What’s Hot List: 2/26/16

Net Neutrality vs. Net Reality (The Wall Street Journal 2/23)

Whoever becomes our next president will want to notice that net-neutrality activists and the Obama administration have locked the nation into a stance badly at odds with how the Internet actually wants to evolve.

Neuties still face a legal test before the D.C. appeals court but their vision is already failing a reality test.

Ellmers voices concerns over FCC’s set-top box requirements proposal (2/22/16)

U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) said on Thursday that the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) proposal to change set-top box requirements amounts to government overreach.

The FCC approved a proposal on Wednesday that would enable customers to use alternative devices and apps to obtain video services rather than set-top boxes provided by cable and satellite providers. Industry stakeholders now have a 60-day period to submit comments on it, Reuters reports.

Net Neutrality Rules Threaten 5G, NFV – Telenor (Light Reading 2/23)

Mobile World Congress 2016 — European Union legislation on the thorny topic of net neutrality could undermine one of the business cases for investing in 5G and NFV technologies, according to Bjørn Taale Sandberg, the head of research for Telenor ASA (Nasdaq: TELN).

The Norwegian incumbent is particularly interested in the business opportunities associated with network slicing, whereby services meeting specific performance requirements could be designed for particular vertical markets.

AT&T Exec: FCC Appears to Be Suppressing Info (Multichannel 2/24)

AT&T’s VP of federal regulatory, Caroline Van Wie, said the FCC appears to be “selectively suppressing the free flow of information to impede public debate on the merits of increased special-access regulation,” information the telco says shows the marketplace is competitive and “heavy-handed, monopoly-era regulation” is unnecessary.

That charge was leveled in a blog post Feb. 23 about the FCC’s review of the special-access market, the business-class broadband nets that incumbent telcos — such as AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink — are required to lease to competitors, like cable operators, at wholesale prices.

Transforming America’s Mobile Life (Inside Sources 2/22)

As the leaders of the global telecom business meet in Barcelona this week for the annual Mobile World Congress, the hype around the next generation of mobile networking will be as deafening as a heavy metal rock show. The new technology – known as 5G for “fifth generation mobile technology” – promises to be the most significant advance in mobile since the cell phone was invented in the 1960s.

Kentucky Stumbles in Finding Revenue for Broadband Debt (The Washington Post 2/19)

Six months after Kentucky borrowed millions to build a 3,400-mile broadband network, the state is having to rethink one of the revenue sources it had expected to be available to pay off the bonds.

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority sold $232 millionof municipal debt in August to build the fiber-optic network for state agencies, schools and far-flung residents. Yet a challenge by AT&T Inc. to Kentucky’s effort to shift a contract that provides Internet to schools is jeopardizing $11 million a year it was counting on for the bonds, according to the state.

Feds Must Match Body Camera Rhetoric With Action (Forbes- Commentary 2/24)

Last Saturday U.S. marshals in New Mexico shot and killed 23-year-old Edgar Alvarado in an apparent case of mistaken identity. Alvarado’s neighbor, murder suspect George Bond, lived a few trailers down from him and was arrested on Saturday. The marshals involved in the shooting were not wearing body cameras, and it may be years before Alvarado’s family and friends have crucial questions about his death answered. The lack of body camera footage is worrying, and is yet another example of the Obama administration not matching its rhetoric with action.

Apple’s Tim Cook: ‘We are making the right choice’ (The Hill 2/24)

Apple CEO Tim Cook is affirming his stiff stance against the FBI, drawing a line in the sand over the government’s call for a way around security software.

In an interview with ABC’s “World News Tonight” set to air later on Wednesday, Cook was resolute in his opposition to creating new software to bypass security on an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino, Calif., terrorists.

The perils of the precedent-setting move, he claimed, outweigh the small amount of intelligence that could potentially be gained by the FBI.

