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Federal Agencies

House Subcommittee Approves Bill Banning Robocalls, Advancing Popular Measure to Full Committee

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2019 — Following the Federal Communications Commission’s recent order against robocalls, for added measure the House Energy & Commerce Committee Communications Subcommittee voted on Tuesday to approve a legislative measure against robocalls. The bill, known as the “Stopping Bad Robocalls Act,” will require the FCC to revise rules under the Telephone Consumer… Keep Reading

Federal Communications Commissioner O’Rielly Defends Budget Cap on Universal Service Fund

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2019- A budget cap to the Federal Communication Commission’s Universal Service Fund will provide “plenty for all,” said FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly Tuesday. The fund is currently paid for through fees imposed by consumers’ phone bills with four sub-programs dedicated to specific groups: high-cost areas, low-income consumers, schools and libraries, and rural… Keep Reading

On Educational Broadband, Critics Say FCC’s ‘Unfathomable’ Proposal Will Widen Digital Divide

WASHINGTON, June 24, 2019 — Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposed order to permit auction of portions of the 2.5 Gigahertz (GHz) spectrum band has drawn criticism from many outside the agency, including several members of Congress and even the U.S. Department of Education in the Trump administration. The draft order would eliminate the… Keep Reading

US Telecom Touts Progress in Weaving a ‘Fabric’ for Address-Level Broadband Mapping

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2019 – In tackling the nettlesome question of improving broadband mapping, the telecom industry group US Telecom on Thursday showcased recent progress in their pilot program to better detect broadband serviceability. The discussion on a 45-minute webinar focused on how the initiative, by the trade group and others, including ITTA and the… Keep Reading

FTC/Senate/Social Media

Culture War Comes to Silicon Valley as Sen. Josh Hawley Introduces Bill to Strip Section 230 Immunity from Social Media

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2019 — Legislation authored by Sen. Joshua Hawley could signal the start of a new chapter of the culture war: Conservatives directly targeting Silicon Valley tech companies. On Wednesday, Hawley, R-Mo., announced that he’d introduced the “Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act” (PDF), which would repeal a provision of the 1996 Telecommunications Act… Keep Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press Release: Benton Foundation Opposes Proposal to Cap Fund to Close Digital Divide

On May 31, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that proposes imposing an overall cap on the Universal Service Fund. USF programs provide subsidies that make telecommunications and broadband services more available and affordable for millions of Americans. The following may be attributed to Benton Foundation Executive Director Adrianne B.… Keep Reading

Verizon’s Throttling of Santa Clara County Firefighters Discussed by Panel of Net Neutrality Advocates

May 31, 2019 – Verizon Wireless’ slowdown of the Santa Clara County Fire Department’s data plan had a “significant impact” on the department’s ability to respond to last year’s wildfires, according to testimony by Fire Chief Anthony Bowden that featured prominently in a Thursday discussion at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. The incident… Keep Reading

Senate/Spectrum/White House

Government Spectrum Valuation Act by Sen. Mike Lee Would Force Accountability for Federal Radio Frequencies

BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: Whether or not the government vacates spectrum, Utah Sen. Mike Lee's bill is an important exercise in government accounting for the value of resources that it uses. Sen. Lee Introduces Government Spectrum Valuation Act, from Sen. Mike Lee: Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, introduced the Government Spectrum Valuation Act Monday, a bill designed… Keep Reading

Cord-Cutting Rises as Consumers Shift to Streaming Over-the-Top Video, According to NTIA Survey

BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: That latest internet use survey from the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration shows that the proportion of internet users watching videos online has grown from 45 percent in 2013 to 70 percent in 2017. The organization added a question about over-the-top vide viewing to its survey in order to track trends and… Keep Reading

Asia/FCC/zBroadband News

Commerce Department Grants 90-Day Reprieve From Huawei Ban, Cites Impact on Rural Broadband Networks

BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: On Monday, a mere five days after placing Chinese telecommunications manufacturer Huawei on the "Entity List" of effectively banned companies, the Trump administration signaled a (temporary) reprieve: Effective Monday, U.S. manufacturers will have 90 days in which to find alternatives to Huawei: “The Temporary General License grants operators time to make other… Keep Reading

