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Jessica Ward: Which Media Streaming Device is Best?

in Expert Opinion by

July 7, 2016 – Since 2008, the ability to “cut the cord” has existed with the help of devices allowing us to stream Netflix directly to our TVs. From 2008 to 2013, the idea that this technology could actually replace Pay TV (cable and satellite) seemed absurd. Fast forward to 2014 when the percentage of households using these devices rose from a mere 7% to a shocking 21%. Oh what a difference a year can bring. At this point, individual media groups, like CBS, FOX, HBO and many others, began to find ways to use these devices to benefit them monetarily. Once these groups got on board, it was clear that these media streaming devices were to be reckoned with. The next year (2015) the 14% rise between 2013 and 2014 seemed minuscule compared to the 31% spurt the media streaming industry experienced in 2015. With that, devices like Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Chromecast became serious contenders to the big dogs in the Pay TV marketplace.

None of these bigger than Roku, though. While Roku flies somewhat under the radar without a name like Apple, Amazon or Google backing it, the company has quietly moved it’s way into the top spot owning 37% of the Media Streaming Device market. Not only is Roku among the least expensive of the devices, but thanks to their deals with Sharp, TCL and Sceptre to be installed into their Smart TVs they are more readily available to consumers than the other brands they are competing with. Along with Chromecast, they also have to most to offer consumers as far as free content goes.

While Media Streaming Devices seem perfect for consumers, there are a few deterring factors that satellite TV companies like DirecTV and DISH hope will prevent the majority of consumers moving in that direction. The first factor is that many of the free channels actually do require a subscription to a Pay TV service. Channels like ESPN, Comedy Central and FOX are not available through these devices if you do not currently have a cable subscription set up. There are obviously ways around this. If one person has a cable subscription, they can surely share their subscription with others. This is a roadblock for some consumers, but the majority will find a way around this.

The larger concern is one of user experience and cost as it relates to the consumer’s internet service. In 2016, Netflix publicly stated that an internet speed of 5 Mbps or higher is required for a “regularly positive” streaming experience. This is not just true for Netflix, but for the media streaming industry in general. Unfortunately, those with DSL, satellite internet and even some smaller cable providers may not be able to experience streaming in a way that the service is meant to be due to slower internet speeds. Aside from speeds, another large concern is for those consumers whose internet plan has a hard cap when it comes to data. These services, especially in HD, can be big time data drainers as they take up 3 GB of data per hour. This could make streaming a costly option.

While there are negatives, it’s clear that these services are serious contenders and are here to stay.

Have you been looking into cutting the cord? If so, take a look at the infographic below provided by InternetChoice.org to decide which platform would be best for you!

Jessica Ward is a blogger, DIY addict, coffee snob and marketing extraordinaire at InternetChoice.org. She writes about technology, fitness, marketing, and whatever fills her mind with wonder and fuels her passion. Follow her on Twitter @jessward87

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Broadband Roundup: Standard-Option Encryption, Madison Fiber Build, and the House of Wheeler

in Broadband Roundup/Broadband's Impact by

WASHINGTON, October 1, 2014 – Smartphones are about to become “NSA-proof,” according to the Washington Post. In the wake of continued stream of information about surveillance by the National Security Agency, Google and Apple are making device encryption a standard feature in their newest software releases in an effort to ease consumer concern about government agencies prying into their personal lives.

Enhanced encryption in Apple’s iOS 8 keeps the tech manufacturer from handing over any of the data on a person’s device, as all the device data is under protection of the user’s passcode. Similarly, Google’s upcoming Android L software will enable encryption by default. Even if federal officials go to the company seeking a consumers’ data, the company wouldn’t be able to give it to them, since the encryption is device specific.

FBI officials, see this as a disturbing marketing push tells people that they are above the law. Others say that the claim of data being “NSA-proof” is just bogus. Chief technologist for the Center for Democracy and Technology Joseph Lorenzo Hall said, “If they [NSA] want it, they can get it.”

Madison Looks to FCC to Bridge Digital Divide with Municipal Broadband

Local government officials in Madison, Wisconsin, are exploring the possibility of building their own municipal fiber-to-the-home broadband network. Alderman Scott Resnick, currently the a 27 year-old President Pro Tem of the Madison Common Council, sees municipal broadband as a way to bridge the community’s “digital divide” for those who cannot afford high-speed internet access.

