AT&T FirstNet, Charter Privacy Suit, Frontier Expansion, and more

Internet Telecom Cable Service News

Here is your weekly news rewind of some of the Internet, cable TV, and ISP news highlights from around the US for the week of April 17, 2017:

The FirstNet Winner is: AT&T

FirstNet is a nationwide wireless broadband network designed to serve first responders, its creation will allow seamless communication between state and local emergency response departments. Last month, AT&T was awarded the contract by the federal government to build out the framework for the communications system, including the towers and antenna. The term of the contract AT&T signed with FirstNet is reported to be 25 years.

Charter Communications Sued for Privacy Violations

Despite promising that they don't sell users' data in response to all the privacy concerns recently in the news, Charter Communications has been hit with a class action lawsuit in St. Louis for doing exactly that. According to the St. Louis Record, based on data obtained from the Eastern District of Missouri court, in a complaint filed last week, a subscriber identified as “A. Michael” charged that between 2011 and 2013, Charter sold information such as names and addresses to unknown companies without his permission.
“The suit is meritless," Charter said in a statement. "Charter does not sell its customers’ personally identifiable information in any form.”
The plaintiffs are alleging that Charter violated Missouri’s Merchandising Practices Act. Michael claims he was not provided with a copy of Charter’s privacy policy, which is required under that law.

Google Conducts Confidential [redacted] Test

Google applied for a Special Temporary Authority (STA) from the FCC last week to conduct tests on some new-fangled prototype for something. The company is not saying what the prototype is, but they are testing it. The public version of the application reads something like this: “The Device consists of a [REDACTED] and a [REDACTED] to enable [REDACTED]. The Device utilizes [REDACTED] to enable [REDACTED], as needed and consistent with [REDACTED].”

Verizon Testing “Flying Cell Site”

On April 5th Verizon conducted another engineering flight test using a “flying cell site” equipped drone. Verizon didn’t share any specific results, but it’s an indication that the carrier is going ahead with testing the use of drones to supply an LTE network in the event that severe weather knocks out some of their cellular networks.
American Aerospace Technologies Inc. (AATI) piloted the 17-foot-long drone during the trial run at Woodbine Municipal Airport in Woodbine, New Jersey for the test. It is part of Verizon’s Airborne LTE Operations (ALO) program they have been working on the last few years. The idea is for Verizon’s 4G LTE network to be ready to help first responders and other emergency management personnel in disaster recovery efforts.

New Windows 10 Creators Update

The new Windows 10 “Creators Update” was released last week by Microsoft. It adds or updates a variety of features including:

  • Windows Defender Security Center - a dashboard that groups virus and threat protection programs
  • Game Mode – shifts hardware resources to enhance your gaming experience
  • Paint 3D – adds 3D image manipulation to Paint
  • Windows VR – includes Windows 10 Holographic Shell to support AR and VR
  • E-Books – makes e-books readable in Windows 10 Edge browser
  • VPN Support – streamlines VPN support
  • Surface Dial – new streamlined shortcuts for the Surface Dial

Frontier Expands in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona, and New Mexico

Frontier Communications expanded to almost 25,00 more homes recently. The expansion comes as part of a $331 million annual subsidy from the federal government.
The expansion includes:

  • 8000 additional households in Minnesota
  • 8500 additional households in Arizona and New Mexico
  • 8100 additional households in Wisconsin

The infrastructure expansion was made possible through assistance from the FCC’s Connect America Fund which helps bring faster speeds to Americans living in underserved rural areas.

Internet Content Providers like Net Neutrality

The Internet Association, recently met with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to ask him to keep the current Net Neutrality rules. The Internet Association is a lobbying group made up of Facebook, Amazon, Reddit, eBay, Google, Twitter, Yahoo and, well you get the idea. The association is made up of all the Internet content providers as opposed to the Internet Service Providers like Comcast, Charter, AT&T, and Verizon. The Internet Service Providers, on the other hand, would like the FCC to repeal the Net Neutrality rules enacted by the FCC under the Obama administration. In this go-round, it seems like Yahoo is on the content providers side, but we'll see if that changes after they are totally absorbed by Verizon, one of the largest Internet Service Providers in the country.