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News recap: Report shows promising telecom employment numbers

In telecom news, a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows promising telecom employment numbers; broadband customers are increasingly using OTT services.

This week in telecom news, a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows telecom employment numbers are improving as unemployment in the industry declines. Meanwhile, more households are subscribing to over-the-top services and increasing video consumption.

USTelecom has refiled its net neutrality lawsuit as the FCC's new open Internet rules were published in the Federal Register, which triggered a 10-day clock for filing appeals.

Telecom employment on the rise

Unemployment in the telecom sector continues to decline as it reached a low of 1.7% in March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The unemployment rate has steadily declined from 6.1% in December 2014 to 3.1% in January and 1.9% in February . The number of telecom-related employees has also increased. In March, the number of telecom-related employees grew to 863,400. February saw 862,999 employees, January saw 861,200 employees and December saw 861,500 employees.

One area that has seen employment demand is the small cell market. Areas like small cellular sites, distributed antenna systems and Wi-Fi have led to demand for skilled workers, despite companies trying to lower the cost of deployments.

The areas of telecom that Bureau of Labor Statistics tracked were telephony, VoIP, cable and satellite television distribution, Internet access and telecom reselling.

More households subscribing to OTT services

Nearly six in 10 broadband households in the U.S. subscribe to an over-the-top service like Netflix and Hulu Plus, according to a report from market research firm Parks Associates.

The average household spends $9 a month on subscription streaming video services, an increase from $7 in 2012. More than 75% of streaming media player owners have an OTT subscription. Parks found that nearly 50 million streaming players, including Google Chromecast, Apple TV and gaming consoles, will be sold globally by 2017.

"The number of hours watching video content continues to rise, exceeding 36 hours per week in 2014, with Internet video accounting for … about 13.3 hours a week," said Brett Sappington, director of research at Parks. "Rather than cannibalizing the consumption of broadcast, pay-TV and packaged media content, Internet view is increasing overall consumption levels for video."

An Ovum report predicted that the number of global online streaming subscribers will pass 100 million in 2015, with an additional 77 million subscribers by 2019.

"What we're seeing in maturing markets such as the U.S. is that the audience is shifting towards premium linear streaming," said Tony Gunnarsson, senior analyst at Ovum. "Home entertainment is evolving as subscription-based VOD [video on demand] services reach the mass market."

USTelecom refiles net neutrality lawsuit

USTelecom refiled its lawsuit against the FCC's newly adopted net neutrality rules on Monday after the rules were published in the Federal Register.

The telecom trade association originally filed a lawsuit in March in order to be in the lottery to pick the federal court that hears the case. The lawsuit was filed too early, however, and dismissal was likely. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated USTelecom's first lawsuit and a filing by Alamo Broadband in the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Now that the rules are published in the Federal Register, which is the official journal of federal government rules, a 10-day clock has been started for a second lottery.

"USTelecom believes the FCC used the wrong approach to implementing net neutrality standards, which our industry supports and incorporates into everyday business practices," USTelecom President Walter McCormick said in a statement.

McCormick said the appeal is focused on the "unjustifiable shift backward" to regulating broadband as a public utility and that reclassification reverses decades of established legal precedent and slows innovation and investment.

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