‘What’s Hot’ List: 3/20/15

‘What’s Hot’ List: 3/20/15

NAB to FCC: Limit Online Filing Complaints (Broadcasting & Cable Blog, 3/16/15) The National Association of Broadcasters is asking the FCC to at least look into limiting its public file complaint process to “actual viewers and listeners” rather than “persons or entities unrelated to local communities of license.” Various groups have been monitoring the files and filing complaints at the FCC, particularly about political filings.

AT&T Takes Issue With Auction Framework (Broadcasting & Cable Blog, 3/16/15) There is a growing consensus among stakeholders, both in wireless and broadcast, that the FCC’s variable post-auction plan, which anticipates some TV stations and wireless operators on the same channel in nearby markets, will reduce the “quality.” At least that is the view of AT&T, which has told the FCC it needs to rethink portions of its incentive auction framework if it wants it to be a success. Filings from the wireless association, CTIA, of which AT&T is a member, and the National Association of Broadcasters also took issue with the variability of the plan.

The legal case against Internet rules (The Hill’s Technology Policy Blog, 3/15/15) As legal challenges loom for new net neutrality regulations, GOP members of the Federal Communications Commission are offering some of the first lines of attack. The dissenting opinions of the two Republicans ran 80 pages, and they telegraph some of the arguments on which critics could rely as they prepare legal filings to scrap the new rules

AT&T, DirecTV review paused again for judicial review (RCR Wireless, March 17,2015) AT&T’s attempt to acquire DirecTV hit yet another snag as the Federal Communications Commission late last week stopped its review process due to a pending review of confidentially agreements. The latest delay comes as the FCC said it is waiting for a court decision on merits of a petition for review linked to a decision late last year in regard to parties involved in the proceedings having access to confidential information, including information tied to video programming agreements. A concurrent review of Comcast’s attempt to acquire fellow cable television provider Time Warne Cable was also stopped.

FCC chairman tries to convince Congress that Obama doesn’t have a secret plan to control the Internet (The Verge, March 17,2015) FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is taking a tour of Congress this week to give opponents of his new net neutrality rules a chance to grill him on their specifics — and to investigate whether President Obama had any undue influence on the plan. Wheeler spoke before the House oversight committee this morning, frequently calling out the lengths that the FCC went to in seeking public input on its Open Internet rules. But mostly, Wheeler just addressed Republican accusations that he bent to behind-the-scenes White House pressure.

Another highly complex IT transition: What could go wrong? (The Hill, Hal Singer, March 17, 2015)The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) received lots of attention in the past month for its controversial vote on net neutrality. This month the beleaguered agency is set to vote on something less likely to make headlines, but more likely to impact consumers: A transition in the administration of the nation’s telephone numbers.

FCC Chairman Says Obama’s Net Neutrality Statement Influenced Rule (Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2015)Republican lawmakers grilled the nation’s top telecommunications regulator Tuesday, accusing him of caving to pressure from the White House to regulate the Internet as a public utility. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler acknowledged that President Barack Obama influenced the agency’s effort to set new “net neutrality” rules when he called in November for the utility approach, known as Title II.

FTC Slams AT&T’s ‘Illogical And Absurd’ Argument In Battle Over Throttling (Media Post, 3/11/15) Firing back at AT&T, the Federal Trade Commission argues in new court papers that it retains authority to sue the telecom for throttling subscribers with “unlimited” data plans. AT&T says that the new net neutrality rules protect it from enforcement actions by the FTC, which lacks authority over common-carrier services. Those rules, approved last month by the Federal Communications Commission, reclassify broadband as a common-carrier service.

NTCA: Wireless Broadband Substitution for Landline Not Viable (Telecompetitor, 3/11/15) Wireless-based alternatives are not a viable substitute for landline broadband, according to a new report issued this week that was sponsored by NTCA- The Rural Broadband Association and written byVantage Point Solutions. Terrestrial wireless networks are considerably more costly on a per-bit basis than wireline networks, the authors argue in the report titled “Wireless Broadband Not a Viable Substitute for Wireline Broadband.”

Patent Overhaul Lobbyists Battle It Out (Rollcall, 3/16/15)As lobbying coalitions go, United for Patent Reform looks fierce as it wades into what’s expected to be one of 2015’s highest-profile lobbying duels in Congress. Formed earlier this year to advocate for legislation that would make it tougher, and riskier to sue companies for infringing on a patent, United for Patent Reform includes a diverse array of firms and trade groups. Some are technology firms that own a lot of patents, such as Google, Facebook and Cisco.

In Net Neutrality Order, The FCC Sides With Big Content Over Little Consumers (Forbes, Hal Singer, 3/17/15) Who will pay for the communications infrastructure of the 21st century? Will it be broadband consumers, big content providers, or some combination of the two? In its Open Internet Order released last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC ) sided with Big Content and stuck broadband consumers with the full tab.

Netflix Is the Culprit (Wall Street Journal, 3/17/15) About that Netflix flip-flop, it’s worse than you think. On Jan. 14, 2014, the D.C. circuit court threw out an existing net-neutrality rule put in place by the Federal Communications Commission, and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings rushed to assure investors the ruling was a nonevent. In the absence of an official net-neutrality rule, the likelihood of broadband operators blocking access or slowing down Netflix was nil.

FCC’s Hot Mess of a Database May Not Bode Well for Future Airwaves Sharing (Recode, 3/17/15) John Doe of 123 Jump Street has some explaining to do. He’s among dozens of questionable characters in a federal government database that’s supposed to keep unlicensed Wi-Fi devices from knocking broadcast TV signals off the air. There are actually four John Does in the system, along with six entries for “Sue Q. Public” of “Anytown USA” and two from “John Q. Public” of the ever-popular location “None/None.”