Connect with us

Broadband Roundup

FCC Commissioner Starks Charges Malfeasance by Sprint, Spectrum Sharing Bill, Facebook’s Rules for Pols

Published

on

Photo of Geoffrey Starks by the FCC

The Federal Communications Commission announced on Tuesday that Chairman Ajit Pai is issuing an investigation into Sprint’s alleged misappropriation of Lifeline support for 885,000 ineligible accounts. Lifeline is part of the Commission’s Universal Service Fund, helping low-income Americans pay for phone service.

Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said in a statement that Sprint’s misconduct amounts to “corporate malfeasance.”

“Moreover, this announcement directly impacts our review of the proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile, one of the largest wireless transactions in FCC history,” he said, “There is no credible way that the merger before us can proceed until this Lifeline investigation is resolved and responsible parties are held accountable.”

Starks added that the Commission currently has multiple high-profile investigations implicating the two companies that remain unresolved. One of which includes allegations of the dangerous and unlawful disclosure of wireless customer geolocation information.

Reps. Doyle and Latta introduce bipartisan bill to promote spectrum sharing

U.S. Representatives Mike Doyle, D-Pa., and Bob Latta, R-Ohio., announced a bill on Tuesday that would promote more efficient sharing of the radio-magnetic spectrum that is assigned for federal use.

The Studying How to Harness Airwave Resources Efficiently Act, H.R.4462, would direct the National Telecommunications and Information Agency in consultation with the Federal Communications Commission to establish a research and development program to explore new ways for multiple federal entities to share the spectrum that has been assigned to them. The bill also authorizes $50 million for the spectrum sharing research and development program.

“We need to ensure that the federal government uses its spectrum in the most efficient way possible,” said Doyle. “My hope is that this legislation can help the federal government be more a better steward of this precious and limited resource and in so doing facilitate more spectrum for future innovative technologies and increased commercial use.”

“Spectrum is a valuable, limited resource that is widely used for countless federal and commercial purposes – from completing critical defense missions to building a 5G network to connecting to Wi-Fi,” said Latta. “The SHARE Act recognizes that we need to harness the full potential of federally-held spectrum by having the appropriate entities explore ways to efficiently share this important asset.”

Facebook continues to change its guidelines for speech by politicians

Vox reported on Tuesday that Facebook clarified its guidelines on politicians’ online content, saying that “it is not our role to intervene when politicians speak.” However, the site may remove posts if there is evidence that the content could “lead to real world violence and harm.”

Facebook Communications Head Nick Clegg expanded on the policy in a blog post.

“If someone makes a statement or shares a post which breaks our community standards, we will still allow it on our platform if we believe the public interest in seeing it outweighs the risk of harm,” Clegg writes. “From now on we will treat speech from politicians as newsworthy content that should, as a general rule, be seen and heard.”

Last year, Facebook stated that it won’t send politicians’ claims to fact-checking organizations. But if a politician shares previously debunked content, it will be demoted and paired with fact-checker notes — just like it would be on the rest of the platform.

Facebook is balancing these rules with its efforts to remove misinformation, such as political content from outside governments, and dehumanizing speech that encourages violence against minority groups.

In his speech at the Atlantic Festival, Clegg also denounced the prospect of breaking up Facebook, which is currently facing state, federal, and congressional antitrust investigations in the US.

“Pulling apart globally successful American businesses won’t actually do anything to solve the big issues we are all grappling with — privacy, the use of data, harmful content and the integrity of our elections,” he said.

Broadband Roundup

Biden’s Involvement in 5G, Residential 5 Gbps in Northwest, New Technology Advisory Council

The president urged wireless carriers to comply with the aviation industry’s requests for further delays on new network launches.

Published

on

January 21, 2022 – President Joe Biden says he pushed wireless carriers to accommodate aviation companies’ concerns about the networks’ launch of 5G that occurred Wednesday.

