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Leak: Here's the New Charter Gigabit Markets Launching Next Week -
Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:00:03 EDT -

Sources familiar with Charter/Spectrum's looming gigabit broadband rollout tell DSLReports.com that there's a significant number of new gigabit market launches in the cards for next week. According to these sources, a number of gigabit launches will be unveiled on December 19, including Cincinnati, Ohio, Charlotte, North Carolina; Raleigh, North Carolina; New York City, New York; Kansas City, Missouri; Austin, Texas and San Antonio Texas. Charter recently unveiled this faster service in a limited launch in Oahu last week as an apparent dry run for this broader launch.

In the first market, users can get 1 Gbps downstream, 35 Mbps upstream service for $105 per month (though pricing moving forward is likely to vary depending on local competition). As per the company's Time Warner Cable Bright House merger conditions, it's prohibited from imposing usage caps for another six years.

According to Charter, the company's new gigabit service includes a modem (Charter includes the cost of the modem in their listed price, unlike many ISPs) with integrated WiFi and a 30-day money back guarantee.

In addition to gigabit broadband launches (which is technically 940 Mbps), the source (who provided an internal employee memo, above left) notes that users in these markets will also have the option of subscribing to speeds of 400 Mbps downstream, 20 Mbps upstream, or 200 Mbps downstream, 10 Mbps upstream. There's also a number of markets that appear to be poised to get the new 400 Mbps tier, but not the gigabit offering (yet).

The deployment comes just as Charter has been facing increased criticism for lagging behind its contemporaries (from Comcast to Mediacom) when it comes to broadband upgrades. In the wake of the company's recent acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, many customers had been complaining that the only changes they've seen so far have been negative, with many seeing rate hikes of 40% and even worse customer service.

Users interested in learning more about the looming upgrades should stop by our Charter Spectrum forum.
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Comcast is Pushing For a Shitty Net Neutrality Law It Will Write -
Fri, 15 Dec 2017 14:00:03 EDT -

In the wake of successfully lobbying the FCC to kill net neutrality, Comcast is pushing for a new net neutrality law. Why? As the lawsuits against the FCC for ignoring comment fraud and the public interest looms, ISPs realize full well it's a legal battle they may very well lose. After all, the FCC will need to prove in court that it not only listened to consumer feedback and expert analysis (it didn't), but that the broadband market changed so substantively in the last two years to warrant such a stark reversal of a popular policy (it didn't).

Even if the FCC and its ISP BFFs win that court fight, they still have to find a way to keep future FCCs from simply passing new, tough net neutrality rules.

The solution? For ISPs, it's to push a new law that they know they'll quite literally write, submitted to a Congress all-but owned courtesy of campaign contributions. Such law will profess to put the long-standing debate over net neutrality debate to an end, but will be filled with so many loopholes as to be effectively useless.

Comcast is perfectly ok if the law bans things they never intended to do (block websites outright, blatant throttling), but such a law won't cover the areas most current net neutrality abuses now occur (usage caps, overage fees, zero rating, interconnection, retrans blackouts of streaming services, etc.). Comcast long ago realized there's a million ways to hide anti-competitive behavior behind a rotating crop of faux-technical justifications (llook how it treated HBO Go on Roku and Sony Playstation).

It's important to understand this when you see top Comcast lobbyist David Cohen saying in a blog post that it's "time for Congress to act and permanently preserve the open internet."

Amusingly, Comcast's Cohen pretends that the millions of dollars it spent to gut privacy and net neutrality protections while suing the government didn't cause this problem.

"Unfortunately, there are others who want to continue engaging in a never ending game of back and forth, creating unnecessary anxiety and contributing to an unneeded level of hysteria," says Cohen. "Some will undoubtedly continue threatening litigation that does nothing to protect consumers or freedom of the Internet. Others will say the FCC is shirking its responsibilities, when the real authority truly lies within Congress."

That's a fairly hysterical attempt by Comcast to place the blame for this chaos on everybody but Comcast. Nobody forced Comcast to lobby and file suit to overturn extremely popular privacy and net neutrality rules. And while Comcast now breathlessly insists a new net neutrality law is the solution to a problem it created, they ignore the fact that if the law is weak kneed and shitty (which is pretty clearly Comcast's intent), it could make the entire situation worse.

