by Mike Masnick
Mon, Dec 10th 2012 5:18am
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Aug 22nd 2012 1:05pm
from the tap-tap-tap dept
As far as I can tell, AT&T's defense is two-fold:
- It believes that there is a loophole in the net neutrality rules in that it does not apply to preloaded apps, and they can set whatever access rules for such apps that they want:
The FCC’s net neutrality rules do not regulate the availability to customers of applications that are preloaded on phones. Indeed, the rules do not require that providers make available any preloaded apps. Rather, they address whether customers are able to download apps that compete with our voice or video telephony services.
- It believes that as long as some other competing apps are available, they can restrict the apps they want to restrict.
AT&T does not restrict customers from downloading any such lawful applications, and there are several video chat apps available in the various app stores serving particular operating systems. (I won’t name any of them for fear that I will be accused by these same groups of discriminating in favor of those apps. But just go to your app store on your device and type “video chat.”) Therefore, there is no net neutrality violation.
Of course, all of this is why we've argued for nearly a decade that the whole "net neutrality" fight is a red herring, anyway. The telcos are always going to find their own loopholes and ways around the rules (which they helped create anyway). The whole fight over net neutrality is not the problem. It's a symptom of the real problem: a lack of serious competition in the marketplace. Get more competitors out there, and increase the fight over customers, and AT&T can't get away with such moves.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Aug 1st 2012 7:55pm
Verizon Wireless 'Settles' With FCC For Blocking Tethering Apps It Was Moving Away From Blocking Anyway
from the sleight-of-hand dept
The FCC has now given Verizon Wireless a slap on the wrist, for blocking various tethering apps from the Android Market for Android-based Verizon Wireless phones. The company has agreed to pay $1.25 million and to no longer block those apps. Of course, as Karl Bode has noted, this probably isn't that big a deal to Verizon Wireless, since it had already been moving away from blocking such apps as it moved to its new "shared data plans." Bode wonders if this settlement may have been more for show as it gears up to approve an anti-competitive plan that Verizon is seeking to drive its DSL users to competing cable platforms:
In other words, the FCC took action and finally enforced 2008 rules when they knew Verizon was already changing their ways -- without FCC involvement. Meanwhile, the FCC is rumored to be ready to sign off on Verizon's marketing relationship with the cable industry, despite the serious anti-competitive and coverage issues that deal raises. This tethering ruling could be a way to pretend to appear "pro consumery" before approving the Verizon cable deal.I'm not sure the FCC is going that far, but perhaps that's part of the problem. The FCC never seems to want to go very far at all, always seeking to not offend anyone, with the end result being that the telcos almost always get their way in the long run.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Dec 22nd 2011 8:01pm
from the openness-in-name-only dept
There was some news a few weeks ago saying that Verizon Wireless was blocking Google's mobile payment offering, Google Wallet, on its Galaxy Nexus phones, and that's prompted Stanford professor Barbara van Schewick to ask the FCC to investigate if Verizon Wireless is breaking the law.
Verizon’s conduct undermines the Commission’s general approach towards mobile Internet openness by dismantling the protections for one part of the spectrum on which the FCC’s “incremental” approach to regulation in this space is built. Without enforcement, the openness conditions are effectively moot. Verizon violated these conditions earlier this year when it blocked tethering applications. Now it is blocking Google Wallet. This emerging pattern of disregard for its license conditions challenges the FCC to follow through on its pledges in the Open Internet Order to enforce the openness conditions in the 700 MHz band and to monitor the mobile Internet space for abuses by licensees.While I agree that this is a bad move for consumers, I'm wondering if it really makes sense for the FCC to be involved here. The FCC has always been pretty weak in sanctioning telcos for doing anything wrong and I'm not sure much would really happen here either. The more effective thing is to watch what the market is already doing -- including quickly figuring out a way to hack Google Wallet back on to the phone. On top of that, this story reflects extremely poorly on Verizon Wireless and would make me question if I'd continue to use them (if I did today, which I don't). So while I agree it's a dumb move on VZW's part, I'm not sure it's dumb enough to reach the level that the FCC should be involved.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Dec 19th 2011 6:58pm
from the wow dept
by Tim Cushing
Tue, Oct 25th 2011 11:35am
Wireless Carriers Finally Cave On Overage Fees; Reluctantly Agree To Stop Treating Customers Like ATMs
from the it'd-be-a-great-racket-if-it-wasn't-for-these-stupid-customers dept
"For accounts that repeatedly go into overage, it is reasonable to infer that it is a matter of consumer choice. These customers are either indifferent to overages or are making the deliberate decision to incur overages because it is the most cost-efficient solution for their usage patterns."Or maybe, just maybe, customers wanted to be informed of these possible overage charges but no cell phone company was interested in telling them. While tools are available for consumers to track their own usage, this is not something that's promoted very heavily (or indeed, at all) by most phone companies.
