FCC chair talks broadband hardball but keeps tossing slowpitch

5 September 2014 by Steve Blum
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Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the FCC, gave a ringing speech yesterday at a Washington incubator, calling for more broadband competition, decrying the poor choice and service across huge swaths of the U.S., plugging municipal broadband and admitting that mobile service is no substitute for wireline networks, particularly fiber.

All good things. All wonderful words. The question, though, is whether he’ll follow through or if he’ll use pro-competition rhetoric to lay down a smoke screen for incumbent-friendly policies.… More

Wheeler's "breeze" blows hot air

13 July 2014 by Steve Blum
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What – me worry?

Fierce Online Video ran a great article by Samantha Bookman comparing a cheerleading editorial in the Wall Street Journal by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler with a much more pessimistic view of future that came from a broad canvassing of Internet experts by Pew Research. According to the article, Wheeler, a former lead lobbyist for both the mobile phone and cable television industries, wrote…

“In the not-too-distant future, wireless communications will connect not just everyone, but everything.


FCC chair offers guaranteed income to lobbyists and lawyers

16 May 2014 by Steve Blum
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The 99 page dissertation on Internet regulation released by the FCC yesterday only contains 2 pages of actual draft rules, which rely almost entirely on what the FCC considers reasonable on any given day. For example…

A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Internet access service…shall not engage in commercially unreasonable practices. Reasonable network management shall not constitute a commercially unreasonable practice.

Actually, that’s not an example. That’s the sum total of chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposed net neutrality rule.… More

FCC opens public debate on a vague draft of Internet rules

15 May 2014 by Steve Blum
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Wheeler lays out his position.

The FCC voted 3–2 along party lines today to start the formal debate on whether and how Internet access and traffic should be regulated. Looked at another way, though, the deck is pre-stacked in so far as the discussion starts with a proposed set of poorly defined regulations that would have the FCC managing the Internet on a day to day basis.

That doesn’t mean the outcome is predetermined. The broad range of questions the FCC is asking – including whether consumer Internet access or interconnection and traffic handling for content providers should be regulated as a traditional common carrier utility – leaves the door open to substantial changes before anything is finalised.… More

Comcast keeps pay-per-byte consumer metering option open

14 May 2014 by Steve Blum
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Pay on the way in and pay on the way out.

Comcast’s chief staff lobbyist – executive vice president David Cohen – spoke at an investment conference today, covering a wide range of topics, including an update on usage-based pricing experiments in a handful of markets. He said that Comcast is looking for a way to bill subscribers for monthly downloads over a certain amount, without making them mad or driving them to competitors.… More

Coalition of the thinking emerges at FCC

11 May 2014 by Steve Blum
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The typical – and intentionally designed – division within the FCC is partisan. Democrats and republicans control two commission seats each, with the chairman’s job going to whichever party holds the White House. So it’s interesting when another kind of split develops.

Republican Ajit Pai and democrat Jessica Rosenworcel both called on chairman Tom Wheeler to delay consideration of new Internet regulations that would allow network operators to sell fast lanes to content companies willing and able to pay the price.… More

FCC chair Wheeler relies on clairvoyance to police innovation

2 May 2014 by Steve Blum
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Survival in Washington means keeping a firm hand on your ball.

Earlier this week, I asked whether FCC chair Tom Wheeler is dumb enough to think we’re dumb enough to believe that network neutrality means something other than Internet service that doesn’t discriminate amongst content providers on the basis of who is writing the bigger check to your ISP. Wheeler’s answer appears to be a resounding yes.

In a new blog post, the freshman chairman confirmed that ISPs will be allowed to sell pay-for-play fast lanes to content and service companies, so long as it’s “commercially reasonable”, a vague term that guarantees nothing except mountains of billable hours for lobbyists and lawyers.… More

Is FCC chair Wheeler dumb enough to think we're that dumb?

27 April 2014 by Steve Blum
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We finally know where FCC chairman Tom Wheeler stands on network neutrality rules: squarely in front of Washington’s army of industry lobbyists, leading the way. When rumors began circulating last week that commissioners were looking at draft rules that would allow Internet service providers to charge web-based businesses extra for speeding their packets along to consumers, Wheeler’s response was exactly what you would expect from a man who spent 20 years as a telecoms lobbyist himself…

There has been a great deal of misinformation that has recently surfaced regarding the draft Open Internet Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that we will today circulate to the Commission…The Notice does not change the underlying goals of transparency, no blocking of lawful content, and no unreasonable discrimination among users established by the 2010 Rule.


Cash offered to big incumbent ISPs to upgrade bandwidth

24 March 2014 by Steve Blum
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The fight over who pays for the Internet has moved deeper inside the network. Cogent and Level 3 are two companies that provide much of the backbone transport for major last mile Internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon. They’re accusing the big ISPs of, in effect, holding millions of consumers hostage in order to force others – backbone companies and content providers like Netflix, in particular – to pay the cost of upgrading their systems to support the continuing boom in Internet traffic.… More

Federal judge accuses Silicon Valley of being common

22 February 2014 by Steve Blum
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One octopus looks pretty much like any other.

In trying to figure out what the next network neutral battle is going to look like, I read through the 81 page federal appeals court ruling that tossed out the Federal Communications Commission’s first stab at writing those rules. The majority decision reads like a prescription for what the FCC needs to do in order to impose net neutrality regulations, something chairman Tom Wheeler has taken to heart.… More