Regardless, expect ISP funded lobbyists, think tankers, lawmakers, fauxcademics and consultants to begin breathlessly pushing for a new, loophole-filled law in the new year. They want to get something awful on the books before the courts realize that the FCC's repeal of net neutrality was rushed, rife with fraud, and in stark contrast to the public interest.
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Weekend Open Thread! -
Fri, 15 Dec 2017 18:00:03 EDT -

Tell us something interesting in the comment section below.

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Friday Morning Links -
Fri, 15 Dec 2017 06:40:02 EDT -

Net Neutrality's End Is Creating a Lot of Confusion About the Future of the Internet slate.com
Ookla 2017 report: global internet speeds are up 30% YoY, as average download speeds for broadband and mobile reach 40 Mbps and 20 Mbps respectively engadget.com
For T-Mobile to Disrupt TV, It Must Disrupt Home Internet foxbusiness.com
Fixed 5G, The Prequel: Starring AT&T And Verizon Wireless forbes.com
In response to the Net Neutrality ruling, Motherboard & Vice.com are building a community Internet based at their NYC HQ that will connect to the NYC Mesh network and will not rely on a traditional ISP Motherboard @vice.com
Verizon acquires Chicago fiber network from WOW wirelessweek.com
AT&T Reaches Tentative Labor Deal with 21K Wireless Workers wirelessweek.com
Why Must The FCC Insult Everyone's Intelligence By Misrepresenting Broadband Investment? techdirt.com
Dish soft-launches new AirTV Box - Device for cord-cutters lets users stream local TV in and out of the home, works with Sling TV multichannel.com
Amazon to Once Again Sell Chromecast, Apple TV pcmag.com
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Amazon Backs Down, Will Sell Chromecast and Apple TV Again -
Fri, 15 Dec 2017 10:00:02 EDT -

Amazon appears to be backing away from a silly spat with Google that culminated in Amazon echo users being unable to access YouTube. Amazon has long refused to sell Google Chromecast and Apple TV products. The company tried to claim this was to avoid "customer confusion," but most realized it was really because they compete with Amazon's own offerings. Three months ago, Google retaliated by blocking YouTube from working on Amazon s Echo Show device. Amazon retaliated in turn by expanding its product blockade to include Google Nest smart thermostat products.

Two weeks ago, Amazon managed to bring YouTube back to the Echo Show by directing users to the web version. But earlier this month Google escalating the feud further, but not only blocking that workaround outright, but by sending notices to owners of Amazon Fire TV products that YouTube would be blocked on that device starting on January 1, 2018.

The back and forth only acted to annoy and anger paying customers, who suddenly lost device functionality to no fault of their own. Apparently realizing that this feud was hurting everybody ahead of the holiday season, Amazon has confirmed it will begin selling Google Chromecast and Apple TV devices.

"I can confirm that we are assorting Apple TV and Chromecast," an Amazon spokeswoman told CNET. The company didn't appear interested in offering any more details regarding their about face. Google is similarly refusing to comment further on the silly standoff between the two companies.
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NY AG Promises Multi-State Lawsuit Over Net Neutrality Repeal -
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 16:30:02 EDT -

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says his office will be filing a lawsuit against the FCC for its repeal of popular net neutrality rules. According to a statement by the AG, Schneiderman intends to lead a multi-state legal assault against the repeal. The AG had called for a delay of the vote as his office investigated fraud during the FCC open comment period, which he says resulted in more than 2 million Americans having their identities stolen.

Whoever was behind the effort clearly wanted to try and downplay massive public opposition to the repeal. But if it can be proven that these groups or individuals are tied to ISP proxy groups, things could get interesting in these looming lawsuits.

The FCC s vote to rip apart net neutrality is a blow to New York consumers, and to everyone who cares about a free and open internet," the AG said in a statement.

"The FCC just gave Big Telecom an early Christmas present, by giving internet service providers yet another way to put corporate profits over consumers," he added. "Today s rollback will give ISPs new ways to control what we see, what we do, and what we say online. That s a threat to the free exchange of ideas that s made the Internet a valuable asset in our democratic process."

