Major TV Broadcasters Prevail in Court Case Against Locast

Locast, a non-profit organization founded by lawyer and former FCC legal advisor David Goodfriend, streamed local TV to those who couldn’t access local signals, declaring that U.S. copyright law allows third parties to boost local signals. Major broadcasters ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX disputed that claim, believing that Locast simply wanted to avoid carriage fees, and have now won a court battle finding that Locast violated their copyrights. The court also stated that Locast cannot use its non-profit status as a defense against further action. Continue reading Major TV Broadcasters Prevail in Court Case Against Locast

Congress Pushes Bill to Spend Billions on Broadband Access

Congress advanced legislation to spend $65 billion to expand high-speed Internet access across the country. The government estimates 14 million U.S. households don’t have broadband, but other sources believe the figure is 40 million or higher. The measure’s allocation of $65 billion for broadband, which in part would subsidize low-income households, would be the biggest ever spent in the United States. Approved by the Senate as part of the $1 trillion infrastructure measure, the measure now faces a vote in the House. Continue reading Congress Pushes Bill to Spend Billions on Broadband Access

Biden Assembles a Tough Antitrust Team to Rein In Big Tech

President Biden, who named Big Tech critic Jonathan Kanter to lead the Justice Department’s antitrust division last week, has assembled a strong antitrust team to address concerns about the dominant strength and influence of major tech companies across industries including pharmaceuticals, agriculture, healthcare, commerce and finance. If confirmed by the Senate, Kanter will join the Federal Trade Commission’s chairperson Lina Khan, who is known for her work in antitrust and competition law, and Tim Wu, a long-time advocate of breaking up Big Tech who is now Biden’s special assistant for technology and competition policy. Continue reading Biden Assembles a Tough Antitrust Team to Rein In Big Tech

Government Accountability Office Calls for Faster Broadband

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report stating that the FCC’s current broadband minimum benchmark speeds — 25Mbps for downloading and 3Mbps for uploading — are too slow for many small business needs today. This benchmark was implemented in 2015 under FCC chair Tom Wheeler and was not updated by the next chair, Ajit Pai. Wheeler updated it from 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream during his four-year term, an increase opposed by Republicans and the broadband industry. Continue reading Government Accountability Office Calls for Faster Broadband

Biden Executive Order Promotes Net Neutrality, Competition

President Joe Biden signed an executive order with 72 proposals and actions for a “whole-of-government effort to promote competition in the American economy.” Among them, President Biden encourages the FCC to restore net neutrality rules undone by former President Donald Trump, to “consider limiting early termination fees and prevent Internet service providers from making deals with landlords that limit tenant choices,” and to revive the President Barack Obama era Broadband Nutrition Label and its better price transparency. Continue reading Biden Executive Order Promotes Net Neutrality, Competition

SpaceX Starlink Internet Slated to Go Live Globally in August

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) has already launched 1,500+ satellites for Elon Musk’s broadband Internet network Starlink that is currently available in about a dozen countries. According to Musk, who spoke at the Mobile World Congress this week, Starlink will be beaming Internet everywhere in the world except polar regions by August. He added that Starlink should have about 500,000 users within the next 12 months and that SpaceX will have invested between $5 billion and $10 billion before cash flow becomes positive. Continue reading SpaceX Starlink Internet Slated to Go Live Globally in August

U.S. Turns to Open Standards to Launch New 5G Equipment

According to researcher Dell’Oro Group, the U.S. efforts to stop Huawei progress led to 60+ percent of the global wireless gear market to restrict or consider restricting that Chinese company’s products. Now the U.S. government may offer financial support to a domestic cellular equipment industry that has lagged behind for years. In the last five years, said Dell’Oro, Huawei, Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia accounted for 20 percent of the wireless gear market, with no rival even reaching 10 percent of the market. A new competitive landscape and building 5G equipment based on open standards could have a major impact on the industry. Continue reading U.S. Turns to Open Standards to Launch New 5G Equipment

Media Transition Enables AT&T to Focus on Building Out 5G

Earlier this week, AT&T announced a $43 billion deal to merge WarnerMedia with Discovery, three years after its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner. The move marks AT&T’s pivot to a focus on its deployment of 5G. AT&T chief executive John Stankey said the company plans “to continue the momentum in our mobility business by stepping up our investment in our wireless network.” Other telcos have adopted a similar strategy, with Verizon selling AOL and Yahoo for $5 billion, and T-Mobile shuttering its T-Vision streaming service. Continue reading Media Transition Enables AT&T to Focus on Building Out 5G

FCC Approves New Connectivity Fund for Schools, Libraries

The FCC unanimously agreed to enact the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program to provide resources for U.S. schools and libraries to buy laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots and broadband connections for online learning during the pandemic. Starting on May 12, the program, part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, will also provide $50 per month to low-income households and $75 to households on Native American lands to pay for broadband services and $100 towards buying a laptop or tablet. Continue reading FCC Approves New Connectivity Fund for Schools, Libraries

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