FCC Chairman: Elements of Title II on the Way

Carl Weinschenk
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This week, the new year started in earnest from the business point of view.

The most important pieces of news were that Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler, speaking at CES in Las Vegas, indicated that proposed rules for broadband, which will be released and voted upon next month, will include some Title II elements. On the broader economic front, another good jobs report is further evidence that the economic rebound is deep and sustained.

Here is more on Wheeler and Title II along with other news and commentary from the week:


Title II on the Way

Multichannel News reported that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said that Open Internet rules will employ Title II provisions, but in a “relatively limited way.” The goal will be to use them to ensure that there is no blocking, throttling or paid prioritization in last-mile arrangements. The proposal will be sent to commissioners on February 5 and voted on February 26, the story says. Wheeler’s comments were made at CES in Las Vegas.

The idea is to cherry pick the rules that treat ISPs as telecommunications services, without including those that would discourage investments. Using the telecommunications services rules suggests a higher level of responsibility and obligations than if broadband is classified as an information service. Multichannel News said that Wheeler plans a hybrid oversight and free market approach:

Wheeler stressed that he was involved many years ago in creating the rules for the wireless industry that regulated them under 322 section of Title II but exempted them from other sections, such as the need to get approval for rate changes. He seemed suggested a similar approach would work for the Open Internet rules.

Drone Market Set on the Rise

The era of small unmanned aerial systems (SUAS), also called drones, is upon us. After a rough patch, ABI Research released figures this week that pegged the market at $8.4 billion by 2018. By the following year, the firm said, the commercial sector will grow to $5.1 billion, which figures out to a 51 percent compound annual growth rate between 2014 and 2019. The commercial market, ABI said, will be about five times larger than the prosumer/hobby market and 2.3 times greater than the military/civil market.

The tenor of the research is that innovation is set to accelerate:

Ongoing research advancements, technological developments, and rapidly dropping prices for increasingly capable enabling technologies, have combined to remove barriers to innovation and commercialization, and spur the development of new SUAS and increase the ways they can be applied.

Videoconferencing Works for Those Who Use It

A survey conducted by Quocirca on behalf of Polycom found that more than 90 percent of people using video to collaborate regularly are more productive, work better in teams, and save money on travel and other things. Eighty percent link savings to quicker decisions and improved balance between work and non-work life, eWeek reports.

The numbers weren’t so high on usage questions. The survey found that 45 percent of respondents reporting using mobile devices to join video conferences and 35 percent of workers under the age of 26 use video frequently and from anywhere, the story said.

The Scary Year Ahead

David Honour, the editor of Continuity Central, offered his take on the top business continuity challenges for 2015.

It’s not surprising that it’s a scary list. The first item is the possibility of “full-on cyber war.” Indeed, the first shot might have been the hack of Sony, which is being blamed on North Korea. Other potential combatants, Honour writes, include Israel, Russia, China and India. The second threat is a rise in ransomware, a problem that has been compounded because of the success of perpetrators:

The willingness of some businesses to pay ransoms after having their systems disabled by ransomware is fuelling the problem, making it a lucrative industry for professional hacker groups.

The third on the list is an increase in targeted attacks on organizations. This seems to be a bit of a combination of the first two, while at the same time being distinct. Honour writes that “organizational resilience” is an important solution and outlined progress that has been made in that discipline.

The Case for Dentures

And, finally, comes a story that simultaneously illustrates what is good and what is bad about the age in which we live. At the CES, Oral-B introduced the Pro 7000 SmartSeries toothbrush. It may result in cleaner teeth, but it certainly doesn’t sound like a relaxing exercise for the first thing in the morning or last thing at night:

The app tells you exactly which part of your mouth you should be brushing, ensuring that you pay the same level of attention to all areas. The app corrects your bad brushing behavior in real time as well. If you press down too hard on your gums, for example, the brush and the app will flash bright red until you soften up. If you don't brush for the full recommended 2 minutes, the app will almost passive aggressively tell you to try harder next time.

The toothbrush links via Bluetooth to an iPhone or Android device. To top it all off, it is possible to give the phone to the dentist or hygienist at checkout time for review and suggestions—as if a trip to the dentist isn’t unpleasant enough already.

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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