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Broadband Roundup: A Spectrum Efficiency Challenge, Comcast Comments, Verizon Vexes Industry

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WASHINGTON, October 7, 2014 – Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and wireless industry pioneer Marty Cooper took to the opinion page of the San Jose Mercury News to offer their thoughts on the future of wireless spectrum.

As they emphasized the importance and centrality of mobile devices and Internet access, the two highlighted the limited amount of spectrum for wireless broadband. The answer to this problem: a federal challenge to find ways to use the finite amount of spectrum 50 to 100 times more efficiently, which they dubbed “Race to the Top, Spectrum Edition.” The potential prize of this challenge: 10 Megahertz, suitable for mobile broadband.

The duo acknowledged the fact that the reward may seem small. However, if the minimum efficiency benchmark is reached, “10 megahertz of spectrum could do the work of 500 megahertz using today’s technology.” Furthermore, the winner could sell or lease the spectrum prize.

The FCC Commissioner and Cooper, regarded as the “father of the cellphone,” both see the challenge as a much-needed catalyst to further wireless innovation. “We could take what we learn from it to help develop new measures of spectrum efficiency…. Revolutionary opportunities lie ahead — if we find new ways to seize them.”

Comments for Comcast Merger Extended

The Federal Communications Commission has extended the comment period for the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger to allow opponents more time to respond, National Journal reported. The Commission approved Dish Network’s request to extend the deadline until Oct. 29 in light of Comcast and Time Warner Cable’s 850-page defense of their deal, which, as the FCC pointed out in its extension, was both late and “incomplete or…otherwise nonresponsive.”

The FCC has “paused” the 180-day timeline it set for itself to issue a decision on the merger. While Comcast had opposed the extension, its spokeswoman said that the extension is routine for major transactions like its prior Comcast-NBCUniversal deal, which was ultimately approved.

Fiber Providers Add Video as Cable Companies Nix TV

As more small cable companies move to offering internet-only access, Little Rock-based Windstream announced its move in the opposite direction: a fiber-carried TV option called Kinetic, for 50,000 homes in the Lincoln, Nebraska area starting in the first half of 2015.

Kinetic calls itself, “a total entertainment option that leverages the company’s existing 100 percent fiber-backed network to provide customers with a wide array of features that will enable the highest quality video entertainment,” speedmatters.org reported.

Windstream will offer Kinetic with its high-speed internet and phone service. Where the company cannot deploy this IP-TV product, it will partner with satellite providers for their triple-play offerings, CEO Jeff Gardner said at the Comptel PLUS Convention.

Broadband Industry Mutters Under Its Breath At Verizon

The government’s net neutrality rules were thrown out when Verizon Communications won its case against the Federal Communications Commission, and the broadband industry is not pleased, the National Journal reported.

Not only could the current outcome of the net neutrality debate lead to tighter regulation of wired broadband under Title II, but it could also lead to net neutrality rules being applied to wireless broadband, which was left largely untouched in the 2010 Open Internet Order. While Verizon’s broadband peers won’t publicly chastise the telecom giant, broadband-industry officials have spoke of the extensive frustration for Verizon’s strategic error. Some had urged Verizon to drop its lawsuit.  

“They were like a dog chasing a bus,” one broadband source said. “What are you going to do when you catch the bus?”

 

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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