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Wired

Trump’s FCC Is Using Junk Data to Downplay Broadband Woes

You can’t fix a problem you don’t understand, and it’s very clear that the Federal Communications Commission under Donald Trump doesn’t want to understand its failure to make affordable broadband available to all Americans. During a pandemic when Americans are forced to work, learn, and get their health care online, the FCC’s refusal to accurately measure US broadband connectivity gaps has quickly shifted from administrative farce to outright tragedy. Once each year, the law requires the FCC to determine whether broadband is “being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.” If not, the agency is supposed to take concrete steps toward fixing the problem. WIRED OPINION ABOUT Gigi Sohn (@gigibsohn) is a distinguished fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy and a Benton Institute senior fellow and public advocate. While the Trump FCC pantomimes these obligations, the reports it issues rely on poor methodology, unsound logic, and flawed data, resulting in a distorted view of America’s broadband problem and government policy based on little more than magical thinking. The FCC’s 2020 Broadband Deployment Report, released last June, claims the number of Americans without access to broadband sits somewhere around 18.3 million. But third-party reports have suggested it’s closer to 42.8 million. Tens of millions more Americans are trapped under a broadband monopoly, a tally experts say is also undercounted by the FCC. At the heart of the problem sits the data that internet service providers (ISPs) are required to submit to the FCC.…Continue readingTrump’s FCC Is Using Junk Data to Downplay Broadband Woes

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The Verge

Trump nominates social media hawk as next FCC commissioner

President Donald Trump has nominated longtime telecom lawyer Nathan Simington to be the Federal Communications Commission’s next commissioner, as reported by Law360. Last week, The Verge first reported that Simington had emerged as a leading candidate to replace current Republican Commissioner Mike O’Rielly. Simington, a senior adviser at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), played a significant role in drafting a petition required under the Trump administration’s social media executive order issued over the summer. The order instructs the FCC, after receiving NTIA’s petition, to reinterpret Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The order was issued in May after Twitter fact-checked two of Trump’s tweets that made false statements about mail-in voting. It is unclear when the FCC intends to roll out a formal notice of proposed rulemaking and vote on the measure. Simington’s nomination marks a significant break in the Trump administration’s former FCC nominations. Previously, the administration has nominated Republican commissioners in favor of light-touch telecommunications and technology policy. O’Rielly was previously nominated for a third-term by Trump, but his nomination was abruptly withdrawn after he made a speech expressing concerns over the administration’s social media order that would empower the FCC to take a unique role in regulating content moderation on social media platforms. “As a conservative, I’m troubled voices are stifled by liberal tech leaders,” O’Rielly tweeted in May. “At same time, I’m extremely dedicated to First Amendment which governs much here.” If Simington’s nomination is approved in the Senate, the FCC would have…Continue readingTrump nominates social media hawk as next FCC commissioner

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Engadget

FCC chairman cited false broadband data in spite of warnings

Pai went on to correct the data in May 2019, but maintained that broadband was reaching Americans in a “reasonable and timely fashion.” The gap was considerably larger than he claimed, though. Where the Chairman initially claimed that people without access dropped from 26.1 million in late 2016 to 19.4 million a year later, there were actually 21.3 million people without fast internet service. That also doesn’t factor in concerns about inaccurate data gathering methods. These findings don’t necessarily show the FCC was knowingly using false info. However, they at least indicates the regulator wasn’t heeding numerous red flags. The Pai-era FCC has made rural broadband one of its top priorities, committing billions to the cause, but reports like this cast doubt on its progress claims. Source linkContinue readingFCC chairman cited false broadband data in spite of warnings

