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

in FCC/Media ownership/Net Neutrality by

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.  

 

Broadband Roundup: Rural Providers Want RUS Funding, AT&T Expands ‘GigaPower’, and Potential Surveillance Changes

in Broadband Roundup/Gigabit Networks/Privacy/Universal Service by

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2014 – The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development and Credit held a hearing on coordinating the future of broadband investment. Lang Zimmerman, vice president of Yelcot Telephone Co., a member company of rural broadband association NTCA testified that funding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service is critical for network upgrades and deployments in rural areas.

Zimmerman complained that Universal Service Fund reforms had compromised the “success momentum” of the RUS telecommunication programs.

“It will be all the more important to continue providing RUS with the resources it needs to lend to the rural telecom industry as demand for financing will inevitably increase when reforms are improved and small carriers are given certainty, hopefully through a program like the Connect America Fund that is designed to promote broadband investment,” Zimmerman said.

Directing resources toward the RUS Broadband Loan Program and the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan program is a “win-win situation for rural broadband consumers and taxpayers,” he added, because both programs are obligated to pay back the loans with interest.

AT&T Expanding ‘GigaPower

AT&T announced it will be deploying its fiber-based “GigaPower” network, capable of up to 1 Gigabit-per-second speeds, to parts of Nashville, Tennessee, Multichannel News reported.

The same city, currently served by Comcast, is also being eyed by Google as a potential site for Google Fiber expansion.

AT&T will also be expanding “GigaPower” to San Antonio, deploying fiber and adding important last mile network electronics to the existing city network, Fierce Telecom reported. City leaders lauded the deal.

“The growth of San Antonio’s tech industry is due in large part to the on-going cooperation and collaboration between government and the private sector,” said Hugh Miller, San Antonio’s chief technology director. “The City of San Antonio is excited about working with AT&T to bring their U-verse with AT&T GigaPower technology to our communities.”

Leahy Seeks to Update USA Freedom Act

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., introduced a revised version of the USA Freedom Act on Tuesday. The revision builds off a similar proposal by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., to prohibit bulk data collection under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. Government agencies will have to narrow their searches to “specific selection terms.” Reforms will also be made to secretive court that hears cases under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

“If enacted, this bill would represent the most significant reform of government surveillance authorities since Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act 13 years ago,” Leahy said in a floor statement.  “This is an historic opportunity, and I am grateful that the bill has the support of the administration, a wide range of privacy and civil liberties groups, and the technology industry.”

BroadbandCensus.com Editor on 'My Technology Lawyer Radio' Thursday

in Broadband Calendar by

Tech Radio Today to Focus on Federal Stimulus Funding Options for Broadband Grants

Press Release

WASHINGTON, April 23, 2009 – Thursday’s wireless edition of My Technology Lawyer Radio will focus on the effectiveness of the new federal process for stimulus spending grants for broadband access.  This week’s guests for the show webcast at 12 noon ET by co-hosts Andrew Kreig and Scott Draughon will be:

  • Drew Clark, Editor and Executive Director of Broadband Census.com.  It charts broadband deployments and policy throughout the U.S, and focuses on how both incumbent service providers and new market entrants seek a piece of the $7.2 billion federal stimulus funds for broadband.   He’ll describe the federal government’s ongoing criteria for eligibility, including the definitions of unserved, served, and underserved.
  • Mike Dano, Managing Editor, Wireless Group, Fierce Markets.  He joined the digital media company this month after being the online editor for RCR Wireless News until the closing of the publication earlier in March.

Thursday’s show begins with a round-up of news related to wireless technology law and policy.  Topics will include the definition of “unserved” and “under-served” communities, and why the distinction is vital to the funding application process.   Illustrating potential results will be the different experiences of two towns showcased in a Washington Post article published today entitled, “Rural Riddle: Do Jobs Follow Broadband Access?” The article compared job growth in two rural Virginia towns following arrival of broadband.

Another topic will be the effectiveness of new lobbying restrictions on those seeking $787 billion in federal stimulus spending.  The rules announced March 20 require registered lobbyists to put in writing any advocacy to relevant government officials so that the request can be posted on the website www.recovery.gov.  The purpose is to keep the public informed.  Funding lobbyists have been joined by several public interest groups in opposing the new rules.  Details:  Washington Post and Washington Times.  A Listen Live! link connects to today’s radio stream, plus archived past shows.  Radio listeners can call-in questions at 866-685-7469 or by email: radio@MyTechnologyLawyer.com.

About Broadband Census.com

BroadbandCensus.com provides news and information about broadband access and deployment.  Founded in January, 2008, it aims to publish the most timely and topical news on broadband, from the broadband stimulus package to proposals for a universal broadband fund.  It provides comprehensive public and transparent collection of data about local broadband speeds, prices, availability, reliability and competition.  Help fill the broadband data gap by “Taking the Broadband Census.” Details at http://BroadbandCensus.com

About My Technology Lawyer Radio Show

Richard Scott Draughon is host and producer of the My Technology Lawyer Radio Show, which is affiliated with MyTechnologyLawyer.com — an on-demand legal service.  For details, visit: http://www.mytechnologylawyer.com.  Among other projects, he will be organizing cutting-edge sessions at the Technosium on March 26 in San Francisco.  Details: www.technosium.com.

About Andrew Kreig

Andrew Kreig draws on work in business, law, government and journalism.  Former president of the Wireless Communications Association International from 1996 to last summer, he is an attorney, author and journalist who is a leader in several technology-related public affairs organizations.

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