Displaying items by tag: Ajit Pai

FCC urges Apple to activate FM chips to promote public safety

Written on Tuesday, 03 October 2017 07:49

The United States Federal Communications Commission has urged Apple to activate the FM (frequency modulation) chips that are in iPhone to promote public safety. Commission Chairman Ajit Pai released a statement applauding those companies that have “done the right things” by activating FM chips in their phones in light of natural disasters hammering the country.

“In recent years, I have repeatedly called on the wireless industry to activate the FM chips that are already installed in almost all smartphones in the United States,” said Mr. Pai. “And I’ve specifically pointed out the public safety benefits in doing so. In fact, in my first public speech after I became Chairman, I observed that you could make a case for activating chips on public safety grounds alone.”

Mr. Pai highlighted the importance of FM chips during natural disasters. When wireless networks go down during a natural disaster – which they have in areas affected by Hurricane Maria that recently struck Puerto Rico – smartphones with activated FM chips can allow people to get vital access to important information without an internet connection.

“Apple is the one major phone manufacturer that has resisted doing so. But I hope the company will reconsider its position, given the devastation brought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria,” said Mr. Pai. 

“That’s why I am asking Apple to activate the FM chips that are in its iPhones.  It is time for Apple to step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first,” Mr. Pai added. “As the Sun Sentinel of South Florida put it, ‘Do the right thing, Mr. Cook. Flip the switch. Lives depend on it.”’

Following Hurricane Maria that slammed the US territory of Puerto Rico, 89.3 percent of cell sites are out of service, according to the FCC. All counties in Puerto Rico, except San Juan, have greater than 75 percent of their cell sites out of service. 29 out of the 78 counties in Puerto Rico have 100 percent of their cell sites out of service. On the US Virgin Islands, 69.8 percent of cell sites are out of service.

Since there are widespread power outages in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, the FCC has received reports that large percentages of consumers are without either cable services or wireline service (one company reported that 100 percent of its consumers are out of service due to lack of commercial power). In Puerto Rico, there are at least 12 switches that are out of service due to either SS7 or toll isolation.

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US President Donald Trump recently met with tech leaders at the American Leadership in Emerging Technology event which was attended by executives from the country’s leading operators such as AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure. Trump said he will give US companies the competitive advantage they need to lead the way in new technological development.

The White House event, which is part of FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s Tech Week in the US, centered on discussions about emerging technologies such as drones and 5G. In a speech addressing the executives at the event, Trump said, “We’re on the verge of new technological revolutions that could improve, virtually, every aspect of our lives.”

Trump promised he would support US companies by helping to “unleash the next generation of technological breakthroughs that will transform our lives and transform our country, and make us number one in this field.”

The President added: “This is a very, very competitive field. You see what’s going on in China and so many other countries and we want to remain number one. We want to go to number one in certain areas where we’re not number one and we’re going to give you the competitive advantage that you need.”

The event also included the US president meeting with other technology leaders such as representatives of Amazon, Google and Microsoft to discuss the government’s technology systems earlier in the week.

In a blog post published prior to Trump’s meeting, Ajit Pai expressed the importance of removing “barriers to innovation” – a topic frequently brought up by the chairman. He said: “In order for us to expand prosperity and extend economic opportunity to more Americans, we must remain on the cutting edge.”

Pai added: “This means that government at all levels must focus on removing barriers to innovation and ensuring that technological advances aren’t strangled by bureaucratic red tape.”

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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has announced a proposal to add an alert option to the nation’s Emergency Alert System (EAS) to help protect the United States’ law enforcement officers.

Called a “Blue Alert,” the option would be used by authorities in states across the country to notify the public through television and radio of threats to law enforcement and to help apprehend dangerous suspects.  The Chairman unveiled the proposal at an event hosted by the Department of Justice announcing the nationwide rollout of the National Blue Alert Network.

 “As we have learned from the very successful AMBER Alert initiative for recovering missing children, an informed public can play a vital role in assisting law enforcement,” Chairman Pai said.  “By expanding the Emergency Alert System to better support Blue Alerts, we could build on that success – and help protect those in law enforcement who risk their lives each day to protect us.”

Blue Alerts can be used to warn the public when there is actionable information related to a law enforcement officer who is missing, seriously injured or killed in the line of duty, or when there is an imminent credible threat to an officer.  As a result, a Blue Alert could quickly warn you if a violent suspect could be in your community, along with providing instructions on what to do if you spot the suspect and how to stay safe.

Chairman Pai’s proposal would amend the FCC’s EAS rules by creating a dedicated Blue Alert event code so that state and local authorities have the option to send these warnings to the public through broadcast, cable, satellite, and wireline video providers.

Some states have individual Blue Alert programs that use various methods to issue warnings.  The Chairman’s proposal would build on these efforts through the development of a nationwide framework that states can adopt.  This goal is consistent with the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act of 2015.  The Act, which is being implemented by the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), directs cooperation with the FCC.  The COPS Office has expressed the need for a dedicated EAS code for Blue Alerts.

The Chairman plans to ask his fellow commissioners to vote on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) at the FCC’s June 22nd Open Meeting.  If adopted, the NPRM would pose questions and invite public comment on the proposal.

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Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Ajit Pai says he wants to end an “ill-conceived” plan by the previous administration to lift a ban on passengers making mobile phone calls on planes. Pai said he felt that moving forward with the plan, which was introduced by his predecessor Tom Wheeler, is not in the public’s best interest.

