Early this year, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler put forth a proposal: how about doing away with those set-top boxes you’re required to rent, for lots of money, in order to watch pay-TV? After all, it’s 2016, surely we can do better? Naturally, the suggestion became an instant political football. But after seven months of working it out, the rumor mill says a compromise is on its way. [More]
Nearly two years ago, the Federal Trade Commission sued AT&T for allegedly misleading wireless customers by charging them for “unlimited” data plans while simultaneously throttling their cellular connection speeds when they passed certain monthly thresholds. AT&T failed in 2015 to get the case dismissed in District Court, but yesterday succeeded in convincing a federal appeals court to throw out the government’s complaint. [More]
Last month, after FCC Chair Tom Wheeler called on the telecom industry to finally do something about the nuisance of pre-recorded, auto-dialed robocalls, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson agreed to head up a joint private-public Robocall Strike Force tasked with actually doing something about these calls. Today, this elite squad of telephonic titans is meeting for the first time. [More]
If you ask any American to name the things they love the most, they are sure to reply, “debt collectors, intrusive pre-recorded phone calls, and the federal government!” So today — under orders to do so from a piece of rushed, tacked-on legislation — the Federal Communications Commission released its final rules allowing the federal government and some of its contractors to make debt-collection robocalls to wireless lines. [More]
More than a dozen states have laws that either prohibit counties and cities from operating their own broadband internet networks, selling service directly to consumers, or expanding their service behind a prescribed footprint. In 2015, the FCC voted to preempt two of these laws — in Tennessee and North Carolina — but this morning a federal appeals court says the FCC lacks the legal authority to do so. [More]
For an agency that telecom companies like to lambaste as old-fashioned, out-of-touch, and wedded to the past, the FCC sure is speeding up full-tilt into the future. To wit: the Commission is streamlining a bunch of regulations to make it as easy as possible to build 5G networks as fast as possible.
AT&T Penalized $7.75 Million For Allowing Scammers To Charge Bogus “Directory Assistance Service” Fees
Nearly two years after AT&T was hit with a $105 million settlement over bill-cramming — the practice of letting third parties place questionable or false charges on customers’ phone bills — the Federal Communications Commission says the company has agreed to pay another $7.5 million to close the book on additional cramming accusations involving a bogus directory assistance service. [More]
Internet service providers like making money. They don’t like regulations that prevent them from any avenues that could make them money. And they will argue basically anything they can think of to help prevent those regulations from happening. Like, for example, suggesting that you, the consumer, will actively suffer harm if Comcast and others aren’t allowed to charge you extra for keeping your data to yourself.
Spoofing — the practice of sending out fake caller ID information to disguise the caller’s real identity — is legal, so long as it’s not done to deceive or harm anyone. Reporters, victims of domestic abuse, human rights organizations, all legally use spoofing to protect their locations or sources. This sort of trickery is definitely not allowed when it’s deployed just to make harassing phone calls to your ex. [More]
Commercial-grade phone service is expensive, so there’s a program that helps schools afford it. There are rules about what phone companies, like AT&T, can and can’t charge the schools that apply through that program. And the FCC now says that not only did AT&T not follow those rules, but also it charged two school districts the highest rates in the entire state to keep their phone lines connected.
Earlier this month, the FCC released a controversial ruling, concluding that the law allowed the federal government — and all contractors working for the government — to place prerecorded/auto-dialed robocalls to consumers, so long as the calls are made for official government business. Today, a number of consumer advocates have officially petitioned the FCC to rethink its position and close this loophole. [More]
In response to FCC Chair Tom Wheeler’s call for all major phone companies to finally put free robocall-blocking tools in the hands of their customers, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson — who recently incorrectly blamed the FCC for his company’s failure to address this issue — says he is going to lead an industry “Strike Force” to combat robocalls. [More]
It’s been nearly six months since the FCC first proposed doing something about the cable set-top box market. Since then, the White House and Congress have both had their say about it, while all along the cable industry has been lobbying and complaining incessantly. But behind all that, the FCC and the industry are at least talking to each other to try to hash out what the future could look like. Unfortunately, if industry gets its way, that future could leave a lot of consumers’ favorite features behind their TV providers’ big fat “pay me” gates.
Even though the Federal Communications Commission has repeatedly said that wireless and landline phone providers are allowed to offer robocall-blocking services to their customers, some carriers have continued to incorrectly insist — and provide misinformation to consumers — that they simply don’t have the authority to deploy this technology. In an effort to make things clear once and for all, FCC Chair Tom Wheeler has sent letters to these companies that there are no regulatory roadblocks stopping them from helping their customers stop annoying — often illegal — automated and prerecorded robocalls. [More]
Boy, the future sounds great… at least according to the Federal Communications Commission. From medicine to manufacturing and music, the future’s got a level of autonomy and connected convenience that makes Star Trek look downright pedestrian. And it’s all down to policy that lets tech develop, of course — and so the FCC this morning voted unanimously to take the first step to open up new ultra-fast, super-speedy mobile broadband… for whenever it comes.