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For much of the last year, Verizon Wireless has been blocking Google Wallet
, claiming that its use of a device's "secure element" is what has prohibited them from letting consumers use the app. Numerous people have explained in great detail (including the lawyer that filed the original complaint with the FCC
) that this excuse is simply being used to keep Google Wallet permanently stuck in approval purgatory, while the wireless industry's own, competing Isis
platform sees no such restrictions.
Using your gatekeeper status to keep a competing service stuck in technical approval limbo for eternity is a clear network neutrality violation. It's also something the FCC should be criticizing, but has been entirely mute on
(right alongside AT&T's block of video chat services to push users toward unlimited data plans).
T-Mobile has also been blocking Google Wallet on many unrooted devices, and like Verizon has only given half-hearted explanations, never simply acknowledging that they want to give their own Isis platform an unfair advantage. Until Now. Sort of. Our friends at TMONews
point out that T-Mobile's official Twitter account made it pretty clear that Google Wallet was simply being blocked for the sake of Isis, after a user asked why the payment service was blocked on his Galaxy Note 2:
All it took was a simple tweet from a customer to the main @tmobile Twitter account asking why Google Wallet doesnt work on the Note II. T-Mobiles response? "Were supporting ISIS, the wireless payment standard for mobile devices." Which is great, except I dont remember ISIS actually being dubbed the mobile payment "standard." In fact, I don't recall any of the mobile payment services out there being labeled as the de facto industry "standard."
In other words, we're declaring what is or isn't the industry standard, instead of letting users decide that for themselves. While you'd expect this kind of behavior from an incumbent like Verizon, T-Mobile just got done informing everyone how unlike the major carriers they supposedly are
. Except, apparently, when it comes to using your power as network gatekeeper to block services that compete with your own.
As part of many announcements at Google's I/O Conference this week, Google announced that they would now be integrating video chat within Google Hangouts
across platforms and devices. Well, unless you use AT&T.
As I've been discussing a lot lately
(because it's the most important issue facing the broadband sector right now), both AT&T and Verizon are in the process of gutting regulations that require they continue offering copper landlines -- and by proxy DSL -- to tens of millions of Americans. Both companies insist that they're simply interested in "modernizing regulations" and ushering us into an "all IP age." In reality, both companies simply want to exit the fixed-line market in areas they're unwilling to upgrade.
According to a company insider, additional Verizon customers impacted by Sandy will soon be informed -- some seven months after the fact -- that they too will never have their DSL lines repaired. As we've seen in New York and New Jersey
, the telco is foisting a service upon those customers called "Voice Link," which connects user home phones to the Verizon wireless network.
The FCC this week announced that they're targeting 500 MHz of additional airwaves
that could be opened up to help improve in-flight broadband services. Currently, most in-flight broadband either rely on congested satellite broadband bandwidth, or skyward-pointed ground to air EVDO antenna arrays.
Verizon has slowly been expanding the number of Sandy victims they're informing will never see their DSL lines repaired. Fire Island, New York residents who lost service during Sandy haven't had broadband service since last October, and only recently were told that these lines simply won't be repaired
As noted yesterday, the FCC has selected former cable and wireless industry lobbyist Tom Wheeler to replace Julius Genachowski as the head of the FCC
. Wheeler has been a top fundraiser for the Obama campaign during the last two election cycles, and it appears he's now getting his political reward for being a loyal foot soldier.
As noted earlier this month
, venture capitalist and former cable and
wireless industry lobbyist Tom Wheeler appears to have the new FCC boss position locked up. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal
, the FCC should announce Wheeler as the new FCC chairman today or tomorrow, with Current FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn acting as interim chairman until Wheeler is in place.
Since last fall Verizon has been trying to justify their blocking of Google Wallet on Verizon phones
, insisting the app is blocked because Google Wallet uses the "secure element" on devices to store a user's Google ID. In response to complaints filed with the FCC by lawyer Jay Klimek, Verizon insists the unending blockade has nothing to do with the fact Verizon (in conjunction with AT&T and T-Mobile) is working on their own competing mobile payment platform named Isis.
At the tail end of 2011 carriers and the FCC agreed to new voluntary bill shock guidelines
, the agency driven by repeated stories of users facing wireless bills for thousands of dollars (or more). The bills are usually the result of customers who failed to read and understand roaming data rates, and carriers not exactly motivated to make understanding such rates easy.
The FCC still has around $185 million out of the $300 million broadband funds available from phase one of their Connect America Fund, dedicated to shoring up broadband coverage gaps. While companies like Frontier took $71.9 million to wire some 92,000 homes
, other companies like Windstream balked at taking full funding, saying that getting $775 per install wasn't enough for their liking
The FCC's sixteenth annual report on the wireless industry
(pdf) provides a myriad of data (as required by Congress), but once again refuses to directly state whether or not the wireless industry is actually competitive. That's becoming a sort of annual tradition
, as the FCC tries not to offend the wireless industry.
Anonymous sources have been telling outlets like the Wall Street Journal
that FCC boss Julius Genachowski will be announcing his departure from the FCC sometime today. His exit comes during a busy week for departures at the agency, which also saw the exits of chief counsel Sherrese Smith and Commissioner Robert McDowell.
Republican FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell today announced that he'll be leaving the FCC
for an unspecified job elsewhere. McDowell was the likely front-runner to lead the FCC if Romney had won the election.
Back in March of last year you might recall that the FCC announced
they had cooked up a new voluntary "cybersecurity" program designed to shore up and unify ISP responses to botnets and other security threats. The plan essentially just urged ISPs to voluntary follow a code of practice for shoring up security measures versus botnets, attacks on the Domain Name System (DNS), and Internet route hijacking.
by Revcb Thursday 14-Mar-2013
Speculation has been heated over the last month as to who'll replace Julius Genachowski as the new FCC boss, even though he has yet to officially announce his departure. Washington speculation has previously tagged Tom Wheeler, a former cable industry and wireless industry lobbyist, as the most likely candidate
. The Washington Post
this week stated that some within the FCC are nervous about Wheeler's lobbying ties (or they're worried about the political appearance
of his lobbying ties), but the paper confirmed that he, Obama staffer Karen Kornbluh, and NTIA boss Lawrence Strickling are indeed the top three candidates for the job. Once again absent from speculation is Susan Crawford, who has seen grass roots support
for her criticism of the industry's competitive and price failures.
With a petition to make cell phone unlocking legal again awaiting White House response
, the FCC now says they'll be launching an investigation into the issue. It's not entirely clear what good that will do since this is an issue with the Librarian of Congress and the quite-silly DMCA exception list process.
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Recent news contributorsKarl Bode , telcodad