FCC Has Voted to Repeal Net Neutrality Rules

The Federal Communications Commission today voted to repeal Net Neutrality rules put in place by the United States government back in 2015 under the Obama administration (via Recode). Instead of classifying internet service providers as "common carriers" under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, the FCC has voted 3-2 in favor of rolling back to reclassifying ISPs as "information service" providers, as they were between February 1996 and February 2015.


Now, companies like AT&T, Charter, Comcast, and Verizon will be allowed to block or slow down a user's access to certain websites, as well as potentially charge access to sites and services. The vote passed in favor under FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, along with the two other Republican commissioners Michael O'Rielly and Brendan Carr. Outvoted were Democrat commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel.

The order now adopted by the FCC today will eliminate a "utility-style regulation" of ISPs, and also removes any requirement for these companies to refrain from blocking or throttling web traffic. One requirement remaining is that telecom companies will be forced to tell customers if and when they prioritize their content over competitors, and if they don't they could face penalties from the Federal Trade Commission.

Apple and many other large technology companies previously urged the FCC to reconsider its proposal. Those in favor of keeping ISPs classified under Title II argued that the FCC rolling back the internet's classification as a public utility will hurt net neutrality, as it could eventually divide internet users into so-called "fast lanes" and "slow lanes." Throughout his remarks given today, Pai said that this will not be the case.
And Pai, before the vote was final, sought to swat away his critics. “Following today’s vote,” he began, “Americans will still be able to access the websites they want to visit. They will still be able to enjoy the services they want to enjoy. There will still be cops on the beat guarding a free and open Internet.”
Apple's comment on the topic earlier this year stated that this ruling could "fundamentally alter the internet as we know it," and if it passed it would be put in place to the detriment of consumers, competition, and innovation. Around the same time, the FCC received a record-breaking 22 million comments from the public who voiced their opinions on the controversial issue in the months leading up to today's vote.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


Discuss this article in our forums

FCC Expected to Repeal Net Neutrality Rules in Vote Next Month

FCC chairman Ajit Pai today announced that his controversial Restoring Internet Freedom order is headed to vote on December 14.


The order, proposed in May, would roll back the Barack Obama administration's classification of internet service providers as "common carriers" under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

As common carriers, internet providers are required to act as neutral gateways to the internet. In other words, companies like Comcast are not allowed to speed up or slow down content passing through their networks.

If the order passes, ISPs will be reclassified as "information service" providers, as they were between February 1996 and February 2015.
For almost twenty years, the Internet thrived under the light-touch regulatory approach established by President Clinton and a Republican Congress. This bipartisan framework led the private sector to invest $1.5 trillion building communications networks throughout the United States. And it gave us an Internet economy that became the envy of the world.
Apple and dozens of other large technology companies urged the FCC to reconsider its proposal. The FCC also received a record-breaking 22 million comments from the public during a feedback period that ended in August.

Those against the order believe that the FCC rolling back the internet's classification as a public utility will hurt net neutrality, as it could eventually divide internet users into so-called "fast lanes" and "slow lanes."

In a letter submitted to the FCC in August, Apple warned that paid fast lanes could result in an "internet with distorted competition."
Broadband providers should not create paid fast lanes on the internet. Lifting the current ban on paid prioritization arrangements could allow broadband providers to favor the transmission of one provider's content or services (or the broadband provider’s own online content or services) over other online content, fundamentally altering the internet as we know it today—to the detriment of consumers, competition, and innovation.
Pai, who was designated as FCC chairman by Donald Trump, insists the Obama-era internet regulations are a "mistake." Under the new rules, he said the FCC will "stop micromanaging the internet" to foster innovation.
Today, I have shared with my colleagues a draft order that would abandon this failed approach and return to the longstanding consensus that served consumers well for decades. Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet. Instead, the FCC would simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that's best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.
Despite the significant backlash from tech companies and the public, it is widely expected that the FCC will vote in favor of the order next month.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


Discuss this article in our forums

FCC Urges Apple to Protect Safety of Americans by Activating FM Radio Chip in iPhones

Amidst renewed pressure from the National Association of Broadcasters, FCC chairman Ajit Pai has now issued a statement urging Apple to activate the FM radio capabilities built into the wireless modem of every iPhone.


Pai said he hopes Apple will "reconsider its position" following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, which have devastated parts of the United States, including Florida and Texas, and Caribbean islands like Barbuda, Dominica, and Puerto Rico.

