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FCC Opposes Sprint, T-Mobile Joint Spectrum Bid FCC Opposes Sprint, T-Mobile Joint Spectrum Bid

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FCC Opposes Sprint, T-Mobile Joint Spectrum Bid

By Laura Ryan (@NJLJRyan), with help from Alex Brown (@AlexBrownNJ), Brendan Sasso (@BrendanSasso), and Dustin Volz (@dnvolz)

TODAY'S TOP PARAGRAPH: Lawmakers have fled D.C. with a bevy of tech issues left unresolved. The Federal Communications Commission might block Sprint and T-Mobile from offering a joint spectrum bid. President Obama signed a cell phone unlocking bill into law on Friday, but the Library of Congress will have to revisit the matter next year.

 

TOP NEWS

CONGRESS FLEES WASHINGTON WITH TECH BOXES UNCHECKED: Lawmakers left town with a laundry list of tech policy priorities still on the table in 2014. Because it's an election year and Congress has a full-plate of other issues to attend to when it returns in September, hope is dwindling fast that the year will have much to show on things like patent reform or NSA legislation.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy is working to rally consensus beyond his beefed up USA Freedom Act, but he'll have to thread a needle between defense hawks like Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein and anti-surveillance hardliners like Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall. Patent reform doesn't look likely to see much movement in either chamber, and measures like Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act remain controversial and might not find time on the Senate floor.

Just about the only thing widely expected to pass the Senate, in fact, is a moratorium extension on Internet access taxes. Majority Leader Harry Reid said last week the chamber would deal with the tax ban in September before it expires in November. Whether the Senate will pass a clean, permanent ban to mirror the House or a temporary one, perhaps with an online-sales tax amendment, remains to be seen.

 

FCC MAY BAR JOINT SPECTRUM BID: The plan by Sprint and T-Mobile to work together on a bid for wireless spectrum has run into trouble with the FCC. Chairman Tom Wheeler circulated a proposal Friday that would bar nationwide wireless companies from combining their bids in the upcoming spectrum auction.

"If two of the largest companies are able to bid as one combined entity in the auction, their combined resources may have the effect of suppressing meaningful competition," Wireless Bureau Chief Roger Sherman wrote in a blog post Friday.

The move isn't a good sign for how the FCC would view an actual merger before the third and fourth largest wireless companies. It also could complicate the auction for the two carriers assuming they move ahead with the deal (which is not a sure thing, following last week's surprise bid for T-Mobile by French carrier Iliad). Sprint and T-Mobile had reportedly hoped to use the $10 billion joint venture as a way to participate in the auction while their merger was pending with regulators.

CELL PHONE UNLOCKING BILL SIGNED: President Obama on Friday signed a bill legalizing cell phone unlocking, effectively overturning a Library of Congress ruling that made the practice illegal for the purposes of using a device with a different network. The rare movement on the tech front is temporary, however, as the Library of Congress will need to revisit the matter in 2015.

 

TOP LINES

FTC: MOBILE SHOPPING APPS LEAVE CONSUMERS IN THE DARK: A new report from the FTC finds many mobile shopping apps' disclosures to consumers on topics like privacy, payment disputes, and data security are falling short.

HP FINED $32.5 MILLION FOR OVERBILLING THE POSTAL SERVICE: The Department of Justice slapped a $32.5 million fine on Hewlett-Packard for overcharging the U.S. Postal Service for products. The DOJ says HP charged the USPS more for products than other companies with similar contracts.

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HOLDER: DATA DRIVEN CRIMINAL JUSTICE COULD BE BIASED: Attorney General Eric Holder says the growing use of big data in criminal justice programs may be unfair to poor and minority groups. (Devlin Barrett, WSJ)

GMAIL IS GOBBLING UP MICROSOFT'S CORPORATE CUSTOMERS: Mid-size tech and media companies and start-ups are far more likely to use Gmail than Outlook. (Dan Frommer, Quartz)

AMAZON WANTS TO BE THE EBOOK PRICE ENFORCER: But it's uncertain why blanket price levels set by the company would be better for the market. (Farhad Manjoo, NYT)

THE MYSTERY OF THE DISAPPEARING GOOGLE BARGE: No one is quite sure why Google abandoned one of its strangest projects. (Kevin Roose, NY Magazine)

AEREO ASKS COURT TO STOP THE 'BLEEDING': The company filed an emergency motion with a federal court in Manhattan to allow its business to resume, lest it go under. (Alex Barinka/Edvard Pettersson, Bloomberg)

COURT OK'S APPLE EBOOK SETTLEMENT: The company will pay $450 million over claims it coordinated with publishers to raise prices. (Jonathan Stempel, Reuters)

TOP VC SAYS MOBILE DATA DEALS MAY TURN MOBILE IN TO CABLE: Fred Wilson says the surge of data deals for mobile phone users is making the mobile landscape look more like cable TV than the world wide web. (mobile)

THE WEEK AHEAD

WEDNESDAY:

  • The Internet of Things: Connected Government conference will explore how the IoT can improve government and the potential policy implications. The daylong conference begins at 8:15 a.m.

  • The D.C. Area Chapter of the Internet Society will host a discussion on "Net Neutrality in Europe: Lessons for the U.S," at 4 p.m.

FRIDAY

  • The FCC will vote on rules to ensure Americans can reach 911 by text message at the August open commission meeting at 10:30 a.m.

  • The Congressional Internet Caucus will hold a lunchtime briefing on the E.U.'s Right to Be Forgotten at noon.

Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Love it - first thing I read in the morning."

Amy, VP of Communications

I read the Tech Edge every morning."

Ashley, Senior Media Associate

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