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.

Starlink explains why its FCC map listings are so different from reality

SpaceX has offered a public explanation for why Starlink's actual service availability falls far short of what it claimed on the Federal Communications Commission's national broadband map. SpaceX's FCC filings indicate it offers fixed broadband at virtually every address in the US even though the Starlink website's service map shows it has a waitlist in huge portions of the country.  SpaceX removed some homes from the FCC database when residents filed challenges because they were unable to order Starlink at addresses listed as served on the FCC map. SpaceX tried to clear up the confusion in

After defending false data, Comcast admits another FCC broadband map mistake

Comcast has fessed up to another mistake on the national broadband map after previously insisting that false data it gave the Federal Communications Commission was actually correct.

Comcast gave false map data to FCC—and didn’t admit it until Ars Technica got involved

Matthew Hillier can't get Comcast service at his home in Arvada, CO. But that didn't stop Comcast from claiming it serves his house when it submitted data for the Federal Communications Commission's new broadband map. Comcast eventually admitted to the FCC that it doesn't serve the address—but only after Ars got involved.

Jefferson County Cable admits lying to FCC about size of network to block funding to rivals

Ryan Grewell, who runs a small wireless Internet service provider called Smart Way Communications in Ohio, filed challenges to the Federal Communications Commission's new broadband map after his customers noticed that the FCC map falsely reported fiber Internet service was available at their homes. The FCC data was provided by Jefferson County Cable. In a reply to Grewell's challenges,  Jefferson County Cable Executive Bob Loveridge wrote, "You challenged that we do not have service at your residence and indeed we don't today.

Comcast agents mistakenly reject some poor people who qualify for free Internet

People with low incomes can get free Internet service through Comcast and the Federal Communications Commission's Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), but signing up is sometimes harder than it should be because of confusion within Comcast's customer service department. The confusion is related to a Comcast rule that makes customers ineligible for Internet Essentials low-income service if they have been a Comcast subscriber in the previous 90 days. That rule and another one related to unpaid bills are not supposed to apply to people who also qualify for the ACP.

Comcast’s sneaky Broadcast TV fee hits $27, making a mockery of advertised rates

The Comcast "Broadcast TV" fee that isn't included in the company's advertised prices is rising again, tacking as much as $27 onto the monthly bills of cable TV users. Comcast's Broadcast TV and Regional Sports Network fees combined could add nearly $40 to a customer's monthly TV bill after next month's price hikes, all while Comcast advertises much lower prices than people actually pay.