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Broadband Roundup

T-Mobile Wins on Infrastructure, Lina Khan FTC Nomination, Open Source Collaboration

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Photo of Judge Susan Illston

March 23, 2021 — A federal judge ruled Friday that the San Francisco city leader unlawfully denied T-Mobile permits to upgrade infrastructure during the pandemic.

The ruling was made under the 2012 Spectrum Act, which prevents State or local government from denying improvements and upgrades to existing wireless towers that doesn’t change the physicality of the structures.

The city is barred “from imposing penalties or interfering with any installation,” according to the decision.

Last June, an FCC order clarified its rules on State and local government reviews of modifications to existing wireless infrastructures under the Spectrum Act to speed up 5G deployment across the country.

“T-Mobile indicated that it would suffer harm without injunctive relief if defendants prevent [the company] from making installations or modifications under T-Mobile’s deemed granted applications … Such relief will serve the public’s interest in ‘promoting rapid but reasonable wireless facility deployment,'” Judge Susan Illston wrote in her decision.

Several telephone companies tried to change the city’s existing wireless installations but were denied the city’s approval. T-Mobile challenged this in November, saying that the city failed to take action on 16 related applications.

Despite having submitted 27 applications, T-Mobile officials didn’t act on them for 60 days, making the applications automatic approvals under FCC rules.

Lina Khan Nominated for Biden’s FTC

Lina Khan was nominated for President Biden’s Federal Trade Commission on Monday, an agency that enforces competition laws.

She is the most vocal Big Tech critic on Biden’s growing list of critics, including Tim Wu, named to the National Economic Council earlier this month.

The latest reports indicate the White House may start enforcing more restrictions on technology companies, even though States and federal government entities are already investigating Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google on competition concerns.

Democrats and Republicans disagree on whether Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, the internet liability provision, is a valuable legal shield for internet platforms.

Khan previously advised a House Judiciary Committee panel that examined three of the top tech companies and determined that they are monopolies that require structural separation. Now, Democratic members are pushing legislation to strengthen antitrust enforcement at the FTC and Department of Justice.

By opposing current U.S. antitrust guidelines, Khan has helped grow a new movement known as hipster antitrust, which opposes the current U.S. antitrust guidelines, which fail to break anticompetitive behavior towards competitors, for example.

“I think if you’re going to be a dominant marketplace, then you perhaps shouldn’t be able to also sell on that marketplace, putting yourself in direct competition with all the merchants that are dependent,” Khan told NPR’s Planet Money in 2019.

The Democratic majority on the FTC would be boosted if Khan becomes a Commissioner, having previously worked as an aide to FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra and as the head of the New America Foundation’s anti-monopoly spin-off, the Open Markets Institute.

Exaware collaborates with Amdocs for open disaggregated routing solution

Partnering with Amdocs, Exaware today announced a collaboration to design and deploy open-networking routing solutions for fixed and mobile communications service providers.

The partnership enables Amdocs to provide customers with Exaware’s system designed for mobile backhaul, cell site gateway, peering, edge, and core application networks, providing large-scale networks with end-to-end disaggregated routing solutions.

“Our collaboration with Amdocs is a significant step forward for Exaware. Amdocs has experience meeting the increasingly complex needs of global CSPs that require reliable, innovative, and cost-effective open solutions in their network transformation journey,” said Ben Afshari, vice president of sales & business development at Exaware.

The FCC is currently looking at ways to open the market to more open-source solutions for security and cost savings.

“Leveraging Amdocs’s global reach and deep expertise, we can offer reliable and open routing solutions based on ExaNOS, Exaware’s fundamental building block of disaggregated networks,” Afshari said.

“As a TIP system integrator, collaborating with Exaware enhances our ability to efficiently design and deploy open-network routing solutions by allowing customers to select the best hardware and software to meet their needs from a vast open ecosystem of vendors. The open approach enables rapid innovation in network functions and applications, avoids vendor lock-in and drives cost down,” said Parag Shah, customer business executive at Amdocs.

