Displaying items by tag: FCC
After months of consideration, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has finally granted SpaceX a license for up to a million terminals that would work on the ground with the company’s Starlink satellite constellation to deliver global broadband internet service.
The license, which runs until March 2035, permits Starlink to install the 48cm diameter dishes anywhere in the continental US, plus Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Isles.
Unlike normal licenses, which specify very precise locations, the FCC has given SpaceX permission for “blanket earth stations”.
Word of the 15-year license’s approval came in a public notice issued by the FCC. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has described the plug-and-point terminals, which are made in California, as looking like a “thin, flat, round UFO on a stick.”
The satellites, orbiting between 328km and 580km above the Earth’s surface, making the round-trip ground-satellite-ground latency around 30ms, will provide global coverage – meaning SpaceX will need to apply for licenses everywhere it plans to operate.
The company says: “Starlink is targeting service in the Northern US and Canada in 2020, rapidly expanding to near global coverage of the populated world by 2021.”
There are already 360 Starlink satellites in orbit, though it is unclear how many of that number have failed to work correctly. SpaceX is making them at a reported rate of six a day.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said it will accept public comments until Feb. 3 on its determination that China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp pose national security threats.
In a document published by the FCC, it reports that interested parties can submit responses on Huawei and ZTE’s designation, which aims to prevent money from the US Universal Service Fund being used to purchase kit from companies deemed a national security risk.
“The FCC adopts a rule that prospectively prohibits the use of Universal Service Fund funds to purchase or obtain any equipment or services produced or provided by a covered company posing a national security threat to the integrity of communications networks or the communications supply chain.”
As the Commission stated in the Protecting Against National Security Threats Notice, the promotion of national security is consistent with the public interest, and USF funds should be used to deploy infrastructure and provide services that do not undermine national security.
In November, the FCC voted unanimously to bar U.S. rural wireless providers from availing of an $8.5 billion government fund to purchase Huawei or ZTE telecommunications equipment.
Last month, Huawei filed a petition with the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court in New Orleans challenging the FCC decision. The FCC will review public comments before finalizing the designations on Feb. 3.
China blasted as "economic bullying" a US proposal to block service providers buying from Chinese tech companies Huawei and ZTE. The two Chinese vendors have been accused of posing a threat to national security because of their ties to the Beijing government.
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said that the proposed rules were part of an initiative to "safeguard the nation's communications networks".
FCC chairman Ajit Pai also said: “We cannot ignore the risk that the Chinese government will seek to exploit network vulnerabilities in order to engage in espionage, insert malware and viruses, and otherwise compromise our critical communications networks”.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang slammed the US proposal as an attempt to "oppress certain Chinese businesses with groundless accusations".
"The United States' economic bullying goes against the market principles which the US has always trumpeted," he said.
The proposal, to be voted on November 19, marks the latest effort by Washington to further damage Huawei’s global reputation. Huawei says that US has provided no proof of any security risks posed by the company.
"In 30 years of business, Huawei has never had a major security-related incident in the 170 countries where we operate," the statement said.
"Banning specific vendors based on country origin will do nothing to protect America's telecommunications networks."
In May, Washington said it would blacklist Huawei from the US market and from buying crucial US components, though it has twice extended the company 90-day reprieves, the latest coming in August.
The United States has expressed concern that Huawei equipment could contain security loopholes that allow China to spy on global communications traffic, and has pressured US allies to block the use of Huawei equipment.
The $26 billion merger deal between US telecommunication operators T-Mobile US and Sprint has received the backing of a key official at the US communications regulator FCC (Federal Communications Commission).
US aggression towards Chinese telecommunication entities shows no signs of abating following the latest calls from the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission to block China Mobile from operating in the United States.
China Mobile is the world’s largest mobile operator and has nearly 930 million customers. It has been desperately trying to penetrate the US market for the last eight years. It first filed an application for permission to operate in the United States back in 2011, but thus far it has been unsuccessful in its attempts to get a license to trade.
