Archive for the ‘ajit pai’ Category

Ajit Pai uses bad data to claim ISPs are deploying broadband to everyone

April 27th, 2020
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaking at a press conference on October 1, 2018, in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty Images | Mark Wilson )

The Federal Communications Commission on Friday issued its annual broadband deployment report, finding for the third straight year that broadband is "being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion."

The FCC is required to report on broadband progress annually under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Pai's Republican majority pointed to the FCC's deployment data to argue that broadband networks are expanding fast enough to serve all Americans, despite the three biggest ISPs—Comcast, AT&T, and Charter—lowering capital expenditures.

Pai's conclusion is based on ISPs' filings to the FCC, which are known to overcount the number of Americans who have broadband access. The FCC report also failed to consider whether data caps and broadband prices are impeding progress toward universal broadband access.

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Ajit Pai’s “surprise” change makes it harder to get FCC broadband funding

January 31st, 2020
A photo of Ajit Pai.

Enlarge / Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, during an interview in New York, on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

After deciding to shut New York and Alaska out of a rural broadband fund, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has made another change that could reduce or eliminate funding available for ISPs in other US states.

When the FCC yesterday approved the $20.4-billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), the order contained a new provision that bans funding for areas already receiving money from any similar federal or state broadband-subsidy program. The new provision is so vague and expansive that it could affect areas in dozens of states or exclude some states from receiving money entirely, according to Democratic FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks.

"Based on my initial research, that means that the nearly 30 states that fund rural broadband through their own programs may find their eligibility reduced or eliminated," Starks said before yesterday's vote. "These provisions discourage badly needed state-federal partnerships, risk unequal application of the rules between states, and create an unnecessary risk of litigation."

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FCC tries to bury finding that Verizon and T-Mobile exaggerated 4G coverage

December 4th, 2019
A photo of Ajit Pai.

Enlarge / Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, during an interview in New York, on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

Verizon, T-Mobile, and US Cellular exaggerated their 4G coverage in official filings to the Federal Communications Commission, an FCC investigation found. But FCC officials confirmed that Chairman Ajit Pai does not plan to punish the three carriers in any way. Instead, the FCC intends to issue an enforcement advisory to the broader industry, reminding carriers "of the penalties associated with filings that violate federal law."

"Overstating mobile broadband coverage misleads the public and can misallocate our limited universal service funds, and thus it must be met with meaningful consequences," FCC staff said in an investigative report released today.

But there won't be any meaningful consequences for Verizon, T-Mobile, and US Cellular. "Based upon the totality of the circumstances, the investigation did not find a sufficiently clear violation of the MF-II [Mobility Fund Phase II] data collection requirements that warranted enforcement action," an FCC spokesperson told Ars via email.

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How the FCC solves consumer problems—well, it doesn’t, really

November 13th, 2019
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai at a meeting, sitting in front of the FCC seal.

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

The Federal Communications Commission's extremely hands-off approach to broadband-customer complaints has alarmed a member of Congress.

US Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in August after learning of a Frontier customer who was forced to pay a $10-per-month rental fee for a router despite buying his own router.

As we wrote at the time, Frontier charges customers a $10 monthly fee for routers even when the company doesn't provide one at all, saying that non-Frontier routers cause "increased complaints and more difficulty with troubleshooting." But Frontier also said it "cannot support or repair the non-Frontier equipment," so it's charging $10 a month without providing a router or providing support for non-Frontier routers.

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After court loss, Ajit Pai complains about states regulating broadband

October 22nd, 2019
Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai seen arriving at a conference.

Enlarge / Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai at the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 23, 2018, in National Harbor, Maryland. (credit: Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla )

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai may have belatedly concluded that federal regulation of broadband would be better for businesses than letting all 50 US states regulate Internet access.

Speaking at the WSJ Tech Live conference yesterday, Pai said that "a uniform, well-established set of regulations" is preferable to states regulating broadband individually. "[Pai] said allowing states and local governments to pass their own laws regulating Internet services, which inherently cross state lines, creates market uncertainty," according to CNET.

The CNET article included this direct quote from Pai:

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T-Mobile and Sprint get FCC approval to merge in 3-2 party-line vote

October 16th, 2019
FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly speaks at a conference while FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr and Chairman Ajit Pai look on.

