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Google Fiber turned her Internet back on after bizarre sales tax discrepancy.
ATT sued Louisville over pole attachment rule, but judge says rule is valid.
Verizon asks FCC to speed up fiber deployment, but cable lobby is against it.
Google Fiber filing permit to begin construction in Louisville.
New ISPs would get faster access to utility poles under FCC plan.
Google Fiber cancels customer accounts, doesn't explain why.
As Google Fiber scales back fiber builds, signs point to wireless expansion.
Enlarge / Virginia State Capitol in Richmond.Getty Images | Joe Daniel Price reader comments 44 Share this story Google and Netflix joined a handful of advocacy groups and other companies lobbying against a proposed Virginia state law that would make it far more difficult for municipalities to offer Internet service. As we previously reported, the "Virginia Broadband Deployment Act" would prohibit municipal broadband deployments except in very limited circumstances.

For example, localities wouldn't be allowed to offer Internet service to residents if an existing network already provides 10Mbps download and 1Mbps upload speeds to 90 percent of potential customers.

Even if that condition is met, municipalities would have to jump through several legal hoops before being allowed to build a network. "This bill would effectively ban new public broadband networks and public-private partnerships and cripple existing ones, harming both the public and private sectors, retarding economic growth, preventing the creation or retention of jobs around the Commonwealth, particularly in rural areas, hampering work force development, and diminishing the quality of life in Virginia," bill opponents including Google and Netflix wrote in a letter last week to State House Commerce Committee Chairman Terry Kilgore, a Republican. Google Fiber has brought gigabit broadband to eight metro areas, but it's scaling back and has complained that local regulations make it difficult for newcomers to challenge incumbent ISPs. Netflix has a less direct connection to the municipal broadband battle, but the company would benefit from more customers having the speeds necessary to stream high-definition video. In addition to Google and Netflix, the letter was signed by Atlantic Engineering, the Coalition for Local Internet Choice, CTC Energy & Technology, the Fiber to the Home Council, Indeed, the Internet Association, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, Next Century Cities, Nokia, OnTrac, the Telecommunications Industry Association, Ting Internet, and the Utilities Technology Council. Cities and towns with speeds limited to 10Mbps/1Mbps "cannot realistically hope to attract or retain modern businesses or provide their residents, particularly their young people, a reason to stay in them," the letter to Kilgore said. "These communities will be condemned to economic stagnation or worse—like the 'ghost towns' that died a century ago for lack of adequate electricity." The Virginia legislation was proposed by Republican lawmaker Kathy Byron, and it was referred to the Commerce Committee but has not been scheduled for a hearing yet. "A number of local governments have already passed resolutions condemning the legislative attack on their right to make local telecommunications decisions and we expect to see more," the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's Community Networks project wrote Monday.

The 10Mbps/1Mbps speeds specified in the legislation are "reminiscent of antiquated DSL," the group said.
Enlarge / FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in his Washington, DC, office in February 2016.Jon Brodkin reader comments 13 Share this story Donald Trump's election has put Republicans in position to eliminate net neutrality rules and gut the Federal Communications Commission's authority to regulate broadband providers. But Trump voters need the consumer protections provided by the FCC as much or more than anyone, said Tom Wheeler, whose resignation as FCC chairman takes effect today. Wheeler, a Democrat appointed to the FCC by President Barack Obama, isn't happy about Trump's victory.

But in making the case for continued net neutrality rules and consumer protections, he pointed out that Trump voters in rural areas are vulnerable to the actions of major broadband providers. "The Trump administration campaigned that they are the voice of the forgotten," Wheeler said in a phone interview with Ars yesterday. "Well you know, the half-dozen major carriers [lobbying against FCC regulations] are hardly forgotten." The people who are forgotten are the "two-thirds of consumers in America who have one or fewer broadband choices," Wheeler said. "Where are those choices most limited? In the areas where Donald Trump got the strongest response, in rural areas, outside of major cities.
If indeed this is an administration that is speaking for those that feel disenfranchised, that representation has to start with saying, 'we need to make sure you have a fast, fair, and open Internet because otherwise you will not be able to connect to the 21st century.'" Wheeler brought up Trump voters again when asked about his own Internet service. Wheeler once noted that he is "a happy Comcast subscriber" but has generally avoided describing his own experiences as an Internet customer. "I’m a privileged consumer, you know? I live in the Georgetown section of Washington, DC.

