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FCC moves on closing digital divide

first_img 0 Here’s everything that 5G can do for you 5:13 How to solve the rural broadband problem? Fix the maps FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, said that it’s important to get the funds allocated as soon as possible and that the agency couldn’t afford to wait for the new mapping plan to take effect. The new Rural Digital Opportunity Fund will essentially replace the Connect America Fund II auction for distributing USF money to rural carriers. The new fund will establish a two-phase reverse auction starting next year that will allow carriers to bid on the rights to use the funds to provide broadband and voice service in underserved high-cost areas, such as rural communities. The lowest bid wins the auction. Unlike the FCC’s Connect America Fund II auction, in which incumbent carriers got first dibs on deciding whether to serve a given area, the new fund will be available to any company, including cable providers or public utilities,  that propose building a broadband network. Fixing broadband mapsEven though the FCC is moving forward with the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund using existing broadband mapping criteria, the agency acknowledged its data collection program is flawed. And it voted to approve a long-awaited plan to improve the data it collects. Under the new proposal, broadband providers will be required to offer more detailed information on where they provide coverage and where they do not. The idea is to create a new map that will offer more “precise broadband service availability maps,” Pai said.The FCC’s current broadband maps have been widely criticized as inaccurate, showing broadband service in places where there isn’t and in other instances saying a location has no broadband when in fact it does, sometimes from multiple providers. We need maps before money. We need data before deployment. FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel Tags Now playing: Watch this: These faulty maps have infuriated lawmakers who have been flooded with complaints from constituents, but the lack of visibility has also hampered the FCC’s efforts to distribute limited funds to help bring broadband to the 19 million people in this country, who still lack access even as the service is considered as important as water or electricity.Under the new plan, broadband providers will have to report broadband access using “shapefiles,” which will provide a more precise and detailed measurement. The current data collection includes information reported at the census block level, which counts an entire area as served even if only one household reports having broadband access. “We will no longer count everyone in the census block as served if just one person is served,” Pai said.The FCC will also collect feedback from the public and other agencies to ensure that the information provided by service providers is accurate. The three Republican commissioners supported the plan, but the two Democrats partially dissented. Rosenworcel said that the new proposal was a first step and that the agency still has a long way to go to gain public trust in its broadband data accuracy. She noted concerns over how the agency will push broadband providers to report accurate data. The trade group USTelecom, which represents many of the providers offering broadband in rural communities, applauded the FCC’s new mechanism for allocating USF funds for rural broadband, and the agency’s efforts to get more accurate broadband mapping information. The organization worked with several other groups to launch a two-state pilot in Virginia and Missouri in March to demonstrate how the FCC can identify where broadband can be offered and to determine which areas still lack broadband access. The group said that initial results of this study confirm the FCC’s assessment that its current process shows “serious discrepancies” in coverage. “Logically, in order for us (and the FCC) to declare mission accomplished [in closing the digital divide], we need to know which consumers do, and do not, have access to broadband,” Patrick Halley, senior vice president of advocacy and regulatory affairs for USTelecom, said in a blog post on Wednesday. “As the Commission’s draft data collection item acknowledges, the agency’s existing broadband availability data is ‘not sufficient to understanding where universal service support should be targeted and supporting the imperative of our broadband-deployment policy goals.'”Microsoft’s chief data analytics officer, John Kahan, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday that he is encouraged that many of the suggestions the FCC has considered mirrors those proposed by the company. Microsoft is working with USTelecom on its pilot program, too. But he acknowledged more work is needed to close the digital divide.  “Based on our data, about half of all Americans are not using the internet at broadband speeds at home,” he said. “This digital divide should be seen for the national crisis it is — without equal access to connectivity, we cannot provide equal opportunities to all Americans.”Other FCC mattersThe FCC also voted on several other items at the August meeting. One big one was the approval of new rules to go after illegal robocallers based overseas. The rules extend the Truth in Caller ID Act to text messages or international calls as intended under the passage of Ray Baum’s Act last year.According to the FCC, that act gives it the authority to broaden bans on illegal spoofing to text messages, calls originating outside the US and calls using voice over IP. The Truth in Caller ID Act, passed in 2009, already prohibits misleading or inaccurate caller ID “spoofing” with the intent to defraud for domestic callers, the agency said. But it doesn’t apply to text messages or international calls. center_img Share your voice Mobile FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has traveled throughout the US talking to people about the digital divide in rural communities. On one of those trips, he met with farmers in Idaho. FCC The Republican-led Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to adopt a new mechanism for distributing subsidies to rural broadband providers. But Democrats want to see better data from a new broadband mapping effort first.At the agency’s August meeting, the FCC voted on two related items that commissioners say will help close the digital divide. First, the five-member commission unanimously voted to distribute more than $20 billion of Universal Service Fund subsidies over the next decade as part of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. It also adopted a long-awaited proposal to get more detailed information from broadband providers about where they offer service in order to improve the agency’s coverage maps. While the two items largely had bipartisan support, the two Democrat. They want more accurate mapping data before allocating any new funds to rural broadband providers. “The decisions we make now will direct funds for broadband for the next decade,” said Rosenworcel. “So choosing where those funds go for the next ten years without having accurate data is a real problem. … We need maps before money. We need data before deployment.” Post a comment 16 Photos FCClast_img read more

