Obama Would Veto ‘Anti-Net Neutrality Bill”

The power to veto something is a strong one, and many governments have the power in place for specific reasons. Though rarely used it can often be what makes or breaks a law or new piece of legislation. In this case, the White House has stated that it would veto the ‘No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act’ on the grounds that it is very anti-net neutrality.

H.R. 2666 would appear at first glance to support the concept of net neutrality, with its author Adam Kinzinger, the republican representative for Illinois, saying that regulating broadband rates would create “significant uncertainty for ISPs” while also discouraging “investment and unique pricing structures or service plans”.

The sly part of the new bill, which the Electronic frontier foundation spotted, was that the FCC would have to stop summoning companies to explain a new trend of data exception schemes. These schemes like the T-mobile binge service, see companies making deals with certain providers and then not counting their content towards your data usage. Unlimited videos from certain sites? Sure, but videos on every site will be throttled.

In the White Houses letter, they state that the bill “would restrict the FCC’s ability to take enforcement actions to protect consumers on issues where the FCC has received numerous consumer complaints.” The White House then continues to say that the bill would also cause issues in the future as it ” could limit the Commission’s ability to address new practices and adapt its rules for a dynamic, fast-changing online marketplace”.

The letter finishes by saying that “if the President were presented with H.R. 2666, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”.

FFC To Create “Nutrition Labels” For Your Broadband

The Federal Communications Commission do a lot of things, including monitoring and investigating companies which have less than kind business practices. In their latest attempt to help people they’ve taken their inspiration from something we see (and ignore for the most part) everyday, nutrition labels.

In their latest attempt to give consumers a fair few the new nutrition labels will be used to help customers understand both home internet service providers (ISP’s) and mobile carriers. While not mandatory carriers are being “urged” to use the labels which will give you an idea about the following properties:

  • Price
    • This includes all those hidden fees they often hide, such as line rental or limited discounts
  • Data Caps
    • Ever felt like you may be getting a slower service? You should be able to see if you’ve hit your data usage cap, if one even exists
  • Speed
    • This will be included alongside things like latent and packet loss, giving you an idea not just how fast your service would be but also how reliable it is to

ISP’s are free to come up with their own labels, but they must be made in an “accurate, understandable and easy-to-find manner”.

Examples of the Broadband and Mobile labels can be found below.

Hoping to avoid the surprise fee’s that account for more than 2,000 complaints received by the FCC, the new labels could help people decide on the company that’s right for them, rather than the advertisement that fools the most.

FCC Says Netflix Throttling Itself Isn’t Against Net Neutrality

Recently the popular streaming service Netflix admitted that when it comes to mobile phones accessing their system, they reduced the video quality on most mobile networks to help avoid excessive data usage. This caused an uproar given Netflix’s stance on the topic was to support the concept of Net Neutrality (the idea being that all traffic on the internet is equal and, therefore, shouldn’t be prioritized or capped based on its content). It nows seems that the FCC have stated where they stand on the matter.

The FCC’s Chairman Tom Wheeler stated that the Federal Communications Commission had no intention of investigating the service for throttling its own streams. Critics of Netflix agree with the idea that the FCC’s ruling on net neutrality applies to internet service providers, those that provide the entirety of the internet to you rather than just a service within the internet. Even with this agreement, they want the company investigated, with Wheeler clarifying that they “do not regulate edge providers”. An edge provider in this case is what the FCC title online content providers, the ones that actually use the internet to provide a service rather than provide access to the internet itself.

This comes at a time when the FCC are openly investigating mobile providers for their internet usage systems, with companies like TalkTalk offering their Binge service, a service which allows you to stream unlimited amounts of content from select providers that have partnered up with TalkTalk.

Where do you stand? Should companies be allowed to reduce quality to ensure you get a smooth service without additional costs? Should they be allowed you provide you with “unlimited content” from select providers?

FCC May Have Caused Manufacturers To Lock Down Routers Afterall

Last year we reported that the FCC (US Federal Communications Commission) may be moving to outlaw the practice of adding custom software to routers. The misunderstanding was cleared up with the FCC saying that they wouldn’t ban the practice, enabling people to customise their routers with their own software and tweaks in safety. It would now seem though that one manufacturer has done just that in response to the FCC’s new rules.

TP-Link is one of the largest routers manufacturers, offering hardware choices to people all over the world. Libre Planet, however, found that they may also be the first to start locking down their firmware, their evidence being the support conversation that shows TP-Link are starting to lock down the installation of open source and custom firmware on their devices.

