Another Government Shutdown?

Congress has a week to pass a spending bill to keep the lights on . . .

By Michael Collins, Nov. 28, 2018 | Original USA TODAY article here.

WASHINGTON – The federal government is moving closer to its third government shutdown since President Donald Trump took office. And Trump says he’d “totally be willing” to let it happen.

The government will run out of money at midnight Dec. 7 unless Congress passes a spending bill to keep the lights on. If lawmakers fail to act, some government agencies will no longer have the necessary funding to keep operating and will be forced to close their doors.

Congress already has approved five bills providing funding for the areas of defense, energy and water, labor, health and human services, the legislative branch and veterans affairs. Trump has signed those into law.

But seven other spending bills are still awaiting congressional action. The bills that need approval would fund the departments of . . .

  • Agriculture
  • Commerce
  • Justice
  • Homeland Security
  • Interior
  • State
  • Transportation
  • Housing and Urban Development

. . . as well as several smaller agencies.

Continue reading “Another Government Shutdown?”

Why 5G Will Disappoint Everyone

Wireless connections that are 20 times faster? What could be disappointing about that? Don't hold your breath.

Adapted from an opinion piece by Mike Elgan, Sept 29, 2018 | Original ComputerWorld editorial here.

Nov 25, 2018: Huge Health Crisis Coming From Deployment of 4G and 5G Densified Antennas


You’ve heard the claims: 5G will enable safe self-driving cars, streaming virtual reality, long-distance surgery, 3D holographic video calls, and the four-hour workweek.

Here is some more you may have read:

  • 5G will usher in the real-time enterprise (RTE) that we’re told, will transform business completely.

  • The companies building 5G technology say real-world 5G speeds will be 10 to 20 times faster than 4G — realistically between 100 and 200 Mbit/sec.

  • More importantly, 5G should have much lower latency — from around 20 milliseconds for today’s networks to about 1 millisecond with 5G — so everything in the cloud will be more responsive and video calls will be a lot better.

  • Best of all, the new 5G phones are coming out next year, so all these benefits are imminent.

You might say Hooray! We’re months away from a 5G-enabled Age of Aquarius!

Well, I’m sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but 5G isn’t going to be all that great anytime soon. Before I tell you why, first let’s talk about how, when and where 5G will emerge, starting with the phones.

Continue reading “Why 5G Will Disappoint Everyone”

Even Indianapolis 2nd Graders Would Not Believe

. . . the 4G and 5G Wireless Fairy Tale Told by FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr

Adapted from an article by bruce kushnick Nov 26, 2018 | Original Medium article here.

The FCC’s Extreme-Density Indianapolis 4G and 5G Fairy Tale


The picture above is an old map of “The Mile Square” in Indianapolis, Indiana, which is the center of town and was designed in 1821 to mimic the street plan for Washington DC. We added the red ‘diamonds’ to show where 4G and 5G small cells might be placed.

To all of the 2nd graders (and others) reading this . . . I apologize for the FCC’s data and analysis about extreme-density 4G and 5G wireless installations in neighborhoods. Unlike what they teach you in school, these days, government agencies, like the FCC (which has oversight over your family’s wireless, cable, online and phone services) are filled with lawyers, like FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, or Chairman Ajit Pai, who formerly worked for large the Telecoms, like AT&T and Verizon.

That’s why they just make stuff up or they just plagiarize other group’s work specifically written to help these former employers. No one really cares about this extreme-density 4G and 5G stuff except these companies and those they have hyped — because this is just about making more money from the unsuspecting public. This is very much like the bullies at school that no one wants to confront; that’s why get away with it.

5G Wireless is trying to be a tech/Telecom Santa Claus, promising gifts-a-plenty. On September 4th 2018, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr made an announcement in the Senate Statehouse in Indianapolis, Indiana, located in this very square mile, and then Carr took the lead and had the FCC pass new regulations, (which are now being challenged in court), to do execute this plan.

What’s the plan? The FCC and the Telecoms claim that no one cares about using the wires anymore — even in their homes or offices or even for broadband Internet.

