12 new fibre schools and 3,500 new engineers to install full fibre



Openreach has announced a major expansion of its workforce, with the aim of recruiting some 3,500 trainee engineers and the need for a larger workforce is simply because deploying full fibre to three million individual premises is much more labour intensive than delivering fibre to around 88,000 street cabinets.

The scale of the new recruitment is obvious when you learn that Openreach has some 22,000 field engineers and last year hired 1,800. For 18 to 24 year olds there are also 500 work placements under the Movement to Work programme which is open to those not in education, employment or training. More details on the trainee engineer scheme is available on the BT website for those considering applying.

These trainee engineers will be playing a vital role in the future success and prosperity of the UK. Over the last year our 22,200 engineers have been the driving force behind Government reaching its target of making ‘superfast’ broadband available to more than 95% of the country, whilst also improving our customer service performance – but we want to do more.

Every day, Openreach engineers are working in all weathers across the length and breadth of Britain, connecting homes and businesses and making sure people can access the high quality broadband services they need. We are already investing in upskilling our engineering team and today’s announcement of new jobs underlines our commitment to make our ‘Fibre First’ programme a reality – future-proofing Britain’s broadband network and supporting emerging mobile technologies like 5G.

I’m confident that our twin investment in people and infrastructure will help the UK achieve the societal and economic benefits that come from better, more reliable, faster broadband services.

Clive Selley, Chief Executive of Openreach

12 new fibre engineering schools will be created to provide the training and the first in Bradford has opened with a sample street constructed so that the training is not just bench based but much closer to the real world. The full list of 12 schools is Bradford, Bolton, Cardiff, Croydon, Hertford, Livingston, Nursling, Peterborough, Thornaby and Yarnfield already live, and buildings in Exeter and the Thames Valley opening soon.

The spread of the schools shows that the recruiting is across Great Britain and numbers of roles split down into regional allocations is 400 roles in Scotland; 297 in the North East (inc. Yorkshire & Humber); 283 in the North West; 303 in North Wales & the North Midlands; 444 in East Anglia; 354 in South Wales & the South Midlands; 300 in the South East, 505 in London; 400 in South Central and 214 in the South West.

A small thing that is cropping up is that as the scale of the Openreach FTTP footprint expands we are seeing some of the similar confusion and mistake issues that arose when the original VDSL2 roll-outs started back in 2009 to 2012 but as different areas get past their first few active FTTP connections the oddities that arise will hopefully be shared between the workforce and new recruits shown how to handle those scenarios. Fingers crossed then that as we see coverage increase from around 500,000 to 1 million then 2 million and higher the number of delays on installs will reduce even though a higher volume is being handled.


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National Gigabit full fibre voucher scheme is go



The gold standard of broadband that is full fibre (FTTP/FTTH) is something the Government is very keen to encourage and after a market trial that saw around 1,000 vouchers used across four areas of the UK a National Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) with a pot of £67 million available for vouchers has been announced by HM Treasury .

We’re backing Britain’s small businesses by investing £67 million to bring full-fibre broadband to more businesses up and down the country.

This means faster, more reliable broadband access as we build the digital infrastructure we need to make our economy fit for the future.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond

Vouchers of up to £3,000 will be available to small and medium sized firms to contribute to the connection costs of a full fibre connection, if the connection cost is less than £3,000 the voucher will obviously be of a smaller value. Only connections from participating suppliers will be eligible for vouchers and the service must be at a minimum speed of 100 Mbps, and those with an existing slower full fibre service are not able to use the vouchers to pay for a speed upgrade. So while the scheme is headlined as a Gigabit scheme the key is that the connection must be full fibre and thus capable of Gigabit and beyond in the future.

Before everyone rushes off to the scheme website at the list of suppliers is going to be a bit sparse but new suppliers can register before the start of the scheme at the end of March 2018 and the scheme will remain open until March 2021 or the money available runs out (fingers crossed if it is popular extra money will be added to the pot).