Powerful storms can leave thousands or millions of people without power or cellular service for weeks or even months, and over-the-air FM radio can provide vital access to weather alerts and other life-saving information.

Pai added that "it is time for Apple to step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first."

His full statement:
In recent years, I have repeatedly called on the wireless industry to activate the FM chips that are already installed in almost all smartphones sold in the United States. And I've specifically pointed out the public safety benefits of doing so. In fact, in my first public speech after I became Chairman, I observed that ‘[y]ou could make a case for activating chips on public safety groundsalone.’ When wireless networks go down during a natural disaster, smartphones with activated FM chips can allow Americans to get vital access to life-saving information. I applaud those companies that have done the right thing by activating the FM chips in their phones.

Apple is the one major phone manufacturer that has resisted doing so. But I hope the company will reconsider its position, given the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. That's why I am asking Apple to activate the FM chips that are in its iPhones. It is time for Apple to step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first. As the Sun Sentinel of South Florida put it, 'Do the right thing, Mr. Cook. Flip the switch. Lives depend on it.'"
Pai has advocated for the activation of the FM tuner in all smartphones before, but this is the first time he has called out Apple by name.

A study by the National Association of Broadcasters last year found only 44 percent of the top-selling smartphones in the United States had FM radio capabilities enabled. 94 percent of the unactivated devices were iPhones.

Both the Qualcomm and Intel chips that enable Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity in every iPhone have a built-in FM tuner that would allow people to listen to FM radio over the air. Apple has not enabled the functionality, forcing users to use an app to stream FM radio over Wi-Fi or cellular data.

Apple hasn't revealed why it keeps the FM radio functionality disabled. Some critics suggest it could be to avoid losing Apple Music subscriptions, but the real reason is probably deeper than that.

We'll update this article if Apple responds.

Tag: FCC

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Urges FCC Not to Roll Back Ban on Internet ‘Fast Lanes’ in Push for Net Neutrality

In a letter submitted during the Restoring Internet Freedom comment period, Apple has urged the U.S. Federal Communications Commission not to roll back regulations that prevent "paid fast lanes" on the internet.

Image via Change.org. Apple logo added by MacRumors.
Broadband providers should not create paid fast lanes on the internet. Lifting the current ban on paid prioritization arrangements could allow broadband providers to favor the transmission of one provider's content or services (or the broadband provider’s own online content or services) over other online content, fundamentally altering the internet as we know it today—to the detriment of consumers, competition, and innovation.
Apple warns that paid fast lanes could result in an "internet with distorted competition" based on an online provider's ability or willingness to pay, which in turn could put some customers in the "slow lane."
Consumers today seek out the content and services they desire based upon numerous factors, including quality, innovation, ease of use, and privacy considerations. Paid fast lanes could replace today’s content-neutral transmission of internet traffic with differential treatment of content based on an online providers' ability or willingness to pay. The result would be an internet with distorted competition where online providers are driven to reach deals with broadband providers or risk being stuck in the slow lane and losing customers due to lower quality service. Moreover, it could create artificial barriers to entry for new online services, making it harder for tomorrow’s innovations to attract investment and succeed. Worst of all, it could allow a broadband provider, not the consumer, to pick internet winners and losers, based on a broadband provider's priorities rather than the quality of the service.
In May, under the leadership of chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC proposed to roll back the Barack Obama administration's classification of internet providers as "common carriers" under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

Apple is far from the only major technology company that has urged the FCC to reconsider its proposal. Last month, companies including Amazon, Google, Twitter, and Netflix hosted an internet-wide day of action to save net neutrality.

The FCC received a record-breaking 22 million comments from the public during the comment period, which closed Wednesday. The FCC will now revise and vote on the proposal, at which point it could become official policy.

Full Letter: Apple's Reply to "Restoring Internet Freedom" via Recode

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Granted License to Test Next-Generation 5G Wireless Technology

The FCC has granted Apple a license to test next-generation 5G wireless technologies, as brought to our attention by DSLReports.


In May, Apple submitted an application for an experimental license to test wireless technology on millimeter wave spectrum bands. Millimeter wave bands provide higher bandwidth and throughput up to 10Gb/s, but they are limited by line of sight issues that can cause problems in dense urban areas.

An excerpt from Apple's application with the FCC:
Apple Inc. seeks to assess cellular link performance in direct path and multipath environments between base station transmitters and receivers using this spectrum. These assessments will provide engineering data relevant to the operation of devices on wireless carriers’ future 5G networks.
Apple intends to transmit from two fixed points located at Apple-controlled facilities in Cupertino, California, where it is headquartered, and nearby Milpitas, according to its FCC application. Apple said it anticipates that it will safely conduct its experiments for a period not to exceed 12 months.

