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

Private 5G Networks Bring Services to Rural U.S., Companies

Private 5G networks are being built across the country, mainly intended to connect machines rather than smartphones. This follows in the footsteps of utility companies, retailers and large enterprises that once built their own private 4G networks. Private networks are more readily customized and can offer better reliability and security than Wi-Fi over large areas. In rural Wisconsin, for example, WiConnect is benefitting from 5G to keep its 1,400 households connected to a broadband network that’s faster than ever before. Continue reading Private 5G Networks Bring Services to Rural U.S., Companies

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

Pentagon, FCC Draw Up Rival Plans for Military 5G Spectrum

The Pentagon and the Federal Communications Commission are preparing separate plans for Defense Department-controlled 5G wireless spectrum, both dubbed the Beat China for 5G Act of 2020. The Pentagon would create a military cellular network and lease extra capacity to the private sector. The FCC wants to auction some of the spectrum in late 2021. The Pentagon’s more detailed plan may go public before the November 3 presidential election. The spectrum is currently used for military radar and aviation. Continue reading Pentagon, FCC Draw Up Rival Plans for Military 5G Spectrum

Amazon Unveils Devices for Gaming, Autos and Smart Home

Amazon announced new smart home devices during its fall hardware event last week, including an expanded Fire Stick collection, redesigned Echo speaker lineup, and Ring in-home drone. Amazon is also launching its Luna cloud gaming service, and introducing Car Cam and Car Alarm to Ring’s lineup. Alexa’s capabilities have expanded, from being able to read books to children to a new security feature, Guard Plus, that can detect sounds around a user’s house and trigger dog-barking to scare off intruders. In times of COVID-19, said Amazon head of devices and services Dave Limp, “our homes have become our offices, our classrooms, movie theaters and more.” Continue reading Amazon Unveils Devices for Gaming, Autos and Smart Home

Proposed Legislation Would Weaken Shields for Social Media

The Justice Department sent Congress draft legislation to weaken Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, leaving Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms vulnerable to legal action for content posted by users. The proposed changes would create liability for platforms that allow “known criminal content” to remain once they are aware of it. President Trump claims that social media companies are biased against conservatives. The platforms have not been protected against some civil suits. Continue reading Proposed Legislation Would Weaken Shields for Social Media

AT&T, Verizon Ask FCC to Limit T-Mobile Spectrum Purchase

T-Mobile, once the smallest of four national telecom carriers, is now on the road to dominate 5G spectrum to the concern of AT&T and Verizon, which have complained to the Federal Communications Commission. In August, Verizon petitioned the FCC to reassess its greenlight for a new lease that would give T-Mobile an additional 10MHz to 30MHz in the 600MHz band in 204 counties. AT&T just added its voice, with a filing supporting Verizon’s point of view. T-Mobile’s purchase of Sprint made it one of now three major carriers. Continue reading AT&T, Verizon Ask FCC to Limit T-Mobile Spectrum Purchase

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

Legislators Urge FTC to Scrutinize Mobile Ad Data Collection

Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission urging it to investigate how the mobile advertising industry tracks consumers without their knowledge via digital display ads. The covert practice, known as “bidstream” data, enables the collection of sensitive information about consumers that is then packaged and sold by data brokers. Meanwhile, Google released “Ads Transparency Spotlight,” a Chrome extension to inform consumers about how advertisers are targeting them. Continue reading Legislators Urge FTC to Scrutinize Mobile Ad Data Collection

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

China Trades With U.S. Ally Japan as 5G War Gathers Speed

The U.S. banned use of Huawei Technologies’ 5G gear to slow down China’s dominance in the arena, and yesterday the FCC designated Huawei and ZTE as national security threats. Meanwhile, U.S. ally Japan is trying to avoid conflict with both countries, while purchasing 500,000+ Huawei 5G base stations at a cost of $150 billion to install throughout the country by the end of 2020. Japanese companies such as Murata Manufacturing also purvey 5G components to global tech companies, including those in China. Murata Manufacturing chair Tsuneo Murata noted that 5G is “a very promising market for our parts.” Continue reading China Trades With U.S. Ally Japan as 5G War Gathers Speed

House Bill Aims to Speed Expansion of Gigabit Internet in U.S.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-South Carolina) and former House Energy and Commerce Committee chair Fred Upton (R-Michigan) introduced a bill to speed up distribution of the $16 billion the FCC earmarked to expand broadband infrastructure to rural areas. The FCC currently plans to disburse the money in an October auction, but rural areas today cannot access remote schooling or healthcare resources. Thirty-nine state attorneys general are also pressing Congress to increase broadband funding for these areas. Continue reading House Bill Aims to Speed Expansion of Gigabit Internet in U.S.

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

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