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  • Why the FCC Is Likely To Ignore Net Neutrality Comments and Listen To ISPs

    Jason Koebler writes: Time and time again, federal agencies like the FCC ignore what the public says it wants and side with the parties actually being regulated — the ISPs, in this case. Research and past example prove that there's not much that can be considered democratic about the public comment period or its aftermath. "Typically, there are a score or so of lengthy comments that include extensive data, analysis, and arguments. Courts require agencies to respond to comments of that type, and they sometimes persuade an agency to take an action that differs from its proposal," Richard Pierce, a George Washington University regulatory law professor said. "Those comments invariably come from companies with hundreds of millions or billions of dollars at stake or the lawyers and trade associations that represent them. Those are the only comments that have any chance of persuading an agency."

    140 comments | about a week ago

  • Telcos Move Net Neutrality Fight To Congress

    Presto Vivace writes: "Public Knowledge is rallying its supporters after learning that some House members plan to try and add an amendment to H.R. 5016, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act to block funding of FCC network neutrality rules. H.R. 5016 is the bill that keeps funding the government and whose failure to pass can shut it down. The White House has already said it opposed the existing FCC budget cuts and threatened a veto of a bill it says politicized the budget process." Public Knowledge is asking citizens to tell Congress to stop meddling with net neutrality. In a way this is a good sign. It is an indication that the telcos think that they will lose the current FCC debate. Meanwhile, the FCC's deadline for comments about net neutrality has arrived, and the agency's servers buckled after recording over 670,000 of them. The deadline has been extended until midnight on Friday.

    52 comments | about a week ago

  • FCC Public Comment Period For Net Neutrality Ends Tomorrow, July 15

    samzenpus (5) writes "The deadline for the FCC's public comment period on their proposed net neutrality rule is coming up fast. The final day to let the FCC know what you think is tomorrow, July 15. A total of 647,000 comments have already been sent. Google, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon and other tech companies are making a final push for net neutrality saying that the FCC decision, "shifts the balance from the consumers' freedom of choice to the broadband Internet access providers' gatekeeping decisions." The Consumerist has a guide to help you through the comment process, so make sure your voice is heard."

    69 comments | about a week ago

  • FCC Approves Subsidy Plan to Upgrade School and Library Networks

    The Washington Post reports that, "In a 3-2 vote along party lines Friday, the FCC greenlit a plan to spend $2 billion over the next two years on subsidies for internal networks. The move also begins a process to phase out some subsidies under the federal program, known as E-Rate, for services and equipment that are on the decline, such as pagers and dial-up Internet service." That sounds like a lot of money, and it is, but as usual in politics it's the result of a messy process: The original plan called for spending $5 billion on WiFi over five years, in line with a push by the Obama administration to bring next-gen broadband and WiFi to 99 percent of students over the same period. Those funds would have partly come from savings as a result of transitioning away from supporting legacy technologies. The proposal would also have eliminated an existing requirement that E-Rate funds be spent first on broadband services before being applied to WiFi. In past years, the cost of broadband service meant that money was rarely left over for upgrading WiFi connections. But the FCC's proposal was ultimately scaled back late Thursday amid Republican objections that the E-Rate program can't afford the changes. The final proposal's two-year, $2 billion commitment accounts for the money the FCC has already set aside for WiFi upgrades, but it does not commit the FCC to funding WiFi upgrades at that same rate for the following three years.

    70 comments | about two weeks ago

  • FCC Approves Plan To Spend $5B Over Next Five Years On School Wi-Fi

    itwbennett writes: The Federal Communications Commission, in a 3-2 party-line vote Friday, approved a plan to revamp the 17-year-old E-Rate program, which pays for telecom services for schools and libraries, by phasing out funding for voice service, Web hosting and paging services, and redirecting money to Wi-Fi. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had proposed a $5 billion budget for Wi-Fi, but Republican commissioners and some lawmakers had questioned where the money would come from. Still, the E-Rate revamp (PDF) approved Friday contemplates a $1 billion-a-year target for Wi-Fi projects "year after year," Wheeler said.

