CPUC kicks RDOF kicker decision into January and out of the hunt

13 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Zonk

Hope is dead that bidders for federal broadband money in the ongoing Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction would have certainty or, perhaps, even a clue regarding the California Public Utilities Commission’s supplemental subsidy plan before the auction ends. That means that the incentive value of California’s money is zero for most, if not all, Internet service providers in the reverse auction that’ll determine which communities and states divvy up $16 billion earmarked by the Federal Communications Commission for rural broadband service upgrades.… More

Biden’s new transition plan offers old broadband policy, so far

12 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Salinas windmill cell site

The presumptive 46th president likes broadband, at least insofar as it promotes “an equitable, clean energy future”. He thinks everyone should have it, and the people who build and run it should be members of labor unions. That’s about all Joe Biden is saying about broadband policy as he begins to light up his transition team.

There are only a couple of mentions of broadband on Biden’s transition website, and it’s lumped in with infrastructure generally and environmental action specifically.… More

FCC report on T-Mobile nationwide outage is a case study in network complexity and best practices (or lack thereof)

11 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Tmobile billboard 2 las vegas 6jan2020

The installation, and incomplete configuration, of a new router and a fiber link failure, both in the southeast U.S., combined with software and hardware bugs to take down T-Mobile’s national phone network in June, according to a report published in October by the Federal Communications Commission. The cascade of problems that began with a fiber route going down led to a “registration storm” in Atlanta as “mobile devices repeatedly attempted and failed to register” on the network, first using 4G, 3G and 2G mobile systems, and finally trying to complete calls via WiFi connections.… More

Scheming for a new FCC begins today in the senate

10 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Nathan Simington is due to interview for the job of republican FCC commissioner today. The federal senate’s commerce committee is scheduled to consider what are now lame duck appointments to federal agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission. Even if the republican majority on the committee blesses Simington, he won’t be approved by the full senate unless republican FCC chair Ajit Pai agrees to step down before the end of the year. And maybe not then.

As a practical matter, the FCC is made up of three commissioners from the party holding the white house, and two from the other major party.… More

In California, the many vote for economic liberty for the few

9 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Uber eats drone

Proposition 22 is on its way to a landslide victory in California. When last I checked, yeses were leading noes by 17%. It creates a third class of workers, between wage slave employees and the righteously self-employed (you might guess how I feel about all this). The campaigns for – led by Uber and Lyft – and against – funded by labor unions – have been described as the costliest in California’s history, which is very expensive indeed.… More

Marginal copper upgrades won’t bring afforable broadband to rural California

6 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Leaning pole

Fiber matters, particularly in rural California where copper telephone lines are rotting on the poles and where cable companies can’t rake in the high level of monopoly profits they can in denser and richer urban communities.

It’s about speed, capacity and cost.

Technically, it’s possible to push 10 Gbps through some kinds of copper cable under the right conditions. It means operating at the ragged edge of what’s possible, though. Whether a cable or telephone company could actually achieve that in a rural area, given the age of their overall plant, their willingness to invest and the availability of backhaul is an open question that they can’t answer until they actually build it, although they will make promises regardless.… More

Californians take privacy out of legislature’s hands and vote for stricter rules

5 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Flashers

Voters in California decisively strengthened an already strong privacy law, and took away the power of elected officials to amend and enforce it. When the dust cleared yesterday, yes votes on proposition 24 had a 12% lead over the noes. Ballot counting in California might drag on until the middle of December, but it is all but mathematically certain that yes will prevail by a wide margin.

Prop 24 tweaks the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which sets limits on what companies can do with information about you that they’ve collected.… More

Telcos, cable use bad data to hogtie California broadband plan

Pure pork night 625

It’s just an outline with more questions than answers now, but the broadband plan commissioned by California governor Gavin Newsom is beginning to take shape. A draft outline is posted on the California Broadband Council’s (CBC) website. It identifies the central problem that has challenged many Californians during the covid–19 emergency – lack of reliable, fast broadband service they can afford or, indeed, sometimes at any price – but doesn’t yet focus on specific solutions.… More

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

Frontier’s broadband monopoly leaves hundreds of thousands of rural Californians without fiber or choices

2 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Cpuc map frontier broadband gaps

The California Public Utilities Commission took another run at the numbers and the conclusion is the same: 69,000 low income Californian households live in places where the only wireline telecommunications company is Frontier Communications, which is their sole source for wired broadband service only if Frontier considers it profitable enough to offer it in the first place.

An updated report – a “collection of facts” as the CPUC calls it – was prepared by staff as part of the commission’s review of Frontier’s bankruptcy settlement.… More