FCC appoints lawyer to head review of AT&T’s planned T-Mobile USA buy

The Federal Communications Commission has appointed a partner in the Washington law office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati to oversee its review of AT&T Inc.’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile USA.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has named Renata Hesse as senior counsel to the chairman for transactions. In that role, she will head the working team conducting the agency’s review of the $39 billion cash-and-stock deal.

Hesse previously served as an official in the antitrust division of the Justice Department, where she was involved in litigation with Oracle Corp. over its proposed acquisition of PeopleSoft and other big technology cases.

AT&T, the nation’s second-largest wireless carrier, is seeking FCC and Justice Department approval to acquire T-Mobile USA, the fourth-largest, from Germany’s Deutsche Telekom AG. 

Netflix surges ahead of Web surfing in survey of Net traffic into homes

Move over, Web surfing. Netflix movies now take up more of the Internet pipes going into North American homes.

A study published last week by Sandvine Inc. shows that Netflix movies and TV shows account for nearly 30 percent of traffic into homes during peak evening hours, compared with less than 17 percent for Web browsing.

Only about a quarter of homes with broadband subscribe to Netflix, but watching movies and TV shows online takes up a lot of bandwidth compared with Web surfing, email and practically every other Internet activity except file sharing and videoconferencing.

As late as last year, both Web surfing and peer-to-peer file sharing — mainly the illegal trading of copyrighted movies — were each larger than Netflix’s traffic.

Sandvine makes equipment that helps cable and phone companies manage their Internet delivery systems. It collected data from unidentified customers for the survey. It has previously been linked to Comcast Corp., the largest Internet service provider in the U.S. Sandvine says its data should be representative of overall home Internet use.

The number of Netflix customers is growing quickly, to 23.6 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada as of the end of March. The growing use of the streaming service is good news for the company, which is trying to reduce what it spends to mail DVDs. 

Feds to host forum exploring risks of mobile devices that track users

Federal regulators are joining the growing list of public officials demanding answers from Apple Inc. and Google Inc. about the extent to which mobile devices track the location of their users and store detailed histories of their movements.

The Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission are teaming up to host a public forum next month to explore the benefits and risks of location-based services. And they are inviting Apple and Google to explain themselves following recent revelations that Apple’s popular iPhone and smartphones running Google’s Android software have been storing information.

Among other things, the forum will look at whether companies adequately disclose — and whether consumers adequately understand — how location-based services work and what privacy trade-offs they may be accepting.