Draft Executive Order Gives FCC, FTC Sway Over Internet

According to sources, the White House drafted an executive order that would give the Federal Communications Commission the power to determine how Facebook, Twitter and other large tech companies curate their websites. The FCC would be tasked with developing regulations on how (and when) the law protects social media platforms when they remove or suppress content, and also charges the Federal Trade Commission with taking the new regulations into account when investigating or suing these companies. Continue reading Draft Executive Order Gives FCC, FTC Sway Over Internet

FCC Plans to Reallocate Educational TV Spectrum For 5G

To create space for 5G in the mid-band spectrum, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to reallocate a block of 2.5GHz spectrum once reserved for educational TV and put it on the auction block. The reallocation vote is scheduled for July 10, with the auction planned for some time next year. Mid-band spectrum, also called sub-6GHz frequencies, delivers slower rates but better penetrates buildings and travels faster than millimeter wave signals. Crowdsourced network coverage service Opensignal quantified 5G speeds in South Korea. Continue reading FCC Plans to Reallocate Educational TV Spectrum For 5G

FCC Nixes California Regulators’ Plan to Add Fee to Texting

California telecom regulators wanted to impose a state fee on text-messaging services, but the Federal Communications Commission has squelched that plan by classifying text-messaging as an information service, not a telecommunications service. That’s the same classification the FCC applied to broadband when it repealed net neutrality and dictated that states cannot create their own net neutrality laws. Although California’s legislature is challenging the latter in court, it isn’t challenging the latest FCC ruling. Continue reading FCC Nixes California Regulators’ Plan to Add Fee to Texting

SoCal Cities Buck FCC to Create Regional Internet Network

Sixteen cities in Southern California’s South Bay have teamed up to provide cheaper Internet service to their 1.1 million residents. Their effort goes against a common belief that regional collaborations are unlikely to succeed because cities are busy, strapped for resources and competitive. It also irks the FCC, which believes that private companies are doing a great job of delivering Internet at low prices to everyone in America. The FCC has been actively discouraging states from building local Internet networks. Continue reading SoCal Cities Buck FCC to Create Regional Internet Network

President Bans Government Use of Huawei, ZTE Components

As part of the Defense Authorization Act, President Trump banned the use of Huawei and ZTE technology by the U.S. government and its contractors. Many Republicans regard the two Chinese companies as national security threats, which led to the passage of a Senate amendment in June to reinstate a trade ban on ZTE, which would have had the impact of shutting that company down. Trump worked to lift the ZTE ban, and the House did not sign off, setting off questions as to whether the two chambers would find a compromise. Continue reading President Bans Government Use of Huawei, ZTE Components

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

FCC Reverses Decades-Old Media Cross-Ownership Rules

As expected, the Republican-led FCC voted 3-2 along party lines yesterday to reverse the media cross-ownership ban. Now, an individual company will be permitted to own TV and radio stations and a newspaper in the same town. Changes to the rules, which were originally created to prevent individual entities from holding an unwanted amount of power over local news and information, also makes it possible to increase the number of TV stations that a single company can own in a given market. The deregulation was largely supported by broadband, cable and media companies, while opposed by consumer advocates concerned about the future of local news and diversity of expression. Continue reading FCC Reverses Decades-Old Media Cross-Ownership Rules

Consumer Groups Say Next Gen TV Standard Ignores Privacy

The FCC is scheduled to vote today on the long-awaited ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard. On the eve of the vote, privacy advocates have expressed concern that the standard allows broadcasters to harvest data about individual viewing habits so that advertisers can target their pitches, and there are no rules governing how broadcasters handle the data. In its 109-page proposal for the new rule, the FCC does not mention the issue of privacy. Broadcasters perceive the rule as a way to catch up to Facebook, YouTube, Amazon Prime and others. CTA president Gary Shapiro defends the standard and suggests the vote is being politicized due to the Sinclair-Tribune merger proposal. Continue reading Consumer Groups Say Next Gen TV Standard Ignores Privacy

