Jon Brodkin

FCC struggles to convince judge that broadband isn’t “telecommunications”

Federal Communications Commission General Counsel Thomas Johnson faced a skeptical panel of judges of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit as he defended the agency's repeal of net neutrality rules and deregulation of the broadband industry.

Senate votes to overturn Ajit Pai’s net neutrality repeal

The US Senate voted to reverse the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of net neutrality rules, with all Democrats and three Republicans voting in favor of net neutrality. The Senate approved a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would simply undo the FCC's December 2017 vote to deregulate the broadband industry.

FCC won’t delay vote, says net neutrality supporters are “desperate”

The Federal Communications Commission will move ahead with its vote to kill network neutrality rules Dec 14 despite an unresolved court case that could strip away even more consumer protections. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says that net neutrality rules aren't needed because the Federal Trade Commission can protect consumers from broadband providers. But a pending court case involving AT&T could strip the FTC of its regulatory authority over AT&T and similar ISPs.

Examining the FCC claim that DDoS attacks hit net neutrality comment system

On May 8, when the Federal Communications Commission website failed and many people were prevented from submitting comments about network neutrality, the cause seemed obvious. Comedian John Oliver had just aired a segment blasting FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to gut net neutrality rules, and it appeared that the site just couldn't handle the sudden influx of comments. But when the FCC released a statement explaining the website's downtime, the commission didn't mention the Oliver show or people submitting comments opposing Pai's plan. Instead, the FCC attributed the downtime solely to "multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS)." These were "deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC's comment system with a high amount of traffic to our commercial cloud host," performed by "actors" who "were not attempting to file comments themselves; rather, they made it difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC." The FCC has faced skepticism from net neutrality activists who doubt the website was hit with multiple DDoS attacks at the same time that many new commenters were trying to protest the plan to eliminate the current net neutrality rules. According to FCC CIO David Bray, FCC staff noticed high comment volumes around 3:00 AM the morning of Monday, May 8. As the FCC analyzed the log files, it became clear that non-human bots created these comments automatically by making calls to the FCC's API. Interestingly, the attack did not come from a botnet of infected computers but was fully cloud-based. By using commercial cloud services to make massive API requests, the bots consumed available machine resources, which crowded out human commenters. In effect, the bot swarm created a distributed denial-of-service attack on FCC systems using the public API as a vehicle. It's similar to the distributed denial of service attack on Pokemon Go in July 2016.

Comcast shut off Internet to hundreds, saying they were illegally connected

Comcast says that a broadband reseller illegally sold Comcast Internet service in residential buildings in the Denver area and has terminated the connections to those buildings. The shutoff affected hundreds of people who live in buildings serviced by AlphaWiFi, "which installs and services Internet in approximately 90 apartment buildings across Denver." The shutoff came as a surprise to residents, including Kaley Warren, who has been working at home during the pandemic. "It is my entire lifeline," said Warren, who said that without warning her Internet service disappeared. "I felt lost.

President Trump replaces FCC member in bid to push through Twitter/Facebook crackdown

President Donald Trump announced the nomination of Nathan Simington, who is currently a senior advisor in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, to replace Michel O'Rielly on the Federal Communications Commission.

Chairman Pai touted false broadband data despite clear signs it wasn’t accurate

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai touted inaccurate broadband-availability data in order to claim that his deregulatory agenda sped up deployment despite clear warning signs that the FCC was relying on false information.

AT&T, T-Mobile fight FCC plan to test whether they lie about cell coverage

AT&T and T-Mobile are fighting a Federal Communications Commission plan to require drive tests that would verify whether the mobile carriers' coverage claims are accurate. The carriers' objections came in response to the FCC seeking comment on a plan to improve the nation's inadequate broadband maps.

Want Verizon or AT&T 5G? You’ll have to buy an expensive unlimited plan

Verizon is adding some perks to its wireless plans, but some things aren't changing: Verizon still restricts 5G service to its most expensive unlimited-data plans. If you want to save money by getting a limited-data plan, you'll have to make do with 4G only—which, admittedly, is not a big problem for most people given how sparse Verizon's 5G network is. AT&T still enforces a similar restriction, including 5G only in its unlimited-data plans while selling limited-data plans without 5G.

Charter can charge online video sites for network connections, court rules

Charter can charge Netflix and other online video streaming services for network interconnection despite a merger condition prohibiting the practice, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled. the decision overturns two merger conditions that the Obama administration imposed on Charter when it bought Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in 2016.