August 30, 2021—Between August 28 and August 29, the FCC took a series of actions designed to allow those who find themselves in the path of hurricane Ida to seek help more easily or get information.
The first of such action was granting “special temporary authority” to various carriers to ensure that their operations are interrupted as minimally as possible. This would allow certain facilities, such as radio facilities, that may not otherwise be allowed to operate, to do so legally to the extent that they are enabling communication to those impacted by the hurricane.
This weekend, the FCC waived numbering rules for providers affected by Ida. This would allow telephone carriers to port numbers outside of their geographic region—particularly for remote areas in Louisiana and Mississippi—temporarily.
OneWeb maintains negative impact of spectrum sharing
In response to the FCC’s notice of proposed rulemaking regarding making flexible use of the 12 Gigahertz band, legal counsel for OneWeb asserted that a growing body of recent data demonstrates that cohabitation of the band would be disastrous for OneWeb’s ability to operate in the band.
RS Access has been an outspoken voice in favor of cohabitation, referencing a study conducted by RFK Engineering Solutions, LLC. SpaceX—another stakeholder opposed to flexible use in the band—has referred to the study in question as “fatally flawed” and that sharing the band will result in interference to their operations.
FCC proposes $5M fine for robocall scheme
The FCC is proposing this month a $5 million fine against two men accused of running a robocalling scheme.
The calls in questions were all made between August 26 and September 14 of 2020 and and allegedly fraudulently “informed” potential voters that if they voted by mail, their “personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts.”
On August 24, the FCC released a press release publicly condemning Jacob Wohl and John Burkman for allegedly making “unlawful robocalls to voters’ wireless phones without prior consent.” The fine would come out to just over $5.1 million and is designed to punish the men for making more than a thousand robocalls in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
According to 10WBNS, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost stated that these efforts were made is dissuade specific demographics from voting by mail in the 2020 election amid the pandemic.
“It’s pretty obvious that they were trying to discourage black citizens from exercising their right to vote by mail and that’s just reprehensible,” Yost said.
As noted by the release, this is not only the largest fine of its kind proposed by the FCC, but it is also the first where the FCC did not provide a warning to the parties in violation of the act.
Both Wohl and Burkman admitted their involvement in the scheme under oath.
Appeals Court Affirms FCC’s Spectrum Authority, FTC Privacy Rulemaking, (Root) Beer and Broadband
The Federal Communications Commission’s reallocation of intelligent transportation service spectrum was not arbitrary and capricious, the court held.
August 12, 2022 – The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday affirmed the the Federal Communications Commission’s authority to reclassify radio frequency spectrum and make more of the 5.9 GigaHertz band available for broadband communication.
In 2020, the Federal Communications Commission reallocated a part of the radio spectrum from use by intelligent transportation systems to use by unlicensed transmission devices such as Wi-Fi routers.
In a unanimous running by a three-judge panel, Judge Justin R. Walker wrote: “Several groups that want to retain their old use of the reallocated spectrum argue that the FCC’s reallocation was arbitrary and capricious. It was not.”
In the relatively brief 15-page decision in ITS America v. FCC, the court upheld the FCC’s manner of changing a band’s usage.
In 1999, the FCC gave the auto industry 75 MHz of spectrum exclusively for “Dedicated Short-Range Communications” for the purpose of improving public safety. After more than 20 years of waiting for the industry to deploy DSRC, in 2020 the FCC approved an Order to phase out DSRC and replace it with a new, more efficient technology called Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything.
Supporters of the FCC, including non-profit groups like Public Knowledge, argued that 30 MHz of spectrum the auto industry retained is more than sufficient for collision avoidance and safety purposes. Rather than allowing the auto industry to retain excess spectrum for commercial uses such as location-based advertising, the FCC repurposed the lower 45 MHz for unlicensed use which will enable next-generation Wi-FI.
“By reaffirming the FCC’s decision, the D.C. Circuit will ensure that our airwaves are being put to their best and most efficient use,” said Kathleen Burke, policy counsel at Public Knowledge.
FTC opens process to consider new privacy rules
The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday announced proposals to go after businesses that collect and analyze personal-based information, and that don’t deploy the strong forms of data security.