“We are doing one-fifth of what other communities are doing to try to cross the digital divide,” says Resnick, who works in the tech field at Hardin Design & Development. “We are failing Madison’s residents. I know that’s not a positive statement, but that’s the reality,” reported Isthmus.

The two main private broadband providers locally, AT&T and Charter, have laid “middle mile” fiber, but the “last mile” cables that run to the households do not enjoy bandwidth speeds to users of the network. Madison is technically well positioned for a community fiber network, as it owns 132 miles of fiber for its Metropolitan Unified Fiber Network that connects universities, colleges, hospitals and other anchor institutions.

However, municipalities must obtain competitive local exchange carrier certification under state law. This requires cities offering triple-play service – internet, television and telephone to run each service as independently profitable.

Comcast Answers

Comcast and Time Warner Cable responded to filings that argued against the proposed merger of the two companies in a submission to the FCC entitled “Applicants’ Opposition to Petitions to Deny and Respond to Comments,” according to a summary by the Benton Foundation’s Kevin Taglang.

The companies reiterate their claims that the acquisition is in the public interest because it would increase the quality of services to a greater number of people, encourage competing providers to innovate and invest more in their own networks and allow for greater investment and innovation due to the larger scale and reach of the combined company, especially when it comes to the deployment of higher broadband speeds and services. They specifically cite the ability to spread their Internet Essentials adoption program “to millions of additional low-income families throughout the acquired systems.” They argue that there are no “credible rebuttals” in any of the critical filings with the FCC.

Politico wrote that many of the merger opponents made “self-interested requests” of Comcast, “almost always with an express or at least an implicit offer to support” its Time Warner Cable bid if the demands were met. One of these requests came from Netflix, whic asked for a free interconnection deal between itself and the combined cable company–a practice called peering that has historically only happened between huge networks due to high rates of equal traffic going across the two–instead of the current paid interconnection deal–a practice called transit that occurs between access providers like Comcast and hosting providers like YouTube or Netflix when traffic between the two is more one-sided.

The House of Wheeler

The New York Times published a great piece on FCC Chairman Wheeler’s background. It touches on his history as a lobbyist and investor in the tech industry, as well as events from his current tenure in the FCC. As a lobbyist, he pushed for the E-Rate program despite it directly benefitting the cellular industry, and he opposed the potential merger Sprint and T-Mobile out of concern for less competition. Both flattering and critical, it’s a great, all-encompassing look at the man at the helm of the FCC.

 

Critics and Supporters of Net Neutrality Trade Claims at Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

in FCC/Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON, September 21, 2014 – At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, critics of net neutrality warned against the negative impacts of internet regulation while supporters of net neutrality said that practices by major communications demonstrated the need for such protections.

Both former Federal Communications Commissioner Robert McDowell and economist Jeffrey Eisenach said that antitrust and consumer protection laws have been enough to protect of both technology companies and consumers. They also said that public utility regulation under Title II of the Communications Act would negatively impact investment. Both cited prosperity under deregulation as a key reason for avoiding greater government oversight of the internet.

Answering senators’ questions about previous widespread anti-competitive behavior, Eisenach downplayed accusations, saying that the core complaints have not been born out. He said that Netflix allegations against Comcast and Verizon Communications throttling data had been proved false by information found in the video streaming company’s August filing with the FCC.

Among the proponents of stronger net neutrality rules on the panel was Brad Burnham, who previously worked for AT&T in sales and marketing, but is currently a managing partner at a ventures company investing in internet applications like Tumblr and Kickstarter. He said greater regulatory oversight requires Title II reclassification. He said that internet service providers have begun to deploy “deep packet inspection” of the applications and services consumers are using on their network.

Nuala O’Connor, CEO of the non-profit Center for Democracy and Technology, took a less extreme path, urging the agency to consider available regulatory options, including Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, or Title II, or something entirely different.

An additional witness in support of net neutrality was Ruth Livier, a writer, independent producer and actress. Livier, who said that the traditional media landscape did not give the pilot for bicultural dramedy about a modern Latina, said that net neutrality was a civil right. Because of an open internet, Livier was instead able to turn that TV pilot into the web series www.Ylse.net in 2008. She said it was vital to keep the internet “open and free of gatekeepers.”

 

Broadband for America and Telecommunications Industry Association Reiterates Opposition to Public Utility Regulation

in FCC/Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON, September 18, 2014 – The pro-business advocacy group Broadband for America reinforced its opposition to public utility regulation of broadband providers during a Monday teleconference on net neutrality.