TP-Link state that they are doing this in order to comply with FCC regulations regarding customizations on wireless routers, the very thing we were told wouldn’t happen! The result could be that third-party software, many of which are open-source, would become illegal if you attempted to place them on your router, something many do due to the support, features and quick security updates often found in open source software.

Do you customise your router’s software? Do you think it’s a good idea for people to be able to do this or is it a better idea to ensure everyone uses the same software?

TP-Link to Block Open Source Router Firmware in the US

Popular network hardware manufacturer TP-Link have stated that they will be preventing their users from loading open source firmware such as DD-WRT and OpenWRT onto its routers sold in the United States as part of a move to comply with new Federal Communications Commission regulations.

The rule laid out by the FCC aim to limit the amount of interference with devices, by disallowing user modifications to wireless networking hardware that causes it to operate outside of licensed radio frequency limits. The FCC do not intend to deliberately ban the use of third-party router firmware from use entirely, theoretically allowing router manufacturers to permit the installation of this firmware provided there are controls in place that block devices from operating outside of their specified frequencies, power levels and types of modulation.

With locking out custom firmware being the easiest way to ensure the new FCC regulations were upheld, the open source community feared that this would be the action taken by manufacturers. In this case, they were right.

In all TP-Link routers produced on and after June 2, 2016, TP-Link’s changes will mean that “users are not able to flash the current generation of open-source, third-party firmware.” They also stated that “excited to see the creative ways members of the open-source community update the new firmware to meet their needs.” However, they did not provide any further information as to what would allow future versions of custom firmware to be installed on these routers.

Other router makers are yet to release explicit statements regarding their plans to enforce the FCC’s new rules on their routers would be, however, it is easy to imagine many taking a similar route. Even if custom firmware developers were to rewrite their software, there would be no real assurance that it obeys the restrictions without making the radio controlling software entirely separate so there can be assurance it was not tampered with.

Verizon Fined $1.35 Million by FCC Over ‘Supercookie’ Tracking

Everyone wants your browsing data, from the government to your ISP, for reasons ranging from tracking potential criminals to lucrative advertisement revenue. Now Verizon is settling with the FCC over their usage of an ad targeting technology known as ‘supercookie’, which tracks the sites visited by phones on their network. These supercookies allow ads to be better targeted for users on of the Verizon cell phone service, however, Verizon neglected to inform their users of the tracking and allow them to opt-out. This action has caused them to incur a fine of $1.35 million from the US Federal Communications Commission and force them to receive customer permission before sharing any tracking data with other companies and those inside its organization, including AOL.

Verizon’s usage of the supercookie tracking garnered a lot of negative feedback when it was introduced last year, causing the company to allow users to opt-out of the program. This move is forced even further by today’s settlement, limiting the data that can be shared even from customers that do not opt-out. This is a big change, as it addresses one of the main concerns with supercookies, which could allow websites to track users on a permanent basis, as it was impossible to disassociate a user from their supercookie on the Verizon network.

This settlement represents the FCC successfully defending the Open Internet Transparency Rule, only the second time that it has been done (the first being a fine against AT&T over unlimited data plans.) This ruling seems to allow for some level of tracking to be permitted, so long as there is transparency and the option to opt-out exist for the customer. “Consumers care about privacy and should have a say in how their personal information is used, especially when it comes to who knows what they’re doing online,” stated Travis LeBlanc, chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. It is clear that Verizon overstepped their bounds in this case, and we can only hope that other network providers will learn from this when considering the tracking and sharing of their users’ data.

Raspberry Pi 3 Includes Wi-fi and Bluetooth

Computers are weird things, they get smaller each year and yet still their power and what each of them can do increases every time we blink. A prime example of this is the recent surge of mini-computers, with some hardware being as small as your phone while also letting you add and customise to your heart contents. From touchscreens to the next generation of robot wars, the small component has inspired a generation but without wireless technology, it seemed to lack something. That could change with an FCC document showing that the next generation of Raspberry Pi may solve that problem

First let’s be clear, you can connect the older Raspberry Pi’s to the wireless network but you needed to buy a wireless dongle, which means another thing you can forget and a USB port that you’ve got to take up in order to use it. The documents show that not only will the next Raspberry Pi include everything you need for wi-fi connections but it will also include Bluetooth.

The documents don’t really show that much difference, with everything else pointing to the same specification as the Raspberry Pi 2, but that doesn’t mean it won’t change.

Do you use a Raspberry Pi, or maybe something similar and if so what do you use it for?

