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posted by martyb on Monday January 16 2017, @08:35AM   Printer-friendly
from the when-free-isn't dept.

In his final days as the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler has accused AT&T and Verizon Wireless of violating net neutrality rules with "zero-rating" policies:

Wheeler described his views in a letter to US senators who had expressed concern about the data cap exemptions, or "zero-rating." FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau staff today also issued a report concluding that AT&T and Verizon zero-rating programs are unfair to competitors. Both Wheeler's letter and the staff report can be read in full here.

The main issue is that AT&T and Verizon allow their own video services (DirecTV and Go90, respectively) to stream on their mobile networks without counting against customers' data caps, while charging other video providers for the same data cap exemptions. The FCC also examined T-Mobile USA's zero-rating program but found that it poses no competitive harms because T-Mobile offers data cap exemptions to third parties free of charge. T-Mobile also "provides little streaming video programming of its own," giving it less incentive to disadvantage video companies that need to use the T-Mobile network, the FCC said.

Also at TechCrunch, Washington Post, CNET, and The Hill.

Original Submission

Related Stories

T-Mobile and Verizon Mobile Plans Change; Probably Not Better for Consumers 8 comments

Verizon Raises Upgrade Fee, Purges More Unlimited Data Users

Verizon has raised its phone upgrade fee to "cover increased cost" of providing a 4G LTE network, despite its latest earnings report showing decreases in wireless capital expenditures. Verizon later "clarified" that it was referring to "ongoing costs to maintain and enhance the network".

Additionally, Verizon Wireless customers with grandfathered-in unlimited data plans will be disconnected or forced to switch to a limited plan if they use more than 200 GB of data a month on average. The company stopped offering the unlimited data plans in 2011. During Verizon's previous purge, customers using more than 500 GB of data per month were targeted.

T-Mobile eliminates cheaper postpaid plans, sells "unlimited data" only

T-Mobile USA will stop selling its older and cheaper limited-data plans to postpaid customers, shifting entirely to its new "unlimited" data plans that impose bandwidth limits on video and tethering unless customers pay extra. To ease the transition, T-Mobile will offer bill credits of $10 a month to customers when they use less than 2GB per month.

T-Mobile began its shift to unlimited data plans in August with the introduction of T-Mobile One, which starts at $70 a month. While there are no data caps, customers have to pay a total of $95 a month to get high-definition video and mobile hotspot speeds of greater than 512kbps.

The carrier said in August that the unlimited plan would be "replacing all our rate plans," including its cheaper plans that cost $50 or $65 a month. Nonetheless, T-Mobile kept selling limited postpaid data plans to new customers for a few months, but yesterday CEO John Legere said that as of January 22, T-Mobile One will be the "only postpaid consumer plan we sell."

Updated: AT&T is raising the price of grandfathered unlimited plans again

Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

Politics: FCC Guards Eject Reporter 37 comments

John M. Donnelly, a senior writer at CQ Roll Call, said he was trying to talk with FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly one-on-one after a news conference when two plainclothes guards pinned him against a wall with the backs of their bodies.

Washington Post

“Not only did they get in between me and O’Rielly but they put their shoulders together and simultaneously backed me up into the wall and pinned me to the wall for about 10 seconds just as I started to say, “Commissioner O’Rielly, I have a question,” Donnelly said Friday.

Donnelly said he was stopped long enough to allow O’Rielly to walk away.

Los Angeles Times

Donnelly, who also happens to be chair of the National Press Club Press Freedom team, said he was then forced out of the building after being asked why he had not posed his question during the news conference.

O'Rielly apologized to Donnelly on Twitter, saying he didn't recognize Donnelly in the hallway. "I saw security put themselves between you, me and my staff. I didn't see anyone put a hand on you. I'm sorry this occurred."


According to the publication for which the reporter works (archived copy),

Senators, including Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, are warning the Federal Communications Commission about its treatment of reporters after a CQ Roll Call reporter was manhandled Thursday.

“The Federal Communications Commission needs to take a hard look at why this happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again. As The Washington Post pointed out, it’s standard operating procedure for reporters to ask questions of public officials after meetings and news conferences,” the Iowa Republican said. “It happens all day, every day. There’s no good reason to put hands on a reporter who’s doing his or her job.”