    54 comments | about two weeks ago

  • FCC Proposal To Limit Access To 5725-5850 MHz Band

    New submitter thittesd0375 (1111917) writes New rules adopted by the FCC will greatly limit the amount of bandwidth available in the unlicensed U-NII band used to deliver internet to rural areas. The filters required to comply with the new rules would shrink the available frequencies from 125MHz to only 45MHz. Petitions to reconsider this ruling can be submitted here and previous petitions can be found here.

    112 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Florida Man Faces $48k Fine For Jamming Drivers' Cellphones

    An anonymous reader writes with this news from The Independent: An American driver is facing a $48,000 fine after using a mobile signal jammer in his car to block motorists around him from using their phones on the road. Jason Humphreys reportedly used the jammer from the back seat of his Toyota Highlander for around two years before being caught by Florida police. The 60-year-old said that he used the jammer – which transmits radio signals that interfere with mobile phones – because he was 'fed up' with watching others use their phones on the road. A story from late April (before the fine was levied) gives more detail: The case along I-4 started on April 29, 2013, when the cellular company Metro PCS contacted the Federal Communications Commission because a transmission tower along I-4 would suffer in the morning and evening. A week later, agents from the FCC's enforcement division in Tampa staked out the freeway on May 7, 8, and 9 and pinpointed a “strong wideband emission” in the cellphone wireless range “emanating from a blue Toyota Highlander sport utility vehicle,” with Florida license plates, according to a complaint issued by the FCC on Tuesday. Another clue: When Hillsborough County Sheriffs deputies stopped the SUV, their own two-way radios were jammed."

    358 comments | about a month ago

  • Chinese Vendor Could Pay $34.9M FCC Fine In Signal-Jammer Sting

    alphadogg writes A Chinese electronics vendor accused of selling signal jammers to U.S. consumers could end up leading the market in one dubious measure: the largest fine ever imposed by the Federal Communications Commission. The agency wants to fine CTS Technology $34,912,500 for allegedly marketing 285 models of jammers over more than two years. CTS boldly—and falsely—claimed that some of its jammers were approved by the FCC, according to the agency's enforcement action released Thursday. Conveniently, CTS' product detail pages also include a button to "report suspicious activity." The proposed fine, which would be bigger than any the FCC has levied for anti-competitive behavior, or a wardrobe malfunction, comes from adding up the maximum fines for each model of jammer the company allegedly sold in the U.S. The agency also ordered CTS, based in Shenzhen, China, to stop marketing illegal jammers to U.S. consumers and identify the buyer of each jammer it sold in the U.S.

    188 comments | about a month ago

  • Former FCC Head: "We Should Be Ashamed of Ourselves" For State of Broadband

    An anonymous reader writes A group of internet industry executives and politicians came together to look back on the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and to do a little crystal-ball gazing about the future of broadband regulation in the United States. Former FCC commissioner Michael Copps was among the presenters, and he had sharp words for the audience about the "insanity" of the current wave of merger mania in the telecom field and the looming threats of losing net neutrality regulation.

    118 comments | about a month ago

  • Wireless Industry Lobbying Hard to Keep Net Neutrality Out

    Taco Cowboy writes: The net neutrality issue has become a hot topic recently, but on the mobile side, net neutrality rules are absent. Why? The wireless companies successfully convinced regulators four years ago to keep mobile networks mostly free of net neutrality rules. Now that FCC officials are looking into whether wireless networks should remain exempt from net neutrality rules, the mobile carriers are lobbying hard to maintain the status quo. "Wireless is different ... it is dependent on finite spectrum," said Meredith Attwell Baker, the new head of CTIA, the wireless industry's lobbying arm. Baker previously served as an FCC commissioner. On the other side of the issue, net neutrality advocates are "hoping to convince regulators to include wireless networks more fully under any new proposed rules. They are pushing for the FCC to re-regulate broadband Internet under a section of the law (called Title II), which was written with old phone networks in mind. ... The FCC will be taking public comments about what it should do about new net neutrality rules through the end of July." You can comment by emailing to openinternet@fcc.gov or go to file a Consumer Informal Complaint on the FCC's wesbite. Meanwhile, AT&T says that strong net neutrality regulations will ruin the internet.

