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FCC

Broadband Roundup: FTC a Loser Under Title II, Rural Gigabit Projects, and Wireless Sponsored Data

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WASHINGTON, September 23, 2014 – In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission noted that some of its regulatory authority would be lost if the FCC decided to regulate broadband as a public utility.

The FTC protects the privacy and security of consumer data by imposing obligations on broadband service providers through the enforcement of the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, among other federal laws. The FTC Act prohibits deceptive and unfair practices as to require companies to truthfully market their products and refrain from engagement in harmful business practices, while simultaneously promoting competition based on truthful claims. However, this same section also includes an exemption clause for the activities of common carriers.

Gigabit Networks in Rural Northern Minnesota and in Miami, Florida

Paul Bunyan Communications announced its plans to launch Gigazone, a new advanced regional Gigabit fiber network. Eventually covering the company’s 5,000 square mile service area in northern Minnesota, the new network will be one of the largest rural gigabit in the country.

“Expanding broadband is a great equalizing force for boosting rural economies,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said in a statement. “Today you don’t need to live off a major highway or in a bustling city to find a good job, start a new business, or get a high quality education but today you do need a high-speed Internet connection.”

Also, Atlantic Broadband announced its initial Gigabit service in Indian Creek Village near Miami, Florida. The company, which provides cable services in Maryland, Delaware, South Carolina, Central Pennsylvania and Florida, is evaluating expansion opportunities to expand.

“Atlantic Broadband utilizes [a radio frequency] over glass platform which means that all the in-home wiring, [customer premises equipment, head-end and back office systems remain the same as the rest of our service network,” the spokesperson noted to Telecompetitor. the company expects to use both fiber-to-the-home and DOCSIS 3.0, the advanced cable modem technology.

CTIA CEO Touts Competitive Benefits of Sponsored Data

CTIA CEO Meredith Baker stressed how mobile Internet providers increasingly seeing sponsored data as a way to handle growing competition in the wireless marketplace, reported the Washington Post.

T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint are all starting to offer these service packages. Under its Music Freedom program, T-Mobile currently provides its customers with unlimited music streaming from certain music services that does not count against their data allowance. Sprint’s newly unveiled Virgin Mobile Custom plan allows unlimited access to either Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest and additional data for $12 a month. Paying $10 more will allow unlimited use of all four social networks and unlimited streaming from any one music app costs an extra $5. AT&T announced its sponsored data programs in January. These plans allow a consumer to access to the contents of these services without counting against the consumer’s data allowance.

Baker, former head of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration and an FCC commissioner from 2009 to 2011, argued, “we should want competitors fighting to see who can manage the best network, and optimize the most services for the most subscribers. No one wants a one-size-fits-all mobile internet experience.”

Separately, the wireless lobbying group urged Congress to develop a new way for paying for the FCC’s Universal Service Fund programs in a comment submitted to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Currently, the Universal Service Fund is partially financed by consumers through fees on phone service. CTIA suggested that some of the programs should be funded through the general budget process. The lobbying group also urged the agency to cut money from developing wired service to instead focus on wireless service.

FCC

Cable Group NCTA Says Deny Exclusive Multitenant Access, But Not Wiring, Agreements

NCTA said the FCC should deny exclusive access to these buildings, but not exclusive wiring agreements.

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Michael Powell, president and CEO of NCTA

WASHINGTON, September 8, 2021 – The internet and television association NCTA is suggesting that the Federal Communications Commission deny all broadband providers exclusive access to multitenant buildings, but to continue allowing exclusive wiring agreements.

On Tuesday, the FCC opened a new round of comments into its examination of competitive broadband options for residents of apartments, multi-tenant and office buildings.

In a Tuesday ex parte notice to the commission, which follows a formal meeting with agency staff on September 2, the NCTA said the record shows that deployment, competition, and consumer choice in multiple tenant environments “are strong,” and that the FCC can “promote even greater deployment and competition by prohibiting not just cable operators, other covered [multiple video programming distributors], and telecommunications carriers, but all broadband providers from entering into MTE exclusive access agreements.