Cable Lobby Vows “Years of Litigation” to Avoid Bans on Blocking and Throttling 17 comments

The Federal Communications Commission has scheduled an April 25 vote to restore net neutrality rules similar to the ones introduced during the Obama era and repealed under former President Trump.

"After the prior administration abdicated authority over broadband services, the FCC has been handcuffed from acting to fully secure broadband networks, protect consumer data, and ensure the Internet remains fast, open, and fair," FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said today. "A return to the FCC's overwhelmingly popular and court-approved standard of net neutrality will allow the agency to serve once again as a strong consumer advocate of an open Internet."
In a filing with the FCC, Turner wrote that "ISPs have been incredibly bullish about the future of their businesses precisely because of the network investments they are making" and that the companies rarely, if ever, mention the impact of FCC regulation during calls with investors.

"We believe that the ISPs' own words to their shareholders, and to industry analysts through channels governed by the SEC, should be afforded significantly more weight than evidence-free tropes, vague threats, dubious aggregate capital expenditure tallies, or nonsensical math jargon foisted on the Commission this docket or elsewhere," Turner wrote.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 16 2017, @11:41AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 16 2017, @11:41AM (#454345)

    I want to walk into a store and pay cash to buy a little red box, and I want that little red box to broadcast a wifi signal, and I want the wifi signal to give me free internet access, and I don't want to pay any additional fees after I already paid for the little red box. And I want all this to have already happened, and I want to post this comment using a little red box that says Verizon 4G LTE.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 16 2017, @11:43AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 16 2017, @11:43AM (#454347)

      Well that was easy.

      Data caps. I don't even.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 16 2017, @12:55PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 16 2017, @12:55PM (#454357)

        I don't even.

        You do odd, then?

        • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 16 2017, @12:59PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 16 2017, @12:59PM (#454358)

          Yes, 53 is an odd numbered port.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 16 2017, @01:04PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 16 2017, @01:04PM (#454360)

            Whoa whoa whoa, are you saying if I put an SSH server on port 53, I can get free internet?

            • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 16 2017, @04:07PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 16 2017, @04:07PM (#454398)

              yes, you can expand your domain this way very effectively!

              At various schools that I help with the IT services/support at, we block DNS lookups externally from end user segments and further only allow specific static hosts to do DNS lookups. This forces our guests (such as students) to use our local DNS services for their unsanctioned web surfing when they should be studying.

              The sound we heard when we first enabled this (or disabled, depending on your frame of reference) could be heard around the world. I felt a disturbance in the force and I was not even there that day. It was like all of the PCs in the library stopped playing flash games all of a sudden (since they were being accessed on blocked sites that people were bypassing by clever workarounds that still relied on getting to the proper DNS name...)

              And no student complained. I guess they knew better than to accuse someone of making it so they couldn't play games they already knew they were not supposed to be playing.

              Of course, any student smart enough to get a red box that has internet access and share it with friends is going to bypass local LAN efforts to keep things under control, but at least they won't be on the school's network when they do that. The honor system for policing this sort of stuff ends around where something like this starts.

              But blocking dns lookups internally is a great way to prevent ssh tunnels and other tunnels within port 53 from being used. People told me that students would never be smart enough to figure that out because the adults that don't work in IT said they didn't understand it, so the kids wouldn't either. Uh-huh. Kids are ingenius and creative and share discoveries rapidly, even if they do not understand how it works, they certainly know how to install free software that enables a feature they want.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 17 2017, @01:16AM

                by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 17 2017, @01:16AM (#454645)

                That's the idea. Restrict your network until no one wants to use it. The mobile carriers will love you. Some of those kids who are stealing free data today with their burner boxes might grow up and get jobs and pay for data plans. Eventually your stupid school won't have a network anymore and everybody pretending to work in IT will be fired.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bob_super on Monday January 16 2017, @05:41PM

    by bob_super (1357) on Monday January 16 2017, @05:41PM (#454432)

    How do we establish Tom W as dictator-for-life of the FCC?
    A guy who turned away millions in future income from his former lobbying customers, to actually do what benefits the people, how often is that found?