FCC Approves T-Mobile and Sprint Merger, States File Suit

The Federal Communications Commission approved T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint, a $26 billion merger that has been opposed by numerous state attorneys general and consumer advocacy groups. T-Mobile and Sprint, respectively the nation’s third and fourth-largest wireless carriers, pioneered the end of early termination fees and reintroduction of unlimited data plans. The FCC, which is dominated by Republicans, lauded the deal as likely to speed up the adoption of 5G networks across the U.S. Meanwhile, a group of state attorneys general are continuing with a lawsuit that intends to fight the merger. Continue reading FCC Approves T-Mobile and Sprint Merger, States File Suit

FCC Formally Approves the Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

The Federal Communications Commission approved the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint yesterday, months after the Justice Department gave its approval. FCC chair Ajit Pai and Republican commissioners Brendan Carr and Michael O’Rielly indicated their support of the deal in May, believing that it would lead to a faster deployment of 5G. Democrats voted against the merger, and commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel argued that it would lead to higher prices and less innovation, ultimately impacting consumers. A coalition of state attorneys general are still attempting to prevent the merger with a multistate lawsuit. Continue reading FCC Formally Approves the Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

Comcast Expands Eligibility For Low-Cost Broadband Plan

Comcast has expanded its Internet Essentials program to make inexpensive broadband Internet available to any eligible low-income customer. Currently, according to U.S. Census data, in cities with the highest poverty rates, households are ten times more likely not to have broadband compared to households in wealthier cities. With Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest cable provider will help close the so-called digital divide, offering 15Mbps download speeds for $9.95 per month, which is $40 less than its typical service. Continue reading Comcast Expands Eligibility For Low-Cost Broadband Plan

CES Research Summit: Experts Consider 5G Tech, Use Cases

The advent of 5G doesn’t mean that 4G is going away any time soon, explained industry leaders at CES. “It’s not a light switch,” suggested AT&T Mobility vice president, IoT solutions Joe Mosele. “There’s still room for 4G LTE to grow, and it will continue to be a complement to 5G.” Boingo Wireless chief technology officer Derek Peterson added that, “we’ll see gigabit speeds on LTE.” “You’ll see continuous advancements with Wi-FI as a component as well as unlicensed spectrum and near-band IoT,” he said. “It’s an evolutionary cycle.”

Continue reading CES Research Summit: Experts Consider 5G Tech, Use Cases

CES Panel: Looking at 5G Use Cases and the Digital Divide

The recurring theme at CES 2019 is the promise of 5G wireless technology, as carriers such as Verizon begin their first moves into the space. Moderated by CTA’s Cindy Stevens, a group of technologists discussed some of the opportunities inherent in 5G networks for “hyper connectivity.” Microsoft principal group manager Pete Bernard noted that his company does not make 5G chips. “But we are an intelligent edge/cloud company,” he said. “5G is a catalyst technology that will enable our clients to move to the cloud more quickly.” Continue reading CES Panel: Looking at 5G Use Cases and the Digital Divide

Studies on Kids and Tech Flip the Meaning of Digital Divide

Experts are coming to grips with the impact of digital technology on children. Educators worried that students from poor homes would find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide, but, in fact, many states are spending money to make sure that all their students have access to computers, while Silicon Valley parents are choosing to raise their children with traditional toys and non-digital activities. The reason is that technologists are privy to recent research about the dangers of exposing kids to screen time. Continue reading Studies on Kids and Tech Flip the Meaning of Digital Divide

Facebook Ends Test that Led to Surprise Rise in Fake News

Facebook will end Explore, an experiment launched last fall in six countries that separated posts from news sites and publishers from other content. Publishers in Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia, and Sri Lanka said they were blindsided by the experiment, and that it led to a surprising amount of misinformation or fake news. The test put a “digital divide” between family/friends and brands and news sources. Facebook admits they should have communicated the experiment better to publishers. Continue reading Facebook Ends Test that Led to Surprise Rise in Fake News

