Archive for the ‘FCC’ Category

AT&T and other carriers want to hide detailed 5G maps from FCC and public

October 10th, 2019
Logo for 5Ge is superimposed over lush forest landscape.

Enlarge / Screenshot from an AT&T commercial. (credit: AT&T)

AT&T and other mobile carriers are trying to hide detailed 5G maps from the public despite constantly touting the supposed pace and breadth of their 5G rollouts.

With the Federal Communications Commission planning to require carriers to submit more accurate data about broadband deployment, AT&T and the mobile industry's top lobby group are urging the FCC to exclude 5G from the upgraded data collection.

"There is broad agreement that it is not yet time to require reporting on 5G coverage," AT&T told the FCC in a filing this week.

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Why Ajit Pai’s “unhinged” net neutrality repeal was upheld by judges

October 2nd, 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 mostly defeated net neutrality supporters in court even though judges expressed skepticism about Chairman Ajit Pai's justification for repealing net neutrality rules.

One of the three judges who decided the case wrote that the FCC's justification for reclassifying broadband "is unhinged from the realities of modern broadband service." But all three judges who ruled on the case agreed that they had to leave the net neutrality repeal in place based on US law and a Supreme Court precedent (see ruling).

The case at the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit turned on the FCC's decision to reclassify broadband as an information service instead of as a telecommunications service. Telecommunications services are regulated under common-carrier laws, which provided the legal basis for net neutrality rules. The act of reclassifying broadband as an information service deregulated the broadband industry and removed the legal underpinning for the net neutrality rules.

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The FCC has no idea how many people don’t have broadband access

August 22nd, 2019
A map of the United States with lines and dots to represent broadband networks.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Bonilla1879)

A new broadband mapping system is starting to show just how inaccurate the Federal Communications Commission's connectivity data is.

In Missouri and Virginia, up to 38 percent of rural homes and businesses that the FCC counts as having broadband access actually do not, the new research found. That's more than 445,000 unconnected homes and businesses that the FCC would call "served" with its current system.

Given that the new research covered just two states with a combined population of 14.6 million (or 4.5% of the 327.2 million people nationwide), it's likely that millions of homes nationwide have been wrongly counted as served by broadband. A full accounting of how the current data exaggerates access could further undercut FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's claims that repealing net neutrality rules and other consumer protection measures have dramatically expanded broadband access. His claims were already unconvincing for other reasons.

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Posted in broadband maps, FCC, Policy, ustelecom | Comments (0)

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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Verizon sues city to avoid paying 5G fees, says the FCC has its back

August 13th, 2019
A Verizon logo displayed along with stock prices at the New York Stock Exchange.

Enlarge / A monitor seen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

Verizon has sued the City of Rochester, N.Y., in order to avoid paying fees for deploying 5G equipment and fiber lines.

Verizon's lawsuit, filed in US District Court for the Western District of New York on Thursday, claims that the fees are higher than those allowed by federal law. As proof, Verizon points to a Federal Communications Commission preemption order from last year that attempts to limit the fees and aesthetic requirements cities and towns impose on carrier deployments. Rochester imposed its new fees in February of this year.

Verizon may have a good chance of winning its lawsuit if that FCC preemption order stands. But the FCC is being sued by cities from Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona, which which claim that the preemption is illegal. (Cities from Florida, Colorado, Nevada, and New York also intervened in the lawsuit to support the case against the FCC.) The outcome of that case could affect the Verizon suit against Rochester and any similar lawsuits filed against cities in the future.

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Posted in 5G, FCC, Policy, Rochester, verizon | Comments (0)

Ajit Pai loses another court case as judges overturn 5G deregulation

August 9th, 2019
A judge's gavel on a desk.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Marilyn Nieves)

One of Ajit Pai's attempts to eliminate regulation of 5G deployment has been overturned by federal judges.

The Federal Communications Commission last year approved an order that "exempted most small cell construction from two kinds of previously required review: historic-preservation review under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)," federal judges said in their decision partially overturning the order.

The FCC claimed its deregulation of small cells was necessary to spur deployment of 5G wireless networks. But the commission was sued by the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma, the Blackfeet Tribe, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The FCC order was of particular interest to tribal groups because it affected construction on "sites of religious and cultural importance to federally recognized Indian Tribes," the judges noted. "The Order also effectively reduced Tribes' role in reviewing proposed construction of macrocell towers and other wireless facilities that remain subject to cultural and environmental review."

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FCC finally gets around to denying net neutrality complaint against Verizon

August 7th, 2019
A Verizon logo displayed along with stock prices at the New York Stock Exchange.

Enlarge / A monitor seen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

The Federal Communications Commission has finally gotten around to denying a net neutrality complaint filed against Verizon in July 2016, two years before the commission eliminated its net neutrality rules.

The complaint by Verizon Wireless customer Alex Nguyen was the only formal net neutrality complaint the FCC received during the three years its rules were in place. Nguyen alleged that Verizon took numerous actions that blocked third-party devices and applications from being used on its network. His complaint said that Verizon's actions violated both the net neutrality rules and the open access rules applied to C Block spectrum licenses owned by Verizon.

While the FCC received tens of thousands of informal net neutrality complaints, which could be filed for free, Nguyen had to pay a $225 filing fee for his formal complaint and go through a court-like proceeding in which the parties appear before the FCC and file numerous documents to address legal issues.

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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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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.

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