Connect with us

Broadband Roundup

FTC Complaint Against Facebook, Amazon Warns of Antitrust Reforms, Tesla Under Investigation

FTC mounts another complaint against Facebook, Amazon warns third-party sellers about antitrust, Tesla autopilot investigated.

Published

on

FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan

August 19, 2021—The FTC submitted an amended complaint for relief against Facebook for alleged anticompetitive behavior, arguing that Facebook “holds monopoly power” and engaged in “anticompetitive acquisitions [strategies] with anticompetitive conditional dealing policies.”

Though the FTC had their original complaint against the company thrown out, this renewed argument is focused on a “buy or bury” scheme.

In a statement, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition Holly Vedova alleged, “Facebook lacked the business acumen and technical talent to survive the transition to mobile. After failing to compete with new innovators, Facebook illegally bought or buried them when their popularity became an existential threat.”

Vedova compared this behavior to simply bribing competitors to simply not compete and argued that it is cases like this one that are precisely why antitrust laws were created.

“Facebook’s actions have suppressed innovation and product quality improvements. And they have degraded the social network experience, subjecting users to lower levels of privacy and data protections and more intrusive ads.”

Facebook has until October 4 to respond to the amended complaint.

Amazon warning third-party sellers on antitrust reforms

Leaked Amazon emails sent to third-party sellers instruct them to be mindful of antitrust reforms that are circulating in Congress.

CNBC confirmed with Amazon that the email was sent out instructing sellers to contact Amazon’s policy team to get more information, though at this time the nature of what would be discussed is not clear.

There is a perception among much of the public that the Biden Administration has made a hard pivot from the Trump Administration regarding antitrust policy, however as FTC Chairman Noah Phillips pointed out during Technology Policy Institute’s 2021 Aspen Forum, the FTC under the Trump Administration blocked the highest number of mergers and acquisitions since 2001.

During the same panel, Phillips also voiced concern for a broader aperture of what should fall under the purview of antitrust.

Tesla autopilot feature invites federal investigation

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration announced that it would be conducting a probe into eleven crashes since 2018 that occurred while Tesla drivers were using Tesla’s Advanced Driver Assistance System, otherwise known as the “autopilot” feature. The accidents in question resulted in 17 injuries and one death.

Because the software that the autopilot feature uses is present in Tesla Model Ys, Xs, Ss, and 3s, all approximately 765,000 thousand vehicles are a part of the investigation—which could potentially result in mass recalls.

All these models were produced between 2014 and 2021 and were engaged in crashes where the vehicles in question “encountered first responder scenes and subsequently struck one or more vehicles involved with those scenes.”

The report appeared to indicate that because most incidents occurred in dark conditions and included “scene control measures” such as flares, emergency vehicle lights, road cones, etc., these features may have played a role in the causing the autopilot feature to cause or contribute to an accident.

Broadband Roundup

Debt Ceiling Bill Passes House, China Warns of AI Risks, Rural Internet Exchanges

Debt legislation will limit federal discretionary spending, facilitate environmental permitting for infrastructure projects.

Published

on

Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo of Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Thursday via Shutterstock

June 1, 2023 — The House passed a bill Wednesday night to suspend the debt limit for a further two years on a bipartisan 314-117 vote. 

The legislation was negotiated by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in late May that would suspend the debt ceiling for two years. In exchange, the Biden Administration would be required to limit growth of federal discretionary spending over the next two years to one percent, a budget cut when accounting for increasing inflation rates.  

Biden will also be required to adjust work requirements for certain recipients of food stamps and the Temporary Aid for Needy Families program. 

Suspending the debt limit, which caps U.S. borrowing and is currently set at $31.4 trillion, will allow the government to keep borrowing money as needed to pay its bills. Under this legislation, the new cap will be set at the spending level it has reached when the suspension expires in 2025. 

The legislation includes some minor steps addressing environmental permitting for energy project reviews, although the changes are less sweeping than those proposed by Republications. The agreement as passed by the House amends the National Environmental Policy Act by requiring a single federal agency to lead environmental reviews for infrastructure projects. It also sets a one-year deadline for agencies to issue environmental assessments and a two-year deadline for environmental impact statements.

“These changes will help us build more quickly and responsibly; build more solar, build more wind, EV chargers, transmission, and the other infrastructure we need to secure a clean energy economy,” a White House official said during a media briefing.

The agreement must now pass the Senate and be signed by the president before Monday, June 5, which the U.S. Treasury marked as the day it runs out of funds, to take effect. It now heads to the Senate for a vote where it is expected to pass after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-K.Y., endorsed it.  

