Broadband Roundup: Klobuchar and Lee Question Comcast-Time Warner, Less Rural Wireless, and Mayors Seek Net Neutrality

Broadband Roundup, FCC, Wireless June 25th, 2014

, Reporter, Broadband Breakfast News

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2014 – Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, have raised concerns over the proposed Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, according to Broadcasting & Cable.

At issue is the potential for a reduction in outlets for traditional video programming, innovation in broadband, and price increases.

“Because this transaction will materially increase the buying power of the largest buyer in the market for programming, it is important for your agencies to carefully assess the impact of this transaction on the ability of viable content providers of all types to obtain distribution of their content,” the senators wrote, according to Broadcasting & Cable.

The latest of many small carriers that have left the wireless market, reported Telecompetitor, noting that rural communications service provider Plateau Telecommunications is selling its wireless operations in eastern New Mexico and West Texas to AT&T.

Plateau CEO Tom Phelps was quoted by Telecompetitor as saying that “while the wireless part of the business has certainly been important to us, we are pleased to be in a position to focus more on our other quality telecommunication services provided through our extensive fiber network.”

The deal, which is expected to close in the second half of 2014, requires regulatory approval.

The National Conference of Mayors urged support for the FCC’s network neutrality rules, according to Multichannel News, calling for a ban on paid prioritization and other practices that it referred to as discriminatory. It also sought the end of state laws blocking municipal broadband.

“Paid prioritization under a commercially reasonable standard allows paid prioritization that has heretofore been understood to be unjust and unreasonable; and unreasonable paid prioritization is antithetical to a neutral internet, and nondiscrimination is an inherent and indivisible characteristic of net neutrality,” the mayors wrote, according to Multichannel News.

Regarding net neutrality, Google was paid a visit at its headquarters Tuesday by Occupy Oakland protesters who called for the protection of the open internet, according to SilliconValley.com

“We are here to call on Google and all its employees to stand up and join us in the fight for a free and open Internet,” the group said on its web site.

The American Library Association wrote on District Dispatch of its support for the FCC as it moves forward with E-Rate modernization. It thanked the agency for simplifying the application process for schools and libraries.

The association said that the FCC’s $2 billion “down payment” to the E-Rate program is not enough funds; broadband access should be “fully funded for eligible applicants.”

“Wi-Fi without adequate broadband—which is the case for the majority of the nation’s libraries that have internet connections of less than 10 Mbps [Megabits per second]—does not come close to adequately serving the education, employment, entrepreneurship, empowerment and civic engagement needs of our communities. ALA urges the FCC to incorporate a portion of the down payment to high-capacity broadband—that is, to priority one services—in this first order.”

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