AT&T Reveals Plans for 3 Tiers of DirecTV-Branded Web TV

AT&T is the latest player to enter the video-streaming market with an announcement that in Q4 it will offer three plans under the brand of DirecTV, the satellite TV company it acquired last year. What’s missing are all the details. AT&T hasn’t provided programming, pricing or a more specific launch date. But one important point was made clear: AT&T’s national, app-based OTT service will be available to those who are not subscribers to its TV or wireless services. Verizon and Sony offer a similar service. Continue reading AT&T Reveals Plans for 3 Tiers of DirecTV-Branded Web TV

HPA Tech Retreat: Washington Update During This ‘Silly Season’

In another annual HPA Tech Retreat panel, Jim Burger, a copyright attorney with Thompson Coburn in Washington, D.C. gave his “Washington Update.” “We’re talking about Congress and the Silly Season, and it’s crazy,” said Burger, who said he would touch on intellectual property litigation on the copyright side; the FCC and communications; net neutrality; and unlocking the set-top box among other topics. Burger noted that the House Judiciary Committee has held over 20 copyright hearings this year. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Washington Update During This ‘Silly Season’

Verizon’s Zero-Rating for Go90 Likely to Spur FCC Response

Up until now, “zero rating” has been a gray area in net neutrality, but Verizon’s recent action might force the FCC to clarify its stance. Zero rating means that an Internet provider allows certain video and/or music streams to not count against a subscriber’s data cap. Verizon just confirmed that it has applied zero-rating to its new go90 service, thus giving itself preferential treatment and putting competitors such as Netflix, YouTube and other streaming services at a disadvantage. Continue reading Verizon’s Zero-Rating for Go90 Likely to Spur FCC Response

Advertisers Pay for Users’ Mobile Data in Verizon’s Beta Test

Verizon Wireless does not offer an unlimited data plan, but it’s got another idea on how users can watch mobile content to their heart’s content without racking up data charges: get media firms and advertisers to pay to deliver video and other content. The telco has launched a 1,000-user beta test of its sponsored-data program, FreeBee Data, that lets content providers opt to pay per-click or per-gigabyte fees. Just how many media companies will agree to pay data fees isn’t clear, and Verizon did not announce pricing. Continue reading Advertisers Pay for Users’ Mobile Data in Verizon’s Beta Test

FCC Queries Comcast, AT&T and T-Mobile About Data Caps

Comcast, AT&T, and T-Mobile USA received a letter from the FCC asking them to answer questions about their use of “zero rating,” by which some types of content are exempted from a customer’s data cap. Though FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler insisted this doesn’t constitute an investigation, the FCC has previously noted that data cap exemptions can favor the exempted content over content that counts against a customer’s data use. The FCC asked the companies’ technical and business personnel to be available for discussions by January 15. Continue reading FCC Queries Comcast, AT&T and T-Mobile About Data Caps

Carriers, Twilio Clash Over Text Messaging Regulatory Status

Text messaging is a regulatory gray zone that is currently the object of a dispute between AT&T, Verizon and other wireless carriers, and Twilio, a software company that enables automatic text-sending, with consumer advocacy groups Public Knowledge, Common Cause, and Free Press. Twilio is petitioning that the FCC impose common carrier regulations on text messaging, which means carriers could not block or throttle texts. The carriers say they’re protecting consumers against spam. Continue reading Carriers, Twilio Clash Over Text Messaging Regulatory Status

Comcast’s Stream TV Does Not Affect Subscriber Data Caps

Comcast just launched Stream TV, its live streaming TV service, in the Chicago and Boston areas (including eastern Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine), and plans to debut the service in all its territories by early 2016. What makes Stream TV of interest is that its usage does not count against the 300GB data plans available in some Comcast territories or use a customer’s Internet bandwidth measured in bits per second. Stream TV is an IP cable service delivered over Comcast’s managed network rather than the public Internet. Continue reading Comcast’s Stream TV Does Not Affect Subscriber Data Caps

