T-Mobile may be #4 in the cellular game, but they walked away a big winner in the recent FCC Spectrum 600MHz auction, paying nearly 8 billion dollars for the nationwide rights to that band. Although phones don't operate in the spectrum yet, they will be rolled out by year's end. Then T-Mobile will offer 4G LTE services in that market. Comcast also bought some, signaling they are planning to get into the mobile business. The rest were split between AT&T and US Cellular.
Lucille is worried that the government will be able to look into our search history. Leo says that ISPs will be able to sell our history, but they will hold onto it, not the federal government. But let's face it, if they want it, they can get it.
Your ISP knows all of your data. But Google is responding to this by encrypting everyone's search history, so no one can see it. The data could be sold off, but it wouldn't be usable then. What isn't encrypted, they'll be able to not only read, but sell.
The Senate has voted to overturn an FCC regulation that was designed to protect customer privacy. The regulation that was put out in October of last year said that internet service providers would have to ask for customer permission before selling personal data, such as browsing history, current location, and more.
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With the new chairman and his anti net neutrality views, the FCC has changed direction on a rule that would require cable companies to allow users to use third party set top boxes. Leo said it was a great idea, but in reality, cable companies were starting to see the handwriting on the wall that cutting the cable is gathering speed. The FCC has also allowed for zero rating, where you can get free data if you watch streaming from partnered services.
In performing what what the FCC called illegal "sneak charges" for ring tones and other items without consent, AT&T violated FCC regulations and must now pay customers back over $88 million in charges. Leo says it amounts to about $30 per customer.
Don is calling to discuss wireless spectrum and the way it is managed. Don doesn't think most Americans really know what's happening with the sale of wireless spectrum. Leo says we own the spectrum, the air above us is property of the American people. But there has to be some way of managing it so everyone doesn't use the same frequencies. So the FCC is chartered by congress, among other things, to manage spectrum. They've determined what radio stations are on what frequencies, and that has worked for almost a hundred years now.
The FCC is considering a proposal that would make cable box rental fees a thing of the past. The plan would give third party manufacturers the right to build competing set-top boxes that users could simply purchase, rather than rent. This could cost the cable industry up to $20 billion a year in lost rental fees. The plan is similar to a plan that was placed on the telephone industry back in the 80s.
The FCC this week voted 3-2 to reclassify broadband providers as telecommunications companies. This gives the FCC the ability to regulate the internet. The FCC has tried to regulate internet service providers, but was thwarted by lawsuits. The courts agreed that the FCC had no right to regulate them unless they were telecommunications companies, not information companies. After considerable debate and 4 million comments to the FCC website, the FCC voted on Thursday to reclassify internet service providers as telecommunications companies.