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FCC Breach Notifications, More 6 GHz Testing?, Alaskan Middle Mile Options

FCC looks to strip time to notify and expand definition of breach for telecom reporting.



Screenshot of Kevin Robinson, president and CEO of the Wi-Fi Alliance

January 9, 2023 – The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to modify its breach reporting requirements for telecommunications companies, including expanding definitions for what to disclose and shrinking timelines on when notifications need to be made.

In the proposal released Friday, the commission is proposing to expand the mandatory breach reporting requirement to “inadvertent disclosures,” whereas previously the rule was specific to intentionally access to customers’ personal information.

The proposal also asks whether the commission should eliminate reporting waiting periods. Currently, breaches are reported to law enforcement within seven days of knowledge of the breach; they are then reported to customers after those seven days are up. The proposed rules would require providers to notify law enforcement and affected customers “as soon as practicable” and “without unreasonable delay.”

Comments are due 30 days after the proposal is published in the federal register, with reply comments due 30 days after that.

The proposal comes after telecommunications companies suffered a number of breaches over the years. In 2015, AT&T settled with the FCC to resolve three data breaches at call centers in other countries. In 2017, Verizon confirmed a leak of personal data of six million customers after a security misconfiguration on a cloud server. And in 2021, T-Mobile said that the personal information of over 50 million customers was stolen by hackers.

T-Mobile settled a class action lawsuit for $350 million last year.

Wi-Fi Alliance says calls for more 6 GHz unlicensed testing ‘groundless’

The Wi-Fi Alliance is asking the FCC to ignore “groundless requests” asking for the commission to do further testing to validate the opening of the 6 Gigahertz spectrum band for unlicensed use.

In November, the commission approved 13 spectrum coordination systems to test unlicensed devices on the spectrum band, which was opened up by the FCC for unlicensed use in April 2020 and then withstood a legal challenge.

But in a series of letters to the commission, 6 GHz license holders have asked that the FCC conduct field tests to validate unlicensed operations in the band. The National Spectrum Management Association has previously alleged that the opening of the band to a possible one billion portable WiFi devices was done without proper testing.

But in a letter from Thursday, the Wi-Fi Alliance has said that these requested field tests are not required.

“Mandating such testing would disrupt the introduction of new spectrum uses and technology to the market, delaying Americans’ ability to realize their benefits and harming American competitiveness,” the letter said. “The Commission must continue to reject this lose-lose proposition.”

The alliance points to the court’s decision, which did not require field tests for the band.

“Indeed, the Court has routinely upheld other Commission spectrum decision in which potential interference concerns were raised without finding that the Commission was required to conduct testing before making its decision.

“Accordingly, the 6 GHz Incumbents now insist on the Commission satisfying a higher bar than the Court itself has imposed,” the letter added.

Alaska seeking middle mile build options

The trade group Alaska Telecom Association has told the FCC that current options for low earth orbit satellite broadband service in the region are not meeting requirements for the state’s broadband plans.

“Starlink is offering broadband service in Alaska, but the service is being offered exclusively as a retail consumer service and is not available to carriers as middle mile transport,” the group said in a meeting summary letter on Friday.

“It is our understanding that all capacity of the OneWeb constellation in the northern region of Alaska is dedicated to existing contracts, and additional capacity is not available at this time,” the letter said, adding the company is meeting requirements of the contracts it is currently supporting but, “based on performance testing to date, the service is unlikely to meet the performance testing requirements applicable to the Alaska Plan.”

Alaska is known for having rough terrain and cold weather that make some broadband builds difficult. The group said in the letter it continues to seek the construction of on-the-ground middle mile infrastructure “wherever economically possible.”

Managing Editor Ahmad Hathout has spent the last half-decade reporting on the Canadian telecommunications and media industries for leading publications. He started the scoop-driven news site to make Canadian telecom news more accessible and digestible. Follow him on Twitter @ackmet.

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Broadband Roundup

NTIA Awards $13 Million from Wireless Fund, New Ritter CTO, Middle Mile in Virginia and North Carolina

The NTIA has awarded $13 million to open network projects.



Photo of Victor Esposito from Ritter Communications.

November 28, 2023 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced Tuesday that it is committing $13 million in grant funding from the $1.5 billion Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund. 

“The transition to open, interoperable wireless networks is now well on its way — bringing with it greater security, competition, and resiliency,” said NTIA Alan Davidson in a press release announcing the funding, adding the fund will accelerate the transition toward open and interoperable wireless by financially backing research and development. 

The seven projects that will be awarded funding are expected to improve the networks’ security, energy efficiency, and allow them to leverage AI to automate the network testing process. 

The fund is supported by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, which aims to invest in domestic manufacturing to improve national supply chain resiliency. 

Ritter Communications new CTO

Telecom service provider Ritter Communications announced Monday that Victor Esposito will serve as the company’s chief technology officer, after having served as its vice president of engineering and network operations. 

In his new role, Esposito will lead all of Ritter’s technology-related teams, read a press release. 

“[Victor] has the leadership, skills and drive to keep us and our customers on the cutting edge of innovation as well as maintaining the company’s steep growth trajectory,” said Ritter Communications president Heath Simpson. 

Esposito joined Ritter Communications in April of this year and will succeed Greg Sunderwood, who served as CTO position for 11 years.

Middle mile to be built in Virginia and North Carolina 

Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative announced Tuesday that it is partnering with Ciena, a networking systems service provider, to help install middle mile infrastructure to serve more than 31,000 customers in Virginia and North Carolina.  

MEC currently services 4,511 square miles in those respective states with its electric distribution system and is partnering with Ciena to deliver low-latency connectivity and aggregate operation technology to better broadband, explained a press release. 

