What’s Hot 02/26/2014

Promoting Broadband Competition: Will Consumers Opt for Mobile-Only Broadband? (Forbes, 2/25/14) Singer writes that “the wireless industry is intensely competitive,” as evidenced by ever-declining wireless prices since 1998. Singer uses FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s term, “modal substitutability,” to explain his vision for the future with “direct competition among wireless, wireline, and satellite providers for a consumer’s broadband needs.”

Is the FCC still trying to stifle political speech? (The Hill’s Congress Blog, 2/24/14) As a result of tremendous public outrage, last week the Federal Communications Commission was forced to walk back its “Critical Information Needs” or “CIN” Study. Under this study, the agency intended to inject observers into American newsrooms to ask wholly-inappropriate questions such as what stories are selected for coverage and, more perhaps egregious, to ask station managers, news directors and journalists about their “news philosophy.” This suspension is a good thing, for as noted media analyst Howard Kurtz observed, “the posing of these questions carries an intimidation factor.” As such, we all owe a big thank you to FCC Commissioner Pai for blowing the whistle.

AT&T and IBM join forces to provide cyber security services (San Antonio Business Journal Morning Edition, 2/25/14) Telecommunications giant AT&T is partnering with IBM to offer businesses cyber security management services. The joint service will combine AT&T’s network security infrastructure with IBM’s threat management monitoring and analytics. AT&T and IBM individually have world-class IT security data monitoring operations, each generating advanced security threat intelligence from the billions of security events they track each day, says Andy Daudelin, vice president of security services for AT&T Business Solutions.

WhatsApp to Start Offering Internet Phone Calls (The New York Times’ Bits Blog, 2/24/14) Major announcements from WhatsApp, the Internet messaging services, are like city buses: You can wait a long time for one, then two show up at once. On the heels of its $16 billion deal to be bought by Facebook, WhatsApp announced on Monday that it would start offering free voice services later this year — diversifying beyond its main messaging service into phone calls. Speaking at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona, the tech company’s chief executive, Jan Koum, said users in the second quarter would be able to make Internet calls through their smartphones similar to services that are already available on rival Internet messaging offerings like Kakao of South Korea and Viber of Cyprus.

This Week in Tech: Senate dials in on wireless competition (Hillicon Valley, 2/24/14) … Wood also said he plans to stress the need to maintain and increase competition in the wireless market as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) moves ahead with its auction of airwaves. The FCC’s “incentive auction” will purchase unneeded airwaves from broadcasters in order to resell those airwaves to spectrum-hungry wireless carriers. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced last year that he would push back the auction to sometime in 2015.

AT&T Adopting Software-Defined Networking (The Wall Street Journal’s CIO Journal, 2/24/14) In what may be a landmark for a burgeoning technology framework, AT&T Inc. says it’s planning to rebuild its sprawling network with commoditized, off-the-shelf equipment controlled by software. The move could cut its capital costs by billions of dollars and put further pressure on already battered makers of telecom gear, reports the Journal’s Thomas Gryta. The technology’s potential has already drawn notice from incumbents Cisco Systems Inc. and Juniper Networks Inc., two companies that have based their business on bundling networking software and hardware.

US Wins Gold in Wireless Competition (The Hill, 2/25/14) As the Winter Olympics winds to a close in Sochi, a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee is taking up this week the dynamic state of competition in the U.S. wireless sector. By any metric—from record infrastructure investment, to the 22 U.S. providers offering 4G LTE service, to the variety of service plans, devices and providers American consumers have to choose from—even the Russian judges would have to admit ours is a gold-medal worthy performance.