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  • FCC Chairman: Americans Shouldn't Subsidize Internet Service Under 10Mbps

    An anonymous reader writes On Wednesday at a hearing in front of the US House Committee on Small Business, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler stated that for ISPs to be eligible for government broadband subsidies, they would have to deliver speeds of at least 10 Mbps. Said Wheeler: "What we are saying is we can't make the mistake of spending the people's money, which is what Universal Service is, to continue to subsidize something that's subpar." He further indicated that he would remedy the situation by the end of 2014. The broadband subsidies are collected through bill surcharges paid for by phone customers.

    324 comments | 4 days ago

  • AT&T Proposes Net Neutrality Compromise

    An anonymous reader writes: The net neutrality debate has been pretty binary: ISPs want the ability to create so-called "fast lanes," and consumers want all traffic to be treated equally. Now, AT&T is proposing an alternative: fast lanes under consumer control. Their idea would "allow individual consumers to ask that some applications, such as Netflix, receive priority treatment over other services, such as e-mail or online video games. That's different from the FCC's current proposal, which tacitly allows Internet providers to charge content companies for priority access to consumers but doesn't give the consumers a choice in the matter."

    AT&T said, "Such an approach would preserve the ability of Internet service providers to engage in individualized negotiations with [content companies] for a host of services, while prohibiting the precise practice that has raised 'fast lane' concerns." It's not perfect, but it's probably the first earnest attempt at a compromise we've seen from either side, and it suggests the discussion can move forward without completely rejecting one group's wishes.

    239 comments | about a week ago

  • The FCC Net Neutrality Comment Deadline Has Arrived: What Now?

    blottsie writes After months of heated debate, viral campaigns, deliberate "slowdowns" and record-breaking public responses, the Federal Communications Commission is finally set to decide how "net neutrality"—the principle that all data must be treated equally by Internet service providers (ISPs)—should look in the U.S., or if it should exist at all. Today, Sept. 15, the FCC officially closes its public comment period on its latest net neutrality proposal. The plan enables ISPs to discriminate against certain types of data, in certain circumstances, by charging extra for broadband “fast lanes” between content providers—like Netflix or YouTube—and users.

    131 comments | about a week ago

  • Net Neutrality Comments Surge Past 1.7M, an All-Time Record For the FCC

    An anonymous reader writes Following Wednesday's Internet Slowdown campaign, the Federal Communications Commission says it has now received a total of 1,750,435 comments on net neutrality, surpassing the approximately 1.4 million complaints it saw after the exposure of Janet Jackson's breast during Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004. Wednesday saw citizens submit more than 700,000 new comments to the FCC, and place more than 300,000 calls to the agency.

    81 comments | about two weeks ago

  • AT&T Says 10Mbps Is Too Fast For "Broadband," 4Mbps Is Enough

    An anonymous reader writes AT&T and Verizon have asked the FCC not to change the definition of broadband from 4Mbps to 10Mbps, contending that "10Mbps service exceeds what many Americans need today to enable basic, high-quality transmissions." From the article: "Individual cable companies did not submit comments to the FCC, but their representative, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), agrees with AT&T and Verizon. 'The Commission should not change the baseline broadband speed threshold from 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream because a 4/1 Mbps connection is still sufficient to perform the primary functions identified in section 706 [of the Telecommunications Act]—high-quality voice, video, and data,' the NCTA wrote."

    528 comments | about two weeks ago

  • FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Says Switching ISPs Is Too Hard

    Jason Koebler writes Did you hear about those Comcast service calls from hell that have been cropping up over the last couple months? So did FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who said today that switching internet service providers is too damn hard, in part because ISPs have grown used to having a monopoly on broadband services. "Once consumers choose a broadband provider, they face high switching costs that include early-termination fees and equipment rental fees," Wheeler said in a speech today. Wheeler didn't specifically say what the FCC will do (if anything) to change that, but said the answer is to help facilitate more true competition: "If those disincentives to competition weren't enough, the media is full of stories of consumers' struggles to get ISPs to allow them to drop service."

    145 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Verizon Pays $7.4 Million To Settle FCC Privacy Investigation

    An anonymous reader writes Verizon has agreed to pay $7.4 million because it did not notify customers before using their personal information in marketing campaigns. The FCC discovered that Verizon failed to alert around two million customers of rights that include telling customers how to opt out from having their personal information used. "In today's increasingly connected world, it is critical that every phone company honor its duty to inform customers of their privacy choices and then to respect those choices," Travis LeBlanc, Acting Chief of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau said.

    50 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Net Neutrality Campaign To Show What the Web Would Be Like With a "Slow Lane"

    blottsie writes In a move out of the anti-SOPA campaign playbook, Fight for the Future and other net neutrality activist groups have set up the Battle for the Net coalition, which plans to launch an "Internet slowdown day" later this month. No actual traffic will be slowed down. Instead, participating sites will display embeddable modules that include a spinning "loading" symbol and information about contacting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the White House, and members of Congress.

