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Broadband Roundup: FCC to Police Dispute Between Netflix and Verizon, Michael Powell Defends FCC Chief




WASHINGTON, June 16, 2014 – In the midst of Netflix’s quarrels with Verizon Communications, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement Friday that the commission will investigate slowdowns in traffic to ascertain whether there’s harm to consumers.

“To be clear, what we are doing right now is collecting information, not regulating. We are looking under the hood. Consumers want transparency. They want answers. And so do I,” Wheeler said.

“The bottom line is that consumers need to understand what is occurring when the Internet service they’ve paid for does not adequately deliver the content they desire, especially content they’ve also paid for.  In this instance, it is about what happens where the ISP connects to the Internet. It’s important that we know – and that consumers know.”

The commission has requested information from both internet service providers and content providers. Specifically, they’ve sought out the agreements between Netflix and Comcast, and Netflix and Verizon.

In a C-Span interview, National Cable & Telecommunications Association President Michael Powell defended Wheeler’s actions on net neutrality, arguing that the issue has been blown out of proportion and that it hasn’t even been made clear what “fast lane” really is.

“Chairman Wheeler is not proposing that we should have fast lanes,” the head of the cable lobby NCTA and former FCC chairman said on last weekend’s episode of The Communicators. “Chairman Wheeler is dealing with the boundaries of the law as interpreted by the court, and I think he is personally trying to create the strongest net neutrality rule he can within the parameter of what the law provides.”

According to the National Journal, Netflix has recently been connecting directly to broadband providers’ networks because of massive increases in data. The video company, however, says providers are breaking net neutrality by demanding “tolls.” Netflix has asked FCC to intervene by mandating free interconnection.

Wheeler is also recusing himself from the AT&T IP transitions trials decision, Broadcasting & Cable reported.

Instead, the commission is calling on the aid of a third party “to insure no bias” in AT&T’s tests to retire traditional circuit-switched service in two wire centers (in Alabama and Florida). AT&T’s fiber and wireless replacement services aim to address legacy services like 911, health monitoring, credit card processing, and fax services.

Lastly, The Washington Post reported that AT&T experienced a security breach in which hackers broke into an undisclosed number of wireless customers’ accounts.

AT&T said in a statement that the attack was not intended to steal personal information or commit financial fraud, but merely allow the hackers to unlock old, used handsets.

The telecom company offered its apologies and a year of free credit monitoring to all customers.

“We have taken steps to help prevent this from happening again,” the company said in a statement to The Washington Post. “We are notifying affected customers, and we have reported this matter to law enforcement.”


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