV" brand name. The information came courtesy of a series of trademark filings
for the new brand, filed for by Dish back in February of this year. Dish boss Charlie Ergen recently stated that the company should launch the service before the end of the year
, though securing proper licensing has -- as always -- been a challenge. Rough estimates suggest the service should cost somewhere between $20 to $30
, with the company specifically targeting younger cord cutters with the effort.
You can add Atlantic Broadband (see our user reviews
) to the list of ISPs now offering a smattering of 1 Gbps services in highly select areas. The company has announced they've beaten AT&T to the punch and will soon offer a symmetrical 1 Gbps service
to one relatively-small community in the Miami, Florida area.
Like so many announcements in this era of fiber to the press release
, Atlantic fails to offer a price, schedule, or specific deployment metrics for their upcoming offering, though in a press release the company is quick to take a veiled shot at AT&T and pat itself on the back for its entirely-ambiguous offering:
“Atlantic Broadband is proud to be the first company to deliver 1 Gigabit Internet service to its customers here in the Miami Beach area,” said Atlantic Broadband’s Senior Vice President and General Manager of South Florida, David Keefe. “While other companies are talking about what they will be doing, Atlantic Broadband moved forward and started offering this service in one of its communities. We look forward to extending access to our Gigabit Internet service to other properties and communities within our Miami footprint.”
As it stands, the only Atlantic customers who can currently get the 1 Gbps speeds reside in Indian Creek Village, a wealthy island resort community comprised of "a golf course and 40 beachfront properties."
Back in May TDS Telecom (see our user reviews
) became the latest company to throw its hat into the 1 Gbps broadband ring, offering 1 Gbps speeds for $100 a month (if bundled) to residents of Hollis, New Hampshire and London, New Hampshire. Now the company states that Waterford, Wisconsin will be the latest town to get the 1 Gbps treatment, either later this year or in early 2015
. Like so many other ISPs, TDS is hoping to grab some of the press attention received by Google Fiber with very selective deployment of similar speeds (they've even mirrored Google's "Fiberhood" efforts with something they're calling "Fiberville
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Virgin Atlantic has chosen GoGo to provide in-flight broadband connectivity, the two companies have announced. According to the press release
, GoGo will retrofit Virgin Atlantic's entire fleet with GoGo's 2Ku connectivity solution, which should be commercially launched sometime in 2015. When GoGo unveiled the new tech last year
, the company noted the technology fuses satellite and Air to Ground (ATG) cellular network technology to provide up to 70 Mbps per plane (when GoGo started, it was around 3 Mbps). GoGo says they're working on advancements that should bump throughput to around 100 Mbps per plane.