Broadband Roundup: FTC a Loser Under Title II, Rural Gigabit Projects, and Wireless Sponsored Data

FCC, Fiber, Net Neutrality, Wireless September 23rd, 2014

, Reporter, Broadband Breakfast

WASHINGTON, September 23, 2014 – In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission noted that some of its regulatory authority would be lost if the FCC decided to regulate broadband as a public utility.

The FTC protects the privacy and security of consumer data by imposing obligations on broadband service providers through the enforcement of the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, among other federal laws. The FTC Act prohibits deceptive and unfair practices as to require companies to truthfully market their products and refrain from engagement in harmful business practices, while simultaneously promoting competition based on truthful claims. However, this same section also includes an exemption clause for the activities of common carriers.

Gigabit Networks in Rural Northern Minnesota and in Miami, Florida

Paul Bunyan Communications announced its plans to launch Gigazone, a new advanced regional Gigabit fiber network. Eventually covering the company’s 5,000 square mile service area in northern Minnesota, the new network will be one of the largest rural gigabit in the country.

“Expanding broadband is a great equalizing force for boosting rural economies,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said in a statement. “Today you don’t need to live off a major highway or in a bustling city to find a good job, start a new business, or get a high quality education but today you do need a high-speed Internet connection.”

Also, Atlantic Broadband announced its initial Gigabit service in Indian Creek Village near Miami, Florida. The company, which provides cable services in Maryland, Delaware, South Carolina, Central Pennsylvania and Florida, is evaluating expansion opportunities to expand.

“Atlantic Broadband utilizes [a radio frequency] over glass platform which means that all the in-home wiring, [customer premises equipment, head-end and back office systems remain the same as the rest of our service network,” the spokesperson noted to Telecompetitor. the company expects to use both fiber-to-the-home and DOCSIS 3.0, the advanced cable modem technology.

CTIA CEO Touts Competitive Benefits of Sponsored Data

CTIA CEO Meredith Baker stressed how mobile Internet providers increasingly seeing sponsored data as a way to handle growing competition in the wireless marketplace, reported the Washington Post.

T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint are all starting to offer these service packages. Under its Music Freedom program, T-Mobile currently provides its customers with unlimited music streaming from certain music services that does not count against their data allowance. Sprint’s newly unveiled Virgin Mobile Custom plan allows unlimited access to either Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest and additional data for $12 a month. Paying $10 more will allow unlimited use of all four social networks and unlimited streaming from any one music app costs an extra $5. AT&T announced its sponsored data programs in January. These plans allow a consumer to access to the contents of these services without counting against the consumer’s data allowance.

Baker, former head of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration and an FCC commissioner from 2009 to 2011, argued, “we should want competitors fighting to see who can manage the best network, and optimize the most services for the most subscribers. No one wants a one-size-fits-all mobile internet experience.”

Separately, the wireless lobbying group urged Congress to develop a new way for paying for the FCC’s Universal Service Fund programs in a comment submitted to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Currently, the Universal Service Fund is partially financed by consumers through fees on phone service. CTIA suggested that some of the programs should be funded through the general budget process. The lobbying group also urged the agency to cut money from developing wired service to instead focus on wireless service.

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