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.
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.
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.
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.
The Starlink broadband network will probably stick with one price instead of offering different tiers of service, said SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell. SpaceX has been charging $99 a month for the Starlink beta service, plus $499 upfront for the user terminal/satellite dish, mounting tripod, and router. Even if SpaceX has just one price for most customers, it will probably offer a cheaper plan to people with low incomes.
President Joe Biden's plan to expand broadband access and lower prices is, predictably, facing bitter opposition from cable companies that want to maintain the status quo.
The American Jobs Plan's $100 billion in broadband funding would be spread out over a number of years, as the entire jobs plan is slated to "invest about $2 trillion this decade." Municipally owned networks, nonprofits, and co-operatives would play a major role in the expansion. The broadband industry and Republicans have been fighting city-owned networks for years, and nearly 20 states have laws that restrict the growth of municipal broadband.
AT&T said it will bring fiber Internet to a few million more homes and businesses by the end of 2021. "In 2021, AT&T plans to increase its fiber footprint by an additional 3 million customer locations across more than 90 metro areas," AT&T said. This would raise AT&T's fiber deployment to about 18 million homes and businesses. AT&T provided a list of the 90 metro areas here.
While upload use on Comcast's network quickly grows—driven largely by videoconferencing among people working and learning at home—the nation's largest home-Internet provider with over 30 million customers advertises its speed tiers as if uploading doesn't exist. Comcast's 56 percent increase in upstream traffic made me wonder if the company will increase upload speeds any time soon, so I checked out the Xfinity website to see the current upload speeds.
SpaceX and Dish Network are fighting at the Federal Communications Commission over Dish's attempt to block a key designation that SpaceX's Starlink division needs in order to get FCC broadband funding. Dish's "baseless attempt" to block funding "would serve only to delay what matters most—connecting unserved Americans," said SpaceX in a filing.