    91 comments | about three weeks ago

  • CenturyLink: Comcast Is Trying To Prevent Competition In Its Territories

    mpicpp sends word that CenturyLink has accused Comcast of restricting competition in the development of internet infrastructure. CenturyLink asked the FCC to block the acquisition of Time Warner Cable to prevent Comcast from further abusing its size and power. For example, Comcast is urging local authorities to deny CenturyLink permission to build out new infrastructure if they can't reach all of a city's residents during the initial buildout. Of course, a full buildout into a brand new market is much more expensive than installing connections a bit at a time. Comcast argues that CenturyLink shouldn't be able to cherry-pick the wealthy neighborhoods and avoid the poor ones. CenturyLink points out that no other ISP complains about this, and says allowing the merger would let Comcast extend these tactics to regions currently operated by Time Warner Cable.

    110 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Ask Slashdot: What To Do About Repeated Internet Overbilling?

    An anonymous reader writes "AT&T has been overbilling my account based on overcounting DSL internet usage (they charge in 50 gigabyte units after the first 150). I have been using a Buffalo NFinity Airstation as a managed switch to count all traffic. As you may know, this device runs firmware based on dd-wrt and has hidden telnet functionality, so I am able to load a script to count traffic directly onto the device. I have an auto-scraper that collects the data and saves it on my computer's hard disk every two minutes while the computer is running. While it is not running, the 2 minute counters accumulate in RAM on the device. Power problems are not normally an issue here; and even when they are I can tell it has happened. The upshot of all this is I can measure the exact amount of download bandwidth and a guaranteed overestimate of upload bandwidth in bytes reliably. I have tested this by transferring known amounts of data and can account for every byte counted, including ethernet frame headers. AT&T's billing reporting reports usage by day only, lags two days, and uses some time basis other than midnight. It is also reading in my testing a fairly consistent 14% higher whenever the basis doesn't disturb the test by using too much bandwidth too close to midnight.

    AT&T has already refused to attempt to fix the billing meter, and asserts they have tested it and found it correct. Yet they refuse to provide a realtime readout of the counter that would make independent testing trivial. I've been through the agencies (CPUC, FCC, and Weights & Measures) and can't find one that is interested, AT&T will not provide any means for reasonable independent testing of the meter. It is my understanding that if there is a meter and its calibration cannot be checked, there is a violation of the law, yet I can't find an agency that can even accept such a claim (I'm not getting "your claim is meritless", but "we don't handle that"). If indeed they are not overbilling, my claim of no way to verify the meter still stands. My options are running thin here. So that my account can be identified by someone who recognizes the case: 7a6c74964fafd56c61e06abf6c820845cbcd4fc0 (bit commitment).

    355 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group

    Jason Koebler (3528235) writes American Commitment, a conservative group with strong ties to the Koch brothers has been bombarding inboxes with emails filled with disinformation and fearmongering in an attempt to start a "grassroots" campaign to kill net neutrality — at one point suggesting that "Marxists" think that preserving net neutrality is a good idea. American Commitment president Phil Kerpen suggests that reclassifying the internet as a public utility is the "first step in the fight to destroy American capitalism altogether" and says that the FCC is plotting a "federal Internet takeover," a move that "sounds more like a story coming out of China or Russia."

    531 comments | about a month ago

  • FCC Warned Not To Take Actions a Republican-Led FCC Would Dislike

    tlhIngan writes Municipal broadband is in the news again — this time Chief of Staff Matthew Berry, speaking at the National Conference of State Legislatures, has endorsed states' right to ban municipal broadband networks and warned the (Democrat-led) FCC to not do anything that a future Republican led FCC would dislike. The argument is that municipal broadband discourages private investment in broadband communications, that taxpayer-funded projects are barriers to future infrastructure investment.

    338 comments | about 1 month ago

  • FCC Mandates Text-to-911 From All US Wireless Carriers

    An anonymous reader writes "On Friday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to require all U.S. wireless carriers and popular messaging applications to support texting to emergency response units via 911. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile implemented this capability back in 2012; the FCC's vote will make it mandatory for all carriers that operate in the country as well as all messaging applications that interconnect with the SMS structure in the U.S. to follow suit. One technological hurdle this mandate faces is the difficulty of tracing "the exact physical origin of a text message, particularly in residences with multiple floors."" Somehow I doubt that cellphone calls are consistently traceable to that degree, either, and I've lived in houses with extensions spread over several floors, too.

    80 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • NFL Fights To Save TV Blackout Rule Despite $9 Billion Revenue

    An anonymous reader writes with word of new movement on an old front: namely, the rule that makes it hard for sports fans to see coverage of local teams. The 39-year-old blackout rule basically "prevents games from being televised locally when tickets remain unsold." The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in response to a 2011 petition by consumers, has decided to consider abolishing this rule. The National Football League (NFL) has of course objected, claiming that the rule allows it to keep airing their games on free TV. If that were to change and they would have to move to cable, they argue, the "result would represent a substantial loss of consumer welfare." In their petition to the FCC, consumers point out that the NFL charges "exorbitant prices for tickets" which results in lower attendance. The blackout rule, they claim, therefore punishes fans by preventing them from watching the game if the NFL can't sell enough stadium tickets. NFL yearly profits reportedly number in the billions. Even if the FCC supports the petition, however, sports leagues can and probably will privately negotiate blackouts to boost their revenue.

