Thursday, January 07, 2021

Senate wins in Georgia may bode well for network neutrality restoration


NE Georgia 2018

Russell Brandon writes for The Verge that the Democrats’ double-header win in Georgia’s Senate runoff may “save network neutrality”.

Without control of the Senate, Biden would have to appoint moderate Democrats to the FCC, and they won’t be in a hurry to reverse Pai’s orders. 

Biden hasn’t commented on net neutrality, but he does want to do away with Section 230, but probably does not understand it fully.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Stimulus bill aims to help low income families with broadband for virtual learning


Occoquan creek VA

Tony Romm reports in the Washington Post that $7 billion in the stimulus package (which Trump is waffling on) would go to lower-income Americans to help them pay high-speed Internet bills for virtual learning and other essential uses.

You would wonder if they need cable TV packages, though.

Sunday, December 06, 2020

How will Biden handle network neutrality?


model railroad and wind energy, 2015

The Brookings Institute has a primer on what to expect from the Biden administration of network neutrality and the digital divide, link. 

The FCC, under Biden, would be likely to repeal the 2018 order and go back to the 2015 order under Obama.

However a Biden administration is considered likely to follow Pai’s work on the Digital Divide in rural areas, particularly because of the virtual learning situation.

Brookings believes that Biden will leave the Section 230 issue to Congress.

However Bloomberg Law has a more detailed discussion.  There is some issue with getting a 3-2 Democratic majority on the FCC board (with Senate confirmation, which might become contentious if the Senate is still Republican after the Georgia runoiff).

There are also hurdles in reclassifying broadband as a title II information service instead of Title I (as was done under Pai).

In practice, most users have not noticed changes under Pai, but there have been issues (like problems with some emergency services). 

Ron Placone's video embedded above also discusses 230, which is taken up on my main blog. However Biden's favorable intentions on network neutrality (according to convention wisdom) might offset some of his hostility to Section 230. 

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Comcast data limits could hamper larger families where someone works from home


Comcast will be limiting consumers to 1.2TB a month starting in 2021, which it says is “fair”.

But as long as a lot of people “work from home”, well, the rest of the family will sacrifice some games and movies, won’t it.

FastCompany explains. 

Maybe it gets better when the vaccines come – but then people have to go back to real work.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Telecom companies accused of slowing Internet speeds to force consumers into expensive plans


AOL provided a link to this article about a home wifi signal booster, which is supposed to be a consumer “weapon” against ISP’s continually raising charges for high-speed broadband.

The article gives a story of a family not able to set up chats online during the pandemic, as speeds had degraded without a major and expensive upgrade.

In areas where there are not enough providers for competition, this sounds like a serious consumer problem similar to neutrality.

Sunday, November 08, 2020

Lack of high-speed Internet a problem in rural North Carolina for virtual learning during pandemic


Limited Internet access is still a problem for virtual learning in some parts of North Carolina, ranging from Beaufort County (coastal, Washington NC) to Buncombe County (Asheville, in the mountains).

Providers find providing efficient service unprofitable.  One family, a teenager moved to a family in another town to have more access.  In another, the kids have to stay outside in the cold (in the mountains) to get a good enough signal.

Casey Morris writes for the Carolina Public Press, here

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

FCC not doing enough to help rural Americans have reliable Internet during pandemic


The Institute for Local Self-Reliance reports that “Most Americans have no real choice in Internet providers” in this story Aug. 12, link. 

The story refers to an earlier booklet PDF “Profiles of Monopoly: Big Cable and Television”. 

Gigi Sohn (who was quite active 20 years ago opposing “don’t ask don’t tell” for the military) has an article in The Verge “The FCC should let itself do more to keep Americans connected during the pandemic”

Ajit Pai did beg providers to pledge to “keep Americans connected”, informally.  But this wasn’t enough.  I do wonder if private fundraisers are in order?

Sohn has a twitter thread showing the irony of the loss of net neutrality when Congress considers rolling back the protections of platforms from Section 230.