FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

Affirming the FCC’s authority over social media companies, chair Ajit Pai has launched an official effort to “clarify” how Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act applies to them. “Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech — but they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters,” he said. President Trump has often called for social media companies to be stripped of Section 230 protections. Continue reading FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

Internet Firms Battle Government’s Plan to Limit Section 230

The Internet Association, representing Amazon, Facebook, Google and others, urged the Federal Communications Commission to reject the Trump administration’s effort to limit Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which shields social media companies from liability for content posted by users. The IA said the effort is “misguided, lacks grounding in law, and poses serious public policy concerns.” The Consumer Technology Association agreed, saying new rules would “make compliance all but impossible.” Yesterday, Senate Republicans introduced legislation that would hold social platforms more responsible for content. Continue reading Internet Firms Battle Government’s Plan to Limit Section 230

Charter Can Charge Video Services for Network Connections

In a 2-1 vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that Charter Communications can charge Netflix and other video streaming services for network interconnection. That overturned one of the merger conditions imposed by the Obama administration when, in 2016, Charter purchased Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. FCC chair Ajit Pai set the stage for the court overturning these conditions by not defending their merits in court. The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) filed the suit. Continue reading Charter Can Charge Video Services for Network Connections

FCC Formally Names Huawei, ZTE National Security Threats

The Federal Communications Commission has officially designated Huawei Technologies and ZTE, two Chinese telecommunication firms, as national security threats. Last year, the FCC voted to add both companies to the Entity List and barred them from using U.S.-manufactured semiconductors. Now, U.S. carriers cannot use the Universal Service Fund to purchase or maintain products from the two companies. The Fund, managed by the FCC, is an $8.3 billion government subsidy program to expand Internet access in rural and other underserved areas.

Continue reading FCC Formally Names Huawei, ZTE National Security Threats

FCC Approves Use of 6GHz Wi-Fi for Consumer Electronics

The Federal Communications Commission approved in a 5-0 vote that 6GHz Wi-Fi can be used by consumer electronics and industrial sensors for manufacturing. The FCC stated that the innovations possible with the high-speed Wi-Fi will help the U.S. become the leader in 5G. Under chair Ajit Pai, the FCC has modified use of the spectrum to accommodate the demand for mobile signals — and Wi-Fi already carries most mobile traffic. With the new Wi-Fi spectrum, next-gen devices will enjoy faster, more reliable connections. Continue reading FCC Approves Use of 6GHz Wi-Fi for Consumer Electronics

Coronavirus Unites Washington Over Affordable Broadband

As Americans stay home during the coronavirus pandemic, Republican and Democratic lawmakers are revisiting the issue of closing the digital divide, as part of an effort to spur economic recovery and improve the U.S. competitive edge. House communications and technology subcommittee chair Mike Doyle (D-Pennsylvania) noted that, “having affordable broadband — it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.” Both parties have stated interest in pushing legislation, noting that the pandemic gave impetus to the issue. Continue reading Coronavirus Unites Washington Over Affordable Broadband

FCC Backs Ligado Plan to Develop L-Band Spectrum for 5G

In opposition to the Pentagon, Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai backed Ligado Networks’ plan to develop the L-band spectrum of airwaves for cellular service. In his draft order, Pai stipulated “certain conditions” that would protect against interference with Global Positioning System technology. Opponents say the company’s usage would interfere with military operations and weather forecasting bandwidth. Ligado, originally known as LightSquared, went bankrupt in 2012 when its business plans were rejected. Continue reading FCC Backs Ligado Plan to Develop L-Band Spectrum for 5G

FCC to Vote on Allocating 6 GHz Spectrum For Faster Wi-Fi

On April 23, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on allowing Wi-Fi devices to access 6 GHz spectrum to ramp up its speed, an effort largely opposed by broadcasters and utilities. With the coronavirus pandemic, more Americans are at home using devices that have slowed down Wi-Fi. If the FCC does approve the plan, consumers could enjoy much faster Wi-Fi as soon as late 2020. FCC chair Ajit Pai noted that an approval “would effectively increase the amount of spectrum available for Wi-Fi almost by a factor of five.” Continue reading FCC to Vote on Allocating 6 GHz Spectrum For Faster Wi-Fi