Broadband Roundup

Senate Bill Would Alter Google Advertising, DOJ Cybersecurity Policy Reversal, Comcast on Hybrid Fiber-Coax

Senate introduces bill breaking up Google’s digital advertising business

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Photo of Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, from March 2016 by Gage Skidmore used with permission

May 20, 2022 – On Thursday a bipartisan group of senators on the Judiciary Committee introduced a bill that would force Google to break up its industry-leading online advertising exchange.

The Competition and Transparency in Digital Advertising Act would prohibit large companies like Google from both operating an ad exchange and a supply- or demand-side platform, should they process more than $20 billion in ad transactions.

The bill would also require Facebook to divest some of its advertising business.

“Companies like Google and Facebook have been able to exploit their unprecedented troves of detailed user data to obtain vice grip-like control over digital advertising,” said bill sponsor Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.

In late 2020, a coalition of 10 state attorneys general brought a lawsuit against Google alleging that its market dominance lets it overcharge businesses seeking to place ads online.

Justice Department changes directions on cybersecurity prosecution policy

On Thursday the Department of Justice announced it would reverse its charging policy on a federal computer fraud law, saying it will not prosecute “good-faith security research” efforts.

The change by the department relates to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, defining good-faith research as “accessing a computer solely for purposes of good-faith testing, investigation, and/or correction of a security flaw or vulnerability” without any intention of harming the public.

Last year, Georgia police sergeant Nathan Van Buren was successful in appealing his conviction under the CFAA to the Supreme Court.

DOJ argued that he should not have taken a bribe to access a woman’s license plate information during a 2015 Federal Bureau of Investigation sting operation, while Van Buren claimed that he had legitimate access to the database.

Comcast plans to release hybrid fiber-coaxial multi-gig speeds in the coming months.

Comcast is preparing to roll out faster multi-gigabit speeds across its hybrid fiber-coaxial network, Fierce Telecom reported Thursday.

Multi-gig rollout is expected in the coming months.

At an investor conference Comcast CEO Dave Watson stated that his operator’s choice to roll out mid-split upgrades on the way to Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification 4.0 technology will allow it to take speeds to the next level.

“We have a very fast, very efficient path to multi-gig symmetrical at scale that we can do,” said Watson.

He feels comfortable that despite Comcast fiber deployments in select locations, the company feels comfortable that its HFC network will remain competitive.

He also reiterated previous comments that fixed wireless access service is not a threat and that it does not materially impact churn from fixed wireless competitors.

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Broadband Roundup

AT&T and DISH Agreement, FCC Adds More States in Robocall Fight, $50M from Emergency Connectivity Fund

Dish said its customers will now have access to AT&T’s gigabit fiber services.

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Photo of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

May 19, 2022 – On Wednesday, AT&T and Dish Network announced an internet distribution agreement in which Dish customers will have access to AT&T internet services, including its gigabit fiber services.

“Adding AT&T Internet to our robust lineup of TV and home integration services enhances our ability to provide better overall service, technology and value to our customers,” Amir Ahmed, executive vice president of DISH TV, said in a press release.

“At AT&T, we’re constantly thinking of ways we can better serve and provide for our customers. Through this new arrangement with DISH, we’re able to do just that by seamlessly offering our super-fast broadband services to more customers across the nation,” said Jenifer Robertson, executive vice president and general manager of mass markets at AT&T Communications.

“This is another step towards our goal of becoming the best broadband provider in America,” said Robertson.

FCC adds more state partners to tackle illegal robocalls

The Federal Communications Commission announced Thursday new partnerships with nine additional state attorneys general to combat illegal robocalls.

The agency said Iowa, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have all signed on to help with robocall investigations.

That raises the number of states that have signed a memoranda of understanding with the FCC to 36, after the agency last month signed on a handful more states for the initiative. The agency has already credited at least one state with helping it nail one suspected robocall violator.

