Archive for the ‘FCC’ Category

AT&T denies that selling phone location data was illegal as FCC investigates

May 17th, 2019
A smartphone mounted on a car dashboard and displaying a GPS map.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Witthaya Prasongsin)

AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have all told the Federal Communications Commission that they recently stopped selling their customers' phone location information to other companies. Sprint said it is phasing out the sales and will shut them down by the end of this month.

The details came in letters to FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who had demanded an update on the carriers' sale of customers' real-time geolocation data. Rosenworcel released the carriers' responses yesterday.

Rosenworcel, a Democrat, criticized the Republican-controlled FCC for not taking action against the carriers over the privacy invasions.

Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in AT&T, FCC, location data sales, Policy, Sprint, t-mobile, verizon | Comments (0)

Ajit Pai’s robocall plan lets carriers charge for new call-blocking tools

May 15th, 2019
Ajit Pai’s robocall plan lets carriers charge for new call-blocking tools

Enlarge (credit: ullstein bild | Getty Images)

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is calling on carriers to block robocalls by default without waiting for consumers to opt in to call-blocking services. But he hasn't proposed making this a requirement and is leaving it up to carriers to decide whether to charge for such services.

To encourage carriers, Pai is proposing rule changes making it clear that carriers are allowed to block calls by default. Call blocking by default isn't explicitly outlawed by the FCC, but Pai's announcement today said that "many voice providers have held off developing and deploying call-blocking tools by default because of uncertainty about whether these tools are legal under the FCC's rules."

In a call with reporters this morning, Pai said the uncertainty stems from a 2015 FCC order in which "the FCC suggested that its rules and regulations would not prohibit call-blocking services to the extent that consumers opted into them. Many members of the industry perceived that interpretation to make illegal, potentially, the blocking of calls by default."

Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in ajit pai, Biz & IT, FCC, Policy, robocalls | Comments (0)

5G likely to mess with weather forecasts, but FCC auctions spectrum anyway

May 14th, 2019
A weather satellite orbiting the Earth.

Enlarge / A weather satellite in orbit. (credit: Getty Images | Erik Simonsen)

A US Navy memo warns that 5G mobile networks are likely to interfere with weather satellites, and senators are urging the Federal Communications Commission to avoid issuing new spectrum licenses to wireless carriers until changes are made to prevent harms to weather forecasting.

The FCC has already begun an auction of 24GHz spectrum that would be used in 5G networks. But Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) today wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, asking him to avoid issuing licenses to winning bidders "until the FCC approves the passive band protection limits that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) determine are necessary to protect critical satellite‐based measurements of atmospheric water vapor needed to forecast the weather."

Wyden and Cantwell said that the "ongoing sale of wireless airwaves could damage the effectiveness of US weather satellites and harm forecasts and predictions relied on to protect safety, property, and national security." They chided the FCC for beginning the auction "over the objections of NASA, NOAA, and members of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). These entities all argued that out-of-band emissions from future commercial broadband transmissions in the 24GHz band would disrupt the ability to collect water-vapor data measured in a neighboring frequency band (23.6 to 24GHZ) that meteorologists rely on to forecast the weather."

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in 24gz, 5G, Biz & IT, FCC, NASA, Navy, NOAA, Policy, Spectrum Auction | Comments (0)

FCC says carriers failed Florida after hurricane—but lets them off the hook

May 10th, 2019
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 isn't punishing carriers for their horrible response to Hurricane Michael in Florida, despite a commission investigation finding that the carriers' mistakes prolonged outages caused by the hurricane.

Mobile carriers' response to the hurricane was so bad that even FCC Chairman Ajit Pai—who normally avoids any criticism of the industry he's paid to regulate—called it "completely unacceptable" in October 2018. Outages left many customers without cell service for more than a week, as Verizon and others struggled to restore service.

Pai initiated an investigation and released the FCC Public Safety Bureau's resulting report yesterday. The report recommends changes that carriers can make to improve future hurricane responses, and Pai said he is "call[ing] on wireless phone companies, other communications providers, and power companies to quickly implement the recommendations contained in this report."

Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Biz & IT, FCC, Hurricane Michael, Policy | Comments (0)

Ajit Pai says he’s fixed giant FCC error that exaggerated broadband growth

May 1st, 2019
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai drinking from a giant coffee mug in front of an FCC seal.

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai with his oversized coffee mug in November 2017. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

The Federal Communications Commission has fixed the gigantic error that skewed its broadband deployment data, Chairman Ajit Pai announced today—while claiming that the corrected data still shows his policies are boosting broadband access.

Pai initially released a summary of the data in February, claiming it showed that his deregulatory policies have sped up broadband deployment in the United States. Even this initial, exaggerated data only showed modest growth similar to the gains seen during the Obama administration, as we reported at the time.

