FCC Adds Rules Blocking the Sale of Devices Made in China

The Federal Communications Commission has adopted new rules prohibiting the U.S. sale of certain telecommunications and surveillance devices manufactured by Chinese companies. In a move to shore up national security, the move blocks equipment deemed to pose an unacceptable risk from receiving import authorization. In recent years, the government has taken various actions to secure the U.S. supply chain for communications equipment and services. “These new rules are an important part of our ongoing actions to protect the American people from national security threats involving telecommunications,” FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said. Continue reading FCC Adds Rules Blocking the Sale of Devices Made in China

FCC’s Latest Broadband Maps Aim to Turn Up Heat on ISPs

The Federal Communications Commission has unveiled a draft of its long-awaited broadband maps, which detail broadband availability across the country. “The maps will only get better from here,” FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said, emphasizing that even in this early form they are a lot better than what had been available. The new maps integrate information from broadband providers with hundreds of location-specific data sources, providing an accurate-to-the-home picture of fixed and mobile broadband availability. Users now have “a one-stop-shop” to search their address and find the Internet service providers available to that location. Continue reading FCC’s Latest Broadband Maps Aim to Turn Up Heat on ISPs

FCC Rules Require ISPs Provide Broadband Nutrition Labels

The Federal Communications Commission has unveiled specifics for new labels that clarify hidden fees and surprise rate hikes on consumer broadband services. Broadband providers will be required to display, at the point of sale, labels that show key information about prices, speeds, fees, data allowances, and other key information using a format that resembles the familiar “nutrition labels” that appear on food products. Emphasizing broadband as “an essential service, for everyone, everywhere,” FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said the labeling rules apply to both wired and wireless services. Continue reading FCC Rules Require ISPs Provide Broadband Nutrition Labels

Cybersecurity Labeling System Coming to IoT Devices in 2023

The Biden administration is implementing a cybersecurity labeling program designed to protect consumers using Internet of Things devices from “significant national security risks.” Beginning in the spring of 2023, IoT smart hardware will begin carrying a “label for products that meet U.S. government standards and are tested by vetted and approved entities,” according to the White House. The program will start with high-risk devices like routers and cameras. To jump-start the initiative, the White House hosted an IoT Cybersecurity Summit attended by national security officials, hardware manufacturers and representatives from consumer product associations. Continue reading Cybersecurity Labeling System Coming to IoT Devices in 2023

Global Tech Firms Advised to Begin Planning for Jump to 6G

Given the messy, eleventh-hour battle with the FAA over 5G deployment, it’s not too early to start planning a rollout for 6G, experts say. While the U.S. trails Asia in 5G availability, it’s still at the front of the pack, with coverage of roughly 80 percent of the population through home or office in mid-2021, says PwC, assessing only about 12 percent of “device penetration,” or subscriptions. Yet 6G is already being touted as being able to take cloud computing and the mobile Internet to unimagined realms of global connectivity and social equity. Continue reading Global Tech Firms Advised to Begin Planning for Jump to 6G

U.S. Court Clears FCC’s Path for Seismic Wi-Fi 6E Upgrade

A U.S. Court of Appeals has paved the way for Wi-Fi 6E, the biggest Wi-Fi upgrade in more than two decades, by upholding a 2020 FCC order to make 1,200MHz of spectrum in the 6GHz band available for unlicensed use. Poised to benefit are router manufacturers and those who make devices for home offices and IoT. FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel called the decision timely in the wake of COVID-19, when “so much of modern life has migrated online.” FCC commissioner Brendan Carr emphasized ancillary benefits, calling the additional spectrum “the oxygen needed to power 5G.” Continue reading U.S. Court Clears FCC’s Path for Seismic Wi-Fi 6E Upgrade

Biden Reveals FCC Chair and New Commissioner Nominees

President Joe Biden has paved the way for a potential Democratic majority at the Federal Communications Commission, nominating Gigi Sohn to fill the fifth commissioner slot, vacant since Ajit Pai resigned in January. Jessica Rosenworcel, who stepped up as acting chairwoman when Pai left, has been nominated as permanent chair. Sohn, a public interest lawyer with 30 years of experience in communications and technology policy, spent three years as counselor to Obama administration FCC chair Tom Wheeler. In that capacity, she championed net neutrality and Title II common carrier rules that were adopted in 2015, only to be jettisoned in 2017 under Pai. Continue reading Biden Reveals FCC Chair and New Commissioner Nominees

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

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

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

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

Bill Could Make Net Neutrality Law Under New Administration

Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) plans to introduce a bill in the next few weeks that would make net neutrality a law. “The coronavirus pandemic has proven that broadband is as essential as electricity and other utilities,” he said. “We need to restore net neutrality protections to ensure that our Internet remains open and free and that consumers can continue to benefit from this critical infrastructure.” Many Republicans still oppose net neutrality, and its existence has largely been subject to who chairs the FCC. Continue reading Bill Could Make Net Neutrality Law Under New Administration

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

Commerce Chief Nominee Scrutinizes China, 5G and Internet

Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo, President Biden’s nominee to head the Commerce Department, described some of her positions during a Senate confirmation hearing. She revealed that she will take a “very aggressive” stance against China’s “unfair” trade practices stressing the need to develop a “whole-of-government response” in concert with U.S. allies. Raimondo also called for a national 5G spectrum policy and stated she will pursue changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Continue reading Commerce Chief Nominee Scrutinizes China, 5G and Internet

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