Schneiderman's office also highlighted how the FCC's public comment period was rife with fraud and identity theft. It's believed the FCC turned a blind eye to these problems in a misguided effort to raise doubts about the integrity of the public comment system, in turn helping to downplay massive public opposition to their plan.

"Today s vote also follows a public comment process that was deeply corrupted, including two million comments that stole the identities of real people," the AG wrote. "This is a crime under New York law -- and the FCC s decision to go ahead with the vote makes a mockery of government integrity and rewards the very perpetrators who scammed the system to advance their own agenda."

Schneiderman's multi-state lawsuit will join countless other lawsuits by consumer groups and competitors, all to be filed in January when the FCC's repeal formally hits the federal register.
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What Happens Next With Net Neutrality? -
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 13:38:00 EDT -

The FCC today, as expected, voted 3-2 along partisan lines to repeal the agency's net neutrality rules. Needless to say, the decision may just be the least popular decision in tech policy history, with a recent survey suggesting that 83% of Americans opposed the FCC's plan to roll back the rules. In the absence of healthy competition in the market, these rules protected consumers from ISPs with a very long history of anti-competitive behavior. Without them, ISPs will have carte blanche to engage in a wide variety of "creative" abuses of an uncompetitive broadband market.

Needless to say, the FCC Commissioners that support net neutrality (Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel) came out swinging against the FCC's blatant disregard of the public interest.

"As a result of today s misguided action, our broadband providers will get extraordinary new power from this agency," said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. "They will have the power to block websites, throttle services, and censor online content. They will have the right to discriminate and favor the internet traffic of those companies with whom they have pay-for-play arrangements and the right to consign all others to a slow and bumpy road."

"Now our broadband providers will tell you they will never do these things," she added. "They say just trust us. But know this: they have the technical ability and business incentive to discriminate and manipulate your internet traffic. And now this agency gives them the legal green light to go ahead and do so."

As we've noted, the repeal of net neutrality is just one small part of the ISP lobbying agenda, which includes gutting all FCC oversight of ISPs, then shoveling any remaining oversight to an FTC they're currently suing to make sure it can't act either. Comcast and Verizon have also successfully lobbied the FCC to include provisions allowing it to crack down on states that get any "crazy" ideas about protecting net neutrality or your online privacy.

Anybody that believes the one two punch of no adult regulatory oversight and limited competition ends well in the Comcast era is either financially conflicted, or has been hoodwinked into cheering against their own best self interests.

What happens now?

To be clear, ISPs won't immediately begin acting like anti-competitive jackasses. They want to make it seem like concern over the repeal is little more than breathless hysteria by fringe activists, so they'll try to remain on their best behavior for the foreseeable future. They also need to make sure the repeal survives the looming court challenge, something only hurt if they begin blatantly behaving badly.

The rules won't technically be repealed until the repeal itself hits the Federal Register sometime in January. And even then, the FCC then faces numerous lawsuits from state AGs, consumer advocates, and others who believe this repeal violates the public interest and standard FCC procedure. Those lawsuits will highlight how the FCC ignored FCC processes, disregarded the public interest, turned a blind eye to fraud during the open comment period and even made up a DDOS attack -- all in an apparent attempt to downplay massive public opposition to this plan.

In court, the FCC will also have to prove to a Judge that the broadband industry changed so dramatically in just two years to warrant such a stark reversal of a major policy. Since the FCC's entire argument against the rules are built entirely upon
patently false and repeatedly debunked lobbyist data, the suits may be able to prove the FCC's repeal is "arbitrary and capricious." Especially since the 2015 rules stood up to court challenge several times already.

The rules won't technically be repealed until the repeal itself hits the Federal Register sometime in January. And even then, the FCC then faces numerous lawsuits from state AGs, consumer advocates, and others who believe this repeal violates the public interest -- and that the FCC consistently violated standard FCC procedure.
Should the FCC win those lawsuits, net neutrality opponents and ISP allies still have to find a way to prevent future FCC's from simply passing new rules again.

