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No Change on Chevron, Suit Says Apple Rigged iOS 13, Will 6G End the Smart Phone?

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Photo of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai from TechCrunch

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, when asked if he had changed his position on the issue of Chevron deference said he had never, to his knowledge, taken a position on the Supreme Court decision.

Pai was speaking at a Technology Policy Institute event on Thursday, the day after Thomas Johnson of the FCC general counsel claimed FCC authority to interpret Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

See “FCC Details Section 230 Authority Argument,” Broadband Breakfast, October 22, 2020

Johnson said that because of the “unique interest” generated by Pai’s decision to move forward with the rulemaking to interpret Section 230, “Chairman Pai has now asked me to make my analysis public, in furtherance of his longstanding commitment to transparency in the rulemaking process.”

Johnson responded to public commentators who claim through what is sometimes called “Chevron Step Zero” that “Congress did not intend for the Commission to administer Section 230, and therefore, the Commission has no authority to interpret it.”

Chevron deference comes from the landmark supreme court decision Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., – the landmark 1984 decision governing administrative law.  Johnson said that “Congress is well aware that the ambiguities it chooses to produce in a statute will be resolved by the implementing agency.”

When Pai was asked if he believed that Twitter and other platforms are publishers under the law or how to save the internet without destroying it, Pai emphasized that the FCC was squarely concerned about the interpretation and scope of the liability provision and giving meaning to terms some find ambiguous. “We’ll leave the broader policy debate to others at this time,” he said.

Apple sued for rigging iOS 13 for ‘Massive Data Usage’

Apple embedded a “consuming code” for “its own undisclosed purposes and its own benefit” in last year’s iOS version 13, according to a lawsuit filed Saturday in federal district court in San Jose, seeking class-action status.

This code, according to the lawsuit, caused iPhone users to face “exorbitant” overage fees from their carriers as their monthly data allowances depleted without their knowledge.

“Apple has the ability to correctly identify and account for all mobile data usage by its numerous operating system features,” said the complaint. iPhone makers “tried to hide the massive data usage” by “miscategorizing it in a way that many users would not discern,” which violates California consumer protection and unfair competition laws.

“Apple knew what it was doing, and it tried to keep users from discovering the amount of money Apple was costing them. Apple also deliberately withheld from users the ability to control the costs.”

All who installed iOS 13 on their iPhones before Apple’s June release of version 13.6 which eliminated the consuming code are identified as the potential class for the suit.

6G to end smart phone era

6G could be the end of the smart phone era, projected Virginia Tech Professor Walid Saad at a symposium last week on so-called “6G” technology.

Enabled in part by greater spectrum, integrated satellite networks, energy transfer and harvesting, and edge artificial intelligence, 6G promises multisensory XR applications, connected robotics and autonomous systems, wireless brain computer interactions, and blockchain and distributed ledger technologies, explained Saad.

6G has the potential to integrate technology into people’s daily experience. In the morning during a workout, a person would have a virtual assistant helping with your workouts that would compile and sent data to a doctor warning about any potential health issues, explained Mazin Gilbert, electrical engineer for AT&T.

Synchronous multiparty gaming will be enabled through the mobile cloud and autonomous cars and navigation through XR devices will become the norm. When attending football games, people will be able to have the same experience from any seat in the stadium.

Through 6G people will be able to do more at home, from trying on clothes at a store to having medical procedures. The low latency that started in 5G will progress to enable more holographic communications.

Energy efficiency will be a big part of 6G, said Saad. He predicted that in the next 5-10 years more devices will be reliant on battery which will make energy efficiency a lot more important. Going forward he suggested lowering energy and increasing AI would be one of the biggest challenges.

Reporter Liana Sowa grew up in Simsbury, Connecticut. She studied editing and publishing as a writing fellow at Brigham Young University, where she mentored upperclassmen on neuroscience research papers. She enjoys reading and journaling, and marathon-runnning and stilt-walking.

Broadband Roundup

Commerce Vote on Sohn Wednesday, Facebook Abandoning its Crypto Technology, Low EBB Awareness

The Senate Commerce Committee will vote on Sohn’s renomination after confirmation efforts stalled last year.

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Photo of Gigi Sohn from March 2011 by the Stanford Center for Internet and Society used with permission

January 28, 2022 – On Wednesday the Senate Commerce Committee will vote on President Joe Biden’s nomination of Gigi Sohn to the Federal Communications Commission.

Sohn, the co-founder of intellectual property nonprofit Public Knowledge, was renominated by Biden earlier this month after the Commerce committee failed to advance her nomination at the end of last year.

Much of the opposition to Sohn’s nomination has centered around Republican pushback on comments Sohn had made about conservative media.

Additionally on Wednesday, the committee will vote on Biden’s nominee to the Federal Trade Commission Alvaro Bedoya.

Like Sohn, Bedoya saw his nomination stalled late last year as Republicans opposed comments he had made on conservative media.

Both the FCC and FTC are split 2-2 in terms of the partisanship of their voting members, limiting the ability of their Democratic chairs to enact their policy agendas.

Facebook’s cryptocurrency project fizzles

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Facebook is selling the technology behind the Diem Association, the company’s cryptocurrency project, amid concerns over its ability to provide security and privacy.

Silvergate Capital Corporation, a California bank that works with bitcoin and blockchain companies, will reportedly buy the technology for $200 million.