“I stand with airline pilots, flight attendants, and America’s flying public against the FCC’s ill conceived 2013 plan to allow people to make phone calls on planes,” he said. Removing the plan “off the table will be a victory for Americans across the country, who, like me, value a moment of quiet at 30,000 feet,” Pai added.

Pai released a statement about his wish to terminate the proceeding which was issued by the FCC in 2013 to relax the rules against mobile communications on planes. Wheeler was chairman at the time of the proposal, and sought to relax the rules put in place in the 1990s banning the use of voice calls on planes, suggesting the rules weren’t technologically necessary. Wheeler proposed introducing equipment on planes to allow for in-flight calls.

Interestingly, a report by USA Today noted that when the issue was opened up to the public for comment, majority of people dismissed the need for allowing phone calls on planes, with many expressing how they enjoy a quiet flight. Pai will reportedly need the backing of two other commissioners to terminate the proposal.

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White House moves to repeal broadband privacy rules

Written on Sunday, 02 April 2017 10:31

US President Donald Trump is moving to repeal broadband privacy rules put in place during the Obama-era, according to reports. Republicans in Congress passed the repeal of the privacy rules on Tuesday, March 28, and didn’t receive any support from the Democrats.

The net privacy argument in the US sets the stage for a much larger issue later this year over Republican plans to overturn the net neutrality provisions which were adopted by the former administration of Barack Obama in 2015. White House spokesman Sean Spicer has not yet indicated when President Trump plans to sign the bill.

The privacy bill introduced during the Obama-era by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires internet service providers (ISPs) to do more to protect customers’ privacy than websites such as Alphabet’s Google or Facebook. The Trump administration plans to repeal these regulations.

The new rules, according to a Reuters report, would require internet providers to obtain consumer permission to use precise geo-location, financial information, health information, children’s information and web browsing history for advertising and marketing.

The move benefits the likes of AT&T, Comcast Corp and Verizon. Websites must meet less restrictive privacy rules overseen by the Federal Trade Commission.

Republican commissioners have argued that the rules would unfairly enable websites to harvest more data than ISPs.

The vote was “Terrible for American ppl, great for big biz,” tweeted Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

The next step for the Republicans is to overturn net neutrality provisions that in 2015 reclassified providers and treated them as a public utility.

The new Chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, said in December that the era of net neutrality will soon come to an end. The rules prevent ISPs from slowing down consumer access to web content and prohibit giving or selling access to faster internet to certain internet services – essentially providing a “fast lane” to the web’s “information superhighway”.

The rules have been criticized for allowing the potential of government rate regulation, tighter oversight, and would provide fewer incentives to invest billions in broadband infrastructure.

Pai is in favor of a “free and open internet,” he told Reuters in February, “and a free and open internet and the only questions is what regulatory framework best secures that.”

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US President Donald Trump has announced his new chief regulator for the nation’s airwaves and internet connections – a man known for his opposition to the Obama-led ‘net neutrality’ rules. Ajit Pai will take on the role of chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In a recent statement, Pai said he was grateful to be chosen for the role by the new president.

An active member of Twitter, Pai said in a post on Monday, 23 January, that “there is so much we can do together to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans and to promote innovation and investment.”

Pai, an Indian-American from Kansas, had been one of the two Republican commissioners on a five-member panel that regulates the country’s communications infrastructure, which includes television, phone and internet services. There are currently just three members on the panel. Therefore, the FCC currently has a 2-1 Republican majority and two empty seats, which will be filled by one Republican and one Democrat.

The Republicans are now in a position of strength since they hold a majority of the FCC panel, as well as their majority control of Congress and the White House, which is expected to help them roll back policies applauded by consumer advocates that were disliked by many phone and cable industry groups. This includes ‘net neutrality’ rules that stopped internet service providers from favoring some website and apps over others.

Pai has suggested that he wants to steer the FCC in a direction that favors big phone and cable companies. Under the leadership of former FCC chairman Thomas Wheeler, Pai felt that the organization had overstepped its bounds. Speaking in December last year, Pai expressed confidence that 2015 net neutrality rules would be reversed and noted that the FCC needed to “weed whacker” to what he believes to be unnecessary regulations that prevent investment and innovation.

There are concerns, however, by consumer advocates, that with decreased regulation, the FCC could potentially allow huge corporate mergers, reverse protection for internet users and eventually lead to higher costs for media and technology companies that rely on the internet to reach consumers. Pai has opposed online privacy regulations which demand broadband providers to ask consumers for permission before using their data.

Pai voted against approving Charter Communication’s $67 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable and a smaller company, Bright House. The reason for his opposition wasn’t because of the mergers, but because he thought some of the conditions required by the FCC, such as barring data caps on home internet service, amounted to the government meddling in business, ABC News reported.

The new FCC chairman is supported by the cable industry’s trade group, the NCTA, which released a statement on Monday, 23 January, saying Pai has a “common-sense philosophy that consumers are best served by a robust marketplace that encourages investment, innovation and competition.” On the other hand, consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge said Pai has a “history of attacking consumer protections” and urged him to maintain the FCC’s recent initiatives.

The Internet Association, a trade group that represents technology and video companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Netflix, also expressed its opinion on Pai, saying that while he doesn’t always side with the industry, “he is both thoughtful and willing to listen.”

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