Tom Wheeler has been the FCC's chairman for only a few weeks, but he likely already gained a few fans by urging the wireless industry on Thursday to move toward unlocking consumers' cell phones.
Unlocking cell phones allows handsets to be used on a wireless network other than that of the originating carrier. It's a process that wireless carriers are usually willing to accommodate once the customer's wireless contract has been fulfilled.
But the process became illegal earlier this year when the Library of Congress opted not to renew an exemption in the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright … Read more
The Federal Communications Commission released an app on Thursday that the agency hopes will help it generate an accurate comparison of wireless carriers' mobile broadband speeds.
The app, dubbed Speed Test App for Android, is designed to collect information about the performance of participating smartphone users' mobile broadband services nationwide. The four major US carriers have agreed to participate.
The app will measure upload and download speeds, latency, and packet loss, as well signal strength and the manufacturer and model of the tested device. After a few months of data collection, the FCC plans to publish an interactive map early … Read more
In June, the US Federal Communications Commission certified Google to operate the national database detailing which particular patches of "white space" spectrum were usable for wireless communications. Now, the company has opened a service that lets programs tap into that database, an automation step that Google expects will make it easier to squeeze as many bits as possible into the country's unused spectrum.
The tricky thing about white space -- electromagnetic spectrum reserved for TV broadcast but not actually in use -- is that the unused spectrum varies from region to region. Google already operated a database … Read more
Mobile broadband speeds can vary widely, but now the Federal Communications Commission is turning to the smartphone community to get a more accurate picture of how wireless carriers compare.
The FCC is expected to hear a presentation this week on the FCC Speed Test App for Android, which will record smartphone users' data speeds nationwide for analysis by the commission, according to a meeting agenda reported Friday by the Wall Street Journal. The data gleaned from the project could help consumers determine whether they are getting the mobile data speeds they expect for their subscription costs.
"The statistically sound … Read more
On Tuesday, Verizon Wireless officially introduced its 7-inch Android tablet, the Ellipsis 7, which boasts 4G LTE connectivity and seems to be a competitor to the likes of the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX.
This is of particular interest to anyone who remembers that Verizon has been delaying 4G LTE activation of Nexus 7 users, despite that the Nexus 7 is compatible.
Taking an active Verizon SIM card out of another device and slipping it into a new Nexus 7 reportedly will allow the tablet to connect to Verizon's LTE network, but the company won't activate a new SIM specifically for the device. Back in September, Verizon addressed the issue with a statement:… Read more
We are in the midst of a transition away from copper wire-based communications services to broadband Internet-based services -- a transition that then-FCC commissioner Michael Powell called the "Great Digital Broadband Migration" way back in the year 2000.
To its credit, on October 23, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on the implications of this migration to digital services. While the hearing's title -- "The Evolution of Wired Communications Networks" -- might put you in mind for a good nap, the hearing did focus needed attention on important public policy issues raised … Read more
The Senate vote was delayed two weeks by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who expressed concern Wheeler might support additional funding disclosures for political TV ads. Cruz lifted his objection to the appointment Tuesday after a meeting in which Wheeler assured Cruz that imposing greater campaign finance regulations was "not a priority."
"In our meeting this afternoon, Mr. Wheeler stated that he had heard the unambiguous message that trying to impose the requirements of the Disclose … Read more
The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday proposed fining five wireless service providers a total of $14.4 million for allegedly defrauding a federal phone subsidy program.
The goal of Lifeline, which offered hefty discounts on phone service to qualifying low-income households, was to ensure contact with families, employers, and emergency services. However, a review of the program conducted by The Wall Street Journal found that 41 percent of the 6 million people who benefited from Lifeline were unable to prove their eligibility or failed to answer requests for verification from their carriers.
The US government spent about $2.2 billion … Read more
In its most recent survey of US Internet adoption, the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 85 percent of all American adults now use the Internet, up from 80 percent a year ago.
While that is good news, that still leaves 15 percent, or 24 million adults, offline. Who are the holdouts? The US still has a "digital divide," but it's not the one most people would imagine. According to the survey, the most significant factor is age: Nearly half of non-users are age 65 or older. Education is the second-most important factor -- more … Read more