Tag Archives: FCC

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.

 

 


GNC-2012-03-22 #752 The Crud Strikes!



Hey folks have a serious case of the crud but the show must go on.. Probably better to listen to this one versus watch ;). Minor schedule changes on my Indy trip but a log going on here getting ready for the new quarter.

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GNC-2012-03-05 #747 Early Show



Very early show today as my schedule allowed it. Lots of fun doing the show in the afternoon versus early evening. Enjoy the march continues to show 750.

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FCC Opens White Space for Testing



On Sept 19 the FCC opened up white space for testing for 45 days. What is white space and why is it important and the use of it controversial. White Space is the part of the frequency spectrum that is not being used. It came about with the switch from analog to digital. Because digital doesn’t use as much band width as analog there were spaces between channels that were not being used. These are known as white spaces. The FCC is now allowing companies to register and start testing devices within the white spaces for 45 days. One of the biggest controversy about white space is the problem of interference and how much space is needed between bands to avoid it. Spectrum Bridge a Florida based company has created the first database that shows where white space is available. That is the data base that is being used and tested. Other companies, including Google have registered to be white space administrator. Once the testing is done, then the FCC will review the results and see where interference occurred and what corrections need to be made.

What makes this test and white spaces themselves important is one use for it is what is known as Super Wifi. Super Wifi uses the lower frequency that exist within the white space. This allows it to travel the frequency to travel much further then traditional wi-fi does. It will also penetrate walls. Super wi-fi could be a boon for less populated areas where companies don’t want to spend the money to put in cables or fibre. The FCC has limited the wattage that can be used to 40 watts, this may or may not cut Super Wifi capability. Super Wifi will probably not be practical in more populated areas, where TV bands are much closer together and there is less white space available.

The National Broadcast Association is fighting the use of white space as it has been laid out by the FCC. They say it does not provide enough space between bands to avoid interference. Now lets be clear the area of the spectrum known as white space used to be license to TV companies under the old analog system. I suspect that they were not happy with the whole idea of white spaces. Companies like Google, Intel and Microsoft are looking forward to being able to use white space for not only wi-fi, but also Bluetooth devices. They may have to wait awhile, the Spectrum Database is first of many databases that have to be tested and the results evaluated. Just the testing itself is going to take over 300 days add to that the evaluation period and you are probably looking at late 2012 before white space will be available for commercial use. Once it is the possibilities could be limitless, but will unfortunately will probably be limited.