The FCC has five members which are comprised of both Democrats and Republicans and their due to vote on an order that if approved would deny China Mobile’s request to operate. The offensive campaign against China’s ICT firms that has seen Huawei and ZTE subjected to intense scrutiny has actually drawn bipartisan support in the House of Representatives and appears to be one issue that both parties universally agree on.
FCC chairman Ajit Paj released a statement on the China Mobile application and again referenced the importance of domestic security as the main reason to reject the Chinese operators’ efforts to gain access to the US market.
The FCC chairman said, “Safeguarding our communications networks is critical to our national security. Evidence, including that submitted by other federal agencies made it clear that China Mobile's application to provide telecommunications services in our country raises substantial and serious national security and law enforcement risks."
China Mobile’s ambitions to penetrate the US market now appear dead and the water. The US has continued its smear campaign against Huawei and ZTE and has pressured allies in banning them from participating in their 5G buildout.
Australia and New Zealand have prohibited Huawei from their 5G networks, but the US has met resistance in Europe, with Germany and Belgium both saying they’ve found no evidence of any threats from Huawei, whilst Vodafone claimed that barring Huawei from 5G in Europe would significantly delay the commercialization of the next-generation networks on the European continent.
US communications provider CenturyLink has completed its acquisition of US telecommunications and Internet service provider Level 3 Communications for an estimated $30 billion. The combination of CenturyLink and Level 3 creates a global network services company capable of providing customers a wide range of technology solutions over a secure fibre-rich network.
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the merger on November 30. CenturyLink's network now connects more than 350 metropolitan areas with more than 100,000 fibre-enabled, on-net buildings, including 10,000 buildings in EMEA and Latin America. The combined company will compete against US telecom heavyweights AT&T and Verizon.
The combined company, with estimated pro forma revenue of $24 billion for the twelve months ended June 30, 2017 (excluding revenue related to CenturyLink's May 1, 2017, colocation business sale and including estimated intercompany eliminations and purchase accounting adjustments), anticipates that approximately 75 percent of its core revenue will come from business customers and nearly two-thirds of its core revenue will come from strategic services.
"CenturyLink is now poised to offer an expanded, robust portfolio of communications solutions focused on our customers' networking and IT services needs," said Glen F. Post III, CenturyLink's chief executive officer. "Our customers, from individual consumers to global enterprises, will benefit from our expanded, innovative network solutions, our complementary managed services and our highly talented workforce."
The acquisition is more like a merger, with CenturyLink shareholders getting 51 percent ownership and Level 3 stockholders 49 percent. CenturyLink remains headquartered in Monroe, La., with a key operational presence in Colorado and the Denver metropolitan area.
Following the acquisition, CenturyLink is now better positioned to offer a broader, innovative product portfolio of network solutions and advanced IT services designed to meet complex technology and threat protection needs.
The acquisition allows CenturyLink to deliver these solutions and services to enterprise, government, wholesale and consumer customers over a large-scale, fiber-rich global network. CenturyLink will also continue to invest in the reach and speeds of its broadband infrastructure for small businesses and consumers.
"Our goal is to be the world's best networking provider and we have the ability to achieve this as one company," said former Level 3 CEO Jeff Storey, now CenturyLink's president and chief operating officer. "CenturyLink is focused on providing a differentiated experience for our customers, while driving profitable growth and increasing free cash flow per share. Our scale and experience will enable us to deliver on behalf of our customers, employees and our shareholders."
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a settlement with Verizon for possible violations of the FCC’s competitive bidding rules for the E-rate program, which provides discounts to assist most schools and libraries in the United States to obtain affordable internet access.
Verizon agreed to pay $17.68 million to resolve parallel investigations by the FCC and U.S. Department of Justice, $17.325 million of which will be repaid to the Universal Service Fund (USF). Verizon has further agreed to withdraw any rights it may have to hundreds of millions of dollars in requested and undisbursed E-rate support.
