‘What’s Hot’ List: 10/31/2014

F.C.C. Delays Auction of TV Airwaves for Mobile (New York Times, 10/24/2014) The Federal Communications Commission said on Friday that it would postpone until early 2016 a planned auction of airwaves now used by broadcast television stations for use by mobile phone companies. The commission attributed the delay in part to a pending lawsuit filed by the National Association of Broadcasters, a trade group for the television industry, and to the need for more time to recruit television stations to participate.

AT&T makes case for user-driven ‘fast lanes’ (The Hill, 10/27/2014)If people want to prioritize one website over another on their own Internet service, they should be able to, according to AT&T. Company officials last week met with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lawyers to argue that the agency should not ban Internet “fast lanes” that individual users want placed on their service.

With a $10 million fine, the FCC is leaping into data security for the first time (Washington Post, 10/24/2014) The Federal Communications Commission leapt into data security litigation Friday, levying a $10 million fine against two telecom companies that allegedly stored personally identifiable customer data online without firewalls, encryption or password protection. The two companies, YourTel America and TerraCom, share the same owners and management. From September 2012 to April 2013, the FCC said, the companies collected information online from applicants to Lifeline, the government’s telephone subsidy program for poor Americans. To prove their eligibility, potential customers are asked for personal information, including Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, names and drivers’ license numbers.

Looking for the Best Approach to Preserve the Open Internet (FCC Blog, 10/27/2014)Earlier this month, the Commission held the last in its series of six Open Internet Roundtables.  At each one of these roundtables—totaling over 20 hours— panelists with diverse viewpoints dove into many of the thorniest issues in this proceeding, responding to questions from the public, FCC moderators, and the Chairman.  The Chairman, Commissioners, and stakeholders have also engaged in vigorous discussions of these issues at events around the country.  All for the purpose identified by the Commission in its Open Internet NPRM:  to find the best approach to protect and promote Internet openness.

FEC deadlock keeps Internet free from broadcast campaign ad regulations (Washington Times, 10/26/2014)The Federal Election Commission deadlocked in a crucial Internet campaign speech vote announced late last week, leaving online political blogging and videos free of many of the reporting requirements attached to broadcast ads — for now. All three Republican-backed members voted against restrictions, but they were opposed by the three Democrat-backed panel members, including Vice Chairwoman Ann M. Ravel, who said she will lead a push next year to come up with rules for government political speech on the Internet.

Fed up, US cities take steps to build better broadband (Arstechnica.com, 10/27/2014) State and local governments aren’t typically known for leading the way on technology. Remember that West Virginia library that uses a $20,000 router for a building the size of a trailer? But all that’s changing fast, at least at the municipal level—and the demand for broadband is what’s driving this shift. No longer content to let residents suffer from poor Internet access, cities and towns saw a need to boost their tech savvy. Now many are partnering with technologists in order to take matters into their own hands.

Google’s playing a multibillion-dollar game of chicken with traditional ISPs (The Washington Post, The Switch Blog, 10/28/2014) No matter what the biggest Internet providers say, the average American knows that getting a competitive Internet connection can be difficult — if not impossible, at times. In many apartment buildings, exclusive deals force residents to buy Internet from one provider, and one alone.  And the nation’s top telecom regulator has himself argued that the broadband industry is dominated by a duopoly at higher-speed tiers.

Commentary: Consumers benefit from progressive Internet regulations (fedscoop.com, 10/28/2014)  The hot topic in telecommunications for consumers this year has been net neutrality, and it has garnered plenty of debate. Millions of consumers have submitted comments about this issue to the Federal Communications Commission, more than for any other issue. It’s clear that people feel protective of an open Internet and want to preserve its great benefits. We’ve had months of discussion, forums, and roundtables — and yet some confusion still remains — sometimes even among tech-savvy consumers. How did we get to this point – and what’s really at stake for consumers?