‘What’s Hot’ List: 4/03/15

‘What’s Hot’ List: 4/03/15

Tennessee Fights For Its Right To Squash Municipal Broadband Expansion (Arstechnica, 3/24/15) The State of Tennessee is fighting for its right to enforce a law that prevents municipal broadband networks from providing Internet service to other cities and towns. Tennessee filed a lawsuit Friday against the Federal Communications Commission, which last month voted to preempt state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that prevent municipal broadband providers from expanding outside their territories. The FCC cited its authority granted in 1996 by Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, which requires the FCC to encourage the deployment of broadband to all Americans by using “measures that promote competition in the local telecommunications market, or other regulating methods that remove barriers to infrastructure investment.” (Emphasis ours.)

Wheeler Says He’ll Fight Attempts to Delay Auction (Broadcasting & Cable, 4/02/15) FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has assured some prominent House and Senate Democrats that the incentive auction is still on track for early 2016—less than a year away—and that he will oppose attempts to delay it, which he says could hurt broadcasters as well as wireless companies eager for spectrum.

Verizon Urges Congress To Regulate Broadband (Mediapost, 3/31/15) Verizon is calling on lawmakers to pass new net neutrality rules, but “in a way that avoids the collateral damage” that the telecom believes will flow from the FCC’s recent open Internet order. “It is time for Congress to return to its rightful place and set policy,” the telecom said late last week in a letter to lawmakers.

FCC Plans a Vote on New Airwaves Sharing Plan (Recode, 3/27/15)Federal regulators are set to vote next month on a plan to allow wireless carriers and companies including Google to share airwaves with the government, in an effort to make more airwaves available for future wireless devices. It’s a novel new effort by the Federal Communications Commission, which has spent the last several years trying to free up more airwaves for wireless carriers trying to stay ahead of consumer demand, as well as setting aside some frequencies for new Wi-Fi networks. It would open up airwaves now used mostly by military radar systems.

Charter Communications to Buy Bright House Networks in $10 Billion Deal (The New York Times’ DealBook Blog, 3/31/15) Charter Communications said Tuesday that it had agreed to acquire Bright House Networks for $10.4 billion, in the latest consolidation of cable television operators to reshape the media landscape. The deal will further enlarge Charter, which is involved in the huge merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the two biggest cable operators in the country. If that deal is approved, Charter will acquire some markets and subscribers from the enlarged Comcast.

Verizon tells Congress to step up to the plate (The Hill, 3/27/15) Lawmakers in Congress have largely ceded their ground to regulatory bureaucrats, the head of Verizon told legislators on Friday. In a letter to the bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate Commerce committees, CEO Lowell McAdam lent support to congressional efforts to update the 1996 Telecommunications Act, saying the existing telecommunications laws and regulatory processes are “outdated and broken.”

Municipal Fiber And The Digital Divide: A Modest Proposal (Cities Speak, 3/28/15)The explosion of interest in community-owned fiber on the part of elected officials and technology leaders has created an opportunity that few have noticed: cities could leverage these investments to help lower the barriers to home Internet access that still keep low-income, less educated and older citizens out of the digital mainstream. This could be easily accomplished, at it would cost cities practically nothing.

Why the cable industry should fear Verizon’s streaming video app (Washington Post, Switch Blog, 3/31/15) It’s the holy grail for TV viewers who are fed up with sky-high cable bills: A do-it-yourself bundle made up of channels you chose. The problem? By the time you add up separate subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, SlingTV and all the other streaming video apps you want, you may be paying the equivalent of a regular cable bundle, anyway.