When Tom Wheeler was appointed FCC Chair in 2013, some questioned whether a former frontman for both the cable and telecom industries could possibly keep consumers’ needs in mind when dealing with the companies he’d known intimately for decades. John Oliver even likened the naming of Wheeler as FCC Chair to “needing a babysitter and hiring a dingo.” Yet, not only has Wheeler demonstrated that he’s not a dingo, he’s also gone toe-to-toe with the companies he once represented, enacting new net neutrality rules that regulate broadband as a utility, challenging phone companies to put an end to robocalls, going after wireless providers for misleading “unlimited” plans, and trying to shake up the pay-TV monopoly on set-top boxes. [More]
Within minutes of FCC Chair Tom Wheeler unveiling his final proposal for reforming the multibillion-dollar set-top box market, Comcast was already firing back, accusing the Commission of violating the law and hinting at a legal challenge to come. [More]
If you’re the wireless industry, you have to pay attention to the FCC. Everything it does determines everything you can do. So it’s not surprising that at the industry’s big annual event today, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler would take the stage for a keynote. And in that speech, he brought together a whole bunch of different FCC actions into one whole picture of what he hopes the communications future can be.
In response to FCC Chair Tom Wheeler’s call for all major phone companies to finally put free robocall-blocking tools in the hands of their customers, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson — who recently incorrectly blamed the FCC for his company’s failure to address this issue — says he is going to lead an industry “Strike Force” to combat robocalls. [More]
Even though the Federal Communications Commission has repeatedly said that wireless and landline phone providers are allowed to offer robocall-blocking services to their customers, some carriers have continued to incorrectly insist — and provide misinformation to consumers — that they simply don’t have the authority to deploy this technology. In an effort to make things clear once and for all, FCC Chair Tom Wheeler has sent letters to these companies that there are no regulatory roadblocks stopping them from helping their customers stop annoying — often illegal — automated and prerecorded robocalls. [More]
More than two years after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit sided with Verizon against the FCC over the original “net neutrality” rules, that same court today has ruled in favor of the FCC’s revised rules that regulate broadband internet access as a necessary utility, instead of as a luxury. [More]
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 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]
Earlier this week, FCC Chair Tom Wheeler proposed new rules intended to increase competition in the pay-TV set-top box market. Rather than paying hundreds of dollars a year to your cable company for a device you can’t get anywhere else, the idea is that you would be able to buy your own box and save money in the long run. Amazing, Comcast — which stands to potentially lose billions of dollars if this happens — is crying foul. [More]
Though the telecom and cable industry was unable to prevent new net neutrality rules from kicking in earlier this summer, the legal battle over the FCC’s authority to regulate broadband continues. A federal appeals court has agreed to hear arguments in the matter later this year. [More]
In June, the FCC proposed a potentially $100 million fine against AT&T for allegedly failing to disclose to its “unlimited” data plan subscribers the extent to which their data access could be throttled if they used too much of it in any given month. The company recently responded to the allegations, and let’s just say that AT&T isn’t exactly thrilled. [More]
Two weeks ago, a federal appeals court denied the telecom and cable industry’s request to prevent the FCC’s new Open Internet Order (aka net neutrality) from going into effect, but the legal challenge to neutrality continues, with opponents claiming it will quell investment and result in stifling regulations. Today, FCC Chair Tom Wheeler spoke out publicly on these concerns. [More]
The collapse of the much-discussed, absolutely enormous Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger earlier this year might have been an occasion for consumers and consumer advocates to cheer — but for businesses, it was much less good news. Cable companies that want to buy other cable companies are kind of freaked out: what if the FCC is hostile to their plans, too?
We’re barely into May, and it’s already been an incredibly busy year for the FCC. Even major issues like a spectrum auction and a ruling on municipal broadband were overshadowed by the two huge proceedings around net neutrality and the Comcast/TWC merger. And so when FCC chairman Tom Wheeler sat down for a “fireside chat” at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York this week, he had a lot to say.
The Net Neutrality rules narrowly approved by the FCC in February and made public in March will finally become part of the Federal Register on Monday, kicking off a 60-day countdown clock for everyone and their Aunt Peg to file a lawsuit to try to block, neuter, or gut the new regulations. [More]
The net neutrality rule hasn’t yet taken effect, but it’s been under heavy political fire for the past few weeks. Lawmakers hauled FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and other FCC commissioners in before a series of Congressional committees to justify (or, for dissenting commissioners, to vilify) the open internet rule. Those hearings, in large part, were heated and adversarial. But in a speech at Ohio State’s law school today, Wheeler took the chance to say everything that committee members cut him off from.