Update 9am: The website for the voucher scheme is currently still showing the old four market trial areas and therefore we hope that an updated site will appear shortly to particularly encourage regional full fibre operators that are outside the original market trial areas to register and also avoid business owners getting confused.

Small businesses are the backbone of the British economy and now they can turbo-charge their connectivity with gigabit speeds.

By building a full fibre future for Britain we are laying the foundations for a digital infrastructure capable of delivering today what the next generation will need tomorrow.

DCMS Secretary of State, Matt Hancock

Native full fibre connectivity is running at just 3.54% in the UK, but for full fibre business broadband so long as a company is willing to pay the higher install costs full fibre is usually available from a variety of networks and while these dedicated business connections may carry a lot higher monthly costs they will include bandwidth guarantees and service level agreements that set them apart from your run of the mill full fibre consumer/SME connection.

Consumers can apply for vouchers with a value of up to £500, but only as part of a larger group which includes small business users too. The ability to pool vouchers to pay the connection costs means that community group schemes are possible, but with the rule that the total value of the vouchers from the businesses involved must be higher than the residential vouchers means the pooling is probably not going to work for housing estates.

Press releases can sometimes be a bit cold, but there is some humour in the release…“Full fibre connections are faster, more reliable and cheaper to operate than traditional copper lines, and are capable of supporting not only gigabit, but terabit and even petabit speeds, which will serve the UK far into the future. Currently only around 3% of UK premises have access to a full fibre connection.”. We look forward to the day when Petabit connectivity is something we need to worry about (1 Petabit = 1,000,000 Giga bits per second the peak at LINX in London which is one of the major data exchange points currently peaks in the 4,000 Gbps to 5,000 Gbps region i.e. 4 to 5 Tera bits per second).

We fully support the formation of a National Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. Hyperoptic will absolutely be joining the programme. We have already had great success with local schemes – we are the leading provider in the Connect Westminster Scheme via number of vouchers issued. Gigabit connectivity revolutionises the way a business can operate and allowing residents to become part of the scheme will expedite the deployment of full fibre networks to even more of the UK. We are convinced that strategic application of Connection Voucher Schemes that encourage businesses and residents to opt for full fibre not only helps encourage and facilitate the rollout of full fibre more than large projects of simply putting fibre in the ground, it also supports the output of our digital economy.

Floyd Widener, Chief Sales Officer, Hyperoptic

It’s great news that the voucher scheme is being extended. The scheme helps improve the investment case for new digital infrastructure and speeds up the UK’s shift towards a full fibre and 5G future.

Malcolm Corbett, Chief Exec of INCA

A footnote on when we talk about native full fibre we are referring to premises where Hyperoptic, Openreach, KCom, Gigaclear and others have installed fibre connectivity to the boundary or final drop point outside the premises, metro fibre networks are not counted as native full fibre, so the metro networks CityFibre has in various cities does not count to the 3.54%, but the TalKTalk UFO footprint in York does because they satisfy the final drop requirement. In Openreach terms the Fibre on Demand FTTP product is NOT native FTTP but the GEA-FTTP service is a native product.

If firms that sell the Openreach Fibre on Demand (FoD) service are on the list of voucher suppliers then the FoD service will qualify but with a limit of 20 orders per month from Openreach it is clear that until Openreach has lots more staff used to installed full fibre kit that the FoD service is not going to be major user of the vouchers. Also as a business if you have slow broadband due to being a couple of kilometres from the active VDSL2 cabinet a £3,000 voucher is only going to make a small dent in the cost of Fibre on Demand if ordering on your own.

Correction 9am: Unfortunately the wrong quote was copy and pasted for Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond when the original item was published at 00:01, this has now been corrected with the correct quote.

We expect more operators to express interest and supply quotes during the day.

