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    FCC officials owned stock in Comcast, Charter, AT&T, and Verizon, watchdog says / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 15 March, 2023 - 19:43

In this photo illustration, the Comcast logo is displayed on a smartphone with a stock exchange index graph in the background.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | SOPA Images)

The Federal Communications Commission should be investigated for letting employees own stock in Comcast, Charter, AT&T, and Verizon, nonprofit watchdog group Campaign Legal Center told government officials.

" Federal law specifically bans FCC employees from owning 'any stocks, bonds, or other securities of [any company] significantly regulated by the Commission,'" the nonprofit group said last week in a letter and detailed report sent to FCC Acting Inspector General Sharon Diskin. "Despite this ban, the most recent financial disclosures publicly available show that ethics officials allowed multiple FCC employees to own stock in telecommunications and other companies that appear to fall under the prohibition."

The letter, sent by Campaign Legal Center General Counsel Kedric Payne and two other lawyers at the group, urged the FCC Office of Inspector General (OIG) to "investigate whether the FCC's ethics officials took appropriate action to enforce the ethics laws... The ethics officials responsible for enforcement must explain to OIG and the public why they allowed employees to hold stocks in FCC licensed telecommunications and computer companies in apparent violation of the law."

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    Starlink explains why its FCC map listings are so different from reality / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 8 March, 2023 - 20:22

A Starlink satellite dish pictured on the ground, near an RV.

Enlarge / A Starlink satellite dish. (credit: Starlink)

SpaceX has offered a public explanation for why Starlink's actual service availability falls far short of what it claimed on the Federal Communications Commission's national broadband map.

SpaceX's FCC filings indicate it offers fixed broadband at virtually every address in the US even though the Starlink website's service map shows it has a waitlist in huge portions of the country. As we previously reported , SpaceX removed some homes from the FCC database when residents filed challenges because they were unable to order Starlink at addresses listed as served on the FCC map.

SpaceX tried to clear up the confusion in an FCC filing last week. The company says it followed FCC rules when submitting data and blamed the FCC system for not allowing it to report data more precisely. Under the map system rules, SpaceX argues that it is allowed to report an address as "served" even if the resident can only order Starlink's RV service.

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    Biden FCC nominee withdraws, blaming cable lobby and “unlimited dark money“ / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 7 March, 2023 - 20:34

Gigi Sohn speaking into a microphone while seated during a Senate hearing.

Enlarge / Gigi Sohn testifies during a Senate Commerce Committee confirmation hearing on Feb. 9, 2022. (credit: Getty Images)

President Biden's nominee to the open seat on the Federal Communications Commission, Gigi Sohn, withdrew her nomination today.

"When I accepted his nomination over sixteen months ago, I could not have imagined that legions of cable and media industry lobbyists, their bought-and-paid-for surrogates, and dark money political groups with bottomless pockets would distort my over 30-year history as a consumer advocate into an absurd caricature of blatant lies," Sohn said in a statement provided to Ars and other media organizations.

Sohn's nomination was "met with homophobic tropes and attacks against herself and her family," a recent letter from advocacy groups to senators said. Sohn's statement said that "unrelenting, dishonest and cruel attacks on my character and my career as an advocate for the public interest have taken an enormous toll on me and my family."

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    FCC seeks $5M fine for robocalls telling Black people that voting helps “the man” / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 25 August, 2021 - 22:46 · 1 minute

Police officers surround Jacob Wohl as he uses a megaphone to taunt anti-Trump protesters.

Enlarge / Police officers surround Jacob Wohl as he taunts protesters during a "Trump/Pence Out Now" rally at Black Lives Matter plaza August 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty Images | Michael Santiago )

The Federal Communications Commission yesterday proposed a $5.1 million fine against two right-wing political operatives accused of making over 1,100 illegal robocalls. The calls were an attempt to convince people not to vote.

The recorded messages sent before the November 2020 election "told potential voters that if they voted by mail, their 'personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts,'" the FCC said. Those messages were apparently targeted at Black voters and told them, "don't be finessed into giving your private information to the man."

John Burkman and Jacob Wohl were already facing felony charges in Wayne County Circuit Court for "orchestrating a robocall to suppress the vote in Detroit and other cities with significant minority populations," as Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced in November 2020. They were also indicted in Ohio , and New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking fines that would add up to $2.75 million .