Republican Senators Argue With FCC Over 25Mbps Broadband

On Thursday, a group of republican senators expressed an issue with the Federal Communications commission, or rather their definition of a service. The item in question is broadband and the fact that in order to qualify in their reports they are now required to provide 25Mbps Broadband.

Citing popular sites like Netflix and Amazon in their letter, they argue that services like these only require a fraction of the speed that the FCC now say is the baseline to classify as broadband internet. The speed in question is 25 Mbps, a speed I know a lot of people would be happy to pay for if it was stable at even a fraction of that speed.

Broadbands definition was redefined as 25 Mbps last year, raising from only 4Mbps. The difference being fundamental to the FCC given that they are required to act if not enough people have access to this service. The reason they stated for the update was because the old speed was “dated and inadequate”, with more devices connected to each household now you could often see several people connecting and using services like Netflix at the same time.

In their latest report, 10% didn’t have access to the 25Mbps speed that was required to be considered Broadband. Something which may be easier to help with if the FCC was consistent across the board the senators argue. While using 25 Mbps for reporting on broadband levels, if you are applying for Connect America Funds the benchmark is only 10 Mbps. These funds are designed to help connect people and allow companies to offer services to as many people as possible, but clearly only offering 10 Mbps is far from the 25 Mbps you will require according to the new standards.

US Fed­er­al Judges May Help ISPs Undermine Net Neutrality

Federal judges in the US could force the Federal Communications Commission to decimate its own net neutrality ruling. Internet service providers have been fighting the FCC ever since the government body reclassified internet services under Title II of the Com­mu­nic­a­tions Act, according to the National Journal. At the behest of ISPs, three Federal judges at the D.C. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals are currently putting that reclassification under the microscope, which may see the concept of a free and open internet sold out.

Lawyers working on behalf of ISPs argue that internet services should be classified as ‘information services’ like Google or Netflix, rather than ‘telecommunications services’ like telephones, due to the cost of storing and sending large quantities of data.

On Friday, Judge Steph­en Wil­li­ams asked lawyers from the FCC why companies should not be allowed to charge extra for internet “fast lanes?” asserting that, “If you get something spe­cial, you pay something spe­cial.”

The Appeals panel is also looking at what constitutes an internet network. For example, mobile internet for smartphones and tablets is distributed via mobile (cell) phone networks, while broadband operates through fibre or cable, so why should they be considered the same “network”?

“You nev­er know with these guys,” me­dia at­tor­ney An­drew Schwartz­man, a supporter of net neutrality, told re­port­ers. “They probed very, very ag­gress­ively both sides. My sense of it, for what it’s worth—and we’ll know in four months—is that they were sat­is­fied with the com­mis­sion’s explan­a­tions.”

Whatever the panel decides – ruling in favour of either the FCC or ISPs – it is expected that the losing side will take the case to the Supreme Court.

FCC Speaks Out Regarding Router Hacking Laws

Back in September, the US Federal Communications Commission revealed proposals for new laws governing software requirements for Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) devices, the draft for which suggested that the government agency could outlaw router hacking, like flashing the device with third-party firmwares DD-WRT, Tomato, and OpenWRT.

The FCC has now spoken out regarding the proposed rules, specifically the section asking router manufacturers to explain “how [its] device is protected from ‘flashing’ and the installation of third-party firmware such as DD-WRT”.

“This particular question prompted a fair bit of confusion – were we mandating wholesale blocking of Open Source firmware modifications?” Julius Knapp, Chief of the Office of Engineering & Technology for the FCC writes. “We were not,” Knapp clarifies, “but we agree that the guidance we provide to manufacturers must be crystal-clear to avoid confusion.”

There we have it: no ban on router hacking. Knapp, however, does acknowledge how misleading the previous draft may have been, writing, “today we released a revision to that guidance to clarify that our instructions were narrowly-focused on modifications that would take a device out of compliance.”

He adds, “The revised guidance now more accurately reflects our intent in both the U-NII rules as well as our current rulemaking, and we hope it serves as a guidepost for the rules as we move from proposal to adoption.”

The revised section now reads [PDF]:

“Describe, if the device permits third-party software or firmware installation, what mechanisms are provided by the manufacturer to permit integration of such functions while ensuring that the RF parameters of the device cannot be operated outside its authorization for operation in the U.S. In the description include what controls and/or agreements are in place with providers of third-party functionality to ensure the devices’ underlying RF parameters are unchanged and how the manufacturer verifies the functionality.”

Image courtesy of Polygon.

Prisons Get Capped Phone Rate as Prices Hit $14 Per Minute

People often complain about how much they pay for their phone, be it a monthly bill or a subscription we tend to buy what we think is a good deal, often unaware of the hidden fees or the limits we easily pass. This isn’t the case for all, and if you thought your bill was bad try being in prison where the prices were said to have reached even $14 a minute.