What we achieved during the pilot sets a blueprint for the rest of the country as the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme is rolled out nationwide. The £67 million investment announced today is a very welcome move, and a catalyst that will enable hundreds of millions of pounds of private money to be invested across the country. It provides a cost-effective way for the Government to support privately funded full fibre infrastructure providers in their efforts to connect the digitally left behind. This is a vital building block in the creation of a nationwide digital economy that will help the country to thrive

TrueSpeed CEO Evan Wienburg

ISPA welcomes the roll out of the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) at a national level, and is greatly encouraged by the Government’s commitment to encouraging ultrafast infrastructure deployment. ISPA members have been instrumental in the proliferation of fibre connections in the UK, and many have had success with existing voucher schemes in local areas.

Widening the scope of the scheme is a welcome step towards future-proofing the UK’s digital infrastructure and reaching the Government’s target of 10m premises with access to full fibre broadband by 2022.

ISPA Statement on Gigabit voucher scheme

A statement from WarwickNet added at 5:30pm, apparently WarwickNet accounted for 67% of the vouchers issued in the Coventry and Warwickshire market trial.

There were no guarantees this scheme would roll-out to more areas or so we’re absolutely delighted it will be. Our strong partnerships with customers and detailed knowledge of their infrastructure and business needs puts us in an ideal place to promote the value of this scheme to both them and businesses generally. We’ve proven our commitment to full-fibre provision by issuing the majority of vouchers in our pilot area.

Now businesses around the UK will benefit from our rapid deployment of full-fibre connections and hands-on customer support. As we invest in our own high-speed infrastructure, we’re not beholden to the constraints of just the Openreach network like some providers are. This is our advantage and ultimately why we are performing as efficiently and effectively as we do.

James Warner, Director of Sales and Marketing at WarwickNet


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What Cambridgeshire is going to do with its £4 million full fibre funding



The difference between the old BDUK funding and the new Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) funding is massive and Connecting Cambridgeshire has set out what it will be doing with the £4 million of Government funding with everything delivered by March 2021.

  • Fund a 40km stretch of fibre ducting from St Ives to Linton and making it available to commercial operators to stimulate rollout of Gigabit networks to nearby homes and businesses.
  • Fibre upgrades to roughly 30 public buildings including schools, libraries, fire stations and GP surgeries
  • Support businesses to access new gigabit fibre networks.

“I am delighted to hear today’s announcement by the Chancellor confirming Connecting Cambridgeshire successful bid for up to £4 million Government funding to help to bring full fibre connectivity – capable of gigabit speeds of over 1000Mbps – to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Connecting Cambridgeshire has been very successful in expanding the coverage of superfast broadband to homes and businesses across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough ahead of target. While the programme continues to work towards achieving >99% superfast broadband coverage by 2020, we are already looking ahead to the ever increasing demand for digital and mobile connectivity to support economic growth and sustain our position as a leading digital county.

This project means we can increase the availability of gigabit services for homes and businesses across the county by using public sector assets innovatively and creating conditions that make it commercially viable for full fibre rollout.

Councillor Steve Count, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council

The cynics can say that in previous decades the funding would have been described as just upgrades to council infrastructure, but with the push to get beyond the old stalemate of BT and Virgin Media ways to encourage new names into the game such as CityFibre and VXFIBER are the flavour of the month. Expressing it another way the BDUK projects were the upgrades for the home and local 2 person business and the LFFN is about attracting new digital economy powerhouses like gaming studios and film editing facilities so that the economy can benefit from new jobs and after incentives such as business rate holidays end increased revenues for the local authority.

So for home owners who are on the likely route between St Ives and Linton do not expect Gigabit broadband to appear by March 2021 but if the stimulus does work we may see operators announcing further projects that will bring Gigabit broadband and its those further projects that are the exciting element.


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Stoke-on-Trent Council is push for Gigabit broadband in the city



Stoke-on-Trent Council in push for Gigabit broadband in the city

The 140 hectares across seven different sites that comprise the Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone in Stoke-on-Trent where it is hoped some 9,000 new jobs will be created is to see VXFIBER build an open access full network across the park to ensure firms have the best connectivity possible as the brownfield sites are converted to modern business locations.