Instead, the group said that they support efforts to use Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as a separate way to enforce open internet standards. Honorary co-chair and former Rep. Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., said that the success of the broadband industry over the last 20 years was due a light touch regulatory approach, and that the Section 706 approach would continue this trend.

Sununu said that fewer regulations on the broadband industry have helped the U.S. develop next generation broadband faster than the nations of Europe. Sununu said that the FCC protections will be allowed under section 706, and with this continued approach, the senator argued that our speeds will continue to increase over the next few years.

Broadband for America’s other honorary co-chair, former Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., D-Tenn., called “laughable” the notion that Title II public utility reclassification under the Communications Act would make it easier for new technologies to emerge. “The amazing innovation is the tech space” would be hurt by Title II reclassification, he said.

Joining in the conversation was Telecommunications Industry Association President Grant Seiffert, who represents close to 500 telecommunications equipment manufacturers and suppliers, who reiterated his group’s opposition to Title II reclassification.

“Paid peering agreements need to exist so that companies can bring to their traffic to the internet backbone in a way that is organized, disciplined and efficient,” said Seiffert.

A topic of importance to consumers and companies that has been in the media is “paid prioritization.” Sununu said that paid peering, when a company like Netflix pays to have direct connection to an ISP like Comcast, is not a net neutrality issue. Net neutrality “is about the last mile. It’s about protecting consumers from blocking access to lawful websites. It’s about making sure providers disclose how they manage traffic on their network. It’s about dealing with discrimination as well.”

How Internet Companies Are Driving a Public Utility Regulation Approach to Net Neutrality

in FCC/Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON, September 12, 2014 – In what would have seemed highly unlikely just a few months ago, growing support for public utility regulation is emerging. Tech companies, politicians, internet service providers, and component makers have started to outline their views regarding their policy approach to the issue of net neutrality. In order to understand the views of the major players and their respective camps, it is helpful to look back in time a bit.

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power lines via pixabay

In January 2014, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, in Verizon Communications v. Federal Communications Commission, that the FCC lacked the authority to enforce both the anti-blocking and anti-discrimination clauses of the agency’s 2010 Open Internet Order unless broadband providers were reclassified as common carriers, and subject to the regulation as “telecommunications services” under Title II of the Communications Act.

Although the FCC arguably has the authority to reclassify internet access service as a “telecommunications,” such a move would be a significant reversal of agency decisions. About 10 years ago, the FCC chose to make fiber-optics exempt from common carrier regulation; then it took the same path for cable-modem services, and for digital subscriber line (DSL) service over copper wires.

Is ‘Light Regulation’ Still Regulation?

While FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said that he is keeping the option of Title II regulation on the table, the thrust of his efforts have been aimed at regulating broadband providers without having to treat them as regulated entities.

The agency has argued that the D.C. Circuit has already authorized, using Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, (1) the transparency requirement in his proposed network neutrality rules; (2) a “no blocking” requirement; and (3) the enforcement of a “commercially unreasonable” standard against potentially discriminatory practices by internet service providers.

Wheeler believes that his agency can enforce the no blocking goal and the non-discrimination rule under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. In a February 19 statement he said that the court agreed that the section “gives the FCC authority to encourage broadband deployment by, among other things, removing barriers to infrastructure deployment, encouraging innovation, and promoting competition.”

“The D.C. Circuit ruled that the FCC has the legal authority to issue enforceable rules of the road to preserve Internet freedom and openness.”

-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler 

While major ISPs like Comcast and Time Warner Cable have said that they will continue to adhere to the principles of the 2010 Open Internet Order, critics of these companies want concrete safeguards. On January 30, a coalition of 86 groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Free Press, Demand Progress and Reddit, called for reclassification under Title II. In late February, Netflix signed a multiyear agreement with Comcast in which the video streaming company paid Comcast for a direct connection to Comcast’s network. It made a similar agreement with Verizon. Netflix has called for stronger net neutrality rules to protect an open internet.

Early Support for Wheeler’s Section 706 Approach

Some saw Wheeler’s proposition of enforcing net neutrality rules through Section 706 as a plausible way forward. In May, a huge coalition of tech companies, led by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter, asked the FCC to protect users and companies “on both fixed and mobile platforms against blocking, discrimination, and paid prioritization.” Other companies that signed the letter include eBay, KickStarter, Reddit, WordPress, Mozilla, Dropbox, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Digg, Meetup and Lyft. However, these companies didn’t explicitly state which route – Section 706 or Title II reclassification — they supported.

