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.

Ajit Pai apparently mismanaged $9 billion fund—new FCC boss starts “cleanup”

The Federal Communications Commission wants SpaceX to give up a portion of the $885.51 million in broadband funding it was awarded in a reverse auction in December 2020. SpaceX's Starlink satellite broadband division was one of the biggest winners in the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) grants announced in Ajit Pai's last full month as FCC chairman.

Judges reject Viasat’s plea to stop SpaceX Starlink satellite launches

SpaceX can keep launching broadband satellites despite a lawsuit filed by Viasat, a federal appeals court ruled June 20. Viasat sued the Federal Communications Commission in May 2021 and asked judges for a stay that would halt SpaceX's ongoing launches of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites that power Starlink Internet service.

California’s ambitious fiber-Internet plan approved unanimously by legislature

The California legislature unanimously approved a plan to build a statewide, open-access fiber network.

Ohio GOP ends attempt to ban municipal broadband after protests

After coming close to imposing a near-total ban on municipal broadband networks, Ohio's Republican-controlled legislature has dropped the proposed law in final negotiations over the state budget. Lawmakers apparently relented to public pressure from supporters of municipal broadband and cities and towns that operate the networks. People and businesses from Fairlawn, OH where the city-run FairlawnGig network offers fiber Internet, played a significant role in the protests. FairlawnGig itself asked users to put pressure on lawmakers, and the subscribers did so in great numbers.

AT&T gives investors and government very different takes on fiber internet

AT&T says fiber internet is a "superior" technology that is built for today and the future because of its ability to deliver symmetrical upload and download speeds of 1Gbps and higher. AT&T also says that "there is no compelling evidence" to support the deployment of fiber across the US, and that rural people should be satisfied with non-fiber internet access that provides only 10Mbps upload speeds. The difference between those two wildly different statements was the audience.

President Biden silent on municipal broadband as he makes $65 Billion deal with Republicans

President Joe Biden announced a $65 billion broadband-deployment deal with Senate Republicans and Democrats, but he provided no details on whether the plan will prioritize municipal broadband networks as he originally proposed. Congressional Republicans have tried to ban municipal broadband nationwide, so it's highly unlikely that they would have agreed to Biden's stated goal of giving public networks priority over private broadband providers in the next big ro