This settlement follows an investigation into Verizon’s involvement with New York City schools’ use of the E-rate program. The Commission’s Enforcement Bureau conducted its investigation in parallel with the US Department of Justice Civil Fraud Section and US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
In related actions, former New York City Department of Education consultant Willard “Ross” Lanham was convicted by a federal jury sitting in the Southern District of New York. In December 2015, the Commission settled a related investigation with the New York City Department of Education.
The Schools and Libraries Universal Service Program, known as E-rate, subsidizes telecommunications, Internet access, and Wi-Fi services for schools and libraries. E-rate is funded by the Universal Service Fund under rules established by the FCC.
The program is designed to bring modern broadband connectivity to students, teachers and library patrons. Program applicants must seek competitive bids from prospective service providers and must treat the price-eligible products and services as the primary factor when selecting amongst competing service providers.
To resolve the FCC and Justice Department investigations, Verizon will pay $17.325 million to the Universal Service Fund through the FCC settlement and $354,634 to the US Treasury through the Justice Department settlement.
In addition, Verizon will surrender any claims against the Universal Service Fund it may have to approximately $7,303,668 in undisbursed E-rate support for products and services provided to the New York City Department of Education between Funding Years 2002 and 2013.
Furthermore, Verizon will surrender any appeal rights before the Universal Service Administrative Company and the FCC in connection with more than $100 million in E-rate support for which the New York City Department of Education has withdrawn requests for support through its 2015 settlement with the FCC. As part of the FCC’s settlement, Verizon will also operate under a compliance plan for three years.
While the Commission adopted the consent decree in May 2017, it has not been released until now in order to allow for a global settlement which includes the US Department of Justice. The Department of Justice settlement with Verizon was submitted to the Court for approval in the Southern District of New York on October 17.
The US Territory of Puerto Rico was recently hit by the strongest storm in almost 90 years. Knocking out the island’s electricity grid, 90 percent of cell phone sites stopped working, according to the US Federal Communications Commission. The recent string of monster storms in North America has drawn attention to the importance of critical communications and promoting public safety.
In the space of two months (August and September 2017), the southern United States and Caribbean region were slammed by three mega storms: Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and the most recent Hurricane Maria. Harvey caused at least 75 confirmed deaths; 1 in Guyana, and 74 in the US. As of September 27, Irma caused at least 124 deaths; while as of October 1 Maria caused at least 68 deaths.
Still recovering from Irma two weeks prior, approximately 80,000 people in Puerto Rico were left without power after Maria hit. Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) had struggled with increasing debt, reaching $9 billion even before the hurricanes, prompting them to file for bankruptcy. The island’s aging infrastructure left it vulnerable to damage from the storms. Consequently, mobile coverage was cut off.
When Maria finally subsided, in Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, cars were reportedly pulling up on the side of roads with occupants emerging holding their cell phones up in the air in search of network coverage. For miles, cell phones displayed a frustrating “No Service” message. This is in stark contrast to the US states of Texas and Florida that had cell service restored almost completely in storm-affected areas a week after Harvey and Irma hit.
The aftermath of the storms has drawn fresh attention to the importance of critical communications. Following the storms, the United States Federal Communications Commission urged Apple to activate the FM (frequency modulation) chips that are in iPhones to promote public safety.
Commission Chairman Ajit Pai released a statement applauding those companies that have “done the right thing” 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.
He highlighted the importance of FM chips during natural disasters. When wireless networks go down during a disaster, 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,” said Mr. Pai. “But I hope the company will reconsider its position, given the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.”
According to the FCC, 89.3 percent of cell sites were out of service after Maria. All counties in Puerto Rico, except San Juan, had greater than 75 percent of their cell sites out of service. 29 out of the 78 counties in Puerto Rico had 100 percent of their cell sites out of service. On the US Virgin Islands, 69.8 percent of cell sites were out of service.
