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Broadband Roundup: Comcast Blasts Public Utility Regulation, White House to Host Smart Home Expo, and ‘Commercially Reasonable’ Data Roaming




WASHINGTON, May 29, 2014 - Comcast CEO Brian Roberts has defended his company and its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable against critics, reports Re/code. Saying that he could accept "some kind of net neutrality law," he scorned the idea of reclassifying broadband as a public utility under Title II of the Communications Act, which would be tantamount to treating broadband providers as public utilities.

"I don't think phone regulation ever resulted in a great phone system," Roberts said. Responding to complaints from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings regarding having to pay Comcast for speedier video traffic, Roberts said: "They would like it all to be free. I don’t blame them for that. I would like to not pay for cable boxes.”

Computer World reported that the White House is leading a one-day Smart America Expo in Washington on June 11 showcasing the potential for the so-called “internet of things” to control cyber-physical systems.

Researchers from the University of California at Irvine and MIT are involved along with vendors like IBM, Sigfox, and French-based cloud communication firm Twilio.

The team is working on a system for a suburban Washington county that aims to closely examine what goes on inside a home, with the hopes of resolving emergencies quicker and more reliably than cell phones could.

Devices included will feature smoke and carbon detection, temperature, gas, light, dust, mold, pollen, motion, battery life, and more.

The goal, according to ComputerWorld, is to connect these devices to municipal networks and ensure increased reliability.

In other news, T-Mobile has filed a petition to the Federal Communications Commission asking for clarification on what qualifies as “commercially reasonable" data roaming agreements.

The company wrote that "carriers need this modest guidance to provide necessary clarity in individualized negotiations."

The petition said that "consumers who rely on [the data roaming marketplace] for ubiquitous, affordable wireless service, would benefit substantially if the Commission provided greater clarity on the meaning of its “commercially reasonable” standard in the context of data roaming."

Education News Week also reported that a joint analysis released by Consortium for School Networking and Education Super Highway Wednesday called for increased in-school internet funding at an additional $800 million per year.

Doing so would meet President Barack Obama's goal of equipping all schools with sufficient internet connections according to projections by CoSN and Education Super Highway.

This estimate is said to be the product of over 50 consultations with "chief technology officers, vendors, and education experts."

Current federal E-Rate funding is already at $2.4 billion. To maintain new in-school wireless networks, it is estimated that an additional $1.6 billion will be needed, reported Education News Week.

On top of that, President Obama's ConnectED initiative aims to connect "99 percent of U.S. schoolchildren to broadband and high-speed wireless by 2018" would likely increase E-Rate costs further, although Education News Week reported that projections for that initiative's costs are currently speculative.


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