A renewed push for reclassification started in July. In its FCC filing, Netflix made clear its staunch support for reclassification. In addition to advocacy groups like Free Press, Public Knowledge and EFF, both The New York Times editorial board and former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who now heads the advocacy group Common Cause, have argued for the common carrier solution. Tech companies Etsy and Dwolla have also joined this camp along with tech incubator Y Combinator, whose founder Alexis Ohanian argued that only reclassification would give the FCC the necessary authority to halt paid prioritization.

“The FCC cannot impose a nondiscrimination rule–unless it classifies broadband providers under Title II,” wrote Ohanian in a letter to the FCC. “The Court also held that, without classifying broadband providers under Title II, the FCC could not ban charging fees for priority access, even though the FCC recognized such fees would be a ‘significant departure from historical and current practice.’ ”

On Wednesday, September 10, the Battle for the Net’s “Slow Lane Protest” saw more than 10,000 websites participate, including Netflix, WordPress, Vimeo, Tumblr, FourSquare, KickStarter and Dropbox, display a symbolic loading icon on their respective sites that encouraged visitors to contact members of Congress, the White House and the FCC about net neutrality. This symbolic internet slowdown generated “nearly 300,000 calls and more than 2 million emails to Congress,” while “722,364 people filed comments at the FCC,” a press release from Fight for the Future stated.

Absent from the “slowdown” participants were tech giants Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. These companies have signed on to coalitions that support open internet principles, and Google took to its “Take Action” page to voice its opposition for paid prioritization. Google did not respond to a request for comment as to why the company did not participate in Wednesday’s protest.

ISPs, Carriers & Equipment Companies Oppose Reclassification

Although ISPs like Comcast and Time Warner have been vague. Many of them are proponents of light regulation that they state has allowed them to grow and thrive. Comcast’s most recent post on their blog cements their stance against reclassification, together with a seemingly strong statement of support for open internet rules under Section 706. However, Comcast does not actually say that it supports this route; rather, it states that “The Courts have laid out a clear path and clear authority (under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act) for the FCC to adopt robust and legally enforceable Open Internet rules.”

Other major carriers have taken a similar approach. Verizon has been an opponent of reclassification, a viewpoint reiterated in their filing with the FCC on July 17. Ars Technica reported that Verizon said Title II reclassification would require web services like Netflix to pay Verizon. In May, AT&T stated that they believed reclassification would “cause risks and harms that dwarf any putative benefits.” The telecommunications giant said in a filing with the FCC on July 17th that it supported a Section 706 approach to enforcing net neutrality and ending paid prioritization.

In a filing submitted on July 15, the Telecommunications Industry Association said that reclassification would “thwart cycle of investment, competition and innovation” in the broadband space. Many members of the TIA, such as Cisco, IBM, Intel, Panasonic, Broadcom, D-Link and Nokia, penned a letter to the FCC on September 9 in which they made similar comments.

 

Broadband Roundup: Senate Announces Hearings on Open Internet, While House Democratcs Urge FCC to Regulate Broadband, and Popular Web Sites Protest ‘Slow Lanes’

in Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON, September 10, 2014 – The Senate Judiciary Committee announced that it had scheduled a hearing next Wednesday on the best means to protect an open internet. Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said he saw the hearing as an opportunity to hear testimony about his views regarding importance of a free and open internet.

Leahy and Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., each sponsored legislation dubbed the “Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act” in their respective chambers, S. 2476 and H.R. 4880. Their bills would direct the Federal Communications Commission to ban “certain preferential treatment or prioritization of internet traffic.”

“Open Internet rules are the Bill of Rights for the online world,” Leahy said in a statement. “It is crucial that rules are put in place to protect consumers, online innovators, and free speech. Next week’s hearing will build on the discussion the committee started in Vermont. I look forward to hearing from a wide range of stakeholders who can speak firsthand about the impact the FCC’s decision will have on the Internet landscape.”

Significantly, S. 2476 aims to promote open internet approaches without requiring public utility regulation under Title II of the Communications Act.

Popular Websites Stage Online Protest 

On Wednesday, many internet users will come across spinning-wheel icons on their favorite websites.

