Items tagged with FCC

FM radio — is that still a thing? We’re mostly kidding, but many of us don’t have (or miss having) FM radio functionality on our smartphones these days, not when we have services like Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music and Tidal to satisfy our music needs. However, did you know that your smartphone probably has support for FM broadcast built-in, but it just isn’t enabled by the manufacturer? And it could be available to you, totally free of charge.  Newly installed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai wants to change this situation. Pai took over the position from Tom Wheeler once President Donald Trump came into office, and he wants smartphone OEMs to enable FM radio functionality... Read more...
While nothing is yet official, word inside Washington is that President Donald Trump will assign GOP commissioner Ajit Pai to serve as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Pai was nominated to the FCC by former President Barack Obama and was confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate in 2012. Since he has already been confirmed by the agency, he could step right into the role without approval by the Senate. Pai met with Trump on Monday and is widely viewed as the top contender for the job based in part on his experience as a telecom law expert and comfortable demeanor in front of the camera. However, choosing Pai to be Chairman of the FCC would not be without controversy,... Read more...
Secret projects seemed to abound this past week. First, Facebook published job listings for their mysterious B8 team, and now Amazon is seeking permission from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for secret mobile wireless tests. Amazon claims that the issuance of an experimental license is in “public interest, convenience, and necessity”. Amazon did not specify what it would be testing, but indicated that the prototypes were designed to support “innovative communications capabilities and functionalities”. Furthermore, former NASA astronaut and current Prime Air manager Neil Woodward has been listed as the main contact for the experiment. It is possible that the experiment is intended... Read more...
There was a point in time when NVIDIA was at least considering the release of a second generation SHIELD Portable device. We know this because a filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that is stuffed with pictures has been made public. NVIDIA submitted the filing around the middle of last year with a short-term confidentiality request that is good for 180 days, and with that now having expired the filing has been making the rounds on the web.Given that NVIDIA recently announced an upgraded SHIELD TV set-top box with support for 4K and High Dynamic Range (HDR) but made no mention of a SHIELD Portable 2 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), it seems unlikely to us that it is... Read more...
With just a few months to go before Nintendo releases its next generation game console, the Nintendo Switch, we still know very little about the system. Much of what has been gathered about the Switch has been the result of leaks and online detective work by savvy individuals who willing to comb the web for clues. One of the newest ones was found in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and it points to the Switch using a non-removable battery. "The battery is had (sic) built-in in the EUT, and the user can't remove the battery," reads a blurb in one of the documents Nintendo submitted to the FCC. Normally a non-removable battery on a game console would not warrant a second... Read more...
AT&T and Verizon have struck the latest blow in the battle between themselves and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC had given the telecommunication corporations until December 15th to respond to its concerns over net neutrality and zero-rating services. AT&T and Verizon have spat out their vituperative responses. First off, what is “zero-rating”? Zero-rating is when mobile network operators (MNOs) and ISPs do not charge customers for data used by specific applications or internet services through their network, in limited or metered data plans. According to the FCC, AT&T's Sponsored Data program “denies unaffiliated third parties the same ability to compete over... Read more...
Telecommunications corporations are under fire again. The Federal Communications Commission has accused Verizon and AT&T of violating net neutrality rules with their “zero-ratings” promotions. Jon Wilkins, the chief of wireless telecommunication for the FCC, sent a letter of complaint to both corporations. First off, what is “zero-rating”? Zero-rating is when mobile network operators (MNOs) and ISPs do not charge customers for data used by specific applications or internet services through their network, in limited or metered data plans. Verizon and AT&T introduced their own zero-rating services at the beginning of 2016. T-Mobile has touted its Binge On service since 2015. Wilkins... Read more...
President-Elect Donald Trump is in full swing when it comes to filling out positions in his incoming administration. Although we’re reluctant to delve into unrelated topics like picks for Secretary of Defense or Treasury Director, we did take notice of Trump’s appointment of Mark Jamison as a member of his tech policy transition team. One of the pressing matters on his plate is to plot out a new course for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which Jamison has recently stated should be effectively dismantled. Jamison describes the FCC, currently under the leadership of Chairman Tom Wheeler, as “politically driven” and lambasts the current FCC’s “economics-free decision on net neutrality... Read more...
