Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 21, 2014

Posts in "Broadband"

December 19, 2014

Weekly Wrapup: Sony Pictures, CFPB Sues Sprint, and Senate GOP Rosters Change

Holiday vacations are fast-approaching for many, but before you jet off, here’s a roundup of some news and Technocrat posts this week.

  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that it has determined that North Korea was behind the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.
  • President Barack Obama said Sony Pictures had “made a mistake” in pulling the movie “The Interview.”
  • The White House’s announcement on Cuba included allowing commercial export of some communications devices and allowing telecommunications companies to establish infrastructure in Cuba so they can provide service.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sued Sprint, alleging the company billed wireless customers for unauthorized third-party charges over a roughly 10-year period.
  • There are some changes in store for the Republican rosters on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and the Judiciary Committee .
  • A group of 36 Democrats in the House and Senate wrote to Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler, saying it’s “time for action” on net neutrality rules.
  • The Senate confirmed FCC commissioner Michael O’Rielly for a full five-year term that started July 1, 2014.
  • Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., wasn’t satisfied with Uber’s response to his letter where he raised privacy concerns.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it has an app to help the tipsy find a ride home.

December 17, 2014

Report Looks at Broadband Competition at Different Speeds

ESA Report 445x296 Report Looks at Broadband Competition at Different Speeds

(Source: Commerce Department Economics and Statistics Administration)

While consumers have multiple Internet service providers to choose from at lower broadband speeds, “this number dwindles at higher speeds,” according to a new report by the Commerce Department’s Economics and Statistics Administration

The report was based on data from the Census Bureau and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Full story

By Anne L. Kim Posted at 12:49 p.m.

December 12, 2014

Weekly Wrapup: E-Rate Funding Cap Increase, Internet Tax Moratorium and IP Nominees

Among the happenings this week: the Federal Communications Commission increased the funding cap on the E-Rate program, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on intellectual property nominees, and the spending package to fund the federal government includes provisions such as an extension of the Internet tax moratorium.

  • The House passed a spending package to fund the federal government that includes an extension of the Internet tax moratorium through Oct. 1, 2015. It also includes a provision that would block the National Telecommunications and Information Administration from relinquishing its responsibilities over Internet domain names and other domain functions. The NTIA wants to shift those duties to organizations with a stake in the Internet, but Republicans have opposed the change. The Senate’s now considering the package.
  • The Federal Communications Commission approved a measure that would raise by $1.5 billion the funding cap for the E-Rate program that helps schools and libraries pay for Internet access. And since the program’s supported by Universal Service Fund fees, consumers will see up to $1.90 in additional fees on their phone bills each year.
  • Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, who is expected to be the next chairman of the Judiciary Committee, made clear that the nominations of Michelle K. Lee to be director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Daniel H. Marti to be the White House’s intellectual property enforcement coordinator, wouldn’t advance in the 113th Congress, since there wasn’t enough time. But he also indicated that the nominations might be acted on early in the next Congress.
  • Technocrat had a Q&A with University of North Carolina law professor William P. Marshall about the Supreme Court case involving violent comments made on Facebook. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
  • The Telecommunications Industry Association organized a letter to FCC commissioners and House and Senate leaders opposing proposals to reclassify broadband as a common carrier as part of the FCC’s rewrite of net neutrality rules. Sixty companies signed on including IBM, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Cisco, and dLink.
  • BSA | The Software Alliance released a survey of roughly 1,500 business owners and decision makers in the U.S. and Europe on data analytics and among its U.S. findings: While 33 percent thought more than 10 percent of their company’s growth will be related to data analytics this year, 58 percent thought the same looking five years from now.

December 11, 2014

FCC Approves $1.5 Billion E-Rate Funding Cap Increase

The Federal Communications Commission approved a measure Thursday that will raise by $1.5 billion the funding cap for a program, known as E-Rate, that helps schools and libraries pay for Internet access. And since the program’s paid for through Universal  Service Fund fees consumers see on their telephone bills, that will translate to up to $1.90 in additional fees on your phone bill each year.

CQ Roll Call’s Carolyn Phenicie reports that commissioners approved the measure in a party line vote of 3-2.

The measure raises the program’s funding cap from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion.

Phenicie reports (subscription):

The order also makes a few other changes, including allowing schools and libraries to pay large upfront construction costs over multiple years, permitting program applicants to build high-speed broadband facilities themselves when doing so would be cost-effective and matching state support for “last-mile” broadband with up to 10 percent of construction costs.