“During our network deployment, we will pass tens of thousands of homes, businesses, and organizations, and we found it unthinkable to miss the opportunity to extend this fiber resource to our communities,” said Dwayne Long, vice president of information technology at MEC. 

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Broadband Roundup

Broadcom Finalizes VMware, $191M for Wilkes Rural Broadband, Kinetic Fiber in Georgia

Broadcom announces the closing of their $69 billion acquisition of VMware.



Photo of Broadcom Headquarters, taken 2007.

November 27, 2023 – Broadcom, a semiconductor and infrastructure solution company, announced Wednesday that it has finalized its $69-billion acquisition of VMware, a cloud computing company.

Broadcom will offer modernized VMware cloud services to enterprise customers, which will assist in helping applications deploy more efficiently and improve advanced security services, explained a press release.

“We are excited to welcome VMware to Broadcom and bring together our engineering-first, innovation-centric teams as we take another important step forward in building the world’s leading infrastructure technology company,” said Broadcom CEO Hock Tan.

Broadcom initially announced its intention to acquire VMware in May 2022, and underwent the process of receiving regulatory approvals from countries including  Australia, Brazil and Canada.

Wilkes gets $191M to complete rural broadband rollout

Internet service provider Wilkes Communications and its subsidiary RiverStreet Networks announced November 20 that they have secured a $191.1-million private loan to complete its rural broadband expansion in North Carolina and Virginia.

The financing comes from CoBank, which has a specific stream for rural broadband projects.

The fiber expansion project is expected to reach and service 100,000 locations by the time it is completed with a goal being to replace the remaining Wilkes infrastructure that relies on copper with fiber, read a press release.

“With this substantial financial backing, we are ready to break down barriers and bring the digital future within reach for even the most remote regions of North Carolina and Virginia,” said Wilkes Communications CEO Eric Cramer.

Wilkes has already received $270 million in funding from federal, state and local grants, which will go toward supplementing the loan from CoBank.

Kinetic lays out plan for Georgia buildout

Internet service provider Kinetic announced Tuesday its plan to rollout fiber to more than 70 percent of Colquitt County, Georgia in 2024.

The buildout will include nearly 440 miles of fiber – of which 180 has already been installed – meaning nearly 17,000 homes and 7,400 more customers will get fiber, the company said.

Kinetic said it is working with Colquitt Electric Membership Corp. to complete the $32.5-million fiber network, which includes $21.4 million in state money from the Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Program, which was backed by American Rescue Plan funds, and the remaining $11.1 million will come from Kinetic itself.

“We believe this transformation will open up new opportunities, including enhancing people’s qualities of life and driving economic growth,” said Michael Foor, president of Kinetic Georgia Operations, in the press release.

The company said currently 40 percent of the county is currently eligible to receive their fiber services.

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Sam Altman to Rejoin OpenAI, Tech CEOs Subpoenaed, EFF Warns About Malware

Altman was brought back to OpenAI only days after being fired.



Photo of Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, taken 2019, permission.

November 22, 2023 – OpenAI announced in an X post early Wednesday morning that Sam Altman will be re-joining the company that built ChatGPT as CEO after he was fired on Friday. 

Altman confirmed his intention to rejoin OpenAI in an X post Wednesday morning, saying that he was looking forward to returning to OpenAI with support from the new board.

Former company president Greg Brockman also said Wednesday he will return to the AI company.

Altman and Brockman will join with a newly formed board, which includes former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor as the chair, former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, and Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, who previously held a position on the OpenAI board.

Satya Nadella, the CEO of OpenAI backer Microsoft, echoed support for both Brockman and Altman rejoining OpenAI, adding that he is looking forward to continuing building a relationship with the OpenAI team in order to best deliver AI services to customers. 

OpenAI received backlash from several hundred employees who threatened to leave and join Microsoft under Altman and Brockman unless the current board of directors agreed to resign.  

Tech CEOs subpoenaed to attend hearing

Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, announced Monday that tech giants Snap, Discord and X have been issued subpoenas for their appearance at the Senate Judiciary Committee on December 6 in relation to concerns over child sexual exploitation online. 

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, X CEO Linda Yaccarino and Discord CEO Jason Citron have been asked to address how or if they’ve worked to confront that issue. 

Durbin said in a press release that the committee “promised Big Tech that they’d have their chance to explain their failures to protect kids. Now’s that chance. Hearing from the CEOs of some of the world’s largest social media companies will help inform the Committee’s efforts to address the crisis of online child sexual exploitation.” 

Durbin noted in a press release that both X and Discord refused to initially accept subpoenas, which required the US Marshal Service to personally deliver those respective documents. 

The committee is looking to have Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testify as well but have not received confirmation regarding their attendance.  

Several bipartisan bills have been brought forth to address that kind of exploitation, including the Earn It Act, proposed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, and Graham, which holds them liable under child sexual abuse material laws. 

EFF urging FTC to sanction sellers of malware-containing devices

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit digital rights group, have asked the Federal Trade Commission in a letter on November 14 to sanction resellers like Amazon and AliExpress following allegations mobile devices and Android TV boxes purchased from their stores contain malware.

The letter explained that once the devices were turned on and connected to the internet,  they would begin “communicating with botnet command and control (C2) servers. From there, these devices connect to a vast click-fraud network which a report by HUMAN Security recently dubbed BADBOX.”

The EFF added that this malware is often operating unbeknownst to the consumer, and without advanced technical knowledge, there is nothing they can do to remedy it themselves.

“These devices put buyers at risk not only by the click-fraud they routinely take part in, but also the fact that they facilitate using the buyers’ internet connections as proxies for the malware manufacturers or those they sell access to,” explained the letter. 

EFF said that the devices containing malware included ones manufactured by Chinese companies AllWinner and RockChip, who have been reported on for sending out products with malware before by EFF.

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