Tagged: FCC Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 10:31 am on November 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , FCC,   

    Is the FCC trying to silence American voices? 

    Is the FCC trying to silence American voices?

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

    On this blog, we’ve discussed the FCC’s plan to dismantle the net neutrality policies put in place by the Obama administration to try to keep a free and open internet. Long story short, the Trump administration’s FCC, helmed by Chairman Ajit Pai, will be voting next month to determine the fate of net neutrality in the US, and the vote is expected to scrap the protections that were put in place by the previous administration. This was inevitable considering Pai’s stance on net neutrality since he was made chairman. However, there have been two other recent FCC rulings when you put them all together paint a pretty bleak picture.

    Last week, the FCC loosened a decades long restriction on one company owning more than one TV station in the same market. Locally it could lead to one company’s dominance of the media in that market essentially only providing one voice in news. That effect could happen nationally as well as any one company could own multiple outlets in each market.

    The other ruling from last week was that the FCC voted to roll back Lifeline subsidies that helped provide low-cost internet and phone to low-income families. In that same ruling, the FCC put a cap on service providers offering Lifeline plans. With the internet being an essential tool today for trying to accomplish any kind of basic function, this will make it extremely difficult for low-income families to look for employment or find financial assistance if needed.

    When you look at the three of these rulings together, one can almost see it as small parts of a larger plan to stifle the voices of the average American consumer. Ajit Pai’s plans almost seem like that of a totalitarian regime except offered under the banner of false promises of competition and innovation among broadcasters and internet providers.

     
  • Geebo 9:02 am on August 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , FCC,   

    The FCC seems to think we have enough internet 

    The FCC seems to think we have enough internet

    When they’re not busy getting ready to dismantle a free and open internet, the FCC seems to think mobile broadband is enough for most homes. According to Ars Technica, the President Trump-backed FCC is leaning toward declaring mobile broadband speeds as the national standard. As Ars Technica points out, this could mean we may see a slow-down of broadband infrastructure and services being improved in the near future.

    While mobile data is great for when you’re out running errands or using your GPS, it’s neither financially nor practically feasible to think homes can run on mobile internet. Mobile data plans are already expensive and usually cap your data at around 5GB of bandwidth. A normal home where the family uses services like Netflix, or plays online games, can use that amount of bandwidth in less than a day. At that point a number of mobile providers start charging customers an exorbitant rate for going over their data limit. Mobile networks are also prone to failure when too many people try to use the same network at the same time. For example, say some kind of natural disaster strikes and a large number of people in the affected area try to tell their loved ones they’re all right by using social media. Everyone trying to reach Twitter or Facebook at the same time in a concentrated area could bring the entire local data network down.

    This really shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the FCC’s appears to be giving heavy favor to the mobile broadband providers with their recommendations. Current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is a former counsel for Verizon who stands to gain a lot if the FCC removes Title II protection from broadband. It almost seems like the FCC won’t be happy until we’re using 56K modems again while being charged by the minute.

     
  • Geebo 8:57 am on June 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FCC, ,   

    Is Netflix fighting for net neutrality once again? Sort of. 

    Is Netflix fighting for net neutrality once again? Sort of.

    Previously, the CEO of Netflix said that his company was not worried about net neutrality since he said they were “big enough to get the deals they want.” Now it appears the subscription video streaming service may have changed its tune. Recently, Netflix made an announcement they were participating in the July 12th Battle for the Net campaign, alongside sites such as Reddit, Etsy, Kickstarter and Amazon among many others.


    Relative content between 4:36 and 5:12

    In a tweet from Netflix they said, “Netflix will never outgrow the fight for #NetNeutrality. “Everyone deserves an open Internet.” The tweet also included a link to the ‘Day of Action’ website. It’s still unknown what is going to take place on July 12th, but back in 2014 many websites participated in a similar protest where they displayed animations to make it look like their websites were loading very slowly.

    So why did Netflix have a change of heart? Probably for PR reasons. Many Netflix subscribers are cord-cutters, meaning they’ve gotten rid of their expensive cable or satellite subscriptions in favor of the less expensive internet streaming service. Their customers do not want to see those savings nullified by internet service providers raising their rates even further just so people can have quicker access to prioritized sites.

    Again, even with Netflix wearily on board, this latest campaign for net neutrality may be like trying to hold back the ocean with a broom, as the President Trump-backed FCC has full intentions of repealing the net neutrality regulations put in place by the Obama administration.

    You can go here to voice your opinion about net neutrality to the FCC.

     
  • Geebo 9:02 am on June 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FCC, robocalls, telemarketers   

    FCC could allow telemarketers to go straight to your voicemail 

    FCC could allow telemarketers to go straight to your voicemail

    We’ve all gotten that call. We see a number we don’t recognize, but we answer the call anyway. There’s a longer than usual pause after you say hello before you hear a vaguely robotic voice attempting to offer you some unsolicited deal. If certain businesses and politicians have their way, we could all be avoiding those calls, but not necessarily in a better way. Telemarketers and the RNC are asking the FCC to allow their calls to bypass ringing your phone and let them go straight to your voicemail.

