Let’s assume for the sake of argument that former cable lobbyist and current Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler isn’t a cynical shill for big business and is being completely sincere in his latest blog post about “finding the best path forward” in “defending” the open Internet. I begin with this premise because even if we take Wheeler’s statements at face value, he’s still showing a completely wrong-headed approach to regulation that I’ve long found disconcerting ever since I read his take on why AT&T should have been allowed to buy T-Mobile. More →
A few days ago, we wrote about how you can save the Internet. The Federal Communications Commission has taken a great deal of heat over its new net neutrality proposal, which many argue is designed specifically to ensure that Internet service in the United States is not neutral. If that accurately describes your position on the matter, there are a few things you can do. More →
Net neutrality died back in January of this year when a U.S. Appeals Court struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s 2010 order imposing certain regulations on wireline broadband service providers. People across the country were infuriated, and rightfully so. But news emerged earlier this week suggesting that the Federal Communications Commission would once again try to instate a new set of regulations to help keep a level playing field on the Web.
As it promised to do earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission is planning to introduce new net neutrality rules that it will unveil next month. Re/code reports that FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said on Wednesday that the commission would have new draft rules ready for its May 15th meeting, which means that we’ll get our first look at them in around three weeks. More →
The nightmare of in-flight phone calls is one step closer to becoming a reality. The Wall Street Journal reports that the FCC has voted 3-2 to end its long-standing ban on airborne calls, which seemingly means that at least one commission member had a change of heart during the voting process since earlier reports questioned whether there would be enough votes to pass the proposal. That’s not the end of the story though — before the FCC had a chance to make its decision, the Department of Transportation announced that it would be seeking to issue its own ban on in-flight calls if the measure were to pass. More →
When the Federal Aviation Administration this year announced plans to lift restrictions on the in-flight use of personal electronics, many people cheered. But when word got out that the FAA and the Federal Communications Commission were also considering allowing cell phone calls during flights, many of those cheers turned to loud boos. The Washington Post reports that FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is insisting that the plan to ease restrictions on in-flight calls is a good idea even as he acknowledges its potential shortcomings. More →
Your flights may soon get a whole lot louder. The Wall Street Journal reports that just weeks after the Federal Aviation Administration eliminated electronics restrictions from flights, the FCC is now planning to propose that passengers be allowed to use their cell phones in the air. Cellular data would still need to be disabled during takeoff and landing, but after the plane reaches 10,000 feet, passengers would be free to make phone calls. More →
You can’t go an hour without hearing an ad from wireless carriers about how they have the fastest, biggest or best 4G network, but do you really have a way to test their claims? Per The Wall Street Journal, the Federal Communications Commission this week unveiled its new FCC Speed Test mobile app designed to measure speeds of wireless carriers’ mobile networks. The FCC will collect data from everyone who uses the app to make a big database showing which carriers offer the best speeds and most consistent service in different areas. The FCC unveiled a similar program for fixed broadband services back in 2011 that it has used to keep ISPs honest by comparing their advertised speeds to what they actually deliver. Android users can download the FCC’s app from the Google Play store here.
At the risk of stating the obvious, the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission thinks that it should be legal to unlock your cell phone. Ars Technica reports that new FCC chairman Tom Wheeler told the Senate Commerce Committee during his nomination hearing this week that he would like to see the current ban on unlocking cell phones overturned. What’s more, he criticized the Library of Congress’s decision last fall to deny consumers the right to unlock their phones and bring them to different carriers and said it was an example of overreach. More →
When I first learned that President Obama had nominated the former president of CTIA and the National Cable Television Association to be the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, my stomach turned: If there’s one thing that this country doesn’t need, it’s yet another former lobbyist appointed to a high position in the United States federal government. But after my initial gag reflex wore off, I found myself intrigued by the reaction from many activists whom I’d expected to slam the pick — Public Knowledge CEO Gigi Sohn, for instance, said that Wheeler was likely to champion “strong open Internet requirements, robust broadband competition, affordable broadband access for all Americans, diversity of voices and serious consumer protections, all backed by vigorous agency enforcement.” And Ars Technica notes that Cardozo School of Law professor Susan Crawford, who has long been a fierce critic of the cable industry, has also endorsed the nomination. More →
The chances that the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission will investigate ISPs’ use of bandwidth caps now seem decidedly slim. Unnamed sources have told The Wall Street Journal that President Barack Obama is poised to nominate Tom Wheeler, a venture capitalist and “former top lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries” to serve as chairman of the FCC. The Journal notes that Wheeler in the past has signaled that he would have been willing to approve the now-dead merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, which puts him at odds with outgoing FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, who was instrumental in blocking the AT&T-T-Mobile deal. Obama is expected to make the announcement as soon as Wednesday, the Journal reports.
Data caps for home broadband services have been one of the less popular innovations ISPs have rolled out over the past couple of years and now one activist group is demanding that the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission conduct a formal investigation into ISPs’ practice of capping how much data their customers can consume per month. The group, which is sponsored by Public Knowledge and includes representatives from the National Film Society and several online content creators, has launched a new website called “Don’t Cap That” that urges lawmakers to “insist that the next FCC Chair commit to making a detailed examination of data caps a priority during his or her tenure.” The group says that it opposes broadband data caps because they are “an easy way for existing pay television providers to make their online video competitors less attractive to viewers” and that it wants the next FCC chairman to “recognize the threat that data caps pose to the future growth of the internet, and to the growth of online video specifically.”