The broadband and telecom industry managed not only to meet increased demand during the pandemic but also to make progress on broader initiatives, as we note in our roundup of 2020 telecom trends.
School districts and cities across the country are racing to bridge a digital divide that has existed for decades. At least 39 states have said they would use funds from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (Cares) Act to help school districts close the tech gap. The fixes can be fairly simple. School-district and municipal IT departments are using technology that has been around for years, such as solar-powered antennas to transmit Wi-Fi, or wireless broadband, closer to more peoples’ homes.
A new lawsuit brought by one of Apple’s oldest foes seeks to force the iPhone maker to allow alternatives to the App Store, the latest in a growing number of cases that aim to curb the tech giant’s power. The lawsuit was filed by the maker of Cydia, a once-popular app store for the iPhone that launched in 2007, before Apple created its own version.
The Federal Communications Commission proposed enhancements to the FCC’s equipment authorization rules to grant limited, early-stage flexibility to innovators to accelerate the deployment of common consumer devices like cellphones, laptops, and Wi-Fi routers after FCC authorization. The proposed rule changes would allow radiofrequency device manufacturers and marketers to better position their devices for sale and distribution once a device has been authorized by the FCC.
Apple and Google will ban the data broker X-Mode Social from collecting any location information drawn from mobile devices running their operating systems in the wake of revelations about the company’s national-security work. The two largest mobile-phone platforms told developers that they must remove X-Mode’s tracking software from any app present in their app stores or risk losing access to any phones running Apple’s or Google’s mobile operating systems. Both Apple and Google disclosed their decision to ban X-Mode to investigators working for Sen.
Warner Bros. broke with tradition by announcing that it would release its entire lineup of 2021 films on HBO Max — its struggling streaming service — on the same day they were scheduled to appear in theaters. Hollywood agents and filmmakers were angered by the move — but they may have forgotten something crucial: Warner Bros. belongs to WarnerMedia, which is part of AT&T.
Jeff McElfresh, CEO of AT&T Communications, described AT&T's broadband policy goals. He said Congress should act to directly fund the Universal Service Fund, changing the funding mechanism since the contribution factor — the percentage of voice revenues that goes toward USF — is on track to exceed 30% for the first time. Other AT&T broadband policy recommendations outlined:
Engineers at Facebook Connectivity have been quietly working for the past two and a half years on a solution to economically provide coverage in rural areas, and what they’ve come up with is SuperCell, an alternative to macrocell sites. In a nutshell, they’re using taller towers and high-gain, narrow-sectored antennas to increase mobile data coverage range and capacity.
Dish Network announced fiber agreements with Everstream, Segra, Uniti and Zayo. Those four fiber partnerships will provide fronthaul and backhaul support for Dish's 5G network to sites covering approximately 60 million US citizens. Dish expects to have some small preliminary 5G markets live in the first quarter of 2021 before having its first major 5G market deployment by the third quarter. The agreements with the four fiber companies will give Dish access to fiber coast-to-coast to connect to markets with its cloud-native, Open RAN based 5G network.
5G is expected to provide the connective tissue for many emerging technologies critical to productivity, innovation, and national competitiveness. Some commentators have panicked over the so-called “race” for 5G, pointing in fear at China’s hundreds of thousands of new base stations, and projections of hundreds of millions of 5G subscribers this year alone. But if we are going to base policy decisions on this race (and it is questionable that we should), understanding how infrastructure and subscription numbers are actually counted matters.