The Federal complaints commission is facing a lawsuit regard the prices some prisons have charged $14 a minute, roughly £9 per minute. FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn stated that “None of us would consider ever paying $500 a month. where calls are dropped for seemingly no reason”. With a vote deciding that all rates within prisons should be capped at a mere 11 cents per minute (7p per minute), not everyone, however, is happy with this decision.

Securus, a company involved with the running of several prisons has warned that this move could end up harming more than it helps with the medium and smaller sized prisons ending up more damaged by the decision.

With the vote winning at a 3-2 ratio it is clear that this is something the FCC want to put in place, although more lawsuits may come with many arguing with how the final cap was calculated.

Image courtesy of Telegraph.

Jeb Bush Promises to Trash Net Neutrality Laws if Elected

Republican US Presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who announced his candidacy on Facebook at the end of last year, has vowed to “repeal or reform the most onerous Obama rules and regulations,” with net neutrality high on that list.

“The Federal Communications Commission’s Net Neutrality rule classifies all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as ‘public utilities,’ subjecting them to antiquated ‘common carrier’ regulation,” a post from Bush’s team, entitled “The Regulatory Crisis in Washington”, reads.

“Rather than enhancing consumer welfare, these rules prohibit one group of companies (ISPs) from charging another group of companies (content companies) the full cost for using their services,” the post continues, veiling Bush’s business-serving libertarian ideals behind advocacy for the common man.

Bush adds that broadband providers “like KWISP (475 customers in rural Illinois) and Wisper ISP (8,000 customers near St. Louis, Missouri)—have declared under penalty of perjury that the Net Neutrality rule has caused them to cut back on investments to upgrade and expand their networks,” failing to acknowledge that a number of ISPs, in the face of pending net neutrality laws, threatened to stop upgrading networks in order to hold the FCC to ransom. ISPs don’t like net neutrality as it prevents them from monetising the internet, one of the things consumers need protection from.

Thank you Ars Technica for providing us with this information.

FCC Could Ban DD-WRT and Wireless Router Mods

The US Federal Communications Commission is proposing new laws that will ban internet users from modifying setting and firmware on wireless routers, making particular mention of third-party open-source DD-WRT as a firmware to be outlawed.

Third-party firmware – such as DD-WRT, Tomato, and OpenWRT – allows users control over every aspect of a router, can compensate for security flaws with proprietary firmware, and support router VPNs. DD-WRT, a free Linux-based firmware, is a favourite amongst router modders, with manufacturers such as Buffalo manufacturing routers specifically to function with DD-WRT.

The FCC’s new proposals govern software requirements for Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) 5GHz band, calling for 5GHz devices to “be secured to prevent its modification to ensure that the device operates as authorized thus reducing the potential for harmful interference to authorized users,” and that manufacturers ensure that “the device is not easily modified to operate with RF parameters outside of the authorization.”

The footnotes of the proposal outline what the FCC considers weak router security, calling out “those that rely solely on the distribution of firmware in compiled binary form without any form authentication or verification between the device and entity sending the firmware. These implementations are typically susceptible to device ‘flashing’ with third-party firmware or software capable of operating the device outside of its authorization.” The document then lists rules that router manufacturers should abide by, including, “What prevents third parties from loading non-US versions of the software/firmware on the device? Describe in detail how the device is protected from “flashing” and the installation of third-party software such as DD-WRT.”

Do you enjoy greater security, firewall control, wireless strength, and VPN options in the US thanks to DD-WRT? Enjoy it while it lasts.

Thank you ExtremeTech for providing us with this information.

Company Agreed to Payout for Blocking Mobile Hotspots

We’ve all been there, sitting on the train or in a hotel and your mobile internet connection is superior to what is being supplied and normally charged for. I use my phone while on the train thanks to 4G data speeds and use that as a tether for my laptop; much faster and far more reliable than the extortionate train WiFi charges.

Well a US based company, Smart City Holdings (SCH), has been automatically blocking users from using their phones data plans to establish a hotspot to avoid the huge $80 (£50) daily fees for using the supplied WiFi. The FCC has taken action and has come to an agreement for the stop of the practice and a settlement of $750,000 (£480,000) which SCH has agreed to abide by.

This isn’t the first time this has happened, last October the Marriott Hotel Services agreed to pay $600,000 (£380,000) for a similar incident within the hotel premises in Nashville during a conference.