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Auto Expo 2014 Samsung And Tata Motors Join Hands to Offer InCar

first_imgSouth Korean tech giant Samsung and Indian car manufacturer Tata Motors entered into a new partnership to offer in-car infotainment systems in the Tata’s cars.The companies revealed their new alliance at the 12th edition of Delhi Auto Expo. According to a PTI report, Tata Motors would introduce cars with new infotainment system next year. Apparently, Tata is also looking at the possibility of introducing the new technology in the mid-range car segment along with the expensive cars.”We will introduce passenger cars in the market equipped with the technology within the next year,” Tata Motors Passengers Vehicles Unit President Ranjit Yadav told PTI, adding that “This is in our line of philosophy to offer new features to our customers to create differentiated products features that are relevant to the present and scalable for the future.”The new technology is based on Samsung’s Drive Link application on MirroLink technology, which would aid the user to access smart phones and tablets while driving. The app would also come in handy to navigate, answer calls and access internet inside the car.Samsung is also in tie up with the German auto major BMW to offer the same technology. “Samsung is also a mass market brand and this is a good partnership. Tis technology will provide connectivity to the user while on drive,” Samsung India Electronics Ltd, Head – Business and Enterprise Sameer Garde said.Previously, tech titan Apple had also launched a similar technology dubbed as “iOS in the car”.last_img read more

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Afghanistan flays Pakistan says linking Kashmir issue with peace talk is reckless

first_imgRoya Rahmani, Afghanistan ambassador to the USAfghanistan raised strong objections on Sunday against Pakistan for linking the current situation in Kashmir with the ongoing Afghan peace talks and said it is “reckless, unwarranted and irresponsible”.Afghanistan’s ambassador to the US Roya Rahmani said in a statement: “Any such statements that link the evolving situation in Kashmir to the Afghan peace efforts are reckless, unwarranted and irresponsible.” Rahmani responded to the recent remark made by Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, Asad Majeed Khan, who said the Kashmir tensions “could potentially affect the Afghanistan peace process”.The Afghan diplomat said that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and slammed Khan’s remark as Pakistan’s “deliberate attempt to prolong the violence happening in Afghan soil.” She called Pakistan’s claim a “poor excuse” to justify its inaction against the Taliban to “avoid taking a decisive stance against the militant group”.The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan strongly questions the assertion made by Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Asad Majeed Khan, that the ongoing tensions in Kashmir could potentially affect Afghanistan’s peace process. pic.twitter.com/OASLSsZQ0x— Afghan Embassy DC (@Embassy_of_AFG) August 18, 2019Rahmani further detailed the cross border conflict between Pakistan and Afghanistan and condemned Pakistan-based, sanctioned and supported militant and terrorist groups that undermine Afghan security.She said Khan’s remarks were contrary to the “positive and constructive engagement Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had with Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on his recent visit to the country”.Washington is negotiating a deal with the Taliban regarding the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and a political agreement between the two sides to end the war in Afghanistan spanning 19-years.The talks are interweaved with several political tensions between the Taliban, Washington and Kabul government. The former US ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, is seeking a tri-state agreement with representative delegations from opposition leaders and civil society members.Tensions between the terror organisation and the Afghan government has made negotiations between them difficult as the Taliban condemns Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government and calls them a US puppet.last_img read more

