Vermont Sees Rural Broadband Service Expansions

    One of the ongoing issues in telecommunications is the way broadband should be extended to rural communities.

    Government funding is one approach. FairPoint has finished rural broadband projects in 25 Vermont communities with funding from the FCC’s Connect America Fund II (CAF II) rural broadband expansion program. The project will feature increased speeds to 4,500 locations. Some will have broadband for the first time, FierceTelecom says.

    Each upgraded site will have a minimum of 15 Megabit per second (Mbps) download speeds via digital subscriber line (DSL) technology. FairPoint accepted CAF-II funding in 2015. The company is being acquired by Consolidated Communications, which said that it will continue to participate in the program.

    Big Telcos Going for Unlicensed Spectrum

    The move of telecommunications to unlicensed spectrum will gather steam as operators add to 4G speeds and move into the 5G era, according to Light Reading. Three of the four large operators are employing the strategy. Verizon plans to use 5GHz LTE-Unlicensed in California, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas. T-Mobile US and AT&T plan tests in the 3.5GHz range. Unlicensed LTE will be deployed during LTE-Advanced upgrades via small base stations. The unlicensed spectrum is attractive because it is free.

    Verizon Asks for Test Extension

    Carrier use of that unlicensed spectrum is no slam dunk, however. Verizon has asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a special temporary authority (STA) to continue conducting LTE-U tests, says RCR Wireless.

    An earlier STA under which Verizon was operating six sites was set to expire last Sunday. The request, which was received on Saturday, sought an extension until October. Qualcomm is testing with Verizon and T-Mobile.

    The use of unlicensed spectrum for LTE and 5G is a contentious issue. That spectrum is already used by the Wi-Fi industry and indeed is one of the reasons that that sector has been so successful. The question lingering over the debate between the telephone company ecosystems on one side and the Wi-Fi players, led by the cable industry, on the other, is to what degree the objections are technical and to what extent they are tactical attempts to preclude competition.

    FCC Chairman Pai’s Listening Tour

    It’s been well established during the first three months of the Trump presidency that the FCC will roll back many, if not all, of the Open Internet Rules and related regulations. What isn’t clear yet is with what they will be replaced.

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has visited with executives from Facebook, Cisco, Oracle and Intel to try to figure that out. The New York Times suggests that Pai agrees with “the broad principles of net neutrality” but thinks that Obama-era moves went too far and that those goals can be achieved in other ways.

    It’s clear, however, that if he errs, he intends to do so on the side of cutting back on rules:

    He has abolished a proposal to open the cable box market and frozen a program for broadband subsidies for low-income households. On Thursday, he passed two actions that will ease pricing restrictions on telecom giants and give broadcast television companies greater latitude to bulk up through mergers.

    The question now is whether Pai is serious about listening to companies that back net neutrality or whether he wants to blunt criticism by appearing amenable to those positions.

    New IoT Device Malware Detected

    There’s always something new in the world of security, and the new thing is very rarely pleasant.

    In early April, security firm Radware spotted dangerous new malware called BrickerBot. The malware attacks Internet of Things (IoT) devices that are only secured by their default usernames and passwords, says ZDNet. When it finds such a device, it trashes the storage. This causes permanent denial-of-service (PDoS), also is known as bricking.

    This is another exploit that depends upon the ignorance or passivity of device owners to succeed.

    Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk is a long-time IT and telecom journalist. His coverage areas include the IoT, artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing LTE and 5G, SDN, NFV, net neutrality, municipal broadband, unified communications and business continuity/disaster recovery. Weinschenk has written about wireless and phone companies, cable operators and their vendor ecosystems. He also has written about alternative energy and runs a website, The Daily Music Break, as a hobby.

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