Wednesday, September 12, 2018
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As millions evacuate the mid-Atlantic coastal region ahead of Hurricane Florence, wireless providers are mounting an invasion of support crews and high-tech machinery to repair and restore connectivity in the storm's wake. The incursion includes a menagerie of machines with animal monickers meant to help mend the hurricane-hit area's communications network. There are COWs (cells on wheels), COLTs (cells on light trucks), CROWs (cellular repeaters on wheels), GOATs (generators on a trailer) and Spiders, webs of circuitry meant to improve connectivity in hotels, command centers and temporary shelters. Also set to be deployed: scores of drones to assess damage to the thousands of cell towers that blanket the North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia region expected to bear the brunt of Florence's wrath.
5G technologies are expected to put mobile broadband on par with fiber networks — and they're rolling out on a city-by-city basis similar to how Google Fiber deployed networks between 2010 and 2016. Google has stopped expanding its expensive fiber build-outs and, as a result, is seen as a failed experiment. Google Fiber's legacy isn't necessarily how far its networks reached, but more that it pioneered a new way of working with local authorities to get them built in the first place. What Google Fiber did: 1) It changed the relationships between infrastructure providers and local authorities, forcing them to negotiate in ways that worked for both sides' business models when negotiating prices, permitting and fees; 2) It spurred competition and investment in broadband infrastructure, accelerating fiber deployments by as much as two years and triggering incumbent providers to commit $7-$10 billion in new capital spending 3) Investors became more supportive of capital expenditures for fiber networks in order to respond to the new market player.
Verizon is launching Verizon 5G Home, the world’s first commercial 5G broadband internet service, on Oct 1. And beginning Sept 13, US consumers can visit FirstOn5G.com to learn more about the service and sign up to be a “First On 5G” Member. Verizon 5G Home will initially be available in parts of Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento. It is built on Verizon’s Ultra Wideband 5G network. Verizon is the first company to bring 5G broadband internet service to consumers and is expected to be the first to offer 5G mobile service. Current Verizon Wireless customers with a qualifying smartphone plan will pay $50 per month for the service, while non-Verizon Wireless customers will pay $70 per month.
On Sept 11, T-Mobile/Sprint Transaction Task Force Director David B. Lawrence, and Federal Communications Commission Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Chief Donald Stockdale sent a letter to T-Mobile and Sprint, saying the following:
Sept 11 we are pausing the FCC's informal 180-day transaction shot clock in [the T-Mobile/Sprint] proceeding. Additional time is necessary to allow for thorough staff and third-party review of newly-submitted and anticipated modeling relied on by the Applicants.
Each of three separate developments require more time. First, on Sept 5, 2018, the Applicants submitted a substantially revised network engineering model. Although the Applicants had previously provided a network engineering model as backup for certain network claims, you explained that since that time "the model has been extended,'' and that the newly-provided model "completes" the prior work. Moreover, the Applicants asserted that this is now the "engineering model on which they rely in support of this transaction." Further, in an Aug 29, 2018 ex parte meeting, T-Mobile executives described T-Mobile's reliance on a business model, titled "Build 9,'' which apparently provides the financial basis for the projected new network buildout. The Commission did not receive Build 9, and third parties did not have access to it, until Sept 5. Build 9 therefore requires further review. Finally, T-Mobile recently disclosed that it intends to submit additional economic modeling in support of the Applications, beyond that strictly responsive to the various economic analyses in the Petitions to Deny.
The clock will remain stopped until the Applicants have completed the record on which they intend to rely and a reasonable period of time has passed for staff and third-party review. The Commission will decide whether to extend the deadline for reply comments after receiving the remainder of the Applicants' modeling submissions.
Google's alleged practice of recording location data about Android device owners even when they believe they have opted out of such tracking has sparked an investigation in AZ, where the state's attorney general could potentially levy a hefty fine against the search giant. The probe, initiated by Republican AZ Attorney General Mark Brnovich, could put pressure on other states and the federal government to follow suit, consumer advocates say — although Google previously insisted it did not deceive consumers about the way it collects and taps data on their whereabouts. The attorney general signaled his interest in the matter in a public filing that indicated the office had retained an outside law firm to assist in an investigation. The document, dated Aug 21, said the hired lawyers would help probe an unnamed tech company and its “storage of consumer location data, tracking of consumer location, and other consumer tracking through...smartphone operating systems, even when consumers turn off 'location services' and take other steps to stop such tracking,” according to the heavily redacted public notice. Under state law, AZ can bring consumer-protection cases against businesses that deceive users about their practices. The state also can seek penalties of up to $10,000 per violation, meaning Google's location privacy practices could result in a sky-high fine for the company.
Facebook gave a "false rating" to an article after the Weekly Standard, a conservative publication used by Facebook as a fact checker, claimed the article was incorrect. The article in question, published by ThinkProgress, was titled, "Brett Kavanaugh said he would kill Roe v. Wade last week and almost no one noticed." While Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh didn't literally say that he would vote to overturn the abortion ruling from 1973, ThinkProgress writer Ian Millhiser made a reasonable argument that Judge Kavanaugh's statements show that he believes Roe v. Wade was decided incorrectly. The right-wing Weekly Standard called ThinkProgress's article false in a fact check, based on the rather obvious fact that Judge Kavanaugh never specifically said he would vote to overturn Roe. Because The Weekly Standard is one of five news outlets that Facebook relies on to fact check articles posted by other sites, ThinkProgress was given the dreaded false rating, which could hurt ThinkProgress' business by dramatically reducing referrals to the site. ThinkProgress argues that The Weekly Standard's objection "appears to hinge on the definition of the word 'said.'"
