‘What’s Hot’ List: 4/24/15

The ‘What’s Hot’ list for the week of April 24, 2015.

Reports: Comcast Bids Adieu to TWC (Multichannel, 4/23/15) Comcast is apparently ready to throw in the towel on its $67 billion merger with Time Warner Cable, concluding what has been a grueling 14-month approval process. Bloomberg News was the first to report Comcast’s decision, adding that an official announcement could come as early as Friday. The New York Times and CNBC also issued reports Thursday confirming that Comcast is stepping away from the deal.

The Research is Clear: The U.S. Invests More in Broadband Than Europe (Free State Foundation, Michael Horney, 4/20/15) On February 19, 2015, in advance of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) impending Open Internet decision, Free Press submitted a Notice of Ex Parte to the agency claiming that studies which lead to the conclusion that United States Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are investing in broadband infrastructure to a greater extent than European ISPs are “completely bogus.”

CenturyLink Appeals Net Neutrality Decision (CenturyLink Blog, 4/17/15) CenturyLink, Inc. today filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality order on the grounds that it is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and a violation of federal law.

FCC Frees Up Spectrum for Low-Cost Wireless Hubs; Regulators to let users share airwaves free or pay for priority access (The Wall Street Journal Online, 04/17/2015) U.S. regulators approved a plan Friday to unlock a large swath of airwaves that could be used to set up cheap, new wireless networks. The move by the Federal Communications Commission frees up airwaves in the 3.5 gigahertz band, which are higher frequency than some Wi-Fi bands and don’t travel very far. Currently, the frequency is used for Navy radar systems along the coasts, at a smattering of Army bases, and by rural Internet providers. Otherwise it is entirely unused.

Google launches its own mobile network for Nexus 6 owners (The Verge, 4/22/15) Google is now a mobile carrier. Today the company has made official its plan to offer wireless service to owners of its Nexus 6 smartphone. It’s called Project Fi, and Google is launching an early invite program beginning today. “Similar to our Nexus hardware program, Project Fi enables us to work in close partnership with leading carriers, hardware makers, and all of you to push the boundaries of what’s possible,” the company wrote in a blog post.

Comcast-TWC Meeting With DOJ (Multichannel News Blog, 4/20/15) In the wake of news that Comcast-TWC was meeting with the Department of Justice about their proposed deal this week, Bernstein Research analyst Paul De Sa said his team still thinks the deal is more likely to get done than not. De Sa suggests that clients take stories about the deal’s progress with a grain or two of salt.

Norway Becoming First Country To Eliminate FM Radio (NPR, 4/20/15)Norway is going to eliminate FM radio in less than two years, the country’s government announced, becoming the first country in the world to do so. Norway is planning to transition completely to digital broadcasting in January 2017. The Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) system offers a number of benefits over FM, said Thorhild Widvey, Norway’s minister of culture, in a statement last week.

The FTC wants to talk about the ‘sharing economy’ (The Washington Post, Switch Blog, 4/17/15) The Internet and mobile apps have made it easier than ever to convert underused assets into extra cash via the so-called “sharing economy.” And tech companies that provide the infrastructure for these markets including Airbnb and Uber have expanded dramatically in recent years.

Senate Dems press regulators to block Comcast merger (The Hill, 4/21/15) A group of Senate Democrats is ramping up pressure on federal regulators to block the $45 billion proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable. If the merger went through, the senators said, the cable giant’s increasing share of the market would “lead to higher prices, fewer choices and poorer quality of service for Americans.” “Comcast-TWC’s monopoly power to dictate the terms of transactions with programmers will also force companies from across the country to reevaluate their business models, including the content they produce and the prices they charge,” they wrote.

Pew Does Its Homework: Broadband Gap Remains (Broadcasting & Cable, 4/21/15) The good news is that the majority of American homes with school-age children (82.5%) have broadband access. The bad news: Some 5 million households with those kids don’t have access, and black and Hispanic households make up a disproportionate share of those. That is according to Pew Research Center analysis of 2013 census data, looking at the so-called broadband “homework gap.”

Legal exposure from net neutrality prompts local lawsuit (San Antoinio Business Journal, Anna-Maria Kovacs, 4/17/15)Alamo Broadband Inc. — a broadband Internet access provider with about 700 customers scattered over roughly 500 square miles of Texas — has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s open Internet order. Why would Alamo sue the FCC? To try to head off the unending FCC proceedings and lawsuits to which the FCC has exposed it.