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Trump To Nominate A Democrat For FCC

President Donald Trump plans to nominate Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel for another term on the Federal Communications Commission.

Rosenworcel had to leave the commission at the end of 2016 when the Republican-led US Senate refused to reconfirm her for a second five-year term. The departure of Rosenworcel and former Chairman Tom Wheeler left the FCC with just three out of the typical five members, with Republicans holding a 2-1 majority. Republican senators didn’t want Rosenworcel to stay on the FCC at the time because it would have resulted in a 2-2 deadlock. Commissioners are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. But no party can have more than a one-vote majority, so Trump has to nominate a Democrat and a Republican to fill the empty seats. When a president needs to nominate a commissioner from the opposing party, he takes suggestions from the opposing party’s leadership. Senate Democrats backed Rosenworcel for a return to the FCC, so Trump appears to be following longstanding tradition by nominating her.

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FCC Reversing Cell Phone Use propsal

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Internet Privacy & The Senate

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In a party-line 50-48 vote Thursday, senators approved a resolution to undo sweeping privacy rules adopted by the Obama-era Federal Communications Commission. If it becomes law, it would also prevent the FCC from setting similar rules again.

The rules have not gone into effect, however ISPs must tell consumers what information is being collected and how it is being used or shared. The rules require ISPs in some cases to get users’ explicit consent, for example to sell information such as geo location or browsing history for advertising.

Republicans in Congress and at the FCC have objected to these rules, passed by the Democratic majority at the FCC in October. They have argued with major cable and telcom companies,that the rules put ISPs on unequal footing with other major data-collecting companies like Google or Facebook, which are overseen instead by the Federal Trade Commission.

Senators Ask FCC To Investigate High Cable Prices

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Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have asked the Federal Communications Commission to investigate big cable and broadband providers for pushing consumers to pay “ridiculous prices” for services.

Addressed to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the senators wrote that due to a number of mega-mergers, only 37 percent of Americans “have more than one option for high-speed broadband providers.” The limited options means that companies are able “to charge ridiculous prices and add hidden fees. Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Al Franken, D-Minn., also joined Sanders and Warren in writing the letter.

The FCC is required to keep track of how much telecommunications firms charge consumers, the senators requested that Wheeler hand over the information regarding how much Americans pay on average for Internet and cable services, including averages based on state and company. The senators also want to know how much urban Americans pay compared to rural Americans. Sanders said that “Currently, America ranks 25th worldwide for broadband speed, and we pay more for poorer quality broadband than customers in Slovakia Estonia, South Korea, and the U.K.”

The letter comes at a time when the FCC is considering the merger between Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications, which the senators say would only exacerbate the problem. Recent increases in the price of Time Warner services indicates that the company is already insulated from normal market pressures, the senators say. They cited Time Warner’s modem rental charges increasing by 203 percent since they were introduced in 2012.

FCC Set To Pass Rules For The Internet

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The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to approve strong net neutrality rules this week, setting up an awkward hurdle for court battles

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, is determined to preserve an open online information highway and wants  to govern utilities like phone companies. Wheeler’s proposal is opposed by AT&T Inc., Comcast Corp. and other providers, which want as little government involvement as possible. It’s supported by the likes of video streamer Netflix Inc., which fear that without federal intervention, Internet service providers could pick winners and losers by manipulating how traffic flows over their networks.

Wheeler, a Democrat, is expected to prevail on Feb. 26 at the agency, where his party is in the majority. The vote would move the issue from the political stage, with 4 million people writing to the FCC and President Barack Obama calling for strong rules, to the judicial arena.

Kevin Werbach, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and a former FCC official says “Both sides will tell you it’s a legal slam dunk and “I don’t think it’s a slam dunk for either side.”

In 2002, during the administration of President George W. Bush, the FCC concluded that Internet service delivered by cable companies was an information service — a legal description allowing only light regulation. Wheeler wants to reverse that decision by deeming broadband a telecommunications service under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, which establishes a set of rules for utility telecommunications services.

Wheeler says the FCC isn’t seeking to regulate the prices broadband providers charge, as it does with phone companies. He does want to keep the providers from charging some Web companies extra for so-called fast lanes and to forbid blocking or interfering with subscribers’ Internet traffic.

His strategy of reclassifying the service providers stems from a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington last year that voided FCC open-Internet rules. Judges said the agency improperly treated Verizon Communications Inc. as if it were a utility — something the FCC couldn’t do because of its 2002 ruling. By formally classifying Internet service as a utility now, Wheeler hopes to shore up the legal foundation that the court found to be lacking.

Harold Feld, vice president of the policy group Public Knowledge, which supports Wheeler’s proposal, said he’s optimistic the agency will prevail in court even though it is reversing itself.

The argument revolves around which of two legal terms best describes the Internet.Telecommunications service refers to transmitting data without changing its form or content. An information service has the ability to generate, store and change information. Apps and websites are examples of information services, according to the group Free Press, an advocate of strong net neutrality rules.

Broadband services fall squarely within the definition of information services, just as they did in 2002, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, a trade group, told the FCC in a filing. Broadband providers retrieve and process information, performing functions such as caching content and detecting malware, the group said.

According to Feld, broadband subscribers simply use the providers as conduits to reach independent information providers of their choice. Cable companies, which have sought higher fees from high-volume users such as Netflix, are expected to join a lawsuit seeking to overturn the rules.

“It’s just too dramatic” a change from earlier rules, said Michael Powell, who as Republican FCC chairman led the agency to its 2002 decision. Powell, president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, spoke in an interview on C-SPAN television.

Werbach, the law professor, said the FCC’s expected action guarantees a strong legal challenge.

Another possible challenge to the FCC action: mobile carriers have said they would sue to overturn rules that subject wireless networks to the utility-style powers. They’ve argued Congress specifically exempted mobile from utility-style regulation. Wireless networks needs to be regulated in part because they carry 55 percent of Internet usage, Wheeler said in a Feb. 9 speech. The FCC takes comfort from a victory before the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 2005 upheld the agency’s decision on cable Internet service.The justices said the FCC has discretion to interpret the law, Gigi Sohn, the FCC’s special counsel for external affairs, said in an interview on the C-SPAN television network.

 

 

FCC Voted To

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The Federal Communications Commission has announced that it wanted to see its text-to-911 service rolled out across all network carriers in the United States.  On Friday, they voted in favor of rules that will have U.S. carriers and some app developers to implement the system by the end of 2014. There is an option to send an SMS for help  already available on the bigger networks, but this ruling means that smaller firms will also be obliged to co-operate, ensuring the service is available across the country

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