FCC Grants T-Mobile, Verizon Extra Spectrum During Pandemic

As data usage soars during the coronavirus pandemic, the big carriers are seeing their 4G LTE networks stressed to the max. On Sunday, the Federal Communications Commission gave permission to T-Mobile to use 600MHz spectrum on loan from Dish, Comcast, NewLevel and other companies for 60 days. In fact, Dish is allowing AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon to utilize some of its unused spectrum to enhance and speed up their 4G LTE networks. AT&T customers, for example, could see an “up to 20Mbps uptick in data performance.” Continue reading FCC Grants T-Mobile, Verizon Extra Spectrum During Pandemic

FCC Approves Plan to Pay Satellite Firms to Vacate Airwaves

The FCC, in a 3-2 vote, approved chair Ajit Pai’s plan to pay satellite companies to free up airwaves for 5G usage. Satellite companies will retain enough to continue their TV/radio distribution services. The FCC earlier released a plan to pay Intelsat, SES and other satellite companies $9.7 billion if they left the airwaves quickly, with another $3.3 billion to $5.2 billion to reimburse costs of making the move. Pai suggested that Intelsat receive as much as $4.85 billion, SES about $4 billion and Eutelsat $468 million. Continue reading FCC Approves Plan to Pay Satellite Firms to Vacate Airwaves

Appeals Court Will Not Rule On the Repeal of Net Neutrality

In another win for the FCC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia announced yesterday that it would not reconsider the October ruling that upheld the repeal of net neutrality rules. Requests had been made by 15 states and a collection of technology and advocacy groups to reconsider the earlier ruling. The net neutrality laws were first issued in 2015 to discourage Internet service providers from practices such as blocking or throttling traffic and enabling so-called “fast lanes” through paid prioritization. In December 2017, the FCC voted to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality laws that were largely supported by tech companies and consumer groups.  Continue reading Appeals Court Will Not Rule On the Repeal of Net Neutrality

CES 2020: A Fireside Chat With FTC Chair Joseph Simons

CTA chair/chief executive Gary Shapiro held court with two high-level government leaders: FTC chair Joseph Simons and FCC chair Ajit Pai, in two separate, 30-minute CES sessions. Simons first took the stage and described the Federal Trade Commission’s mission as two-fold: competition and consumer protection. “As we get further into the digital age, privacy concerns are becoming more important,” he said, noting that the FTC Act governing these concerns is 100 years old. “It’s time for Congress to adopt something more modern.” Continue reading CES 2020: A Fireside Chat With FTC Chair Joseph Simons

CES 2020: (Finally) a Fireside Chat With FCC Chair Ajit Pai

Following a discussion with FTC chair Joseph Simons, CTA chair/chief executive Gary Shapiro welcomed FCC chair Ajit Pai who has tried unsuccessfully to speak at CES for the last two years. Since the change in net neutrality laws, which met with a lot of pushback, noted Pai, “speeds are up, broadband infrastructure is up, more fiber was laid in 2019 than in any other year.” “We often heard that this was the end of the Internet,” Pai said. “But more Americans get faster Internet than ever before.” Continue reading CES 2020: (Finally) a Fireside Chat With FCC Chair Ajit Pai

CES 2020: Conference Sessions Cover Big Ideas and Details

More than 300 conference sessions and 1,100 speakers across 22 different tracks offer first-person insight into the universe of topics to be featured at CES 2020 this week in Las Vegas. As the world’s largest showcase of tech innovation, CES gathers leaders and experts to share the latest developments in products and policies. This year’s lineup of SuperSessions captures the zeitgeist of the market as it advances from an imagined future to real issues, opportunities and challenges. ETC will report on many of the sessions most relevant to media and entertainment. Continue reading CES 2020: Conference Sessions Cover Big Ideas and Details

T-Mobile, Sprint Defend Proposed Merger in Federal Court

The Democratic attorneys general of 13 states and the District of Columbia are suing to block the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. According to legal experts, a suit in which so many states reject of the federal government’s settlement — and move to block it, without any federal support — is unprecedented. Merged, T-Mobile and Sprint, the third and fourth largest telecom carriers, would rival AT&T and Verizon Communications. The federal government approved the deal earlier this year, after demanding some concessions. Continue reading T-Mobile, Sprint Defend Proposed Merger in Federal Court

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