The latest action started as a complaint filed back in June 2014 by a company that allows users to connect to their own mobile hotspots as an alternative to paying the fees to connect to the venue alternative. It was discovered after customers were complaining of not being able to connect to the hotspots in multiple venues that SCH operated in.

“In a statement, Smart City Holdings president Mark Haley said his company in the past used equipment that prevented wireless devices from interfering with operations of exhibitors on convention floors. The activity resulted in less than one percent of all devices being deauthenticated.

“We have always acted in good faith, and we had no prior notice that the FCC considered the use of this standardized, ‘available-out-of-the-box’ technology to be a violation of its rules. But when we were contacted by the FCC in October 2014, we ceased using the technology in question.””

Do you use your mobile data to connect to the internet and tether multiple devices from? Are you happy with your coverage by your provider? Let us know in the comments

Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information

FCC Wants Copper Networks Turned Off in Favour of Fibre Upgrade

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is introducing new rules designed to encourage internet service providers (ISPs) to shut down the internet copper network in favour of superfast fibre. Previous legislation required ISPs to seek approval from the FCC before switching off a copper network, but new a new ruling leaves that at the discretion of the ISP, provided that customers see no drop in service.

ISPs still need to notify the FCC if their switch from copper to fibre will affect users, “However, carriers will retain the flexibility to retire their copper networks in favor of fiber without prior Commission approval—as long as no service is discontinued, reduced, or impaired,” the FCC said in its official statement.

“Changing technology does not change responsibility,” Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the FCC, said. “Fiber brings great cost savings, great efficiencies, and great opportunities for new services. But it does not bring the opportunity to walk away from the responsibilities that govern the relationship between those who build and those who use the facilities.”

Though the move is great news for internet users, it could have potential downsides for landline telephone users. A copper network does not require power from the grid to facilitate phonecalls, while a fibre network does. In the event of a power cut, a copper network keeps the phones working, while a fibre network would shut down all phonecalls. A separate FCC ruling will require telecoms providers to provide an 8-hour power backup in the event of a power outage. While that may suffice during a temporary outage, a storm, flood, or hurricane could put phonelines out of action for days.

Thank you Ars Technica for providing us with this information.

California Pot Smokers to Get Their Bitcoin-Paid-For Gear Delivered by Drone

New startup Trees will deliver marijuana, bought using Bitcoin, to Californian potheads via drone. San Francisco-based Trees allows cannabis smokers to order boxes of weed online, using either a computer or a smartphone, and have it delivered to them the same day.

Trees offers three boxes: the Bud Box, which contains the more exotic varieties, the Extract Box, stuffed full of hash, and the beginner box, for those novices who want to know what all the fuss is about. Other items on offer include cigarette papers, filter tips (which must be some kind of initiation test, or something), and a grinder.

To be eligible to order, though, potential smokers must have a California medical marijuana license. But eligibility will be rendered irrelevant if Trees isn’t granted approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly its drones, with its application still being assessed.

“We’re not sure when we’ll be launching yet,” a spokesperson for Trees said. “We are based in San Francisco and the legal situation here is not clear yet.”

It remains to be seen whether Trees will have its flight application approved, since Amazon has been struggling for months to have its Amazon Prime Air drone delivery initiative given the thumbs-up by the FCC.

Thank you The Independent for providing us with this information.

AT&T Says NO to the FCC’s $100 Million Throttling Fine

If you read about it, AT&T just got fined last month for allegedly throttling customers with ‘unlimited’ data plan. To sum it up, the FCC saw that AT&T had been “severely” slowing down users while not telling those users about the caps placed on their speed. So, they decided to fine them with a staggering $100 million.

If you think the FCC is asking for a lot of money, they apparently aren’t. According to them, they first decided to fine AT&T with up to $16,000 per violation for millions of violations, but the figures were so ridiculously high that they went with the latter sum instead. Even so, AT&T now thinks that they did nothing wrong.

“The Commission’s findings that consumers and competition were harmed are devoid of factual support and wholly implausible,” AT&T wrote in a response to the FCC. “Its ‘moderate’ forfeiture penalty of $100 million is plucked out of thin air, and the injunctive sanctions it proposes are beyond the Commission’s authority.”

AT&T now states that the FCC is infringing their First Amendment right by demanding the company to tell customers of their FCC rule violation. But let’s face it, when you say ‘unlimited’, you don’t really mention about network slowdowns. Another interesting thing is that AT&T recently changed their policy for throttling LTE users after they pass 5GB of data. This means that unlimited data LTE users now get throttled during the time when the network is highly congested. Previously, unlimited data LTE customers used to get throttled for the rest of the month after passing 5GB of download. But despite AT&T’s attempts to convince the FCC it did nothing wrong, they are also facing a court order from the commission, which aims to bring millions of dollars of refunds to consumers.

