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Daily news and top headlines for broadband communications engineering and design professionals

Google settles with FTC over in-app charges

September 5, 2014 11:59 am | by Associated Press | News | Comments

Google has agreed to pay full refunds totaling at least $19 million to consumers who were charged for purchases that children made via apps without parental consent from the Google Play app store. The settlement is part of the third case by the Federal Trade Commission about unauthorized in-app purchases made by children. It settled with Apple for $32.5 million in January.

FCC chair makes firmest case yet that broadband competition is lacking

September 4, 2014 2:11 pm | by Brian Santo | Blogs | Comments

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler yesterday stated flatly that in too much of the U.S., there is no meaningful broadband competition, and that competitors are lagging behind public need. If enough people accept his propositions, Wheeler would then be able to justify reclassifying broadband as a communications service.

Photo hacking rekindles digital privacy worries

September 3, 2014 11:28 am | by Associated Press | News | Comments

As the celebrity photo-hacking scandal has made clear, privacy isn't what it used to be. Whether famous or seemingly anonymous, people from all walks of life put all sorts of things online or into cloud-based storage systems, from vital financial information to the occasional nude photo. Periodic cases of hacking fuel outrage, but there's no retreat from digital engagement or any imminent promise of guaranteed privacy.

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Energy-efficient set-tops have saved $168M in electric bills

August 28, 2014 1:31 pm | by Brian Santo | News | Comments

The movement to make cable CPE more energy-efficient has paid off, saving U.S. cable customers as much as $168 million in total on their energy bills. New set-top boxes use approximately 14 percent less energy than those previously used by service providers.

FCC names network neutrality expert as CTO

August 26, 2014 1:11 pm | by Brian Santo | News | Comments

UC Irvine professor Scott Jordan was named the new CTO of the FCC. For those who try to read tea leaves, Jordan’s appointment might be a signal that FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is serious about exploring the possibility of reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service.

Senate video promotes broadcaster a la carte

August 26, 2014 12:34 pm | by Brian Santo | Blogs | Comments

VIDEO: Senate Republicans are promoting the notion of making local stations a la carte on cable networks with a new YouTube video. The idea has the potential for gaining bipartisan support, even in this bitterly divided Congress, as a consumer-friendly and nearly pure free-market solution.

Fitbit to stop selling data without consent

August 22, 2014 11:58 am | by Associated Press | News | Comments

Fitbit, a company that makes wearable devices that monitor fitness activity, says it's changing its practice of selling users' personal data to advertisers after concerns were raised about consumer privacy. The San Francisco-based company's move comes after U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate what he called a troubling policy.

Aereo loses in court again; still not necessarily dead

August 22, 2014 11:56 am | by Brian Santo | News | Comments

The saga continues. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has declined to hear Aereo’s argument that if it is, as the Supreme Court deemed, essentially a cable company, it must be treated like one. But Aereo still has the option to argue its case.

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FCC approves MSOs' shift to new Wi-Fi spectrum

August 20, 2014 7:11 pm | by Brian Santo | News | Comments

Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Cox have received approval from the FCC to switch the frequency at which their outdoor Wi-Fi access points operate from a portion of the unlicensed band now in common use to another nearby frequency at 5.1 GHz.

Assange talks of leaving embassy, sowing confusion

August 18, 2014 12:00 pm | by Associated Press | News | Comments

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sowed confusion Monday with an announcement that appeared to indicate he was leaving his embassy bolt hole, but his spokesman later clarified that that would not happen unless the impasse over his extradition were resolved. Assange made the comments during a press conference at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

Life After CableCard: It’s so Bright I Gotta Wear Shades

August 12, 2014 11:16 pm | by John Carlucci, CTO, Alticast U.S. operations | Articles | Comments

Open Mic: The FCC has recommended striking the “integration ban” portion of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Given the success that Cablevision and Charter have had getting the necessary waivers to sidestep the ban, it’s not unrealistic to hope for a change.

Senators propose a la carte for broadcast stations

August 11, 2014 1:18 pm | by Brian Santo | News | Comments

Two Senators have floated an idea for fixing the retransmission consent mess; they are proposing a la carte for broadcast stations. The idea would be that broadcasters who charge too much might find themselves losing viewers and therefore money.   

Google using its clout to widen use of encryption

August 8, 2014 12:15 pm | by Associated Press | News | Comments

Google is wielding the power of its dominant Internet search engine to push more websites into protecting the people using their services. The move involves a change in Google's closely guarded formula for determining the rankings of its search results. Websites that automatically encrypt their services will now be boosted higher in Google Inc.'s recommendation system. 