Apple will use the 28 and 39 GHz bands, which were among those opened up by the FCC last year for the purpose of next-generation 5G broadband.

It’s not entirely clear why Apple is planning to test millimeter wave performance, but it will join the likes of Google, Facebook, and major U.S. cellular carriers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, who are testing 5G networks in preparation to deploy the next-generation technology in the coming years.

Apple could perhaps be preparing its future iPhones to take advantage of 5G technology, or the company may have some other purpose in mind. The 28GHz band in particular has been earmarked for earth-to-space transmissions, an area Apple has been exploring based on recent hires with satellite expertise.

Tags: FCC, 5G

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Files FCC Application to Test Next-Generation 5G Wireless Technology

Apple is planning to test next-generation 5G wireless technologies, according to an application document filed with the FCC and discovered by Business Insider.

Apple applied for an experimental license to test wireless technology on millimeter wave spectrum bands. Millimeter wave bands provide higher bandwidth and throughput up to 10Gb/s, but are limited by line of sight issues that cause problems in dense urban areas.
"Apple Inc. seeks to assess cellular link performance in direct path and multipath environments between base station transmitters and receivers using this spectrum," Apple wrote in its application.

"These assessments will provide engineering data relevant to the operation of devices on wireless carriers’ future 5G networks," it continued.
Apple will test the technology in two locations in Milpitas and Cupertino over a period of time that is not expected to exceed 12 months, using equipment sourced from Rohde and Schwarz, A.H. Systems, and Analog Devices. Apple will use the 28 and 39 GHz bands, which were among those opened up by the FCC last year for the purpose of next-generation 5G broadband.

It’s not entirely clear why Apple is planning to test millimeter wave performance or the purpose behind the testing. Cellular carriers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile are currently testing 5G networks in preparation to deploy the next-generation technology in the coming years.

Apple could perhaps be preparing its future iPhones to take advantage of 5G technology, or the company may have some other purpose in mind. As Business Insider points out, the 28GHz band in particular could be of interest as it has been earmarked for earth-to-space transmissions, an area Apple has been exploring based on recent hires with satellite expertise.

Tags: FCC, 5G

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Files FCC Application to Test Next-Generation 5G Wireless Technology

Apple is planning to test next-generation 5G wireless technologies, according to an application document filed with the FCC and discovered by Business Insider.

Apple applied for an experimental license to test wireless technology on millimeter wave spectrum bands. Millimeter wave bands provide higher bandwidth and throughput up to 10Gb/s, but are limited by line of sight issues that cause problems in dense urban areas.
"Apple Inc. seeks to assess cellular link performance in direct path and multipath environments between base station transmitters and receivers using this spectrum," Apple wrote in its application.

"These assessments will provide engineering data relevant to the operation of devices on wireless carriers’ future 5G networks," it continued.
Apple will test the technology in two locations in Milpitas and Cupertino over a period of time that is not expected to exceed 12 months, using equipment sourced from Rohde and Schwarz, A.H. Systems, and Analog Devices. Apple will use the 28 and 39 GHz bands, which were among those opened up by the FCC last year for the purpose of next-generation 5G broadband.

It’s not entirely clear why Apple is planning to test millimeter wave performance or the purpose behind the testing. Cellular carriers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile are currently testing 5G networks in preparation to deploy the next-generation technology in the coming years.

Apple could perhaps be preparing its future iPhones to take advantage of 5G technology, or the company may have some other purpose in mind. As Business Insider points out, the 28GHz band in particular could be of interest as it has been earmarked for earth-to-space transmissions, an area Apple has been exploring based on recent hires with satellite expertise.

Tags: FCC, 5G

Discuss this article in our forums

FCC Chairman to End Plans to Allow In-Flight Cellphone Calls

Full smartphone use on commercial flights will continue to be disallowed, according to a proposal issued today by United States Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai. Pai wants to terminate 2013 proceedings that aimed to relax the rules prohibiting passengers from using their cellular phones for phone calls and data while in the air.

