LEDE: Thursday brings the April open meeting of the Federal Communications Commission.
The big-ticket item on Thursday’s agenda is a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would move the commission closer to creating a new framework for the “special access” internet services used by some businesses. The high-capacity connections can be used for ATMs or to connect a cell tower to its network.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says new rules are needed to govern the market — which competitive companies say gives unfair power to incumbents. “If we want to maximize the benefits of business data services for U.S. consumers and businesses, we need a fresh start,” Wheeler wrote earlier this month. “The marketplace is changing. Cable companies are entering the market, and Internet Protocol (IP)-based technologies can now deliver services traditionally satisfied by legacy, circuit-based products. Yet, competition remains uneven, with competitive carriers reaching less than 45 percent of locations where there is demand.”
Verizon and INCOMPAS, a trade group, said in a joint letter that preceded the proposal that they supported a technology-neutral framework, which Wheeler also backs. Incumbent players are less than thrilled. “We agree that incremental investment in broadband facilities for 5G and in rural areas is essential. But imposing regulation on special access prices and contract terms is not going to produce it,” AT&T’s Jim Cicconi said this month. “The Commission’s proposals will instead lead to far less investment in broadband infrastructure – especially in rural areas – the very opposite of where we should be going as a nation.” For more on the FCC’s look into special access broadband connections, click here. For more on Wheeler’s plans click here and here.
ALSO ON THE DOCKET: Two other items are expected to be considered. One pertains to “proposals to support real-time text communications over Internet Protocol communications networks, to improve the accessibility of these networks for consumers who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and speech disabled.” Another item touches on the 3.5 GHz band of wireless spectrum. For more on the April open meeting, click here.
SENATE COMMERCE CLEARS FCC BILLS: In addition to signing off on a bill establishing a working group to deal with the Internet of Things, the Senate Commerce Committee approved Chairman John ThuneJohn ThuneOvernight Tech: Business data deals on FCC agenda Overnight Tech: Email privacy bill gets its day Week ahead: House poised to pass email privacy bill MORE‘s (R-S.D.) FCC reauthorization bill and — over the objection of committee Democrats — the FCC Process Reform Act. For more on the “Internet of Things” bill, click here.
GOOGLE’S ELECTION BOOM: On Wednesday, Google announced that since April 2015, internet users have watched 110 million hours of YouTube videos about the 2016 election. The company has also seen 1.5 billion online searches related to the U.S. election. Even with those massive numbers, that represents only a fraction of 1 percent of Google searches around the world. For the YouTube trends report, click here.
GOOGLE TELLS REGULATORS TO ASK ‘WHY’: Susan Molinari, who helps lead public policy at Google, took a shot at regulators in other countries being too quick to the trigger. Her words Wednesday at an innovation panel in Congress come less than a week after European regulators issued antitrust charges against Google for how it leverages its Android smartphone operating system.
“If you are going to go in this as members of Congress, as regulators, as legislators, you have to stop yourself and ask the question, ‘Why?” Why do we in fact need to do this, because in fact the repercussions of an amazing industry that we are all in right now, that revolution that we are in right now, could be stopped and have unintended consequences,” she said. “I think we see in the United States this is largely right compared to other places of the globe, where they cure for no harm that has been perceived to the point where they don’t answer the question before they go rush in.”
DEATH AT APPLE: An employee at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., was found dead Wednesday morning but many of the details remain unknown, according to local reports. Law enforcement described the death as an isolated incident. Officials did not release the cause of death but early reports mentioned a head wound and gun. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
CRUZ DOMAIN NAME TROUBLE: Matt Mackowiak, from the Potomac Strategy Group, purchased the web address Cruzfiorina.com. The news was revealed Wednesday as reports emerged that presidential candidate Ted CruzTed CruzFiorina: Trump and Clinton are ‘two sides of the same coin’ Fiorina: Clinton says ‘vote for me because I’m a woman’ Trump mocks Cruz for adding Fiorina to ticket MORE would pick Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential running mate. According to a public database, the domain was updated on Wednesday and was originally created last year. The Cruz campaign itself snatched up Cruzcarly.com on Monday.
COMCAST RAISES DATA CAPS: Comcast said on Wednesday that it would raise data caps on its subscribers from 300 gigabytes per month to a terrabyte. The caps, which are only active in some markets, are said by critical consumer groups to potentially limit competition in the video market. The company will also raise the amount it charges customers who want unlimited data.
At 10:00 a.m., the House Energy and Commerce Committee convenes day two of a markup that includes communications bills. http://1.usa.gov/1rgnYc8
At 10:30 a.m., the Federal Communications Commission holds its April open meeting. http://fcc.us/1Txsex8
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
The House on Wednesday unanimously passed an email privacy bill that the technology industry and advocates pushed for years.
The FBI will not be able to disclose how it broke into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.
The trailer for Oliver Stone’s film about government leaker Edward Snowden was released on Wednesday, months before the movie’s Sept. 16 release date.
A federal court on Tuesday ruled Amazon for years unfairly billed customers for purchases made through its app store, in particular purchases by children.
Arianna Huffington will join Uber’s board of directors, the company announced on Wednesday.