As part of the agreement, the parties will “share evidence, coordinate investigations, pool enforcement resources, and work together to combat illegal robocall campaigns and protect American consumers from scams,” according to the FCC.

“We are better positioned to help protect consumers from scammers than ever before,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “Together we are stronger. Together we will continue our work to protect American consumers.”

The FCC already has robocall investigation agreements with Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

FCC commits additional $50 million from Emergency Connectivity Fund

The FCC announced on Wednesday that it has approved an additional $50 million from the Emergency Connectivity Fund program that is intended to help students with virtual learning.

The FCC said this funding will go to help 46 schools, seven libraries and two consortia across the country for students in American Samoa, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The FCC estimates that, so far, nearly $4.9 billion has been committed to connect over 12.6 million students across the country.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel added in a press release that “this program is providing funding for nearly 11 million connected devices and 5 million broadband connections throughout the country and moving us closer toward closing the Homework Gap.

“With help from the Emergency Connectivity Fund, millions of students across the country now have online tools to support their education,” added Rosenworcel.

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Broadband Roundup

FCC June Meeting, Ookla Speeds at Airports, FCC Cautioned About Overstepping on Digital Discrimination

The FCC laid out its agenda for the June open meeting.

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Screenshot of TechFreedom President Berin Szóka

May 18, 2022 – In a press release Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission announced the agenda for its June 2022 open meeting.

The FCC will explore ideas for wireless innovation at sea following increasing demand for spectrum to support offshore operations. The FCC will consider offshore spectrum policies to ensure efficient use of scarce spectrum resources.

In 2018, the FCC launched an inquiry to explain why some wireless 911 calls were misrouted to the wrong call center. The past four years showed a decrease in the frequency of this error but not its elimination. The FCC will seek comment on improvements that would reduce misrouted 911 calls and improve emergency response time.

During the June open meeting, the FCC will also consider preserving established local radio programming on FM6 radio service, if they meet certain conditions.

Ookla speedtest shows divide on speeds for Wi-Fi at airports

Analytics company Ooka analyzed airport Wi-Fi speeds at some of the busiest airports in the world and found that all surveyed airports met the recommended speed for streaming on mobile, but found a large divide between them.

The four fastest free airport Wi-Fis were all located in the United States: San Francisco International, Seattle-Tacoma International, Dallas/Fort Worth International, and Chicago O’Hare International. Following that came Dubai International, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, and Los Angeles International.

According to Speedtest Intelligence data, there is a wide gap between median speeds of the first 8 airports and the other airports on the list with the fasted being 176.25 Mbps. Airport lounges were found to have faster Wi-Fi on average than the airport itself.

Ookla, a sponsor of Broadband Breakfast, used its Speedtest Intelligence, which provides global insights into fixed broadband and mobile performance data using billions of consumer-initiated tests.

Tech lobbyists says FCC must not overstep authority to prevent digital discrimination

Tech lobbyist TechFreedom filed comments on Monday claiming that the Federal Communication Commission is overstepping its authority to regulate digital discrimination, following the FCC’s inquiry on how to prevent such a practice.

“If Congress had wanted the FCC to implement a new civil right law for broadband, it would have legislated a clear prohibition on discrimination – the essential element in all civil rights laws,” TechFreedom President Berin Szóka said in a release. “Instead, Congress wrote a law entirely about ‘facilitation.’”

The FCC’s inquiry follows an order under the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act to make rules to “facilitate” equal access to broadband and “prevent digital discrimination.”

“It is simply not plausible that Congress could have intended to change how broadband deployment is regulated in an obscure amendment tacked onto a spending bill on the Senate floor with no discussion or legislative history,” Szóka argued.

He concluded that there are other routes the FCC can take to prevent digital discrimination and facilitate equal access. Szóka called on the commission to “focus on directing funding towards remedying unequal access to broadband and preventing potential digital discrimination- not only under the infrastructure act but also the FCC’s various other broadband programs.”

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