The problem is what do you do about the non-privileged?" Wheeler said. "Let's talk about Trump voters.

The Trump voters are people who don’t have choices in Internet providers, the Trump voters are folks that don’t have the resources to pay the ever escalating bills for either cable or broadband." Wheeler: Gutting consumer protection is “tragic” But so far, signs point to the Trump-era FCC dismantling consumer protections opposed by Internet service providers. Republicans at the FCC and Congress say they intend to repeal or replace net neutrality rules.

Trump's transition team is also reportedly pushing a proposal to strip the Federal Communications Commission of its role in overseeing competition and consumer protection and to move those functions to the Federal Trade Commission.
Such a major change would require Congressional approval and thus may not happen, but it's worrying to Wheeler nonetheless. "I think it would be tragic," Wheeler said of taking away the FCC's competition and consumer protection authority. "This is tragic for the American consumer and the competitive marketplace." Upon my @FCC departure, I would like to sign off with 3 words of wisdom that guided me well: competition, competition, competition — Tom Wheeler (@TomWheelerFCC) January 20, 2017 The FTC is "a great agency" that does excellent work but has more narrow authority over communications providers than the FCC, Wheeler said.

The FTC "has enforcement authority, not rulemaking authority," he said. "They can say, 'we think this is an unfair and deceptive act or practice,' but they can't say, 'here’s how networks have to operate so they're fast, fair, and open.'" The only companies that would benefit from a weaker FCC and the repeal of net neutrality are the major ISPs, Wheeler said. (That would include Comcast, Charter, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile USA, and Sprint.) "We’re talking about a handful of companies who are lobbying for their own self-interest, and trying to say to the new commission, 'you need to listen to us, not to consumers, not to a competitive marketplace, not to those who could be affected by a network where we act as gatekeepers,'" Wheeler said. "And if they are successful, that will put in jeopardy tens of thousands of other companies that rely on open networks and millions of consumers." FTC could be powerless to stop ISP abuses As evidence of the dangers of shifting FCC functions to the FTC, Wheeler pointed to a recent US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decision that could dramatically limit the FTC's ability to regulate ISPs. The FTC is statutorily forbidden from regulating "common carriers," a designation the FCC has long applied to phone companies like AT&T and Verizon and more recently to all ISPs.

The FTC attempted to punish AT&T for throttling the Internet connections of customers with unlimited data plans before the FCC reclassified broadband as a common carrier service.

The FTC assumed it could punish AT&T for activity that at the time was unrelated to its common carrier services, but judges ruled in favor of AT&T, saying that the carrier is exempt from FTC oversight entirely. ISPs have been pushing the idea of moving FCC authority to the FTC for years, Wheeler said. "The surprise is that they continue with this mantra despite the fact that AT&T sued the FTC alleging that they did not have authority over common carriers," he said. The idea of removing FCC authority has also been pushed by the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), "and lo and behold AEI comes in as the principal force in the Trump transition," Wheeler said.

Three of the advisors Trump appointed to make recommendations about the FCC transition are affiliated with the AEI, and one of them has proposed eliminating most of the FCC. ISPs, competition, and Google Fiber Under Wheeler, the FCC pushed for more competition in part by requiring further broadband construction as a condition for granting the AT&T/DirecTV and Charter/Time Warner Cable mergers.
In May 2015, Wheeler challenged cable companies to compete directly against each other. "I thought [calling for competition] was a conservative message," Wheeler said. "I thought Republicans would be responsive to the idea that a competitive economy is the basic bulwark of how the American economy works and that there ought to be competitive alternatives.
I went to the cable association and I said, 'hey, the costs of building are going down, you guys have to start thinking about competing with each other and not just having an exclusive franchise.'" Cable companies have continued avoiding each other's territory for the most part, but the emergence of Google Fiber was important for boosting competition, Wheeler said.

