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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

FTC Says AT&T Has Misled Millions of Consumers with ‘Unlimited’ Data Promises

FTC Says AT&T Has Misled Millions of Consumers with ‘Unlimited’ Data Promises | Federal Trade Commission: "The FTC alleges that AT&T, despite its unequivocal promises of unlimited data, began throttling data speeds in 2011 for its unlimited data plan customers after they used as little as 2 gigabytes of data in a billing period. According to the complaint, the throttling program has been severe, often resulting in speed reductions of 80 to 90 percent for affected users. Thus far, according to the FTC, AT&T has throttled at least 3.5 million unique customers a total of more than 25 million times.

According to the FTC’s complaint, consumers in AT&T focus groups strongly objected to the idea of a throttling program and felt “unlimited should mean unlimited.” AT&T documents also showed that the company received thousands of complaints about the slow data speeds under the throttling program. Some consumers quoted the definition of the word “unlimited,” while others called AT&T’s throttling program a “bait and switch.” Many consumers also complained about the effect the throttling program had on their ability to use GPS navigation, watch streaming videos, listen to streaming music and browse the web.

 The complaint charges that AT&T violated the FTC Act by changing the terms of customers’ unlimited data plans while those customers were still under contract, and by failing to adequately disclose the nature of the throttling program to consumers who renewed their unlimited data plans." 'via Blog this'

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Net neutrality is all good and fine; the real problem is elsewhere: Misra

Net neutrality is all good and fine; the real problem is elsewhere | Dept. of Computer Science, Columbia University: "Using more sophisticated modeling, Ma and Misra are able to show that even under tightly regulated net-neutrality, monopolies increase their profits when bandwidth is scarce. However, the introduction of a public-option ISP changes the equation. Under a scenario that includes a public-option ISP, profits become tied to market share, thus incentivizing ISPs to increase bandwidth to make themselves more attractive to customers. If the existing ISP employs some non-neutral strategies, consumers have the option to move to a network-neutral public ISP." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Law profs compare AT&T/MediaOne (2000) to Comcast-TimeWarner (2014)

Letter from US law profs makes the following damning comparison: "Remarkably, the Road Runner broadband assets in question in 2000 remain Time Warner  Cable’s to this day, while AT&T’s broadband assets were subsequently transferred to Comcast. Thus, the proposed Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger would combine the very broadband  assets that DOJ blocked from combining in 2000." This merger would undo the protections insisted upon in the dying days of the Clinton Presidency....

Monday, October 20, 2014

Is zero rating a net neutrality issue? Ryan Heath doesn’t think so

Is zero rating a net neutrality issue? Europe’s outgoing digital chief doesn’t think so — Tech News and Analysis: "Heath wrote:

"If the service involved were to be a data-hungry one (such as your example of video) then the regulatory issue is not one of Net Neutrality but whether the bundling amounts to abuse of a dominant position or below-cost selling, which are competition law issues."

Traditionally, anti-net neutrality behavior includes the blocking or throttling of rival services by the carrier, or the establishment of a “fast lane” where certain services get better treatment than others. I would argue that zero rating has the same effect as setting up a fast lane. The only real difference is that services shut out of a fast lane will become less attractive to users because they’re less reliable to use, while services shut out of the zero-rating framework become less attractive because they eat into the data cap." 'via Blog this'

Google is sitting out the net neutrality fight. Here are 4 possible reasons.

Google is sitting out the net neutrality fight. Here are 4 possible reasons — Tech News and Analysis: "The company has less interest in staking out idealist positions and, in the case of net neutrality, is rich enough to cut a “fast lane” check to whoever is demanding one.

There is, of course, an irony here in that companies like Google, and especially YouTube, might not have emerged in the first place were it not for net neutrality. But that was then and this is now." 'via Blog this'

EU’s Traditional Analysis of the Facebook, WhatsApp Deal

The EU’s Traditional Analysis of the Facebook, WhatsApp Deal – Do We Like it?: "Yet the Commission appears to have analysed this case as if the markets involved were just the same as any traditional services market, focusing on actual horizontal competitive services as the key to determining whether the acquisition could impact competition.  In consumer facing digital markets, with huge operators already holding key market positions, access to large databases of personal information based on networks of hundreds of millions of users probably represents the price of critical market entry (ie the type of entry that could really pose a competitive threat to the status quo).

Combinations of large networks which, at the point of merger, are only distant competitors of consumer facing services may, due to the information they hold or their ability to collect such information, be potential competitors of extraordinary potential force. If entities spend years creating those conditions (supported by minimal income), only so that they can be sold off to powerful incumbents before they use the base created to start to compete, how will a truly competitive market emerge? When billions of dollars are paid for a business which has a relatively modest income stream, what might the strategic objective of the acquirer really be?" 'via Blog this'

Friday, October 17, 2014

Deutsche Telekom hit with €70,000,000 EU margin squeeze EU fine in Slovakia

UPDATE 1-Deutsche Telekom hit with $88 mln EU antitrust fine | Reuters: Note that Telekom is the incumbent former monopolist in Slovakia - naughty monopoly:

"In addition to a €38.8m joint fine with Slovak Telekom, German telecoms provider Deutsche Telekom was hit with a €31.1m penalty as this was its second margin squeeze offence.

Deutsche Telekom holds a 51% stake in Slovak Telekom, with the Slovak government owning the remainder.

Reuters reported on June 24 that the two companies would be penalised by the European Commission.

The EU competition authority said Slovak Telekom's strategy between August 2005 and December 2010 harmed both consumers and competitors.