Continue reading “Even Indianapolis 2nd Graders Would Not Believe”

Palo Alto CIO Quits Under Cloud of Allegations

By the Daily Post staff, Nov 21 2018 | Original Palo Alto Daily Post article here.

Palo Alto IT chief, under fire for foreign trips, resigns to take job at Oracle

Jonathan Reichental is stepping down as Palo Alto’s chief information officer to take a position at Oracle — days after his frequent foreign trips had come under fire from a resident activist.

Reichental, in an email to the Post today (Nov. 21), said that over the summer he told his boss, City Manager Jim Keene, he was going to look for a new career opportunity after overseeing the IT department for nearly seven years. That conversation, according to Reichental, occurred several months before the controversy arose over 28 trips he took between 2013 and 2017 to places such as China, the French Riviera and New Zealand.

The controversy began Nov. 9 when Jeanne Fleming, who campaigned unsuccessfully against the installation of 11 Verizon antennas, filed a 15-page complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission, or FPPC, against Reichental.

She contends the travel was funded by the telecommunications industry mainly through nonprofit trade groups and is illegal under state laws that prohibit gifts to state and local government officials.

Fleming said:

“Dr. Reichental has been using his senior position at City Hall to influence the city’s dealings with the telecommunications industry. This includes shaping the city’s response to the applications telecom companies have made to install cell towers in Palo Alto’s residential neighborhoods.”

Continue reading “Palo Alto CIO Quits Under Cloud of Allegations”

Big Wireless Erecting Small Cells Avoid Rural Areas

FCC Says Small Cells Will Close the Digital Divide. Most say they won’t.

Adapted from an article by Allan Holmes, Nov 17, 2018 | Original The Center for Public Integrity article is here.

When he was appointed chairman of the agency that oversees the nation’s powerful telecommunications companies last year, Ajit Pai made clear that his No. 1 priority is to bring fast internet service to Americans who don’t have it, to close the digital divide.Pai says one of the keys to making that happen is giving wireless carriers an easier way to deploy so-called small cells, a central component of 5G, the next generation of wireless communication.

The so-called "Small Cells", which may number in the millions once fully deployed nationwide, are a collection of equipment that include antennas, meters, power boxes and cables that will be attached to streetlights and utility poles throughout neighborhoods and business districts. The small cells promise to make wireless connections faster and support future applications such as driverless cars.

To speed the network’s deployment, Pai says the Federal Communications Commission must pass rules that limit local regulation of small-cell permitting, design, fees and other charges used to access cities’ public rights of way — barriers, Pai says, that are impeding the build-out of the new technology and closing the digital divide.

Continue reading “Big Wireless Erecting Small Cells Avoid Rural Areas”

Studies Say the Basis For Killing Network Neutrality Rules is Bogus

FCC Chair Pai oversimplified reason for dip in broadband deployment an analysis of data shows

By Aliya Sternstein and Joe Yerardi, Nov 17, 2018 | Original Salon article here.

When the nation’s top telecommunications regulator decided to do away with the widely popular “network neutrality” rules that governed the Internet, his justification was that the regulations were slowing deployment. But a new analysis by the Center for Public Integrity plus other factors cited by industry experts show that reasoning to be shallow at best and ridiculous at worst.

Most pointedly, while wireline deployment did slow while network neutrality rules were in place, it was due to at least one reason that had nothing to do with regulation: carriers were running out of potential customers, according to a Center analysis of Census and FCC data.** Between December 2012 and December 2014**, the average population density of areas to which providers deployed wireline Internet access for the first time was 4,467 people per square mile.

Between December 2014 and December 2016 — by the time regulatory talk surfaced — the average population density of areas to which providers deployed wireline Internet access for the first time was a sparse 1,593 people per square mile.

One such community: the 550 square mile area that Anza Electric Cooperative covers for 5,000 co-op members.

Not In Anybody’s Business Plan

On a recent evening, the 6,000-foot Thomas Mountain rises up behind Kevin Short, general manager of the utility cooperative, which provides power and fiber internet service to this rugged part of Riverside County, Calif. Until a couple of years ago, no commercial fixed-broadband providers would serve the community. For many carriers, it’s a hassle to wire homes and buildings spread across unpaved roads and active fault lines.

