What’s Hot List: 1/29/16

The problem with Ben Carson’s ‘cyber space race’ analogy (Washington Post- The Switch Blog 1/27)

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson says he has a plan to fend off malicious hackers taking aim at America’s data and digital infrastructure: “A new space race for the 21st century; a cyber space race.”

Verizon FiOS default speed now 50Mbps- double FCC’s broadband definition (ARS Technica 1/27)

Despite claiming that the government’s definition of “broadband” shouldn’t have been increased to 25Mbps,Verizon is now phasing out its 25Mbps fiber service and making 50Mbps the default minimum.

A year ago, the Federal Communications Commission voted to boost the definition of broadband from 4Mbps downstream/1Mbps upstream to 25Mbps/3Mbps. The definition affects policy decisions and the FCC’s annual assessment of whether broadband is being deployed to all Americans quickly enough. Verizon unsuccessfully lobbied the FCC to keep the old definition, saying that “a higher benchmark would serve no purpose in accurately assessing the availability of broadband.”

FCC Proposes Giving Consumers More Choices for TV Set-Top Boxes (Wall Street Journal 1/27)

The Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday it will vote next month on a proposal to bring more competition to the lucrative market for television set-top boxes, a move that instantly set off a pitched political battle.

T-Mobile’s Binge On, Verizon’s FreeBee Challenge An FCC Adrift At Sea (Forbes 1/25- Commentary by Hal Singer)

How could the head of the Federal Communications Commission characterize T-Mobile’s Binge On program as “highly innovative and highly competitive” on November 19, only to alter course and send an inquiry to T-Mobile on December 17, demanding the carrier make “relevant technical and business personnel available” to meet with Commission staff by January 15 and answer questions about its “zero-rating” program?

Sprint disses ILECs’ inflated special access costs as FCC completes comment period (Fierce Telecom 1/25)

Speaking to the media on the heels of the deadline to submit comments for the FCC’s special access proceeding, Charles McKee, VP of government affairs for federal and state regulatory at Sprint (NYSE: S), said wireless backhaul costs the carrier pays to ILECs (incumbent local exchange carriers) have continued to rise.

Clyburn: FCC Will Look Into Online Distribution Access (Broadcasting & Cable)

FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn said she expects the commission will soon launch a notice of inquiry (NOI) on access to over-the-top distribution channels by independent programmers.

An NOI is an investigation and might or might not result in any regulation.

Clock ticks on Data Privacy Bill (The Hill 1/24)

Lawmakers are coming down to the wire on privacy legislation some say is critical to securing a data transfer deal between the U.S. and European Union before a month’s end deadline.

The tight timeline worries some supporters of the bill, who believe it will help Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and her European Commission counterparts hammer out a new Safe Harbor agreement.

The real digital divide in educational technology (Brookings- Commentary by Stuart Brotman 1/28/16)

The supply and demand sides for U.S. educational technology deserve closer scrutiny in light of the release of the 2016 National Education Technology Plan by the Department of Education. That plan, the fifth in a series, was preceded by the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) 2014 comprehensive reform of its E-rate program. The revamped E-rate program, the largest federal effort focusing on educational technology, went beyond the original goal established for basic Internet connectivity to schools, replacing it with a new benchmark—a short term target of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students, and a longer term target of 1 Gbps per 1,000 students. Re-purposed funding for wi-fi and robust broadband connections capable of supporting cutting-edge, one-to-one digital learning also were part of this major reform effort.