Apple, Now a Content Creator, Speaks Up for Net Neutrality

After remaining quiet on the topic over the past months, Apple has finally made its position clear on net neutrality, urging the current administration to preserve it and prevent service providers from interfering or slowing Internet traffic. In its comments to the Federal Communications Commission, Apple also asked chair Ajit Pai not to end the ban against “fast lanes” that allow broadband providers to charge for delivery of specific content, something that could impact consumers of Apple’s fare. Continue reading Apple, Now a Content Creator, Speaks Up for Net Neutrality

Senate Confirms Rosenworcel, Carr as FCC Commissioners

The Senate voted yesterday to confirm Democratic nominee Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican nominee Brendan Carr as new FCC commissioners. The confirmations return the agency to its full strength of five commissioners, following a seven-month gap. The new commissioners will take office as FCC chair Ajit Pai prepares to roll back the net neutrality rules that were passed by the Democratic majority in 2015. The Senate opted to postpone Pai’s reconfirmation; Rosenworcel and Carr were confirmed via voice vote yesterday, and there will be a recorded vote for Pai later this fall. Continue reading Senate Confirms Rosenworcel, Carr as FCC Commissioners

Growing Number of Viewers Are Using Antennas for Free TV

The Consumer Technology Association projects that antenna sales in the U.S. will jump 7 percent to about 8 million units, driven largely by consumers who are accessing HBO, Hulu, Netflix and other services online. While today’s antennas “can be hidden behind a flat TV or hung like a picture frame,” notes The Wall Street Journal, a June survey by the National Association of Broadcasters found that 29 percent of Americans are not aware that television content is available for free. The confusion may linger from the 2009 HD transition, despite the FCC’s efforts to educate the public. While today’s consumer may not think of the older tech as a practical means of saving money, WSJ cites examples of viewers using antennas to watch free local programming. Continue reading Growing Number of Viewers Are Using Antennas for Free TV

Congress Makes a Move to Change New Internet Privacy Rules

The Republican-controlled Senate voted yesterday to reverse FCC privacy protections created under the Obama administration and former FCC chair Tom Wheeler that would have forbidden Internet service providers from using customer data without permission for use in targeted ads. “The measure passed in a 50-to-48 vote largely along party lines,” reports The New York Times. “The House is expected to mirror the Senate’s action next week, followed by a quick signature from President Trump.” The decision means service providers would not require permission to track and share the browsing and app activities of its customers. Continue reading Congress Makes a Move to Change New Internet Privacy Rules

FCC: Pai Halts Privacy Rules, Foreshadowing Broader Repeal

After a 2-to-1 vote, the FCC put a halt to a portion of the privacy rules passed in October. New FCC chair Ajit Pai said those rules required high-speed Internet providers, such as AT&T and Comcast, to secure their customers’ data against hacking and other unauthorized uses. This stay of new government rules may be a foreshadowing of a broader repeal of privacy protections, believe some experts. In line with that, Pai also stated that the Federal Trade Commission, not the FCC, should “oversee broadband and Internet industries.” Continue reading FCC: Pai Halts Privacy Rules, Foreshadowing Broader Repeal

FCC Allows LTE-U Devices to Share Airwaves Used for Wi-Fi

The Federal Communications Commission will now allow new 4G LTE wireless devices (known as LTE-U, for unlicensed) to use a portion of unlicensed 5Ghz airwaves currently used for Wi-Fi. With this decision, wireless providers can now deliver mobile broadband service, sharing the airwaves with Wi-Fi, says new FCC chair Ajit Pai, who made the ruling as a way of ending the dispute between the two industries. In the wake of this decision, Verizon Communications and T-Mobile US announced they will launch LTE-U networks and devices in the spring. Continue reading FCC Allows LTE-U Devices to Share Airwaves Used for Wi-Fi

FCC Wireless Spectrum Auction Bidding Closes at $19.6 Billion

The FCC’s wireless spectrum auction has concluded, generating $19.6 billion in total bids, less than many analysts’ expectations but still “an amazing success,” according to former FCC chair Julius Genachowski, who said the auction will lead to additional investment and innovation. AT&T, Comcast, Dish Network, T-Mobile and Verizon were among the 62 bidders who made upfront payments last year. More than $10 billion of the money raised will go to broadcasters that opted to relinquish spectrum rights, more than $6 billion to the federal deficit, and up to $1.75 billion to broadcaster costs for changing channels. Continue reading FCC Wireless Spectrum Auction Bidding Closes at $19.6 Billion

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