Yet, if you listen to the Trump administration, broadband installation in places like Anza slowed because of net neutrality rules — known as Title II regulation. Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has bandied around statistics suggesting a connection between sluggish deployment and the 2015 rules to justify the elimination of network neutrality rules, which went into effect Monday. The Center’s analysis doesn’t question there was a slowdown in deployment during the time the rules were in place. Nor does the FCC.

A February 2018 FCC Broadband Deployment Report states that from 2012 to 2014, the two years preceding regulation based on Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, fixed wireline broadband reached 29.9 million people who never had it before. From 2014 to 2016, only 13.5 million people saw an Internet service provider come to town for the first time.

But regulation had nothing to do with Anza’s lack of popularity,

Kevin Short, general manager of the Anza utility cooperative:

“We just didn’t fit into any major carriers’ business plan. I would have to suspect that customer service would be hard pressed to handle the many miles that it takes to get out here and get to see somebody’s home for a problem.”

In December 2015, Anza Electric Cooperative took the initiative and secured state funding to build fiber networks along existing electricity poles and wires.

Maximum Capacity

Another aspect to consider regarding the slowdown in deployment is that household income in areas receiving wireline connectivity post-Title II was slightly lower than income in the more urban areas serviced earlier, between 2012 and 2014, according to the Center’s analysis.

Pai made no mention of the possibility that customer bases were reaching maximum capacity when he cast net neutrality as the bogeyman in May congressional testimony and during a March American Cable Association annual summit. The FCC decided in December 2017 to deregulate Internet service providers.

Today, net neutrality rules no longer block Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from capping data, slowing connection speeds, or charging for faster delivery of content. Under Title II rules, “money that could have expanded networks was now being siphoned off to pay lawyers and consultants to make sense of the new rules,” Pai remarked at the association summit. Outgoing FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, a Democrat, said the Center’s analysis and her own research refute allegations that Title II stalled ISP spending.

“I would agree there is no proof that the 2015 net neutrality rules caused any reduction in broadband investment,” Clyburn said in an emailed statement. The highest levels of broadband investment occurred during two decades in the late 1990s and early 2000s when the Title II regime was in place, she added.

Access Increase?

Other data crunchers have shown that certain deployments of broadband, which the FCC defines as a download speed of at least 25 megabits per second, actually increased in the wake of net neutrality regulation. At the end of 2014, about one-third of the U.S. population had access to two or more wireline ISPs and that percentage grew to more than half by the end of 2016, according to an analysis of the FCC’s annual block-level population estimates by media advocacy group Free Press. Faced with growing losses to cable competitors whose bandwidth met consumer demand for Netflix and other streaming video services, phone companies upped investments in higher-capacity broadband.

“The most frustrating thing to me about all of this is that no one really tries to say there’s got to be more than one causal factor,” said S. Derek Turner, research director for Free Press. There are multiple reasons why spending to go up or down and that cause the rate of deployment to change, he added. “Sure, regulation could be one of those things, but there’s a lot of other things that probably are more realistic or logical to talk about,” Turner said.

Another potential influence on broadband deployments during the days of net neutrality was the ebb and flow of FCC Connect America Fund grants that support rural networks. Ahead of the rules, between mid-2012 and the end of 2014, the FCC distributed nearly $5 billion in grants to rural ISPs for broadband deployment. When the net neutrality order took effect, the FCC was deliberating future Connect America funding and only disbursed $1.12 billion, nearly 50 percent less than the amount spent the year prior.

Derek Turner said:

“This ramp up and subsequent sharp drop in rural broadband funding created a major, and far more likely impactful factor on rural broadband availability than any regulatory policy change.”

The FCC substantiated its decision to revoke net neutrality using several outside reports that suggested carriers curtailed spending on upgrading and expanding their broadband networks when they feared regulations would erode financial returns.

Opposite Conclusions

One March 2017 study by economist Hal Singer tracked a $3.6 billion, or a 5.6 percent, drop in wireline and wireless broadband capital expenditures from 2014, the year before the rules took effect, through 2016. Separately, a May 2017 report from Michael Horney, of the Free State Foundation, a free-market group, illustrated that in the two years following the Title II order, wireline and wireless broadband capital investment declined by $5.6 billion.

