FCC launches website, announces sign-up date for $50-per-month broadband internet discount
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has launched a brand new website and revealed a date for US residents with low incomes or those who lost income during the pandemic to sign up for discounted internet services. A press release issued by the agency confirmed that on May 12, eligible households can enroll in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. If approved, participants will receive a monthly discount on the cost of broadband service from an approved provider.news.yahoo.com
Mozilla leads push for FCC to reinstate net neutrality
Tech companies led by Mozilla are urging the Federal Communications Commission to swiftly reinstate net neutrality rules stripped away under the Trump administration. Net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers should not be allowed to favor or throttle service for websites that rely on it. While ISPs have made few changes in the absence of net neutrality rules, advocates have raised flags over a handful of actions. AT&T announced Wednesday it would do away with such an arrangement after a federal court upheld California's net neutrality law that bans "sponsored data." AT&T said the change would apply beyond California, noting, "a state-by-state approach to 'net neutrality' is unworkable."cnbc.com
Net neutrality foe and Trump's former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai stands by repeal as Democrats take over
It's fair to say that net neutrality advocates' worst fears have not yet materialized. Conservatives like Pai and the ISPs themselves argued against net neutrality because they saw it as a heavy-handed regulation unnecessary to address the purported issues. Though net neutrality did not directly seek to regulate prices, opponents feared what they saw as a potential opportunity for overreach. Even though the most dire warnings of net neutrality advocates have not yet been realized, some recent moves by ISPs have raised flags. The announcement sparked cries from members of the Massachusetts state legislature, among others, who likened it to a "perversion of the principles of net neutrality."cnbc.com
Senate OKs Trump pick for FCC, adding hurdle to Biden plans
The shield from liability for social media companies has been grounded in Section 230 of a landmark 1996 telecommunications law. Trump and Republican lawmakers have persistently accused the social media companies, without evidence, of suppressing conservative viewpoints, and Trump portrayed his executive order as a remedy for bias. With Simington confirmed to the five-member FCC, there will then be a 2-2 split between Democratic and Republican commissioners. That likely will stymie Biden’s agenda until he’s able to get a fifth, Democratic FCC member confirmed, with an extended delay possible if the Republicans continue to control the Senate after the two Georgia Senate runoff elections. During Pai’s tenure, the FCC worked to free up spectrum for cellphone companies to enable them to roll out 5G.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to leave telecom agency on January 20
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, says he is leaving the telecommunications regulator on Inauguration Day. Section 230 shields internet companies from lawsuits about posts by users. The Trump administration has gone after the law, alleging with no evidence that social networks censor conservatives. Pai and another Republican commissioner, Michael O'Rielly, are leaving the agency. O'Rielly is leaving because the White House pulled his nomination after he said he wasn't sure the agency had authority on Section 230.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will step down on Jan 20
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai will step down from his post on Jan. 20, the day President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated, he announced Monday. Pai's term was slated to expire in June 2021, though Biden will be able to choose a Democrat to chair the commission once in office. Pai's decision to step down could have significant implications on net neutrality, an issue that helped define his term as chairman. Pai had recently said that the FCC could move forward with rule-making around President Donald Trump's executive order targeting social media companies. WATCH: FCC Chair Ajit Pai on digital privacy, Net Neutrality, the future of 5Gcnbc.com
Social media CEOs get earful on bias, warning of new limits
The committee summoned the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google to testify during the hearing. Facebook, Twitter and Google's YouTube have scrambled to stem the tide of material that incites violence and spreads lies and baseless conspiracy theories. Republicans, led by Trump, have accused the social media platforms, without evidence, of deliberately suppressing conservative, religious and anti-abortion views. Critics in both parties say that immunity under Section 230 enables the social media companies to abdicate their responsibility to impartially moderate content. In their efforts to police misinformation about the election, Twitter and Facebook have imposed a misinformation label on some content from the president, who has about 80 million followers.