The Council already has a duct network across the city and VXFIBER will take on the job of lighting up the fibre and deploying its open access platform that is designed to make it easy for local providers and alt-nets to join and add their service elements including but not limited to full Internet connectivity. The city ring fibre network will be owned by the Council but with VXFIBER sitting on top to provide service access.

Stoke-on-Trent has a brilliant central geographic location, which is boosting its economic growth beyond what much of the rest of the UK is experiencing at the moment. We’re in the top ten fastest growing economies outside of London, we already have some of the fastest average 4G mobile download speeds in the country, and are developing an innovative district heat network to supply sustainable energy to business and residents. We’re serious about becoming a sustainable, smart city. However, the traditional part copper based broadband offering currently available simply isn’t good enough to keep pace with the fast-changing connectivity demands of today’s increasingly digital society and economy.

Councillor Abi Brown, deputy leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council

The initial win for the council is that they will be able to monetise assets while also improving its own connectivity and potentially delivering more connectivity for less money.

VXFIBER only launched in the UK a month ago but are better known for their open access Fibre to the Home solutions in Sweden and while no timescales are given for a roll-out to residential and other areas of the city it seems clear the hope is expansion will happen and apparently the open access model extends to how investors can help, with housing developers and residents associations likely to be key drives in investing to extend the ring to branch out across the city.

Stoke-on-Trent is a forward-looking city that understands the essential role of high speed broadband access to businesses and individuals, and the positive social and economic impact it can have on a community. Our work with Stoke-on-Trent City Council provides a template for other UK local authorities and regional governments to follow. By investing in and installing Gigabit-speed fibre themselves, local authorities and councils can take charge of their community’s “digital destiny”, without having to rely on third party telecom operators or ISPs.

Councils can reap the economic and social benefits of full fibre Gigabit connectivity in a way that’s affordable and future-proof. Furthermore, the fibre they invest in is a valuable asset that will deliver ongoing revenue and ROI.

VXFIBER Executive Chairman Mikael Sandberg

As a city Stoke-on-Trent is already well past the UK average superfast coverage level and with three quarters of premises with the option of Virgin Media and their hybrid fibre coax network lots of people are not just limited to superfast speeds in the 30 to 76 Mbps region but can already order 200 or 300 Mbps. What the city does lack is lots of full fibre and this VXFIBER platform may start to address that, the question will be how fast will be expand beyond the initial aim.


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Federal court strikes down FCC’s 2015 rules against robocalls



Federal court strikes down FCC’s 2015 rules against robocalls

Federal court strikes down FCC’s 2015 rules against robocalls

The United States Court of Appeals for the District Columbia has nixed the rules passed by the Federal Communications Commision in 2015 (then under President Barack Obama’s administration). Those rules would have expanded the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which prohibits the use of automatic dialers (most widely known as robocallers). According to the federal court, the FCC had proposed a far too broad expanded definition for an autodialer.

Many would see this recent ruling by the federal court as a win for various banking institutions and credit card companies, especially those who are in fear of having to pay up significantly for penalties for making phone calls to their respective customers. As explained by David Schultz, a partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson who has had experience dealing with TCPA cases, the decision should make it more difficult for people in the future to sue under the TCPA because the definition of an autodialer has been made more specific and narrow.

As argued by the FCC back in 2015, an autodialer can refer to any type of equipment that is capable of dialing phone numbers that are either saved or generated through the use of a random or sequential number generator. Based on this definition, any smartphone can be categorized as an autodialer.

Writing in the federal court’s opinion, Judge Sri Srinivasan pointed out that utilizing this expanded definition would also treat any person who is sending a text message or making a phone call to another using a smartphone, with no prior clear consent, as a person who is breaking the law. Judge Srinivasan then cites an example of a person sending out text invitations for a social gathering — this process largely does not involve the prior explicit consent of the text message recipient, but under the FCC’s broad definition of an autodialer, this person would be in violation of the TCPA.