In an earlier effort to appease regulators the bank and Diem had agreed to issue some stablecoins, which are considered less volatile and are backed by hard dollars.

Diem, previously called Libra, was originally conceived as a simple way for users to spend money and partnered with PayPal, Visa and Stripe to demonstrate institutional financial backing to officials and distance the venture from Facebook as criticisms against the platform mounted.

In October 2019, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told U.S. House members that he would support delaying the cryptocurrency’s release until all regulators approved of it.

AT&T survey on Emergency Broadband Benefit’s reach

An AT&T-commissioned survey found that as of October 2021 a majority of individuals in the company’s 21-state footprint were not aware of the Emergency Broadband Benefit, Fierce Telecom reported Wednesday.

Only 12% of survey respondents were aware of the program started by the FCC during the coronavirus pandemic to help fund low-income people’s internet connectivity.

The survey also found disparities in program awareness between different age groups and ethnicities.

Since administration of the survey, the EBB has been converted into the permanent Affordable Connectivity Program with Congress’ passage of its bipartisan infrastructure bill in November 2021.

The EBB was able to gain the participation of most internet service providers and roll over their participation to the ACP once it became available at the start of this year.

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Broadband Roundup

FCC Axes China Unicom, Tucows Has New Software Business, Texas County Broadband Initiative

The FCC on Thursday revoked the operating authorization of China Unicom, in latest effort to weed out national security threats.

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Tucows CEO Elliot Noss

January 27, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday revoked the operating authority of telecom China Unicom Americas due to national security concerns.

In the press release, which coincided with the commission’s January open meeting, the FCC said China Unicom Americas must discontinue domestic and international services in the U.S. within 60 days of the order.

The decision was made, the release said, after nearly a year of review of the company’s responses to inquiries, the public record and a public interest analysis following a March 2021 finding by the commission that the company “failed to dispel serious concerns” about its ties to the Communist government in China.

The decision, which comes after an FCC vote in October to revoke the operating license of China Telecom, is part of a larger effort by the agency and President Joe Biden’s administration to weed out national security risks.

Tucows new communication service software

Toronto-based telecom Tucows on Thursday launched Wavelo, a software business it says will help other telecommunications companies aspects of their business, including the network and subscription and billing management.

“In today’s competitive landscape, operators need optionality from their software,” Wavelo CEO Justin Riley said. “They deserve solutions that keep pace with their network innovation and that are flexible enough to integrate seamlessly within their existing operations. Wavelo was launched to do just that.”

Gray County, Texas developing plan for better broadband

The Gray County Broadband Committee is asking the broader community Thursday for input through a survey on how it should develop a “technology action plan that will provide both immediate and long-term solutions for improving internet access.”

The committee, which includes stakeholders in business, education, government and healthcare, said in a press release it hopes to “identify unique challenges and opportunities for expanding high-speed internet” in the county.

The county said it is partnering with Connected Nation Texas on the initiative, which is funded by the Texas Rural Funders

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Broadband Roundup

Fear of Big Tech in Auto Industry, Montana Hires Lightbox, USTelecom Hires Media Affairs Director

Technology advocacy groups are concerned about big technology companies entering the auto industry.

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Montana Governor Greg Gianforte

January 26, 2022 – A letter signed by nearly 30 technology advocacy groups and sent to government and agency officials Tuesday is warning of the dangers of tech companies entering the automobile industry, The Hill reports.

“Make no mistake: The expansion of Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook into the auto sector spells trouble for workers and consumers…As automation expands, these [auto workers] jobs are at risk and Big Tech cannot be trusted to lead that transition,” the letter said, according to the report.

Recipients of the letter signed by the likes of the American Economic Liberties Project and Demand Progress include Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, and Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Lina Khan.

The Hill also reports that the groups are concerned about the treatment and usage of data and private information if these big technology companies do successfully expand their reach.

The letter comes as lawmakers and government agencies wrestle with what to do about the future of antitrust.

Montana is taking mapping matters into their own hands

Montana’s Department of Administration said Monday that is has hired location analytics company Lightbox to build a statewide broadband map, following in the footsteps of Georgia and Alabama in getting ahead of federal efforts to improving insight into what areas are underserved.

“The completed map will provide a detailed analysis of current broadband service levels throughout Montana while protecting proprietary data and will be used for allocating $266 million to unserved and underserved communities throughout Montana,” a press release said.

“Lightbox is a proven national leader in cost effective and efficient detailed mapping for state level broadband programs,” said Department of Administration Director Misty Ann Giles in the release. “This platform will serve as a key component to help ConnectMT reach its goal of deploying broadband throughout Montana to bridge the digital divide.”

Montana, which began searching for a data platform in October, is listed on data platform BroadbandNow as the worst state for broadband coverage and access, according to a November report.

USTelecom hires new senior director of media affairs and digital engagement

USTelecom, an association that represents telecom-related businesses, announced Wednesday the appointment of Emma Christman to senior director of media affairs and digital engagement.

Christman is joining the USTelecom communications team after working as the director of external affairs and engagement at Glen Echo Group. While there, USTelecom says she provided “a range of clients strategic counsel, content creation, media outreach and other services.”

Prior to her time at Glen Echo Group, Christman worked at Dewey Square Group as a senior associate and at Mobile Future as a community outreach director.

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