The FCC took a stand back in 2003 saying that Selectable Output Control (SoC) was unnecessary, and could harm consumers. But a recent petition from the MPAA has resulted in a partial waiver, allowing SoC to be implemented in certain circumstances. SoC is an anti-counterfeiting technology that would force digital content to be output only to an HDCP compliant HDMI port.
The FCC will allow SoC to be used only on "high value" content. Specifically, any digital content (i.e. video on demand or streaming) that is not available on DVD or Blu-ray at the time, can be protected with SoC for up to 90 days. The rationale for this is a bit confusing. The FCC statement says, "Consumers simply cannot expect to be able to access something that does not yet exist." In short, the FCC doesn't need to fully protect people with older TVs because the expectation of getting this high value content is not assumed.
What this comes down to is that for owners of older TVs without an HDMI, you may be denied access to some special content that is made available before an official DVD release. Those with newer TVs however, may be able to get pre-release access to upcoming movies. How do you feel about this? Is it a reasonable trade-off, or should the FCC have held firm?
As FCC chair Genachowski moves toward an announcement on future broadband regulations, sources are indicating that he is leaning toward keeping the current system mostly intact. The turnaround comes in the wake of the recent U.S. Court of Appeals decision that the FCC overstepped its autority when it fined Comcast in 2008 for throttling torrent traffic. There were rumors that the FCC would attempt to reclassify broadband providers giving them more regulatory powers, but that course of action has apparently been ruled out.
Instead of an overhaul in regulation, only minor changes would be made. The exact policies were not detailed, but the goal would be to ensure the FCC has some roll in future policy discussions. The whole issue has left the FCC's net neutrality plans up in the air. It is unclear if they will have the clout to push many changes in the current climate.
Where should the FCC go from here? Is it just time to pack it in and get ready for more traffic shaping?
A federal appeals court today ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not have the legal authority to impose strict net neutrality regulations and require ISPs to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic.
Perhaps no one is happier about the ruling than Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, who challenged the FCC's authority to impose net neutrality rules in the first place. And no one is likely more disappointed than current FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, who last October announced plans to begin drafting a formal set of net neutrality rules, despite the fact that Congress hadn't given the agency permission to do so.
There are a lot of implications to the ruling, including what will become of the ginormous national broadband plan the FCC released last month. Some of the initiatives written in the plan would require clear authority to regulate broadband, such as a proposal to expand broadband by tapping into the federal fund that subsidizes telephone service in poor and rural communities, the New York Times reports.
As expected, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today submitted its National Broadband Plan to congress which, among other things, sets out a goal for at least 100 million U.S. homes to have affordable access to at least 100Mbps downstream and 50Mbps upstream speeds within the next decade.
The plan lists out several other goals, such as making 500MHz of spectrum newly available for broadband within the next 10 year, of which 300MHz would be made available for mobile within the next five years; changing the rules ensure a competitive and innovative video set-top box market; give all communities access to 1Gbps service, which would be targeted at hospitals, government buildings, libraries, and schools; and a whole lot more.
"The number of Americans who have broadband at home has grown from eight million 2000 to nearly 200 million last year," the FCC wrote. "But broadband in America is not all it needs to be. Approximately 100 million Americans do not have broadband at home."
The National Broadband Plan lists out a ton of recommendations and mandates, most of which sound expensive. But rather than tap into Joe Taxpayer's wallet, the FCC expects the "vast majority of recommendations [to] not require new government funding," in part because the 500MHz spectrum auction would offset the potential costs.
Read the entire proposal here, then hit the jump and sound off.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is getting plenty serious about the Internet. Besides striking a stance in favor of net neutrality, the FCC feels that the quasi-monopolies that dominate the industry should be more responsive to their customers. And to help you keep an eye on your ISP, the FCC has rolled out www.broadband.gov, which will let you check your broadband speeds.
Yeah, yeah, yeah--this is nothing new. Many of the major ISPs offer something like this, as do a number of independents, like SpeedTest.net But the FCC’s effort is a bit different. The FCC would like you to anonymously provide your address (How can that be anonymous?), which the FCC will use to compile a “Broadband Dead Zone” report. If you feel uncomfortable about ratting out your ISP to the government, just keep in mind your ISP doesn’t share your guilt when it comes to ratting you out.
What’s fun, though, is Marguerite Reardon’s testing of her broadband connection, and her resulting conversation with her ISP, Time Warner Cable. Using both a Dell laptop and an Apple MacBook, she never got close to the 10Mbps download speed Time Warner promises. When asked about this, a Time Warner service rep said 10Mbps wasn’t guaranteed, that speeds “can go up to 10Mbps.” And you know what, he’s right, that’s exactly what Time Warner says on its web site.
Which of course means that Time Warner can just as easily promise speeds up to 100Mbps, while still delivering the sub-7Mbps Reardon was registering. Perhaps it might be a good idea to rat out our ISPs.