Biden encouraged carriers to give airlines even more time to examine their aviation equipment for possible interference with 5G before the new network updates were launched.

Verizon and AT&T announced Tuesday that they would limit 5G service around some airports, giving in to some of the aviation industry’s concerns.

Both companies had initially planned to launch their network changes on January 5 but further delayed launch at the request of airlines. January 5 was already a delayed launch date, with the companies having earlier planned rollout for 2021.

“What I’ve done is pushed as hard as I can to have the 5G folks hold up and abide by what was being requested by the airlines until they could more modernize over the years, so 5G would not interfere with the potential of a landing” said Biden following the events of Wednesday’s launch.

He says he spoke with Verizon and AT&T on the same day the launch took place.

The president did not mention any government fixes to the conflict, saying it was an argument between “two private enterprises,” despite speculation that following the messy fight the administration may develop a national spectrum strategy or the Federal Communications Commission and National Telecommunications and Information Administration may release updated memoranda on the issues.

Ziply Fiber offers 5 Gigabit per second residential service

Internet service provider Ziply Fiber announced it has begun offering ultra-high-speed 5 Gigabit per second (Gbps) and 2 Gbps residential fiber internet service to customers in several cities across the Northwest.

The expansion in Washington state, Oregon and Idaho makes Ziply Fiber the first company to introduce a 5 Gbps speed for residential services, the company said.

In its announcement Thursday, the company says the expansion will bring service to nearly 170,000 residential customer addresses across 60 cities and towns.

Ziply Fiber began building out fiber in Northwest markets in 2020 and has announced construction of 57 fiber projects since then.

The company plans to introduce its 5 Gbps and 2 Gbps service in Montana later in Q1 of 2022.

FCC sets stage for new TAC membership

The FCC has appointed a new group of members to serve on its Technology Advisory Council and set a February 28 date for its first meeting with the new class.

“The advisory council provides technical expertise to the Commission to identify important areas of innovation and develop informed technology policies,” according to the FCC.

Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced the new membership Wednesday with the commission’s press release calling them “a diverse group of leading technology experts.”

Dean Brenner, a former Qualcomm executive, will serve as chairman of the council, Michael Ha, chief of the policy and rules division in the Office of Engineering and Technology, will continue to serve as the designated federal officer and Martin Doczkat, chief of the electromagnetic compatibility division in the OET, is the alternate designated federal officer.

Rosenworcel highlighted that the council will work on advancing 6G research as well as numerous other issues such as examining both supply chain vulnerabilities and global standards development.

Continue Reading

Broadband Roundup

USDA Hires Lumen, Ligado Marketing Services, IRS Facial ID, New Public Knowledge Hire

The Department of Agriculture awarded Lumen a $1.2-billion, 11-year contract for data services.

Published

on

Lumen President and CEO Jeff Storey

January 20, 2022 – On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $1.2-billion network services contract with telecom Lumen Technologies.

The 11-year contract will provide the department with data transport service with remote access and cloud connectivity, leveraging Lumen’s fiber network to connect 9,500 USDA locations across the country and abroad to better manage agriculture in the country, the press release said.

“Lumen is bringing modern technology solutions that will make it easier for the USDA to accomplish its mission of promoting the production of nutritious food that nourishes our people, providing economic opportunity to rural Americans, and preserving our nation’s natural resources through smart forest and watershed conservation,” said Zain Ahmed, Lumen’s public sector senior vice president.

The contract was granted under the General Services Administration’s $50-billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions program.

Ligado Networks and Select Spectrum to strengthen critical networks

Mobile communications company Ligado Networks and spectrum brokerage and advisory firm Select Spectrum announced an agreement on Tuesday that will market and sell Ligado’s mid-band spectrum services for critical infrastructure.

“We know the critical infrastructure sector has an urgent need for dedicated access to licensed spectrum, and our mid-band spectrum, with both satellite and terrestrial connectivity, is uniquely positioned to meet this need and empower companies to operate private networks on a long-term basis,” said Ligado Networks’ CEO Doug Smith in a press release.

