Cristiano Lima

FCC Nominees Against the Clock

Multiple holds may prevent the Senate from advancing long-stalled Federal Communications Commission nominations before Congress adjourns, which could come as soon as Dec 21 if lawmakers resolve government funding negotiations. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) still maintain holds on the nomination of FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr for a full term.

The future of Russian disinformation

The researchers behind the blockbuster reports detailing a sweeping online influence campaign by Russia during and after the 2016 election offer what to expect ahead. Bharath Ganesh of Oxford University said trolls are likely to move into the background and “embed” themselves among activist groups critical of US institutions in order to amplify their voices.

The Latest Net Neutrality Head Count in the House

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) became the latest lawmaker to come out in favor of the discharge petition to bring net neutrality to a vote on to the House floor. The latest pledge comes just a few days after the formal deadline to file the discharge petition elapsed.

Bills, Bills, Bills

The Senate advanced a series of tech and telecom-related bills by unanimous consent on Dec 13, including:

Chairman Pai hopes to find common ground with lawmakers in the new Congress

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai didn’t quite rule out an eventual run for office and said he hopes to find common ground with lawmakers in the new Congress. He said his 2019 agenda will focus on on rural broadband, telemedicine, 5G, public safety communications and robocalls. Regarding the Mobility Fund, he wouldn’t say the consequences carriers could face as a result of the investigation into whether one or more carriers overstated their wireless coverage for maps that will determine eligibility for subsidies under the $4.5 billion program.

Small Broadband Wary On Farm Bill

The Senate passed the compromise farm bill, HR 2, notching a win for Democrats who opposed the House’s plan to impose tighter work requirements on food stamp recipients. The bill would raise the annual budget for Department of Agriculture broadband loans, loan guarantees and grants to $350 million from 2019 to 2023 and allows funding to go toward grants as well as loans. Other compromise farm bill broadband provisions include raising the “minimum acceptable level of broadband service for a rural area” to 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream – up from a previous 4/1 Mbps.

Senators Urge FCC to Spike Text Message Plan

A group of 10 senators is calling on Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to stand down on his proposal to classify text messaging as an information service. “We urge you to right this wrong and classify text messaging as a telecommunications service, affording this vital means of communications protections that promote innovation and support freedom of speech,” the lawmakers write in a letter led by Sen. Ed Markey(D-MA) and co-signed by eight Senate Democrats as well as Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Tech Critic Gets Pushback From Industry

Sen-elect Josh Hawley (R-MO), who launched investigations into top tech players like Google and Facebook during his tenure as Missouri attorney general, is already drawing backlash from the industry over his critical remarks. During an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, Hawley took aim at tech companies over Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a liability protection for online platforms cherished by the industry. “My question is, should they really be getting this special immunity from the government if they’re also going to act like censors?

Lawmakers Weigh Wicker's Funding Gambit for Broadband Mapping

Lawmakers are broadly receptive to concerns Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) is raising about the accuracy of Federal Communications Commission broadband maps. But most are not ready to commit to supporting Wicker’s attempt to hitch language to the year-end government funding bill to force the FCC to revisit the mapping. Congress is looking to wrap up its final fiscal 2019 funding measure by Dec. 21. Although Senate appropriator Jon Tester (D-MT) quickly endorsed the idea, others say they are still assessing.

George H.W. Bush’s legacy on tech & telecom

George H.W. Bush was president before the iPhone, before Netflix, before Facebook. But his imprint was felt on the telecom and nascent tech sectors. “I think the most consequential part of that period would be the leadership in transitioning from analog to digital technologies,” said Al Sikes, who served as Federal Communications Commission chairman under Bush from 1989 to 1993. “We were an all-analog world except for the computer sector.” Sikes counts carving out spectrum for emerging technologies, such as mobile digital devices, as one of the Bush administration’s key tech achievements.