Ced Kurtz’s Techman: Web alliance urges ‘level playing field’

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Opposition has been building to the proposal by the FCC chairman for a faster, more expensive tier on the Internet for high-bandwidth users.

A group of leading venture capitalists published an open letter to the Federal Communications Commission calling on it to prevent what they say would be the end of net neutrality and a crippling blow to startups, according to CRN.

“If established companies are able to pay for better access speeds or lower latency, the Internet will no longer be a level playing field,” they write. “Startups with applications that are advantaged by speed (such as games, video or payment systems) will be unlikely to overcome that deficit no matter how innovative their service.”

Another letter from a coalition of technology companies — including Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter and Yahoo — challenges the FCC proposal as a threat to net neutrality, according to The Verge.

There is some indication that the pressure is being felt. FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel last week called for a time-out on the rules, challenging the proposal’s viability, The Verge reports. If the FCC still decides to move forward, it will officially consider the rule Thursday. Stay tuned.

Apple eyes Beats: The Financial Times is reporting that Apple is “closing in” on what would be its biggest acquisition, a $3.2 billion purchase of Beats Electronics, the high-end headphone maker founded in 2008 by rapper-turned-businessman Dr. Dre and music producer Jimmy Iovine.

Netflix raising price: Netflix is increasing the price of its $7.99 a month streaming plan by $1 to $8.99 a month for new members. Current members get to keep the current price for two years. Netflix will offer a more modest plan at the old price that includes only standard definition video on any one screen at a time.

Wayback milestone: The Internet Archive has announced a milestone for its Wayback Machine that has been archiving Web pages since 1996 — 400 billion indexed Web pages.

Patent idiocy: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has awarded Amazon one of the silliest patents yet. According to Photography Bay, the patent describes ways of taking pictures of subjects or products on a white background.

Open source airstrikes: The U.S. military is hiring a company to help it explore switching its drone program to open-source operating system Linux. It currently runs on commercial Unix variant Solaris, according to Softpedia.com.

Tourists in the sky: Yosemite National Park in California has announced that drones, the unmanned aircraft increasingly making their way into private hands, aren’t welcome in the park. Apparently using drones to capture experiences at the park is becoming a trend, according to CNN.

“The park has experienced an increase in visitors using drones within park boundaries over the last few years,” park management said in a news release. “Drones have been witnessed filming climbers ascending climbing routes, filming views above tree-tops, and filming aerial footage of the park.”

The park complains in the press release that drones are noisy, can ”impact the wilderness experience“ and even interfere with emergency rescue operations.

In fact, drones are not welcome in any of the 58 national parks, CNN reports.

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