‘What’s Hot’ List: November 7, 2014

Net neutrality was the biggest tech issue of the year. But nobody campaigned on it (The Washington Post, The Switch Blog, 11/4/2014) A few months ago, I argued that the expanding role of technology in people’s daily lives has made tech policy a more relevant and viable campaign issue in the 21st century election cycle. Looking back now on this midterm cycle, however, it’s clear that I was completely, totally off-base. Flat-out wrong, even. Take net neutrality — arguably the biggest, baddest tech issue of the year. More than the Comcast merger, more than NSA surveillance, more than pretty much any other item on the tech policy agenda, net neutrality drove people to the barricades. In absolute terms, net neutrality produced a staggering response from the public. The Federal Communications Commission got a record-setting 3.9 million comments from Americans who felt, at some level, that the future of the Internet was at stake.

Digital to Overtake TV Ad Spending in Two Years, Says Forrester (Adage.com, 11/4/2014) U.S. advertisers’ spending on digital advertising will overtake TV in 2016 and hit $103 billion in 2019 to represent 36% of all ad spending, according to Forrester’s latest estimates based on its ForecastView model. U.S. advertisers will spend $85.8 billion on TV ads in 2019, which will equal 30% of overall ad spending that year, according to Forrester. But digital won’t usurp TV because of big brand advertisers taking their commercial money and redirecting it toward YouTube and Facebook. There will be some cannibalization of TV budgets, but the bigger contributing factor will be an influx of new money dedicated to digital because marketers are able to prove that digital works, said Forrester analyst Shar VanBoskirk.

The Politics of Net Neutrality: Five Things to Watch (Wall Street Journal, 11/3/2014)The director of the National Security Agency said Monday that he understands why Silicon Valley companies have beefed up security to keep out government agencies, including his own. The statement, during a speech by Adm. Michael Rogers at Stanford University, marked a small olive branch amid rising tension between technology companies and Washington following disclosures about the extent of electronic surveillance by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

FCC Proves (Yet Again) That Easy Forbearance Under Title II is a Myth (Verizon’s Policy Blog, 11/3/14) In the ongoing push for heavier regulation of the Internet, pro-regulation advocates try to downplay the impact of imposing 80-year-old telecom rules on the Internet by invoking the concept of “forbearance” as a magic wand that will simply make all the harmful aspects of Title II disappear. Public Knowledge’s Harold Feld has written that, “Title II forbearance is actually so easy it makes [him] want to puke.” Well, the D.C. Circuit and the FCC have provided more evidence that the forbearance process is nauseating, but not because it is easy.

USTelecom Wants FCC Special Access Price Data Collected to Include Two Years (Telecompetitor, 11/3/2014) USTelecom, the association representing larger and smaller U.S. telcos, is asking the FCC to collect more information about special access pricing. Although the request at first might seem off-the-wall (what telco wants to report more data?), there are some extenuating circumstances here. At issue is the special access pricing data that the FCC required larger incumbent and competitive network operators to file by year-end. The goal is to gauge whether sufficient competition exists to give incumbents more pricing flexibility.

House Dem calls for undiluted NSA reforms (The Hill, 11/3/2014) With an eye on the Senate’s lame-duck session, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) is pressing the upper chamber to vote on a bill curbing National Security Agency (NSA) authority. “We have the first chance in more than a decade to finally place some real limits on the sweeping, unwarranted — and at times unlawful — government surveillance that many of us have fought against for the past several years,” said Nadler, a member of the Judiciary Committee, which unanimously approved the House version of the bill in May.

Sprint’s CEO faces mounting challenges to turn company around (Reuters, 11/4/2014) When Marcelo Claure took the top job at Sprint Corp (S.N) two months ago, he faced an uphill climb in turning around the No. 3 U.S. cellular provider. On Monday, it became clear quite how steep that road to recovery will be. The Bolivian entrepreneur, who was installed as CEO after the collapse of merger talks with T-Mobile US Inc (TMUS.N), already faced the task of stemming growing subscriber defections as the company seeks to upgrade its subpar network.

The FCC Chairman Steps Into The Abyss (Forbes, 11/3/2014) Last Friday, Gautham Nagesh reported in the Wall Street Journal that the FCC was inching closer to adopting a proposal put forward by Mozilla as its solution to the net neutrality problem. Under this “hybrid” approach, the FCC would reclassify the portion of a broadband provider’s network that interfaces with edge providers as a Title II service, while regulating the remaining portion that interfaces with end users as an information service. As a Title II service, the FCC could impose monopoly-era “common carrier” obligations on broadband providers, which have a chilling effect on investment.