Though Google Fiber recently downsized, Wheeler said, "I’m thrilled at what Google Fiber did because every time they built something, wasn’t it amazing that the incumbent suddenly decided that it was time for them to build fast fiber as well?" The FCC tried to encourage municipal broadband by preempting state laws that limit the rights of cities and towns to offer Internet service, but it lost in court.

Going forward, Wheeler said local policies should encourage competition by providing easier access to poles, conduits, and rights-of-way. He'd also like to see new ISPs get more affordable access to video programming so they can offer competitive TV-and-Internet bundles. Chairman leaves unfinished business Wheeler regrets not finishing certain initiatives, such as a rulemaking that would have required pay-TV operators to make free TV applications, giving customers an option besides rented set-top boxes.

Also unfinished was a proposed $100 million fine of AT&T for allegedly misleading customers about unlimited data throttling, as well as price cap decreases for business data services. Wheeler told Ars that he didn't have enough Democratic votes to push final versions of those items through.

Though Democrats had a 3-2 majority led by Wheeler, Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel didn't support a final version of the set-top box rules because of concerns over how cable company applications would be licensed to third-party device makers. "We lost. We got outmuscled" on the cable app rules, Wheeler said. "I call it Cablewood: it’s cable and Hollywood in this incestuous relationship... they did an excellent job lobbying the issue both here at the commission and in the Congress." Regarding that $100 million fine, the FCC never was able to negotiate a settlement with AT&T.

Given that, the FCC could have issued a final ruling requiring AT&T to pay the fine, waited for AT&T to sue, and then let a court decide.

But Wheeler said he didn't have enough votes to support that approach, either. Wheeler also ran out of time while challenging major wireless carriers over paid data cap exemptions. Just last week, Wheeler accused AT&T and Verizon Wireless of violating net neutrality rules by letting their own video stream without counting against mobile data caps while charging other video providers for the same data cap exemptions (aka "zero-rating"). Wheeler's statement and a related report by FCC staff won't have any impact in the short term because the FCC's Republicans vowed to ignore the findings and they want to overturn the net neutrality rules altogether. Wheeler said the FCC's net neutrality rules didn't ban zero-rating entirely because free data services can benefit consumers. "Free is good, OK?" he said. "But the problem is that when a carrier decides to favor its non-carrier activity by placing that for free on the network, but anybody who competes with that non-carrier activity has to pay full freight, that is a blatantly anti-competitive activity." This is the sort of behavior that shows "why you have to have an open Internet," Wheeler said. "Unfortunately, we’re not going to be around to do something about it, so we thought it was important to make sure the record was clear." Wheeler won’t be a lobbyist again Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the cable and wireless phone industries, surprised some observers by pushing for more extensive regulation of ISPs during his 39 months as chairman.

As he leaves the FCC, he said, "I’m proud of what we accomplished.
I wish there were other circumstances but the American people had other thoughts about that and I respect that decision." When asked if he might become a lobbyist again, Wheeler answered with an emphatic "no." For now, Wheeler is joining the Aspen Institute as a senior fellow, becoming the sixth consecutive FCC chairman to do so upon leaving the commission.

