New Net Neutrality Rules in Effect, At Least for Now

Carl Weinschenk

The most important piece of news this week was that the new net neutrality rules took effect today. The immediate hurdle was a petition from The U.S. Telecom Association to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to delay implementation of the rules while it considered their legality.

The motion was denied. The court ruled that the group hadn’t met the stringent requirements for the issuance of a stay. The motion and denial didn’t touch on the central question of the appeal which, of course, could overturn the Federal Communication Commission’s action. The court did grant a request to handle the case on an expedited basis, according to re/code.

Here are other highlights from the week:

AT&T Program to Play Favorites


AT&T is set to introduce a program that will reward subscribers who do things the company wants them to do with free broadband. Venture Beat says that the rewards will be things such as viewing ads, discovering apps, or buying things from participating advertisers.

The Data Perks program is targeting the 50 million Mobile Share Value plan subscribers. It is being run in association with data monetization startup Aquto. The 30 brands in the program include Hotel Tonight, Rosetta Stone and Fandango.

BLE to Enable the IoT

Most people are looking forward to the full flowering of the Internet of Things (IoT). IT and telecommunications companies are, too. But there is a small concern: How in the world will it be possible to make billions – perhaps trillions – of tiny devices work?

A lot of work is going on. Computerworld looks at one fundamental element that will help meet the challenge. Work is progressing to reduce the energy consumed by Bluetooth Low energy (BLE) even further than it is now. The lower the power consumption, the easier it is for developers and, ultimately, the more useful it is in the world of IoT.

Reporter Mikael Ricknäs uses ST Microelectronics as an example of the type of work that is ongoing:

ST has launched an offering for voice over BLE, which includes the necessary software, components and development tools to integrate voice control in wearables and home-automation systems. Voice control can aid battery life by minimizing touchscreen usage, while improving ease-of-use, according to ST.

LTE Rollout Going Well

ABI Research said this week that LTE will be the cellular technology for 1.37 billion people by the end of the year. The firm also said that the number will surpass 3.5 billion by 2020, which represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.8 percent.

The release points to partnerships as key. For instance, Verizon Wireless is teaming with Ericsson. A main part of that deal is $500 million on small cells. Another example is T-Mobile, which is working with Nokia Networks on small cell and LTE-Unlicensed approaches.

Verizon Hones Crisis Skills

One of the inherent challenges in cell phone communications is that networks invariably go down during emergencies. eWeek’s Wayne Rash offers a nice on-the-ground description of how Verizon Wireless is upping its ability to address disasters.

This effort involves several animal-tinged acronyms, such as COW (cell on wheels), COLT (cell on light truck) and GOAT (generator on a truck). All the equipment, which also includes HAZMAT suits and decontamination stations, means little if the strategy isn’t good:

The plan is to locate a disaster response team just outside the area that will be directly impacted by whatever's coming and then rush in immediately. Serio recalled Verizon's response to Superstorm Sandy in late October 2012. "We got there before the first responders," he said.

The story says that cell towers generally survive the disaster, but are not operational because power fails. For that reason, more than 90 percent now have backup generators.

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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