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

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

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