Tag Archives: FCC

FCC Bans U.S. Sales Of Huawei And ZTE Over Security Concerns



Huawei, ZTE, Hikvision, Hytera and Dahua all sell telecommunications equipment and video surveillance technology into the United States, but many of their future security cams and radio hardware will no longer be welcome, The Verge reported.

According to The Verge, the Federal Communications Commission has just announced it will no longer authorize some of their equipment – which is a big deal, because companies can’t legally import or sell anything with a radio in the US without authorization.

The FCC posted news (in the form of a PDF, Docx, or Txt) titled: “FCC Bans Equipment Authorizations For Chinese Telecommunications And Video Surveillance Equipment Deemed To Pose A Threat To National Security”.

From the news:

The Federal Communications Commission adopted new rules prohibiting communications equipment deemed to pose an unacceptable risk to national security from being authorized for importation or sale in the United States. This is the latest step by the Commission to protect our nation’s communications networks. In recent years, the Commission, Congress, and the Executive Branch have taken multiple actions to build a more secure and resilient supply chain for communications equipment and services within the United States.

“The FCC is committed to protecting our national security by ensuring that untrustworthy communications equipment is not authorized for use within our borders, and we are continuing that work here,” said Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “These new rules are an important part of our ongoing actions to protect the American people from national security threats involving telecommunications.”…

… The new rules prohibit the authorization of equipment through the FCC’s Certification process, and makes clear that such equipment cannot be authorized under the Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity process or be imported or marketed under rules that allow exemptions from an equipment authorization. The Covered List (which includes both equipment and services) currently includes communications equipment produced by Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corporation, Hytera Communications, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, and Dahua Technology (and their subsidiaries and affiliates). The new rules implement the directive in the Secure Equipment Act of 2021, signed into law by President Biden last November, the requires the Commission to adopt such rules…

Brendan Carr, the FCC’s commissioner tweeted: “Today the FCC takes an unprecedented step to safeguard our networks and strengthen America’s national security. Our unanimous decision represents the first time in FCC history that we have voted to prohibit the authorization of new equipment based on national security concerns.”

Engadget reported that this latest move follows years of conflict between the US and companies closely tied to Chinese governments. That’s included placing several notable Chinese companies, including DJI, on the Department of Commerce’s “Entity List,” which prohibits US firms from selling equipment to them.

According to Engadget, the FCC is also calling for $5 billion to help US carriers with the massive task of replacing equipment from Huawei and ZTE.

In my opinion, it seems like a good idea for the United States to try and protect itself from products and services that “could pose a threat to national security”. I think the FCC is right to request $5 billion to help US carriers remove equipment from Huawei and ZTE, and I hope the money will also enable the carriers to install equipment made in the United States.


Biden Order Cracks Down on Anticompetitive Practices in Big Tech



President Biden signed an executive order titled: “Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy” today. In short, it calls for a whole-of-government effort to use the antitrust laws, including the Sherman Act, the Clayton Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Act. He called these “a first line of defense against the monopolization of the American economy”.

Among the groups focused on in the executive order are technology companies and internet service providers. A Fact Sheet about the executive order provides some details.

Requirements for internet service providers (ISPs):

The FCC will prevent ISPs from making deals with landlords that limit tenants’ choices of what internet they can use

The FCC will require ISPs to fill out a “Broadband Nutrition Label” that provides basic information about the internet service offered so people can compare options. According to the Fact Sheet, the Trump Administration abandoned those plans. The “Broadband Nutrition Label” must report prices and subscription rates.

The FCC will limit excessive early termination fees imposed by ISPs. In short, this means if you found a better internet service deal your current ISP won’t be allowed to force you to pay an excessively high fee before it sets you free.

The FCC is also called upon to restore the Net Neutrality rules that were undone by the Trump administration. Personally, I think this is a big deal, and one that will benefit everyone.

Requirements for dominant tech firms:

In the executive order, President Biden announced an Administration policy of greater scrutiny of mergers, especially by dominant internet platforms, with particular attention to the acquisition of nascent competitors, serial mergers, the accumulation of data, competition by “free” products, and the effect on user privacy.

