• 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.
  • The dispute between Comcast and Level 3 continues publicly in various ex parte letters filed with the Commission recently. Voxel dot Net, Inc.’s January 11, 2011 letter to the Commission supported Level 3’s arguments that Comcast is violating Open Internet principles because it is forcing hosting companies like Voxel “to pay Comcast to serve its broadband subscribers. Voxel expressed it belief that Comcast was violating the prohibition on paid prioritization and blocking lawful applications. Verizon, on the other hand, stated in a January 13, 2011 ex parte that the dispute appears to be a “run-of-the-mill commercial negotiation over the terms of a peering arrangement in which one party now seeks to obtain a negotiating advantage by converting the negotiation into a regulatory dispute.” Level 3 responded to Verizon the next day, stating that Verizon confused the issue between “backbone peering” and Comcast’s discriminatory practices related to Level 3’s traffic. Although the Commission has not addressed the dispute thus far, Commissioner McDowell stated in his remarks at the TechFreedom at a symposium on January 19, 2011 that he does not believe the Comcast-Level 3 dispute should be before the Commission, even if the Commission had authority over the dispute. Voxel’s letter is available here. Verizon’s letter is available here. Level 3’s letter is available here.
  • The FCC and the Department of Justice approved the Comcast-NBC Universal merger, with conditions, on January 18, 2011. The conditions are similar to the Open Internet rules, including a requirement that Comcast make its content available to distributors and allow purchasers to obtain Internet from Comcast without buying cable as well. The conditions also require Comcast to offer inexpensive broadband service and computers to low-income households. A news release related to the approval is available here. The Order is available here.