The nonpartisan policy forum has become "the home for recovering chairmen," Wheeler joked. "What it allows you to do is, while you are chairman, not worry about what you do next, and therefore not have to lose focus, not have to start recusing yourself" from matters that might affect a potential future employer, Wheeler said. That'll be a temporary job for the 70-year-old Wheeler, who said he plans to "decompress" and spend more time with his wife. "I hope to write and teach and maybe do some consulting, but we’ll just see how things develop," he said. "I don't think I'm going to have a 'job' job, if you will."
Enlargereader comments 15 Share this story The Nashville metro government wants a court to throw out a Comcast lawsuit that seeks to overturn rules designed to speed up deployment of Google Fiber. Nashville filed a motion to dismiss Comcast's lawsuit in US District Court in Tennessee on Wednesday, saying that Comcast incorrectly claimed Nashville's rules are preempted by state and federal law. The case is about Nashville's "One Touch Make Ready" ordinance that gives ISPs faster access to utility poles. One Touch Make Ready (also known as "Climb Once") lets new competitors move existing ISPs' wires in order to make room for new pole attachments, instead of having to wait for the incumbent ISPs to send work crews to move their own wires. The metro government passed the rules to help Google Fiber install wires faster, but both AT&T and Comcast are seeking to invalidate the ordinance. "Comcast’s Complaint should be dismissed because it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted," Nashville wrote. "Comcast has not demonstrated that the Metropolitan Government’s Climb Once ordinance is preempted by federal law. The enactment of Climb Once was a legitimate exercise of police powers to manage public rights-of-way. As it affects poles owned by the Nashville Electric Service ('NES'), federal pole attachment law is inapplicable to those poles, so preemption does not apply. As it affects privately owned poles, there is no preemption because the FCC timeline [the time allowed for pole attachments] does not conflict with Climb Once ordinances—a position espoused by the FCC itself." Nashville asked the court to dismiss Comcast's claim entirely and declare that the Climb Once ordinance is constitutional. But if the court finds that the ordinance does conflict with FCC regulations, Nashville's motion "asks that the Court refer primary jurisdiction over this issue to the FCC." Comcast argues that the previous pole-attachment process protected public safety and prevented damage to existing networks. Google Fiber is offering service in parts of Nashville but says the old rules slowed down deployment because of long waits for AT&T and Comcast to make poles ready for new wires. Google Fiber is apparently still trying to expand service in Nashville despite recent layoffs. Nashville also argued that Comcast is inappropriately making a legal claim on behalf of Nashville Electric Service, which owns most of the utility poles. "Comcast does not have standing to bring this claim on NES’s behalf," Nashville argues. "To the extent that Comcast is empowered to bring this claim at all, it also fails substantively, as the Metropolitan Government is empowered through its Charter to govern its public rights-of-way." In addition to the motion to dismiss, Nashville filed a memorandum of law supporting its position. One Touch Make Ready ordinances are one of several strategies municipalities are using to boost competition in the home Internet service market, much to the chagrin of existing ISPs who don't want to give up market share. Louisville, Kentucky, also has a One Touch Make Ready ordinance that it is trying to defend against a lawsuit filed by AT&T. The FCC recently weighed in on the Louisville case, saying that, "Historically, restrictions on access to utility poles have been a significant impediment to the deployment of competitive telecommunications services."
Each year, including last year, I’ve supplied you with “areas of concern”—that is, stuff that might not go well for you or our comrades in the coming 12 months.
I’m happy to oblige once again this year with 10 items that may go bump in the night. Hadoop distributions Big data, analytics, and machine learning are alive and well, and they’ll eventually transform business in most of the ways they’ve promised.

But the big, fat Hadoop distribution is probably toast. This isn’t to say everyone involved is in trouble, but we’re looking at more of an à la carte situation, or at least a buffet, where you don’t have to swallow the whole elephant.

Burned by projects that never completed or met their promise in previous years, companies will be more reluctant to bite off the whole dish and instead look at what they’re trying to do and actually need at the infrastructure level.

