Archive for the ‘FCC’ Category

Ajit Pai’s new gift to cable companies would kill local fees and rules

July 15th, 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 )

Ajit Pai is continuing his multi-year battle against local broadband regulation with a plan that would stop cities and towns from using their authority over cable TV networks to regulate Internet access.

Chairman Pai's proposal, scheduled for a vote at the Federal Communications Commission's August 1 meeting, would also limit the fees that municipalities can charge cable companies. Cable industry lobbyists have urged the FCC to stop cities and towns from assessing fees on the revenue cable companies make from broadband.

If approved, Pai's proposal would "Prohibit LFAs [local franchising authorities] from using their video franchising authority to regulate most non-cable services, including broadband Internet service, offered over cable systems by incumbent cable operators." Pai's proposal complains that "some states and localities are purporting to assert authority" to collect fees and impose requirements that aren't explicitly allowed by Title VI, the cable-regulation section that Congress added to communications law with the Cable Act of 1984.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in ajit pai, Biz & IT, broadband, cable, FCC, Policy, preemption | Comments (0)

AT&T’s robocall-blocking expansion won’t block spam calls unless you pay extra

July 10th, 2019
Two Android phones running AT&T's Call Protect and Mobile Security apps.

Enlarge / AT&T's Call Protect and Mobile Security apps for Android. (credit: AT&T)

AT&T yesterday said it will add "automatic fraud blocking and suspected spam-call alerts" to mobile phone lines for no added cost, but the carrier still imposes limits on blocking of spam calls unless customers pay extra.

"New AT&T Mobility consumer lines will come with the anti-robocall service. Millions of existing AT&T customers also will have it automatically added to their accounts over the coming months," AT&T's announcement said.

Despite the change, customers will still have to manually add undesired phone numbers to block lists or pay $4 a month to send all suspected spam calls to voicemail. That's because this is little more than an expansion of AT&T's Call Protect service, which has a basic free tier and a paid tier with automatic blocking of spam calls.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in AT&T, Biz & IT, FCC, robocall blocking, robocalls | Comments (0)

“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.

Read 26 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in ajit pai, Biz & IT, broadband competition, FCC, Policy, San Francisco | Comments (0)

House votes to block Ajit Pai’s plan to kill San Francisco broadband law

June 27th, 2019
Illustration of red, blue, yellow, and black lines on a grid, representing broadband speeds.

Enlarge (credit: Steve Johnson / Flickr)

The US House of Representatives has voted to block Ajit Pai's attempt to kill a San Francisco ordinance designed to promote broadband competition in apartment buildings.

As we reported last week, the Federal Communications Commission chair has scheduled a July 10 vote on a measure that would preempt the San Francisco city ordinance, which lets Internet service providers use the existing wiring inside multiunit residential and commercial properties even if the wiring is already used by another ISP that serves the building. The ordinance applies only when the inside wiring belongs to the property owner, but it makes it easier for ISPs to compete in many multiunit buildings already served by another provider.

Pai claimed that the city's rule "deters broadband deployment" and infringes on the FCC's regulation of cable wiring. But US Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) proposed a budget amendment that would forbid the FCC from using any funding to implement or enforce Pai's preemption proposal.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in ajit pai, Biz & IT, broadband, FCC, Policy, San Francisco | Comments (0)

FCC lets Verizon lock cell phones to network for 60 days after activation

June 26th, 2019
A combination lock sitting on top of a smartphone.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Peter Dazeley)

Verizon yesterday received the government's permission to lock handsets to its network for 60 days after each device's activation, despite open-access rules that apply to one of Verizon's key spectrum licenses.

The Federal Communications Commission waiver approval said 60-day locks will "allow Verizon to better combat identity theft and other forms of handset-related fraud."

Verizon generally sells its phones unlocked, meaning they can be used on any carrier's network as long as the device and network are compatible with each other. This is largely because of rules the FCC applied to 700MHz spectrum that Verizon bought at auction in 2008. The 700MHz spectrum rules say that a license holder may not "disable features on handsets it provides to customers... nor configure handsets it provides to prohibit use of such handsets on other providers' networks."

Read 24 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in FCC, Policy, verizon | Comments (0)

FCC battles meteorologists again over plan to help wireless industry

June 26th, 2019
Artist's rendering of a NOAA satellite, with a reflection showing the Earth.

