‘What’s Hot’ List: 06/05/15

The ‘What’s Hot’ list for June 5, 2015.

Congress Takes Crack at Lifeline Reform (Broadcasting & Cable, 06/01/2015) Add a group of senators to the growing list of those interested in reforming advanced telecommunications subsidies to the poor and lower-income. Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy and Cory Booker and Rep. Doris Matsui have reintroduced the Broadband Adoption Act, a bill to modernize the FCC’s Lifeline program.

AT&T is prepared to abide by the new net neutrality rules under the DirecTV deal (The Washington Post’s Switch Blog, 06/02/15) In a few weeks, federal regulators are likely to approve AT&T’s $49 billion purchase of DirecTV. To seal the deal, AT&T is expected to make several promises to soothe concerns that the acquisition could hurt consumers. Among the deal’s so-called conditions is expected to be something fairly simple. AT&T is prepared to accept aspects of the net neutrality rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission earlier this year, according to people familiar with the negotiations, who declined to be named because the deliberations are private.

Telecom Industry Backs Internet Subsidies for the Poor (National Journal’s Tech Blog, 6/1/15) Republicans and Internet providers are united in their hatred of the Federal Communications Commission’s new net neutrality rules. But the FCC is winning some rare praise from telecom companies for its most recent proposal: government subsidies for Internet access. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced last week that he plans to help low-income Americans get online by expanding his agency’s Lifeline program, which currently only covers phone service. Conservatives often mockingly refer to Lifeline as the “Obamaphone” program (even though it was created during the Reagan administration).

The World’s Coming Broadband Divide (The New York Times’ Bits Blog, 5/31/15) Several events last week pointed out how much business success, economic development and even international competition is starting to depend on once unimaginably fast Internet speeds. On Tuesday, Charter Communications announced that it would spend, in two separate deals, a combined $67.1 billion to buy Bright House Networks and Time Warner Cable. A big reason for the deal was the opportunity to offer faster online services.

Eying the Future Data Center, Intel Buys Chip Maker Altera (Wired, 06/01/15) INTEL HAS AGREED to acquire chipmaker Altera for $16.7 billion, embracing a breed of microprocessor that represents the future of the massive data centers that underpin the world’s online services.

Senate Passes USA Freedom Act NSA Reform Bill (Inside Sources, 06/02/15) The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted 67-32 to pass the USA Freedom Act National Security Agency reform bill without any amendments to the House version of the bill, just two days after the expiration of Patriot Act provisions authorizing NSA’s bulk telephone surveillance program. Tuesday’s vote followed a contentious Sunday session in the upper chamber, where Republicans led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell repeated their attempt to pass a short-term clean extension of Patriot Act Section 215 and two other provisions, which legally underpin the collection and storage of all Americans’ landline telephone metadata, wiretaps on suspected terrorists’ communication devices and surveillance of suspected terrorist targets unaffiliated with known terrorist networks.

5 Things Everyone Should Know About Broadband Access In Rural America [Commentary by Senator John Thune and Senator Amy Klobuchar] (The Journal by IJReview) Broadband deployment to all corners of America is essential to building our digital economy. Here are five things you should know about broadband in rural America – with five reminders of how outdated rural broadband laws are: (1) Universal Access to Broadband Makes America Stronger. (2) Rural Infrastructure is Expensive to Build and Difficult to Maintain, But the Investment is Worth It. (3) Rural Americans Embrace New Technology, Too. (4) Outdated Rules Hurt Rural America. (5) A Common-Sense Fix is Available.