‘What’s Hot’ List: 5/22/15

The ‘What’s Hot’ list for Friday, May 22, 2015.

Fiber wars: AT&T brings GigaPower to Nashville (RCR Wireless News, 5/18/15) Today AT&T began offering its GigaPower high-speed home and business Internet service package, continuing its competition with Comcast and Google. AT&T is the first of the three to offer its service in Nashville, Tenn. Prices range from $120 per month for the highest possible speed Internet-only package, up to $180 per month to include voice, TV and Internet.

North Carolina sues FCC for right to block municipal broadband (Ars Technica Blog, 5/18/15) North Carolina has sued the Federal Communications Commission so it can continue enforcing a state law that prevents municipal broadband networks from expanding. Three months ago, the FCC preempted such laws in both North Carolina and Tennessee. Tennessee filed a lawsuit to save its municipal broadband restrictions in March, and North Carolina has now done the same in a petition filed last week to the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

FCC’s own advisory committee comes out against its “effective competition” rule (KatyontheHill Blog, 5/18/15) The FCC’s own Intergovernmental Advisory Committee (IAC) has come out against Commission’s proposal that  all cable systems should be assumed to have effective competition for their services in local markets. The IAC, which advises the FCC on telecommunications issues of interest to state and local governments, wrote that assuming pay TV has effective competition in each market “is contrary to the public interest,” and the proposal would make “it likely that all of the important consumer safeguards that go along with such finding will be lost.”

NAB: Forced Spectrum March Would Be Illegal (Broadcasting & Cable Blog, 5/18/15) The National Association of Broadcasters last week continued to press the FCC not to set a hard 39-month deadline for all stations to move to new channels after the post-incentive auction repack, saying it would be illegal to force them off due to circumstances beyond their control.

How the battle for the future of the Web is shaped by economics (The Washington Post’s Switch Blog, 5/19/15) There are two stories people are trying to tell right now about the future of the Internet. One is that we need some basic rules to make sure the Web remains open and free so that companies that depend on the Internet can grow. The other is that strict rules will discourage Internet providers from making the investments that will enhance the network for everybody.

Companies keep getting fined for playing fake emergency alert tones (The Verge, 5/19/15) The FCC is fining yet another broadcaster for playing the Emergency Alert System tone when it shouldn’t have. The latest fine, being issued today, is for $1 million from iHeartCommunications, which played the tone during an October broadcast of “The Bobby Bones Show,” a major country music show. This is the fifth action over the misuse of the alert system in just six months, suggesting the commission is serious about preventing its misuse. In particular, it’s concerned that people will start to ignore the tone if they believe it’s often used in false circumstances, leading to potential safety issues when an actual warning arrives. iHeartCommunications has agreed to pay the fine.

AT&T, CenturyLink, lobbying groups appeal FCC decision (RCR Wireless, 5/19/15)The joint petitioners seeking a stay on the implementation of net neutrality rules, which go into effect next month, have appealed the FCC’s denial with a higher court. The case has been brought before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, based in Washington, D.C., with the plaintiffs listed as the United States Telecom Association, Cellular Telephone Industries Association, AT&T, Wireless Internet Service Providers Association and CenturyLink, as well as the American Cable Association and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

Congress should act quickly on net neutrality [Commentary] (Times of Northwest Indiana, Barry Umansky, 5/17/15) The Federal Communications Commission’s Internet neutrality or “open Internet” decision was published in the Federal Register last month. Although some already have filed legal challenges, that Federal Register publication triggered the deadlines for filing court appeals and petitions asking the commission to reconsider certain parts of its decision.

Privacy Concerns About Verizon-AOL Deal Are Really Concerns About Increased Competition (Forbes, 5/18/15)  Verizon’s bid to buy AOL for $4.4 billion should be no big deal for regulators. The Federal Communication Commission already announced that it won’t review the deal and there is no reason to think antitrust regulators will raise concerns. But that hasn’t stopped Silicon Valley’s advertising giants from attempting to leverage the deal into new regulations that would help them tighten their grip on Internet advertising markets.

Analyst Angle: Incentive auctions – what matters here and now (RCR Wireless, 5/20/15) A hot topic is the upcoming incentive auction. The amount of available spectrum per subscriber tells us how much capacity the carrier has to serve its customers and therefore what the theoretical upper limits of data speeds are. It also shows us how urgently the respective carrier needs more spectrum to serve its customers at par compared to their competitors.