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Verizon fiber suffered “unprecedented” damage from Hurricane Michael

Enlarge / Vehicles sit partially submerged in floodwaters after Hurricane Michael hit in Panama City, Florida, US, on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg) Nearly 300,000 households were still without home Internet, phone, or TV service yesterday in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, as telcos scramble to repair networks damaged by Hurricane Michael . More than 200,000 of the households without cable or wireline service are in Florida, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Mobile service has also taken a big hit, with outages affecting about 15 percent of cell sites in the 21 Florida counties where the FCC is tracking hurricane-related outages. Carriers have made progress in reducing those outage numbers the past few days. Nearly 29 percent of tracked cell sites in Florida were out as of October 11, but the outage rate has been nearly cut in half since. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Ajit Pai’s 5G plans make it harder for small ISPs to deploy broadband

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaking at a press conference on October 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty Images | Mark Wilson ) The Federal Communications Commission is changing the rules for an upcoming spectrum auction in a way that will make it harder for small carriers to buy spectrum for deploying broadband. The change—requested by T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon—will help the big carriers deploy nationwide 5G networks, according to Chairman Ajit Pai's proposal. But the change will also make it harder for small companies to buy spectrum that could be used to fill broadband gaps in rural areas. In 2015, the Obama-era FCC set aside spectrum between 3550MHz and 3700MHz for a new Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) and ruled that 10MHz licenses would be auctioned off in individual Census tracts, which are small areas containing between 1,200 and 8,000 people each. Selling spectrum licenses in such small areas was meant to give small companies a shot at buying spectrum and deploying wireless broadband in underserved areas. Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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$50 a month for 1Mbps: How AT&T and Verizon rip off DSL customers

(credit: Aurich Lawson / Thinkstock) Tens of millions of people in the AT&T and Verizon service territories can only buy slow DSL Internet from the companies, yet they often have to pay the same price as fiber customers who get some of the fastest broadband speeds in the US. That's the conclusion of a new white paper written by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), a broadband advocacy group. AT&T has been charging $60 a month to DSL customers for service between 6 and 10Mbps downstream and 0.6Mbps to 1Mbps upstream, the white paper notes, citing AT&T's advertised prices from July 2018. AT&T also charges $60 a month for 50Mbps and 75Mbps download tiers and even for fiber service with symmetrical upload and download speeds of 100Mbps. These are the regular rates after first-year discounts end, before any extra fees and taxes. Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Comcast, Charter dominate US; telcos “abandoned rural America,” report says

(credit: Getty Images | jangeltun ) You already knew that home broadband competition is sorely lacking through much of the US, but a new report released today helps shed more light on Americans who have just one choice for high-speed Internet. Comcast is the only choice for 30 million Americans when it comes to broadband speeds of at least 25Mbps downstream and 3Mbps upstream, the report says. Charter Communications is the only choice for 38 million Americans. Combined, Comcast and Charter offer service in the majority of the US, with almost no overlap. Yet many Americans are even worse off, living in areas where DSL is the best option. AT&T, Verizon, and other telcos still provide only sub-broadband speeds over copper wires throughout huge parts of their territories. The telcos have mostly avoided upgrading their copper networks to fiber—except in areas where they face competition from cable companies. Read 25 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The Department of Justice isn’t done fighting the AT&T-Time Warner merger

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed to appeal a federal judge’s decision to approve AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner . Back when he was campaigning for the presidency, Donald Trump said his administration would block the deal , and indeed, the DOJ sued to stop the merger , arguing it would hurt competition. Last month, however, U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon ruled that the deal could move forward without conditions. He  said from the bench,  “The court has now spoken. … The defendants have won” — and  the deal closed later that week . In fact, we’re already starting to see some of the fallout, with AT&T’s reported plans for Time Warner-owned HBO  leading to a flurry of  worried headlines  in just the past couple days. The deal also seemed to set the stage for even more consolidation between telecom and media companies, leading Comcast to challenge Disney for ownership of Fox’s film and TV assets . (TechCrunch was already a very small part of this trend, since we’re owned by Verizon.) “The Court’s decision could hardly have been more thorough, fact-based, and well-reasoned,” said AT&T General Counsel David McAtee in a statement. “While the losing party in litigation always has the right to appeal if it wishes, we are surprised that the DOJ has chosen to do so under these circumstances. We are ready to defend the Court’s decision at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.”

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