Better Broadband Better Lives

Monthly archive

June 2019

Multiple Pieces of Broadband Legislation Moving Forward in Congress, on Data, Funding, Rural Broadband and Digital Equity

WASHINGTON, June 19, 2019 – At least a half-dozen separate pieces of broadband legislation are working their way through Congress, and panelists assembled by the Schools, Health, and Libraries Broadband Coalition on Wednesday commented on the pros and cons of how these bills would deploy broadband connectivity to unserved and underserved areas of the country. The… Keep Reading

NTIA Webinar Focuses on Smart Region Initiatives Gaining Traction in Washington, and Nation-wide

WASHINGTON, June 19, 2019 – Smart cities and smart regions need better broadband, but also “soft infrastructure,” or the policies and practices that make these initiatives successful, according to a Wednesday panel hosted by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's BroadbandUSA program. The session by the Commerce Department’s NTIA, “Building Smart Cities and Communities at… Keep Reading

Broadband Roundup: Gigi Sohn on Wireless Mergers, Utah Ignite Lunch Launch, and New Global Crypto-Currencies

The political turmoil and guess-manship over the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger continues, with 10 state attorney generals filing a lawsuit in New York last week in a federal district court. Unusually, the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice did not join the lawsuit. It’s not the first thing that’s unusual about this particular merger review.… Keep Reading

Chinese Drone Manufacturer DJI is a New Target for Charges of ‘Industrial Espionage’ in Senate

WASHINGTON, June 18, 2019 - The Senate on Tuesday unleashed further criticism of Chinese technology players as witnesses told a Commerce subcommittee that unmanned aircraft systems are targets for “industrial espionage.” One witness, Catherine Cahill of the Alaska Center for UAS Integration, said that the Chinese company DJI dominates the U.S. market for small, commercial… Keep Reading

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Aims to Further Deploy 2.5 GHz Band of Spectrum for 5G Wireless Networks

WASHINGTON, June 18, 2019 — The Federal Communications Commission will vote in July on whether or not to auction off unused portions of the 2.5 GigaHertz (GHz) spectrum band to advance the deployment of 5G wireless networks. Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement that the order would “modernize an outdated regulatory regime” and “give… Keep Reading

Digital Accessibility Improving, but People with Disabilities Still Seek More Inclusive Access

ARLINGTON, Virginia - June 18, 2019 – Comprehensive legislation addressing accessibility is necessary to ensure that information technology is available to a wider group of people, particularly to people with disabilities, said panelists speaking at the M-Enabling Summit here on Tuesday. Innovations involving wireless 5G technologies, for example, use multiple bandwidths including mid-band and low-band,… Keep Reading

Broadband Roundup: SiFi Proposes Open-Access Network in Lowell, Ajit Pai on Broadband Farming

SiFi Networks has offered to install and maintain a new fiber optic network in Lowell, Massachusetts—at no cost to the city. This infrastructure would pave the way for new internet service providers to compete with Comcast, which is currently the main internet provider within the city. “Increasing competition is one of the best ways to… Keep Reading

Broadband Roundup: Controversy Around 24 Gigahertz, Plus Rural Calls and Networks

The Federal Communications Commission’s recent auction of the 24 GigaHertz (GHz) spectrum has been criticized by both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. One of the concerns raised by NOAA and NASA is the potential for interference with adjacent bands that collect important weather data by using microwave… Keep Reading

China’s Digital Payment System is Simple and Ubiquitous, But Unlikely to Catch on in U.S.

WASHINGTON June 17, 2019 – In spite of an advanced smartphone-based payments system that is widely adopted in China, panelists at a Brookings Institute event on Monday expressed skepticism that such a system would become popular in the United States. More and more people in are exclusively using payment platforms such as Alipay and WeChat… Keep Reading

FCC/Privacy

Robocall Anger Will Force Calling Companies to Adjust Expectations, Says FCC Enforcement Bureau

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2019 — Companies whose legally-placed robocalls are blocked under the June 6 order of the Federal Communications Commission may need to adjust their perception of consumer expectations, a top Enforcement Bureau chief at the Federal Communications Commission said last week. Indeed, the popular backlash against robocalls is forcing all facets of the… Keep Reading

Broadband Roundup: Congress Considers Plans to Improve Mapping, AT&T Launches 5G Phone

After wide bipartisan acknowledgement that broadband map currently being used by the Federal Communications Commission is wildly inaccurate, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., has introduced the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act, urging the FCC to halt decisions on broadband funding until more accurate data is available. The bill will require the FCC to gather… Keep Reading

FCC Leaders Praise Importance of Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee In Spite of Narrowed Agenda

WASHINGTON, June 13, 2019 — Members of the Federal Communications Commission’s newly re-chartered Broadband Deployment Advisory Commission touted the importance of the body at its first meeting on Thursday, even as its scope appears to have narrowed to issues around recovering from disaster communications and a few other topics. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and BDAC Chair Elizabeth… Keep Reading

Fixed Wireless Could Solve the Digital Divide, if Given the Chance

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2019 — Congress should make it easier for small wireless internet service providers to acquire spectrum and deploy broadband in rural areas, said speakers at a Wednesday panel hosted by the Wireless Internet Service Provider Association. Fixed wireless’ cost-effective deployment has made it the most rapidly growing sector of the broadband industry,… Keep Reading

FCC/Net Neutrality/Senate

Three Democratic Senators Came Not to Bury the FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules, But to Praise Them