Also in the executive order, President Biden encouraged the FTC to establish rules on surveillance and the accumulation of data. The Fact Sheet describes the reason behind this decision this way: “Many of the large platforms’ business models have depended on the accumulation of extraordinarily amounts of sensitive personal information and related data”.

Personally, I think this is an excellent idea. I’m tired of going to websites that demand my data (and that ignore the California Online Privacy Protection Act). If I have to give you more of my data to get you to stop selling my data… you’re doing it wrong!

The executive order also cracks down on cell phone manufacturers and other tech companies blocking out independent repair shops. To me, this sounds like the Biden Administration wants to give “the right to repair” to everyone. The FTC is encouraged to issue rules against anticompetitive restrictions on using independent repair shops or doing DIY repairs of your own devices and equipment.


FCC Must Provide IP Address to Fake Net Neutrality Comments



The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been ordered to provide the server logs that may provide new insight into the allegations of fraud stemming from the agency’s 2017 net neutrality law, Gizmodo reported. The information in the server logs could potentially force the FCC to roll back its decision to kill net neutrality.

The case is titled: The New York Times Company v. Federal Communications Commission. It was filed on September 20, 2018, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The complaint was filed by The New York Times Company, and two of its reporters, Nicholas Confessore and Gabriel Dance.

The beginning part of the complaint is interesting. In it, the plaintiffs note that this litigation “involves records that will shed light on the extent to which Russian nationals and agents of the Russian government have interfered with the agency notice-and-comment process about a topic of extensive public interest: the government’s decision to abandon ‘net neutrality’. Release of the records will help broaden the public’s understanding of the scope of Russian interference in the American democratic system.”

The complaint also notes that “the FCC has thrown up a series of roadblocks, preventing The Times from obtaining the documents.” It also points out that “the FCC responded to The Times attempt to resolve this matter without litigation with protestations that the agency lacked the technical capacity to respond to the request” (among other excuses).

It appears that District Judge Lorna Schofield (a Manhattan federal court judge), wasn’t buying those excuses. Gizmodo reported that the FCC must release the server logs, which may help clarify whether fraudulent activity interfered with the comment period, as well as whether the FCC’s decision-making process is “vulnerable to corruption.”

Judge Schofield also said: “If genuine public comment is drowned out by a fraudulent facsimile, then the notice-and-comment process has failed.”

I expect that once The New York Times gets its hands on the information that it has requested, it won’t be too long until they publish what they found. This could be extremely embarrassing for the FCC, especially if many of the IP addresses that posted a comment connect to people who are not citizens of the United States. If so, perhaps the FCC can be shamed into doing the right thing and restoring net neutrality.


FCC Chairman Recommends Approval of T-Mobile and Sprint Merger



FCC Chairman Ajit Pai made a statement (PDF) in which he approved of the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. In the statement, he says his approval came after the two companies made some commitments regarding their 5G network. FCC Office of Commissioner Brendan Carr also made a statement (PDF) approving the merger.

VentureBeat provided a good summary of what commitments T-Mobile and Sprint will make:

  • 97% U.S. population coverage within three years of the merger’s close, including 85% of rural Americans
  • 99% U.S. population coverage within six years of the merger’s close, including 90% of rural Americans
  • A guarantee that 90% of Americans will have mobile broadband access at 100Mbps or more, with 99% able to access speeds of 50Mbps or more
  • A guarantee that at least two-thirds of rural Americans will have access to high-speed, mid-band 5G
  • An agreement to divest Boost Mobile to retain competitiveness in the prepaid wireless segment
  • Billions of dollars in penalties to the FCC if the merged “New T-Mobile” fails to follow through on these commitments.

Not everyone is happy about this merger. Bloomberg reported that the U.S. Justice Department is against approving the T-Mobile and Sprint merger. According to Bloomberg, “someone familiar with the review” said the reason was the DOJ feels the companies do not go far enough to resolve antitrust concerns.

