Trump administration officials have talked about inserting the federal government deep into the private sector to stiffen global competition against Chinese telecom giant Huawei. The ideas -- discussed intermittently with US tech giants, private-equity firms, and veteran telecom executives -- include prodding large US technology companies like Cisco to acquire European companies Ericsson or Nokia.
Home internet and wireless connectivity in the US have largely withstood unprecedented demands as more Americans work and learn remotely. Broadband and wireless service providers say traffic has jumped in residential areas at times of the day when families would typically head to offices and schools. Still, that surge in usage hasn’t yet resulted in widespread outages or unusually long service disruptions, industry executives and analysts say. That is because the biggest increases in usage are happening during normally fallow periods. Broadband consumption during the hours of 9 a.m.
Apparently, the Federal Communications Commission is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in fines from the country’s top cellphone carriers after officials found the companies failed to safeguard information about customers’ real-time locations. The FCC informed AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon of pending notices of apparent liability. Such notices aren’t final, and the companies can still argue they aren’t liable or should pay less. It would ultimately fall on the Justice Department to collect any penalties.
T-Mobile and Sprint are waiting for a federal judge to rule on whether they can merge, but the companies face another hurdle even if they overcome that legal challenge: the California Public Utilities Commission. The state utilities overseer is the only such body that hasn’t yet blessed the $26 billion deal, and its continuing review threatens to further delay—or even derail—a merger that has dragged on for nearly two years. The state body has until July to vote but might extend that timeline further.
Whether Americans will pay more for cellphone service is at the center of arguments made by both sides battling last week over T-Mobile's purchase of Sprint. The coalition of state attorneys general that filed the antitrust lawsuit challenging the $26 billion merger fear consumers will pay more if the No. 3 and No. 4 U.S. carriers by subscribers combine, and that wireless industry competition will suffer.
Sprint has for years failed to accurately measure how many of the low-income Americans it serves through the federal Lifeline program actually use their phones. The company is facing a potential settlement with the Federal Communications Commission after the regulator in September said Sprint improperly collected “tens of millions” of dollars in federal subsidies for 885,000 Lifeline customers who weren’t using the service.
Dayslong power outages in California are revealing an inconvenient fact about modern phones: When the electricity goes out, so do they. Power shutdowns in the state meant to prevent further fire risk have cut power to some cell towers, as well as to cable providers that sell home voice services along with television programming and internet access.
Apparently, the Department of Justice is poised to approve T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint under a divestiture plan that would equip satellite-TV operator Dish Network with the building blocks for a new wireless network. The companies have spent weeks negotiating with antitrust enforcers and each other over the sale of assets to Dish to satisfy concerns that the more than $26 billion merger of the No. 3 and No. 4 wireless carriers by subscribers would hurt competition.
US wireless companies’ limited access to some of the nation’s most valuable airwaves threatens to slow down their plans to build faster 5G networks. At issue are broad swaths of the radio spectrum in frequencies that can travel long distances and penetrate buildings. This “mid-band” is considered ideal for faster, fifth-generation wireless service. Sprint and Dish Network already hold large amounts of mid-band spectrum not yet put to work serving customers. Other nearby frequencies remain reserved for satellite communications and military use in the US.
Some businesses are pushing back against a regulatory proposal that would allow phone companies to block unwanted robocalls. Representatives for trade bodies that lobby on behalf of debt collectors, banks, health-care providers and other businesses met with Federal Communications Commission officials recently, urging them to delay a planned June 6 vote on the matter and instead seek public comment, apparently. Banks, collection agencies and merchants say automated calls are crucial, even though some consumers find them annoying.