Pai didn't release the full Broadband Deployment Report, instead providing just a few details in a one-page press release. Despite the limited information available, advocacy group Free Press was able to discover a huge error that showed broadband progress under Pai's leadership was less impressive than he claimed. Specifically, a new ISP called BarrierFree falsely told the FCC that it went from serving zero customers to 20 percent of the country in just six months, and the FCC didn't notice the mistake on its own.

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in ajit pai, FCC, Policy | Comments (0)

Ajit Pai-proposed upgrade to 25Mbps starts paying off for rural ISPs

April 30th, 2019
A US map with lines representing broadband networks.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | jangeltun)

More than 106,000 rural homes and small businesses in 43 US states will get access to 25Mbps broadband at some point in the next decade thanks to a Federal Communications Commission policy change.

The FCC's Connect America Fund (CAF), which distributes money to ISPs in exchange for new broadband deployments in underserved areas, had been requiring speeds of just 10Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream over the past few years. But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai led a vote in December 2018 to raise the standard for new CAF projects to 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up.

While Pai often claims—with no evidence or with incorrect data—that his net neutrality repeal and other deregulatory policies are increasing broadband access, this decision actually will have a modest impact on broadband speeds in some rural areas.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in ajit pai, Connect America Fund, FCC, Policy, rural broadband | Comments (0)

SpaceX changes broadband satellite plan to limit debris—and lower latency

April 29th, 2019
An illustration of the Earth, with lines circling the globe to represent a telecommunications network.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Olena_T)

SpaceX has received Federal Communications Commission approval to halve the orbital altitude of more than 1,500 planned broadband satellites in order to lower the risk of space debris and improve latency.

SpaceX's satellite project, named Starlink, aims to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband around the world. In a statement on the new FCC approval, SpaceX said that "Starlink production is well underway, and the first group of satellites have already arrived at the launch site for processing."

SpaceX last year received FCC approval to launch 4,425 low-Earth-orbit satellites at several different altitudes between 1,110km to 1,325km. However, the FCC approval was contingent on SpaceX filing a more detailed debris mitigation plan.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Biz & IT, FCC, Policy, spacex, starlink | Comments (0)

Ajit Pai proposes blocking China-owned telecom from US phone market

April 18th, 2019
Illustration of chess queens painted with US and Chinese flags, on a background with a chess board and world map.

Enlarge / Chess queens with US and Chinese flags. (credit: Getty Images | Elen11)

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has proposed denying China Mobile USA's application to offer telecom services in the US, saying the Chinese government-owned company poses a security risk.

The FCC is scheduled to vote on an order to deny the application at its open meeting on May 9, and Pai yesterday announced his opposition to China Mobile entering the US market.

"After reviewing the evidence in this proceeding, including the input provided by other federal agencies, it is clear that China Mobile's application to provide telecommunications services in our country raises substantial and serious national security and law enforcement risks," Pai said. "Therefore, I do not believe that approving it would be in the public interest. I hope that my colleagues will join me in voting to reject China Mobile's application."

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in China Mobile, FCC, Policy | Comments (0)

FCC “consumer advisory” panel includes ALEC, big foe of municipal broadband

April 12th, 2019
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 )

A committee that advises the Federal Communications Commission on consumer-related matters now includes a representative of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which lobbies against municipal broadband, net neutrality, and other consumer protection measures.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced his Consumer Advisory Committee's new makeup on Wednesday. One new member is Jonathon Hauenschild, director of ALEC's Task Force on Communications and Technology. He and other Consumer Advisory Committee will serve two-year terms.

ALEC writes model state laws and urges state legislatures to adopt them, and it has helped convince about 20 states to pass laws that make it difficult or impossible for cities and towns to offer broadband service.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in ajit pai, alec, FCC, Policy | Comments (0)

Ajit Pai proposes $20 billion for “up to” gigabit-speed rural broadband

April 12th, 2019
An illustration of Earth, with circuits covering North America and an Ethernet cable being plugged into the planet.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Henrik5000)

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is proposing a $20.4 billion rural broadband fund that could connect up to four million homes and small businesses over the next ten years.

The new program will be part of the Universal Service Fund (USF), and it will be similar to an existing USF program that began during the Obama administration. In 2015, the USF's Connect America Fund (CAF) awarded $9 billion for rural broadband deployment—$1.5 billion annually for six years—in order to connect 3.6 million homes and businesses.

Carriers that accepted the CAF money are required to finish the broadband deployments by the end of 2020. Pai's proposed Rural Digital Opportunity Fund will be the follow-on program, an FCC spokesperson told Ars. The fund would "inject $20.4 billion into high-speed broadband networks in rural America over the next decade," the FCC said.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in FCC, Policy, rural broadband | Comments (0)