Yesterday, only weeks after the FCC voted to draft rules that would require pay-TV companies to open up the set-top box market to competitors, Comcast announced a deal with Samsung that will allow owners of certain TVs to access their cable TV without the need to pay for a cable box every month. The industry and its supporters are heralding the news as a clear demonstration that the FCC should just shut up and stop all its regulating, but the reports of the set-top box’s death are greatly exaggerated. [More]
The House of Representatives passed a bill this morning that seeks to limit the FCC’s net neutrality authority and could limit the commission’s ability to investigate consumer complaints about unreasonable charges from and behavior by their ISPs.
As we’ve shown before, wireless and landline phone companies can do something to provide customers with free and easy-to-use tools to block unwanted automated calls — they just aren’t doing it, even when hundreds of thousands of consumers explicitly ask them to. A new piece of legislation introduced today hopes to compel the telecom providers to finally make it easier for customers to just say no to robocalls. [More]
It may seem like Congress never gets anything done, but sometimes they really do! Case in point: a bill, sponsored by lawmakers who are still angry about the FCC’s net neutrality ruling last year, has managed to come out of committee and is scheduled for a House vote. And should the House and Senate both vote on that bill, it will go to the White House… where the president’s top advisors recommend it promptly be vetoed.
There are pretty good odds your neighborhood is subject to a monopoly on broadband. It stinks and needs to change, but we’re used to it. We think about it. It’s right there every month, when we get our bills or have a crappy customer service call and still can’t switch providers even if we want to. But there’s a whole other monopoly telecom market that’s still probably costing you a couple hundred dollars a year, and it’s basically invisible to must of us. [More]
When the FCC narrowly approved the Open Internet Order a year ago, most of the discussion involved “net neutrality” — the rules against Internet service providers being able to block, slow down, or prioritize access to specific sites and content. However, the Order also contained new transparency rules requiring broadband providers to, well, be more transparent with consumers, which is why today the FCC announced a new labeling system to help keep consumers informed. [More]
The number-one complaint we get from Consumerist readers is “You guys just don’t have enough ads on your site! Where are all the pop-ups, roll-overs, pop-overs, auto-play videos, and page-crashing ad units that make surfing the web so dang enjoyable?” We hear you, we do; we just don’t have the staff to sell all those ads you want bogging down your browser and tracking you across pages and platforms. And even if we did, those pesky jerks at the FCC are trying to rob us — and consumers — of more options to be marketed to, and commodified by, our Internet service providers. [More]
The Federal Communications Commission today in their monthly meeting voted narrowly to move forward with two high-profile, contentious proposals. One is formally adopting a plan to modernize the Lifeline program, and the other is to start considering how to apply stronger consumer privacy protections to ISPs.
Later this week, the Federal Communications Commission will be voting on a proposal intended to protect some of your personal data from being shared by your Internet service provider, by requiring that the ISP first get your permission. As the vote approaches, the broadband industry is trying to make the case that your ISP’s collecting and sharing of customer data is no different than Facebook or Google’s. [More]
The core tenet of “net neutrality” is that Internet service providers — the Comcasts, Time Warner Cables, and Verizons of the world — can’t do anything to block, limit, or expedite users’ access to content. Regardless of whether it’s a video stream or a PDF, these carriers should be delivering the content as quickly as they advertise. And even though the cable industry is currently fighting net neutrality in court, it apparently has no understanding of that basic underlying principle. [More]
The Comcast-connected faux grassroots group created to protect the cable industry’s $20 billion annual revenue stream of set-top box rental fees is now claiming that it caught FCC Chair Tom Wheeler in a real “gotcha” moment, proving that there is indeed no need for competition on these devices. But either this group has no idea what it’s talking about, or it thinks the American consumer is incredibly gullible. [More]
Agencies like the FCC operate under the auspices of Congress, which has oversight authority. And when an agency like the FCC touches a political third rail — in their case, regulation of powerful communications companies — they can expect to have to answer to Congress. Sometimes repeatedly. And so the FCC found itself on Capitol Hill today, being grilled by a panel of passionate Representatives.
Verizon is at it again: with a ruling on net neutrality likely to show up in the next few weeks, they are falling all over themselves to talk about how much they love net neutrality and what it protects, while explaining that they hate the rule that’s been put in place to protect net neutrality, and think it could ruin everything.
More than a year after the FCC voted to preempt state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that heavily restrict city- and county-owned utilities from providing broadband to consumers, the states and the federal regulator finally had their day in court. [More]
What Comcast spent more than a year failing to do looks to be a victory in the making for Charter: As the Washington rumor mill has it, the three-way mega-cable-merge of Charter, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks could get through a major hurdle and gain approval by the end of the week. In other words, it looks like this one’s going to happen.