T-Mobile is already trying to get out of merger conditions imposed by state regulators in California less than three months after completing its acquisition of Sprint. T-Mobile filed a petition with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), asking the agency to provide two extra years to meet 5G build-out requirements and to eliminate a requirement to add 1,000 new employees. T-Mobile, which had agreed to other conditions imposed by the federal government, completed the Sprint merger on April 1 without waiting for California's approval.
The Federal Communications Commission has reversed course on whether to let SpaceX and other satellite providers apply for rural-broadband funding as low-latency providers. But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said companies like SpaceX will have to prove they can offer low latencies, as the FCC does not plan to "fund untested technologies." Chairman Pai's original proposal classified SpaceX and all other satellite operators as high-latency providers for purposes of the funding distribution, saying the companies haven't proven they can deliver latencies below the FCC standard of 100ms.
Cox Communications is lowering Internet upload speeds in entire neighborhoods to stop what it considers "excessive usage," in a decision that punishes both heavy Internet users and their neighbors. Cox, a cable company with about 5.2 million broadband customers in the United States, has been sending notices to some heavy Internet users warning them to use less data and notifying them of neighborhood-wide speed decreases.
The coronavirus pandemic caused big Internet service providers to put data caps on hold for a few months, but one small ISP is going a big step further and canceling the arbitrary monthly limits permanently. Antietam Broadband, which serves Washington County in Maryland, announced that it "has permanently removed broadband data usage caps for all customers," retroactive to mid-March when the company first temporarily suspended data-cap overage fees.
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.
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.
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.
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 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'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.