Jon Brodkin

Chairman Pai works to cap funding for rural and poor people, gets GOP backing

The Federal Communications Commission has preliminarily voted to cap spending on the FCC's Universal Service programs, which deploy broadband to poor people and to rural and other underserved areas. The recent approval of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is a preliminary step—the FCC will take public comment on Chairman Ajit Pai's plan for three months before moving to a final vote. The FCC technically won't begin the public-comment period until after the NPRM is published in the Federal Register, but the FCC proceeding's docket is online.

Communications Workers of America: AT&T outclassed Verizon in hurricane response, and it wasn’t close

After Hurricane Michael wreaked havoc on Florida in 2018, AT&T restored wireless service more quickly than Verizon because it relied on well-trained employees while Verizon instead used contractors that "did not have the proper credentials," according to the Communications Workers of America, a union that represents workers from both telecoms. The Federal Communications Commission recently found that carriers' mistakes prolonged outages caused by the hurricane. Many customers had to go without cellular service for more than a week.

AT&T promised 7,000 new jobs to get tax break—it cut 23,000 jobs instead

AT&T has cut more than 23,000 jobs since receiving a big tax cut at the end of 2017, despite lobbying heavily for the tax cut by claiming that it would create thousands of jobs. AT&T in Nov 2017 pushed for the corporate tax cut by promising to invest an additional $1 billion in 2018, with CEO Randall Stephenson saying that "every billion dollars AT&T invests is 7,000 hard-hat jobs. These are not entry-level jobs.

Ajit Pai-proposed upgrade to 25Mbps starts paying off for rural ISPs

More than 106,000 rural homes and small businesses in 43 states will get access to 25 megabit per second (Mbps) broadband at some point in the next decade thanks to a Federal Communications Commission policy change. The FCC's Connect America Fund (CAF), which distributes money to internet service providers (ISPs) in exchange for new broadband deployments in underserved areas, had been requiring speeds of just 10Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream over the past few years.

Comcast usage soars 34% to 200GB a month, pushing users closer to data cap

Comcast said its customers' monthly Internet data usage increased 34 percent between Q1 2018 and Q1 2019, rising to a median of 200GB. The rise is being driven by streaming video, and, in particular, 4K video. The median customer is using only about 20 percent of Comcast's 1TB data cap, which is enforced in 27 of Comcast's 39 states.

Wireless carriers fight ban on throttling firefighters during emergencies

CTIA, the US mobile industry's top lobbying group, is opposing a proposed California state law that would prohibit throttling of fire departments and other public safety agencies during emergencies. CTIA recently wrote to lawmakers to oppose the bill as currently written, saying the bill's prohibition on throttling is too vague and that it should apply only when the US president or CA governor declares emergencies and not when local governments declare emergencies.

Millimeter-wave 5G will never scale beyond dense urban areas, T-Mobile says

While all four major nationwide carriers in the US have overhyped 5G to varying degrees, T-Mobile made a notable admission about 5G's key limitation.

FCC “consumer advisory” panel includes ALEC, big foe of municipal broadband

A committee that advises the Federal Communications Commission on consumer-related matters now includes a representative of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which lobbies against municipal broadband, net neutrality, and other consumer protection measures. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced his Consumer Advisory Committee's new makeup on April 10. One new member is Jonathon Hauenschild, director of ALEC's Task Force on Communications and Technology.

Chairman Pai proposes $20 billion for “up to” gigabit-speed rural broadband

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is proposing a $20.4 billion rural broadband fund that could connect up to four million homes and small businesses over the next ten years. The new program will be part of the Universal Service Fund (USF), and it will be similar to an existing USF program that began during the Obama administration. In 2015, the USF's Connect America Fund (CAF) awarded $9 billion for rural broadband deployment—$1.5 billion annually for six years—in order to connect 3.6 million homes and businesses.

AT&T’s “5G E” is actually slower than Verizon and T-Mobile 4G, study finds

AT&T's "5G E" service is slightly slower than Verizon's and T-Mobile's advanced 4G LTE networks, a study by OpenSignal has found. AT&T renamed a large portion of its 4G network, calling it "5G E," for "5G Evolution." After comparing user-initiated speed tests from more than 1 million devices, OpenSignal found that AT&T's "5G E" phones get average speeds of 28.8Mbps, which is less than T-Mobile's 29.4Mbps and Verizon's 29.9Mbps but higher than Sprint's 20.4Mbps.