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      25M homes will lose broadband discounts if Congress keeps stalling, FCC warns / ArsTechnica · Friday, 1 December - 21:34

    Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel sitting at a table while answering questions at a Congressional hearing.

    Enlarge / Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel during a House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee hearing on March 31, 2022, in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty Images | Kevin Dietsch )

    A federal program that provides $30 monthly broadband discounts to people with low incomes is expected to run out of money in April 2023, potentially taking affordable Internet service plans away from well over 20 million households.

    For months, supporters of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) have been pushing Congress to give the Federal Communications Commission more funding for the program. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel urged lawmakers to act yesterday during a House Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing .

    In an opening statement , Rosenworcel said the ACP is providing discounts for over 22 million households. The FCC expects that number to reach 25 million by April, when the program would run out of money.

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      US broadband grant rules shut out small ISPs and municipalities, advocates say / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 6 September - 18:50

    Illustration of a US map with crisscrossing lines representing a broadband network.

    Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Andrey Denisyuk)

    The biggest Internet service providers will dominate a $42.45 billion broadband grant program unless the Biden administration changes a rule requiring grant recipients to obtain a letter of credit from a bank, according to a joint statement from consumer advocacy groups, local government officials, and advocates for small ISPs.

    The letter sent today to US government officials argues that "by establishing capital barriers too steep for all but the best-funded ISPs, the LOC [letter-of-credit requirement] shuts out the vast majority of entities the program claims to prioritize: small and community-centered ISPs, minority and women-owned ISPs, nonprofits, and municipalities."

    The rule is part of the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program that's being administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

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      Amazon’s first Internet satellites will launch on Atlas V rocket—not Vulcan / ArsTechnica · Monday, 7 August, 2023 - 15:59

    United Launch Alliance's Atlas 5 rocket, seen here in its "501" configuration without any solid rocket boosters.

    Enlarge / United Launch Alliance's Atlas 5 rocket, seen here in its "501" configuration without any solid rocket boosters. (credit: United Launch Alliance)

    Amazon has confirmed it now plans to launch the first two test satellites for the company's Kuiper broadband network on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket as soon as next month, shifting the payloads off of the inaugural flight of ULA's new Vulcan rocket.

    The shift has been rumored for several weeks after ULA delayed the first flight of its Vulcan rocket from the summer until the fourth quarter of the year. The delay will allow time for ULA to beef up the structure of the Vulcan upper stage's liquid hydrogen tank , which sprung a leak that resulted in a destructive fireball on a test stand in March.

    The first Vulcan rocket was slated to launch the first two prototype satellites for Amazon's Kuiper constellation, a network of more than 3,200 broadband satellites that the retail and tech giant plans to deploy over the next few years. The Kuiper network is similar to SpaceX's Starlink "mega-constellation," which already has more than 4,000 satellites in orbit.

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      World’s heaviest commercial communications satellite will launch tonight / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 26 July, 2023 - 22:09

    SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket stands on Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center before the launch of the Jupiter 3 communications satellite.

    Enlarge / SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket stands on Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center before the launch of the Jupiter 3 communications satellite. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann/Ars Technica)

    The heaviest commercial communications satellite ever built is folded up for launch on top of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket Wednesday night from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

    This satellite, owned by EchoStar and built by Maxar, tips the scales at about 9.2 metric tons, or more than 20,000 pounds. SpaceX's Falcon Heavy will propel the spacecraft on its way toward an operating position in geostationary orbit more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the equator.

    The action will begin at 11:04 p.m. EDT (03:04 UTC) with the ignition of the Falcon Heavy's 27 main engines on Launch Complex 39A. A few moments later, the Falcon Heavy will climb away from its launch pad and head downrange toward the east from the Kennedy Space Center. You can watch SpaceX's live webcast below.

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      FCC chair: Speed standard of 25Mbps down, 3Mbps up isn’t good enough anymore / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 25 July, 2023 - 20:18

    A United States map illustrated with streams of ones and zeroes to represent binary data and Internet transmissions.

    Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | wigglestick)

    The Federal Communications Commission hasn't raised its broadband speed standard since early 2015 when it adopted a metric of 25Mbps downloads and 3Mbps uploads.

    That could finally change under Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, who is proposing a fixed broadband standard of 100Mbps downloads and 20Mbps uploads along with a goal of bringing affordable service at those speeds to all Americans. Under her plan, the FCC would evaluate broadband availability, speeds, and prices to determine whether to take regulatory actions to promote network deployment and competition.