In my opinion, throttling customer speeds, either on mobile data or the fiber optic speed you ‘get’ at home is not an option. I know a lot of internet providers face huge amounts of network congestion, but is that our or the network’s fault? I think mobile and ISP providers should focus on spending that money on upgrading their networks to handle more connections instead of keeping the speed throttling habit. What do you think?

Thank you Arstechnica for providing us with this information

AOL Being Bought for $4.4 Billion by Verizon

Verizon is moving into the content and media business with its planned purchase of AOL. If regulators approve the $4.4 billion USD deal, Verizon will join the likes of Comcast which is not only a telecommunications giant but also a major media conglomerate.

The acquisition would involve the entirety of AOL becoming a wholly owned subsidiary. Of course, the purchase includes the old dial-up internet service with 2 million customers that AOL is famous for. This will net Verizon about $168 million in revenue a year. Other noteworthy mentioned include The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Engadget, MAKERS, AOL.com and AOL’s advertising network. AOL is expected to operate independently of Verizon at least in the short-term and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong will stay on.

One major hurdle being faced by Verizon and AOL is regulatory approval. On one hand, an approval has precedence. Comcast was able to move ahead with its acquisition of NBC after the previous Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman gave approval. However, the regulatory landscape has changed with new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler who recently implemented Net Neutrality rules which aim to prevent companies from using their monopoly to leverage advantages. What is likely to happen is that the FCC will grant approval but with some rules that Verizon will have to follow regarding AOL.

While purchasing AOL’s dial-up service sort of makes sense, it will be interesting to see how Verizon will make use of their media and content acquisitions. Both consumers and the FCC will be sure to watch the acquisition carefully to guess if Verizon will abuse its new position as a media outlet.

The FCC Will Vote on Plan to Share Valuable 3.5GHz Specturm next Month

The FCC is said to be voting on a spectrum-sharing plan that could make its way to the military, mobile service providers and individuals alike on April 17th. The spectrum is said to open up a frequency from 3550 to 3700 MHz to three classes of users, including new mobile device owners who could use the service similar to Wi-Fi.

The current demand for wireless spectrum could benefit from auctioning off the new 3.5 GHz, leading to better wireless data performance for users in crowded places, provide better rural broadband services and even give a better spectrum for industries that do not use Wi-Fi and LTE services.

In order to keep track of existing radios and licensed services, the FCC also plans to implement a Spectrum Access System alongside the new spectrum in order to manage the interference. This is why it plans to seek proposals for both the Spectrum Access System and sensing service at the same time, but the new tech is not likely to be approved before 2016.

Thank you PC World for providing us with this information

ASUSTeK Found Guilty Fined by FCC

You may remember a story about ASUS being sued by Netgear, after Netgear accused ASUSTeK of submitting fraudulent test results to the FCC? Well, after a long-running investigation, the FCC have found ASUSTeK guilty and subsequently issued them with a fine.

As you can see in the document below, taken from the FCC website, ASUSTeK is to pay $240K to “resolve equipment marketing Investigations.” What’s interesting about this, is that the payment is effectively peanuts, but the payment will essentially make the problem go away for ASUSTeK.

ASUSTeK admits that its marketing of these intentional radiators violated the Commission’s rules. To resolve the investigations, ASUSTeK will pay a civil fine of $240,000 and implement a compliance plan that will extend for more than three years to ensure future compliance with the Commission’s equipment marketing rules.”

ASUS allegedly released routers to public that were not FCC-compliant, of which they were later found guilty. Asus and Netgear have now reached this payment agreement following the FCC ruling.

FCC Votes for Net Neutrality in Landmark Vote

The US Federal Communications Commission has voted to implement Title II regulation upon internet service providers, introducing a set of strict rules ensuring net neutrality. The Commission voted 3-to-2 in favour of the regulation as part of a historic vote in the history of the internet.

The vote was attended by a number of web and technology dignitaries, including the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and Apple Co-Foudner, Steve Wozniak. Berners-Lee added his support before the vote, saying “We have to add net neutrality to a list of basic market conditions that we protect.” Well it appears that the FCC agreed, as a majority decided to align with Tom Wheeler, the head of the Commission, who lead an impassioned speech in support of the regulation.

The ruling now puts internet access alongside the provision of utilities, in that it should be provided equally and fairly to all, prohibiting companies from creating ‘fast lanes’ and other measures that could limit the openness of the web. That’s in the US at least.

