Big Week at the FCC: New Net Neutrality Rules, Power to the Munis

Carl Weinschenk

It’s not difficult to identify the most important story of the week: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reregulated the broadband industry as a public utility. That’s a big deal and clearly great news…for lawyers in Washington who now will alternately attack and defend what the FCC did.

It obviously will be a long time before this is hashed out for good. In the short term, it is safe to say that those advocating a tightly regulated Internet – folks more likely found on the left than the right -- have won a big victory.

That wasn’t the only news this week. Indeed, it wasn’t even the only news from the FCC. The commission held a lower-profile but still meaningful vote that favored municipalities that want to build their own networks. Here are those highlights, and more:

FCC Empowers Municipal Networks

In the second of two 3-2 party line votes, the FCC approved petitions asking for the preemption – the overriding – of laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that kept municipalities from offering Internet services.

The move is a precedent that could be used to overturn laws in 20 states that make it difficult or impossible for municipalities to get into the broadband game. Marguerite Reardon’s story suggests that FCC chairman Tom Wheeler simply feels that it is up to voters to decide whether their local governments should get into the telecom business. Says CNET:

He believes communities should have the right to choose whether their local governments or municipally owned utilities should build broadband networks to provide these services.


The Race Ends: iOS, Android Almost at 100 Percent

Nothing is 100 percent, but some things are close. IDC reported that during the fourth quarter of last year, Android and iOS were responsible for 96.3 percent of smartphone shipments.

In 2014, according to the IDC press release, Android accounted for 81.5 percent and iOS for 14.8 percent of smartphone OS shipments. Windows Phone, with 2.7 percent, was the only other OS with more than 1 percent. Android actually was the big winner: Its market share increased from 78.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 to 81.5 percent last year. iOS dropped from 15.1 percent to 14.8 percent, year over year.

Mobile Apps and Services in Danger

Thomas Claburn at InformationWeek offers a story on a trio of reports that point to security issues of mobile apps and services. They are from McAfee Labs, Lacoon Mobile Security and Check Point, and Stanford University and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.

The McAfee report revealed that many apps are left with known malware for secure socket layer (SSL) for months after faults became known. The firm tested 25 popular apps from the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) list of vulnerable mobile apps and found that 18 of them remain unpatched.

Lacoon/Check Point research said that fewer organizations appear to be infected by mobile remote access Trojans (mRATs). However, infections are higher in some regions, including the United States. This, according to the story, suggests that certain companies and regions are being targeted.

Stanford and Rafael found that developers can “bypass restrictions on location data by tracking mobile power usage over a period of a few minutes.” In other words, even folks who haven’t given permission to be tracked may, indeed, have their locations known.

Networking

Net Neutrality: How Did We Get Here?

Everybody can agree about one thing concerning the vote yesterday by the FCC to regulate broadband providers as a public utility: It is a big deal that marks a milestone in the evolution of telecommunications in general and the Internet in particular.

It is, of course, impossible to say how this will play out. While waiting for the lawsuits to be filed, it is perhaps a useful exercise to look back at some of the highlights and milestones that led up to yesterday’s net neutrality vote. ProPublica’s Leticia Miranda does just that on Network World. She traces the history from March 2002 to yesterday. At the start, she points out that the term “net neutrality” was coined by University of Virginia Law School Associate Professor Tim Wu.

This is far from the last shot that will be fired. If anything, it may fairly be called the beginning of the end:

The details of the new rules won't be made public until after the vote. Experts expect challenges to the rules as soon as they are published. Michael Powell, a former FCC chairman and current president and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, told CNBC it could take "at least two and up to five years before the rules are fully and finally settled."

Wireless Just Got Much Faster

And, finally, comes a story about fast data. Very fast. Computerworld’s Darlene Storm discusses research from the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Center that set a record for 5G data transmission. The announcement, made at the V3 Enterprise Mobility Summit, was that data was sent wirelessly at 1 Terabit per second (Tbps).

The lab test sent the data 328 feet. The story says that 5G will use frequency in the very high 6 GHz range and is expected to be useful for a number of exacting and demanding activities, such as financial trading and smart cars’ operations.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.



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