Makan Delrahim is the head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division and the person who can put a stop to the merger. The DOJ reviews if a merger would hurt competition and raise prices for customers. The T-Mobile and Sprint merger would combine the number 3 and number 4 wireless carriers in the U.S., leaving just three national competitors.

Bloomberg says it is rare for the Justice Department and the FCC to diverge on a merger. It seems like there is a good chance that the merger will not be approved. I also think that people who are currently using either T-Mobile or Sprint might feel anxious about how the merger could affect the quality and cost of their service.


FCC Adopts Rules to Protect Your Online Privacy



fcc-logoThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted rules that require broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to protect the privacy of their customers. The rules ensure that broadband customers have meaningful choice, greater transparency, and strong security protections for their personal information collected by ISPs.

This landmark ruling, which was passed by a 3-2 party line vote by the FCC’s five commissioners, asserts that customers have a right to control their own personal information. In short, the new rules may forbid internet providers from sharing sensitive personal information such as app browsing histories, mobile location data, and other information generated while using the internet.

More specifically, the rules separate the use and sharing of information into three categories and include clear guidance for both ISPs and customers about the transparency, choice, and requirements for customers’ personal information.

  • Opt-in: ISPs are required to obtain affirmative “opt-in” consent from consumers to use and share sensitive information. The rules specify categories of information that are considered sensitive, which include precise geo-location, financial information, health information, children’s information, social security numbers, web browsing history, app usage history and the content of communications.
  • Opt-out: ISPs would be allowed to use and share non-sensitive information unless a customer “opts-out”. Some examples of non-sensitive information include email address or service tier information.
  • Exceptions to consent requirements: Customer consent is inferred for certain things such as the provision of broadband service or billing and collections.

FCC Requires Support for Text-To-911



Federal Communications Commission logoThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted new rules that are designed to promote the widespread use of text-to-911. Currently, the availability of text-to-911 is limited. The purpose of this new rule is to keep pace with how Americans communicate. In other words, the FCC has noted that more people are using cellphones and texting now than they have in the past.

This new requirement builds on existing commitments that were made by America’s four largest wireless carries to support text-to-911 by May of 2014. The new rules require all remaining wireless carries and certain IP-based text application providers to support text-to-911 by the end of 2014.

The new text-to-911 requirements apply to wireless carriers and “interconnected” text messaging providers. It also includes providers of “over the top” applications that support texting to and from phone numbers. It does not include messaging apps that only support communications among users of social media or games.

Why is it important to have a more uniform system that allows for text-to-911? The overall reasons is to help save lives. The FCC noted that Americans who are deaf, hard of hearing, or who have speech disabilities are widely using text messaging. It also pointed out that there can be situations where a person is in danger but is not safe to call 911. Sending a text is silent, and can be used more discretely by people who need help. Text-to-911 can also be useful when networks are congested.

That being said, the FCC doesn’t necessarily recommend that everyone use text-to-911 as a “go-to” for emergencies. They describe text-to-911 as a complement to, not a substitute for, existing 911 service. Make a voice call to 911 whenever possible. If that doesn’t work, then it is time to use text-to-911. They recommend people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities to use relay services or other existing methods to contact 911 if text-to-911 is unavailable.


Faster Wifi in Airplanes Coming Soon…



wifiThanks to the FCC you might be able to finally watch your Netflix from the plane.

Due to a proposal by the Federal Communications Commission, they are looking to take over a handful of newly acquired airwaves. The new spectrum could make your in-flight Wifi experience 30 times faster than what you experience now. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski and several colleagues voted unanimously to move forward with this plan.

“The reality is that we expect and often need to be able to get online 24/7, at home, in an office, or on a plane,” said Genachowski.

Companies like gogo wireless will still be controlling in-flight Wifi and you will (for now) still have to pay a fee as you go. However, with a speed as good as a coffee shop, they expect more users pull out their smartphones and tablets to connect up and watch a movie, check email and surf the web while 30,000 feet in the air.

The new Wifi format will share 14.0-14.5 GHz of the spectrum. This will allow data transfer of up to 300 gigabits per second – shared by all aircrafts using Wifi at that moment.