Broadband/Cable

Qwest to merge with CenturyLink

Karl Bode, Broadband DSL Reports

It looks like Qwest has finally found their suitor. CenturyLink and Qwest announced this morning that CenturyLink will acquire Qwest in a tax-free, stock-for-stock transaction worth about $10.5 billion. The deal also includes CenturyLink taking on $11.8 billion in Qwest debt -- which Qwest had been busily trying to reduce for several years now in order to attract a buyer. The new, larger CenturyLink will offer service in 37 states, and the new combined business will serve approximately 5 million broadband customers, 17 million access lines, 1,415,000 video subscribers and 850,000 wireless consumers.

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Academics call for US to adopt EU Internet access regs - fine with us!

Gigi Sohn, Public Knowledge

The New York Times recently ran an op-ed by 5 academics urging the FCC to adopt European Union (EU)-style transparency regulation rather than so-called “heavy-handed” net neutrality regulation that would ensure that US telephone and cable companies providing Internet access don’t pick winners and losers. In an argument we hear often from those companies, the academics suggest that so long as a consumer knows what its Internet access provider is doing, the customer can simply change providers if he or she doesn’t like it.

What the authors conveniently fail to mention is that competition is robust in many EU countries because of regulatory policies that require an Internet access provider to share its facilities with competitors. The Berkman Center at Harvard Law School pointed this out in its comprehensive, but largely ignored (by the FCC) report that looked at broadband deployment and adoption around the world. The United Kingdom, France, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden are among the EU countries cited in the report that have adopted “open access” policies.

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Hulu rolling out monthly subscriptions

Dawn Chmielewski, LA Times

Hulu, the popular online site for watching television shows, plans to begin testing a subscription service as soon as May 24, according to people with knowledge of the plans.

Under the proposal, Hulu would continue to provide for free the five most recent episodes of shows like Fox's "Glee," "ABC's "Lost" or NBC's "Saturday Night Live." But viewers who want to see additional episodes would pay $9.95 a month to access a more comprehensive selection, called Hulu Plus, these people said.

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The FCC and the Internet

New York Times

Editorial: With the Internet fast becoming the most important communications channel, it is untenable for the United States not to have a regulator to ensure nondiscriminatory access, guarantee interconnectivity among rival networks and protect consumers from potential abuse.

Yet that’s exactly where the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit left us all when it said this month that the Federal Communications Commission didn’t have the authority to regulate the Internet — and specifically, could not force the cable giant Comcast to stop blocking peer-to-peer sites.

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For now, there's little to do about a bad Internet provider

Rob Pegoraro, Washington Post

If your Internet provider jerks you around and slows you down, what are you going to do about it?

Fourteen years ago, the answer was easy: Fire the company and switch to one of dozens of other firms selling dial-up access. Seven years ago, you could choose from a healthy variety of digital-subscriber-line services, thanks in part to "line sharing" rules that forced incumbent carriers to open their infrastructure to competitors.

But over the past few years, your options have shriveled to just one or two companies selling the fastest access.

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Protect the open Internet!

Color of Change

The Internet has made amazing things possible, like freeing the Jena 6, electing President Obama, even creating ColorOfChange. None of it could have happened without an "open" Internet: one where Internet service providers are not allowed to interfere with what is seen and by whom.

Now, Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon — the most powerful broadband providers — are trying to fundamentally change the way the Internet works. They're seeking to make even bigger profits by acting as gatekeepers over what you see and do online. If they succeed, the Internet would be more like radio and television: a few major corporations would control which voices are heard most easily, and it would be much harder for grassroots groups, individuals, and small businesses to compete with large corporations and well-funded special interests.

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Comcast CEO paid $34 million in 2009

Reuters

Comcast Corp's chief operating officer Stephen Burke was the highest paid executive at the No. 1 U.S. cable company last year, topping even his boss Brian Roberts.

Burke was paid a total compensation package of $34 million in 2009, according to regulatory filings, a big jump from the $22.6 million he received in 2008. Last year he was paid a $3 million bonus and his stock awards more than doubled to $10 million.

His pay overtook CEO Roberts' $27.2 million package in 2009, which rose from $26.2 million. Roberts has previously been criticized by some corporate governance watchers for being paid high compensation.

Bu

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Net neutrality is up to Congress

Seattle Times

THE fight for open, equal access to the Internet shifts to Congress, after a federal appeals court Tuesday ruled the Federal Communications Commission could not impose the requirement.

[Seattle Times editorial]

This is a setback, but not the end to providing legally binding language that all users of the Internet, and the content it circulates, are treated equally by network providers.

If the courts found the administrative authority of the FCC inadequate, then it falls to lawmakers to pass legislation that puts the commission in firm control of the nation's broadband system. This Internet highway, this pipeline of information — pick your metaphor — has to stay open. That is a political imperative that crosses all partisan lines.

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FCC may not need Congress to reverse Appeals Court ruling on Internet regulation

David Dayen, FireDogLake

While the DC Circuit Court ruling on the FCC’s regulation of net neutrality and broadband Internet would appear to require legislative action for reversal, a key litigator in the case tells FDL News that the FCC could, if they chose, work through the ruling on their own by reversing some of the policies of the Bush Administration which sought to deregulate the online space.

I spoke with Marvin Ammori, who argued for the intervenors, Free Press, before the DC Circuit, against Comcast, who brought the case. Ammori argued in the case that the FCC had the statutory authority under the “ancillary jurisdiction” of various communications networks to regulate broadband, but the three-judge panel headed by Clinton appointee David S. Tatel disagreed.

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DC Circuit Court rules against FCC's authority to regulate net neutrality

Cecilia Kang, Washington Post

Comcast on Tuesday won a legal challenge against the Federal Communications Commission, in a ruling by a federal court that undermines the agency's ability to regulate Internet service providers.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the FCC lacked the authority to require Comcast, the nation's biggest broadband services provider, to treat all Internet traffic equally on its network.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey