Is There a 5G Network Near You?

In some parts of Chicago and Minneapolis, the answer is yes. Here’s where 5G service and phones will pop up next.

By Bree Fowler, April 4, 2019 | Original Consumer Reports article here.

The age of 5G network service is finally here. On Wednesday, Verizon officially turned on 5G service in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis. Motorola has also started selling a $200 attachment that makes its Motorola Z3 phone 5G-compatible.

That means — for the first time — a small number of American consumers now have access to 5G connectivity and a phone that supports it. All four of the major telecommunications carriers say they’ll have 5G networks up and running by this summer, but only in select parts of a few big cities. A handful of smartphone makers, big and small, plan to offer compatible 5G phones around the same time.

According to telecommunications experts, 5G speeds are five times faster than those of 4G connections at peak performance and will eventually allow users to download a movie in just 5 seconds. Motorola’s launch technically beats out devices from Samsung and LG. That’s largely because the company has chosen to create an attachment, which plugs into the Motorola Z3 released last summer, to make it 5G-compatible rather than build a new phone from scratch.

  • Verizon will offer Samsung’s first 5G phone, the Galaxy S10 5G, this spring. The phone will reach the other carriers later in the summer.

  • LG’s first 5G phone, the V50 ThinQ, is expected to launch on Sprint’s network in the first half of this year.

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House Democrats Refuse to Weaken Net Neutrality Bill, Defeat GOP amendments

By Jon Brodkin. Apr 4, 2019 | Original Ars Technica article here.

House Commerce Committee voted to reverse Ajit Pai’s Net Neutrality repeal.


Democrats in the US House of Representatives yesterday rejected Republican attempts to weaken a bill that would restore net neutrality rules.

The House Commerce Committee yesterday approved the "Save the Internet Act" in a 30-22 party-line vote, potentially setting up a vote of the full House next week. The bill is short and simple—it would fully reinstate the rules implemented by the Federal Communications Commission under then-Chairman Tom Wheeler in 2015, reversing the repeal led by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in 2017.

Full House Committee on Energy & Commerce Markup of Net Neutrality Bill

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Pai Tours The Country Promising Better Rural Broadband, But His Policies Routinely Undermine That Goal

By Karl Bode, Ap 4, 2019 | Original Techdirt article here.

From the "Watch-what-I-do,-not-what-I-say" dept. . . .

You may have noticed that FCC boss Ajit Pai likes to breathlessly and repeatedly proclaim that one of his top priorities while chair of the FCC is to "close the digital divide."

But, the lion’s share of Pai’s policies support one real agenda: protecting the nation’s biggest companies from disruption, competition, or accountability.

Pai, who clearly harbors post-FCC political aspirations, can usually be found touring the nation’s least-connected states declaring that he’s

working tirelessly to shore up broadband connectivity and competition nationwide. On trip after taxpayer funded trip, both Pai and his fellow commissioners tell audiences his policies are expanding high-speed internet access and closing the digital divide to create jobs and increase digital opportunity.

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Telecom Lobbyists Crushed San Francisco’s Quest For Better Broadband

By Karl Bode Apr 4, 2019 | Original Techdirt article here.

While cities like Seattle and San Francisco are known as technology and innovation hubs, that hasn’t historically been reflected by the broadband markets in those cities. Like everywhere else, the two cities suffer from little real broadband competition, with incumbent monopolies like Comcast leaving consumers and businesses with a dearth of options for quality, lower cost broadband. And, like the rest of America, as companies like AT&T and Verizon shift their ambitions to online advertising, they’re refusing to upgrade aging DSL lines, leaving cable with an even more potent monopoly that 5G wireless isn’t likely to fix.

Faced with decades of sub-par service, "tech hubs" like Seattle and San Francisco have pondered building their own broadband networks. More than 750 towns and cities have pursued the option, which is why ISPs like AT&T and Comcast have lobbied for laws in nearly two-dozen states attempting to ban or hamstring such efforts. It’s not hard to see why. Chatanooga’s Publicly-owned ISP EPB was ranked last year as the best ISP in the nation, and Harvard studies have shown that such community networks tend to offer better service at lower and more transparent prices than their private-sector counterparts.

If any city should be able to pursue and fund a public open access fiber network, you’d think it would be tech-obsessed and hugely wealthy San Francisco. That was the thinking of Mark Farrell when he took his seat on San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors in 2010. He spent several years trying to convince his fellow city residents that an open-access, wholesale fiber network (where private ISPs come in and compete in layers on top) would improve life (and business) immeasurably in the city. But as with so many efforts, his plan ran face first into a buzzsaw of Telecom industry lobbying.

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The FTC Makes It Clear It Cannot and Will Not Protect Net Neutrality

by Karl Bode, Apr 2 2019 | Original Motherboard article here.

When the Ajit Pai-led FCC killed net neutrality, the agency said that the FTC would step in to protect consumers. Now, that seems unlikely.


When the Ajit Pai-led Federal Communications Commission (FCC) killed federal net neutrality rules in late 2017, the order didn’t just eliminate rules protecting an open internet — it also dramatically rolled back the FCC’s authority to rein in giant broadband providers.

At the time, the FCC stated that gutting this authority wouldn’t harm consumers because the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would fill the void, protecting consumers from harm. But the FTC itself now says it lacks the authority to fully police bad behavior by Big Telecom. In an editorial in late 2017, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr proclaimed that with the FCC effectively sidelined, the FTC would assuredly step in and wield its antitrust authority to protect consumers against ISPs intent on abusing their positions as natural monopolies and internet gatekeepers to prioritize some services over others.

Carr wrote:

“Reversing the FCC’s Title II decision will return the FTC to its role as a steady cop on the beat and empower it to take enforcement action against any ISP that engages in unfair or deceptive practices. If a service provider decided to throttle or block web traffic from a competitor, “federal antitrust laws will apply,”

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What Makes Me Reconsider the Health Effects of 4G and 5G Wireless Infrastructure

Adapted from an article by Susan Crawford, Apr 1, 2019 | Original Wired article here.


Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been reading The Uninhabitable Earth. The author, David Wallace-Wells, had me from his first sentence ("It is worse, much worse, than you think"). Wallace-Wells has done us all the great favor of clearly laying out incontestable evidence for what global warming will mean to the way we live. The book’s chapters focus on humanity’s ability to work and survive in increasingly hot environments, climate-change-driven effects on agriculture, the striking pace of sea-level rise, increasingly "normal" natural disasters, choking pollution, and much more. It’s not an easy read emotionally. But it forces the reader to look squarely in the face of the science.

Wallace-Wells points out that even though thousands of scientists, perhaps hundreds of thousands, are daily trying to impress on lay readers the urgency of collective action, the religion (his word) of technology creates a belief that, to the extent there is some distant-and-disputed problem, everything will be mysteriously solved by some combination of machine learning and post-Earth survival. We’ll live in spaceships and eat lab-printed meat, and Elon Musk will fix things.

I see a parallel in another big news story: the hype and enthusiasm about 5G wireless as the “thing that will make the existing [communications] model obsolete.” 5G is touted as the solution to all our problems—which sounds pretty unrealistic, as I’ve written in the past. (We’ll still need fiber wires everywhere, including deep in rural areas, to make 5G serve everyone, and there’s a real risk that we’ll end up with local 5G monopolies absent wise government intervention.)

Then there’s a new (to me) angle to 5G that I’ve resisted in the past: What if transmissions to and from 4G and 5G Close Proximity Microwave Radiation Antennas (CPMRAs), which will need to be everywhere, and much closer to us than traditional cell towers, pulsing out very-high-frequency radio waves at high power levels, pose real risks to human health?

I’ve been impatient for years with people complaining about the health effects of wireless communications. The phrase “tinfoil hat” leaps to mind, I readily concede. But I am learning that hundreds of scientists and tens of thousands of others believe that the intensity of current 4G and proposed 5G represents a phase change and that the effects of pulsed, data-modulated, Radio-frequency Electromagnetic Microwave Radiation (RF-EMR) exposures on mankind should be studied closely before this technology is widely adopted.

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California Bill Guts CPUC Oversight of Broadband Monopolies

By Ernesto Falcon, Mar 29, 2019 | Original EFF article here.

AB.1366 Voice over Internet Protocol and Internet Protocol Enabled Communications Services

AB.1366 text | AB.1366 history

At a time when we are fighting to keep the future of broadband access from reverting back towards a monopoly, it seems implausible that a legislator would suggest their state should follow the Federal Communications Commission’s lead to abandon oversight over a highly concentrated, uncompetitive market. But Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez wants to take that exact approach.

The recently introduced AB.1366 mirrors the FCC’s abandonment of consumers with one exception — California fought to establish its own net neutrality rules under S.B. 822 passed last year. Apart from that, AB.1366 removes any semblance of the state promoting competition for broadband access through its state regulator, the California Public Utility Commission (the state version of an FCC).

Instead, it appears to just hope that our cable and Telecom monopolies will be benevolent.

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Ajit Pai Plan to Cap Spending on Broadband for Poor

Pai plans budget cap on program designed to make broadband available to everyone.

By Jon Brodkin Mar 29 | Original Ars Technica article here.

three stooges

FCC 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.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has proposed a new spending cap on the FCC’s Universal Service programs that deploy broadband to poor people and to rural and other underserved areas. Pai reportedly circulated the proposal to fellow commissioners on Tuesday, meaning it will be voted upon behind closed doors instead of in an open meeting.

Pai has not released the proposal publicly, but it was described in a Politico report Wednesday, and an FCC official confirmed the proposal’s details to Ars. Democratic FCC commissioners and consumer advocacy groups have criticized Pai’s plan, saying it could harm the FCC’s efforts to expand broadband access.

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Bill To Restore Net Neutrality Moves Forward

By Karl Bode, Mar 26 2019 | Original Motherboard article here.

. . . Despite Telecom efforts to kill it — last minute attempts to weaken the bill failed as it now moves toward a showdown in the House and Senate.

Last month, Democrats introduced a simple three page bill that would do one thing: restore FCC net neutrality rules and the agency’s authority over ISPs, both stripped away by a hugely-controversial decision by the agency in late 2017. Tuesday morning, the Save the Internet Act passed through a key House committee vote and markup session—despite some last-minute efforts by big telecom to weaken the bill.

Representative Anna Eshoo said during the hearing.
“Inside the beltway, this is really about maybe five companies. Across the country, the American people really get this. National polling shows that Republicans, Democrats, Independents support net neutrality. We’re still in the same old soup pot here. We need to take our lenses off and look across the country.”

Communications & Technology Subcommittee Markup of Save the Internet Act of 2019

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Sprint Cell Tower Will Be Removed From School Grounds

As a follow up to this Mar 12 story that got picked up by Newsweek . . .

Adapted from an article By Jessica Mensch, Mar 23, 2019 | Original article here.

RIPON, CA — Parents in Ripon have been fighting for a Sprint cell tower to come down for roughly two years and they’re calling the company’s latest decision a major win.

“It’s been a very hard battle, a very hard battle. And I’m hoping we’ve reached the end of it," mother Kellie Prime said. Now, these parents can breathe a sigh of relief after learning the cell tower outside of their sons’ former school, Weston Elementary, will soon be moved. Prime and Monica Ferrulli have been fighting for this since their sons, Kyle and Mason, were diagnosed with cancer.

“Talking to specialists in the field, scientists, our own doctors," Ferrulli explained. "All the information that we gathered indicated that that tower could be a factor in their illness.”

These moms believe that the tower had any impact on their children’s cancer, especially as more students and teachers fell ill. They say a total of eight were diagnosed with cancer in the past couple of years.

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