Today’s action demonstrates that compliance with FCC obligations is not optional. The open device and application obligations were core conditions when Verizon purchased the C-block spectrum. The massive innovation and investment fueled by the Internet have been driven by consumer choice in both devices and applications. The steps taken today will not only protect consumer choice, but defend certainty for innovators to continue to deliver new services and apps without fear of being blocked.FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski • Regarding an FCC ruling that basically prevents Verizon from charging money for its 4G wi-fi tethering services — a big victory for people who feel like they’re getting screwed by their phone provider. Why’s that? The 4G network was set up to be open and pro-consumer, with cell phone companies having limited influence on how their customers can use it. Verizon Wireless will also voluntarily make a $1.25 million payment to the Treasury to settle the issue.
They didn’t say anything about cash or jewelry, but the SEC did side with three AT&T investors — including the Beastie Boys’ Michael “Mike D” Diamond — who believed that shareholders should have a vote in the company’s net neutrality policy, because it has become part of the national debate. AT&T argued that the vote would “directly interfere with its network management practices”, but ultimately the SEC ruled that wireless providers must now allow for shareholder votes on net neutrality proposals. Should such proposals pass, providers would be required to “operate a neutral network with neutral routing along the company’s wireless infrastructure.” source
On behalf of American consumers, we’re concerned about Verizon’s actions and are looking into the matter.The FCC, in a statement saying they’ll look into Verizon’s controversial new $2 bill-pay convenience fee. 2011 has not been a good year for nickel-and-dimers — between Bank of America and Ticketmaster, “convenience charges” are starting to look like something consumers will not stand for, and will complain about loudly on the internet. On a side note, Change.org has had a bit of a banner year.
» Nickel and diming, redux: To be clear, this fee wouldn’t be instituted in every case — people using automatic bill-pay wouldn’t be subject to it, nor would people paying by electronic check (at least according to the initial source of this news, a leaked memo obtained by Engadget). That said, if you’re looking to make a one-off payment, or aren’t scheduled for automatic payments, you can expect a tidy little $2 charge starting January 15th. What reaction consumers will have is yet unclear; it has, however, been a bad year for companies trying to slip extra fees onto customers.
If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em: That would seem to be the principle behind an effort by Verizon to purchase the DVD-shipping and movie streaming giant, though it bears noting that this is reported as little more than rumor at present. It would, however, be fitting with Verizon’s general posture of late; they’ve been open about their desire to enter the streaming movie business, with their CEO last week admitting they’d looked into purchasing Hulu. This would be an advantageous time for somebody to acquire Netflix, as their stock has plummeted in recent months following announced price increases, and the utterly disastrous Qwikster plan; conversely, though, these rumors have sent their stock upwards by 6%. source
Don’t screw this up Yahoo.
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» AT&T’s contributions = Rick Perry’s support? Back in May, Rick Perry told the FCC he backed the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. “I believe that this merger will continue to provide for great consumer choice, offer a wide range of service options, and spur continued innovation,” he wrote. He might’ve had a little help from those campaign contributions over the past decade. AT&T has a bit of a history of going out of its way to turn public favor its way, going so far as to bizarrely convince GLAAD to support the merger. With the Justice Department coming out against the merger and AT&T’s contributions to Perry coming under scrutiny, will Perry back down? (Strangely enough, BTW, the Justice Department’s James Cole made a statement that reads like the polar opposite of what Perry wrote: “We believe the combination of AT&T and T-Mobile would result in tens of millions of consumers all across the United States facing higher prices, fewer choices, and lower-quality products for their mobile wireless services.” Hrm.)