Enlarge / Artist's rendering of a NOAA weather satellite. (credit: NOAA/NASA)

Meteorologists and other experts are urging the Federal Communications Commission to drop a spectrum-sharing plan that they say could interfere with transmissions of weather-satellite imagery.

The dispute is over the 1675-1680MHz frequencies and is separate from the other FCC/weather controversy we've been covering, which involves the 24GHz band and has pitted the FCC against NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the US Navy.

The American Geophysical Union (AGU), American Meteorological Society (AMS), and National Weather Association (NWA) told the FCC in a filing last week that its plan for 1675-1680MHz should be scrapped because of the "likelihood of interference with the reception of weather satellite imagery and relayed environmental data to receive-only antennas that members of America's weather, water, and climate enterprise use."

Read 31 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in FCC, ligado, lightsquared, NOAA, Policy, spectrum | Comments (0)

Ex-chair of FCC broadband committee gets five years in prison for fraud

June 24th, 2019
A picture of handcuffs on top of a piece of paper with the word,

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | RapidEye)

The former head of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) was sentenced to five years in prison for defrauding investors.

Elizabeth Ann Pierce was CEO of Quintillion, an Alaskan telecom company, when she lied to two investment firms in New York in order to raise $270 million to build a fiber network. She also defrauded two individual investors out of $365,000 and used a large chunk of that money for personal expenses.

Pierce, 55, pleaded guilty and last week was given the five-year prison sentence in US District Court for the Southern District of New York, US Attorney Geoffrey Berman announced. Pierce was also "ordered to forfeit $896,698.00 and all of her interests in Quintillion and a property in Texas." She will also be subject to a restitution order to compensate her victims "at a later date."

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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

Ajit Pai tries to kill San Francisco’s attempt to spur broadband competition

June 20th, 2019
A wireless router with an Ethernet cable hooked into it.

Enlarge / A Wi-Fi router. (credit: Getty Images | deepblue4you)

The Federal Communications Commission will vote next month on whether to preempt a San Francisco city ordinance that was designed to promote broadband competition in multi-unit buildings.

San Francisco's Article 52, approved in December 2016, lets Internet service providers use the existing wiring inside multi-unit residential and commercial properties even if the wiring is already used by another ISP that serves the building. San Francisco's Board of Supervisors and then-Mayor Ed Lee approved it in order to spur competition in multi-unit buildings where occupants often have only one option for Internet service.

The ordinance only applies when the inside wiring belongs to the property owner. Under the rule, property owners who have outfitted their buildings with Internet wiring cannot deny access to ISPs, making it harder for them to strike exclusive deals with Internet providers.

Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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

Ajit Pai says NOAA and NASA are wrong about 5G harming weather forecasts

June 13th, 2019
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai listening at a Senate hearing.

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai listens during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, DC, on June 20, 2017. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

The FCC recently auctioned spectrum in the 24GHz band under controversial circumstances, as experts from other federal agencies warned that cellular transmissions in that band may significantly reduce the accuracy of weather forecasts.

When asked about the controversy at yesterday's Senate Commerce Committee hearing, Pai said that data provided by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is faulty. He also criticized the agencies for raising concerns "at the 11th hour."

Calling NOAA's study "fundamentally flawed," Pai said, "For example, it ignores the fact that 5G will involve beamforming, essentially adaptive antenna arrays that will more precisely send 5G signals—sort of a rifle shot, if you will, instead of a shotgun blast of 5G spectrum."

Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in 5G, Biz & IT, FCC, NASA, NOAA, Policy, weather forecasts | Comments (0)

Phone companies can block robocalls by default starting today, FCC says

June 6th, 2019
Illustration of a robot wearing a phone headset.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | MassimoVernicesole)

The Federal Communications Commission today voted to let phone companies block robocalls by default even when consumers have not opted in to robocall-blocking services.

The FCC said it "approved a Declaratory Ruling to affirm that voice service providers may, as the default, block unwanted calls based on reasonable call analytics, as long as their customers are informed and have the opportunity to opt out of the blocking."

Phone providers already block robocalls on an opt-in basis, sometimes charging consumers for the blocking services. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says the commission's rules were vague as to whether robocall blocking is legal on an opt-out basis but that today's ruling will fix that problem.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in FCC, Policy, robocalls | Comments (0)