What’s Hot List 12/4/15

The FCC vs. Your Retirement (US News & World Report)

A network is like a carton of milk; it will expire if it is not refreshed. Telecom and cable companies need to invest some $60 billion annually just to maintain America’s broadband networks. A recent Congressional hearing investigated how new Federal Communications Commission regulations on the Internet will deter investment by increasing the cost of broadband and removing the framework that has supported investment to date.


AT&T says it shelved a “bunch” of ideas because of net neutrality rules (ARS Technica 12/2)

AT&T Senior VP Bob Quinn says his company has avoided offering some new services because of worries about violating net neutrality rules. Quinn, head of the telco’s federal regulatory division, provided little detail on what kinds of services AT&T might offer if not for the rules issued by the Federal Communications Commission this year. “Since the Open Internet Order came out we’ve had weekly calls with the business units and literally 15 lawyers who are all trying to figure out whether that stuff we’ve invested in… would be a violation of the order,” he said at the Phoenix Center’s Annual US Telecoms Symposium yesterday, according to Politico. “We’ve had to shelve a bunch of stuff because we’ve got to wait and see.”


Comcast Tests Net Neutrality Limits With New Streaming Scheme (Forbes 11/30)

Comcast seems to really hate Internet video – unless it’s its own Internet video, that is.

It’s been expanding superfluous data caps across its network in an effort to make users think twice about downloading the entire series of Breaking Bad among others. Users can still do so, of course, after paying extra for the privilege, of course.

That said, users can enjoy all the video they want via Comcast’s own streaming service, called Stream (clever, right?). Videos viewed – and thus downloaded — via Stream don’t count towards a user’s total allotment. In other words, if a user has a 30GB data cap and uses 50GB of data on Stream then no problem, however if that same user with the same cap uses 50GB on, say, Netflix, then they’ll be charged extra.


Net Neutrality Goes Back on Trial (Wall Street Journal 11/30)

Net neutrality is going back on trial this week when one of the most powerful courts in America considers whether the Federal Communications Commission can go forward with its plan to impose utility-like regulations on broadband providers.

The FCC earlier this year came out with a new set of Internet regulations, the agency’s latest attempt to advance “open Internet” rules that essentially require equal treatment of Internet traffic. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Dec. 4 is hearing the telecom industry’s challenge to the rules.


ATVA Presents FCC With Good Faith Wish List (Broadcasting & Cable 12/1)

The American Television Alliance has told the FCC that, as part of its review of good faith retransmission consent negotiations, it should prohibit blocking of Internet content, forced bundling and blackouts of “marquee” events.

That came in comments filed at the FCC Tuesday on its congressionally mandated review of the factors it should consider in its “totality of circumstances” test for determining whether the negotiations are being conducted in good faith.


Freedom of the Press is Bad News for Net Neutrality (The Hill Blog 12/1)

When the FCC adopted net neutrality rules earlier this year, Chairman Tom Wheeler assured skeptics that rules regulating broadband Internet service providers (ISPs) “do not regulate Internet content.”

This theory rests on a seriously flawed (though all too common) understanding of the First Amendment. The troubling fact is that the FCC’s new regulations governing ISPs – the companies that deliver Internet content to people’s homes – threaten basic liberties guaranteed under the Bill of Rights.


The NSA’s phone records program is over. But that doesn’t mean the data it collected is gone. (Washington Post- The Switch Blog 11/30)


The government on Sunday ended a National Security Agency program that collected the phone records of millions of Americans thanks to the USA Freedom Act. But there are a few reasons it’s unclear how much of the data is still in government hands — and how long it will stay there.

The USA Freedom Act, passed by Congress in June, called for an end to the government’s collection of the phone records after a six-month transition period and the creation of a replacement system where the government must obtain a court order to get phone companies to hand over information about numbers thought to belong to terrorism suspects.


DoJ to Probe Comcast’s Spot Ad Position (Multichannel 11/24)

The Department of Justice has launched a probe into whether Comcast’s role in the “spot” cable ad sales market hinders competition and violates antitrust law, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.


The investigation, the paper said, centers on “monopolization or attempted monopolization” of the spot cable ad-sales business, which is largely driven by the MSO’s Comcast Spotlight unit.


“We plan to cooperate fully with the Department of Justice’s inquiry,” Comcast said in a statement.


The Battle for Internet Freedom isn’t Over Yet (CNET 12/2/15)

It was a landmark year for proponents of an open Internet, but that doesn’t mean the debate over Net neutrality has been to put to bed.


In May 2014 protesters picketed in Washington, DC, urging the FCC to reclassify broadband as a Title II utility service.

Kevin Huang/Fight for the Future

After nearly a year of intense debate about how to regulate Internet traffic, the Federal Communications Commission in June put into effect a set of Net neutrality rules designed to ensure that all Web traffic is treated the same. Before the ink was dry on the FCC’s regulations, broadband providers sued the government to throw them out.


Focus Turns to Judge in Latest Appeal of Net Neutrality Rules (Wall Street Journal 11/30)

As a high-stakes appeal of the government’s net neutrality rule looms, telecommunications companies have found cause to take heart: The same judge who shot down two previous versions of the rule will help decide the latest challenge.

But Judge David Tatel ’s presence on the three-judge panel for the closely watched Dec. 4 appeal doesn’t necessarily mean the Federal Communications Commission and its high-profile rules are in trouble again, backers of the regulation say.

They contend Judge Tatel’s selection could even boost the odds of victory for the FCC, which has seen both its past efforts rejected by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.