Technology companies that can adapt to this reality will make even more money. Hadoop vendors Three major Hadoop vendors along with big “do everything companies” (especially the Big Blue one) are in this game. We already saw Pivotal essentially exit.
It’s hard to see the market continue to support three Hadoop vendors.
See the above item to figure out who I’m betting on. Oracle  Oracle likes to buy companies.
It helps make up for the fact that the core Oracle database is old and clunky, and Oracle doesn’t make anything new or great.
If it buys something you use, expect the price to go up. Oracle loves the long tail, particularly entrenched, hard-to-remove, older technology. Once it’s in the company’s clutches, you get that famed Oracle technical support, too. Databricks Something will change at Databricks, the cloud company built around Spark, the open source distributed computing framework that has essentially supplanted Hadoop. While Spark is great, the Databricks business model isn’t as compelling, and it seems easily disrupted by one of the big three cloud vendors.

The company is run by academics, and it needs hard-knuckled business types to sort out its affairs.
I hope the change won’t be too disruptive to Spark’s development—and can be accomplished without hurt feelings, so we don’t lose progress. Deregulation Now that we have the Trumpocalypse to look forward to, you can expect “deregulation” of everything, from unlimited poison in your groundwater to the death of Net neutrality. Lest you think that will boost the tech economy, note that software vendors make big money selling compliance solutions, fewer of which will be necessary.

Also, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and electronic medical/health records have been a boon for tech.
Some of Obamacare may remain, but very likely the digital transformation of health will be scaled way back. Clinton’s plans had their own problems, but regardless of where you stand politically, the Trump presidency will hit us where it hurts—especially after California secedes. (Or will there be six Californias?) Game consoles How is this related to enterprise software? Well, the game industry is a good chunk of the tech sector, and some giants depend on console games as blockbusters.

Game consoles are specialized computers with a very specific programming models and guaranteed upgrades.

Everyone is doing “pro” versions to get shorter-term revenue grabs—instead of waiting, say, seven years to sell new consoles—which comes at the cost of a stable platform that game developers can depend on. Meanwhile, mobile games are huge, Steam keeps rising, and people are playing computer games again.
I suspect this will start to depress the console business.

Game developers will struggle with how many platforms they need to keep up with, and some giants will stumble. Yet another hacking scandal Once again, tech, government, and business will fail to learn the lesson that security can’t be bought and deployed like a product.

They will persist in hiring the cheapest developers they can find, flail at project management, and suffer nonexistent or hapless QA.
If a program runs, then it has stmt.execute(“select something from whatever where bla =”+ sql_injection_opportunity) throughout the code.

That’s in business—government is at least 20 years behind.
Sure, we’re giving Putin a big hug, but don’t expect him to stop hacking us. The economy It seems like the Great Recession was just yesterday, but we’re due for another.

At the same time, we don’t have a lot of big, new enterprise tech to brag about.
I’m not saying it’s time to climb in the lifeboat, but you might want to make sure you have a safety net in case we're hit with another downturn. My guess is it will be smaller than the dot-bomb collapse, so don’t fret too much. Telco-cable mergers With Google dialing back Google Fiber and an impending AT&T-Time Warner merger, our overpriced connections to the internet are unlikely to get cheaper—and speed increases will probably be less frequent. Your math skills Thanks to machine learning, it will be harder to command a six-figure developer salary without a mathematical background.

As companies figure out what machine learning is and what it can do, before paying a premium for talent, they’ll start to require that developers understand probability, linear algebra, multivariable calculus, and all that junk.

For garden-variety programming, they’ll continue to accelerate their plan to buy talent in “low-cost countries.” Now let’s crank it to 11: As you may have heard, we’ve elected a narcissistic agent of the white supremacist (now rebranded “alt-right”) movement who doesn’t even know how to use a computer, and we’ve put him in charge of the nukes.

This is going to be a disaster for everyone, of course, but for tech in particular if we all survive.

But hey, next week I’ll try looking on the bright side.
Mike Mozartreader comments 21 Share this story The Federal Communications Commission has given a helping hand to Louisville, Kentucky, in the city's attempt to enforce local rules that would make it easier for Google Fiber to compete against AT&T. AT&T sued the local government in Louisville and Jefferson County in February to stop a One Touch Make Ready (OTMR) ordinance designed to give Google Fiber or other new competitors faster access to utility poles.

