Jon Brodkin

US finally prohibits ISPs from charging for routers they don’t provide

A new US law prohibits broadband and TV providers from charging "rental" fees for equipment that customers have provided themselves. A government spending bill approved by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in Dec includes new requirements for television and broadband providers. A new "consumer right to accurate equipment charges" prohibits the companies from charging customers for "covered equipment provided by the consumer." Covered equipment is defined as "equipment (such as a router) employed on the premises of a person...

USTelecom fights against higher upload speeds in Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

US Telecom -- a lobbying group with members including AT&T, Verizon, and Frontier -- is fighting against higher Internet speeds in a US subsidy program for rural areas without good broadband access. The Federal Communications Commission's plan for the next version of its rural-broadband fund sets 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload as the "baseline" tier. Internet service providers seem to be onboard with that baseline level for the planned Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

Controversial sale of .org domain manager faces review at ICANN

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is reviewing the pending sale of the .org domain manager from a nonprofit to a private equity firm and says it could try to block the transfer. The .org domain is managed by the Public Internet Registry (PIR), which is a subsidiary of the Internet Society, a nonprofit.

Lawsuit forces CenturyLink to stop charging “Internet Cost Recovery Fee”

CenturyLink has agreed to pay a $6.1 million penalty after Washington state regulators found that the company failed to disclose fees that raised actual prices well above the advertised rates. CenturyLink must also stop charging a so-called "Internet Cost Recovery Fee" in the state, although customers may end up paying the fee until their contracts expire unless they take action to switch plans. CenturyLink charged its Internet Cost Recovery Fee to 650,000 Washingtonians. The attorney general's office said that "CenturyLink is required to...

T-Mobile touts “nationwide 5G” that fails to cover 130 million Americans

T-Mobile announced that it has launched "America's first nationwide 5G network," but T-Mobile's definition of "nationwide" doesn't include about 40% of the US population. "America gets its first nationwide 5G network today, covering more than 200 million people and more than 1 million square miles," T-Mobile's announcement said. The US Census Bureau estimates the population to be more than 330 million people.

How the FCC solves consumer problems—well, it doesn’t, really

The Federal Communications Commission's extremely hands-off approach to broadband-customer complaints has alarmed Rep Mike Quigley (D-IL). Rep Quigley wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in Aug after learning of a Frontier customer who was forced to pay a $10-per-month rental fee for a router despite buying his own router. It turns out that the FCC hasn't proactively forwarded any broadband-billing complaints to the Federal Trade Commission despite the agencies' working agreement. But Chairman Pai's initial response to Rep Quigley didn't reveal that tidbit.

ISPs lied to Congress to spread confusion about encrypted DNS, Mozilla says

Mozilla is urging Congress to reject the broadband industry's lobbying campaign against encrypted DNS in Firefox and Chrome. The Internet providers' fight against this privacy feature raises questions about how they use broadband customers' Web-browsing data, Mozilla wrote in a letter sent to the chairs and ranking members of three House of Representatives committees.

AT&T will slash $3 billion off its capital investments in 2020

AT&T is planning to spend just $20 billion on capital investment in 2020, down from $23 billion in 2019. The company is under pressure from investors to control spending, in part because its TV business is tanking and because of AT&T's giant debt load stemming from the purchases of DirecTV and Time Warner. AT&T increased capital investment between 2018 and 2019, but its 2020 outlook would push the company's spending to lower than its 2018

Washington State keeps enforcing net neutrality as it hails FCC court loss

Although the Federal Communications Commission abandoned its regulation of network neutrality, it wouldn't be accurate to say there are no net neutrality laws anywhere in the US. No one enforces net neutrality in Washington, DC, but on the opposite coast, the state of Washington (WA) imposed a net neutrality law in June 2018 that remains in effect today. The WA law prohibits home and mobile Internet providers from blocking or throttling lawful Internet traffic and from charging online services for prioritization.

AT&T and other carriers want to hide detailed 5G maps from FCC and public

AT&T and other mobile carriers are trying to hide detailed 5G maps from the public despite constantly touting the supposed pace and breadth of their 5G rollouts. With the Federal Communications Commission planning to require carriers to submit more accurate data about broadband deployment, AT&T and the mobile industry's top lobby group are urging the FCC to exclude 5G from the upgraded data collection. "There is broad agreement that it is not yet time to require reporting on 5G coverage," AT&T told the FCC in a filing.