Netflix sheds light on circumstances that lead to 'interconnection' deal with Comcast
Currently undergoing regulatory review, the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable isn’t something Netflix is excited about. The Los Gatos, California-based company views the deal as a potential threat to online video distributors (OVDs), according to the “Petition to Deny” it recently filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Verizon's decision to throttle data for certain users grandfathered in to the company's older unlimited data plans has drawn the ire of the Federal Communications Commission. In an open letter, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler tells Verizon that he is "deeply troubled" by its recent announcement and finds it "disturbing" that the wireless carrier would try to take advantage of a loophole to bring in more money.
The Federal Communications Commission has voted in favor to release the “fast lanes” proposal, and open it up for public comment, that would allow ISP providers, such as Comcast, to charge web sites, for example Netflix, an additional fee to prioritize traffic. The plan was approved Thursday in a three-to-two vote to open up debate on the proposed changes to the net neutrality rules.
NeoCities slows the FCC's Internet connection down to dial-up speeds
There's a lot of back and forth going on in regards to net neutrality and new rules proposed by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler, who also happens to be a former lobbyist for cable and wireless companies. To show its opposition to the proposal, which is scheduled for a vote on May 15, 2014, web host NeoCities managed to throttle the FCC's connection to its website down to dial-up era speeds.
Comcast, the nation's largest cable TV operator, has settled a complaint brought forth by federal regulators for failing to comply with certain conditions of its NBCUniversal acquisition. As part of the settlement, Comcast will fork over an $800,000 voluntary contribution to the U.S. Treasury and offer broadband Internet access as standalone service "at reasonable prices and with sufficient bandwidth" without requiring a subscription to cable video service.
Google's market capital is over $200 billion, and shares of the search giant sell for about $625 a pop. Why is this relevant? Well, let's just say that a $25,000 fine wouldn't exactly be painful to Google. In fact, it would barely register as a prick, yet it's the amount the Federal Trade Commission is seeking after accusing the sultan of search of acting like one, or more specifically, for 'impeding' an investigation into how it collects personal and private data, including emails and text messages, through its Street View service.
It's not quite as cheap as NetZero's short-lived free dial-up service that was popular in the late 1990s and completely supported by ads, but the FCC's plan to bring affordable broadband service to low income families is a whole lot faster, and ironically enough is even less expensive than NetZero's current "accelerated" dial-up service, which runs $14.95 a month.
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.
Verizon recently changed its policies regarding ETFs--it doubled them for new customers who opt for smartphones. Makes sense, given that Verizon’s initial subsidy of smartphones is greater--if a customer bails before their agreement is up Verizon would like to get its money back. David Pogue, at The New York Times, does the math and figures that at the end of a two-year contract there’s still $110 left on the ETF. He asks the obvious question: “Shouldn’t the fee go down to zero at the end of your contract?”
The FCC wants to know just how much information Verizon is divulging to new smartphone customers about the ETF: how it’s calculated; how much will be due at the end of the contract; and how can it be avoided. The FCC also wants clarification on how the ETF is prorated. Like Pogue they are curious about why any fee should remain at the end of a contract.
Verizon’s “Wireless Mobile Web” is also under scrutiny. Verizon hardwires access to its mobile wireless service to a phone button. Can’t be changed. Can’t be disabled. Users accidentally pressing the button wind up with a $1.99 charge on their monthly bill--even if they cancel the mobile web request immediately. Pogue relates from a Verizon insider that Verizon’s phones are designed with this ‘feature,’ and that some 87 million customers each month will accidentally hit the mobile web key. A little more math from Pogue reveals that to be $300 million per month of revenue from a simple mistake.
Like with ETFs, the FCC wants to know how Verizon’s mobile web service; how much information is given to customers about the service; what protections they receive; and why the heck can’t customers reprogram their phones to prevent this.