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Verizon to FCC: throttling unlimited users “widely acepted”

August 5, 2014 1:44 pm | by Ben Munson, Wireless Week | News | Comments

Following consumer consternation over reports that Verizon is occasionally restricting the access of some of its heaviest users, and after FCC Chairman cautioned the company, Verizon responds that its actions are necessary network management practices to handle network congestion.

TWC joins green fleet program

August 5, 2014 1:38 pm | by Brian Santo | News | Comments

TWC is joining a program administered by the DOE to reduce petroleum use within its fleet of more than 20,000 service trucks and vehicles. Participation in the DOE’s Clean Cities’ National Clean Fleet Partnership is part of the company’s “Go Green” initiative.

NCTC inks multi-screen deal with Disney

August 4, 2014 2:04 pm | by Brian Santo | News | Comments

The NCTC announced a comprehensive multi-year distribution agreement to deliver The Walt Disney Company’s lineup of sports, news and entertainment content to participating NCTC members’ customers across TVs, computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and connected devices.

Comcast renews Internet Essentials commitment

August 4, 2014 1:19 pm | by Brian Santo | News | Comments

The MSO is offering up to 6 months of complimentary service for any family that has not yet applied for Internet Essentials. Comcast also said it intends to forgive the debt of some families that have subscribed in the past to the Internet Essentials program and still have unpaid balances.

NY judge: US warrant can reach email in Ireland

July 31, 2014 3:00 pm | by Associated Press | News | Comments

U.S. law enforcement can force Microsoft Corp. to turn over emails it stores in Ireland, a judge ruled in a case that technology companies have rallied around as they pursue billions of dollars in data storage business abroad. U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska ruled from the bench Thursday after hearing oral arguments in Manhattan.

Comcast cancels event at senator’s home

July 28, 2014 11:47 am | by Associated Press | News | Comments

Comcast has canceled a promotional event at the home of a Kansas state senator. The cable company announced the open house in a recent news release that paired Republican Sen. Julia Lynn of Olathe and promotional language about its home security service.

House authorizes death of CableCard

July 23, 2014 4:52 pm | by Brian Santo | Blogs | Comments

The U.S. House of Representatives has reauthorized STELA. The cable industry had hoped to tack on provisions to reform retransmission consent rules, but the House declined. But the House did include language to end separable security requirements. In other words, the House has agreed to let the loathed CableCard die.

Internet companies lobby FCC for open Internet

July 14, 2014 12:21 pm | by Andrew Berg, Wireless Week | News | Comments

A group of over two dozen of the largest Internet companies, including eBay, Netflix and Facebook, are urging the FCC to refrain from Net Neutrality policies that would create so-called slow lanes and fast lanes. The companies also argued that the Commission treat fixed and wireless broadband providers in the same manner.

Barnhart joins Charter's D.C. policy team

July 14, 2014 12:03 pm | by Mike Robuck | News | Comments

Charter Communications has beefed up its policy presence in Washington D.C. with the recent addition of Christianna Lewis Barnhart, who joined the company as vice president, regulatory affairs. Barnhart, who started her new job today, now reports to Alex Hoehn-Saric, senior vice president, government affairs.

Amazon asks FAA for permission to fly drones

July 14, 2014 11:55 am | by Associated Press | News | Comments

Amazon is asking the Federal Aviation Administration permission to use drones as part of its plan to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less. The online retailer created a media frenzy in December when it outlined a plan on CBS' "60 Minutes" to deliver packages with self-guided aircrafts that seemed straight out of science fiction.

Aereo: We're a cable company

July 11, 2014 12:04 pm | by Associated Press | News | Comments

Aereo, the television-over-the-Internet service that suspended operations after the Supreme Court ruled against it, is refusing to disband for good. The company is now using the Supreme Court's own language to force broadcasters to treat it just like a cable TV company. In Aereo's view, that means broadcasters must license their signals to Aereo under a 1976 copyright law.

FCC picks review teams for megamergers

July 8, 2014 1:29 pm | by Brian Santo | News | Comments

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced the members of the panel that will review two proposed mega-mergers: Comcast / Time Warner Cable / Charter, and AT&T / DirecTV. Those who watch such things infer from the choice of panelists that the FCC is not going to simply rubber-stamp either deal.

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