Neither Singer nor Horney disputed the Center’s analysis of sluggish broadband expansion. “I wouldn’t have made the argument the way that the FCC did” in its February 2018 conclusion about wireline deployment, said Singer, a principal at Economists Inc. and senior fellow at the George Washington Institute of Public Policy.

Instead, the FCC should have examined entrances of a second provider in communities, he added. Singer said he received no outside funding for his study, which was posted on his personal blog, but said that he has done a fair amount of work for USTelecom, an industry association funded by major telecommunications companies.

Singer even questions whether Title II triggered the dive in investments that he previously reported. “They went down around the time of Title II. Whether or not it was caused by Title II, it’s hard to say,” he said.

Horney, a research fellow at the Free State Foundation, voiced skepticism about the implications of the Center’s findings.

“I can’t disagree because I’m not sure what role reaching max capacity or net neutrality regulation played in slowing fixed broadband growth,” he said.

“Providers were unsure about what was going to be illegal and what was not and I think that slowed investment in general,” he said. There was “hesitancy to invest in new networks and upgrade old ones before they knew exactly what was on the table for the new laws.”

Investment Increase?

Just last month Horney used data from the annual reports of thirteen large broadband providers to demonstrate that broadband capital investment increased 14 percent from the end of 2016 to the end of 2017, as broadband providers anticipated repeal of the order.

In an emailed statement, an FCC spokesman pointed to a number of steps the Trump administration has taken to help all Americans, not just those living in densely-populated areas, gain high-speed internet access. He referenced reforms to the Universal Service Fund, an FCC program that subsidizes telecommunications in underserved areas, and removal of “regulatory barriers.”

“One of those regulatory barriers was the prior FCC’s 2015 Title II Order, which had a disproportionate impact on smaller providers and those serving rural America,” the FCC spokesman stated. “Indeed, heavy-handed regulations are more likely to deter deployment in less densely-populated areas than densely-populated areas because the economic case for investing there is generally not as strong.”

To date, regulations have performed only a bit part in the staging of new telecommunications technologies and the net neutrality rule wasn’t one of them, said Blair Levin, a veteran FCC official who now consults Wall Street on telecom issues. “Competition builds the upgrades,” he said.

“Nobody on Wall Street actually looks at the net neutrality battle as having much to do with anything related to investment,” said Levin, who oversaw the Obama administration’s 2010 National Broadband Plan. The plan was required by an economic stimulus package that devoted $7.2 billion to build out infrastructure in underserved areas, for the most part.

Today, more than 30 percent of Americans in rural areas still lack access to high-speed wireline broadband versus 2 percent of urban dwellers, according to the February 2018 FCC deployment report.

“It’s hard to make money when you have a house per square mile,” said Craig Settles, a municipal broadband consultant.

Returns on investment in fiber networks typically require more than a couple of financial quarters and stockholders want quick returns, he said. “The incumbents don’t go where there are not enough people for them to get their money back,” he said, referring to traditional ISPs such as Verizon and AT&T. Verizon declined to comment and AT&T referred questions to USTelecom. A USTelecom spokeswoman said in an emailed statement, “Title II further increases costs and raises new risks, making the business case for rural deployment even harder.”

Is 5G a Technological Revolution or a Pandora’s Box?

Pima County, AZ 5G Awareness Coalition Public Forum: Is 5G a Technological Revolution or a Pandora’s Box?

Nov 17, 2018 — Tucson, AZ Live-Streamed Event

Link to full event video.

  • 0:00:15 — Ashley Portman: Start of Program
  • 0:02:30 — Elizabeth Kelley
  • 0:24:30 — Dr. Martin Pall
  • 0:54:35 — Dr. Timothy Schoechle
  • 1:18:00 — Eric Windheim
  • 1:37:55 — Questions & Answers
  • 2:02:00 — Ashley Portman: End of Program

Continue reading “Is 5G a Technological Revolution or a Pandora’s Box?”

Supreme Court Rejects Telecom Industry Challenge of 2015 Net Neutrality Rules

But Lawsuits over Pai’s Net Neutrality Repeal and California Law will Continue.

