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Broadband Roundup: Incumbents Defend Data Caps, Comcast Cites Competition for Merger, and Wheeler Seeks Diversity of Media Ownership




WASHINGTON, September 24, 2014 –Verizon Communications and AT&T are urging the Federal Communications Commission to include the use of data caps in the agency’s definition of broadband. Including usage-based pricing in its definition is important because companies that use universal service funds to build networks in rural areas must accept the standards laid out in the FCC’s broadband definition of broadband, Ars Technica reported.  

Although Verizon doesn’t actually impose data caps on its landline network, it may do so in the future, maintaining in its filing that usage caps “encourage all users to make efficient use of finite network resources.” AT&T made similar claims in its filing. A survey conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that wireline internet does not suffer the same congestion problems as wireless internet and that data caps “can generate more revenues for ISPs to help fund network capacity upgrades.”

Consumers generally accepted data caps for wireless internet, but rely on unlimited in-home Wi-Fi to compensate for more limited wireless plans. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association also urged the Commission to continue to define broadband as a minimum of 4 Megabits per second (Mbps), a position that Wheeler has stated “isn’t exactly what’s necessary in the 21st century.”  

Comcast Sites Stiff Competition as Reason for Acqusition

Although FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler repeated multiple times that America lacks true broadband competition in many areas of the country, Comcast argued in a filing defending its proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable that the cable and broadband giant does faces substantial competition. Citing municipal broadband networks, telephone companies, satellite broadband providers and fixed wireless providers, as well as newcomers like Google Fiber, as competitive threats, to which the company claims disgruntled customers can switch. (Ryan Block, other Comcast customers and even Comcast’s own customer service representatives and retention specialists, however, would beg to differ.)

In a speech on September 4, Wheeler said most Americans have at most two choices for internet speeds between 4 Mbps and 10 Mbps, and only one choice for speeds of 25 Mbps or faster, Ars Technica reported.

Cox & CenturyLink Push Gigabit Service In Phoenix

Cox Communications and CenturyLink both plan on providing Gigabit Networks in Phoenix , Fierce Telecom reported.

Cox announced that Las Vegas and Omaha are the next two markets to receive 1Gbps service as part of its plan to cover the entirety of its markets by 2016. CenturyLink is also planning to expand their fiber-to-the-premises services to Las Vegas and Omaha, as well as 13 more cities.

FCC Wheeler Seeks Diversity of Media Ownership

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler urged for more diversity in media ownership in a blog post about the E-Rate program and traditional media facilities following his recent trip to Philadelphia. Wheeler said that the newly revamped E-Rate program has been helping ensure internet access in libraries and schools. Meeting the information needs of communities nationwide means more than just providing universal internet access. Wheeler noted the need for “a diverse array of voices on all media platforms,” since “one way to ensure diversity of content is to encourage diversity of media ownership.”

Wi-Fi May Become Cash Cow for ISPs

Broadband providers may soon look to Wi-Fi as potential profit centers, Multichannel News reported. Currently, most cable operators offer free access to Wi-Fi hotspots to their wired broadband customers as a retention tool. As these companies continue to expand their Wi-Fi coverage, two top executives had said that monetizing these systems will be focal point over the next three to five years.  



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