Posts Tagged ‘FCC’

Wow! I’ve Never Made My Students So Bored

Monday, September 26th, 2011

View from bottom up broadcast towerJudging by the looks on my students’ faces, last week, in my Media & Entertainment Law class, I gave what may have been the most boring lecture of my career. It was the lecture in which I explain how the FCC allocates frequency spectrum and doles out broadcast licenses.

What’s so strange is that the same lecture was a huge hit when I first taught this class back in 2005.

Of course, after class, I realized what the difference is. As recently as 2005, frequency spectrum and FCC licenses represented – as they had for nearly a century – the keys to the kingdom. If you wanted to get your message out there, you found a radio or television station.

Just six years later, it’s hard to talk about broadcast licenses without feeling like they are a quaint anachronism.

By the way, you may wonder how it is that I could tell my students were bored. Well, I’ve never witnessed a higher level of IM’ing, Facebooking, and Tweeting in class. And no, I don’t have mirrors in the back of class to see what’s on students’ laptops. I can see it clearly reflected in students’ faces. Messages were zipping through the wireless and around the internet at a furious pace.

And, of course, that’s the irony: Web 2.0 was not merely the symptom of the boredom; it was the cause.

Who cares about getting an FCC license, a giant steel tower, and a gargantuan electric bill when you can better reach an audience with your laptop and a wireless connection?

For an ex-radio-disc-jockey, I have to say it’s a little sad for me to face up to the reality. But, then again, it’s nothing I didn’t know. I mean, look at me: I’m off the airwaves and blogging to you. I’d like to say that I’m BLOGGING TO YOU FROM THE TOP OF MCCLELLAN PEAK WITH EIGHTY-SEVEN THOUSAND WATTS OF POWER IN THE MIDDLE OF 45 MINUTES OF CONTINUOUS HIT MUSIC.

But of course, I’m not. And I gotta say, it’s not the same to type that. Even in italics and all caps.

Video didn’t kill the radio star. But Web 2.0 sure did.

FCC Passes Net Neutrality Rules, Reactions Mixed

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

FCC headquarters in Washington, DC. (Photo: FCC)

Yesterday the FCC approved new rules to guarantee at least a watered-down version of net neutrality for wired internet connections.

The order has not been publicly released, but here are three articles (best first) that you can read to get up-to-date on what  is known and how people are reacting:

Two key issues in the ongoing controversy are “paid prioritization” and whether net neutrality will be enforced for wireless services. Senator Al Franken, an outspoken proponent of net neutrality, touched on both in a statement he issued expressing his disappointment at what transpired. In part, he said:

The FCC’s action today is simply inadequate to protect consumers or preserve the free and open Internet. I am particularly disappointed to learn that the order will not specifically ban paid prioritization, allowing big companies to pay for a fast lane on the Internet and abandoning the foundation of net neutrality. The rule also contains almost no protections for mobile broadband service, remaining silent on the blocking of content, applications, and devices. Wireless technology is the future of the Internet, and for many rural Minnesotans, it’s often the only choice for broadband.

But while the rules don’t explicitly ban paid prioritization, they do ban unreasonable discrimination, at least for hardwired internet access. Chloe at PCMag explains what that might mean:

Among those things that would probably be unreasonable? Paid prioritization. The whole idea behind net neutrality is that everyone has equal access to the Web; a wealthy company like Amazon should not be able to pay to have their Web site load faster than a mom-and-pop e-commerce site. While this practice of paid prioritization is not strictly banned in the net neutrality rules, the FCC said yesterday that it would likely be deemed unreasonable.

FCC Expected to Adopt a Compromise Net Neutrality Order Today

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

FCC logoToday the FCC is slated to consider a new net neutrality order that will be binding on American telecom companies. It looks like it will be adopted on a 3-2 vote with the three Democrat commissioners supporting it and the two Republican commissioners opposing it.

Net neutrality is incredibly important for bloggers. Without net neutrality, telecom companies will be allowed, basically, to accept bribes from big-money media companies. In return telecoms would their new friends preferential fast-lane treatment on the internet, pushing citizen bloggers onto side roads.

Say you have a blog that dishes celebrity gossip. With a non-neutral internet, your readers may begin to lose patience over your slowly downloading pages, choosing instead to jump over to bigger operations, like Access Hollywood or TMZ, that could afford to pay tolls to telecoms for lightning fast download times.

Here are two solid articles if you want to read up on what’s ahead for the FCC:

The rule that the FCC is considering today is a compromise. It draws a distinction between wired and wireless. Regular wired broadband internet access (e.g., for your home and work computers, whether plugged in or accessed through a wi-fi router) would be subject to net neutrality rules. Wireless/mobile internet services (e.g., through your phone, 4G services) would not.

You might ask, does it really matter if phones don’t get net-neutral service? Let me answer that with another question: Do you want people to be able to read your blog on their phone? (And before you answer, think about how much internet end-user traffic is going to phones …)

More from me on net neutrality: