Gray to Buy 17 Meredith TV Stations, Will Reach 113 Markets

Gray Television inked a deal with Meredith Corporation to acquire 17 TV stations for $2.7 billion, bringing its number of outlets to 101 stations serving 113 markets and reaching 36 percent of U.S. TV households. It is acquiring Meredith TV stations in Atlanta; Phoenix; Nashville; Portland, Oregon and other mid-sized markets. Meredith is refocusing its efforts on magazine publishing and digital assets. Gray will become the No. 2 U.S. broadcaster after Nexstar, with its 116 stations reaching 62 percent of U.S. TV households.

Continue reading Gray to Buy 17 Meredith TV Stations, Will Reach 113 Markets

AT&T: Gains in HBO and HBO Max Subs, Wireless Customers

AT&T has experienced an increase in HBO and HBO Max subscribers and wireless customers. Its number of domestic HBO and HBO Max subscribers grew from 41.5 million three months ago to 44.2 million today, including those who signed up for the new streaming service and others who subscribed via a cable TV provider. The company has also added 595,000 postpaid phone subscribers and a net gain of 207,000 prepaid phone subscribers. The telco cut expenses by increasing online customer service and promoting simpler plans. Continue reading AT&T: Gains in HBO and HBO Max Subs, Wireless Customers

New York Makes Internet Affordable for Low-Income Families

New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill requiring Internet service providers to offer broadband to low-income families for $15 per month, noting that it is “an essential service.” At the signing, Cuomo was accompanied by former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, who chairs a state commission on technology. The new mandate was passed by the New York State Legislature. Cuomo also revealed that Schmidt Futures and the Ford Foundation will provide free Internet to 50,000 students in the 2021-2022 school year. Continue reading New York Makes Internet Affordable for Low-Income Families

Supreme Court Allows FCC to Relax Media Ownership Rules

In a 9-0 ruling authored by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the U.S. Supreme Court loosened local media ownership restrictions, which could enable more industry consolidation. It’s viewed as a victory for broadcasters that wanted to overturn the 2017 decision of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that found the FCC did not sufficiently consider the effect of changes on minority and female owners. The FCC appeal was supported by News Corp, Fox Corporation, Sinclair Broadcast Group and the National Association of Broadcasters. Continue reading Supreme Court Allows FCC to Relax Media Ownership Rules

The Biden Plan to Deliver Broadband Internet to U.S. Homes

President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan includes $100 billion to bring high-speed broadcast Internet to every home in the United States. The need for broadband became especially acute during the COVID-19 pandemic in which working, learning and shopping became largely remote. Although the digital divide was first identified during the Clinton administration, multiple government efforts to bridge it thus far have been unsuccessful. Biden also vowed to drive down prices for Internet to make it affordable for everyone. Continue reading The Biden Plan to Deliver Broadband Internet to U.S. Homes

AT&T Resists Plan to Bring High-Speed Fiber to Rural Homes

AT&T expressed opposition to the proposal of subsidized fiber-to-the-home for everyone in the U.S., with the argument that rural communities don’t need anything faster than the existing service’s 10Mbps upload speeds. AT&T executive vice president of federal regulatory relations Joan Marsh defined “broadband for the 21st Century” as its VDSL (very high-speed digital subscriber line), a 14-year-old system that uses copper telephone wires for the last mile to the home. She noted the “significant additional cost” to deploy fiber to every home, saying there is “no compelling reason” to justify the expense. Continue reading AT&T Resists Plan to Bring High-Speed Fiber to Rural Homes

Bill Could Make Net Neutrality Law Under New Administration

Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) plans to introduce a bill in the next few weeks that would make new neutrality a law. “The coronavirus pandemic has proven that broadband is as essential as electricity and other utilities,” he said. “We need to restore net neutrality protections to ensure that our Internet remains open and free and that consumers can continue to benefit from this critical infrastructure.” Many Republicans still oppose net neutrality, and its existence has largely been subject to who chairs the FCC. Continue reading Bill Could Make Net Neutrality Law Under New Administration

Court Decision Allows California to Enforce Net Neutrality Law

In 2018, former California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill making the state the first to enact a net neutrality law. The Trump administration sued to block it, and the Biden administration dropped that suit, but the telecom industry had filed a separate suit. Now, U.S. District Court judge John A. Mendez denied the telecom suit, allowing the state to enforce the 2018 law. State senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) called the decision “a huge victory for open access to the Internet, our democracy and our economy,” while some industry groups suggest federal legislation would be a preferred approach to a state-by-state model. Continue reading Court Decision Allows California to Enforce Net Neutrality Law

Huawei Appeals FCC Edict Naming It a National Security Risk

Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecommunications company, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit asking for a review of last year’s FCC ruling that found it a national security risk. As a result of the FCC’s ruling, U.S. telecommunications operators were blocked from buying Huawei’s 5G equipment. Huawei has previously challenged numerous actions taken against it in recent years. The Trump administration blocked Huawei from accessing U.S. technology and encouraged allies to do the same. Continue reading Huawei Appeals FCC Edict Naming It a National Security Risk

Wi-Fi 6E Certification Program Paves the Way for New Devices

The Wi-Fi Alliance began its Wi-Fi 6E certification program for devices built to transmit signals on the newly launched 6GHz band. Introduced just before CES 2021, the program comes in time to certify next-generation devices that can take advantage of the fastest speeds ever available with Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi 6, which began its rollout in 2019, adds access to the 6GHz band after the Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to open it for unlicensed use. Until now, Wi-Fi use has relied on 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Continue reading Wi-Fi 6E Certification Program Paves the Way for New Devices

Federal 5G Spectrum Auction Raises Nearly $70 Billion So Far

An auction of wireless licenses, which began December 8 and is conducted by the Federal Communications Commission, has thus far reaped $69.8+ billion. The auction shut down during the holidays but recommenced January 4, meaning the total bids will likely increase. The previous record, in 2015, was the $44.9 billion raised by a sale of mid-range cellular licenses to boost 4G coverage. The winning bidders will not be revealed until the auction ends, but AT&T and Verizon are pegged by analysts to be dominant. Continue reading Federal 5G Spectrum Auction Raises Nearly $70 Billion So Far

Senate Confirms Trump Nominee for FCC Nathan Simington

The Senate confirmed Nathan Simington as a new Republican FCC member in a 49-to-46 vote. The confirmation comes as FCC chair Ajit Pai prepares to exit his post in January. In the run-up to the vote, Simington vowed “regulatory stability” and an openness to reexamining Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. With Simington, the five-member FCC could be deadlocked at the beginning of 2021, with two Democrats and two Republicans, possibly limiting its ability to carry out president-elect Joe Biden’s agenda. Continue reading Senate Confirms Trump Nominee for FCC Nathan Simington

Rural Broadband Networks Get a Lift with $9.2B FCC Infusion

The Federal Communications Commission has allocated $9.2 billion to build rural broadband networks, which FCC chair Ajit Pai hailed as the biggest commitment to bring Internet services to these poorly served areas. The funding is the result of an auction in which companies such as Windstream Holdings, Charter Communications and SpaceX bid against each other to build the fastest broadband networks at the lowest costs. The 180 companies that won have 10 years to build the networks with incentives to finish sooner. Continue reading Rural Broadband Networks Get a Lift with $9.2B FCC Infusion

Biden to Select Replacement for Outgoing FCC Chair Ajit Pai

Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai announced he will step down from his position on January 20, 2021. The FCC senior Democratic member, Jessica Rosenworcel, is predicted to be one of the leading candidates to succeed Pai, although former FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn has also been mentioned. With Pai’s departure, president-elect Joe Biden will be able to work with Democrats shortly after Inauguration Day on such anticipated priorities as restoring net neutrality and expanding universal broadband access.

Continue reading Biden to Select Replacement for Outgoing FCC Chair Ajit Pai

Biden Reiterates Commitment to Create Universal Broadband

President-elect Joe Biden and top Democratic allies in Congress, including James Clyburn (D-South Carolina), are focused on significantly increasing federal spending on broadband to improve Internet access and affordability, especially in rural areas. The effort is more urgent as the pandemic continues, and the first step towards this goal is part of the new coronavirus stimulus package. Biden already endorsed the relief bill, passed by the House, that includes $4 billion for Internet access to low-income Americans. Continue reading Biden Reiterates Commitment to Create Universal Broadband

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