FCC: End of Net Neutrality Advances Broadband Deployment

The Federal Communications Commission, which had considered lowering the threshold for broadband announced that it has pulled back from that idea and will continue to define home broadband as speeds of 25 megabits per second (Mbps). The FCC also created a new standard of a 10Mbps connection for mobile broadband, and won’t define mobile Internet service as a replacement for home broadband, an idea it considered last year. The decisions are good news for those concerned about the digital divide. Continue reading FCC: End of Net Neutrality Advances Broadband Deployment

SoftBank Invests $500M More in Broadband Provider OneWeb

According to a knowledgeable source, Japan’s SoftBank Group plans to invest about $500 million more in satellite broadband provider OneWeb. That brings SoftBank’s total investment in the company to about $1.5 billion. OneWeb is a U.S. startup focused on providing Internet connectivity worldwide that is faster than current space-based or terrestrial systems. OneWeb founder/executive chairman Greg Wyler reports that the company is currently designing and looking for suppliers for its next-generation satellites. Continue reading SoftBank Invests $500M More in Broadband Provider OneWeb

New FCC Chairman Calls for Expansion of High-Speed Internet

FCC chair Ajit Pai recommends Congress include expanded broadband Internet service in upcoming infrastructure legislation. “The one consistent message I hear is that there is a thirst for better, faster, cheaper Internet access… I think members of Congress get that as well,” he said. Pai’s broadband deployment agenda “is aimed at encouraging telecommunications firms to make high-speed Internet service more widely available in hard-to-serve areas,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “President Donald Trump has indicated he wants an infrastructure initiative worth as much as $1 trillion to improve the nation’s roads, bridges and other physical assets, which would require legislation and, potentially, a way to pay for it.” Continue reading New FCC Chairman Calls for Expansion of High-Speed Internet

Appeals Court Sides with States vs. City Broadband Networks

In recent years, some cities have created broadband networks to provide Internet in communities — especially rural ones — where commercial services aren’t willing to set up shop. Those so-called “municipal broadband networks” just got slapped down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which upheld laws in North Carolina and Tennessee halting their growth. For now, the ruling only impacts networks in those two states, but other cities that have created municipal networks have taken note. Continue reading Appeals Court Sides with States vs. City Broadband Networks

UN Human Rights Council Calls for an End to Internet Blocking

The 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council “passed a resolution condemning countries that prevent or disrupt access to the Internet,” according to The Hill. The nonbinding resolution, likely most useful for public pressure, calls on nations to address security and privacy concerns while securing freedom of expression. It also “condemns violence or intimidation against people for ‘exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms on the Internet.’” Digital rights group Access Now cited at least 15 Internet shutdowns around the world last year, and 20 so far this year. Continue reading UN Human Rights Council Calls for an End to Internet Blocking

Letter Released in Protest of Facebook’s Free Internet Project

As part of the growing backlash to Facebook’s Internet.org project, 65 advocacy organizations from 31 countries released a letter of protest this week to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook has partnered with wireless carriers and other organizations on the initiative that hopes to bring free Internet service to the developing world. However, the letter argues that the project “violates the principles of net neutrality, threatening freedom of expression, equality of opportunity, security, privacy, and innovation.” Continue reading Letter Released in Protest of Facebook’s Free Internet Project

New York City Plans to Transform Pay Phones into Wi-Fi Hubs

The aging pay phones of New York City are getting a digital makeover. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced a five-borough “LinkNYC” plan to give New York City residents access to free and fast Internet service. The “Link” devices, installed as replacements to the city’s 6,400 coin-operated pay phones, will also provide free phone calling and a free charging station. City officials expect the digital advertisements on the Link devices to bring in at least $20 million in annual ad revenue. Continue reading New York City Plans to Transform Pay Phones into Wi-Fi Hubs

Study Measures Influence of New Technology on In-Store Sales

Deloitte’s recent study, “The New Digital Divide: Retailers, Shoppers, and the Digital Influence Factor” shows that digital technologies are an integral part of the entire shopping experience since they influence $1.1 trillion of in-store retail sales. By the end of 2014, the percentage of in-store sales that digital technologies influence will increase from the current 36 percent to 50 percent. The retail categories most influenced by digital include electronics, furniture and sporting goods. Continue reading Study Measures Influence of New Technology on In-Store Sales