    85 comments | about a month ago

  • U.S. Democrats Propose Legislation To Ban Internet Fast Lanes

    An anonymous reader writes: A proposal from Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate would require the FCC to stop ISPs from creating "internet fast lanes." Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said, "Americans are speaking loud and clear. They want an Internet that is a platform for free expression and innovation, where the best ideas and services can reach consumers based on merit rather than based on a financial relationship with a broadband provider." Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) added, "A free and open Internet is essential for consumers. Our country cannot afford 'pay-for-play' schemes that divide our Internet into tiers based on who has the deepest pockets." Unfortunately, this is only half a solution — the bill doesn't actually add to the FCC's authority. It only requires them to use the authority they currently have, which is questionable at best.

    190 comments | about a month ago

  • FCC Looking Into Paid Peering Deals

    An anonymous reader writes The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced on Friday that it has successfully obtained the details regarding paid peering deals between Netflix and Comcast as well as Verizon and is working to obtain similar information for other video streamers and their respective ISP peers. The FCC's goal is, as they pointed out themselves, not to regulate as yet but to examine these deals with the goal of providing some transparency to the American public regarding the internet services they pay for. Verizon and Comcast issued statements expressing their willingness to be open about their peering activities and stressed that no regulation is required. The peering market 'has functioned effectively and efficiently for over two decades without government intervention,' Comcast claimed at a congressional hearing. The Free Press policy director nevertheless points out that 'when the FCC required reporting from AT&T after the company blocked Skype in 2009 and Google Voice in 2012, the disclosures revealed that AT&T was indeed misleading its customers.'

    37 comments | about a month ago

  • The FCC Can't Help Cities Trapped By Predatory Internet Deals With Big Telecom

    Jason Koebler writes: At least 20 states have laws that make it illegal for communities to offer local government-owned high speed internet access. Wednesday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler threw consumers a bone by suggesting that the agency could make it easier for cities to skirt those laws. That's a great first step — but many cities have locked themselves into telecom company-caused messes the FCC probably can't fix. The FCC's power becomes much less certain once you drill into the other major reason—besides state laws—why cities can't offer broadband to their constituents: local, long-term agreements with internet service providers.

    93 comments | about a month ago

  • Interviews: Bruce Perens Answers Your Questions

    A while ago you had the chance to ask programmer and open source advocate Bruce Perens about the future of open source, its role in government, and a number of other questions. Below you'll find his answers and an update on what he's doing now.

    224 comments | about a month ago

  • Cable Companies Use Astroturfing To Fight Net Neutrality

    An anonymous reader sends a report from Vice which alleges that a trade group for internet service providers is building support for its crusade against net neutrality by funding opinion pieces and letters that masquerade as legitimate public sentiment. 'A disclosure obtained by VICE from the National Cable and Telecom Association (NCTA), a trade group for ISPs, shows that the bulk of Broadband for America's recent $3.5 million budget is funded through a $2 million donation from NCTA. Last month, Broadband for America wrote a letter to the FCC bluntly demanding that the agency "categorically reject" any effort toward designating broadband as a public utility. It wasn't signed by any internet consumer advocates, as the Sununu-Ford letter suggests. The signatures on the letter reads like a who's who of ISP industry presidents and CEOs, including AT&T's Randall Stephenson, Cox Communications' Patrick Esser, NCTA president (and former FCC commissioner) Michael Powell, Verizon's Lowell McAdam, and Comcast's Brian Roberts. Notably, Broadband for America's most recent tax filing shows that it retained the DCI Group, an infamous lobbying firm that specializes in creating fake citizen groups on behalf of corporate campaigns.'

    142 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Big Telecom: Terms Set For Sprint To Buy T-Mobile For $32B

    First time accepted submitter Randy Davis (3683081) writes 'A report from Forbes says that Sprint buying T-mobile for $32 billion is almost done. This will clearly rock the top two telecommunication companies in the U.S., Verizon and AT&T. The news report also said that T-mobile will give up 67% share in exchange of 15% share of the merged company. Officials of both Sprint and T-Mobile are confident that FCC will approve this deal since AT&T's $48.5 billion acquisition of DirecTV got approved.' One reason for that confidence: "The predominant feeling is that combined T-Mobile and Sprint will be able to offer greater competition to Verizon and AT&T , ranked first and second respectively in the U.S. market. It will also give Sprint greater might in the upcoming 600 megahertz spectrum auction, especially since part of it excludes both Verizon and AT&T from bidding."