Social media CEOs to face grilling from Republican senators
WASHINGTON – Less than a week before Election Day, the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google are set to face a grilling by Republican senators who accuse the tech giants of anti-conservative bias. With the election looming, Republicans led by President Donald Trump have thrown a barrage of grievances at Big Tech’s social media platforms, which they accuse without evidence of deliberately suppressing conservative, religious and anti-abortion views. The tech platforms are gateways to news online. It proposes that Congress enact rules preventing tech platforms from taking local news content without fair payment. “For too long, social media platforms have hidden behind Section 230 protections to censor content that deviates from their beliefs,” Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., the committee chairman, said recently.
FCC Chairman says he will move to 'clarify' Section 230, threatening tech's legal shield
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said Thursday he plans to move forward with rulemaking to "clarify" the scope of Section 230, an important legal shield for tech companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter. Section 230 protects tech platforms from being held liable for their users' posts. In a statement, Pai said the decision came after the FCC's general counsel determined the agency has the legal authority to interpret the statute. It's not clear how the FCC would seek to clarify Section 230, but it would almost certainly narrow its scope. Tech companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter invoke Section 230 widely in court to dismiss frivolous lawsuits, often with success.cnbc.com
Incarcerated people look to Senate to cap prison phone rates
MINNEAPOLIS Incarcerated people and their families said they are closely watching congressional debates about the next COVID-19 relief bill for proposed legislation that would drastically push down the cost of prison and jail phone calls. For years, they have advocated lowering rates that run as high as $25 for a 15-minute call. Now, they said, with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, the costs are especially debilitating, separating families at a crucial time. He said the suspension of most in-person visits at facilities nationwide have made calls back home even more important. They went from talking to him every day to talking to him a few times a week.
Trump again pressures U.S. regulator on news programming
REUTERS/Yuri GripasOn Monday, Trump said NBC News Meet the Press host Chuck Todd should be fired, suggesting the program misleadingly aired only part of U.S. Attorney General William Barrs answer to a question. Trump tweeted at FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and said Todd knew exactly what he was doing. Pai said in an April 7 letter that absent very narrow circumstances, the government cannot and should not investigate stations or revoke licenses based on programming the station airs.Pai also urged Democrats to reject calls to investigate broadcasts for airing Trump press conferences on coronavirus. In October 2017, Trump suggested the FCC could challenge the license of NBC after stories Trump declared were not true, but Pai said it had no authority to do so. Courts have held that a station exercising its First Amendment rights is not adequate grounds to challenge a license.feeds.reuters.com
U.S. agency rejects group's request to probe Trump coronavirus broadcasts
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said on Monday it was rejecting a petition that sought an investigation into broadcasters that aired statements U.S. President Donald Trump made in news conferences about the coronavirus pandemic. FILE PHOTO: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai testifies before a House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing on Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 5, 2019. REUTERS/Tom BrennerFree Press, a media advocacy group, last month filed an emergency petition with the FCC to investigate the broadcast of what it said were false statements about the health crisis by Trump. It cited a 1992 FCC rule barring the broadcasting of hoaxes. On Monday, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro acknowledged members of the task force dealing with the coronavirus crisis clashed over the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine.feeds.reuters.com
FCC rejects group's request to probe Trump coronavirus broadcasts
FILE PHOTO: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai testifies before a House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing on Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 5, 2019. REUTERS/Tom BrennerWASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said on Monday it was rejecting a petition that sought an investigation into broadcasters that aired statements U.S. President Donald Trump made in press conferences about the coronavirus pandemic. Free Press, a media advocacy group, last month filed an emergency petition with the FCC to investigate the broadcast of what it said were false statements about the health crisis by Trump. It cited a 1992 FCC rule barring the broadcasting of hoaxes. The FCC order, signed by its general counsel and media bureau chief, said the Free Press petition sought an expansion of the broadcast hoax rule in order to enable government-led flyspecking of broadcasters editorial judgments on airing statements by Trump and other government officials.feeds.reuters.com
Internet Providers Prepare for Spike in Residential Use as Workers Stay Home
