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Top telecom stories of 2015

22 Dec, 2015

This year was a big one for telecommunications news. Here’s our list of the top stories -- events that we believe will have lasting impact in promoting our goals of affordable, high-speed broadband for all Americans and good jobs for workers in the telecom industry.

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1. FCC adopts net neutrality rules. After ten years and multiple court remands, the FCC in February adopted net neutrality rules -- no blocking, no throttling, no fast lanes -- for fixed and mobile broadband and reclassified Internet access as a Title II telecommunications service. The case is now before the US Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit. Key issues focus on whether the FCC has the authority to re-classify Internet access as a Title II service and whether the Open Internet rules apply to wireless as well as wired broadband.

Read our reporting here:

Telecom trade group challenges new net neutrality rules (Speed Matters, Mar. 26, 2015)

Open Internet rules now in effect (Speed Matters, June 15, 2015)

Net neutrality’s big day in court (Speed Matters, Dec. 6, 2015)

2. Regulators nix Comcast-TWC merger. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and FCC turned down Comcast’s $42.5 billion bid to buy Time-Warner Cable. The merged company’s dominance in the broadband market, the regulators concluded, would give it the incentive and ability to block online video streaming competitors.

Read our reporting here:

Comcast, Time Warner deal in trouble (Speed Matters, Apr. 23, 2015)

It’s official: The Comcast, Time Warner deal is dead (Speed Matters, Apr. 24, 2015)

Comcast spent $336 million on failed merger (Speed Matters, May 6, 2015)

3. AT&T commits to fiber buildout. Not all proposed mergers in 2015 were bad for competition. The FCC and DOJ approved AT&T’s $49 billion acquisition of DirecTV, reasoning that the merged company is now a stronger competitor in the video and broadband markets dominated by cable companies. As part of the merger approval, AT&T committed to increase its all-fiber deployment to 12.5 million customer locations, offer gigabit service to schools, and provide a discounted broadband service to low-income consumers in its wireline footprint.

Read our reporting here:

CWA says AT&T-DirecTV merger will advance broadband buildout, help consumers, workers (Speed Matters, Sept. 16, 2014)

AT&T acquires DirecTV (July 27, 2015)

Following DirecTV merger, AT&T expects growth in wireless video, broadband (Speed Matters, Aug. 14, 2015)

4. Unmasking T-Mobile. For all of its marketing as the wireless disruptor, T-Mobile’s record this year was filled with “disruptive” violations of consumer protections and labor laws. In March, a judge at the National Labor Relations Board found T-Mobile guilty of nationwide labor law violations, prompting a letter from 20 lawmakers to the CEO of T-Mobile’s parent, Deutsche Telekom. Then, in June, the federal government ruled that T-Mobile must refund $90 million to customers for illegal “cramming,” or charging customers for services they didn’t agree to. Most recently, a coalition of civil rights, consumer, and labor organizations called out T-Mobile’s misleading advertisements and abusive debt collection practices, filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Read our reporting here:

T-Mobile guilty of illegal corporate policies against US workers (Speed Matters, Mar. 19, 2015)

T-Mobile owes customers $90 million for cramming charges (Speed Matters, June 16, 2015)

T-Mobile’s business practices: deceptive, abusive (Speed Matters, Dec. 10, 2015)

5. Communities, civic leaders demand FiOS. This year saw a prairie fire rebellion against Verizon’s refusal to expand FiOS while also neglecting its copper network in non-fiber areas. In New York, elected officials and community leaders from across the state told regulators: hold Verizon accountable to provide quality, high-speed service to all regions of the state. In New York City, a damning government audit found Verizon failed to meet its 2008 franchise commitment to deploy high-speed FiOS to every part of the city. In New Jersey, sixteen municipalities across four counties filed a complaint with the state’s Board of Public Utilities against Verizon for poor service and no fiber deployment. And in Pennsylvania and Maryland, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) provided graphic evidence in petitions to regulators to enforce Verizon’s statutory obligations to provide safe, reliable service.

Read our reporting here:

CWA: Verizon neglects copper lines (Speed Matters, June 11, 2015)

NY mayors join CWA at bargaining table, tell Verizon stop stalling on FiOS (Speed Matters, July 31, 2015)

Elected officials, communities blast Verizon for failing FiOS buildout (Speed Matters, Aug. 17, 2015)

6.Modernizing Lifeline. This year the FCC’s proposal to update its low-income Lifeline subsidy program to support broadband received widespread support. The need is great: while 92 percent of households with incomes between $100,000 and $150,000 have broadband service, the adoption rate is only 47 percent for households with incomes below $25,000.

Read our reporting here:

Expand Lifeline to include broadband (Speed Matters, Mar. 16, 2015)

CWA, AFL-CIO: Modernize Lifeline to include broadband (Speed Matters, Aug. 31, 2015)

Broad range of groups support Lifeline for broadband (Speed Matters, Sept. 4, 2015)

7. Spectrum auctions move ahead. The year began with the FCC’s AWS spectrum auction, bringing in some $45 billion. And later in the year, the FCC denied DISH Network’s scam attempt to claim $3.3 billion in small business credits. In addition, the FCC adopted rules for the  broadcast incentive auction, scheduled for early 2016, giving a gift of “reserve spectrum” to labor law violator T-Mobile.

Read our reporting here:

Response to spectrum auction off the charts (Speed Matters, Jan. 22, 2015)

FCC denies DISH’s auction scam (Speed Matters, Aug. 18, 2015)

FCC reduces reserve spectrum competition for labor law violator T-Mobile (Speed Matters, Oct. 23, 2015)

This is our selection of top telecom stories in 2015. What’s yours? Let us know.


This is a sample

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