    216 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Verizon Throttles Data To "Provide Incentive To Limit Usage"

    An anonymous reader writes About a week ago, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asked for Verizon's justification on its policy of throttling users who pay for unlimited data usage. "I know of no past Commission statement that would treat 'as reasonable network management' a decision to slow traffic to a user who has paid, after all, for 'unlimited' service," the FCC wrote. In its response, Verizon has indicated that its throttling policy is meant to provide users with an incentive to limit their data usage. The company explained that "a small percentage of the customers on these [unlimited] plans use disproportionately large amounts of data, and, unlike subscribers on usage-based plans, they have no incentive not to do so during times of unusually high demand....our practice is a measured and fair step to ensure that this small group of customers do not disadvantage all others."

    316 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Sprint/T-Mobile Plan To Buy Spectrum Together May Be Blocked By FCC

    An anonymous reader writes with a FCC proposal that is bad news for Sprint and T-Mobile. A proposal from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler would block an attempt by Sprint and T-Mobile US to buy spectrum together in the incentive auction that will transfer airwaves from broadcast TV stations to cellular carriers next year. Announced on Friday, Wheeler's proposal seeks to help the smallest wireless companies develop business partnerships with larger ones. But it would not allow partnerships between the biggest carriers, since more than 95 percent of US customers are served by either AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon Wireless. "Our goal is to promote the participation of as many parties as possible in the auction," FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Chief Roger Sherman wrote Friday. "If two of the largest companies are able to bid as one combined entity in the auction, their combined resources may have the effect of suppressing meaningful competition. Therefore, the item tentatively concludes that joint bidding arrangements between nationwide providers should not be allowed."

    28 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Cable Companies: We're Afraid Netflix Will Demand Payment From ISPs

    Dega704 (1454673) writes While the network neutrality debate has focused primarily on whether ISPs should be able to charge companies like Netflix for faster access to consumers, cable companies are now arguing that it's really Netflix who holds the market power to charge them. This argument popped up in comments submitted to the FCC by Time Warner Cable and industry groups that represent cable companies. (National Journal writer Brendan Sasso pointed this out.) The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), which represents many companies including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox, and Charter wrote to the FCC:

    "Even if broadband providers had an incentive to degrade their customers' online experience in some circumstances, they have no practical ability to act on such an incentive. Today's Internet ecosystem is dominated by a number of "hyper-giants" with growing power over key aspects of the Internet experience—including Google in search, Netflix and Google (YouTube) in online video, Amazon and eBay in e-commerce, and Facebook in social media. If a broadband provider were to approach one of these hyper-giants and threaten to block or degrade access to its site if it refused to pay a significant fee, such a strategy almost certainly would be self-defeating, in light of the immediately hostile reaction of consumers to such conduct. Indeed, it is more likely that these large edge providers would seek to extract payment from ISPs for delivery of video over last-mile networks."
    Related: an article at Gizmodo explains that it takes surprisingly little hardware to replicate (at least most of) Netflix's current online catalog in a local data center.

    200 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Two Cities Ask the FCC To Preempt State Laws Banning Municipal Fiber Internet

    Jason Koebler writes Two cities—Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Wilson, North Carolina—have officially asked the federal government to help them bypass state laws banning them from expanding their community owned, gigabit fiber internet connections. In states throughout the country, major cable and telecom companies have battled attempts to create community broadband networks, which they claim put them at a competitive disadvantage. The FCC will decide if its able to circumvent state laws that have been put in place restricting the practice.

    200 comments | about 2 months ago

  • FCC Reminds ISPs That They Can Be Fined For Lacking Transparency

    An anonymous reader writes The FCC issued a notice on Wednesday reminding ISPs that, according to the still-intact transparency rule of the 2010 Open Internet Order, they are required to be transparent about their services. "The FCC's transparency rule requires that consumers get the information they need to make informed choices about the broadband services they purchase." Applicable scenarios include "poorly worded service offers or inaccurate counts of data against a data cap...[as well as] blocking or slowing certain types of traffic without explaining that to the customer." The transparency rule gives the FCC the power to fine ISPs for non-compliance.

    38 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Deaf Advocacy Groups To Verizon: Don't Kill Net Neutrality On Our Behalf

    Dega704 sends this quote from Ars: No company has lobbied more fiercely against network neutrality than Verizon, which filed the lawsuit that overturned the FCC's rules prohibiting ISPs from blocking and discriminating against Web content. But the absence of net neutrality rules isn't just good for Verizon—it's also good for the blind, deaf, and disabled, Verizon claims. That's what Verizon lobbyists said in talks with congressional staffers, according to a Mother Jones report last month. "Three Hill sources tell Mother Jones that Verizon lobbyists have cited the needs of blind, deaf, and disabled people to try to convince congressional staffers and their bosses to get on board with the fast lane idea," the report said. With "fast lanes," Web services—including those designed for the blind, deaf, and disabled—could be prioritized in exchange for payment. Now, advocacy groups for deaf people have filed comments with the FCC saying they don't agree with Verizon's position."

    76 comments | about 2 months ago

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