Ajit Pai, who currently sits as the Chairman of the FCC, has lauded the federal court’s ruling. Apart from expressing his praise of the decision, Pai also stated that the agency should now put most of its attention in punishing those parties that intentionally flood consumers with truly unwanted robocalls.

The last few months have seen Pai’s FCC show renewed effort in combating robocalls and other potential scam calls. Back in November of last year, the agency has approved new rules that should allow phone companies to take full advantage of solutions that can block robocalls based on the phone numbers being used.


Apple launches new Families page



Apple launches new Families page

Apple launches new Families page

The latest move from Apple should show that it is really serious with its intentions of helping protect kids against too much mobile device use. Just this week, the tech giant recently rolled out a new section on its official website, and it is called Families. True to its name, the Families page offers all sorts of information about parental controls, do not disturb, and a range of other tools that should allow moms and dads to better track the iPhone or iPad usage of their children.

It bears mentioning that the features found on the Families page are not actually new — most of them have existed before, but some are buried beneath menus for settings in various iOS powered mobile devices. Still, it is a good thing that the iPhone maker has made a conscious effort to compile all of its parental control related features in one very accessible place, its official home in the world wide web.

Some may remember that more than a couple of months ago, Apple had received an open letter from two of its shareholders — Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System — urging the second biggest phone maker in the world to do its best in helping address the issue of mobile device addiction, especially among young kids. 

The two shareholders have plenty of reason to be concerned. After all, according to a 2016 report released by social agency Influence Central, the average age of kids to get a handset was 10.3 years old, and because of the massive popularity of Apple’s brand, its smartphone devices rank among the most requested by children and adolescents. Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System also expressed their concerns about the potential mental health issues that may arise as a result of too much iPhone use.

To Apple’s credit, it had quickly responded to the open letter from the two shareholders. The mobile manufacturer stated that it was developing new parental controls that should be integrated into its iPhones soon. The company also renewed its commitment to help protect every member of its extensive customer base, including of course, kids.

Apple is also expected to share more updates about the topic at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference this year, which is scheduled to happen on June 4th of this year in the city of San Jose in California.

Meanwhile, for parents out there, they better check out the Families page for themselves.


SpaceX might name its satellite broadband internet service ‘Starlink’

broadband, Internet, News, satellite, Science, Space, SpaceX, TC


SpaceX has previously discussed its plans to put a satellite-based broadband Internet network into operation, as a way of supplementing its bottom line with a brand new revenue stream. Now, we know what SpaceX might call its new broadband product: Starlink.

The name comes from documents filed by SpaceX to obtain the trademark rights to “Starlink,” as reported by GeekWire. The satellite project was first revealed by SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk back in 2015, with the aim of offering low-cost broadband in areas where it’s typically not been available.

SpaceX’s plans to blanket the world in affordable connectivity is going to be an expensive feat in the initial offing (Musk estimates around $10 billion in launch costs over five years), but over time, it’s meant to become a significant revenue generator for the company. SpaceX wants to use the recurring revenue the network will enable to help fund its planned Mars missions and eventual colonization.

SpaceX isn’t alone in chasing this carrot – in fact, a $200 million satellite built by Facebook for the purpose of providing Internet access to sub-Saharan Africa was destroyed when a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded during launch preparations last September.

SpaceX could have some advantages, however, including being its own launch provider, which would allow it to theoretically maintain a much more robust and frequently repaired and upgraded satellite constellation.

There’s no exact timeline on when the plan will come together, but filing for a trademark suggests it’s progressing, as do job openings for SpaceX’s offices near Redmond, where it’s working on this project.

The merger between AT&T and Time Warner is a raw deal for the rest of us

It’s long been impossible to imagine a family budget that doesn’t include line items like electricity, gas, and groceries.  Today, it’s impossible to omit digital communications services like cable or satellite TV and high-speed broadband — both in your home and on your phone.