Although the bill received bipartisan support, conservative Republican representatives opposed the bill because it contains only a fraction of the deficit reduction they initially lobbied for, and progressive Democrat representatives opposed the bill over its expansion of work requirements for welfare programs.  

Chinese president warns of AI security risks 

The Chinese Communist Party warned in a statement Tuesday against the possible risks artificial intelligence can pose to political and social issues. 

Chinese President Xi JinPing urged for China to adopt “dedicated efforts to safeguard political security and improve the security governance of internet data and artificial intelligence.”  

He highlighted security concerns regarding advancing technologies and called for the CCP to stay “keenly aware of the complicated and challenging circumstances facing national security and correctly grasping major national security issues.” 

The CCP must be prepared to “deal with worse-case and extreme-case scenario,” Xi said. He called for the establishment of a risk monitoring and early warning system and a “new pattern of development with a new security architecture.” 

This comes a week after State Department officials called for a U.S-led global coalition to set AI regulations. Jennifer Bachus, assistant secretary of state for Cyberspace and Digital Policy, said that the United States and China should not pit against one another, claiming it would “ultimately always lead to a problem.” 

Instead, Bachus called for an alliance of the U.S., the European Union, and Japan to take the lead in creating a legal framework to govern AI.  

“This is the exact moment where the US needs to show leadership,” she said. “This is a shared problem and we need a shared solution.” 

IXP operator to offer solutions to rural regions in U.S. 

Germany-based operator of internet exchanges, DE-CIX, and Connected Nation Internet Exchange Points, a joint venture between nonprofit Connected Nation and Newby Ventures, announced in May a strategic partnership for operation of edge internet exchange points in unserved and underserved markets across the United States. 

The deal will foster the development of new connectivity hubs in rural areas and will seek to “significantly improve” regional internet performance and build new carrier-neutral interconnection facilities in at least 125 communities in 43 states, a press release said. 

With the deal, DE-CIX becomes the IXP platform operator inside CNIXP facilities. IXP’s enable the interconnection and exchange of internet traffic between more than two independent systems. 

“People and businesses – and in particular the research and educational sector – in American cities beyond the major hubs need and deserve better Internet performance – faster, lower latency, more resilient, and more secure access to content, clouds, and applications,” said Ivo Ivanov, CEO of DE-CIX. 

“An IXP and its ecosystem of connected networks and data centers increases the speed and resilience of Internet connectivity through optimizing the routes for data transport and offering greater redundant data pathways,” read the press release. “It also brings down the costs of connectivity and enables locally bound data to remain local.” 

Continue Reading

Broadband Roundup

Mississippi Gets $151M for Broadband, FCC Commits $15M from ECF, FCC Proposes Fine Against SkySwitch

Mississippi will receive $151 million from Treasury’s Capital Projects Fund.

Published

on

Photo of Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo from August 2016 by the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi

May 31, 2023 – The Treasury Department on Tuesday announced the approval of  $151.5 million toward high-speed internet projects in Mississippi.

The money Mississippi will receive will be put toward the Broadband Expansion and Accessibility of Mississippi fund. The program will fund three different types of broadband investments: community-based broadband projects, line extensions, and large-scale projects. The state is estimating these funds will connect approximately 47,300 business and homes to affordable, high-speed internet.

The money is being allocated from the Treasury’s Capital Projects Fund, which is part of the Biden administration’s Investing in America agenda.

“The pandemic upended life as we knew it and exposed the stark inequity in access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet in communities across the country, including rural, Tribal, and other underrepresented communities,” Wally Adeyemo, deputy secretary of the treasury, said in a press release. “This funding is a key piece of the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic investments to increase access to high-speed internet for millions of Americans and provide more opportunities to fully participate and compete in the 21st century economy.”

FCC commits another $15 million from Emergency Connectivity Fund

FCC announced Wednesday it is committing another $15 million from the Emergency Connectivity Fund toward connectivity for students away from school.

The latest funding round will go to support approximately 50 schools, five libraries, and 35,000 students, including in New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Delaware, Indiana, and California.

“This program has helped millions of students get the digital tools they need for online learning and connecting with teachers,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a press release. “Today’s funding round is another step in our ongoing work to close the Homework Gap.”

In total, the program has supported 120 consortia, 1,000 libraries, 11,000 schools, and has funded more than eight million broadband connections and almost 13 million connected devices.