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Engadget

Verizon spends big in FCC auction ahead of mid-band 5G launch

Verizon (Engadget’s parent company) was the biggest winner in the FCC’s recently concluded auction for licenses in the 3.5 GHz band. In its announcement, the commission has revealed that Verizon placed $1.89 billion in winning bids, followed by Dish Network (under the name Wetterhorn Wireless) with total winning bids worth $912 million. The FCC started auctioning off 70 megahertz of Priority Access Licenses in a band that’s seen as key to widespread 5G and Internet of Things deployment back in July. When the agency announced (PDF) the auction’s conclusion last month, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said it was a key part of the commission’s 5G FAST Plan and its “ongoing push to make more mid-band spectrum available for 5G.” In all, the auction reached $4.6 billion in winning bids, not just from Verizon and Dish, but also from a number of cable operators. As the Wall Street Journal notes, their participation suggests that they’re planning to offer more mobile services or that they’re working to break free from running their services on Verizon’s network. Source linkContinue readingVerizon spends big in FCC auction ahead of mid-band 5G launch

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Tech Radar

Google’s Android TV-powered Chromecast successor breaks cover in FCC listing

Back in March, we reported on an alleged Chromecast Ultra successor from Google that might finally offer an Android TV interface and remote, and now it appears the rumored product may have taken a large step towards reality. As reported by 9to5Google, the search giant has submitted filings to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US for two new devices under the model numbers GZRNL and G9N9N. As revealed by Google’s filings, the first model is described as an “Interactive Media Streaming Device”, while the latter is simply listed as a “Wireless Device”, making it highly likely that the models in question are the long-rumored Chromecast Ultra successor and its accompanying remote. Codenamed ‘Sabrina’, the alleged streaming dongle is said to act as a Chromecast replacement, allowing users to put away their smart devices and access a full Android TV interface on their television screen that can be controlled via a dedicated remote.  According to a previous report from June, the dongle will boast 4K and 60 FPS output, support for HDR and Dolby Vision and an “auto low latency mode” which may help reduce Google Stadia lag. Of course, we won’t know for sure until Google makes an official announcement, which should be soon given the FCC filing. Source linkContinue readingGoogle’s Android TV-powered Chromecast successor breaks cover in FCC listing

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Engadget

Google asks FCC for 6Ghz spectrum for ‘confidential’ broadband testing

Google has asked the FCC for permission to conduct secret wireless broad tests using the 6GHz spectrum in multiple cities across the US, according to a document spotted by Business Insider. It wants to run “experimental propagation testing in the 6GHz band” to see if the frequencies can provide “reliable broadband connections,” the redacted application states. That could point to future internet services using the spectrum, possibly under its new Fiber WebPass banner. Google wanted information in the public document redacted, saying that “if subject to public disclosure, would cause significant commercial, economic, and competitive harm.” It made the application for multiple cities in 17 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. In California, it plans to test in seven cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco. Source linkContinue readingGoogle asks FCC for 6Ghz spectrum for ‘confidential’ broadband testing

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The Verge

President Trump withdraws FCC renomination after 5G controversy

President Trump has withdrawn the nomination of FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, a six-year FCC veteran who was expected by many to be renewed for a third term, as first reported by Reuters. The withdrawal comes less than a week after Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) placed a hold on the nomination over concerns about O’Rielly’s position on a recently approved terrestrial 5G network. The conflict centers over a controversial 5G network recently approved by the commission. The proposed network would operate on the L-band spectrum traditionally utilized by radar and GPS, operated by Ligado Networks as a low-power terrestrial system. In its proposal, Ligado pledged to report its base stations and operating parameters to avoid any interference with existing L-band users, but critics of the order have remained concerned that the network may interfere with GPS systems. Sen. Inhofe is one of those critics, saying, “This isn’t just about our military, but all users of GPS are united in opposition.” As a result, Inhofe sought to block O’Rielly’s nomination “until he publically states that he will vote to overturn the current Ligado Order.” O’Rielly had also expressed public skepticism over President Trump’s recent executive order, which would task the FCC with oversight over Section 230 and social media moderation more broadly. “As a conservative, I’m troubled voices are stifled by liberal tech leaders,” he wrote on Twitter. “At same time, I’m extremely dedicated to First Amendment which governs much here.” More recently, he expressed doubts over the FCC’s authority to execute…Continue readingPresident Trump withdraws FCC renomination after 5G controversy

