AM radio, born in the 1920 election, dies as 2020’s votes are counted

3 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Kdka 2nov1920

If 2020 wasn’t 2020, I’d be in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania today, listening to election returns on KDKA and honoring the 100th anniversary of the birth of broadcasting. Then owned by Westinghouse, a radio manufacturer, KDKA signed on and reported the results of the 1920 presidential race between republican (and victor) Warren Harding and democrat James Cox.

Some experimental stations were on (and, mostly, off) the air early in the preceding decade, but were shut down during World War I.… More

Free speech “hypocrisy” won’t end with a new FCC or new administration

30 October 2020 by Steve Blum
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Open internet dont tread on me 2

It’s an odd twist of logic that says the Federal Communications Commission can’t regulate Internet service or facilities, but it can be the Internet content cop. But that’s the position that FCC chair Ajit Pai is taking in regards to what is known as Section 230 – a bit of federal communications law that shields Internet platforms, like Facebook, from liability for content posted by their customers. The urge that drives him is near universal among major party politicians in Washington, D.C.… More

Federal appeals court says no do over, FCC muni pole ownership preemption stands

23 October 2020 by Steve Blum
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If cities and counties want to continue fighting the Federal Communications Commission’s preemption of local ownership of street light poles and other municipal property planted in the public right of way, they will have to take their case to the federal supreme court. In a ruling issued yesterday, the San Francisco-based ninth circuit court of appeals denied a request for a rehearing of a ruling made earlier this year by a three-judge panel that largely upheld the FCC’s authority to dictate the rates and terms for attaching wireless equipment to city-owned poles.… More

FCC proposes to pat its own back for a net neutrality repeal well done

13 October 2020 by Steve Blum
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In a rush to approve as much of the republican majority’s agenda as possible before next month’s election, the Federal Communications Commission published several draft decisions last week, that will presumably be approved at its next meeting, on 27 October 2020. Included in that batch is a draft of a clean-up ruling that addresses problems a federal appeals court found with its 2017 network neutrality repeal. None of the issues were considered serious enough to nullify the repeal, but the court did tell the FCC to fix them.… More

FCC wants to allow cell sites to grow 30 feet in any direction, without meaningful local review

12 October 2020 by Steve Blum
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Marina cell sites 625

Local governments will have to automatically permit expansions of cell sites and other wireless facilities beyond currently approved boundaries, if the Federal Communications Commission approves a draft of new wireless facilities regulations. As it all but certainly will – the changes to existing wireless permitting rules are part of a bundle of significant changes to telecommunications policy that the republican-majority FCC has queued up for a vote just ahead of the November election.

As the rules stand now, local governments “may not deny, and shall approve” within 60 days modifications to existing wireless sites that are outside of the public right of way so long as the changes “do not substantially change the physical dimensions of the structure”.… More

CPUC adds broadband to subsidised lifeline phone service in California, if telcos and cable cooperate

9 October 2020 by Steve Blum
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Forbes ag tech hartnell alisal demo 13jul2107

Low income Californians will be able to get free or low broadband service via the state’s lifeline program, following a unanimous vote yesterday by the California Public Utilities Commission. The plan approved by commissioners is pretty much the same as the draft that was proposed last month. The language in the final version was tightened up, but no substantive changes were made.

Subsidised lifeline broadband service has been available for some time from mobile carriers, who typically provide at no cost to the consumer.… More

Cities, counties decide to keep fighting FCC’s pole ownership preemption

29 September 2020 by Steve Blum
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Los angeles streetlight cell 1 23oct2019

Dozens of cities, counties and their associations yesterday asked a federal appeals court to reconsider a decision that blessed the Federal Communications Commission’s preemption of local ownership and control of streetlights and other assets installed in the public right of way.

In August, the cities’ challenge to the FCC’s ruling was mostly rejected by three judges from the San Francisco-based ninth circuit federal appeals court. The next step is to ask all 29 judges on that court to review the decision as a group – en banc, as the jargon goes.… More

A new appeal of FCC’s local pole ownership preemption could come today

28 September 2020 by Steve Blum
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At least some of the cities that challenged the Federal Communications Commission’s preemption of local ownership and control of street lights and other government property installed in the public right of way are considering continuing the fight. Last month, three judges on the federal appeals court based in San Francisco – the ninth circuit, as it’s called – said the preemption is mostly within the FCC’s authority, although they trimmed back restrictions on local aesthetic requirements for wireless facilities.… More

Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile accuse each other of spectrum hoarding and market domination

25 September 2020 by Steve Blum
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Tmobile los angeles spectrum

T-Mobile is building up its inventory of mobile bandwidth, first by leasing low band, 600 MHz spectrum from a private investment firm and then, it hopes, by buying more capacity when the Federal Communications Commission auctions off C-band frequencies later this year.

That bothers AT&T and Verizon, which have formally registered their annoyance with the FCC. Although neither company publicly opposed T-Mobile acquisition of Sprint (what their lobbyists and lawyers do behind closed doors is often a different story), they’re both complaining that T-Mobile is already holding too much spectrum – exceeds the spectrum screen as the jargon goes – and shouldn’t be allowed to buy or lease any more, until AT&T and Verizon have a chance to catch up.… More

No power to regulate broadband means the FCC has no power to preempt California’s net neutrality law

23 September 2020 by Steve Blum
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California is firing back at the monopoly model telecoms companies that want to block the state’s network neutrality law. Senate bill 822 was passed by the legislature and signed by governor Jerry Brown in 2018. It’s been on hold while a court fight over the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of its own net neutrality rules played out.

Now it’s in front of a federal judge in Sacramento. The job of defending SB 822 belongs to California attorney general Xavier Becerra.… More