According to the agreement, Select Spectrum will search for those seeking to use Ligado’s licensed spectrum in the 1.6 GHz band in order to provide 5G capabilities to projects like power grid modernization and advanced transportation initiatives.

IRS to require facial recognition for taxes access

According to a Wednesday Gizmodo article, starting this summer online tax filers will have to submit a selfie to a third-party verification company called ID.me in order to make payments or file taxes online. Along with facial identification, users will also have to submit government identification documents and copies of bills to confirm their identity.

ID.me will use the selfie and compare it to the government identification document to verify the user. If the system fails to match the two documents, the user can join a recorded video to provide verification to the user.

Gizmodo’s article claimed that both the IRS and ID.me could not provide a method to access user accounts without providing a face scan. This could be problematic for tax filers that don’t have access to certain technologies.

Public Knowledge hires new senior policy analyst

Non-profit public interest group  Public Knowledge announced Tuesday that it has brought on Lisa Macpherson as senior policy analyst.

According to a press release, Macpherson’s “experience driving digital marketing transformation on behalf of brands led to concerns over the broader impacts of digital technology on individual well-being, civil society, journalism, and democracy.”

Continue Reading

Broadband Roundup

National Privacy Law, Digital Infrastructure Firm’s $8B Raise, Wicker Wants Spectrum Cooperation

Business groups are asking Congress to supersede state laws by passing privacy legislation that sets a national standard.

Published

on

Senator Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi

January 19, 2022 – As states begin to pass their own privacy laws, business groups are asking the federal government to pass legislation that would mitigate confusion by creating a national standard, reports MediaPost Communications.

The Association of National Advertisers, Interactive Advertising Bureau, and the U.S. Chamber of Congress are just a few of the business groups that are asking for a national privacy law.

“As the Federal Trade Commission considers a privacy rulemaking that would add a further layer of complexity to the state patchwork, it is critical that Congress pass one single national standard”, the groups stated in a letter that was signed by 15 national organizations and then by local business groups from across the country, the MediaPost report said.

California, Virginia, and Colorado are just a few of the states that have passed their own version of a privacy law, and while they all serve a similar purpose, they have various nuances that the business groups said they believe will be difficult to navigate for their businesses and for consumers across state lines, MediaPost reports.

In addition, there are members of Congress who are also asking for a national plan for consumer privacy.

Digital infrastructure firm DigitalBridge raises over $8 billion

DigitalBridge Investment Management, an investment firm in digital infrastructure, raised a higher-than-expected $8.3 billion, according to a Wednesday press release, illustrating interest in projects including fiber builds.

“The Fund has already invested in nine portfolio companies across towers, easements, hyperscale data centers, edge infrastructure, indoor DAS infrastructure and fiber, running reliable, mission-critical network infrastructure for many of the world’s leading hyperscale cloud providers and mobile network operators,” the release said.

The round comes as the federal government pushing billions of dollars into infrastructure, including broadband and as the pandemic has shown a need for remote capabilities driven by broadband.

Republican lawmaker calls for NTIA-FCC cooperation on spectrum

Senator Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, sent a letter earlier this month to the head of the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration asking them to consider a renewed agreement to work together on spectrum management.

The January 13 letter to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and new NTIA head Alan Davidson said their “relationship can be strengthened” on matters related to the shared use of radiowaves between federal and non-federal users by refreshing the memorandum of understanding that was last updated in 2003.

“In light of recent disputes over spectrum allocations, it is more important than ever that the [FCC and NTIA] work together to promote spectrum policy that best serves the dual goals of furthering commercial innovation and enabling the mission-critical operations of federal agencies,” the letter said.

Continue Reading

Recent

Signup for Broadband Breakfast

Get twice-weekly Breakfast Media news alerts.
* = required field

Trending