What’s Hot List 10/2/15

AT&T named top U.S. Investment Hero of 2015 for $21B domestic spend (Dallas Business Journal 9/29/15)

For the fourth year in a row, AT&T has been named as top capital investor in the U.S. in 2014, spending a total of $21.2 billion.
“Our investments help us maintain our world-class networks and meet ever-increasing demand for high-speed Internet,” John Stephens, AT&T CFO, said in a released statement. “At the same time, our investments help generate economic growth and jobs across the country.”

Tell The FCC That Competition And A Monopoly Aren’t The Same Thing (Forbes 9/24/15)

Don’t believe it when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says it wants to regulate wholesale access to business fiber connections in order to promote “competition.” The FCC’s plan to impose monopoly regulation on new fiber deployments to businesses indicates the agency has forgotten what “competition” actually means. The plan makes sense only if the word “competition” is replaced by “monopoly.”

Consider this example from a post on the official FCC blog: “Traditional copper network infrastructure has also been a mainstay of competitive (read: monopoly) service purchased wholesale from the incumbent telcos by competitive providers and retailed to businesses, schools, health-care facilities, and other small- and medium-sized institutions.”

What If We Want Net Neutrality But Reject Title II? (Hal Singer Blog 9/28/15)

Economist Carolyn Gideon of Tufts posed a tough question in a tweet over the weekend at the annual TPRC conference at George Mason Law School:

This one is impossible to answer in a 140-character reply tweet. So here is my 600-word response.

To paraphrase Bill Clinton, it depends on the meaning of “net neutrality.”

If net neutrality means barring any payments from edge providers to ISPs, then there may be no basis in law, including Title II. Check out the Phoenix Center’s amicus brief (pages 3 to 4) for a quick primer on why such ex ante prohibitions are not sustainable even under Title II.

How Cellular Phone Carriers Won Looser Emergency 911 Rules (Time 9/29/15)

“I can’t breathe,” 71-year-old Joan Lantz told a 911 dispatcher in Rock Hill, S.C. the night of Feb. 7, 2012.

The emergency call taker asked for an address, but Lantz, who lived in a nearby apartment, just repeated that she couldn’t breathe. The dispatcher told the woman to hold on while she tried to discern her location.

That would take more than 13 minutes, and even then, dispatchers could only narrow it to a broad area in Lantz’s apartment complex. Forty-four more minutes would pass before police officers kicked down the door of unit 101. They found Lantz on a couch, dead from respiratory failure—still clutching her cellphone.

Commissioner: FCC has too many lawyers, needs economists (RCR Wireless 9/25/15)

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly recently spoke to the Prosperity Caucus, a DC-based organization founded in 1986 by Regan-era Republicans, about how the regulatory agency lacks economic pragmatism.

During the Commissioner’s remarks in what is encouraged to be a informal atmosphere he said the Federal Communication Commission has a “dearth of economists at the Commission” noting that, “The fact of the matter is that we have a lot more lawyers than economists.”

FCC: Open source router software is still legal—under certain conditions (ARS Technica 9/25/15) 

With the Federal Communications Commission being criticized for rules that may limit a user’s right to install open source firmware on wireless routers, we’ve been trying to get more specifics from the FCC about its intentions.
FCC plan to prevent wireless interference could have unintended consequences.
Despite an FCC guidance to router manufacturers that seems to ban open source firmware such as DD-WRT and OpenWRT, FCC spokesperson Charles Meisch told Ars that there is in fact no such ban. But there are restrictions that in some cases could cause a manufacturer to decide to prevent the installation of third-party firmware. In fact, disabling the installation of third-party firmware by the user may be the easiest and most straightforward way for hardware makers to comply with the FCC’s guidance.

European Union, China sign 5G cooperation agreement (RCR Wireless 9/29/15)

The European Union and China have signed an agreement for the future development of “5G” networks. The deal was inked during the EU-China High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue in Beijing.

Under the terms of the agreement, the EU and China said they will strengthen cooperation to reach a global understanding – by the end of the year – on the concept, basic functionalities, key technologies and timeframe for 5G technology. Both parties also will explore possibilities in cooperating and implementing joint research actions in the area of 5G and to facilitate bilateral participation of enterprises in 5G research projects in China and the EU.

Republicans wary of regulating on-demand economy (The Hill 9/29/15)

Republican lawmakers on Tuesday proved wary of a severe regulatory crackdown on companies such as Uber and Airbnb, which are part of what has come to be called the on-demand economy.

“There should be some limited government oversight, particularly where safety is significant,” said Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.

But he said that “generally speaking, the sharing economy companies do face regulations, like most other firms, under the typical patchwork of federal and state laws.”

AT&T makes 1 Gbps debut in Indiana markets, challenges Comcast (Fierce Telecom 9/29/15)

AT&T (NYSE: T) is taking its 1 Gbps FTTH show to Indiana, announcing that it is debuting service in three of the state’s cities — Crown Point, Gary and Hammond — where it will face off with Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA).

This is the first time AT&T has brought 1 Gbps GigaPower service to Indiana, one of its 22 wireline states.

Bill Soards, president of AT&T Indiana, said in a release that it will “educate potential customers in Northwest Indiana about the capabilities of AT&T’s high-speed Internet and best-in-class television services.”

Facebook’s Internet.org connects 9M people, but net neutrality questions lead to ‘Free Basics’ name change

Facebook’s (NASDAQ: FB) Internet.org continues to work to connect more and more people across the globe to the Internet — according to the Wall Street Journal, more than 9 million people across the world have connected to the Internet through the program — but that effort is now running into some static. Specifically, Facebook has changed the name of the program to “Free Basic by Facebook,” likely to address concerns over whether the program runs afoul of the principles of net neutrality.