Politico reports that the Federal Communications Commission is drafting a proposal to extend the Lifeline mobile phone program (often referred to by some as the "Obamaphone" program, despite the fact it was around long before he took office) to cover broadband Internet for the poor.
A new report from the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union (ITU) predicts that an estimated 3.2 billion people of the world's 7.2 billion people will be online by the end of 2015. About 2 billion of those people using the Internet will be in the developing world, but only 89 million will be in countries such as Somalia and Nepal.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced that his administration will invest $70 million to bring high speed internet access to the underserved parts of the city. An estimated 22 percent of residents in the city don't have access to Internet at home - and that number climbs to 36 percent in the poorer neighborhoods.
The Washington Post is reporting that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is expected to move forward with a plan to create a draft decision that would intervene on behalf of municipalities in Tennessee and North Carolina that have had their broadband network building efforts stymied by state laws. These laws, mostly backed by lobbyists in the telecoms industry, limit Internet access operated and sold by cities.
President Obama didn't make any new friends working for broadband service providers or on the Republican-leaning side of the FCC this week when he gave a full-throated endorsement of broadband networks run by cities and towns in the United States. Besides heaping praise on successful broadband networks being run in major cities throughout the U.S., the president said that he would encourage the FCC to fight against state laws in 19 states that practically ban cities and towns from creating and operating broadband public utilities of their own.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said last month that, given the chance, he would take the opportunity to closely examine state laws that prevent communities from owning their own broadband. Now with two complaints filed with the FCC from North Carolina and Kentucky, the FCC has decided to ask the public what it should do with a public comment period.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) received two petitions this week asking the federal agency to overturn state laws that specifically limit or ban broadband built and operated by municipalities. One of the petitions is from the city of Wilson, North Carolina and the other from the EPB of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
In June FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said that something had to be done about these kinds of laws; there are currently 20 states that have passed laws limiting or prohibiting broadband networks run by cities and towns.
New guidelines from Ofcom (the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries) will make switching from one superfast broadband supplier to another less expensive. Prior to changes in the rules, when a consumer switched from BT's Openreach (the company that controls BT's phone and broadband infrastructure) the new ISP would be hit with a £50 connection fee. This fee was typically passed on to the consumer.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says that state laws seeking to stop community-run broadband initiatives have to be dealt with, but he has not said how the agency plans to take on the thorny issue. In at least 20 states there are already legal restriction in place to thwart municipal broadband networks. Many of these laws or regulations were put in place with the help of campaign cash from ISPs, telecom companies (both regional and national) and trade groups representing these industries.
AT&T says that it would be happy to expand its broadband fiber infrastructure throughout the country... if the government agencies like the FCC and the Justice Department approve its proposed merger with satellite TV provider DirecTV. AT&T recently name checked 100 municipalities in 21 metropolitan areas where it "might" bring its fiber-to-the-home network, GigaPower service. The company did not say just how many customers might be served under this attentive plan to expand its network. The service offers up to 1Gbps download speeds.
Last month the lobbying group for various broadband providers that do business in the state of Kansas tried to ram a bill through the state legislature that would ban municipalities and towns from building their own broadband infrastructure. Today we have learned the fate of that effort via Ars Technica, and its good news for communities in the state that are desperate to have access to a decent broadband network.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has put the brakes on a plan by AT&T to raise prices for "special access" customers, which could have led to a rate hike to businesses and cell phone users. AT&T had planned to make that hike happen today, but the FCC stepped in and suspended the action for five months while it conducts an investigation on the matter.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is rolling out a broadband speed test app for Android phones beginning this week, with plans for an iOS version sometime later down the road. The app was announced at the Nov. 14 meeting, which was the first under the agency's new chairman Tom Wheeler.
"If we are going to be making fact-based decisions, we need facts," said Wheeler, "and you are enlisting the American people for those facts."