T-Mobile Launches Binge On: Video Streaming, No Data Cap

T-Mobile US will stream 24 video services including Netflix, Hulu and HBO for free, albeit at lower quality. The wireless company has already used this tactic — called zero rating, which means the data will not be counted against the subscriber’s data limit — for its Music Freedom service, which includes music streaming apps Spotify and Apple Music among others. The new video exemption, dubbed Binge On, does not, however, include video from YouTube, Facebook and Netflix and requires users to have a 3GB plan or larger. Continue reading T-Mobile Launches Binge On: Video Streaming, No Data Cap

TPP Trade Agreement Sparks Response from Tech Community

With the publication of the Trans Pacific-Partnership (TPP) international trade treaty, numerous technology and privacy rights groups are speaking up over a range of issues. Non-profit consumer rights organization Public Citizen decries what it says is “serious implications for online privacy.” Others note that the TPP would prevent member countries from requiring that companies from other member states hand over the source code of their products. And some activists believe TPP could help further net neutrality. Continue reading TPP Trade Agreement Sparks Response from Tech Community

FCC and Alamo Broadband Set to Face Off Over Net Neutrality

On December 4, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral arguments against net neutrality brought by Alamo Broadband, a small Texas Internet provider, the latest to push to end net neutrality. In its filing, the Federal Communications Commission reiterated that the net neutrality rules issued this year that reclassified ISPs as “common carriers” do not violate First Amendment rights. Both the FCC and Alamo’s positions are clear in the filings they’ve recently made to the court. Continue reading FCC and Alamo Broadband Set to Face Off Over Net Neutrality

Facebook Continues its Push to Deliver Free Mobile Internet

Facebook plans to ramp up its efforts to provide free basic Internet on mobile devices, after successfully debuting the application through its Internet.org platform in 17 developing countries. The company will launch a dedicated portal for mobile operators to offer the service under Internet.org, which has brought nine million people online in the last year. Facebook hopes to bring an estimated 4.5 billion people online in Latin America, Asia and Africa. The platform offers free pared-down Web services and Facebook’s social network and messaging. Continue reading Facebook Continues its Push to Deliver Free Mobile Internet

Sprint Stops Throttling Speeds as Net Neutrality Takes Effect

The new net neutrality laws had a real-world impact when Sprint announced it would no longer throttle speeds for unlimited data customers. Sprint chief executive Marcelo Claure made the move in reaction to customers disgruntled by the fine print of a new $80/month unlimited text, talk and data plan, noting that video would be delivered at lower speeds. The 600 kilobits/second speed recommended by a consultant to Sprint would have particularly impacted high definition video, which runs at three to four megabits per second. Continue reading Sprint Stops Throttling Speeds as Net Neutrality Takes Effect

Ad-Sponsored Data to Be Part of Verizon’s Internet TV Service

Verizon’s upcoming Internet TV service, expected to launch sometime this summer, may encourage brands to sponsor your binge watching. According to Verizon exec Marnie Walden — who described the new service as a “mobile-first video product” — the company plans to offer live and on-demand programming in addition to content from digital networks such as AwesomenessTV. Rather than passing the additional data costs for such a service to customers or programmers, Verizon is turning to advertisers. “Ad-sponsored data is part of the product offering,” said Walden. Continue reading Ad-Sponsored Data to Be Part of Verizon’s Internet TV Service

FCC Plans to Fine AT&T $100 Million for Slowing Data Speeds

The Federal Communications Commission has accused AT&T Mobility of misleading its wireless customers regarding unlimited data plans by slowing their service without notification. As a result, the FCC announced that it plans to fine AT&T $100 million. According to the agency, AT&T delivered slower service than advertised after its customers had used a certain amount of data. The slow-down impacted the ability to stream video, use mapping services and more. The move raises questions about future actions now that the FCC is treating Internet services more like utilities. Continue reading FCC Plans to Fine AT&T $100 Million for Slowing Data Speeds

Letter Released in Protest of Facebook’s Free Internet Project

As part of the growing backlash to Facebook’s Internet.org project, 65 advocacy organizations from 31 countries released a letter of protest this week to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook has partnered with wireless carriers and other organizations on the initiative that hopes to bring free Internet service to the developing world. However, the letter argues that the project “violates the principles of net neutrality, threatening freedom of expression, equality of opportunity, security, privacy, and innovation.” Continue reading Letter Released in Protest of Facebook’s Free Internet Project

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