    The companies behind these annoying robocalls claim that allowing their calls to go to voicemail does not violate the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act since the phone doesn’t actually ring. The RNC is in favor of this because they say not allowing this could affect political outreach campaigns. When telemarketers and politicians agree on something we should all be a little concerned. The FCC says the complaints they receive most are due to robocalls, but considering they ruled on the side of big business with the proposed repeal of net neutrality regulations it seems like they could actually agree to this practice.

    What do you think? Do you think this is a worse better or worse option than actually taking the call? Are you worried about your voicemail being flooded with telemarketing messages or do you look at it as a way of avoiding talking to them altogether?

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on May 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , FCC, ,   

    Is net neutrality dead? 

    Is net neutrality dead?

    Yesterday, the President Trump-backed FCC voted 2-1 to overturn the net neutrality regulations the Obama administration had put in place in 2015. Net neutrality basically states all internet traffic should be treated equally and internet service providers should not charge consumers extra for prioritized traffic.

    FCC chairman Ajit Pai has stated he believes overturning net neutrality will promote competition between ISPs and will result in more choices for consumers, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In most US markets, consumers only have a choice between either their local cable company or their local phone company. In most cases those companies are part of larger conglomerates like Time Warner, Comcast, and AT&T. So if anything, these companies will more than likely offer less actual choice to consumers while raising prices. Instead they will offer tiered services offering faster traffic to popular sites for more money, disguising that option as choice.

    Net neutrality isn’t dead just yet, but it’s on life support. The public has 90 days from yesterday to respond to the FCC’s actions, but no matter how rose-colored your glasses may be, it’s unlikely they will reverse their decision to kill net neutrality.

     
  • Geebo 10:08 am on May 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FCC, john oliver,   

    The battle for net neutrality is being fought on the FCC’s website 

    The battle for net neutrality is being fought on the FCC's website

    For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the concept of net neutrality, it can be best described in this way. Let’s use popular streaming site Netflix as an example. Netflix is a bandwidth hog when it comes to internet service providers. Most users need a pretty fast connection in order to use Netflix. Now say that internet providers started offering tiered services where you had to pay extra in order to get a fast connection to Netflix. Or it could be other popular sites like Facebook or Gmail. Net neutrality says that all internet traffic should be treated equally. Proponents of net neutrality wanted the FCC to regulate ISPs like a common carrier which would prevent ISPs from favoring certain web traffic over others. Opponents of net neutrality don’t want the government interfering with internet in general under the belief that once the government starts regulating the internet they will never stop regulating the internet, leading to accusations of possible censorship. Under the Obama administration, the FCC ruled that ISPs were in fact common carriers, however, under the Trump administration, those regulations have largely been gutted. This is a battle that’s been going on for years but it reached a fever pitch recently when a large salvo was fired against the Trump-controlled FCC the other night.

    It all started when political humorist John Oliver started talking to his audience about net neutrality. On his HBO show, he asked his viewers to go to the FCC website and leave their comments about how they feel about net neutrality. This included Oliver promoting a humorous but slightly off-color URL in order to lead his viewers to exactly where they needed to be on the FCC website. This led to so many users flooding the website, that it was basically knocked offline due to all the traffic it was receiving.

    This led to the FCC calling Oliver’s campaign a denial of service attack, or DDoS for short. Normally a DDoS attack is a form of cyber-vandalism used in order to intentionally knock a site offline with a flood of traffic. The difference with Oliver’s campaign is that he wanted his viewers to leave legitimate comments. This has led opponents of net neutrality to fire back by launching a number of automated scripts called bots to swarm the FCC’s website, leaving comments in support of the Trump administration’s handling of net neutrality. In case you were wondering, yes that sounds more like a DDoS attack than what John Oliver’s viewers were doing.

    Unfortunately, this is the way of the internet. When one side of an argument starts speaking up about an issue, the other side tries to shout them down. In the end, while Oliver’s actions may have been well intended, this will ultimately have no effect on the net neutrality debate, thanks to many of the players involved acting like petulant children.

    If you want to make real change about net neutrality, the best way is to write or call your representatives in Congress and let them know how you feel. Congress still operates in an old school way and gives letters and phone calls more weight than e-mails and online petitions. Also, to better get your point across, always be respectful when dealing with politicians whether they deserve it or not. If you’re rude or ranting in your communication with them, your voice will largely be disregarded.

     
  • Geebo 10:55 am on March 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FCC, , , TOR, VPN   

    Congress repeals internet privacy rules. What does this actually mean for you? 

    Congress repeals internet privacy rules. What does this actually mean for you?

    As was expected, the House of Representatives also voted to repeal internet privacy regulations that would have prevented internet service providers from selling your personal information to advertisers. President Trump is expected to sign it into law once the legislation reaches his desk. However, the questions remain about how this affects the individual user and what can they do to protect themselves?

