Cable TVThe Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is proposing rules requiring the installation of broadband infrastructure during construction of HUD-financed multi-family rentals, or apartments, recognizing the cost-savings when incorporated into the initial planning stages.  Building on its ConnectHome initiative to extend affordable broadband access to families living in HUD-assisted housing in 28 communities nationwide, HUD is seeking comments on a proposed rule that will require the installation of broadband infrastructure at the time of new construction or substantial rehabilitation of multi-family rental housing that is funded or supported by HUD.  The release of this proposed rule also follows more than a year of work since President Obama released the presidential memorandum, Expanding Broadband Deployment and Adoption by Addressing Regulatory Barriers and Encouraging Investment and Training, highlighting that “access to high-speed broadband is no longer a luxury, but it is a necessity for American families, businesses and consumers.”

Continue Reading Housing Department Proposes Rules Requiring Installation of Broadband Infrastructure in HUD-Financed Housing

Wi-Fi management or blocking practices have once again seized the enforcement spotlight at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  On November 2, the FCC released a Notice of Apparent Liability (Dean NAL) proposing  a $718,000 penalty against M.C. Dean, an electrical contracting company, for allegedly blocking Wi-Fi hotspots at the Baltimore Convention Center.  That same day, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau (Bureau) released an NAL proposing a $25,000 fine against Hilton Worldwide (Hilton NAL) for its apparent refusal to comply with a Bureau Letter of Inquiry (LOI) investigating the company’s Wi-Fi management practices.  That investigation continues.

The new releases highlight several items of interest: 1) the FCC’s continued focus on Wi-Fi management resulting in blocking activities and alleged malicious interference, 2) the debate among the Commissioners regarding the FCC’s ability to fine companies for such activities under current law and FCC regulations, and 3) the potential expansion of Bureau investigations into the activities of the subsidiaries, affiliates and possibly franchisees of the investigation’s initial target.


Continue Reading FCC Issues NAL in First Contested Enforcement Proceeding Involving Wi-Fi Blocking

On August 18, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a $750,000 settlement with Smart City Holdings, Inc.  (Smart City) to resolve an investigation into the company’s blocking consumer Wi-Fi hotspots at multiple convention center locations across the United States.  To settle the case, Smart City agreed to cease all Wi-Fi blocking, implement a compliance plan and pay a civil penalty.  This is the second time the Commission has imposed a large fine for Wi-Fi blocking at large venues.  Last year the agency reached a similar settlement with Marriott International, Inc.

Continue Reading FCC Issues Another Fine for Wi-Fi Blocking: Smart City Fined $750,000 for Blocking Mobile Hotspots

On October 3rd, the FCC announced a settlement with Marriott International, Inc. and Marriott Hotel Services, Inc. to resolve an investigation into the hotel operator’s use of a Wi-Fi monitoring and blocking system.  In the investigation, the Commission concluded that an operator cannot use such a system to prevent users from connecting to the Internet via their own personal Wi-Fi networks, rather than being limited to the hotel’s own Wi-Fi network, when these users did not pose a threat to the security of the hotel operator or its guests.  This consent decree reminds hotel operators and property owners, as well as other property owners that, while they may control the deployment of fixed radio stations on their property, they may not interfere with communications, including Internet wireless access, that occur on their property using mobile devices.  As part of the consent decree, the hotel operator agreed to pay $600,000 in “civil penalties” and to implement an extensive three-year compliance plan, with quarterly reporting, focusing on the hotel operator’s access point containment features at all of its U.S. properties, including properties owned and/or operated by the company.
Continue Reading More Enforcement Action at the FCC: Enforcement Bureau issues $600,000 Penalty for Wi-Fi Blocking

The Commission recently released its first update to the E-Rate Map of Fiber Connectivity which shows fiber deployment to America’s public schools and libraries.  The update comes just one week after the FCC issued a Public Notice encouraging E-rate stakeholders including states, districts, schools and libraries to submit connectivity data to the Commission.   Parties wishing

Almost two weeks after the FCC adopted new E-rate rules, the order became available to the public.  As we wrote earlier, the E-rate rules allocate a significant amount of new funding for wireless connections and further focus the program on improving broadband services in schools and libraries across the country.  With the Order out, we finally have some of the details that will affect applicant requests and service provider business models.  There is a lot of information packed into the 141 pages of text and rules, so here is a quick study guide, if you will:
Continue Reading E-rate Reform Order: The Study Guide

At its Open Meeting today, the Federal Communications Commission adopted new E-rate rules, despite strong objections from Commissioners Pai and O’Reilly.  As predicted, the new E-rate rules direct a significant, short-term boost of funding for wireless connections to schools and further focus E-rate funding on broadband services.  While the Chairman lauded the Commissioners for approving the new rules, Commissioners Pai and O’Reilly lamented the “missed opportunities” of the new rules, and making special mention of the lack of bipartisanship during the rulemaking process.  Among the dissenting Commissioners, Pai was most concerned with how the E-rate program would continue to receive funding, and repeated assertions that the Chairman intended to raise the E-rate cap later this year.  Commissioner O’Rielly asserted that there was “no long term plan” for the program and complained that many changes were “short-sighted.”

According to the Commission’s press release, the new E-rate rules will bring digital learning benefits to 10 million students across the country in 2015 alone.  The new rules also phase-out support for voice services and lower the maximum discount for schools from 90% to 80%, meaning that for every $1 that is spent by a school, $4 will be contributed by the USF.
Continue Reading FCC’s New E-Rate Rules Expose a “Digital Divide” Among Commissioners