As background, Phenicie writes that the “proposals come on the heels of changes made this summer to phase-out funding for outdated technology such as pagers and allow more funding to be put toward the physical connections needed to expand wireless connections.”

According to Phenicie, net neutrality protesters interrupted the meeting several times, including by a pair of protesters who ran behind the commissioners holding a banner that said “reclassify now,” referring to calls for the agency to reclassify broadband as a common carrier in rewriting net neutrality rules:

“This is what the presidents wants, this is what the people want. We deserve to have the net kept neutral,” they said. They also apologized for interrupting the meeting. Chairman Tom Wheeler addressed a group of students in the audience, “You’ve just seen the First Amendment at work. This is what this country is all about.”

December 5, 2014

Weekly Wrapup: Sports Blackouts, Intellectual Property Panel Chairman, Orion Test Flight

A Senate hearing on sports blackouts, the announcement of the next chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee with jurisdiction over intellectual property issues and NASA’s Orion crew capsule’s first flight into space was among the news this week.

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on sports blackouts and CQ Roll Call’s Rob Margetta reported (subscription) that senators and the National Football League exchanged threats over the issue.
  • A coalition of groups and companies, called the Stop Mega Comcast Coalition, opposing the Comcast Time-Warner merger was announced. The coalition includes satellite television provider Dish Network, Public Knowledge, Writers Guild of America, West, and NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, and others.
  • House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., announced Darrell Issa, R-Calif., as chairman of the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Subcommittee.
  • NASA’s Orion crew vehicle had its test flight which the Wall Street Journal described as “virtually flawless.” Technocrat had a preview here.
  • The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Pennsylvania resident Anthony Elonis, who was convicted in 2010 of a felony for making violent comments on Facebook and Technocrat had a roundup here.
  • Technocrat reported that Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.,  said there was “such potential for conflicting regulatory directives” from agencies when it comes to the Internet of Things and that the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee had a responsibility to “really look at the big picture and ensure that agencies aren’t conflicting with each other, that what is being done makes sense and… allows for future innovation that we can’t even anticipate right now.”

December 2, 2014

GAO Wants FCC to Track Usage-Based Pricing by Home Internet Service Providers

The Government Accountability Office has two recommendations for the Federal Communications Commission when it comes to usage-based pricing by Internet service providers: work with home Internet service providers to develop a voluntary code of conduct to help consumers understand their data usage and track home Internet service providers use of these types of plans and how they affect consumers, using data the agency already collects.

In its final report released Tuesday, the GAO looked at data plans offered by the top 13 home Internet service providers and top four mobile Internet service providers.  Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., who requested the report, released the GAO’s preliminary findings earlier this year, which found that seven of the 13 home Internet service providers implement usage-based pricing in some way and also included findings on consumer reactions to usage-based pricing in both the mobile and fixed contexts.

Full story

November 17, 2014

The Week Ahead: Sports Blackouts, Intellectual Property and Smart Phone Encryption

It’s a busy week in Washington with several congressional hearings including one on sports blackouts and events on intellectual property and smart phone encryption.

Full story

November 7, 2014

Weekly Wrapup: Elections, FTC and Patent Assertion Entities and More

News from this week includes the mid-term elections, of course, and a Federal Trade Commission settlement with a patent assertion entity. Technocrat had some election and 114th Congress-related posts and we also covered a panel discussion on issues like revenge porn and the law.

Full story

October 24, 2014

Weekly Wrapup: Spectrum Incentive Auction, ECPA & Online Sales Tax Bill

Among some of the news in tech policy this week: the Federal Communications Commission announced a delay of the spectrum incentive auction as well as a pause on its 180-day review of the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable and AT&T-DirecTV transactions. In case you missed it, Technocrat had posts on Sen. Orrin G. Hatch‘s call for enactment of legislation targeting abusive patent litigation and changes to electronic privacy law next Congress as well as the state of play on the online sales tax bill.

Full story

Friday Q&A: Next Century Cities’ Deb Socia

socia.pic .fall2013.zoom  445x333 Friday Q&A: Next Century Cities Deb Socia

(Photo courtesy of Deb Socia)

A new organization called Next Century Cities launched this week and among its 32 members are Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C., which have petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to pre-empt laws in their states that they contend restrict their expansion of municipal broadband.

Technocrat talked to the group’s executive director Deb Socia about what it does and if it has a position on the matter of municipal broadband.

Full story

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