Source: The Verge

Twitter Pushing for Strict Net Neutrality Rules

In the build-up to the FCC vote regarding net neutrality – which, despite taking place in the US, could have ramifications for the global web – Twitter has thrown its support behind regulating broadband services as a utility, much like other telecommunication services, rather than a business.

In a post on Twitter’s blog, Will Carty, Public Policy Manager at the social network, came out firmly on the side of Title II regulation for internet services, saying, “Empowering ‘lesser’ or historically less powerful voices to express themselves and be heard globally is at the core of Twitter’s DNA.”

Carty continued:

This openness promotes free and fair competition and fosters ongoing investment and innovation. We need clear, enforceable, legally sustainable rules to ensure that the Internet remains open and continues to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers. This is the heart of Twitter. Without such net neutrality principles in place, some of today’s most successful and widely-known Internet companies might never have come into existence.

The Federal Communications Commission votes on net neutrality for internet services on 28th February.

Source: The Washington Post

Data Breach: The Sure Fast Way to Become a Retail Pariah

“18.5M Californians lose data to hackers”  

Shocking weekly headlines such as this illustrate the growing problem of major data breaches at multinational enterprises and have both consumers and operators crying foul. In fact, these large data breaches have spawned a 600 percent increase in the number of California customer records violated in cyber-attacks in 2014 according to the California Data Breach Report from state Attorney General Kamala Harris. Moreover, the average cost to investigate and deal with a data breach is $5.9 million, according to the 2014 Cost of Data Breach Study published by the Ponemon Institute and funded by IBM.

The unfortunate consequence of the data breach phenomenon is it not only affects large multinational enterprises but all in-store and online retail business engaging in point of sale transactions. Ultimately, your business is vulnerable as your valuable customers are losing confidence in the security of point of sale transactions.  After all, a primary concern raised by these data breaches is risk to consumer financial health. Data security and customer trust are inseparably linked. Once data security is compromised, your customer will no longer trust your company. Gartner Group statistics tell us that 80 percent of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20 percent of your existing customers. Never underestimate the value of retention. Customer retention is the lifeblood of your business. Indeed, to retain customers you must gain and keep their trust with an ironclad point of sale system.

“FCC Slaps Telcos With $10M Fine for Data Breaches” 

This recent headline illustrates the cost of a data breach to your business is not only qualitative in nature but quantitative. The United States Federal Communication Commission (FCC) fines for violations of the Communications Act can run into the tens of millions of dollars for those operators who do not properly secure customer information such as customer names, Social Security numbers, and addresses. The bottom line is if you fail to protect your customer data, the U.S. government can find you liable and you will have to pay up.

What Can You Do To Mitigate a Data Breach?

Proper security measures to secure customer information must be in place to protect the confidentiality of the consumer information you have on file. It is imperative to honor the trust of your customers and protect them from harm caused by violations of the Communications Act.

Whether point of sale providers or hackers are to blame, as an operator, you are the bridge between your customer information and the point of sale provider. The simple fact is not if you should shore up your consumer data, but when.According to techhealthperspectives.com, you must ask your point of sale provider how secure your customer data is. Additional questions should be asked such as: Is it stored on publicly accessible Internet servers? Do they have a current risk assessment model in place to determine if your investment in data security is up to par? Can they help you improve your audit controls and conduct breach drills?

Data security is usually reactive in nature. However, it is imperative for you to be proactive and reduce the threat and ultimately prevent a data breach. The use of a reputable expert such as Shopify can shore up your customer data and assist you with rapid and continuous defense against cyber-attacks to save your business from the monetary and reputational damage of a data breach.  Reputable online point of sale providers should host a Payment Card Industry Security Standard (PCI) compliant shopping cart. Moreover, to streamline your operations, you will want to look for a complete eCommerce solution which will help you organize your products, customize your storefront, track and respond to orders, and of course accept credit card payments.

If you currently find yourself in a situation where your customer data has been breached, until Congress passes a data breach notification law, you will be required to traverse the complex maze of 47 state requirements. A guide to assist you with state laws on data breach notifications has been released by the Direct Marketing Association and is available at thedma.org.

It’s never too late to secure your customer data. Protect your business and provide your customers with confidence in the security of your point of sale transactions. After all, once data security is compromised, your customer will no longer trust your company. In summary, to retain customers you must gain and keep their trust with an ironclad point of sale system. What can you do to avoid a data breach? Assess your current point of sale provider and determine if they are Payment Card Industry Security Standard (PCI) compliant. Be bold and take a stand for your business and your customers against hackers. Ask your point of sale provider what steps you need to take to avoid becoming the latest weekly headline as a data breach retail pariah.