“Firms now collect personal data on individuals at a massive scale and in a stunning array of contexts,” said FTC Chair Lina Khan. “The growing digitization of our economy—coupled with business models that can incentivize endless hoovering up of sensitive user data and a vast expansion of how this data is used—means that potentially unlawful practices may be prevalent.”
The agency’s press release went on to blast companies that “surveil consumers while they are connected to the internet – every aspect of their online activity, their family and friend networks, browsing and purchase histories, location and physical movements, and a wide range of other personal details.”
On July 20, the Senate Commerce Committee passed comprehensive privacy legislation a restricting collection and transfer of personal data of U.S. citizens without consent.
The measure has not yet passed the House, where Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said in Thursday response: “I appreciate the FTC’s effort to use the tools it has to protect consumers, but Congress has a responsibility to pass comprehensive federal privacy legislation to better equip the agency, and others, to protect consumers to the greatest extent.
“Ultimately, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act is necessary to establish comprehensive national statutory privacy protections for all Americans and I’m committed to getting it passed and signed into law.”
(Root) Beer and Broadband episode features Broadband Breakfast’s Drew Clark
Bonfire Engineering and Construction on Thursday released a new episode of its “Beer and Broadband” podcast.
Check out our latest Beer & Broadband episode on how data & policy impacts broadband expansion. Hear from:
🎙️Drew Clark – Editor & Publisher of @BroadbandCensus
🎙️Russ Elliott – CEO of Siskiyou Telephone
🎙️Megan Beresford – Director at @LDAGrantshttps://t.co/wxV2bPfs7t
— Bonfire Engineering and Construction (@ourbonfirespark) August 11, 2022
Featuring Drew Clark, editor and publisher of Broadband Breakfast, Russ Elliott, CEO of Siskiyou Telephone, and Megan Beresford of LDAGrants, the episode focused on “How Data & Policy Impacts Broadband Expansion.”
Nick Dinsmoor and Brian Hollister of Bonfire, hosts of the informal program, structured the roundtable series as a way to bring together leaders in the broadband and infrastructure space to share their thoughts without egos, agendas, or selling.
Grid Broadband Bill, Ting Gets Financing, Finley Engineering Has New CEO
A new bill would provide grants to providers who can quickly build middle-mile infrastructure along existing electrical grid system.
August 10, 2022 – A bill introduced in the Senate last week would make grants available to those who can build middle mile fiber infrastructure along existing municipal rights-of-way and use existing assets to reduce the financial, regulatory and permitting barriers to broadband buildouts.
The Grants to Rapidly Invest and Deploy Broadband Act is intended to use existing electrical infrastructure to quickly expand broadband infrastructure to the 120 million American households that don’t have adequate connectivity, according to a Wednesday press release from Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who co-introduced the bill with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.
The legislation specifically notes that it would like to fund those that have existing partnerships with last-mile providers to connect homes and business and ensure that the technology is scalable for more advanced services, including accelerating 5G wireless infrastructure and making affordable gigabit broadband speeds.
The bill would also require that the network would support the security of the electric grid by installing a private communications network for grid operators.
“Building out fiber along our nation’s existing grid will provide the communications capacity needed to modernize our energy system, make our grid more cybersecure, and bring affordable high-speed internet to tens of millions of hard-to-reach households,” Cantwell said in the release. “It’s a triple win solution for consumers because it leverages existing rights-of-way and private sector ingenuity and investment to deliver cleaner electricity, stronger cybersecurity, and more accessible broadband services.”
Ting Fiber gets $200M financing
Telecommunications company Ting Fiber announced Tuesday that it has secured $200 million in financing from Generate Capital, which the company said will help it deploy next-generation communications infrastructure to municipalities across the country.
“We chose Generate because we wanted more than just a financing partner. We wanted their project management expertise, sustainability expertise and the wide range of capital solutions they offer – all of which will help Ting as we continue to rapidly scale our operations,” said Elliot Noss, CEO of Ting and its parent Tucows.
The financing will be used to accelerate Ting’s network deployment and to take advantage of its move from coaxial to fiber technology.