    InforWorld puts the potential price even higher, and points out that the deal could still fall apart.

    158 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • FCC Website Hobbled By Comment Trolls Incited By Comedian John Oliver

    An anonymous reader writes "In a recent segment of his new HBO show, Last Week Tonight, comedian John Oliver delivered a commentary (video) on the current net neutrality debate. He ended the segment by calling on all internet comment trolls to take advantage of the FCC's open comments section on the topic. 'We need you to get out there and for once in your lives focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction,' he said. 'Seize your moment, my lovely trolls, turn on caps lock, and fly my pretties! Fly! Fly! Fly!' While the true impact of John Oliver's editorial cannot be confirmed, the FCC nevertheless tweeted shortly after it aired that its website was experiencing technical difficulties due to heavy traffic. They accept comments via email as well at openinternet@fcc.gov."

    144 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Congressman Introduces Bill To Limit FCC Powers

    An anonymous reader writes "Representative Bob Latta (R-OH) introduced a bill on Wednesday that would limit the FCC's power to regulate ISPs in a supposed effort to keep the internet free. The bill's text is currently not available on the Library of Congress webpage or on congress.gov, but a purported copy has been spotted on scribd. Representative Latta's press release nevertheless indicates that the bill is intended to prevent the FCC from re-classifying ISPs as common carriers under Title II. Latta is one of the 28 representatives who lobbied the FCC earlier this month and were shown to have received double the average monetary donations given to all House of Representative members from the cable industry over a two year period ending this past December."

    176 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Report: Verizon Claimed Public Utility Status To Get Government Perks

    An anonymous reader writes "Research for the Public Utility Law Project (PULP) has been released which details 'how Verizon deliberately moves back and forth between regulatory regimes, classifying its infrastructure either like a heavily regulated telephone network or a deregulated information service depending on its needs. The chicanery has allowed Verizon to raise telephone rates, all the while missing commitments for high-speed internet deployment' (PDF). In short, Verizon pushed for the government to give it common carrier privileges under Title II in order to build out its fiber network with tax-payer money. Result: increased service rates on telephone users to subsidize Verizon's 'infrastructure investment.' When it comes to regulations on Verizon's fiber network, however, Verizon has been pushing the government to classify its services as that of information only — i.e., beyond Title II. Verizon has made about $4.4 billion in additional revenue in New York City alone, 'money that's funneled directly from a Title II service to an array of services that currently lie beyond Title II's reach.' And it's all legal. An attorney at advocacy group Public Knowledge said it best: 'To expect that you can come in and use public infrastructure and funds to build a network and then be free of any regulation is absurd....When Verizon itself is describing these activities as a Title II common carrier, how can the FCC look at broadband internet and continue acting as though it's not a telecommunication network?'"

    140 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Comcast-Time Warner Deal May Hinge On Low-Cost Internet Plan

    techpolicy (3586897) writes "Comcast Corp.'s proposed $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable Inc. has brought the issue of the digital divide and the federal government's failing policies to decrease it back onto center stage, according to an article by the Center for Public Integrity. Comcast has told the Federal Communications Commission that it will offer its discounted Internet program for low-income customers to residents living in Time Warner Cable's service areas — if the FCC approves the purchase. Comcast offered FCC the same deal in 2011 when it bought NBCUniversal. But the low-cost program, called Internet Essentials, has signed up only 12 percent of the 2.6 million families eligible for the service since it was launched nearly three years ago. While the FCC and other federal agencies have spent billions of dollars trying to provide broadband access and training programs to the poor to close the divide, so far the policies haven't worked much. The percentage difference between Americans earning below $30,000 who have an Internet connection in their home and those earning $75,000 or more who have an in-home connection has narrowed only 4 percentage points from 2009 to 2013. As the Comcast purchase moves through its regulatory approval process, the center reports that it may be time to revisit the policies that will get more poor Americans connected, especially because to function in society today you have to be online."

    114 comments | about 2 months ago

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