Organized by activist groups Demand Progress and Fight for the Future, websites such as Reddit, Kickstarter, Vimeo, Foursquare and WordPress are attempting to simulate for their visitors what they believe would be a potential consequence unless stricter net neutrality rules are put in place than those proposed by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in May.

The spinning site-loading icon is only symbolic in nature, as the web sites won’t actually slow their load times. Instead, sites such as BitTorrent, Etsy, Digg, Urban Dictionary, and Netflix will urge their visitors to contact their US policymakers in support of strong net neutrality rules, according to Techhive.

IDG News Service chronicles how this slow lane protest came to be supported by advocacy groups such as the ACLU, the EFF, Engine Advocacy, the Free Press Action Fund, and Common Cause. It comes less than a week prior to the deadline for second-round comments in the FCC’s net neutrality proceedings.

Pelosi Wants Broadband Reclassified 

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. wrote a letter on Tuesday to Wheeler describing her concern that FCC’s current position may lead to discrimination and prioritization of certain online content.

Pelosi referenced January’s D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Verizon v. FCC. Although the ruling upheld the FCC’s authority under which it might use Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as a basis for Wheeler’s current approach, Pelosi said that “the FCC should follow the court’s guidance and reclassify broadband as a Telecommunications Service under Title II of the Communications Act.”

Wheeler’s Remarks at CTIA 

Wheeler spoke to the wireless industry association CTIA on Tuesday at the group’s conference in Las Vegas. Wheeler cited the FCC’s blocking of AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile, as well as his opposition of Sprint’s recent attempt to acquire T-Mobile, as examples of the agency’s street-credibility with broadband voters.

GAO Study Finds that Broadband Data Caps are Causing Customer Confusion and Less Internet Use

in Broadband Data by

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2014 – Internet service providers are adopting more usage-based pricing models and consumers may be using the internet less as a result, according to preliminary results from a Government Accountability Office study. Consumers may also be neglecting benefits of lower-cost models due to confusion over data caps, the report found.

“In the midst of the net neutrality debate, there is a new threat to the free and open Internet and that is usage-based pricing which may include the throttling or slowing down of data speeds, overage fees and the exemption of some online services or applications from data caps,” said Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif, in a statement and official comment to the Federal Communications Commission on the findings. “These new business models have left consumers wondering whether they will have to foot the bill and how much more it will be.”

The data revealed that all four of the wireless ISPs studied have usage-based pricing, offering higher data allowance tiers at higher cost, while three of the thirteen wireline ISPs do the same and impose fees on exceeding data caps.

Seventy seven participants across focus groups of various backgrounds participated. Of these, many adapted to usage-based wireless plans by limiting their online activities, including limiting streaming and changing plans. Wireline participants were much more critical of these usage-based plans, citing the importance of the internet, comfort with unlimited access, and multi-person households with multiple devices.

Great confusion was also expressed by participants over how much data they individually required. Sandvine, an ISP research firm, noted that “the median wireless customer in North America uses 102 MB of data a month, suggesting more consumers could benefit from low-data plans.” As it stands, however, many users are buying well in excess of that number.

“What if streaming Netflix or Amazon videos counted against your monthly allotment of data…but services owned or affiliated with your broadband provider did not? Or imagine having your wireless provider slow down your service, even though you’re paying for an unlimited plan,” Eshoo said in reference to Verizon Communication’s recent announcement that it would throttle down LTE speeds for intense unlimited-plan users on busy networks.

The study mentioned that internet usage may see 30 percent annual growth for wireless data and at least 20 percent for wireline between 2013 and 2018.

Michael Weinberg, vice president of Public Knowledge, applauded Eshoo’s findings saying that “these preliminary results suggest that these [data cap] concerns are very real and that they may ripple across the entire internet…many consumers recognize that data caps are likely to be used by ISPs to increase the cost of their internet access…we hope that both the FCC and Congress begin taking steps to limit the negative impact that data caps can have on the internet.”

Critics at Digital Policy Institute Say Net Neutrality Is a Solution In Search of a Problem

in Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON, July 22, 2014 – As the Federal Communications Commission received more than a million comments on the agency’s push for net neutrality regulations governing the conduct of broadband providers, critics argued on July 15 that net neutrality is a counter-intuitive solution in search of a problem.