Since there were widespread power outages in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, the FCC received reports that large percentages of consumers were left without either cable services or wireline service (one company reported that 100 percent of its consumers were left out of service due to lack of commercial power).
In one of the few places that had connectivity on Puerto Rico, the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino, tourists reportedly overwhelmed the lobby to use the working cell service and Wi-Fi to connect with the outside world. With a cell phone penetration rate of nearly 100 percent, according to government data, Puerto Ricans have been heavily impacted by the lack of network services on the island.
Confidence in connectivity
Puerto Rico has five main mobile operators: AT&T, T-Mobile, Claro, Sprint and Open Mobile. Connectivity provided by operators is the backbone of relief efforts today. AT&T and Sprint both dispatched teams to restore coverage to the island. The companies also waived certain fees for customers to establish a way for people to contact their families and friends.
The electric grid fallout presented one of the biggest challenges to restoring connectivity to the island. “Power is essential to restoring wireless and wireline communications. Given the breadth of power outages across the islands, we’re deploying portable generators as quickly as allowed,” AT&T said.
Social media giant Facebook also pledged support for Puerto Rico. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced $1.5 million in aid to organizations assisting in the island’s recovery from Maria, together with direct assistance from Facebook’s connectivity team in an effort to get people back online. The company also said it would donate Facebook ad space to share critical information with Puerto Rican users.
Facebook’s connectivity team previously came under the spotlight for ambitious technology initiatives like the Aquila drone, a high-altitude solar-powered aircraft designed to connect remote areas to the internet. Facebook is pushing forward with the Aquila program's progress to help bring the world closer together through connectivity.
“Communication is critical during a disaster,” Zuckerberg said in a post after Hurricane Maria. “With 90 percent of cell towers on the island [Puerto Rico] out of service, people can't get in touch with their loved ones -- and it's harder for rescue workers to coordinate relief efforts.”
Recovery efforts have suffered in Puerto Rico as a result of its cell network outage. Utilizing social media proved immensely effective after fallout from Harvey in Texas, as people could publish posts that were quickly relayed to rescuers. Due to the lack of connectivity on Puerto Rico, in some remote areas people resorted to painting “Help” signs on roads and buildings, hoping that relief efforts would reach them.
The public safety community has long called for mobile broadband to support its mission to save lives. With the adoption of LTE mobile broadband technology, public safety networks can benefit from the advantages of fast and reliable broadband data and real-time video services, opening up new communications possibilities for rescue missions and disaster recovery situations.
In an effort to make mission-critical mobile broadband a reality, Nokia, for example, has a dedicated comprehensive technology and services portfolio called ViTrust. The portfolio includes rapidly deployable solutions for emergency and disaster recovery situations to establish coverage in remote areas, among other features.
The Finnish company recently expanded the portfolio with new services to help first responders take advantage of reliable and secure high-performance applications on their public safety devices. The services provide trouble-free continuity of operations for public safety agencies across a multi-vendor, multi-technology mission critical communications environment.
‘Care for public safety’, for instance, is a service Nokia introduced to ensure that the most demanding communications needs to public safety organizations are fulfilled. The company says it ensures that new network functionality and services interworking with multivendor LTE networks are available from day one.
One European operator is already using this service and seeing the benefits of reduced operational downtime risks, according to Nokia, with service levels stabilizing faster than before and fulfilling public safety requirements.
“The success of moving to broadband-based critical communications requires deep technological and operational expertise,” said Asad Rizvi, head of Nokia's global business development in Global Services. “Nokia has both, from our long history of working with agencies to our global service expertise in broadband.”
The public safety LTE market is expected to be valued at US$3,091.3 million by 2023, according to new market research published by MarketsandMarkets, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 25.7 percent from US$782.9 million in 2017. The factors that are driving the growth of this market, according to the report, are the rising demand for unmanned operations and remote surveillances, and elimination of connectivity issues between networks.
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.