That will likely come in the form of an ISP-written law in the new year, the sole function of which will be to prevent the FCC from revisiting the subject. If history is any indication, the law will be framed as a "solution" to the problem ISP lobbyists helped create with the repeal, but will have so many loopholes as to be effectively meaningless (much like the FCC's original 2010 rules). Watch for a big push for this law from ISP lobbyists, think tanks, and others in the new year.

Should the FCC repeal survive the courts, you'll then likely see ISPs slowly but surely start testing out their newfound freedoms in a variety of anti-competitive and obnoxious ways; some old, some new. Some surely won't be able to wait that long, so it's more than likely we'll see numerous examples of anti-competitive idiocy along the way.

Again, today's decision by the FCC may just be the least popular decision in tech policy history (even beyond SOPA), and the backlash is going to be felt for many years to come. Ajit Pai and friends don't seem particularly aware of the massive political and policy backlash that will be heading their direction over the next few years, especially among Millennial voters disgusted by this blatant handout to giant duopolies. Be assured: the pendulum will swing back around, taking several heads with it along the way.

But concerned readers should remember that net neutrality violations are just a symptom of a lack of competition in the broadband market. Today's vote doesn't change that underlying problem -- or our capacity and ability to address it. In fact, it just draws more attention to the problem of limited broadband competition. The vote simply raises awareness to the fact that we need more creative solutions to drive broadband availability (municipal broadband, public/private partnerships). It simply draws more attention to the fact that the United States refuses to fix this problem because it's firmly in the grasp of regulatory capture.

The vote is just the latest salvo in a wave of anti-consumer, anti-competition, anti-small business actions at the agency, including repealing broadband privacy protections, killing efforts to bring competition to cable boxes, killing broadband programs for the poor, propping up business broadband monopolies,

Want things to change? Look beyond mindless partisan platitudes and vote for better leaders in local, state, and federal elections. Leaders that actually respect science and data, and for whom words like "competition" and "open, healthy markets" actually mean something.
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Forum Topic: $200 Charter 'Activation Fee' Drops to $50 -
Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:00:02 EDT -

After users in our forums complained for months, customers in our Charter Spectrum forum indicate that the company will be reducing its controversial $200 "upgrade" or "activation" fee. Originally, Charter was charging customers $200 simply to upgrade to faster tiers. The fee was applied despite the fact that Charter techs had to do little to no work to enable these speeds. Users in our forums note that while it's not being eliminated, it's now being priced at $50 -- but only for those on the company's new broadband packages.

CenturyLink Adorably Thinks FCC Will Protect Interconnection -
Fri, 15 Dec 2017 07:40:03 EDT -

You might recall that a few years ago, content and transit companies accused major ISPs like Verizon and Comcast of intentionally letting their interconnection points get congested. Why? These companies wanted to kill the idea of settlement-free peering and extract significantly more money from transit and content companies. As the public grew wise to net neutrality threats like outright throttling and blocking, ISPs simply engaged in more "creative" ways to use their monopolies over the last mile to competitive and financial advantage -- resulting in slowed traffic for companies like Netflix.

Of course, when the FCC passed its 2015 net neutrality rules (which let the FCC take action if anti-competitive behavior occurs), these problems magically ceased.

But with the FCC in the process of now gutting those rules, the door has been opened to effectively whatever anti-competitive behavior large ISPs would like to engage in. CenturyLink is one of several major ISPs that helped support the repeal of net neutrality protections. But having just acquired Level 3, the ISP is now urging the FCC to retain its focus on keeping interconnection healthy and competitive.

In a new FCC filing (pdf, hat tip Fierce Wireless), CenturyLink told the agency it "should not relinquish authority over Internet traffic exchange arrangements" in the wake of the repeal.

"Should the Commission adopt an Order reclassifying broadband internet access service as a Title I information service and assert Title I jurisdiction over internet traffic, the Commission should also clearly state that it can and will be available to resolve significant issues related to the associated policies and rules that give rise to such Title I jurisdiction," CenturyLink said.

Should a debate occur where bigger company tries to use interconnection to screw over CenturyLink, the company argues that the FCC should be able to step in and help settle pricing disputes.

