Wall Street Journal

Verizon to Buy TracFone in Deal Valued at Up to $7 Billion

Verizon agreed to buy TracFone, a provider of wireless prepaid services, in a deal worth up to $7 billion in cash and stock, further consolidating the US cellular market. TracFone, a unit of Mexico’s América Móvil SAB, has about 21 million prepaid customers in the US under its namesake brand as well as StraightTalk and Net10. The company doesn’t run its own physical network in the US and instead rides on other cellphone carriers’ systems for a fee and then resells service under its own brands.

The People Left Behind in a Broadband World

A photo essay by Liz Moughon.

As Americans anticipate the arrival of 5G wireless technology—with superfast data-transmission speeds expected to enable everything from superior home internet service to long-imagined technological advances like self-driving cars—it’s easy to forget that millions of people across the US still have no broadband internet access in their homes. In these photos, the toll that such a disconnect takes on people in southeastern Ohio is clear, from students to working people to business owners.

California Advances Net-Neutrality Rules in Rebuke to Trump FCC

California moved to reinstate Obama-era open-internet rules, challenging Trump administration rollback efforts and setting the state on a path to have the strongest net-neutrality rules in the nation. The California bill would forbid internet service providers from blocking websites, intentionally slowing down a website or app, or accepting payments to make online services go faster.

AT&T Chief Says Hiring Michael Cohen as Consultant a ‘Big Mistake’

Randall L. Stephenson, AT&T’s chief executive, said in a staffwide memo  that the company had made a “big mistake” by hiring President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

FTC’s Data-Speed Lawsuit Against AT&T Can Proceed, Appeals Court Says

A federal appeals court ruled the Federal Trade Commission can move forward with its lawsuit alleging AT&T misled wireless subscribers by reducing data speeds for several million customers who thought they had purchased unlimited plans. The ruling by the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals is a notable win for the FTC because it restores the agency’s regulatory authority over large internet service providers.

Trump Administration Weighs Building US 5G Network to Counter China

Some White House officials view next-generation 5G wireless service as a “key area of competition,” and they say that the threat from China, in particular, justifies a “moonshot” government effort like the construction of the interstate highway system. A National Security Council memo urges the Trump administration to consider extraordinary efforts to clear the way for the new technology or even to help build it in order to counter the growing economic and political threat from China’s aggressive efforts to develop 5G. 

Think of the Public Before the Broadcasters

[Commentary] As the son of a broadcast pioneer who got his license from the Department of Commerce in 1923 and as a former broadcaster myself, I read with great sadness “FCC to Lift Limits on Media Deals.” Although Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai justifies his proposal by saying it will lead to more news gathering locally and more news for consumers, my experience tells me it will be the opposite. First, viewers and listeners don’t need more news, they need better news.

President Biden Asks Republican Senators to Bring Him Reworked Infrastructure Proposal

President Joe Biden asked a group of Republican senators to flesh out their $568 billion infrastructure proposal with additional details, including how they would pay for it, a step that could begin more substantive negotiations on the issue. President Biden said that he was optimistic the group could reach a reasonable agreement and planned to discuss a more detailed offer from the Republican senators next week.

End Comment Fraud at the Cost of a Stamp

The New York Attorney General’s office found that of more than 22 million comments filed in response to the Federal Communication Commission’s hotly contested 2017 “net neutrality” repeal, nearly 18 million were fraudulent. A 19-year-old computer science student filed nearly eight million of them using automated software. According to the Administrative Procedure Act, federal agencies like the FCC must give notice to the public when they propose to write new rules. Then the public can comment on those proposals.