Moreover, these critics said, “common carriage” regulation under the Communications Act would actually prohibit broadband providers from engaging in paid discrimination against content providers like proponents claim.

An event hosted by the Digital Policy Institute included Babette Boliek, associate professor of law at Pepperdine University, former FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth, Hal Singer, principal at Economists Incorporated, and Brent Skorup, research fellow at the Mercatus Institute at George Mason University.

Although net neutrality proponents fear internet service providers might block or degrade services they don’t like, Skorup said that such behavior would be bad for business. ISPs concern themselves first and foremost with bringing consumers fast broadband connections. Degrading their platform would be to “shoot themselves in the foot.”

Boliek said she’d like no regulation at all from the Federal Communications Commission. Managing any concerns that ISPs would block or degrade a service like Netflix, “is exactly what antitrust and consumer protection laws would protect you from.” This approach waits to solve a problem until it actually arises.

Hastily slapping net neutrality rules on the internet would raise prices, stifle innovation, reduce quality of internet services in the United States, Furchtgott-Roth said.

There is precedence for less regulated industries outperforming heavily regulated ones, Boliek added.

“It is no surprise that the technology that has had this lighter regulatory touch has enjoyed greater investment, greater information, greater growth, and greater consumer satisfaction,” Boliek said. “This happened  when landlines were still controlled under Title I. Cable, on the other hand, did not have this severe regulation that is Title II. And we know the story of cable and broadband. It has taken off at a greater speed, rate and popularity.”

Mobile is part of the story, too, she said. Initially treated like landlines telephones under Title II, mobile phones were “abysmal,” Boliek said.  “Cell phones did not take off until after those regulations had been lifted.”

The experts at the panel agreed that if regulation is to happen, it’s better to lean toward a “light-handed approach.”

But proponents take the opposite view. Michael Weinberg, vice president at Public Knowledge, said on July 15 that Title II was “the only way to protect a single, open internet.” Democratic senators Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Al Franken of Minnesota, Chuck Schumer of New York, and Ron Wyden of Oregon reinforced their desire for common carriage regulation in a joint letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. They argued that Section 706 of the Telecom Act of 1996 – the provision upon which Wheeler has thus far relied in his efforts to impose net neutrality – was inadequate to meet the requirement that businesses serve everyone.

“Sanctioning paid prioritization would allow discrimination and irrevocably change the internet as we know it,” the senators wrote. “Small businesses, content creators and internet users must not be held hostage by an increasingly consolidated broadband industry. Start-ups should not find themselves unable to get a foot in the door, deterred from making the kind of investments that make the internet the engine for creativity and economic growth we know today. Consumers should not be faced with fewer choices at ever higher prices while ISPs monetize their data and dictate who succeeds and who fails online.”

At the Digital Policy Institute event, economist Singer said that Title II was nothing but harmful.

“Using Title II to solve this problem is the equivalent of using a fire hose in your kitchen to eliminate the risk of a fire,” Singer said. “Certainly, it does the job but the ancillary harm it can cause swamps the benefits, especially if there’s a less invasive remedy that will do the trick.”

While proponents argue that forbearance, or the ability for the FCC to excuse compliance with portions of the regulations, eases concerns about Title II reclassification, Singer said it’s “pretty far-fetched” to assume that every single future commission will “forbear” the same way every time.

Singer did, however, take the more moderate approach that abuses should be judged on a case-by-case basis.

“Title II doesn’t strike the right balance, which is weighing the incentives of the ISPs to invest at the core against the incentives of the content providers to invest at the edges.”

More importantly, Title II “does not do what proponents purport it does” – namely, prevent discrimination, Furchtgott-Roth said. Even under Title II rules, common carriers can still discriminate, albeit in a more diminished capacity.

“It’s hard to believe that Congress intended the old monopoly telephone price regulation to apply to the broadband networks that we have today, which very fast moving [and] dynamic,” he said.

Singer and Furchtgott-Roth questioned whether Wheeler would have the three votes necessary to pass net neutrality rules under either Section 706 or Title II.

Broadband Roundup: Internet Giants on Net Neutrality and FCC’s Rural Broadband Launch

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WASHINGTON, July 14, 2014 – Some of the world’s leading tech giants, represented by a lobbying firm called the Internet Association, have officially filed their petition for net neutrality. The companies include Google, Facebook, Netflix and Amazon, among others.