The typical American household spends $2,700 on these items each year – despite the fact that many Americans often complain about the service they receive from their cable, internet, or cell phone provider.

I think they’re getting a raw deal.  And I worry it’s about to get even worse.

Over the past two decades, the handful of massive corporations that dominate this sector have consolidated their grip on the market.  Effectively dividing up the country to protect regional monopolies, they’ve conspired to limit direct competition, and thus consumer choice: few Americans have more than one or two real options for cable or broadband service.

Meanwhile, they’ve engaged in a practice known as “vertical integration.”  Eight years ago, cable TV giant Comcast purchased NBCUniversal, a major content provider, thus giving Comcast the ability to control both the programming and the pipes that carry it.  I objected to the deal at the time, concerned that Comcast would have strong incentives to favor its own programming over other content creators’ offerings, and then restrict access to its own programming by competing distributors.

In order to get the deal approved by regulators, Comcast agreed to conditions that would have protected content neutrality and limited its ability to lock consumers into high-priced TV/broadband “bundles” — but it promptly violated those conditions, engaging in exactly the kind of behavior I warned about.

For example, the new Comcast/NBC placed MSNBC and CNBC (channels it now owned) near other news networks on its TV channel lineup, while consigning competitor Bloomberg News to the outer reaches of the dial.  Since buying NBCUniversal, Comcast has served its own bottom line well, but consumers and competitors have paid the price.

Now AT&T — which, having already gobbled up satellite giant DirecTV, is the nation’s largest pay-TV provider — is attempting to purchase one of the world’s largest content producers, Time Warner.

This $85 billion deal dwarfs even the massive Comcast-NBCUniversal merger.  And so do its implications: AT&T’s subscriber base is more than four times the size of Comcast’s at the time it purchased NBCUniversal.

Any day now, the Department of Justice will announce whether this mega-merger will be permitted.  And anyone with a cell phone, a cable subscription, or an internet connection has a huge stake in this decision.

A combined AT&T-Time Warner could pass along the massive acquisition costs, which include billions of dollars in Time Warner debt, to consumers, just as AT&T did after acquiring DirecTV.  Even if you subscribe to a different service for cable or satellite TV, you could wind up paying more, because AT&T could raise the prices it charges competitors for HBO, CNN, and other highly desirable Time Warner programming.

Meanwhile, AT&T-Time Warner would have every incentive to favor its own content over that of others, meaning that AT&T users might not have access to the programming they want – like the competing content of Netflix and Hulu – on the same terms.  Because of AT&T’s large footprint in the wireless internet market, their acquisition of a massive content provider poses a serious threat to net neutrality.

And that’s not all.  Should regulators sign off on this deal, it could have enormous long-term implications for the media landscape, as other major industry players — of which there are fewer and fewer — will increasingly argue that greater scale or their own vertical deal is necessary in order to compete with the behemoths of AT&T and Comcast.

In fact, the next big wave of consolidation may already have begun.  A few weeks back it was reported that T-Mobile is seeking to acquire Sprint, in a deal that would merge the third and fourth largest carriers in the U.S. wireless market.

Unlike the cable market, competition among wireless carriers is relatively robust, and consumers are reaping the benefits.  In June of this year, the Wall Street Journal reported that cell plan prices were down 12.5 percent since April of 2016, the largest decline in 16 years, and attributed the drop to “intense competition” among the top four cell-service providers.

But a deal between T-Mobile and Sprint would curb this considerable progress and result in higher prices for consumers.  It could also disproportionately impact lower-income families and communities of color, many of whom rely on mobile broadband as their primary internet connection.  I urge both companies to reexamine the anticompetitive and anti-consumer effects — effects that regulators publicly acknowledged just a few short years ago — and refrain from finalizing a proposal.

Take a step back, and the implications of the rapidly accelerating trend of media consolidation are clear and concerning.  Time and time again, deals like the proposed AT&T-Time Warner acquisition result in even higher prices, even fewer choices, and, as tends to follow the elimination of real competition, even worse service for American consumers.  That’s reason enough for the DOJ to block this deal.