In retrospect, 2009 was really the year of the PS3. Sales of the oft maligned console finally began picking up after price drops and the introduction of the PS3 Slim. The continued ascendancy of Blu-Ray certainly didn’t hurt either. Even with all the focus on Sony’s console, they thought they could sneak some new versions through the FCC without anyone knowing. Not so much.
The two new versions are identified by their model numbers: CECH-2101A and CECH-2101B. The current PS3 Slims have model numbers CECH-2001A and B, denoting the 120GB and 250GB versions. So we can be fairly certain that these new models are differentiated by their hard drive size, but what’s changed from the current gen?
The wireless components tested by the FCC seem to be the same. It is possible, though depressing, that Sony may have just tweaked the manufacturing process to save money and slapped a new model number on them. But maybe… just maybe there’s some secret Sony magic under the hood of these new models. We can only hope. What do you think?
Want to ruffle a few feathers in the telecommunications industry? Try telling them to get on the ball and make 100Mbps transmission speeds a reality, and do it by 2020.
That's exactly what the FCC proposed earlier this week, saying it wants broadband providers to up the ante in the next decade and deliver 100Mbps speeds to 100 million homes in that time-frame. As it stands right now, the average U.S. Internet speed is only 4Mbps, so that's quite a gap to fill, and one that many ISPs say is simply unrealistic.
"A 100 meg is just a dream," Qwest Communications International Inc. Chief Executive Edward Mueller told Reuters. "We couldn't afford it."
Mueller went on to say that customers don't want speeds that high, so why bother. He wasn't alone in that sentiment.
"In order to earn a return for investors, you have to be conscious of what consumers will pay. I don't know this is something consumers wil pay for," Piper Jaffray analyst Christopher Larsen said. "It's a nice goal, but it's a little on the over ambitious side."
The folks at Engadget noticed an interesting similarity in an FCC filing that Google made late last week. The filing included details for a new handset that supports 3G on WCDMA Bands I, II, and V, providing the capability to work on AT&T’s network.
The original Nexus One filing listed the FCC ID of the device as NM899100. The new filing had an ID of NM899110. The model ID on the device follows the same one-digit-off scheming. Since there is only a minor change in IDs, it is likely a variant device of the same model. All signs are pointing to a Nexus One that will work off of T-Mobile’s network and fully support 3G speeds.
Right now, you could chalk up $529 and get yourself a Nexus One that is unlocked, which will surely work on other networks. Downside is, that the 3G support within the handset only works with T-Mobile’s network so you're stuck in slow-mo.
The FCC has formally issued their draft net neutrality rules, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is calling foul. The document contains language covering so-called “reasonable network management”. According to the EFF, this creates a loophole that would allow ISPs to block BitTorrent.
The net neutrality debate really took off when in 2007, Comcast began blocking BitTorrent connections. Eventually the FCC forced them to stop, but Comcast is still appealing the decision. This copyright loophole in the draft could be used by content producers to encourage ISPs to enforce copyright law. In fact, the EFF claims the exact behavior that got Comcast in hot water, and kicked off the debate could be perfectly acceptable under the proposed regulations.
It may not be feasible for the FCC to be intimately involved in every aspect of an ISP’s network management. What’s the solution? Can they just require protocol agnostic management?
The RIAA, which represents the recording industry, was born out of frustration and anger over the loss of control of content. It’s not, to put it simply, a happy camper, and probably never will. Anything and everything the RIAA perceives as bad for the recording industry is something else for the RIAA to rail against, no matter how good that something might be for the rest of us. The RIAA is now on the warpath against net neutrality. It seems that net neutrality limits the ability of ISPs to act as its brownshirts in the RIAA's war against file sharing. So net neutrality, according to the RIAA, has gotta go.
In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the RIAA is arguing that the adoption of strict net neutrality rules will limit the ability of ISPs to flexibly address illegal online file sharing. According to the RIAA, “ISPs are in a unique position to limit online theft. They control the facilities over which infringement takes place and are singularly positioned to address it at the source. Without ISP participation, it is extremely difficult to develop an effective prevention approach.”
It seems the RIAA has given up trying to sue the pants of everybody who shares files and wants ISPs to now do their dirty work. But net neutrality makes this impossible. ISPs would be limited in blocking illegal file sharing, which the RIAA wants ISPs to be actively encouraged to do.
Some large ISPs are not too keen on becoming the lapdog of the RIAA. They’ve already rejected the RIAA’s request to disconnect subscribers after three copyright violations. Rather than pander after the ISPs, the RIAA is looking to have the FCC compel the ISPs to fall into line, and police their networks for illegal file sharing.
There are others, such as Public Knowledge, the Consumer Electronics Association, and the Electric Frontier Foundation, who are opposed to the RIAA’s position. They say the FCC should keep its nose out of copyright enforcement, and so too should ISPs. Snooping or limiting service interferes with legitimate, and legal, network activity. According to them ISPs are "poorly placed to determine whether or not transfers of content are infringing or otherwise unlawful, a task generally reserved to attorneys, courts, and law enforcement.” In other words, let the RIAA do its own dirty work.