“The internet’s continued success is not inevitable,” the group wrote. “Broadband internet access providers continue to have the ability and the incentive to clog that virtuous circle.”

While the group took no stance on either Title II public utility regulation under the Communications Act, or the more limited proposed regulation under Section 706 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the group said the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal would undermine “the internet’s level playing field” by allowing paid prioritization.

The deadline for the first round of public comments is Tuesday, July 15, after which responses to those comments will be accepted until Sept. 10. So far, 647, 000 comments have been filed, according to The Verge.

Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote a Facebook post Friday to garner support for Title II reclassification of the internet. In a post, he wrote that Senator Ed Markey, D-Mass., is collecting signatures on a letter pushing regulation under Title II.

“The internet in the 21st Century is as important to our future as highways were in the 20th Century. Like a highway, the internet must remain free and open for all; not determined by the highest bidders. This is vital for jobs, commerce, innovation and a prosperous future for America. The startup industry that has a grown to employ hundreds of thousands of people was enabled by an open internet.”

The FCC also launched rural broadband experiments to ascertain how lower costs can be achieved through its Connect America Fund. Up to $100 million will be available for the experiments, divided into three groups:

  • $75 million to test construction of networks offering service plans providing 25 Megabit per second (Mpbs) downloads and 5 Mbps uploads – far in excess of the current Connect America Fund standard of 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up – for the same or lesser amounts of support than will be offered to carriers in Phase II of the Connect America Fund.
  • $15 million to test interest in delivering service at speeds of 10 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up in high cost areas.
  • $10 million for 10 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up service in areas that are extremely costly to serve.

A competitive bidding process will award funding to cost-effective projects. If successful, the process will be applied more broadly to the Connect America Fund, FCC officials said. The agency said that diverse technologies will also be tested, including fiber and wireless networks, and will be open to non-traditional providers like electric utilities, wireless internet service providers, and more.

Broadband Roundup: Charter Schools Love E-Rate, Kickstarter CEO on ‘Fast Lanes,’ and Broadband Video Quality

in Broadband Data/Broadband Roundup/FCC/Net Neutrality/Universal Service by

WASHINGTON, July 7, 2014 – As the Federal Communications Commission prepares to vote on E-Rate modernization July 11, some educators are “threatening to derail” the process according to The Hill. These educators have criticized Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal for focusing large sums of funding on Wi-Fi while neglecting to increase the overall E-Rate budget.

The commission might not even have the three votes necessary to pass the modernization proposal, The Hill reported.

“There are still some Commissioners who are listening to educators in the field, and we hope their voices ring loudly in next week’s meeting,” said an education advocate opposed to the proposal, according to The Hill.

An analysis from Funds for Learning requested by Education Week also revealed that public charter schools are requesting 79 percent more E-Rate funding per building than traditional public schools are, based on about 21, 000 applications in 2014.

Smaller applicants were shown to have to pay more for their services, “likely due to their inability to tap into the economies of scale that bigger applicants benefit from,” said John Harrington, CEO of Funds for Learning, according to Education Week. “Usually they’re paying higher per-unit prices.”

The Pew Research Center has found that many experts do not have high hopes for the internet’s future. It released a poll surveying 1,400 experts, who said they anticipate the internet becoming more Balkanized, filtered and segmented as a result of actions by nation-states to maintain security and political control.

The poll also showed that experts think trust will disappear in light of government and corporate surveillance.

The experts did also predict that by 2025, the internet will be more accessible, with artificial intelligence and natural language processing making the Internet more useful.

Without net neutrality, Kickstarter might never have existed, CEO Yancey Strickler said in a commentary for the Washington Post. A “fast lane” standard would cause websites that don’t pay extra fees to be buffered to death and unable to execute great ideas well, he added.

“[Fast lanes] would have created enormous logistical and financial hurdles — ones so big they might have shut us down before we got started. But that’s the world that start-ups will be born into if the FCC moves forward with its proposed rules allowing paid prioritization — a system where Internet carriers can charge for access to a fast lane,”  Strickler said.

Google is also going on the offensive via its Youtube channel, blaming internet service providers for recent video buffering on the site, according to Quartz.

In its Video Quality Report, the company claimed that ISPs are responsible for ensuring that congestion doesn’t occur. Google has also followed in Netflix’s footsteps of regularly reporting how well ISPs serve customers. Google’s report is currently available in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Some ISPs have even been labeled as “YouTube HD Verified.”

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