FCC announces winners of $313m from Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

The FCC has announced the latest winning bidders of a $313 million pot from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund aims to fund new broadband deployments in areas across the US with limited or no connectivity.

Now in its eighth round, the fund has provided over $5 billion in funding to date for new deployments across 47 states—bringing broadband to over 2.8 million locations.

The winning bidders from the latest round...

US carriers want $5.6B from the FCC for axing Huawei and ZTE

Carriers in the US are seeking $5.6 billion in reimbursements following the FCC’s decision to axe Huawei and ZTE from national telecoms networks.

The FCC voted unanimously in 2019 to ban carriers from using the Universal Service Fund to subsidise purchasing equipment from companies deemed a national security threat. Huawei and ZTE were the first two firms to be classed as such threats.

In 2020, former President Donald Trump signed the Secure and Trusted...

FAA eases 5G C-band restrictions but airlines warn of imminent chaos

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has cleared around 45 percent of US commercial planes for low-visibility landings at some airports where 5G C-band will be deployed but airlines have warned that a “catastrophic” aviation crisis is now imminent.

Last week, the FAA issued more than 1,400 warnings to pilots that onboard aviation systems could be disrupted by 5G C-band operations. On Sunday, the agency approved two radio altimeter models that are installed in a wide...

Airlines warn upcoming 5G deployment will interfere with radio altimeters

Airline industry executives have ramped up their warnings that an upcoming type of 5G service will interfere with radio altimeters.

Radio altimeters measure the altitude above the terrain beneath an aircraft by timing how long it takes a beam of radio waves to travel to ground, reflect, and return to the craft. They are, of course, a key safety feature.

In February, the FCC completed a “C-band” (3.7–3.98 GHz) auction and issued licenses to several wireless network...

FCC: Verizon can acquire TracFone subject to ‘demanding conditions’

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted Verizon approval to acquire TracFone, but it will be subject to “demanding conditions”.

Verizon announced its intention to acquire TracFone Wireless for $6.25B back in September 2020.

TracFone is the largest reseller of wireless services in the US and has around 21 million subscribers. The proposed deal naturally caught the eye of regulators.

One of the major concerns is that Verizon could hike prices...

Ofcom announces ‘One Touch Switch’ to simplify changing broadband providers

Ofcom has announced a new “One Touch Switch” initiative to simplify the broadband switching process for consumers.

Telecom providers are among the most notorious businesses for bumping out-of-contract prices for consumers. They are especially predatory on older customers who are less likely to seek better deals.

Here’s just one example of a current package that over doubles in price:

Legislation introduced on 15 February 2020 mandates that broadband,...

T-Mobile ordered to prove it didn’t lie to get Sprint merger approval

T-Mobile has been ordered to prove it didn’t lie to government regulators about its 3G shutdown plans to win approval for its Sprint merger.

In a ruling by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), T-Mobile is ordered “to show cause why it should not be sanctioned by the Commission for violating Rule 1.1 of the Commission’s Rules of Practice and Procedure for false, misleading, or omitted statements.”

CPUC accuses T-Mobile of making false statements...

Watchdog issues another warning to Three over ‘real 5G’ claims

ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) has issued another warning to Three against making claims that it offers “real 5G” in marketing campaigns.

Rival operator EE first issued a formal complaint to ASA back in 2019 after Three boasted, “If it’s not Three, it’s not real 5G”. More recently, Vodafone issued a complaint about Three’s TV ad claiming that it was creating Britain's fastest mobile network and that consumers should "join the future on Three, it's real...

Opinion: EE brings back fees for EU-roaming Brits

British operator EE is planning to reintroduce fees for roaming in the EU from next year while others are lowering their existing fair use policies.

Back in 2018, I wrote an opinion piece that roaming fees were unlikely to make a return. Anti-Brexit campaigner and Labour MP Hilary Benn tweeted this week that it hasn’t aged well:

In my defence, all of the operators committed not to reintroduce roaming fees—a pledge they recommitted to as late as January...

CMA green lights £31B merger of telecoms giants Virgin and O2

The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has given the green light to a £31 billion merger of telecoms giants Virgin and O2.

Provisional approval of the deal was granted last month but today’s announcement clears the companies to form a combined entity that can better compete against BT/EE after their own £12.5 billion merger in 2016.

Virgin and O2 both sell wholesale services to a number of mobile operators in the UK. In the case of Virgin, their wholesale...