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2019 - A trio of Democratic senators on Tuesday called for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow a vote on legislation to roll back the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of network neutrality regulations put in place during the Obama administration. Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.,… Keep Reading

Among Their Many Ills, Critics Say Google and Facebook Make It Difficult for Digital Media to Survive

WASHINGTON, June 11, 2019 — The practices of Google and Facebook were closely scrutinized at a House Antitrust Subcommittee hearing Tuesday, and the companies’ impact upon the digital news media came in for particularly stark criticism. Some said that these major tech platforms were making it difficult for other media companies to survive, speaking at… Keep Reading

US Telecom Touts Broadband Investment; Industry and FCC Chairman Pai Link Growth to Deregulatory Policies

WASHINGTON, June 10, 2019 — U.S. investment in broadband networks grew by approximately $3 billion in 2018, according to data released Monday by US Telecom. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said this is a result of “reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens” and updating rules “to match the modern communications marketplace.” “We made it easier for… Keep Reading

Broadband Roundup: Texas Rural Funds Collaborative and Infrastructure Zone in Indiana

Currently, 1.45 million residents of rural Texas lack high-speed internet connections, but a program launched on Wednesday by Connected Texas, a subsidiary of the national nonprofit Connected Nation, will attempt to change that. Connected Texas is taking a three-step approach over the next two years to increase rural broadband access: Making sure lawmakers have accurate… Keep Reading

Federal Communications Commission Votes to Allow Carriers to Block Robocallers By Default

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2019 — Telecommunications providers can now block robocalls by default, according to a Federal Communications Commission ruling on Thursday. In principle, the measure had bipartisan support. But Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel dissented in part because the order didn’t require phone service providers to offer call blocking for free. Commissioner Michael O’Rielly’s partial dissent… Keep Reading

Policymakers Grappling with Artificial Intelligence Risk a ‘Failure of Imagination,’ Panel Told

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2019 - One of the greatest mistakes policymakers can make as they begin to make rules governing artificial intelligence technologies is a “failure of imagination,” said Purdue University Fellow Lorraine Kisselburgh at a panel hosted by the Electronic Privacy Information Center at the National Press Club on Wednesday. The panel, entitled “AI and… Keep Reading

Broadband Roundup: Virginia Tobacco Region Awards $8 Million in Grants, and Senate Passes Broadband Research Legislation

On Thursday, the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission awarded almost 8 million dollars to fourteen counties across rural Virginia for the development of broadband services, reported The News & Advance. Commission Chairman Kathy Byron highlighted the essential role increased broadband access will play in economic growth, particularly in the tourism industry. “People who visit generally bring… Keep Reading

Rural Telecommunications Congress Launches Webcast Series Focusing on Rural Broadband Innovation

MONTROSE, Colorado, June 5, 2019 – The Rural Telecommunications Congress, a 22-year-old grassroots organization advocating for better broadband in Rural America, has announced its national “Fueling the Fire of Rural Innovation” webcast series. The free webcast series begins with an event in Montrose, Colorado (the county seat of Montrose County), on Tuesday, July 2, 2019.… Keep Reading

Government Needs to Set Rules to Limit Hate Speech Online, Says New America Panel

WASHINGTON, June 5, 2019 – Further ratcheting up its call for government regulation of the technology industry, speakers at the New America's Open Technology Institute called for government rules to limit hate speech online. Doing so is necessary in order to solve the dichotomy of maintaining free speech while limiting hate speech online, said panelists… Keep Reading

Pennsylvania Broadband Speeds Worse Than Previously Believed, According to State Report

There is not a single county in Pennsylvania where more than half of the households meet federal standards for broadband, according to a report (PDF) released Monday by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a legislative agency of the state’s general assembly. Researchers from Pennsylvania State University collected more than 11 million broadband speed tests to… Keep Reading

Broadband Roundup: NTIA Database on Federal Projects Released, FCC’s Carr Visits Montana and Wyoming, and New Broadband Study

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration released a comprehensive database of federal broadband programs on Monday. (See also this PDF for the 109-page guide of programs.) The database was created under the American Broadband Initiative’s mandate to expand connectivity for all Americans. The database includes information about billions of dollars in potential grants and loans from several… Keep Reading

House Small Business Subcommittee Takes Testimony on Need for Better Broadband in Rural Minnesota

“The lack of adequate broadband has become a crisis in rural areas,” Isanti County Broadband Task Force Member Greg Carlson said at a field hearing in the rural Minnesota town of Scania on Thursday. The hearing, entitled “Small Businesses and Their Limitations Without Reliable Access to Rural Broadband,” was held at Bulltear Industries in Washington… Keep Reading

Is Broadband Coverage Getting Better? FCC Critics Say Agency Data is Part of the Problem

The divide between rural and urban internet access has “narrowed substantially,” according to an annual report recently released by the FCC. However, The Verge reported that several experts are debating the accuracy of this data. The report is based on data provided from service providers, which may overstate availability or be otherwise incorrect. One minor… Keep Reading

Congress/Privacy

Privacy and Civil Liberties Board Considers Three Ways for Congress to Address Controversial Surveillance Program

WASHINGTON, June 1, 2019 - Congress needs a plan for how to proceed when certain provisions of the USA FREEDOM Act, including the controversial call detail records program, expires in December, said speakers at a public forum held by members of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board on Friday. According to Caroline Lynch, former… Keep Reading

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