    Rosenworcel hasn't revealed anything about how affordability will be measured. But in a proposed Notice of Inquiry that would start an evaluation of broadband deployment across the US, she included affordability as one of the aspects to be considered.

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      ISPs claim broadband prices aren’t too high—Biden admin isn’t buying it

      Jon Brodkin · / ArsTechnica · Friday, 14 May, 2021 - 18:38 · 1 minute

    Illustration of Internet data and dollar signs

    Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Guirong Hao)

    Biden administration officials are not convinced by the broadband industry's claims that Internet prices aren't too high, according to a report today by Axios .

    The White House announced on March 31 that President Biden "is committed to working with Congress to find a solution to reduce Internet prices for all Americans." Though Biden hasn't revealed exactly how he intends to reduce prices, the announcement set off a flurry of lobbying by trade groups representing ISPs to convince Biden and the public that Americans are not paying too much for Internet access. ISPs even claim that prices have dropped, despite government data showing that the price Americans pay has risen four times faster than inflation.

    A Biden official told Axios that the ISPs have not made a convincing case. "A senior administration official told Axios the bulk of the evidence shows prices have gone up recently and prices are higher than they are for comparable plans in Europe," Axios wrote. "Biden noted the high cost of Internet service in March, and the official told Axios, 'I don't think we've seen anything since he made those comments to make us feel like we were wrong about that. We're still committed to taking some bold action to make sure that we bring those prices down for folks.'"

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      Broadband power users explode, making data caps more profitable for ISPs

      Jon Brodkin · / ArsTechnica · Friday, 13 November, 2020 - 18:59

    An illustration of $100 bills being sucked into an Internet connection.

    Data cap cash. (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images )

    The number of broadband "power users"—people who use 1TB or more per month—has doubled over the past year, ensuring that ISPs will be able to make more money from data caps.

    In Q3 2020, 8.8 percent of broadband subscribers used at least 1TB per month, up from 4.2 percent in Q3 2019, according to a study released yesterday by OpenVault . OpenVault is a vendor that sells a data-usage tracking platform to cable, fiber, and wireless ISPs and has 150 operators as customers worldwide. The 8.8- and 4.2-percent figures refer to US customers only, an OpenVault spokesperson told Ars.

    More customers exceeding their data caps will result in more overage charges paid to ISPs that impose monthly data caps. Higher usage can also boost ISP revenue because people using more data tend to subscribe to higher-speed packages.

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      The tech antitrust problem no one is talking about

      WIRED · / ArsTechnica · Saturday, 31 October, 2020 - 11:08

    After years of building political pressure for antitrust scrutiny of major tech companies, this month Congress and the US government delivered. The House Antitrust Subcommittee released a report accusing Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook of monopolistic behavior. The Department of Justice filed a complaint against Google alleging the company prevents consumers from sampling other search engines.

    The new fervor for tech antitrust has so far overlooked an equally obvious target: US broadband providers. “If you want to talk about a history of using gatekeeper power to harm competitors, there are few better examples,” says Gigi Sohn, a fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy.

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      Pai’s FCC squeezes in one more vote against net neutrality before election

      Jon Brodkin · / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 27 October, 2020 - 19:49 · 1 minute

    FCC members Brendan Carr, Michael O

    Enlarge / FCC Republican members (L-R) Brendan Carr, Michael O'Rielly, and Chairman Ajit Pai participate in a discussion during the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 23, 2018 in Maryland. (credit: Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla )

    The Republican-majority Federal Communications Commission took another vote against net neutrality rules today in its last meeting before a presidential election that could swing the FCC back to the Democratic party.

    Today's vote came a year after a federal appeals court upheld FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's repeal of net neutrality rules and deregulation of the broadband industry. Though Pai was mostly victorious in the case, the judges remanded portions of the repeal back to the FCC because the commission "failed to examine the implications of its decisions for public safety," failed to "sufficiently explain what reclassification [of ISPs] will mean for regulation of pole attachments," and did not address concerns about the effect deregulation would have on the FCC's Lifeline program, which subsidizes phone and Internet access for low-income Americans.

    The FCC approved its response to the court's remand instructions in a 3-2 vote today, but didn't make any significant changes. "After thoroughly reviewing the record compiled in response to its request for additional comment on these issues, the FCC found no basis to alter the FCC's conclusions in the Restoring Internet Freedom Order," the commission said in its announcement . "The Order on Remand finds that the Restoring Internet Freedom Order promotes public safety, facilitates broadband infrastructure deployment by Internet service providers, and allows the FCC to continue to provide Lifeline support for broadband Internet access service." A draft version of the decision is available here .

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