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Trump admin suspends educational programs for migrant children

first_imgUS president Donald Trump. File photoThe Trump administration is suspending educational, legal and recreational programs for migrant children in its custody, saying an influx of children crossing the border without a parent or legal guardian was putting a “tremendous strain” on the resources of the agency tasked with housing them.The agency that houses migrant children – the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) – asked Congress for an additional $2.88 billion to increase shelter capacity, HHS spokeswoman Evelyn Stauffer said on Wednesday. ORR is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.ORR has instructed providers in its network to begin scaling back or stop providing services “that are not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety,” Stauffer said.On May 30, HHS official Mark Boss sent an email to providers in ORR’s network of shelters informing them costs budgeted for educational and recreational activities, including staff associated with those programs, were “unallowable costs” for any federal funds received after May 22.The email, which was seen by Reuters, was first reported by Reveal at the Center for Investigative Reporting.Border agents apprehended 11,507 unaccompanied children on the southwest border in May, an 80% increase from a year earlier, according to government data released on Wednesday.ORR’s system of shelters is currently running at 96% capacity, according to a HHS official who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the program.The provision of recreational and educational activities, such as English language lessons and sports, are required by a long-standing legal settlement, known as the Flores settlement, that lays out conditions under which migrant children can be kept.”If this administration goes forward with denying education, recreation and other unspecified ‘non-essential services’ they would be in flagrant violation of the Flores settlement and will face immediate legal action,” said Neha Desai, Director for Immigration at the National Center for Youth Law in Oakland and a Flores co-counsel.The Trump administration has repeatedly called on Congress to enact regulations that would override the settlement. It is also working on regulations on the length of time and conditions in which children can be detained.Congresswoman Rosa DeLaura from Connecticut, who chairs the House committee negotiating with ORR on supplemental funding, said in a statement that the Trump administration could not be given a blank check “when time and again it has failed to show it has these childrens’ best interests at heart.”Last week, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) placed limits on special legal protections for some migrant children who turn 18 or reunite with a parent or guardian before they file their asylum application.In a policy memo to all asylum officers dated May 31, USCIS official John Lafferty also empowered officials to request additional documents if they suspect an applicant is over 18 years old when they file their asylum application.last_img read more

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Houston Officials Reiterate They Will Not Ask About Immigration Status Create New

first_imgListen To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: Share X 00:00 /01:10 Al OrtizMayor Sylvester Turner (center) held a press conference at the Baker-Ripley Center, located in southwest Houston, to announce the creation of the Office of New Americans, which will Houston residents, especially immigrants and refugees, to access City services with more ease.The City of Houston is trying to clarify its stance on immigration amid the controversy over sanctuary cities.Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Monday the creation of the Office of New Americans to help Houston residents, especially immigrants and refugees, to access City services with more ease.The Mayor made the announcement during a press conference held at the Baker-Ripley Center, surrounded by City Council members Mike Laster and Robert Gallegos, as well as by other elected officials such as U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Texas State Senator Sylvia Garcia and representatives from several community organizations.Turner also said he is one of the Mayors who have asked President-elect Donald Trump to keep the Deferred Action program.Commonly known as DACA, it protects undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from deportation.“You don’t wanna lose that talent. You don’t wanna strip people away from their families, you don’t want to separate them,” the Mayor stressed.In the law enforcement front, the Houston Police Department (HPD) will maintain its policy of not asking the public about immigration status.“Police doubling as immigration officials would divert limited resources needed to prevent crimes, such as murder, robbery, sexual assault and to apprehend the criminals who commit them,” explained Recently named HPD Chief Art AcevedoTurner is also developing the so-called Welcoming Houston program, which will aim at improving the coordination between the City and community organizations to provide services to newcomers.During the press conference, a member of the public urged Turner to designate Houston as a sanctuary city, but the Mayor didn’t use that term.last_img read more

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