Intel, IBM, and Qualcomm Oppose Title II Net Neutrality

An alliance of 60 tech companies, including the likes of Intel, IBM, and Qualcomm, have signed a letter addressed to US Congress and the FCC opposing Title II reclassification of broadband services.

It was President Barack Obama who proposed classifying internet as a utility service under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act in order to ensure net neutrality, but there has been backlash from ISPs, tech companies, and telecoms providers ever since the idea was pitched.

“For almost twenty years, national leadership, on a bipartisan basis, has nurtured the broadband internet with a wise, effective, and restrained policy approach that supported the free flow of data, services, and ideas online while creating a climate that supported private investment in broadband networks,” the letter claims. Then, attacking Obama’s net neutrality plan, it continues, “Title II is going to lead to a slowdown, if not a hold, in broadband build out, because if you don’t know that you can recover on your investment, you won’t make it.”

FCC chair Tom Wheeler had hoped to bring in legislation to protect the internet by the end of the year, but plans have been delayed until 2015.

Source: The Verge

Netflix Accused of “Working to Effectively Secure ‘Fast Lanes’ for its Content” by FCC

Netflix has paid plenty of lip service to its support of net neutrality – it criticised Comcast earlier this year for working against a free and open internet, though only after it had signed a content delivery agreement with the ISP – but now the Federal Communications Commission has accused the media streaming service of violating net neutrality.

Ajit Pai, a Republican Commissioner at the FCC, made the accusation in an open letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, referring to the company’s decision not to commit itself to the Streaming Video Alliance and its Open Connect content delivery system, essentially its own premium ‘fast line’. As Pai puts it, the company is “working to effectively secure ‘fast lanes’ for its content on ISPs’ networks at the expense of its competitors.”

Pai continued, “Specifically, I understand that Netflix has at times changed its streaming protocols where open caching is used, which impedes open caching software from correctly identifying and caching Netflix traffic,” he wrote. “Because Netflix traffic constitutes such a substantial percentage of streaming video traffic, measures like this threaten the viability of open standards.”

Netflix has so far declined to comment.

Source: PC magazine

No More FCC Labels on Your Devices

Today President Obama signed into US law the E-Label Act, an act introduced by two Senators earlier in 2015, ending the mandatory requirement for physical FCC labels on devices.

The law allows manufacturers to include the FCC labels in their software rather than having to etch them onto the device’s exterior. It’s said that this will save manufactures money, which can then be passed on to consumers.

This isn’t entirely new, as the FCC already loosened its rules on labelling earlier this year, but today’s ruling brings the changes into law. The labels will be included in software like as can be seen above, on an iPhone 6 Plus.

Still, a lot won’t change, most devices will still have the labels of the European Commission on them, that’s if they don’t change their status on the subject too.

Regardless, we all know who’ll be happy whatever happens, even if it is just one more tiny logo he can remove from his designs – Apple’s Jony Ive.

Source: MacRumors

‘This Is Net Neutrality’ Coalition Fights for Global Internet Rights

In the wake of US President Barack Obama supporting a free and open internet, ISPs threatening to sue over potential restrictive legislation, and the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) stuck in the middle, trying to keep both sides happy, a coalition of diverse groups from all over the world, including Greenpeace, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Digitale Gesellschaft, has formed to voice its support for net neutrality, on a global scale. The coalition is called This is Net Neutrality, and they issued the following statement, in eleven different languages, on their website on Thursday:

“The open Internet has fostered unprecedented creativity, innovation and access to knowledge and to other kinds of social, economic, cultural, and political opportunities across the globe.

Today, this open Internet is endangered by powerful service providers seeking to become gatekeepers who decide how users can access parts of the Internet. We don’t want to prevent these companies from using reasonable and necessary methods to manage their networks, but these acts cannot be a pretext to eliminate openness nor to police content.

The fundamental openness of this crucial technology must be preserved, and to this end we offer the resources on this site for activists, academics, policy makers and technologists who share our vision.”

The group also outlined their definition of ‘net neutrality’, which informs their use of the word throughout their campaign:

“Net neutrality requires that the Internet be maintained as an open platform, on which network providers treat all content, applications and services equally, without discrimination.”

Deji Olukotun, Senior Advocacy Manager at Access, one of the members of This is Net Neutrailty, summed up the coalition’s all-encompassing view of the issue: “Net neutrality is not an American issue, or a European issue, or an African issue. It is increasingly a global human rights issue.”

Source: Common Dreams