• On January 5, 2011, the FCC announced the Open Internet Challenge designed to encourage the public to create applications to monitor Internet providers’ compliance with the Open Internet rules and to encourage research into the same. One winner will get a trip to Washington, DC and will be honored at an FCC Chairman’s reception. The submission deadline is June 1, 2011, and winners will be chosen by a public vote and a panel of experts. More information can be found here.
  • On January 24, 2011, MetroPCS filed its own Notice of Appeal of the Commission’s Open Internet Order. Verizon filed its Notice on January 20 (see January 24 edition of This Week in Telecom). MetroPCS has recently faced criticism for its proposed data plans, and specifically cited that criticism as one reason why it chose to appeal the order. Roger Linquist, MetroPCS President and CEO, issued a statement that “MetroPCS’s concerns regarding the jurisdictional basis for the net neutrality rules, the recent appeal filed by Verizon, and challenges raised by some proponents of Net Neutrality to MetroPCS’ recent 4G rate plans, have caused Metro PCS to appeal the FCC’s net neutrality order to ensure that the concerns of competitive wireless carriers, like MetroPCS, are addressed.” Verizon’s appeal has been docketed as Case No. 11-1014 and MetroPCS’s appeal is Case No. 11-1016. The Court of Appeals has not set a briefing schedule yet but has issued orders in both cases that require appellants to file preliminary papers in the next few weeks and set deadlines in March 2011 for filing any dispositive motions.
  • On January 26, 2011, Netflix stated that wired Internet service providers (ISPs) who propose to bill end users by the gigabyte would not be covering costs, but rather would be seeking pure profit. A “marginal gigabyte” costs a wired ISP less than a penny, Netflix states, so charges of $1 a gigabyte would be “grossly overpriced.” Netflix warns that per-gigabyte billing will enable ISPs to discriminate against third-party content providers while simultaneously offering the same service at rates that exclude a per-gigabyte surcharge. Netflix also has stated that charging increased fees to intermediary networks is “inappropriate,” which is no doubt a reference to the ongoing Level 3-Comcast dispute. Netflix recently published a ranking of which Internet service providers perform best in streaming Netflix’s streaming video, with Charter and Comcast ranked the highest. More information is available here.
  • President Obama’s State of the Union address mentioned a goal of deploying the “next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of all Americans.” He stated that more coverage and faster speeds will reap numerous benefits. “It’s about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It’s about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It’s about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.” The text of President Obama’s speech is available here.