Thursday, November 19, 2020
Headlines Daily Digest
News From the FCC
News From the FCC
The Federal Communications Commission adopted new rules for the 5.9 GHz band (5.850-5.925 GHz) to make new spectrum available for unlicensed uses, such as Wi-Fi, and improve automotive safety. Specifically, the new band plan designates the lower 45 megahertz (5.850-5.895 GHz) for unlicensed uses and the upper 30 megahertz (5.895-5.925 GHz) for enhanced automobile safety using Cellular Vehicle-toEverything (C-V2X) technology.
The Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau announced the full launch of the National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier (National Verifier) in California, effective December 18, 2020. Given the unique circumstances in California, where the state agency conducts Lifeline eligibility determinations directly, the Bureau and the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) have collaborated with the state to enable it to continue to conduct eligibility verification for the federal Lifeline program in partnership with National Verifier. California has managed eligibility verification and duplicate checking for the federal Lifeline program in parallel with administering its own state low-income subsidy program for many years. Additionally, California does not participate in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD). In light of that waiver and the systems California already has in place, the National Verifier will leverage the state’s existing processes so that Lifeline consumers in California can continue to apply using a streamlined state application process for both federal and state benefits.
National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said the “number one concern” for democracy at home and abroad is the integrity of our communications networks. In particular, he warned that installing equipment from Chinese firms in the backbone of our 5G networks could give the Communist Chinese government “backdoors to pull up every bit of data in the world.” I agree wholeheartedly. Or, as I’m fond of quipping on Twitter, “you don’t say.” The FCC's December agenda includes:
- An Order implementing the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019
- Targeted enhancements to FCC equipment authorization rules to make sure the newest technologies and must-have devices reach consumers as quickly as possible while still meeting our substantive standards.
- A proposal to encourage the deployment of services using ATSC 3.0—the “next generation” broadcast television standard. The new standard promises to finally realize the potential for broadcast spectrum capacity to support so-called “Broadcast Internet” services—digital services beyond traditional over-the-air video, integrated into the broadband ecosystem. The FCC will consider a Report and Order that clarifies the basis on which to calculate ancillary and supplementary service fees, which are an assessment on the revenues earned by television stations from such services that we are required by statute to collect.
Leichtman Research Group found that the largest cable and wireline phone providers in the US – representing about 96% of the market – acquired about 1,530,000 net additional broadband Internet subscribers in 3Q 2020, compared to a pro forma gain of about 615,000 subscribers in 3Q 2019. These top broadband providers now account for about 104.9 million subscribers, with top cable companies having about 72 million broadband subscribers, and top wireline phone companies having about 32.9 million subscribers. Findings for the quarter include:
- Overall, broadband additions in 3Q 2020 were about 915,000 more than in 3Q 2019
- Broadband additions in 3Q 2020 were the most in any quarter since 1Q 2009
- The top cable companies added about 1,320,000 subscribers in 3Q 2020 – compared to a net gain of about 830,000 subscribers in 3Q 2019
- Cable broadband had over one million net adds for the third consecutive quarter – the first time since 3Q 2006-1Q 2007
- Comcast’s 633,000 net adds in 3Q 2020 were more than in any quarter in the past fifteen years
- The top wireline phone companies added about 210,000 subscribers in 3Q 2020 – compared to a net loss of about 220,000 subscribers in 3Q 2019
The Federal Communications Commission is expected to move to restore net neutrality rules after President-elect Joe Biden takes office, undoing the agency’s deregulation of the broadband industry during the Trump administration. The key regulatory underpinning would be a reclassification of broadband as a service under Title II of the Communications Act. That reclassification would enable the agency to reinstate rules requiring that companies like AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. treat all internet traffic equally, and take other actions to regulate broadband providers’ business practices amid the pandemic. Internet service providers “should plan for their broadband service to be regulated as a Title II service via Obama-era-like net neutrality rules,” Matt Schettenhelm, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst. How fast Democrats can move to restore broadband as a Title II service and enact new net neutrality rules will depend on how quickly Democrats can install a majority at the FCC.
Lapses in tech companies’ policies to address Spanish content led to a proliferation of misinformation targeting Latino voters around Election Day, according to several advocacy groups. Spanish misinformation campaigns largely mimicked those in English that cast doubt on the security of mail-in ballots, later calling into question the election results. But while the English-language posts were regularly removed, Spanish ones often “slipped through the cracks,” said Jessica González, co-CEO of Free Press and co-founder of the civil rights coalition Change the Terms. “I think there were massive failures across the board,” said González.
Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) applauded congressional passage of their bipartisan legislation to require minimum security requirements for Internet of Things (IoT) devices purchased by the US government. Leveraging the purchasing power of the federal government, the bill will ultimately help move the wider market for IoT devices towards greater cybersecurity. The Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity Improvement Act passed through the House of Representatives in September and was approved in the Senate by unanimous consent. It now heads to the President’s desk for signature. Specifically, the legislation would:
- Require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to issue recommendations addressing, at a minimum, secure development, identity management, patching, and configuration management for IoT devices.
- Direct the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue guidelines for each agency that are consistent with the NIST recommendations, including making any necessary revisions to the Federal Acquisition Regulation to implement new security standards and guidelines.
- Require any IoT devices purchased by the federal government to comply with those recommendations.
- Direct NIST to work with cybersecurity researchers, industry experts, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to publish guidelines on vulnerability disclosure and remediation for federal information systems.
- Require contractors and vendors providing information systems to the U.S. government to adopt coordinated vulnerability disclosure policies, so that if a vulnerability is uncovered, that can be effectively shared with a vendor for remediation.
Benton (www.benton.org) provides the only free, reliable, and non-partisan daily digest that curates and distributes news related to universal broadband, while connecting communications, democracy, and public interest issues. Posted Monday through Friday, this service provides updates on important industry developments, policy issues, and other related news events. While the summaries are factually accurate, their sometimes informal tone may not always represent the tone of the original articles. Headlines are compiled by Kevin Taglang (headlines AT benton DOT org) and Robbie McBeath (rmcbeath AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.
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