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Net Neutrality is a mess: We can’t even decide what the Internet is

Net Neutrality is a mess: We can’t even decide what the Internet is

The internet as we know it is in peril. Verizon's victory in the court of appeal this week, seeing the FCC's attempts to regulate broadband providers in the name of Net Neutrality defeated, has the potential to change how we access the internet and web services like Netflix, Hulu, and others more fundamentally than 2013's SOPA threatened to. In question isn't whether internet access should be a free-for-all, but what it is fundamentally, legally classified as, and who therefore has control over what gets shuttled through: Verizon and the broadband providers, in control of the "pipes", or the FCC as protector of infrastructure that uses public rights of way. For all both sides are claiming some degree of victory this week, we're still no closer to settling that fundamental question.

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FCC Net Neutrality powers struck down by federal court

FCC Net Neutrality powers struck down by federal court

This morning a court has struck down the FCC's ability to enforce certain key "Net Neutrality Rules" on companies that would favor certain kinds of web traffic over others. That's what Net Neutrality protects the public against, after all: with a "neutral" law in place, all web data is treated equally. Without these rules in place, companies that provide web connectivity are able to legally place restrictions on some content while making other content run faster - whichever they do so choose.

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TiVo founders create “QPlay” streaming media TV adapter

TiVo founders create “QPlay” streaming media TV adapter

The original founders of TiVo are starting a new business venture called QPlay. It's an adapter for streaming TV reminiscent of the plug-and-play ease of Google's Chromecast dongle and app set, but with the all-under-one-roof simplicity of a set-top box. Plug the QPlay box into your HDTV, plug the USB-connected power cord into a wall outlet, fire-on your -- iPad only, apparently -- and you're ready to stream some video and Internet TV from a variety of services, which will possibly include Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, and so on.

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In-flight call ban lift open to discussion following FCC vote: needs DOT approval

In-flight call ban lift open to discussion following FCC vote: needs DOT approval

Though the vote of 3-2 knocks out a technical ban in the FCC, the rule against using cellphones to make calls in-flight is still being left up to the Department of Transportation to make a final ruling on here near the end of 2013. This week's vote was a close one. The FCC's meeting today had FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler taking special care to note that this vote does not instantly grant travelers the right to make a phone call on their next flight - there's still voting to be done before that's all well and good.

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Carrier phone unlocking policy agreement solidified between FCC and CTIA

Carrier phone unlocking policy agreement solidified between FCC and CTIA

The five largest USA-based carriers have come to an agreement through the CTIA (The Wireless Association) with the FCC over their policy for unlocking phones in North America. Barring those devices the institutions have reason to believe were stolen or otherwise fraudulently acquired, it would appear that the carrier unlock sequence has been made as free and open as it's ever been. A new set of rules have been set forth and will be adopted by the five larges mobile data carriers in the USA inside the next 12 months.

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Advocacy groups say AT&T violated Communications Act by selling records to CIA

Advocacy groups say AT&T violated Communications Act by selling records to CIA

A lot of technology companies, social networks, and wireless carriers are under fire from consumer advocacy groups for selling or sharing private consumer data on phone calls and online habits with the federal government. A group of consumer advocacy firms led by a company called Public Knowledge filed a petition this week with the FCC. The petition hopes to get the FCC to say that AT&T violated a privacy rule in the Communications Act.

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Cellphone calls on planes under consideration by FCC

Cellphone calls on planes under consideration by FCC

Rules preventing in flight use of cellphones to make voice calls and access data services may be overturned, the FCC has hinted, with the federal commission proposing changes to policies it describes as "outdated and restrictive." The loosening of cellular services - which could include making voice calls while in the air - will be discussed at a December 12th meeting, the FCC confirmed; according to sources at the commission, planes themselves will effectively be turned into mobile base-stations, thus avoiding any potential interference with ground-based antennas.

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FCC Speed Test app for Android to crowdsource carrier performance

FCC Speed Test app for Android to crowdsource carrier performance

The FCC will be rolling out a new free app for Android next spring that lets users submit speed data to the agency for analysis, the Washington Post reports. The app is part of a broad-based effort to gauge actual download and upload speeds by mobile devices on the four major carriers and CTIA-The Wireless Association. The data will be collected and collated and measured against advertised speeds. The stated purpose of the project is to make sure consumers are getting what they're paying for.

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