Why States and the Federal Government Alike Are Honing in on Broadband Data and Broadband Access

BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: This OpEd last week highlights the importance of broadband data and mapping, the variety of efforts underway to address inadequacies in our informational base, plus the broadband coordination currently going on in the federal government, and among many of the state governments. Of particular note, later in the articles, is the way it highlights… Keep Reading

Senators Capito and Hassan Re-Introduce the Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Access Act

BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: Together with her Democratic colleague Sen. Maggie Hassan, Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito on Friday introduced legislation designed to establish a national standard that would govern the Federal Communications Commission's determination about whether mobile and broadband services in rural areas are "reasonably comparable" to service provided in urban areas. Capito has also recently introduced a… Keep Reading

New Broadband Deployment Advisory Commission of FCC Aims to Avoid Pitfalls of Last Body

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday released the names of 32 officials selected for the newly re-chartered Broadband Deployment Advisory Commission. The new BDAC, which will have its first meeting on June 13, 2019, at 9:30 a.m., may avoid one of the most widely-criticized aspects of the prior entity: A lack of local government representation.… Keep Reading

Interactive Advertising Bureau Joins the Growing Number of Industry Lobbyists Calling for Privacy Legislation

BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: The CEO and Executive Vice President of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade group for digital marketers, argue in a Tuesday OpEd for "Do Not Track Plus" legislation. With civil society and lobbyists alike joining the chorus for privacy legislation, it's looking more and more likely that -- eventually -- online privacy… Keep Reading

Time to Focus on California Legislation That Affects Infrastructure Access to Rights-of-Way and Conduit, says EFF

BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: California, and many other states, have muscled their way onto the national broadband stage. They've done this through legislation that would either require net neutrality protections that the Federal Communications Commission removed in December 2017, or use state purchase power to require that selected Internet Service Providers commit to neutrality principles, or… Keep Reading

150 Years On, the Transcontinental Railroad Was the Original Public-Private Partnership

PROMONTORY POINT, Utah, May 10, 2019 - Think of the transcontinental railroad as the original public-private partnership. The linkage of the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad 150 years ago today - at this desolate spot here in northern Utah - marked a confluence of engineering might, labor force logistics, private capital and… Keep Reading

Cybersecurity/NTIA/Spectrum

With Resignation of David Redl, NTIA Updates Biography for Now-Acting Administrator Diane Rinaldo

With the sudden resignation of National Telecommunications and Information Administrator David Redl on Thursday, the U.S. Commerce Department's NTIA has updated its web page for Diane Rinaldo, formerly the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, and the now-acting administrator of the agency. From the web site: Diane Rinaldo was sworn in as Deputy Assistant Secretary… Keep Reading

Michael O’Rielly: Substantive Objections to a Government 5G Wholesale Network

Over the last few months, various ideas have been floated about the offering of 5G wireless services via a government-sponsored network. This entire effort seems convoluted and borders on the preposterous. Just the notion of the U.S. moving away from the highly-successful, private-sector led approach that is responsible for our country's premier position globally would… Keep Reading

Nancy Pelosi Says Donald Trump Ready to Spend $2 Trillion on Infrastructure, Including Broadband

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2019 - President Trump is ready to spend as much as $2 trillion to upgrade Americans' roads, bridges, waterworks, power grid, and broadband, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said following an Oval Office meeting between Trump and Congressional Democrats. "It was a very constructive meeting," Schumer said… Keep Reading

Mozilla’s Internet Health Report Explores the Power of Cities in Addressing Net Neutrality

BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: Mozilla's recently-released "Internet Health Report" is a fascinating look at the politics and technology behind our contemporary broadband nettworks. This story, on the "Power of Cities," highlights the role of grass-roots activism in response to the Federal Communications Commission's decision, in December 2017, to lift Obama-era net neutrality rules. Spotlight: The power of… Keep Reading

House Passes Democrats’ Net Neutrality Measure on Almost-Completely Partisan Lines

WASHINGTON, April 11, 2019 - The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to approve legislation restoring network neutrality rules which had been rescinded by the Federal Communications Commission last year, marking both a victory for House Democrats as well as an end to the line for this latest attempt to revive the Obama-era regulations. Passage… Keep Reading

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