While local businesses are beginning to order employees to work from home as coronavirus concerns grow, internet providers across the country are dropping overage fees in preparation for an influx of residential users. The FCC action comes the day after AT&T announced that, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is waiving internet data overage fees for any customers not already receiving unlimited home internet access. Tawil, an AT&T internet customer, said the companys decision to not charge overage fees is beneficial to everyone. While Monte Vista resident Michael Taylor has an unlimited AT&T internet plan and isnt worried about working from his home at any time, he said thats not a luxury everyone gets. It would be more efficient for the government to provide broadband than to build roads and the societal benefits would increase in a greater proportion.The San Antonio area has over a dozen internet providers.therivardreport.com
Major U.S. internet firms agree not to cancel service over next 60 days
FILE PHOTO: People look at data on their mobiles as background with internet wire cables on switch hub is projected in this picture illustration taken May 30, 2018. Broadband will enable them to communicate with their loved ones and doctors, telework, ensure their children can engage in remote learning.Many companies also agreed to waive data limits for the next 60 days. Charter Communications said it would offer free broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days and waive installation fees to households with students without its service. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, praised the companies adopting the pledge, but said the FCC should do more. Internet firms expressed confidence that U.S. networks can withstand the predicted jump in traffic.feeds.reuters.com
Major U.S. internet firms agree not to cancel service over next 60 days: FCC
FILE PHOTO: People look at data on their mobiles as background with internet wire cables on switch hub is projected in this picture illustration taken May 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/IllustrationWASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Communications Commission said Friday that major internet providers - including Comcast Corp, AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc - agreed not to terminate service for subscribers for the next 60 days if they are unable to pay their bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said after calls with companies and associations the firms also agreed to waive any late fees residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic. They also agreed to open Wi-Fi hotspots to anyone who needs them. Millions more Americans are expected to work from home as employers and states urge people to telework to reduce the potential to spread the coronavirus outbreak.feeds.reuters.com
U.S. regulator to bar China's Huawei and ZTE from government subsidy program
REUTERS/Hannibal HanschkeThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also plans to propose requiring those carriers to remove and replace equipment from such designated companies, FCC officials said on Monday. Huawei and ZTE would have 30 days to contest the FCCs national security risk designation and a final order compelling removal of equipment is not expected until next year at the earliest. The United States should stop trying to smear Chinese companies and provide them with a non-discriminatory environment in which to operate, he said. NEED TO BE MINDFULPai first proposed in March 2018 to bar companies that posed a national security risk from receiving funds from the FCCs Universal Service Fund, but did not name Huawei or ZTE. The U.S. government added Huawei to its economic blacklist in May, saying the Chinese company was involved in activities contrary to U.S. national security.feeds.reuters.com
US court says FCC cannot bar states from setting net neutrality rules
The Federal Communications Commission cannot bar states from passing their own net neutrality laws, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said on Tuesday, adding that the agency must review some key aspects of its 2017 repeal of rules set by the Obama administration. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the decision affirmed the FCC's "decision to repeal 1930s utility-style regulation of the Internet. Enthusiastically supported by large tech companies and consumer groups, net neutrality was formally adopted by the FCC in 2015. California passed sweeping state net neutrality protections but agreed not to enforce the measure pending the court challenge. The Trump administration rules were a win for internet providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon Communications but opposed by companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Alphabet.cnbc.com
FCC: Sprint ineligible for federal subsidies it claimed
The company, which is currently seeking the FCC's permission to merge with T-Mobile, claimed monthly credits for as many as 885,000 customers under the US government's Lifeline program. But Sprint was ineligible to claim the federal funds, the FCC said, because it failed to report that the customers were not actually using the subsidized service. "It's outrageous that a company would claim millions of taxpayer dollars for doing nothing," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. The investigation into Sprint comes at a delicate time for the company as it seeks to complete its merger with T-Mobile. "When companies abuse the Lifeline program, we should throw the book at them," Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic FCC Commissioner, tweeted.
