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FCC Wary of Usage-Based Broadband

Jeff Baumgartner
9/26/2012

Welcome to the broadband and cable news roundup, Hump Day edition.

  • While usage-based pricing for broadband is a "useful tool" to help ISPs manage growing network loads as more consumers use high-speed connections to access video, it's a tool that can also be abused, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski warned during a speech given Tuesday at the VOX Media headquarters in Washington, D.C. He didn't provide any round-numbered suggestions, but said consumers "need sufficient monthly broadband capacity to make e-commerce routine and unconstrained," and that he's "concerned about practices that harm competition, including from over-the-top providers," depress broadband usage or prevent ISPs from boosting broadband speeds and capacity. His comments come as several U.S. ISPs launch or test usage-based broadband policies that charge extra when customers exceed soft, monthly data caps. (See Mediacom Unleashes Usage-Based Broadband , Comcast Turns On Usage-Based Broadband, Comcast to Try On 600GB Data Cap and Suddenlink Puts Broadband Overage Fees on Ice .)

  • A Docsis 3.0 gateway powered by Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)'s Puma 6 chip that can bond 24 downstream channels and support speed bursts near 1Gbit/s will be among the products Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) will show off at next month's Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) Cable-Tec Expo in Orlando, Fla. Hitron Technologies Inc. , an Arris competitor, has developed similar products and expects to submit a wireless gateway version to CableLabs for certification testing in November. (See 1-Gig Cable Gateway Gets Ready for Its Close-Up and Intel's New Docsis 3.0 Chip Guns for 1-Gig .)

  • Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is closing three call centers in north California, a move that will affect about 1,000 employees as the company shifts those jobs to centers located in states such as Colorado, Washington and Oregon. Comcast is moving those jobs due to the high costs of doing business in the Golden State, according to a local CBS affiliate.

  • Online video sources are making strides, but cable still owns the market for on-demand movies on a paid, per-use basis, according to a study from NPD Group Inc. . Comcast was responsible for 48 percent of all paid VoD movie rentals in the first half of 2012, followed by DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) (14 percent) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) (9 percent). Telco VoD was the fastest-growing segment, noting a year-over-year growth rate of 24 percent, outpacing Internet VoD's 15 percent.

  • Barnes & Noble Inc. is the latest tablet-maker to take a stab at video services. The Nook Video, due out this fall, will let users buy and rent movies and TV shows from several sources, including HBO, Sony Pictures, Starz Entertainment LLC , and Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS). Nook Video will also be compatible with UltraViolet, a rights platform that lets users buy a DVD or Blu-ray title that can also be watched on an array of broadband-connected devices. (See UltraViolet Opens Its Digital Locker.)

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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    AESerm
    AESerm
    12/5/2012 | 5:20:21 PM
    re: FCC Wary of Usage-Based Broadband


    That was a long speech, 5200 words. A bit windy, and self-congratulatory, but this is an election season. Being wary (or a worry-wart) is that part of the chairman's job description?

    Jeff Baumgartner
    Jeff Baumgartner
    12/5/2012 | 5:20:20 PM
    re: FCC Wary of Usage-Based Broadband


    Yes, windy, even by gov't standards.  But his comments about being concerned are interesting in part because the FCC network neutrality rules, created on his watch,  allow for usage-based pricing.  So there have been some calls for regulatory oversight on ensuring the accuracy of those meters rather than leaving it solely up to the ISPs.  To Suddenlink's credit, it's mothballing its usage -based policy and revisiting its approach after it became aware of a rare descrepency in a meter reading. But I'm guessing that there are lots of folks out there who don't want to leave all that up to the ISP to check and police.  Of course, getting the FCC involved may offer a be careful what you wish for scenario. JB

    paolo.franzoi
    paolo.franzoi
    12/5/2012 | 5:20:20 PM
    re: FCC Wary of Usage-Based Broadband


    For those that have never been to the FCC.  The commisioners are politicians and seem mildly interested in what might be good for the country in comparison to what might be good for them.  The staff (not the commissioners office staff but the actual FCC staff) are bureaucrats who at least seem to care about what is good for the people.  Having given testimony and lobbied in there, I can tell you there is nothing smart, good, caring or nice about an FCC commissioner or his office staff.


    seven


    PS - And our lobbying efforts were successful

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