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TechCrunch

FCC invites public comment on Trump’s attempt to nerf Section 230 – TechCrunch

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has decided to ask the public for its thoughts on an attempt initiated in Trump in May to water down certain protections that arguably led to the creation of the modern internet economy. The nakedly retaliatory order seems to be, legally speaking, laughable, and could be resolved without public input — but the FCC wants your opinion, so you may as well give it to them. You can submit your comment here at the FCC’s long-suffering electronic comment filing system, but before you do so, perhaps acquaint yourself with a few facts. Section 230 essentially prevents companies like Facebook and Google from being liable for content they merely host, as long as they work to take down illegal content quickly. Some feel these protections has given the companies the opportunity to manipulate speech on their platforms — Trump felt targeted by a fact-check warning placed by Twitter on his unsupported claims of fraud in mail-in warning. To understand the order itself and see commentary from the companies that would be affected, as well as Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), who co-authored the law in the first place, read our story from the day Trump signed the order. (Wyden called it “plainly illegal.”) For a bipartisan legislative approach that actually addresses shortcomings in Section 230, check out the PACT Act announced in June. (Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) says they’re approaching the law “with a scalpel rather than a jackhammer.”) More relevant to the FCC’s proceedings, however, are the…Continue readingFCC invites public comment on Trump’s attempt to nerf Section 230 – TechCrunch

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TechCrunch

Amazon gains FCC approval for Kuiper internet satellite constellation and commits $10 billion to the project – TechCrunch

Amazon has received approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch and operate a planned constellation of 3,236 internet satellites. That’s the backbone of Amazon’s Project Kuiper, an initiative to create a satellite-based broadband internet service designed to provide high-speed, low latency connections to U.S.-based households that currently don’t have great access to a high-speed connection. Alongside the key regulatory approval, Amazon also announced that it would be committing over $10 billion in Kuiper, money that it says will generate U.S. jobs and involve not only building and testing satellites for the constellation, but also building out key ground network infrastructure that’s required in order to actually make the connectivity available to consumers. Amazon’s Kuiper includes plans to provide backhaul service to carriers in addition to direct consumer service. Essentially, that means it’ll offer a way for carriers to offer high-speed LTE and 5G wireless connections to their customers in more areas where they don’t currently have the ground station infrastructure to do so. Amazon says this will be on offer “in the United States and around the world,” so it sounds like the plan is to first address the U.S. market and then expand the Kuiper network globally from there. Amazon lags behind SpaceX in terms of deployment, since the latter company is actually launching satellites for its Starlink network, and looks ready to enter a beta testing program for the service this summer. The Jeff Bezos -led e-commerce giant has opened a brand new R&D facility…Continue readingAmazon gains FCC approval for Kuiper internet satellite constellation and commits $10 billion to the project – TechCrunch

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Engadget

Amazon gets FCC approval for its Project Kuiper broadband satellites

The FCC has unanimously approved Amazon’s Project Kuiper, giving the tech giant the go-ahead to deploy and operate a constellation of 3,236 satellites. Amazon asked the FCC for permission to launch thousands of Low Earth Orbit satellites in July 2019, just a few months months after announcing the project. Similar to SpaceX’s Starlink constellation, Kuiper’s purpose is to provide satellite-based broadband services. Amazon is hoping to help expand internet access to households and businesses in remote areas across the United States and around the world. The company plans to invest over $10 billion on the project, which will be deployed in five phases. According to the FCC, Amazon must be done deploying half of Kuiper’s satellites by 2026, and the whole constellation must be in place by July 30th, 2029. Source linkContinue readingAmazon gets FCC approval for its Project Kuiper broadband satellites