Today, the US government submitted a statement of interest (full text) on behalf of the FCC, which says that one of AT&T’s primary legal arguments is incorrect. AT&T—also known as BellSouth Telecommunications in Kentucky—argued that the Louisville ordinance is preempted by the FCC’s pole-attachment rules.

The local ordinance "conflicts with the procedures created by the FCC, and upsets the careful balances struck by the FCC in crafting its pole attachment regulations," AT&T's lawsuit said. But that is false, the FCC says. The FCC does have rules ensuring reasonable access to utility poles, but states are allowed to opt out of the federal pole-attachment rules if they certify to the commission that they regulate the rates, terms, and conditions of pole attachments. Kentucky is one of 20 states that has opted out of the federal regime and imposed its own rules, the FCC noted. “Accordingly, the federal pole-attachment regulations enacted under Section 224 [of the Communications Act] simply do not apply here,” the FCC wrote. More generally, One Touch Make Ready rules are consistent with federal communications policies and regulations that seek expanded broadband deployment, the FCC also wrote. AT&T told Ars that it is reviewing the FCC's filing but has no comment yet. AT&T's lawsuit claimed that because of FCC rules, it is allowed to take 60 days or more to modify wires to accommodate new pole users such as Google Fiber.

But AT&T’s federal preemption argument isn’t the only one it makes; the company also argues that Louisville lacks jurisdiction to regulate pole attachments under Kentucky state law. Google Fiber and other companies that want to attach wires to utility poles often must wait for the poles’ existing users to move their own wires and make room for new ones. One Touch Make Ready ordinances let a single company make all of the necessary wire adjustments on utility poles itself instead of having to wait for incumbent ISPs like AT&T to send work crews to move their own wires. The FCC’s court filing said this “make ready” work often causes delays for companies that seek to compete against those that already have wires on the poles.

Existing users of the poles have little incentive to move quickly if the new pole user is a competitor, the FCC noted. “In many cases, the pole owner is itself a telecommunications provider that competes with—and therefore has incentive to impede or discriminate against—new attachers seeking access to the pole,” the FCC said.

But this process can cause delays whether the pole is owned by the existing ISP or a different entity, the FCC said. "Historically, restrictions on access to utility poles have been a significant impediment to the deployment of competitive telecommunications services," the FCC said.

The Louisville ordinance "prevents pole owners or existing attachers from needlessly delaying or impeding the deployment of new competitors," the FCC said. Most of the Louisville poles used by AT&T are owned by AT&T itself or by Louisville Gas & Electric. Charter also sued Louisville to stop the One Touch Make Ready ordinance, and Frontier has supported AT&T’s lawsuit against Louisville.
Separately, AT&T and Comcast each sued Nashville, Tennessee, over a similar One Touch Make Ready ordinance. Google Fiber expressed gratitude to the FCC for its filing in the Louisville case. "We're pleased to see that the Federal Communications Commission this morning filed a supportive statement in the Kentucky court with regard to the AT&T lawsuit over One Touch Make Ready, a common sense measure passed by Louisville earlier this year to bring superfast Internet to residents more safely and quickly," a Google Fiber statement said. "We fully support the FCC's conclusion that there is no conflict between the federal pole attachment regulations and the principles of OTMR." Google Fiber struggles, and AT&T celebrates Google Fiber is cutting staff and pulling out of some cities where it tentatively planned to build, but it's continuing to operate in Nashville and says it still plans to build a network in Louisville. While filing lawsuits that could stall Google Fiber’s progress, AT&T has simultaneously been taking public victory laps in response to the Alphabet-owned ISP’s struggles.

AT&T wrote a blog post in August, when the first reports of layoffs surfaced, lecturing Google Fiber about the challenges of broadband investment, and the company wrote another self-congratulatory blog post last week after Google Fiber confirmed the layoffs. “We don’t take shortcuts,” AT&T’s most recent post said. “This is about good old-fashioned hard work, not new-age marketing promises that fall short in the end."