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    $50 monthly broadband discounts available starting today via 825 ISPs / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 12 May, 2021 - 16:36 · 1 minute

A man sitting on the floor and using a laptop.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Oscar Wong)

The Federal Communications Commission today opened enrollment for $50-per-month broadband subsidies for US residents who have low incomes or who lost income during the pandemic. Over 825 Internet service providers across the US are participating in the program, with the full list of ISPs in each state and territory available here . All the biggest ISPs and hundreds of smaller ones are participating, so the subsidies should be available in most areas with home Internet access.

Cable, fiber-to-the-home, DSL, and fixed wireless ISPs are among the home-Internet services included in the program. The subsidies aren't just for home Internet, as many mobile providers are participating in the program as well. To enroll, go to and click on "Apply Now." I received error messages when clicking the link today, but other people said it was working, so hopefully everyone who needs it will be able to get through without much trouble.

Congress approved the subsidy program in December, providing $3.2 billion. "This pandemic-related program will continue until the $3.2 billion in federal funding runs out or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the pandemic," the FCC said today . "Eligible households will be able to receive on their broadband bill a discount of up to $50 per month, or $75 on qualifying Tribal lands. They will also be eligible for a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price."

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    Baltimore chief prosecutor asks FCC to stop negative news coverage about her / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 11 May, 2021 - 18:25 · 1 minute

Baltimore chief prosecutor Marilyn Mosby standing outside and talking to a reporter as a person holding a camera films.

Enlarge / Baltimore chief prosecutor Marilyn Mosby being interviewed by NBC News in August 2016, in the neighborhood where Freddie Gray was arrested shortly before his death from a spinal cord injury. (credit: Getty Images | Larry French )

Baltimore's chief prosecutor has asked the Federal Communications Commission to stop a local Fox News affiliate's negative coverage about her, claiming that the "tone of the coverage" violates FCC rules.

The office of Marilyn Mosby, the Maryland State's Attorney (SA) for Baltimore, filed the formal complaint last week against "FCC-licensed station WBFF, a Baltimore City-based Fox News-affiliated network." The complaint asked acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and the rest of the commission "to enlist the full investigative and enforcement powers granted to you by the federal government to take action against the WBFF as soon as possible." Mosby is a Democrat and WBFF is part of the conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group.

The closest the complaint comes to alleging a factual error is in reference to a guest on one segment who said that Mosby is "a follower of the George Soros playbook, who's... bought and paid for these elected DAs." The complaint said that "State's Attorney Mosby has never received a penny from George Soros or any of his political groups." However, that segment was made by one of Sinclair's national shows that runs on many stations and was not produced by WBFF.

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    SpaceX Starlink passes 10,000 users and fights opposition to FCC funding / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 4 February, 2021 - 21:38

A SpaceX Starlink user terminal, also known as a satellite dish, seen against a city

Enlarge / A SpaceX Starlink user terminal/satellite dish. (credit: SpaceX )

Lobby groups for small ISPs are urging the Federal Communications Commission to investigate whether SpaceX can deliver on its broadband promises and to consider blocking the satellite provider's rural-broadband funding. Meanwhile, SpaceX says the Starlink beta is now serving high-speed broadband to 10,000 users.

SpaceX was one of the biggest winners in the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), winning $885.51 million over 10 years to bring Starlink broadband to 642,925 homes and businesses in 35 states. Overall, the reverse auction awarded $9.2 billion ($920 million per year) in funding for 180 entities nationwide to expand networks to 5.2 million homes and businesses that currently don't have access to modern broadband speeds.

But funding winners still have to submit " long-form applications " by January 29 to provide "additional information about qualifications, funding, and the network that they intend to use to meet their obligations." The FCC will review those applications to determine whether any funding should be revoked.

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    CenturyLink, Frontier missed FCC broadband deadlines in dozens of states / ArsTechnica · Friday, 22 January, 2021 - 17:33

A CenturyLink service van seen from behind, with several CenturyLink logos visible.

Enlarge / A CenturyLink service van parked in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on May 2, 2019. (credit: Getty Images | Robert Alexander )

CenturyLink and Frontier Communications have again failed to meet broadband-deployment deadlines in dozens of states after taking money from the Federal Communications Commission.

When the FCC awarded Connect America Fund Phase II grants in 2015, CenturyLink accepted $505.7 million in annual support over six years in exchange for deploying broadband with 10Mbps download speeds and 1Mbps upload speeds to 1.17 million homes and businesses in 33 states. Frontier accepted $283.4 million in annual support over six years to deploy service to 659,587 homes and business in 28 states.

The deadline to hit 100 percent of the required deployments passed on December 31, 2020. Both CenturyLink and Frontier informed the FCC that they missed the deadline to finish deployment in numerous states.

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