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Obama's Budget Submitted to Lawmakers Hits Wireless Carriers with Huge Fees for Spectrum License

he Obama administration Feb. 26 proposed to tax wireless carriers as much as $550 million per year for the right to hold a spectrum license. The fee would be in addition to the billions carriers have already paid in spectrum auctions held by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). Under the budget outline provided by the Obama administration, the new fees would be used to help reduce the $1.7 trillion national deficit. The proposal before Congress would charge carriers like AT&T, Verizon and Sprint $50 million this year. The fee per carrier would jump to $200 million in 2010 and eventually rise to $550 million by 2019. more»

Australia's Censorship Plan Reaching Dead End

Australian government's plan to introduce mandatory internet censorship has effectively been scuttled, following an independent senator's decision to join the Greens and Opposition (also see post on backlash) in blocking any legislation required to get the scheme started. The Opposition's communications spokesman Nick Minchin has this week obtained independent legal advice saying that if the Government is to pursue a mandatory filtering regime "legislation of some sort will almost certainly be required". more»

FCC Fines Telecoms with $12 Million Over Customer Privacy Requirements

Federal regulators proposed Tuesday to impose more than $12 million in fines on 600 telecoms that failed to file paperwork in 2008 explaining how they protect their customers' private information. At issue are annual reports that phone companies, internet telephony concerns, and calling card companies need to file explaining how they protect individuals' phone records, cell phone location data and personal information from data brokers and over-the-line private investigators... more»

India to Block Close to 39 Foreign VoIP Service Providers

The Hindu Business Line reports that the Department of Telecom (DoT) in India has issued orders to block Internet telephony services being offered by around 39 foreign firms in the country. All the Internet Service Providers have been asked to block these websites since Indian laws permit only licensed operators to offer Net telephony services. Service providers blacklisted include voiptalk.org, sipgate.co.uk, voiplus.net, and deltathree.com more»

New Internet Study Finds Web and Streaming Higher Than P2P Traffic

ipoque, a European deep packet inspection hardware provider has published an Internet study for 2008/2009 providing an overview of the Internet's current state based on analyzing 1.3 petabytes of Internet traffic -- "the amount of data equal to 300,000 DVDs" -- in eight regions of the world (Northern Africa, Southern Africa, South America, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, Southwestern Europe, Germany). The study includes the use of about 100 of the most popular Internet protocols including P2P, VoIP, media streaming, instant messaging. more»

Verizon Tops US ISPs for Spam Abuse, Plans Prevention and Shift to Port 587

Brian Krebs of Washington Post reporting: "Verizon.net is home to more than twice as many spam-spewing zombies as any other major Internet service provider in the United States, according to an analysis of the most recent data from anti-spam outfit Spamhaus.org. Verizon, however, says it plans to put measures in place to prevent it from being used as a home to so many spammers. ... If spammers are attracted to the company's network, it may be because Verizon still allows customers to send e-mail on Port 25, the communications channel that is traditionally used by large organizations to send e-mail." more»

FTC Issues New Privacy Guidelines for ISPs, Mobile Companies

Federal regulators tweaked recommendations for how websites should collect, save and share information about users, extending them to Internet service providers and mobile users. The Federal Trade Commission issued new guidance on Thursday for the self-regulated industry that urges websites to tell consumers that data is being collected during their searches and to allow them to opt out. more»

AT&T, Comcast in Possible Agreement With Music Industry for New Antipiracy Campaign

How does the Recording Industry Association of America plan to stop illegal file sharing? Perhaps by turning two of America's largest Internet service providers into stooges. Last year, after a round of very public defeats over its plans to sue individuals for illegal file sharing, the RIAA unveiled a new plan to have ISPs do its dirty work. Now, AT&T and Comcast may have signed on to do just that. more»

US House Vote on Stimulus Package First Successful Congressional Action on Net Neutrality, If Passed

The U.S. House is scheduled to vote Jan. 28 on an $825 billion stimulus package attaching network neutrality and open access strings for $6 billion in grants and loans to build out broadband networks in unserved and underserved areas of the country. If-as widely expected-the American Recovery and Reinvestment passes the House, it will represent the first successful congressional action on network neutrality. The House legislation requires the winners of the funding to allow any legal device to be connected to the new networks, and network operators are prohibited from discriminating in the handling of network traffic. The mandates do not apply to existing networks. more»

Google and Others Launch M-Lab, Allows Users Track ISP Performance

Announced today, Google Inc. along with the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute, PlanetLab Consortium, and academic researchers are launching a new initiative called Measurement Lab, or M-Lab. According to Google's announcement, M-Lab is an open, distributed server platform for researchers to deploy Internet measurement tools. "The goal of M-Lab is to advance network research and empower the public with useful information about their broadband connections. By enhancing Internet transparency, M-Lab helps sustain a healthy, innovative Internet." more»

Britain's Plans to Combat Internet Pirates Stalled

British Internet service providers will not be forced to cut off users who repeatedly break the law by illegally sharing music and video files, according the The Times. See last year's report, "Thousands of File Sharers Facing Lawsuits in UK". Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary, said last year that the Government had “serious legislative intent” to compel internet companies to cut off customers who ignore warnings not to pirate material. However, in an interview with The Times, David Lammy, the Intellectual Property Minister, said that the Government had ruled out legislating to force ISPs to disconnect such users. more»

CRTC Report Reveals Most Canadian ISPs Throttle P2P Traffic

Newly released results of an investigation by the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) reveal that all major ISPs in Canada are interfering with network traffic. Canadian ISPs Bells, Rogers, Eastlink, and Cogeco all specifically admitted to slowing P2P traffic. Shaw, another big ISP, conceded to the agency that its customers are getting slowed down, but in confidence and without specifically pointing to P2P. more»

US Supreme Court Rejects Online Child Protection Law

The U.S. Supreme Court today again refused to resurrect a federal law that required Web sites containing "material harmful to minors" to implement age-based access restrictions, presumably ending a 10-year fight over whether the law violated free-speech rights on the Internet. The court declined to hear an appeal that was filed by former President George W. Bush's administration, asking the justices to overturn a lower court's ruling against enforcement of the Child Online Protection Act of 1998. In July, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit struck down COPA for the third time, saying that the law was a vague and overly broad attack on free speech. more»

Comcast Accused of Degrading VoIP Sound Quality of Competitors, Under FCC Investigation

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) raises the possibility of further network neutrality violations by Comcast. The agency is investigating concerns that Comcast's new network management practices degrade the sound quality of VOIP services such as Vonage and Skype that compete with Comcast's own VOIP service. more»

China's Online Population Reaching 300 Million, Same as Entire US Population

China's online population, already the world's largest, rose to 298 million by the end of 2008, almost the same as the entire population of the United States, an industry survey said Tuesday. The figure is up 41.9 percent from a year ago and is still growing fast, the government-linked China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) said in a report published on its website. more»