More broadly, as someone who used to work in the entertainment industry, I worry about the chilling effect this trend could have on independent creators and producers whose work is at the heart of the American tradition of creativity.  And as a citizen, I worry about the distortive effect media consolidation has on the free flow of information in America, and what it means for our democracy.

But as a Senator representing more than five million Minnesotans, I know that this is a pocketbook issue first and foremost, one that affects nearly every American family.

Amazon adds single sign-on for Fire TV

Signing on to all of your favorite networks’ apps on Amazon TV just got a little easier.

The company, which had teased single sign-on for Fire TV in September, is now bringing the service to network apps in the U.S.

Users just need to sign in with their pay TV provider credentials and they can access all the networks they need without entering additional passwords.

The service works with pay TV providers that support single sign-on authentication through Adobe Experience Cloud. That includes Dish, DirecTV, AT&T Uverse, Verizon FiOS, Cox, Cablevision (Altice) and many more.

Networks that support Fire’s new single sign-on feature include Freeform, Syfy, Bravo, Telemundo, The cooking Channel, Turner and BBC.

The feature should be up for most apps now, and Amazon says that it will work with other app developers and cable providers to integrate the new feature soon.

FCC report keeps faster definition of broadband and separates mobile from fixed connections

broadband, FCC, Government, News, TC


The FCC’s yearly report of broadband deployment keeps some crucial definitions in place that some feared would be changed or eliminated to ease the responsibilities of internet service providers. The threat of a lowered speed standard and the merging of mobile and fixed broadband services will not be carried out, it seems.

Broadband will continue to be defined as a connection with speeds of 25 megabits down and 3 megabits up. Another proposed definition of 10 down and 1 up was decried by critics as unrealistic for several reasons; not only is it insufficient for many ordinary internet applications, but it would let providers off the hook, because they would be counted as having deployed broadband if it met this lowered standard.

Fortunately, that isn’t the case, and the 25/3 standard remains in place.

The other worry was the potential decision to merge mobile with fixed broadband when measuring the quality of internet connections available to people throughout the country.

Had the two been merged, an area might have been considered well-served if it was, for example, in range of an LTE tower (giving decent mobile speeds) but only served by sub-1-megabit DSL. Since it was being considered that only one was required, that underserved area would be considered adequately connected.

But the FCC clearly saw the lack of logic in equating mobile connections and fixed broadband: they’re used, tracked, billed and deployed very differently.

From the fact sheet accompanying the draft report:

Both fixed and mobile services can enable access to information, entertainment, and employment options, but there are salient differences between the two. Beyond the most obvious distinction that mobile services permit user mobility, there are clear variations in consumer preferences and demands for fixed and mobile services.

Any analysis that only looked at the progress in deploying fixed broadband service or only looked at the progress in deploying mobile broadband service would be incomplete. Therefore, the draft report takes a holistic view of the market and examines whether we are both making progress in deploying fixed broadband service and making progress in deploying mobile broadband service.

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel commended this decision but criticized others in a separate statement, saying “I’m glad that the FCC has backed away from its crazy idea to lower the broadband speed standard. But it defies logic to conclude that broadband is being reasonably and timely deployed across this country when over 24 million Americans still lack access.”

The fact sheet and Chairman Pai’s commentary also get a few hits in regarding the recent decision to roll back the 2015 net neutrality rules, but they aren’t very substantial.

(Commissioner Clyburn writes: “How can this agency now claim that broadband is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion? Only by repeating the majority’s tired and debunked claims that broadband investment and innovation screeched to a halt in 2015.”)

Pai has, however, proposed a $500 million project to expand rural broadband, the details of which are still forthcoming; I’ve asked his office for more information on it.

The full draft report, when it becomes public, will no doubt contain more interesting information ripe for interpretation, and other commissioners may also weigh in on its successes and shortcomings. In the meantime, it’s reassuring that the main worries leading up to it have been addressed.

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