Beware the Spectrum ‘Extravaganza‘(US News & World Report 2/24)

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that our use of wireless devices is growing exponentially. From your cellphone to your Internet router to your car key fob, the wireless age is upon us. From 2010 to 2014, for example, mobile data usage grew by 1,000 percent, and as usage continues to grow wireless infrastructure will have to grow along with it to meet demand.

Critical to the continued growth and innovation of wireless technology is spectrum – the radio frequencies through which wireless services connect millions of users and devices across America. What most people may not realize, however, is that these frequencies are only available for commercial use in a limited quantity regulated by the Federal Communications Commission.

FCC set box vote may unleash rumble in media jungle: Analysts (CNBC 2/21)

With a vote to free cable boxes from the stranglehold of cable providers, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler may have triggered a battle royale between media companies of all stripes.

In Washington this week, the FCC voted 3-2 to move forward with efforts to open up the cable box-top market in order for streaming services like Netflix or Amazon to offer alternative technology. In other words, consumers can conceivably channel surf between cable news and House of Cards—all through a third party device that prevents them from being locked into a service provided by a cable company.

Free Cellphone Bandwidth And The Tragedy Of The Commons (Commentary- Forbes 2/24)

The latest move in the cellphone and mobile internet arena gives us an interesting little example of something economists fret about: the tragedy of the commons. The essential idea is that when we’ve a resource, any resource that is, which has open access then as more and more people come to use it then that resource gets destroyed. The solution to this is that someone, somewhere, needs to control access to such resources: otherwise they will indeed be destroyed. There’s various different ways of controlling that access and which is best used depends upon the specific resource we’re talking about. Here, with spectrum for things like cellphones, mobile internet, radio, TV and all the rest there’s a very good reason why governments slice it up in to licenses and then sell it. That good reason being that that’s the best way to avoid that tragedy.


Lawmakers pitch encryption compromise (The Hill 2/24)

A bipartisan pair of lawmakers on Wednesday predicted broad support and swift passage of upcoming legislation to establish a national commission exploring how police can get at encrypted data without endangering Americans’ privacy.

The measure, from House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), is set to drop early next week, the duo said during a Bipartisan Policy Center event.

LPTV Threatens to Sue to Block Spectrum Auction (Multichannel 2/24)

LPTV operator Latina Broadcasters of Daytona Beach has asked the FCC to either stay its Feb. 12 decision not to let the broadcaster participate in the incentive auction, or alternately delay the incentive auction, scheduled to launch March 29. It has given the FCC until tomorrow (Feb. 24) to make a decision, after which it says it will go to court to try and get reinstated or block the auction.

FCC Ruling on Net Neutrality Polarizes House Panel (Government Technology 2/23)

(TNS) — On a politically polarized Capitol Hill, one of the House panels that often stands out for bipartisanship is becoming fractured by disputes over the effects of the Federal Communications Commission’s controversial net neutrality rules.

It could be evidence of more partisan battles to come for the panel depending on how a court rules on whether the FCC’s net neutrality effort will stand. The FCC says the rules, approved last year, are designed to treat all Web content the same and prevent Internet service providers from charging websites for faster delivery. The issue is just the latest Internet-related controversy that is becoming a challenge for lawmakers especially when they consider regulating different aspects of technology.

Support for Apple’s encryption fight depends on how it’s framed (The Hill 2/24)

A new poll in the Apple encryption battle shows how the wording of surveys and their methodology can have a dramatic effect on results.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Wednesday morning found that a plurality, 46 percent, agreed with Apple’s decision to oppose a court order after they were told that the company fears that its cooperation with the FBI to unlock a terrorist’s iPhone could “open the door for hackers and potential future data breaches of smartphone users.”

AT&T: FCC Appears to Be Suppressing Info (Broadcasting & Cable 2/24)

AT&T’s VP of federal regulatory Caroline Van Wie says the FCC appears to be “selectively suppressing the free flow of information to impede public debate on the merits of increased special access regulation,” information AT&T says shows the marketplace is competitive and “heavy-handed, monopoly-era regulation” is unnecessary.