FCC Approves Plan to Pay Satellite Firms to Vacate Airwaves

The FCC, in a 3-2 vote, approved chair Ajit Pai’s plan to pay satellite companies to free up airwaves for 5G usage. Satellite companies will retain enough to continue their TV/radio distribution services. The FCC earlier released a plan to pay Intelsat, SES and other satellite companies $9.7 billion if they left the airwaves quickly, with another $3.3 billion to $5.2 billion to reimburse costs of making the move. Pai suggested that Intelsat receive as much as $4.85 billion, SES about $4 billion and Eutelsat $468 million. Continue reading FCC Approves Plan to Pay Satellite Firms to Vacate Airwaves

FCC Approves T-Mobile and Sprint Merger, States File Suit

The Federal Communications Commission approved T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint, a $26 billion merger that has been opposed by numerous state attorneys general and consumer advocacy groups. T-Mobile and Sprint, respectively the nation’s third and fourth-largest wireless carriers, pioneered the end of early termination fees and reintroduction of unlimited data plans. The FCC, which is dominated by Republicans, lauded the deal as likely to speed up the adoption of 5G networks across the U.S. Meanwhile, a group of state attorneys general are continuing with a lawsuit that intends to fight the merger. Continue reading FCC Approves T-Mobile and Sprint Merger, States File Suit

FCC Formally Approves the Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

The Federal Communications Commission approved the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint yesterday, months after the Justice Department gave its approval. FCC chair Ajit Pai and Republican commissioners Brendan Carr and Michael O’Rielly indicated their support of the deal in May, believing that it would lead to a faster deployment of 5G. Democrats voted against the merger, and commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel argued that it would lead to higher prices and less innovation, ultimately impacting consumers. A coalition of state attorneys general are still attempting to prevent the merger with a multistate lawsuit. Continue reading FCC Formally Approves the Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

Federal Appeals Court Offers Mixed Ruling on Net Neutrality

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit yesterday upheld the federal government’s repeal of net neutrality in the latest ruling that impacts how companies connect people to the Internet. However, the appeals court also ruled that the FCC had overstepped in its decision to prevent state and local governments from establishing their own related rules. The mixed ruling will likely lead to continued debate over net neutrality regulation, especially on the state level. It is also seen as a victory for the Trump administration, which has supported deregulation, and FCC chair Ajit Pai, who believes the repeal is good for the economy and fosters innovation. Continue reading Federal Appeals Court Offers Mixed Ruling on Net Neutrality

Seattle to Lead Cities’ Fight Against FCC’s 5G Rollout Order

Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan and city attorney Pete Holmes plan to sue the FCC over its decision to preempt local rules on 5G deployment — and will also coordinate with other cities on that lawsuit. The Portland City Council voted on Tuesday to approve the lawsuit, reported The Oregonian, which added that there is a growing list of cities preparing to join the fight. Although most of those cities are on the West Coast, others including New York City, Boston and rural areas have also been vocal against the FCC’s move. Continue reading Seattle to Lead Cities’ Fight Against FCC’s 5G Rollout Order

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

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

Departure of FCC’s Tom Wheeler Could Impact Net Neutrality

The FCC announced that Tom Wheeler will resign his chair position on January 20. The Obama appointee led the agency for the last three years. It is customary for the chairperson to resign when there is a new administration. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel’s nomination for another term was also impacted last week by the Senate’s decision not to vote prior to adjourning for the year. Rosenworcel is expected to step down by the end of December. President-elect Donald Trump will have two FCC seats to fill, one from each major party. Meanwhile, the departures leave the agency with two Republican commissioners and one Democratic commissioner. Continue reading Departure of FCC’s Tom Wheeler Could Impact Net Neutrality

FCC, Net Neutrality Face Changes Under New Administration

The Federal Communications Commission is undergoing changes prior to the transition to a new administration. When the Senate adjourned without voting on a new term for commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, it sealed her departure at the end of December. And when President-elect Donald Trump takes office, Tom Wheeler will step down as chairman of the FCC, although his term as commissioner runs through 2018. Trump has not yet mentioned names with regard to the next FCC chairman, but it will likely be someone opposed to net neutrality. Continue reading FCC, Net Neutrality Face Changes Under New Administration

Federal Regulators Need More Time to Vote on Set-Top Boxes

The FCC delayed its vote yesterday on the proposal to unlock cable set-top boxes. FCC members “could not agree on a set-top box proposal that requires cable operators to provide their shows and movies on alternative devices rather than just on a cable box,” reports The New York Times. “The plan was intended to bring more competition to the television industry and liberate consumers from an average of $231 in annual cable box fees.” While the proposal will be considered for a future vote, FCC chair Tom Wheeler said commissioners needed additional discussions. However, with an upcoming change of administration, Wheeler’s window to adopt the regulation may be dwindling. Continue reading Federal Regulators Need More Time to Vote on Set-Top Boxes

FCC Chair Pushes Compromise Plan to Open Set-Top Boxes

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler hasn’t given up on his goal to open up the TV set-top box market, thus breaking the cable industry’s dominance in this arena. Sources say he is preparing a “compromise version” of his proposal by which cable companies would be required to make their feeds available, via apps, to competitive device manufacturers. In today’s market, the set-top box, which once simply translated cable signals for TV sets, can now be used to offer access to cable TV and video-streaming services such as Hulu or Netflix. Continue reading FCC Chair Pushes Compromise Plan to Open Set-Top Boxes

FCC May Add High-Speed Internet Subsidy to Lifeline Program

The Federal Communications Commission is nearing approval of a plan to provide Internet access for low-income people who don’t have regular access. An update to the $2 billion Lifeline program will add a broadband subsidy of $9.25 a month for low-income households. Lifeline was established in 1985 to bring landline phone service to that same demographic; the FCC added mobile service to the program in 2008. The addition of the high-speed Internet subsidy will come up for a vote on March 31 and is expected to pass. Continue reading FCC May Add High-Speed Internet Subsidy to Lifeline Program