By Jon Brodkin, Nov 15, 2018 | Original ARS Technica article here.

The US Supreme Court has declined to hear the broadband industry’s challenge of Obama-era net neutrality rules. The Federal Communications Commission’s 2015 order to impose net neutrality rules and strictly regulate broadband was already reversed by Trump’s pick for FCC chairman, Ajit Pai. But AT&T and broadband industry lobby groups were still trying to overturn court decisions that upheld the FCC order.

A win for the broadband industry could have prevented future administrations from imposing a similarly strict set of rules. The Trump administration supported the industry’s case, asking the US Supreme Court to vacate the Obama-era ruling. But the Supreme Court today said it has denied petitions filed by AT&T and broadband lobby groups NCTA, CTIA, USTelecom, and the American Cable Association. Four of nine justices must agree to hear a case, but only three voted to grant the petitions.

Chief Justices Roberts and Kavanaugh Recused Themselves From the Case

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh recused themselves from the case. Roberts owned stock in AT&T-owned Time Warner, while Kavanaugh took part in the case when he was a judge on the DC Circuit appeals court, Bloomberg Supreme Court Reporter Greg Stohr noted. Kavanaugh dissented from the ruling upholding net neutrality rules in 2017, arguing that the rules violate the First Amendment rights of Internet service providers by preventing them from "exercising editorial control" over Internet content.

According to the Supreme Court announcement today, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch "would grant the petitions, vacate the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [which upheld the FCC’s net neutrality order], and remand to that court with instructions to dismiss the cases as moot."

The legal battle over net neutrality will continue and could potentially reach the Supreme Court again in a separate case.

Continue reading “Supreme Court Rejects Telecom Industry Challenge of 2015 Net Neutrality Rules”

Wireless Throttling After Net Neutrality Regs Cancelled

Research found throttling of YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, and Skype; Senators ask four major carriers about video slowdowns

Jon Brodkin – 11/15/2018; Original ARS Technica article here.

Three US Senate Democrats today asked the four major wireless carriers about allegations they’ve been throttling video services and — in the case of Sprint — the senators asked about alleged throttling of Skype video calls.

Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent the letters to AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, noting that recent research using the Wehe testing platform found indications of throttling by all four carriers.

The senators wrote.

"All online traffic should be treated equally, and Internet service providers should not discriminate against particular content or applications for competitive advantage purposes or otherwise,"

Specifically, the Wehe tests "indicated throttling on AT&T for YouTube, Netflix, and NBC Sports . . . throttling on Verizon for Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Netflix… throttling on Sprint for YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Skype Video calls . . .[and] delayed throttling, or boosting, on T-Mobile for Netflix, NBC Sports, and Amazon Prime by providing unthrottled streaming at the beginning of the connection, and then subsequently throttling the connection."

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Complaint Accuses Palo Alto Top Tech Official of Taking 28 Junkets Paid By Telecom Firms

United Neighbors member files ethics complaint against chief information officer over trips

By Kevin Kelly, Nov 15, 2018 | Original Bay Area News Group article here.

Palo Alto’s top technology official violated California’s gifts law by taking at least 28 all-expense-paid trips funded by companies tied to telecommunications firms that do business with the city, according to a complaint filed with the state.

Reichental on a Jan. 18, 2017 “Connected Cities” agenda is listed as “owner” of a number of items involving Verizon, including “90 site DAS project entering ARB review,” which refers to Verizon’s plan to install 90 cell towers in residential neighborhoods, including the 11 approved last year.

In her filing with the California Fair Political Practices Commission, Jeanne Fleming of United Neighbors contends Chief Information Officer Jonathan Reichental took illegal trips totaling 114 days between 2013 and 2017. United Neighbors is a group of local resident who unsuccessfully fought the City Council’s approval last year of a Verizon Wireless project to install 11 cell towers in the Midtown, South of Midtown, St. Claire Gardens and Palo Verde neighborhoods.

Continue reading “Complaint Accuses Palo Alto Top Tech Official of Taking 28 Junkets Paid By Telecom Firms”