 "Slovak Telekom did not only refuse to give access to its unbundled local loops under fair conditions. It also pursued a margin squeeze policy which made it impossible for alternative operators to use its legacy telephone network infrastructure without incurring a loss," European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement." 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

UK minister unfazed on EC net neutrality law and child protection

The UK government has a multistakeholder forum on child safety on the Internet - which raised net neutrality as potentially threatening UK extra-legal content filters. The minutes of last month's meeting discuss:
"11...[Minister Ed Vaizey] it shouldn’t affect our work - it won’t stop us removing images that are clearly illegal, and optional filters won’t be affected.
12. We have a voluntary code in the UK because we support a definition of net neutrality which means that ISPs shouldn’t block competitor services, e.g. Skype. We want to leave room for the market to innovate.
13. Comments [from UK ISPs] included: There are three issues: i. clean feeds – of small concern; ii. parental controls in the home – this is consensual so not a problem (unless they were default on); iii. public Wi-Fi – this is more worrying as it blocks legal content by default - so this could be a problem.
Industry wants assurance that Government is comfortable that the proposed legislation doesn’t conflict with UK practices. Ed Vaizey confirmed that the Government is aware of the concerns and are talking to the Commission to ensure these concerns are front of mind and are being kept closely under review."
So that's industry satisfied...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Obama Signals Opposition to ‘Fast Lanes’ in Support of Net Neutrality

Obama Signals Opposition to ‘Fast Lanes’ in Support of Net Neutrality | TIME: "Obama said a level playing field on the Internet was one of his earliest campaign promises. “On net neutrality, I made a commitment very early on that I am unequivocally committed to net neutrality,” Obama said, earning a round of applause from the tech-minded crowd. “I think it is what has unleashed the power of the Internet and we don’t want to lose that or clog up the pipes.”

 “I know that one of the things people are most concerned about is paid prioritization, the notion that somehow some folks can pay a little more money and get better service, more exclusive access to customers through the Internet: that is something I’m opposed to,” Obama said. “I was opposed to it when I ran and I continue to be opposed to it now.”" 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Nothing to see here? Commission closes investigation will continue to monitor the sector

EUROPA - PRESS RELEASES - Press release - Antitrust: Commission closes investigation into internet connectivity services but will continue to monitor the sector: "Commission found no evidence of behaviour aimed at foreclosing transit services from the market or at providing an unfair advantage to the telecoms operators' own proprietary content services, in breach of EU rules that prohibit the abuse of a dominant market position (Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).

Nevertheless, it is important that users are aware of the interconnection policies pursued by their internet access providers and the impact that this may have on the quality of service obtained from certain content providers, whose content requires a high bandwidth (e.g. video streaming). The Commission will therefore continue to monitor the sector closely." 'via Blog this'

Proving that Cogent cannot rely on EC markets - or that antitrust is fundamentally unsuited to net neutrality consumer issues? It took 15 months to reach this point. Perhaps after Almunia retires, things might improve? Given the new Commissioner's closeness to DTelekom, perhaps not...

Monday, October 06, 2014

TeleFrieden: 2.5 Blunders in an Otherwise Flawless Comcast Charm Offensive

TeleFrieden: 2.5 Blunders in an Otherwise Flawless Comcast Charm Offensive:

"I give Comcast a half demerit for its new found support for network neutrality.  Wasn’t this the company that successfully sued the FCC on its creation of network neutrality rules?  Well that was then and now embracing neutrality—for a fixed time period no doubt—comes across as noble.  I think it comes across as an expedient strategy to win support for its merger" 'via Blog this'

Siemslegal: European Law & Economics at the Crossroads?

Siemslegal: European Law & Economics at the Crossroads?: "Lawyers were in the minority, but the economists too were not 'typical' economists, but mainly economic historian and socio-economists (eg, my paper was the only one that had a quantitative dimension). Again, therefore it became apparent at this event that L&E is not to be understood in a narrow way. Paradoxically, in this respect, it may be an advantage for L&E in Europe to be less popular than in the US, since it may make European L&E scholarship more willing to look beyond its usual boundaries." 'via Blog this'
We can hope, though in telecoms and competition too much of the old Chicago approach remains evident? 

Marriott fined $600,000 for jamming Wi-Fi at Nashville hotel

Marriott fined $600,000 for jamming Wi-Fi at Nashville hotel | US news | "The government said people who purchase cellular data plans should be able to use them without fear that their personal connection will be blocked.

 “It is unacceptable for any hotel to intentionally disable personal hotspots while also charging consumers and small businesses high fees to use the hotel’s own Wi-Fi network,” Travis LeBlanc, chief of the FCC’s enforcement bureau said in a statement. “This practice puts consumers in the untenable position of either paying twice for the same service or forgoing Internet access altogether." 'via Blog this'

Friday, October 03, 2014

For European Telcos, Parting From Kroes Is No Sweet Sorrow

For European Telcos, Parting From Kroes Is No Sweet Sorrow - Digits - WSJ:

"Mr. Oettinger is seen as more sympathetic to the big telecoms companies than his Dutch predecessor. But that didn’t stop Ms. Kroes telling the telcos to pull their socks up one last time.

“Soon we will see everything connected,” she said. “Will the telecoms sector lead us there or will you be dragged along behind?”

 Kroes wasn’t alone in challenging the telco executives.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said he was highly skeptical of telecoms companies’ plans to charge for “specialized services” offering superior Internet access for those who pay—the so-called net neutrality issue. “The only reason to have a fast lane is if the other lane is not very good,” he said.

“What net neutrality represents is freedom from the old world, where choices were limited, to a new world of more and better choices,” Mr. Hastings added." 'via Blog this'