Enlarge / Federal Communication Commission Republican members (L-R) Brendan Carr, Michael O'Rielly, and Chairman Ajit Pai participate in a discussion during the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 23, 2018 in National Harbor, Maryland. (credit: Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla )

The Federal Communications Commission has voted 3-2 to approve T-Mobile's acquisition of Sprint, an FCC spokesperson confirmed to Ars today.

Republican Commissioners Brendan Carr and Michael O'Rielly backed Chairman Ajit Pai's proposal to allow the merger, while Democrats Jessica Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks voted against it.

T-Mobile and Sprint previously secured merger approval from the Department of Justice, so the deal has been fully cleared by the federal government. But the companies won't be completing the merger just yet, as they face a lawsuit from a group of state attorneys general who are trying to block the deal.

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How malformed packets caused CenturyLink’s 37-hour, nationwide outage

August 19th, 2019
A CenturyLink worker's van.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | RiverNorthPhotography)

CenturyLink's nationwide, 37-hour outage in December 2018 disrupted 911 service for millions of Americans and prevented completion of at least 886 calls to 911, a new Federal Communications Commission report said.

Back in December, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the outage on CenturyLink's fiber network "completely unacceptable" and vowed to investigate. The FCC released the findings from its investigation today, describing how CenturyLink failed to follow best practices that could have prevented the outage. But Pai still hasn't announced any punishment of CenturyLink.

The outage was so extensive that it affected numerous other network operators that connect with CenturyLink, including Comcast and Verizon, the FCC report said. An FCC summary said:

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Pai’s FCC orders cities and towns to stop regulating cable broadband

August 1st, 2019
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai talking while standing in front of an FCC seal.

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on December 14, 2017, in Washington, DC, the day of the FCC’s vote to repeal net neutrality rules. (credit: Getty Images | Alex Wong )

The Federal Communications Commission today ordered cities and towns across the country to stop regulating broadband delivered over cable networks.

The vote to approve Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan also limits the fees that municipalities can charge cable companies. This could impact public TV stations and services that network operators provide cities and towns in exchange for cable TV franchises.

The FCC announcement of its decision said, “the Order prohibits excessive franchise fees and explains that local governments may not regulate most non-cable services, including broadband Internet access service, offered over a cable system.” The FCC claimed that its decision “remove[s] obstacles to the deployment of broadband.”

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FCC finally orders ISPs to say exactly where they offer broadband

August 1st, 2019
A map of the United States with lines and dots to represent broadband networks.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Bonilla1879)

The Federal Communications Commission voted today to collect more accurate data about which parts of the US have broadband and which parts lack high-speed connectivity. From now on, home Internet providers will have to give the FCC geospatial maps of where they provide service instead of merely reporting which census blocks they offer service in.

The FCC's current broadband mapping system has serious limitations. The Form 477 data-collection program that requires ISPs to report census-block coverage lets an ISP count an entire census block as served even if it can serve just one home in the block. There are millions of census blocks across the US, and each one generally contains between 600 and 3,000 people.

Perhaps even worse, ISPs can count a census block as served in some cases where they don't provide any broadband in the block. That's because the FCC tells ISPs to report where they could offer service "without an extraordinary commitment of resources." An ISP could thus count a census block as served if it's near its network facilities, but in practice ISPs have charged homeowners tens of thousands of dollars for line extensions.

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“This is crazy”: FCC kills part of San Francisco’s broadband-competition law

July 10th, 2019
Lombard Street in San Francisco, with laser beams photoshopped onto the street.

Enlarge / Lombard Street in San Francisco. (credit: Getty Images | Michael Lee)

The Federal Communications Commission today voted to preempt part of a San Francisco ordinance that promotes broadband competition in apartment buildings and other multi-tenant structures. But it's not clear exactly what effect the preemption will have, because San Francisco says the FCC's Republican majority has misinterpreted what the law does.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's plan partially overturns San Francisco's Article 52, which lets Internet service providers use the existing wiring inside multi-unit buildings even if another ISP already serves the building. The FCC said it's preempting the law "to the extent it requires the sharing of in-use wiring." But Pai's proposal admits the FCC doesn't know whether the San Francisco law actually requires sharing of in-use wiring, which makes it difficult to understand whether the FCC preemption will change anything in practice.

San Francisco itself told the FCC that its law doesn't apply to in-use wiring, and the law's text never uses the phrase "in-use." Instead, it applies to "any existing wiring," which the FCC says could be interpreted to include wiring that's actively being used by another ISP.

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