‘What’s Hot’ List: 11/21/2014

Net Neutrality is far more complicated than President Obama wants you to believe (Commentary)  (Inside Sources, 11/18/14) Last week President Obama entered the Net Neutrality fray. He did so forcefully and inartfully, interjecting his views late in a months-long period of complex discussions. And he did so with the sophistication of an outsider to these discussions, with a superficial understanding of the issues and a simplistic approach to addressing them. For the President, it seems, core telecommunications policy issues are a political football, to be reduced to populist terms and scrimmaged over for a few yards of political gain. But these issues present complex technical, legal, and economic issues that cannot – and should not – be reduced to mere political terms. They affect an industry of critical economic and social importance; one that makes up a significant portion of GDP and that contributes hundreds of billions of dollars of private investment annually; and one that is of great importance to the modern democratic state.

The FCC is setting aside another $1.5 billion to bring fiber broadband to schools (The Verge, 11/17/14) FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wants to bring broadband to America’s schools, and he’s willing to spend billions to get there. In a call this morning, Chairman Wheeler is announcing a 62 percent increase in the amount the FCC spends on school Internet, raising the annual cap on school-related FCC funding from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion. The money will be spent on a combination of outfitting schools with internal Wi-Fi networks and building out the broadband fiber networks to provide connectivity. “While the impact on consumers will be small, the impact on children, teachers, local communities and American competitiveness will be great,” the FCC said in a statement.

Google has free speech right in search results, court confirms (Gigaom, 11/17/14)A San Francisco court ruled last week that Google has the right to arrange its search results as it pleases, which confirms the company’s long-held position, while underscoring the stark difference in how U.S. and European authorities seek to regulate the search giant.

USA Freedom Act for NSA reform is voted down in the Senate (The Verge, 11/18/14) The US Senate has just voted down the USA Freedom Act by a vote of 58-42, leaving it just two votes shy of the 60 it needed. The bill would have ended the controversial phone record metadata collection by the NSA, but the Senate was not in favor of rolling back any of the NSA’s broad surveillance powers.

New York City to Offer Free Gigabit Wi-Fi in 2015 (Recode, 11/17/14)New York City today unveiled an ambitious plan to roll out a free city-wide municipal Wi-Fi network that officials say will be the fastest and most wide-reaching network of its kind in the world.

FCC’s Wheeler proposes phone fee hike to fund school broadband (Gigaom Blog, 11/17/14) Another political brouhaha is fulminating in Washington around E-Rate, the federal program that funds broadband in schools and public libraries. After earmarking more E-Rate funds Wi-Fi in July, Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler on Monday propose draising the cap on funds available for general broadband by $1.5 billion. Paying for that would require a hike in federal fees applied to phone service, which Wheeler said would amount to about $1.90 a year on the average consumer’s bill. But Republicans, including FCC commissioner Ajit Pai, said it amounted to 17.2 percent tax increase and pledged to oppose it.

MidCo Guns For 1-Gig (Multichannel, 11/17/14) Midcontinent Communications is tossing its hat into the 1-Gig ring. The MSO on Monday introduced the “Gigabit Frontier Initiative,” a plan that aims to bring gigabit speeds to about 600,000 homes and 55,000 businesses across its footprint South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota, fed by a fiber network that extends more than 7,600 miles, over the next three years.

 O’Rielly: FCC Should Expect Tougher Oversight From GOP Congress (Broadcasting & Cable, 11/17/2014) FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly says that the “deep deference” he suggests the Democrat-controlled Senate has accorded the Obama administration is a “thing of the past,” which means there will be tougher scrutiny of federal agencies, including the FCC. Speaking to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Telecom and E-Commerce Committee meeting Nov. 17 in Washington, O’Rielly said he wanted to talk about the “elephant in the room,” and he didn’t mean network neutrality.

A New Way to Look at Net Neutrality (High Tech Forum, 11/18/14)New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute is circulating a proposal by consultant CTC Technology and Energy titled “Mobile Broadband Networks Can Manage Congestion While Abiding By Open Internet Principles” that has apparently captured the imagination of many net neutrality advocates. It relates to FCC chairman Wheeler’s desire to impose a common set of regulations on wired and mobile networks, with some small exceptions for required network management.

A Super-Wrong Way To Understand Net Neutrality (Information Week, 11/18/14)I know net neutrality is a complicated issue, but is it too much to expect journalists to get it at least mostly right when they write about it? Apparently so. Case in point is Neil Irwin’s New York Times article A Super-Simple Way To Understand The Net Neutrality Debate. Simple, and simply wrong.

The Dystopia Of A Common Carrier World: Obama Picks A Fight With Broadband Providers (Forbes, 11/13/14)If the net neutrality debate wasn’t sufficiently hot last week, President Obama poured fuel on the fire Monday by offering a full-throated defense of a retrograde prescription called “Title II.” This archaic regulatory scheme was designed for the 1930’s telephone monopoly, not the fiercely competitive broadband market of the 21st century.