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Posts under tag: net neutrality

February 19, 2016

FCC votes to unlock the cable box

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The Federal Communications Commission today approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that seeks to give consumers more choices in the set-top boxes they use to watch cable TV. This will commence the months-long public comment period leading up to a final vote likely later this year.

The FCC is trying to create a software-based replacement for CableCARD (originally a PC Card device for computers but has since expanded to mean any device that uses it, like digital cable boxes, etc.) Theoretically, customers could watch their TV channels on various devices without needing to rent a set-top box from their service provider nor purchase any equipment.

This proposal has been contested not surprisingly by cable companies. Critics say that it would force cable companies to create new set-top boxes to then charge customers for renting these new devices. FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, clarified the proposal to dispel those concerns:

“There is nothing in here that allows third parties to disaggregate cable content or sell advertising around it… It takes the same system that goes to the cable box today with the same structures and moves it through a different box requiring the same structures. As a result, existing copyrights and programming agreements are unaffected, consumer privacy is protected, emergency alerts are passed through and child protection laws are unaffected. Nothing in this proposal slows down or stops cable innovation.”

Pay-TV companies would have two full years to comply. There are no new standards being codified either–Wheeler recommends that the information streams “be available to the creators of competitive solutions using any published, transparent format that conforms to specifications set by an independent, open standards body…in compliance with [what] Congress [has already] mandated [in the 1996 Telecommunications Act] that consumers should have a choice.”

For more on this topic, check out this article from Ars Technica.

February 26, 2015

Update on the FCC’s Net Neutrality push

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CNET.com reported that in a 3-2 vote the FCC will bring broadband internet under utility-style rules. This means internet service providers can no longer push for data “fast-lanes” or give certain data sources preferential bandwidth. The key piece of the new regulation is centered around the Title II telecommunications regulations in the 1934 Communications Act. Having the Internet classified as such will give the FCC the ability to enforce the fairness provision. The push for Net Neutrality is not over yet however–once the new rules are published within the Federal Register, it is expected that some of the larger telecom companies, like AT&T, will sue due to the increased regulation on their offerings.

For more information, check out this article from CNET.com

CNET also has an article timeline of the events on this issue that can be found here.

February 4, 2015

Net Neutrality: Internet as an utility

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FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, wrote a guest article on Wired.com regarding net neutrality and his push for having the Internet as an utility. Below is an excerpt from his statement.

After more than a decade of debate and a record-setting proceeding that attracted nearly 4 million public comments, the time to settle the Net Neutrality question has arrived. This week, I will circulate to the members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed new rules to preserve the internet as an open platform for innovation and free expression. This proposal is rooted in long-standing regulatory principles, marketplace experience, and public input received over the last several months.

Broadband network operators have an understandable motivation to manage their network to maximize their business interests. But their actions may not always be optimal for network users. The Congress gave the FCC broad authority to update its rules to reflect changes in technology and marketplace behavior in a way that protects consumers. Over the years, the Commission has used this authority to the public’s great benefit.

For more, check out the rest of this article at Wired.com

October 31, 2014

FCC considering hybrid approach to ISP reclassification

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Ars Technica is reporting that the head of the Federal Communications Commission is close to proposing a “hybrid approach” to net neutrality in which Internet service providers (ISPs) would be partially reclassified as common carriers. Under this proposal, broadband service that ISPs offer to consumers would be maintained as a lightly regulated information service. ISPs would serve as the conduit for websites to distribute content while also classifying them as a common carrier to police deals between ISPs and content providers. This proposal–that would still allow ISPs to charge premium rates on bandwidth speeds–has received mixed support from advocacy groups and providers alike.

For more information, check out this article on Ars Technica.

To learn more about net neutrailty, check out this article from the New York Times.