Jon Brodkin

Frontier users must pay “rental” fee for equipment they own until December

Broadband and TV providers can keep charging "rental" fees for equipment that customers own themselves until Dec 2020, thanks to a Federal Communications Commission ruling that delays implementation of a new law. A law signed by President Donald Trump in Dec 2019 prohibits providers from charging device-rental fees when customers use their own equipment, and it was originally scheduled to take effect on June 20. This law will help Frontier customers who have been forced to pay $10 monthly fees for equipment they don't use and, in some cases, have never even received.

Bankrupt OneWeb seeks license for 48,000 satellites, even more than SpaceX

SpaceX and OneWeb have asked for US permission to launch tens of thousands of additional satellites into low Earth orbit. SpaceX's application to launch 30,000 satellites—in addition to the nearly 12,000 it already has permission for—is consistent with SpaceX's previously announced plans for Starlink. OneWeb's application to launch nearly 48,000 satellites is surprising because the satellite-broadband company filed for bankruptcy in March.

Making Internet service a utility—what’s the worst that could happen?

It's 2020, and a coronavirus pandemic has underscored how crucial broadband service is to the lives of Americans for work, entertainment, and school. Internet service is a necessity, and yet it isn't regulated as a utility. But back in 2014 (when this story was originally published) and 2015, there was a hot debate over whether the Federal Communications Commission should treat broadband service like a utility—or, more precisely, as a Title II common-carrier service—in order to impose net neutrality rules.

FCC's Ajit Pai doubts Elon Musk’s SpaceX broadband-latency claims

While traditional satellite broadband generally suffers from latency of about 600ms, Elon Musk says that SpaceX's Starlink will offer "latency below 20 milliseconds, so somebody could play a fast-response video game at a competitive level." The Federal Communications Commission is not convinced that Starlink broadband network will be able to deliver the low latencies promised.

Verizon’s nationwide 5G will only be a “small” upgrade over 4G at first

Verizon Communications CEO Hans Vestberg said that most 5G mobile users will see a "small" upgrade at first, and he stressed the continued relevance of 4G. Vestberg reiterated previous Verizon statements that the biggest improvements will come on millimeter-wave spectrum in the most densely populated and trafficked areas. But millimeter-wave frequencies don't travel as far as low- and mid-band radio waves and are easily blocked by walls and other obstacles, making them unsuitable for nationwide coverage.

CenturyLink still hasn’t met 2019 FCC deadline, now faces pandemic roadblocks

CenturyLink's slow broadband deployment, already a problem before the pandemic, has gotten even slower as the public health crisis causes cities and towns to halt construction. Since 2015, CenturyLink has received $505.7 million each year from the US government's Connect America Fund to deploy Internet service to nearly 1.2 million homes and businesses in 33 states. CenturyLink was required to complete 80 percent of that deployment by the end of 2019 but recently told the Federal Communications Commission that it did not meet the end-of-2019 deadline in 23 of the 33 states.

Frontier, amid bankruptcy, is suspected of lying about broadband expansion

Small Internet providers have asked for a government investigation into Frontier Communications' claim that it recently deployed broadband to nearly 17,000 census blocks, saying the expansion seems unlikely given Frontier's bankruptcy and its historical failure to upgrade networks in rural areas. NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, which represents about 850 small ISPs, is skeptical of Frontier's reported deployment.

AT&T gave FCC false broadband-coverage data in parts of 20 states

AT&T falsely reported to the Federal Communications Commission that it offers broadband in nearly 3,600 census blocks spread across parts of 20 states. AT&T disclosed the error to the FCC in a filing that provides "a list of census blocks AT&T previously reported as having broadband deployment at speeds of at least 25Mbps downstream/3 Mbps upstream that AT&T has removed from its Form 477 reports." The 78-page list includes nearly 3,600 blocks.

Charter still hates broadband competition, asks FCC to help prevent it

Charter Communications is asking the Federal Communications Commission to block government funding for Internet service providers that want to build networks in parts of New York where Charter is required to offer broadband. An FCC rule for Phase 1 of the commission's $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) bans funding in census blocks where at least one ISP has been awarded money from any federal or state broadband-subsidy program "to provide 25/3Mbps or better service," and it also bans funding in areas that already have home-Internet access at those speeds.

Verizon refuses to give DSL users its low-income deals during pandemic

Verizon is one of numerous home-Internet providers offering temporarily free service to low-income households during the pandemic. But a big restriction on Verizon's offer makes it impossible for many people to get the deal. Verizon on March 23 said it would provide two months of free home-Internet and phone service for current low-income subscribers in the Lifeline program and $20 monthly discounts for new low-income subscribers. The $20 discount lowers the starting price for 200Mbps Internet to $19.99 a month.