The Denver Post has an interesting story on Colorado Senate Bill 287, which was introduced Monday and passed out of committee on Wednesday. Apparently this "bipartisan effort" to "connect rural Colorado to broadband Internet service" scares the hell out of Colorado carriers and technology companies in the State.
Under a new proposal put forward this week as part of the European Union’s Digital Agenda for Europe, all member states would offer a minimum level of 30Mbps broadband to everybody by the year 2020. One of the roadblocks to this lofty goal seems to be a lack of funding; last month over $9 billion earmarked for broadband deployment was cut from the EU budget. Despite this major setback, EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes is still pushing for hitting that 2020 target.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) confirmed a story that had been circulating the internet over the last 24 hours: that Chairman Julius Genachowski will be leaving his position "in the coming weeks." Genachowski pushed hard for universal broadband and net neutrality but with limited success.
If you need a laugh to end your Friday on then this story over at The Verge will probably do the trick. In it a Time Warner Cable executive responded to a question about Google's impressive broadband speeds on its new Kansas City broadband fiber network by saying that its customers don't want the blazingly fast speeds that a gigabit internet could provide. Wait, what?
If a town or city wants to have their own broadband infrastructure, they should be able to build it as long as it doesn't cost the state it is in taxpayer dollars. But there's a quiet movement - a greasing of the wheels, if you like - to put a stop to that by telcos and low-end broadband providers that rely on old infrastructure. The latest state to try and legislate limits on what towns and cities can do to improve broadband is in Georgia, where state lawmakers have introduced Georgia House Bill 282, or "the Municipal Broadband Investment Act."
Germany's highest court has ruled that Internet is such an important part of modern everyday life that when someone gets cut off from it they deserve some sort of compensation. The German high court made this determination based on a case involving a German citizen who was disconnected from his DSL line in 2008 because of some unspecified technical error. The citizen was offline for two months and he was angry enough about it to sue the ISP for his expenses (he used his mobile phone instead of his wireline VoIP service) as well as €50 ($67) per day because he had no connection.
On January 18, 2012 something amazing happened: the Internet community, advocacy groups, internet personalities, popular websites, and even some brave politicians banded together to send a message to lawmakers and special interests that backed the poorly crafted SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) legislation.
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the United Nations committee that oversees global telecommunications treaties and laws will meet in Dubai from December 3-14. The organization is already taking heat for some of the proposals it wants to push that seem to limit free speech and take control away from the independent organizations (based in the U.S.) that handle the everyday workings of the Internet.
The lead lobbyist for Comcast freely admits that he used the promise of a new low-cost internet service for poor people as leverage against the FCC when the company was seeking to merge with NBC Universal in 2009. The news comes from a Washington Post profile DC lobbyist David Cohen, who has led Comcast's policy and lobbying efforts in the capital for over a decade.
Speaking at the Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam on Wednesday, Eidos Life President Ian Livingstone said that broadband bottlenecks around the world are slowing down the game industry's transition from the physical to the digital world, and urged telecommunications companies to build more broadband infrastructure.
"What we need is super-speed broadband,″ said Livingstone. "You're kind of holding us back in many respects."
Is your broadband service provider throttling your connection because you hit a data cap or are you just being paranoid and unreasonable when your connection's bandwidth seems to slow down dramatically? According to this GIGA OM report, more than 64 percent of broadband subscribers in the U.S. have a cap on data usage.
The Declaration of Internet Freedom may not be getting as much national attention as it should from the mainstream media (despite several members of Congress and the Senate strongly and publicly supporting it), but Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian (who also had a hand in helping draft the document) has some plans to get it noticed by the general public.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has to do more to police and ensure mobile and broadband competition across the country, said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski in a speech earlier this week.
He also said that the agency must resist calls for various corners of government and the private sector to eliminate or phase out regulation of broadband and mobile carriers.
"Competition is the lifeblood of our free-market economy, driving private investment, innovation and consumer value," he said. "The more competition, the less need for regulation."