Well, the FCC has finally stared down the wireless carriers, who have decided to voluntarily (through gritted teeth) implement many of the rules suggested by the FCC, rather than deal with being regulated by the government.
Customers will receive free text alerts in real-time when they're about to exceed their limits, CNET reports. The move is supposed to cut down on the "bill shock" people may feel when hit with sky-high rates for extra usage. Wireless carriers will also warn customers who travel overseas about the additional fees they may incur.Of course, this being a government-related decision (and one performed under presumable duress), don't expect to be notified any time soon.
Under the volunteer measures, wireless carriers have 18 months to put their warning systems in place.Not only that, but your months-away warnings may not be timely enough, especially for those of you with notorious text-fiends (read: teenage children) on your mobile plans.
Some providers, including AT&T and Verizon Wireless, already warn their customers as their data use approaches the limit. However, these warnings may be delayed. AT&T, for example, takes 24 hours.24 hours?!? That's like 3 years of texting for normal users! The good news is that sometime within the next two years, your mobile carrier may have to speed up its notification system to something approaching "real time."
Until then, you may want to consider switching to an unlimited plan or putting your kids up for adoption, whichever is cheaper.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Aug 31st 2011 6:42am
from the but-will-they? dept
Current events around the country and the world highlight the urgency and importance of this issue. Growing concern over “flash mob” crimes has led some policymakers to attempt to target communications network for increased scrutiny. In the wake of riots in London, politicians in the United Kingdom have proposed increased governmental surveillance of, access to, and control over social media platforms and other communications media. Such interference with communications has a long history of being used to suppress civil rights protests over a wide variety of traditional and new media, from distributing flyers to television broadcasting.
This tendency, multiplied by the number of state and local agencies willing to exercise control over CMRS, could wreak complete havoc on the reliability of CMRS service by rendering it dependent on the discretion of the most-restrictive authority in any given region. Moreover, inconsistency and unreliability of service would be only two of the many resulting problems. If local government agencies claimed the authority to impede or restrict communications at their own discretion, users’ rights to free speech, just and reasonable access, and emergency services would all be imperiled, subject to local determinations of the relative values of these rights as balanced against the peculiar interests of the restricting authority.
As made plain by the negative ramifications of BART’s alternative proposal, statutes exist – and have been upheld by the courts – to prevent actions like BART’s for good reason. When local and state agencies determine a need to restrict communications, they must work with local public utilities or communications agencies and the Commission pursuant to recognized processes. It is untenable legally and practically to allow the whim of any person or agency that has access to network hardware to dictate who is entitled to access communications services and when.
BART’s past shutdown of CMRS, and its apparent plans for similar shutdowns in the future, raise grave concerns. More troubling, other local agencies may use similar shutdowns of CMRS networks in the future--potentially disrupitng access to communications relating to public safety and protected speech. For the above-mentioned reasons, the Commission should issue a declaratory ruling clarifying that such shutdowns by local governments violate the Act.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Aug 25th 2011 7:00pm
from the oops dept
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Dec 22nd 2010 7:47am
Does The FCC Really Not Understand The Difference Between A Device Operating System And A Mobile Network?
from the these-are-the-people-who-regulate-us? dept
Further, we recognize that there have been meaningful recent moves toward openness, including the introduction of open operating systems like Android.Now, whether or not you agree with the FCC's plans, or with the idea of "net neutrality" regulations in general, this statement is a bit of a head scratcher. It's kind of like saying "because cars use gasoline, we see no reason to set speed limits." I mean, the two are kinda sorta related in that they both involve cars (or mobile computing), but they're not the same thing at all. Just because Android is a more open operating system has nothing to do with network discrimination or questions about the end-to-end principle of networks. Making such a statement suggests that the FCC doesn't understand the difference between an operating system and a mobile network... and that's just scary.
Mon, May 3rd 2010 7:36pm
from the now-with-added-free dept
It doesn't look like M2Z has updated its plan at all since 2006, doing nothing to address any of the concerns, beyond replacing the need for private investment with a second government handout, on top of its free spectrum. In particular, they don't seem to have upped their targets for the speed of their network. What the company was proposing wasn't exactly fast in 2006, is pretty pokey now, and will be even less attractive by the time its network would get up and running. In addition, it's worth clarifying that the "512 kbps" M2Z talks about is arrived at by adding the 384kbps downstream speed plus the 128 kbps upstream speed they plan to offer. That's a new trick we haven't seen before, even in the world of "up to" broadband speed advertising.