The Federal Communications Commission won an important battle in a fight to free up more unlicensed wireless spectrum for Wi-Fi devices. A federal appeals court on August 12 sided with the FCC in its decision to reallocate a big chunk of key spectrum for an expansion of unlicensed Wi-Fi use. The spectrum had previously been set aside for auto safety.
Government subsidies and pandemic-era telecommuting have quietly fueled the growth of broadband fiber networks, propelling the fast connection technology from an exotic, expensive technology niche to the mainstream. In the US, the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund and Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment programs encouraged internet service providers to bring higher-speed access to places that previously wouldn't have been profitable to serve. Government support also has helped improve broadband in Sweden, Lithuania, Italy and other European nations.
T-Mobile is expanding its Home Internet product, announcing that it is opening it up to anyone who can get T-Mobile service where they live. The new service, called Home Internet Lite, starts at the same $50 per month T-Mobile has previously charged. However, with Lite your data cap at that price is 100GB per month. When you are within the data cap you will not be restricted on the speed of your connection.
Verizon has followed rival T-Mobile in laying off staff. The wireless carrier would not disclose the exact number of employees it's cutting but did confirm the move had occurred. The layoffs come nearly two weeks after the nation's largest carrier announced that it lost 215,000 consumer phone accounts in the quarter that ended June 30. Even with the benefit of business customers, its overall net gain of 12,000 subscribers paled when compared to its rivals.
While we're still a long way from seeing any of the much-hyped futuristic applications that 5G was supposed to bring, like autonomous vehicles or augmented reality, even the promised higher download speeds and super responsive networks have been inconsistent or simply unavailable to most people, especially those who live outside big cities or dense suburban communities. But there's a potential answer to the 5G coverage issue: more fiber. There's reason to be hopeful on the fiber front.
While 5G and what it can do for your smartphone is certainly impressive, don't count on it to replace your home Wi-Fi service just yet, especially if fiber-optic internet is available in your area. The same attributes that make 5G home internet appealing -- high speed potential, decent value and simple, contract-free service terms -- are also applicable, often even more so, to fiber. Plus, you'll get faster upload speeds, better speed reliability and more plan options with fiber internet versus 5G service.
Net neutrality and the rest of President Joe Biden's broadband agenda hang in the balance as the president's nominee for the deadlock-breaking fifth commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission awaits a vote in the US Senate. But the process has stalled for nine months and time is running out. Gigi Sohn, a longtime public-interest advocate and former FCC adviser, was nominated in October 2021 to be the third Democrat at the agency.