In this report, part of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Trust, Media and Democracy initiative, Gallup asked a representative sample of U.S. adults to discuss key factors that make them trust, or not trust, news media organizations. Key findings:
- Most US adults, including more than nine in 10 Republicans, say they personally have lost trust in the news media in recent years. At the same time, 69% of those who have lost trust say that trust can be restored.
- Asked to describe in their own words why they trust or do not trust certain news organizations, Americans’ responses largely center on matters of accuracy or bias. Relatively few mentioned a news organization’s partisan or ideological leaning as a factor.
- Accuracy and bias also rank among the most important factors when respondents rate how important each of 35 potential indicators of media trust are to them. Transparency also emerges as an important factor in the closed-ended ratings of factors that influence trust: 71% say a commitment to transparency is very important, and similar percentages say the same about an organization providing fact-checking resources and providing links to research and facts that back up its reporting.
- An experimental approach not only showed the importance of accuracy, bias and transparency, but also revealed a complex relationship between partisanship and media trust. Both Republicans and Democrats were less likely to trust news sources with a partisan reputation that opposes their own. However, they did not express much greater trust in news sources that have a reputation for a partisan leaning consistent with their own.
- Majorities of all key subgroups say their decreased trust in the media can be restored. There is little difference by gender, age, education and race. However, Democrats and liberals who have lost trust in the media are more optimistic that their trust can be restored than are independents, moderates and especially Republicans and conservatives. While at least six in 10 Republicans and conservatives say their decreased trust in the media can be recovered, 39% and 36%, respectively, say it cannot. In other words, about one-third of those on the political right have lost faith in the media and expect that change to be permanent.
In 2017-18, the percentages of female characters on screen and women working in key roles behind the scenes declined on television. Overall, females comprised 40% of all speaking characters on television programs appearing on the broadcast networks, cable, and streaming services, a decline of 2 percentage points from 42% in 2016-17. Behind the scenes, women accounted for 27% of all creators, directors, writers, executive producers, producers, editors, and directors of photography working on programs delivered via the various platforms last year. This represents a decline of 1 percentage point from 2016-17. Overall, programs employed behind-the-scenes women in relatively small numbers. For example 69% of programs employed 5 or fewer women in the roles considered. In contrast, only 13% of programs employed 5 or fewer men.
The Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that protesters attacked at a 2016 Trump campaign rally in Louisville (KY) can’t proceed with a lawsuit alleging Donald Trump incited the violence with inflammatory remarks. “Get ’em out. Get ’em out of here,” Trump said of protesters at the event. “Get ’em the hell out,” he said several minutes later, then added, “Don’t hurt ’em. See, if I say, ’Go get ’em,’ I get in trouble with the press.” Video clips from the rally show protesters being pushed and shoved by audience members.
The court said then-candidate Trump’s comments didn’t rise to the level of inciting a riot, as the protesters claimed in their lawsuit. The court also ruled that Trump’s remarks enjoyed First Amendment protection “because he did not specifically advocate imminent lawless action.” Lawyers for the protesters had argued Trump’s remarks should be evaluated in the context of other statements preceding the rally in which the presidential candidate appeared to condone rough treatment of protesters. This ruling reversed a trial-court decision that declined to dismiss the claims against the candidate.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai provided details to Congress on the commission’s effort to overhaul its much-maligned online commenting system. “The Commission is moving forward with the procurement steps for this project,” Chairman Pai wrote in an Aug. 31 letter responding to lawmaker questions. He said he expects the “Discovery/Requirements phase” to kick off in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019, adding the estimated development time for the rest of the project is “six to nine months.”
The European Union’s executive arm joined Google and a group of free-speech advocates to oppose expanding the bloc’s “right to be forgotten” beyond European borders. In arguments before the EU’s top court, the executive arm, as well as countries including Ireland and Greece, argued that a global application of the EU right would stretch the EU’s privacy laws beyond their intended scope—echoing at least some of Google’s arguments. “We don’t see extraterritoriality” in EU privacy law, said Antoine Buchet, a lawyer for the bloc’s executive arm, during questioning by EU judges. “It’s intellectually difficult to enter into that logic and give a universal effect to removals.” The declaration before the EU’s top court, known as the Court of Justice, came as part of Google’s appeal of a 2015 order from France’s privacy regulator, CNIL, to extend the EU’s “right to be forgotten” to all of its websites, no matter where they are accessed. A nonbinding opinion in the case from one of the court’s advocate generals is expected on December 11. A decision could come in the months that follow.
The European Parliament voted on changes to the Copyright Directive, a piece of legislation intended to update copyright for the internet age. MEPs approved amended versions of the directive’s most controversial provisions: Articles 11 and 13, dubbed by critics as the “link tax” and “upload filter.” Article 11 is intended to give publishers and newspapers a way to make money when companies like Google link to their stories, while Article 13 requires platforms like YouTube and Facebook to scan uploaded content to stop the unlicensed sharing of copyrighted material. Critics say these two provisions pose a dire threat to the free flow of information online, and will be open to abuse by copyright trolls and censors. Defenders of the Copyright Directive and its controversial clauses say this is an unfair characterization. They point to existing laws and newly-introduced amendments that will block the worst excesses of this legislation (like, for example, a law that excuses parodies and memes from copyright claims). They say that the campaign against the directive has been funded by US tech giants eager to retain their control over the web’s platforms.
Benton (www.benton.org) provides the only free, reliable, and non-partisan daily digest that curates and distributes news related to universal broadband, while connecting communications, democracy, and public interest issues. Posted Monday through Friday, this service provides updates on important industry developments, policy issues, and other related news events. While the summaries are factually accurate, their sometimes informal tone may not always represent the tone of the original articles. Headlines are compiled by Kevin Taglang (headlines AT benton DOT org) and Robbie McBeath (rmcbeath AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.
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