Rural counties surrounding San Antonio get millions to expand broadband internet
SAN ANTONIO - Rural homes and businesses in Texas will receive more than $300 million in federal funding over the next 10 years "for maintaining, improving, and expanding affordable broadband," the feds announced last week. The benefactors of the Federal Communications Commission funding include several counties surrounding San Antonio. Those counties include Bandera, receiving $17 million; Edwards, $1 million; Gillespie, $13 million; Kendall, $9 million; Kerr, $39 million; Medina, $1.5 million; and Uvalde, $4 million. The funding is part of a nearly $5 billion federal initiative to improve access to high-speed internet in rural places. To be eligible for the funding, carriers must "maintain, improve and expand" internet service of at least 25 megabits per second download speed.
FCC suggests '988' as new suicide prevention hotline
FILE PHOTO: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) logo is seen before the FCC Net Neutrality hearing in Washington February 26, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File PhotoWASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Federal Communications Commission staffers recommended the agency designate 988 as a new phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in place of the current 10-digit number, the FCC said on Thursday. The current phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. The 10-digit number received over 2 million calls in 2018, the FCC said. In 2017, 47,173 people in the United States died by suicide, the 10th highest cause of death, and more than 1.4 million adults attempted suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.feeds.reuters.com
Justice Department Commends Federal Communications Commission on its Important Step Toward Approving the T-Mobile/Sprint Transaction and Divestiture to Dish
Under the terms of the proposed settlement, T-Mobile and Sprint must divest Sprints prepaid business, including Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Sprint prepaid, to Dish Network Corp., a Colorado-based satellite television provider. The proposed settlement also provides for the divestiture of certain spectrum assets to Dish. Additionally, T-Mobile and Sprint must make available to Dish at least 20,000 cell sites and hundreds of retail locations. Deutsche Telekom AG, a German corporation headquartered in Bonn, Germany, is the controlling shareholder of T-Mobile US Inc.Sprint Corporation is a Delaware corporation headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas. Sprint is controlled by SoftBank Group Corp., a Japanese Corporation headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.justice.gov
U.S. Justice Department may sue to block Sprint, T-Mobile merger: source
FILE PHOTO: A smartphones with Sprint logo are seen in front of a screen projection of T-mobile logo, in this picture illustration taken April 30, 2018. The Justice Department declined to comment. To win over the Justice Department, which is not involved in the lawsuit, T-Mobile and Sprint have agreed to a series of deal concessions, including selling the prepaid brand Boost. T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom, which owns 63 percent of T-Mobile, are seeking to prevent them from going to a cable or technology company. The companies told the court in late June that they were willing to refrain from closing the deal until after the state attorneys general case is completed.feeds.reuters.com
U.S. Justice Department may sue to block Sprint, T-Mobile merger: source
FILE PHOTO: A smartphones with Sprint logo are seen in front of a screen projection of T-mobile logo, in this picture illustration taken April 30, 2018. The Justice Department declined to comment. To win over the Justice Department, which is not involved in the lawsuit, T-Mobile and Sprint have agreed to a series of deal concessions, including selling the prepaid brand Boost. T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE), which owns 63 percent of T-Mobile, are seeking to prevent them from going to a cable or technology company. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has given his blessing to the merger in principle and is expected to circulate a formal order within weeks.feeds.reuters.com
Koch network throws its weight behind Silicon Valley in the regulatory battle with Washington
The libertarian Koch network has long been a powerful advocate for conservative causes and a major funder for Republican politicians. During the midterms, for example, the network spent $2.1 million on ads supporting then-Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley's challenge to incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. The Koch network quickly issued a statement slamming Hawley's bill as "toxic" and argued it would "punish success in the next generation of innovative startups." That's why we're taking a more active role in supporting positive tech work and holding government accountable on tech issues." At the Koch summit, tech was a recurring theme over the three-day gathering.cnbc.com