Almost $6.7 billion in funding commitments has been approved so far out of the $7.1-billion program

FCC proposes $1.4 million fine against communications service provider

The Federal Communications Commission is proposing a fine of $1.4 million on a communications service provider that allegedly failed to pay fees to four agency funds and regulatory costs.

The FCC says PayG – which is doing business as communications service provider SkySwitch – has between 2018 to 2021 failed to pay $404,416.28 into the Universal Service Fund, the North American Numbering Plan, the Local Number Portability, and the Telecommunications Relay Service Fund.

“Each of these funding mechanisms play a critical role in supporting vital programs for the public that make the United States a global leader in the provision of communications services. Providers must fulfill their responsibilities to meet their deadlines and obligations to pay the full amount of what they owe in a timely manner,” FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Loyaan Egal said in a press release.

PayG will have the opportunity to present its case to the FCC addressing the proposed fine.

Continue Reading

Broadband Roundup

FCC Map Update, FCC Renews FirstNet Spectrum Authority, NTIA Warns EU Over Big Tech Proposal

New FCC map shows 8.3 million unserved locations.

Published

on

Screenshot of the Federal Communications Commission

May 30, 2023 – The latest update to the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband availability map shows 8.3 million unserved locations, an increase of 330,000 over the previous map that came out in November, according to a statement by the commission Tuesday.

According to the FCC’s statement, the new version has resolved 75 percent of the issues raised since November and reflects more than a million new serviced locations.

“These incremental updates reflect both challenge outcomes and any corrections providers make to their filings,” continued the statement. “We will continue to accept challenges every day, every week and every month, and those challenges will continue to improve the map.”

This is the second version of the map since November’s preliminary version. The commission has said it is putting “significant resources” in its improvement, as the map will be relied upon by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to allocate to the states by June 30 the $42.5 billion from its Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program.

The commission’s underlying map data, called the fabric, has been met with challenges from local entities, which have shown an overestimation of the number of serviceable locations. The FCC makes changes to the data accordingly.

FCC renews FirstNet spectrum authority in 700 MHz band

The Federal Communications Commission renewed FirstNet Authority’s license to operate in the 700 MHz public safety band Friday.

“In sum, based on the totality of the record, we conclude that FirstNet has sufficiently demonstrated compliance with the requirements of the Spectrum Act to warrant renewal of its license,” read an FCC statement.

The spectrum authorization grants FirstNet use until at least 2027.

FirstNet submitted this application for renewal in August 2022, its first as a body.

Twelve parties submitted varied opinions regarding the unconditional renewal of its license. The Verizon First Responder Advisory Council and T-Mobile, among others, advocated for a more rigorous examination of the operation of FirstNet. Concerns mainly revolved around FirstNet’s contractual relationship with AT&T, its extension of the band deployment to non-public safety entities, and cybersecurity reasons.

In 2012, Congress enacted the Spectrum Act to establish FirstNet as a separate entity within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration responsible for managing “a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network” in the 700Mhz spectrum. FirstNet then secured a 25-year deal with AT&T valued at $100 billion to construct a nationwide network for first responders.

NTIA warns against Big Tech directly paying ISPs

The NTIA submitted comments Thursday opposing a European Union proposal to force Big Tech to pay internet service providers to build out infrastructure.

The comments pointed to “substantial risks” involved with mandating payments directly from Big Tech to telecom operators.

“Enforcing mandatory payments on a subset of traffic generators could be discriminatory and degrade equal access to the Internet, thereby endangering the principle of Internet openness/net neutrality,” read the submission.

The response also highlighted unnecessary costs and bottlenecks that would trickle down to the end-users, referencing similar findings by the The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications and in South Korea.

The comments come as heated debates take hold in the United States about whether or not large technology corporations should contribute to the Universal Service Fund, which subsidizes telecommunications services upon which the companies rely. The FCC has recommended that Congress establish a more robust framework for addressing new contributions, but Congress has yet to make a decision on the matter.

Early this March, senators from Mississippi, New Mexico, Indiana, and Arizona introduced new legislation pushing Congress and the FCC to actively consider potential contributions from Big Tech revenue.

“The FAIR Contributions Act would help Congress assess the feasibility of making Big Tech companies contribute to the USF,” said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi. “It is important to ensure the costs of expanding broadband are distributed equitably and that all companies are held accountable for their role in shaping our digital future.”

Earlier this month, the Senate set up a working group to study the USF program.

Continue Reading

Signup for Broadband Breakfast News



Broadband Breakfast Research Partner

Trending