If you're in the market for a new tablet that also doubles as an e-reader, you may want to hold off for just a little bit. Rumors suggest Barnes & Noble will be releasing a new iteration of its NOOK Tablet in the very near future to battle in the low-end sector of the tablet market traditionally dominated by the Amazon Kindle Fire. According to the leaked specs, it seems certain that this NOOK, called Tablet 7, will not be that expensive. It is likely being used to help Barnes & Noble better compete against the likes of Amazon, which itself offers a meager-spec'd Fire tablet for a mere $50. Under the upcoming NOOK Tablet 7's hood is a MediaTek MT8163 CPU, a Mali-T720 GPU, a 3,000... Read more...
What kind of information do ISP’s collect from their customers and what do they do with that information? The Federal Communications Commission just passed a new rule to protect online user’s privacy and regulate how and when ISPs can share information with third parties. The FCC rule was passed this morning with a 3-2 vote. It requires ISPs, or internet providers, to obtain a customer’s explicit consent before sharing certain information with third parties. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler remarked, “It's the consumers' information. How it is used should be the consumers' choice. Not the choice of some corporate algorithm.” What does the new law entail? First, ISPs will need to let consumers know what... Read more...
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has its hands in various aspects of the internet. Some of its consumer-centric actions have sprouted strong roots, while others have been pared back or shutdown altogether. Led by Chairman Tom Wheeler, the FCC is back at it again, this time in an effort to fight for the privacy of U.S. internet users. Wheeler is calling for internet service providers (ISPs) to obtain express consent from its customers before they siphon web browsing data and other private information to share with advertisers (or other potentially lucrative deals with third-parties). FCC Charirman Tom Wheeler “Seldom do we stop to realize that our Internet Service Provider – or ISP... Read more...
Your mom may think that you spend too much time on the Internet, but Netflix most certainly does not. Netflix has asked the FCC to prohibit data caps, because it claims that caps are unreasonable and noncompetitive. Netflix insists that caps “may impede the ability of some households to watch Internet television in a manner and amount that they would like.” Netflix submitted a filing last week for the FCC’s annual investigation of broadband deployment. This review is required by Congress in Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act and requires the FCC to determine whether all Americans are receiving Internet in a fair and timely manner. The review focuses on availability and speed, however,... Read more...
After taking on Internet service providers (ISPs) and wireless carriers with a set of net neutrality rules, it looked as though FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was on the verge of going to war with cable companies next. That was the plan when, earlier this year, Wheeler talked about forcing cable companies to use open standards so that consumers could choose their own set-top box rather than paying rental or leasing fees for sub-par models provided by their service provider. Now the FCC is ditching that plan in favor of apps. What's that, apps you say? Yes indeed—rather than continue to push for the adoption of third-party set-top boxes, the FCC is set to vote later this month on a proposal that would... Read more...
In the twenty-first century, many regard Internet as a service that everyone should be able to affordably access. AT&T, however, has used a loophole in its merger with DirecTV to avoid providing inexpensive internet to low-income families. What did the merger specify? The FCC demanded that AT&T offer its services for $10 a month in areas where download speeds of 10 Mbps and 5 Mbps are available. AT&T must also provide services for $5 in places where download speeds of 3 Mbps are available. The FCC did not state what the company should do if downloads speeds are less than 3 Mbps. Consequently, AT&T refuses to provide Internet access to SNAP participants with download speeds of... Read more...
You know what everyone hates? Robocalls. AT&T, Apple, Google, Verizon, and Comcast are joining together to create the “Robocall Strike Force” which will work with the FCC to eliminate the annoyance. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson will lead the effort. A robocall is a phone call with a prerecorded message, and are often used to defraud people. Time Warner Cable was actually forced to pay $230,000 USD in July 2015 for robocalling one woman 153 times. One of the worst cases of fraud is when people fall for a robocall claiming it is from the IRS. This practice is so prevalent that the IRS has a special webpage setup warning against this deception. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration... Read more...
A filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reveals just how adamant Google is about building out a wireless version Fiber, its high-speed Internet service that offers up to 1Gbps upload and download speeds in select locations across the United States. The wireless transmission technology is already being tested in Kansas City, which is one of the locations where Fiber service is offered, and Google wants permission to expand.According to the redacted FCC filing, Google wants to use "experimental transmitters" in around two dozen locations, including several cities in California and North Carolina, as well as Provo, Utah, Boulder, Colorado, and Reston, Virginia. The wireless transmitters... Read more...
The Federal Communications Commission led by chairman Tom Wheeler suffered a setback today in its plan to encourage and allow cities to build and expand their own broadband networks, as a federal appeals court ruled the agency didn't have the authority to block two states from setting limits on municipal broadband expansion. Municipalities in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Wilson, North Carolina wanted to expand their broadband networks to neighboring communities and counties, which would increase competition with private Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that have regional monopolies. However, there are laws in place that prevent them from doing so. A majority vote by the FCC in 2015 to issue an... Read more...
Should privacy on the internet come at a premium? FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler does not think so. Wheeler has been battling ISP’s in order to guarantee that all internet customers have an equal amount of privacy. He remarked, “I would hope that privacy doesn't become a luxury item”. This comment is an obvious snub to both AT&T and Comcast who offer discounts to customers if they agree to let go of some of their privacy or charge a premium for extra privacy. AT&T charges customers $30 to $50 USD more per month if they want to opt out of "Internet Preferences”. This program tracks user’s browsing behavior on the internet. Comcast extends discounts to customers in exchange for various behaviorally-targeted... Read more...
AT&T and the FCC are butting heads, but for once, it is not over net neutrality. AT&T has been fined $7.75 million USD for indirectly participating in a directory assistance billing scam. Affected customers are expected to receive $6.8 million of these funds while the remaining $950,000 is a fine that will go to the United States Treasury. AT&T essentially allowed third-party scammers to charge customers $9 per month for a non-existent “directory assistance service”. FCC Chief Travis LeBlanc remarked, “Today’s settlement ensures that AT&T customers who were charged for this sham service will get their money back and that all AT&T consumers will enjoy greater protections against... Read more...
Internet providers are still hashing out issues with the FCC. In particular, Comcast is currently defend its “pay-for-privacy” model to the FCC [PDF]. Comcast has even contended that  “the FCC has no authority to prohibit or limit these types of programs.”So what exactly is the “pay-for-privacy” system? Essentially, companies like Comcast offers discounts to customers in exchange for allowing ISP's to use their data. Comcast then floods these customers with various behaviorally-targeted ads. Customers who prefer privacy over pricing are charged a premium.Several weeks ago a number of lawmakers urged the FCC to ban the “pay-for-privacy” system. They argued that this pricing pyramid is particularly... Read more...
It seems that the net neutrality battle is just getting started. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), the Cellular Telephone Industries Association (CTIA), and the American Cable Association (ACA) want the federal courts to repeal its ruling on net neutrality.What is the net neutrality mandate? The FCC has authority to regulate broadband internet service as a utility. Internet providers are also no longer able to implement “fast lanes” for services that are willing to pay a premium. This prevents ISP’s from favoring their own streaming services and charging fees for third-party services.  These aforementioned groups claim that they support net neutrality but believe... Read more...
The Federal Communications Commission pointed its finger at the telecommunications industry over the weekend and asked for decisive action to be taken against the growing problem of robocalls, a move that prompted AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson to respond by spearheading a new Robocalling Strike Force. Sounds intimidating, doesn't it? AT&T says the Strike Force's mission will be to "accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions to abate the proliferation of robocoalls and to make recommendations to the FCC on the role government can play in this battle." It almost sounds like a declaration of war. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler probably didn't have this kind of rhetoric in... Read more...
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