Ajit Pai’s new gift to cable companies would kill local fees and rules

Ajit Pai’s new gift to cable companies would kill local fees and rules

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaking at a press conference on October 1, 2018, in Washington DC. (credit: Getty Images | Mark Wilson )

Ajit Pai is continuing his multi-year battle against local broadband regulation with a plan that would stop cities and towns from using their authority over cable TV networks to regulate Internet access.

Chairman Pai’s proposal, scheduled for a vote at the Federal Communications Commission’s August 1 meeting, would also limit the fees that municipalities can charge cable companies. Cable industry lobbyists have urged the FCC to stop cities and towns from assessing fees on the revenue cable companies make from broadband.

If approved, Pai’s proposal would “Prohibit LFAs [local franchising authorities] from using their video franchising authority to regulate most non-cable services, including broadband Internet service, offered over cable systems by incumbent cable operators.” Pai’s proposal complains that “some states and localities are

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“This is crazy”: FCC kills part of San Francisco’s broadband-competition law

“This is crazy”: FCC kills part of San Francisco’s broadband-competition law

Enlarge / Lombard Street in San Francisco. (credit: Getty Images | Michael Lee)

The Federal Communications Commission today voted to preempt part of a San Francisco ordinance that promotes broadband competition in apartment buildings and other multi-tenant structures. But it’s not clear exactly what effect the preemption will have, because San Francisco says the FCC’s Republican majority has misinterpreted what the law does.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan partially overturns San Francisco’s Article 52, which lets Internet service providers use the existing wiring inside multi-unit buildings even if another ISP already serves the building. The FCC said it’s preempting the law “to the extent it requires the sharing of in-use wiring.” But Pai’s proposal admits the FCC doesn’t know whether the San Francisco law actually requires sharing of in-use wiring, which makes it difficult to understand whether the FCC preemption will change anything in practice.

San Francisco itself

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House votes to block Ajit Pai’s plan to kill San Francisco broadband law

House votes to block Ajit Pai’s plan to kill San Francisco broadband law

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The US House of Representatives has voted to block Ajit Pai’s attempt to kill a San Francisco ordinance designed to promote broadband competition in apartment buildings.

As we reported last week, the Federal Communications Commission chair has scheduled a July 10 vote on a measure that would preempt the San Francisco city ordinance, which lets Internet service providers use the existing wiring inside multiunit residential and commercial properties even if the wiring is already used by another ISP that serves the building. The ordinance applies only when the inside wiring belongs to the property owner, but it makes it easier for ISPs to compete in many multiunit buildings already served by another provider.

Pai claimed that the city’s rule “deters broadband deployment” and infringes on the FCC’s regulation of cable wiring. But US Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) proposed a budget amendment that

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Ex-chair of FCC broadband committee gets five years in prison for fraud

Ex-chair of FCC broadband committee gets five years in prison for fraud

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The former head of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) was sentenced to five years in prison for defrauding investors.

Elizabeth Ann Pierce was CEO of Quintillion, an Alaskan telecom company, when she lied to two investment firms in New York in order to raise $270 million to build a fiber network. She also defrauded two individual investors out of $365,000 and used a large chunk of that money for personal expenses.

Pierce, 55, pleaded guilty and last week was given the five-year prison sentence in US District Court for the Southern District of New York, US Attorney Geoffrey Berman announced. Pierce was also “ordered to forfeit $896,698.00 and all of her interests in Quintillion and a property in Texas.” She will also be subject to a restitution order to compensate her victims “at a later date.”

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Ajit Pai tries to kill San Francisco’s attempt to spur broadband competition

Ajit Pai tries to kill San Francisco’s attempt to spur broadband competition

Enlarge / A Wi-Fi router. (credit: Getty Images | deepblue4you)

The Federal Communications Commission will vote next month on whether to preempt a San Francisco city ordinance that was designed to promote broadband competition in multi-unit buildings.

San Francisco’s Article 52, approved in December 2016, lets Internet service providers use the existing wiring inside multi-unit residential and commercial properties even if the wiring is already used by another ISP that serves the building. San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors and then-Mayor Ed Lee approved it in order to spur competition in multi-unit buildings where occupants often have only one option for Internet service.