Some of the financing, which was signed on Monday, will be forwarded as Ting achieved operational milestones, it said.
Finley Engineering announces new CEO
The board of directors of broadband and energy engineering and consulting firm Finley Engineering announced Wednesday that Ty Middleton will be the company’s next president and CEO.
Middleton will replace Mike Boehne, who is retiring after being in the job for 10 years, according to the press release.
The release notes that Middleton has experience in the cybersecurity, software-as-a-service, and telecommunications sectors, the latter of which he has 30 years experience.
“He joins Finley with extensive experience in cross-functional leadership roles including general management, field and business operations, sales, and business development,” the release said.
“Middleton has led high-growth, customer-centric, technology-fueled businesses from start-ups to Fortune 150, including time at MCI Telecommunications, Qwest Communications, and CenturyLink,” it added.
FTC Phillips Stepping Down, Chips Act Now Law, Alaskan Entities Getting $50M in Broadband Grants
Phillips told Politico that he is leaving the competition watchdog this fall.
August 9, 2022 – Federal Trade Commissioner Noah Phillips is stepping down from the competition watchdog, according to reporting from Politico.
The Republican commissioner – one of two on an agency with three Democrats – said he told President Joe Biden that he intends to resign this fall, according to the report.
Phillips has been critical of the direction the agency has taken under chairwoman and Big Tech critic Lina Khan, who was appointed by the president to lead the agency.
Phillips has expressed concern about the impact of antitrust rules on consumer prices, criticized the release of a report by the FTC that warned about the dangers of artificial intelligence to combat online harms, alleging that the commission did not consult outside experts, and broadly warned last year about the overall direction of the agency to turn away from the traditional way it viewed competition.
Others outside the agency have also expressed concern that the commission’s tilt, plus pieces of antitrust legislation before Congress, could harm the country’s global competitiveness in the tech industry.
Chips Act signed into law
President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed into law legislation that would provide billions in incentives for the nation to invest in its own semiconductor manufacturing.
In comments delivered before the signing, Biden said the goal of the “once in a generation investment” is to help the country “lead the world in future industries and protect our national security.”
The Chips and Science Act of 2022, which passed the House late last month, is a broad bill with a specific provision that includes $52 billion to incentive domestic manufacturing of chips that power a range of technologies, including phones, watches, cars and laptops, as well as grants for the design and deployment of 5G networks.
Nations during the pandemic have struggled with getting a steady supply of the chips for products, thus contributing to a supply shortage on many important technologies. This triggered increasing concern about the country’s reliance on others for basic technologies.
Currently only 12 percent of global chips are made in the U.S., which is down from 37 percent in the 1990s, according to Senator Michael Bennett, D-CO.
Alaska getting $50 million in broadband grants
Two native entities in Alaska are getting $51 million for high-speed internet, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced Monday.
The grants from the Commerce agency’s Internet for All program will go to Doyon Limited and Ahtna Intertribal Resource Commission to provide connectivity to 581 unserved households across villages in the Doyon region and in eight tribal governments in the Ahtna region for “activities including telehealth, distance learning, telework, and workforce development.”
“The digital divide on our tribal lands, especially in remote Alaska, is stark,” said Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in a press release. “The necessary investment through the Biden-Harris Internet for All initiative provides real change to these communities to participate in the digital economy, whether it’s education, health or jobs.”
The release said NTIA head Alan Davidson is visiting Alaska this week and said it is “humbling to see first-hand how these grants will positively impact the daily lives of Alaskan Natives who have been disconnected for far too long.”
- Appeals Court Affirms FCC’s Spectrum Authority, FTC Privacy Rulemaking, (Root) Beer and Broadband
- David Flower: 5G and Hyper-Personalization: Too Much of a Good Thing?
- FCC Denies Funding for Two of the Biggest Winners of Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Money
- Grid Broadband Bill, Ting Gets Financing, Finley Engineering Has New CEO
- Broadband Breakfast on August 17, 2022 – Summer of Broadband: Tennessee
- FCC Encouraged to Limit Data Collection on Affordable Connectivity Program, Others Want More
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