    First off, if your web history is sold to a third-party it won’t be sold as an individual’s history. Instead, it will be sold off as part of a multitude of users who fit a certain demographic, for example males ages 18-34. Also, that’s only if your ISP or wireless provider engages in selling your data. Most large ISPs have voluntarily promised not to sell your internet history.

    If you’re still unsure about your history being sold you could always use a Virtual Private Network or VPN. A VPN is basically a tunnel that goes through your ISP’s connection but hides your direct activity from them. You could also use the TOR browser which reroutes your internet traffic throughout many servers across the world, however, with the TOR browser you would sacrifice speed for a certain level of anonymity. While VPNs and TOR would hide your traffic from your ISP, they will not hide you from law enforcement if you’re engaging in illegal activity, as VPNs can just as easily sell disclose your browsing history and law enforcement has been catching bad guys through TOR for years.

    If you’re really worried about your privacy there are options out there, however, they may cost you a little bit of money or speed, but in the end they may be worth it.

     
  • Geebo 9:53 am on March 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FCC, ,   

    Senate votes to repeal internet provider privacy regs 

    Senate votes to repeal internet provider privacy regs

    Yesterday, the US Senate voted to repeal FCC regulations that prohibited wireless and internet providers from selling your personal information to third-parties. The previous regulations required these carriers to ask your permission up front before sharing your personal information. This included such information as browsing information, location and financial information.

    Proponents of the repeal said that the old privacy regulations are too far-reaching and expensive for ISPs and that the rules don’t apply to web-based companies like Google and Facebook who aren’t required to ask your permission before sharing your information. What those who are in favor of the repeal want to do is move these regulations from the Federal Communications Commission to the Federal Trade Commission.

    Privacy advocates see this as a start of a war on net neutrality. Net Neutrality is a concept where all internet traffic is treated equally. For example, without net neutrality ISPs could slow down traffic to a service like Netflix but instead prioritizes it to their own streaming service.

    The repeal is expected to pass the House easily so when the new regulations go into effect you will have to tell your carriers not to share your information if you so choose.

     
  • Geebo 3:36 pm on September 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , data caps, FCC, ,   

    Netflix wants ISPs to chill on data caps 

    Netflix wants ISPs to chill on data caps

    Whether you realize it or not, your internet service provider (ISP) may have a cap on how much data you can use. They usually don’t talk about it and they make it almost impossible to find if they have one, and if they do have one they make it difficult to find how much data you have used. While most users never reach their limit, there are many power users who do, and a lot of them reach their limit by streaming video over services like Netflix.

    Because of that, Netfilx is petitioning the FCC to make data caps illegal. In their argument, Netflix says that data caps are arbitrary and are only used for ISPs to be able to squeeze more money out of their customers, and they’re not wrong. Most ISPs are run by cable companies. Even the ones that are run by phone companies, like AT&T, usually have some kind of deal with satellite TV. So in either case they really don’t want to see their services used for things like Netflix since that cuts into their business model. By instilling data caps, there’s an air of intimidation to those who use their internet to stream their entertainment rather than paying an expensive cable bill, so in that way data caps can also be seen as anti-competitive. Data caps are also a throwback to the early days of the internet when dial-up providers like AOL charged by the minute.

    This is just another example of the cable companies refusing to innovate and desperately clinging to their decades old business model that doesn’t fit into modern demands. However, if the cable TV side of their business collapses where do you think they’ll try to make up the difference? That would raise the prices for internet services into the realms of what cable bills are today. That also could be rectified if there weren’t so many municipal monopolies for cable companies and ISPs, but that’s another rant for another day.

     
  • Geebo 10:01 am on September 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , FCC,   

    FCC proposal attempts to free us from the cable box 

    FCC proposal attempts to free us from the cable box

    It’s no secret that cable TV is expensive and shows no sign of ever decreasing in price. The cable companies make a big chunk of that money for the rental fee they charge customers for the cable box. The cable box has been a fixture of cable TV since the late 1970s but if the FCC has their way, the cable box may be a thing of the past.

    With more people using streaming devices, like a Roku or Apple TV, the FCC wants the cable companies to allow their services to be accessed through these devices rather than exclusively through cable boxes. The FCC believes that this will allow consumers more choices for their viewing habits. The cable companies and some major TV networks oppose this idea fearing that the device makers will favor other content over the available cable content.

    With the much cheaper services, like Netflix and Hulu, many more consumers are making the choice to cut the cable in order to save money and many say that they don’t even miss their cable service. The cable companies see this as a threat to the cash cow that they’ve been milking for decades. Rather than innovate, they’d rather just keep the same system in place they’ve had for years. If it wasn’t for sports fans who have little to no choices when it comes to seeing live events the industry might have been in free fall. However, if an industry fails to innovate another one rises to take its place and cable is in that position right now. If they don’t start making more palatable choice for consumers they’ll become the modern-day equivalent of the buggy whip manufacturers.

     
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