The organization, whose member companies include Comcast, Cox Communications and Charter Communications, also said it should continue to allow providers to enter into exclusive wiring agreements with MTE owners. Wiring just means that the provider can lay down its cables, like fiber, to connect residents.

“Exclusive wiring agreements do not deny new entrants access to MTEs. Rather, exclusive wiring agreements are pro-competitive and help ensure that state-of-the-art wiring will be deployed in MTEs to the benefit of consumers.”

The NCTA also told the FCC that there would be technical problems with simultaneous sharing of building wires by different providers and vouched for exclusive marketing arrangements, according to the notice.

The FCC’s new round of comments comes after a bill, introduced on July 30 by Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-New York, outlined plans to address exclusivity agreements between residential units and service providers, which sees providers lock out other carriers from buildings and leaving residents with only one option for internet.

Reached for comment on the filing, a spokesman for NCTA said they had nothing to add to the filing, which was signed by Mary Beth Murphy, deputy general counsel to the cable organization.

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China

Hytera’s Inclusion on FCC’s National Security Blacklist ‘Absurd,’ Client Says

Diversified Communications Group said the FCC flubbed on adding Hytera to blacklist.

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Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

WASHINGTON, September 8, 2021 – A client of a company that has been included in a list of companies the Federal Communications Commission said pose threats to the security of the country’s networks is asking the agency to reconsider including the company.

In a letter to the commission on Tuesday, Diversified Communications Group, which installs and distributes two-way radio communications devices to large companies, said the inclusion of Hytera Communications Corporation, a Chinese manufacturer of radio equipment, on a list of national security threats is “absurd” because the hardware involved is not connected to the internet and “does not transmit any sensitive or proprietary data.

“It seems that Hytera has been lumped in with other Chinese companies on the Covered List simply because they happen to manufacture electronics in the same country,” Diversified’s CEO Ryan Holte said in the letter, adding Hytera’s products have helped Diversified’s business thrive.

“This is a wrong that should be righted. Hytera is not a national security risk. They are an essential business partner to radio companies throughout the U.S.,” the CEO added.

In March, the FCC announced that it had designated Hytera among other Chinese businesses with alleged links to the Communist government. Others included Huawei, ZTE, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, and Dahua Technology.

List among a number of restrictions on Chinese companies

This list of companies was created in accordance with the Secure Networks Act, and the FCC indicated that it would continue to add companies to the list if they are deemed to “pose an unacceptable risk to national security or the security and safety of U.S. persons.”

Last month, the Senate commerce committee passed through legislation that would compel the FCC to no longer issue new equipment licenses to China-backed companies.

Last year the U.S. government took steps to ensure that federal agencies could not purchase goods or services from the aforementioned companies, and had previously added them to an economic blacklist.

In July, the FCC voted in favor of putting in place measures that would require U.S. carriers to rip and replace equipment by these alleged threat companies.

The Biden administration has been making moves to isolate alleged Chinese-linked threats to the country’s networks. In June, the White House signed an executive order limiting investments in predominantly Chinese companies that it said poses a threat to national security.

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Digital Inclusion

FCC Says 5 Million Households Now Enrolled in Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

The $3.2 billion program provides broadband and device subsidies to eligible low-income households.

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Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

August 30, 2021—The Federal Communications Commission announced Friday that five million households have enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit program.

The $3.2-billion program, which launched in May, provides a broadband subsidy of $50 per month to eligible low-income households and $75 per month for those living on native tribal lands, as well as a one-time reimbursement on a device. Over 1160 providers are participating, the FCC said, who are reimbursed the cost to provide the discounted services.

The agency has been updating the public on the number of participating households for the program. In June, the program was at just over three million and had passed four million last month. The program was part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

“Enrolling five million households into the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program in a little over three months is no small feat,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of nearly 30,000 individuals and organizations who signed up as volunteer outreach partners.”

Rosenworcel added that conversations with partners and the FCC’s analysis shows the need for “more granular data” to bring these opportunities to more eligible families.

The program’s strong demand was seen as far back as March.

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