For example, should the issue arise, the Commission alone is able to determine whether terminating access charges for internet traffic would be consistent with the public interest for the underlying telecommunications and associated voice communications, its obligation to encourage the deployment of advanced telecommunications capability, and to ensure that other jurisdictions do not adopt conflicting policies, CenturyLink said.

It's not entirely clear what planet Centurylink has been living on.

Ajit Pai's FCC has made it repeatedly clear that it has little to no interest in policing interconnection, and the reversal of Title II makes enforcing such behavior harder than ever. Pai's plan is relatively simple: gut all meaningful FCC oversight of giant ISPs, then shovel any remaining oversight to an FTC that's not only ill-equipped to police these complaints, but is facing a legal fight against AT&T that could leave it without any meaningful authority.

This isn't a new paradigm based around fairness or competition. It's based around who can pay entrenched business broadband monopolies the most money to make sure their traffic arrives on time, and intact. Can't pay the arbitrary and unnecessary additional troll toll? Too bad. That CenturyLink honestly believes that this FCC is going to jump in and save it from anti-competitive behavior it helped make possible is, for lack of a better word, adorable.
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Disney Buys Most of 21st Century Fox for $66 Billion -
Fri, 15 Dec 2017 08:30:02 EDT -

Disney has announced it will be buying numerous 21st Century Fox assets in a deal valued at around $66 billion ($13.7 billion of which will be debt). According to a joint announcement by these companies, the acquisition covers Fox's film and television studios (finally unifying the Marvel movie licenses under one roof), cable entertainment networks and international TV businesses. Disney CEO Bob Iger will remain in his role as company CEO until 2021, according to the release.

"We re honored and grateful that Rupert Murdoch has entrusted us with the future of businesses he spent a lifetime building, and we re excited about this extraordinary opportunity to significantly increase our portfolio of well-loved franchises and branded content to greatly enhance our growing direct-to-consumer offerings," Iger said in a statement.

"The deal will also substantially expand our international reach, allowing us to offer world-class storytelling and innovative distribution platforms to more consumers in key markets around the world," Iger added.

The deal also gives Disney a controlling, dominant stake in Hulu -- just as it plans to launch its own streaming service in the new year. Disney has been trying desperately to adjust to the cord cutting era, especially after its ESPN properties lost more than 10 million viewers who had either cut the cord, or downgraded to skinny bundles because they simply didn't find sports interesting.

»twitter.com/darrenrovell ··· 21500928

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Watch the FCC Kill Net Neutrality Live -
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:39:33 EDT -

Today's the day the FCC ignores the public and votes to kill net neutrality. You can watch the FCC's meeting via this live stream over at the FCC website.

Update: At around 9:50 the meeting was halted and the vote stopped due to an unspecified security concern at the FCC office. All attendees were told to leave their possessions in place and were forced to evacuate the building.

»twitter.com/ceciliakang/ ··· 2447489

Update 2: After a security sweep attendees returned to the meeting.

There's an additional live feed here for those interested:

»www.youtube.com/watch?v= ··· 202l55LU

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Thursday Morning Links -
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 06:40:02 EDT -

Fake comments flooded in when the FCC repealed net neutrality. They may count less than you think washingtonpost.com
Why Canada's net neutrality fight hasn't been as fierce as the one in the U.S. cbc.ca
Why T-Mobile TV Streaming Service Will Fail: Analysis forbes.com
FCC's own chief technology officer, appointed by Ajit Pai, emailed FCC commissioners' offices to express concerns about the consequences of repealing net neutrality politico.com
Broadband Provider Groups Aim to Debunk Overexaggerated Net Neutrality Fears telecompetitor.com
AT&T Fiber Expansion Includes Five More Metros, 7 Million Locations Now Reached telecompetitor.com
Cox says whole-home premium Panoramic WiFi product now has more than 1 million customers multichannel.com
TV is now clearly the wireless industry s new battleground fiercewireless.com
Redbox launches Redbox On Demand with 6,000+ movies and TV shows available to rent or buy, starting at $3.99 for 48-hour VOD rentals variety.com
Most Android-Based TV Set-Top Boxes Run Old and Insecure OS Versions bleepingcomputer.com
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