The ordinance only applies when the inside wiring belongs to the property owner. Under the rule, property owners who have outfitted their buildings with Internet wiring cannot deny access to ISPs, making it harder for them to strike exclusive deals with Internet providers.

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Ajit Pai works to cap funding for rural and poor people, gets GOP backing

Ajit Pai works to cap funding for rural and poor people, gets GOP backing

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The Federal Communications Commission has preliminarily voted to cap spending on the FCC’s Universal Service programs, which deploy broadband to poor people and to rural and other underserved areas.

The party-line vote was criticized by the FCC’s two Democrats, with Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel saying the Republican plan “is fundamentally inconsistent with this agency’s high-minded rhetoric about closing the digital divide” and “at odds with our most basic statutory duty to promote and advance universal service.”

Last week’s approval of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is a preliminary step—the FCC will take public comment on Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan for three months before moving to a final vote. The FCC technically won’t begin the public-comment period until after the NPRM is published in the Federal Register, but the FCC proceeding’s docket is online at this page.

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Ajit Pai oks T-Mobile/Sprint merger, “requires” 5G rollout that’ll happen anyway

Ajit Pai oks T-Mobile/Sprint merger, “requires” 5G rollout that’ll happen anyway

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai with his oversized coffee mug in November 2017. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

T-Mobile and Sprint are one big step closer to getting the US government’s approval to merge, as Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai today announced his support for the deal combining two of the four largest US mobile carriers.

Pai’s announcement virtually guarantees that the FCC will approve the deal; FCC approval would be finalized after the Republican-controlled commission votes. But T-Mobile and Sprint still need to convince the Department of Justice, which hasn’t yet said whether it will sue to block the merger on antitrust grounds.

Pai’s statement on the merger said he’s approving it in large part because T-Mobile and Sprint “committed to deploying a 5G network that would cover 97 percent of our nation’s population within three years of the closing of the merger and 99 percent

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Man who threatened to kill Ajit Pai’s children gets 20 months in prison

Man who threatened to kill Ajit Pai’s children gets 20 months in prison

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Putra Kurniawan | EyeEm)

A man who threatened to kill the family of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai was today sentenced to 20 months in prison.

Markara Man, a 33-year-old from California, pleaded guilty on August 31, 2018 after making threats to Pai because he disagreed with the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality rules. In one email to Pai, Man wrote, “I will find your children and kill them.”

“Threatening to actually kill a federal official’s family because of a disagreement over policy is not only inexcusable, it is criminal,” US Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia said in a Justice Department announcement of the sentencing today. The case was heard at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

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Ajit Pai’s robocall plan lets carriers charge for new call-blocking tools

Ajit Pai’s robocall plan lets carriers charge for new call-blocking tools

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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is calling on carriers to block robocalls by default without waiting for consumers to opt in to call-blocking services. But he hasn’t proposed making this a requirement and is leaving it up to carriers to decide whether to charge for such services.

To encourage carriers, Pai is proposing rule changes making it clear that carriers are allowed to block calls by default. Call blocking by default isn’t explicitly outlawed by the FCC, but Pai’s announcement today said that “many voice providers have held off developing and deploying call-blocking tools by default because of uncertainty about whether these tools are legal under the FCC’s rules.”

In a call with reporters this morning, Pai said the uncertainty stems from a 2015 FCC order in which “the FCC suggested that its rules and regulations would not prohibit call-blocking services to

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Ajit Pai refuses to investigate Frontier’s horrible telecom service

Ajit Pai refuses to investigate Frontier’s horrible telecom service

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on December 14, 2017, in Washington DC, the day of the FCC’s vote to repeal net neutrality rules. (credit: Getty Images | Alex Wong )

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has rejected a request to have the FCC investigate Frontier Communications’ business practices in Minnesota, despite evidence that the company has failed to properly maintain its telecom network.

An investigation by the Minnesota Commerce Department already found that Frontier’s network has “frequent and lengthy” phone and Internet outages, that Frontier has failed to provide refunds or bill credits to customers even when outages lasted for months, that Frontier is guilty of frequent billing errors that caused customers to pay for services they didn’t order, and that it has failed to promptly provide telephone service to all customers who request it. When we wrote about the investigation in January, Frontier said it “strongly

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