In a statement [PDF], Pai called the FCC's plan "ill-conceived" and said that tabling it permanently would be a "victory for Americans across the country."
"I stand with airline pilots, flight attendants, and America's flying public against the FCC's ill-conceived 2013 plan to allow people to make cellphone calls on planes. I do not believe that moving forward with this plan is in the public interest. Taking it off the table permanently will be a victory for Americans across the country who, like me, value a moment of quiet at 30,000 feet."
Back in late 2013, The FCC announced plans to introduce a proposal that would allow passengers to use their cellular phones on airplanes during flight for making phone calls and browsing the web. The proposal went forward, despite protests from flight attendants, airlines, consumer groups, and pilots, leading the Department of Transportation to announce plans to consider banning calls if the FCC approved the measure.

Since then, the FCC has been investigating the safety of allowing cellphone service on planes, and the proposal has not moved forward. With Pai aiming to nix it completely, it sounds like cellphone usage while in flight, including data usage for web browsing and making voice calls, will continue to be banned.

Under the FCC's existing rules, which were updated in 2013, passengers can use personal devices like iPhones and iPads throughout their flights, but cellular service must be disabled through Airplane Mode.

Tag: FCC

Discuss this article in our forums

FCC Chairman Encourages Activation of the FM Radio Chip Built Into Your iPhone

FCC chairman Ajit Pai has advocated for the activation of FM radio receivers built into nearly every smartphone, as part of opening remarks he made at the Future of Radio and Audio Symposium in Washington D.C. today.


Many smartphones sold today, including iPhones, have an FM receiver built into the LTE modem that would allow people to listen to FM radio over the air; however, many carriers and phone makers have not enabled the functionality, forcing users to use an app to stream FM radio over Wi-Fi or cellular data.

Pai cited a NAB study that found only 44% of the top-selling smartphones in the United States had activated FM receivers as of last year. The vast majority—94%—of the non-activated smartphones are iPhones, according to the study.


"We could be doing a lot better," said Pai, who was appointed as FCC chairman last month. "It seems odd that every day we hear about a new smartphone app that lets you do something innovative, yet these modern-day mobile miracles don’t enable a key function offered by a 1982 Sony Walkman."

The activation of FM receivers in iPhones would have several benefits, including battery life savings, less data usage, and most importantly, the ability to receive emergency alerts over radio without service.

"You could make a case for activating chips on public safety grounds alone," added Pai. "The former head of our Federal Emergency Management Administration has spoken out in support of this proposal. The FCC has an expert advisory panel on public safety issues that has also advocated enabling FM radio chips on smartphones."

Pai said that while he will keep speaking out about the benefits of activating FM receivers in smartphones, he is a believer in free markets and the rule of law, and he thereby cannot support a government mandate requiring activation of these chips, nor does he believe the FCC has the power to issue said mandate.

In 2015, an online campaign was launched to "free radio" on smartphones. It calls for U.S. carriers to activate the FM radio receivers in smartphones. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile now support the functionality, or will soon, on all or select Android-based smartphones. The campaign extends to Canada.

Apple's stance on the activation of FM receivers in iPhones, and whether it could do so with a simple iOS update, is uncertain. Some have said that iPhones would need another antenna, which may not fit, for proper FM signal reception. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tag: FCC

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Submits Third Model of Mystery ‘Wireless Device’ With Bluetooth and NFC to FCC

Apple recently submitted an unnamed "Wireless Device" to the FCC, a U.S. government agency that regulates communications, for the third time. The latest filing lists a model number of A1845, slotting in between A1844 in the first filing and A1846 in the second, but there are no new clues as to what the device could be.


Apple again requested permanent confidentiality for most of the documents in the filing, including photos, user manuals, and schematics, so the entry largely remains a mystery. Test reports completed by UL Verification Services reveal that, just like in the first two filings, the device has Bluetooth LE and NFC.

The model numbers A1844, A1845, and A1846 do not correspond to any existing Apple products. A regulatory label in the first filing showed the device has at least two slightly curved edges and two Torx screws, but Apple cropped the image in the second and third filings, likely to give fewer hints about its design.

When the original "Wireless Device" was uncovered, there was some speculation that it could perhaps be a new Apple TV, but the prominent and lengthy regulatory text etched directly on the device, including a wiring guide, would be uncharacteristic of Apple to include on the exterior of a consumer-facing product.

The more likely explanation is that the wireless device is for internal use. It is possible that the device in question is something that is used in retail Apple stores, such as a product display unit or iBeacon-based equipment used to communicate with customer iOS devices, which Apple has filed with the FCC in the past.

The FCC filing could remain a mystery until the device is released, and we may not ever know if it does end up being a product for internal use. But it's fun to speculate, with predictions ranging from Apple's rumored Siri-enabled speaker to a smart thermostat given the RS-485 control signals listed.

Tag: FCC

Discuss this article in our forums