Weekly output: telco rights commitments, Facebook cross-check, T-Mobile home 5G, content moderation politics, abandoned Twitter usernames (x2)

As you may have noticed, I did not go to Wallops Island, Va., this week to see a rocket launch, because Rocket Lab first delayed the first U.S. launch of its Electron Rocket from Dec. 9 to Dec. 13 to avoid forecast bad weather and then pushed it from Tuesday to Thursday because of an airspace-clearance issue. Unfortunately, the weather forecast for Thursday doesn’t look good either, so I fully expect this launch to slip once again.

12/5/2022: Global Telecom Companies Struggle to Deliver on Human-Rights Commitments, PCMag

I wrote up the latest report from Ranking Digital Rights, a project that grades tech and telecom companies on the commitments they make to uphold human rights and on how well they document their compliance with those commitments.

12/6/2022: Oversight Board: Facebook ‘Cross-Check’ System for VIPs Is ‘Flawed in Key Areas’, PCMag

Meta’s equivalent of a Supreme Court–a level of accountability that Twitter could desperately use now–issued a scathing report about Facebook and Instagram’s “cross-check” program adding an extra level of review for posts by VIP users.

Screenshot of the story as seen on Safari for iPadOS, illustrated with an artsy shot of a T-Mobile home 5G receiver12/7/2022: Here’s what T-Mobile has learned about stealing home broadband customers from Big Cable, Fast Company

I got an advance look at a report T-Mobile commissioned about its fixed-wireless service for homes, including some interesting details about how much data these subscribers have been using on this data-cap-free service.

12/9/2022: With or Without Elon, Social Media Content Moderation Is Still Complicated, PCMag

I thought writing up an hour-long panel at a conference hosted by the Center for Democracy and Technology would take an hour, tops. That was not the case.

12/9/2022: Twitter’s abandoned-accounts plan, Alhurra

This U.S. government-funded Arabic-language news channel had me on the first time since 2019 to discuss Elon Musk’s intention to reclaim 1.5 billion Twitter usernames that had been abandoned for an unstated number of years and let other people grab those handles.

12/9/2022: Elon Musk: Twitter to Put 1.5 Billion Abandoned Handles Up for Grabs, PCMag

Talking about this abandoned-accounts plan made me want to find out more about it, so I researched and wrote this post for PCMag–and along the way discovered, with a major assist from a reader, that the 1.5 billion number seems entirely plausible.

Weekly output: Starlink, spectrum coordination, flight delays (x2), T-Mobile and Verizon 5G home broadband, Mark Vena podcast

About one year later than I’d planned, I’m flying to Las Vegas Tuesday to cover the Black Hat information-security conference. Two big factors in my deciding to go ahead with that trip this year: My kid is now vaccinated and boosted, while I had Covid barely seven weeks ago.

8/2/2022: SpaceX’s Starlink has soared, but a course correction may be on the horizon, Fast Company

More weeks ago than I’d like to admit, one of my editors asked if I could do a more in-depth look at the progress of SpaceX’s Starlink low-Earth-orbit broadband constellation. A day after this piece ran, Reddit’s ever-informative r/starlink served up new evidence of capacity issues at this service: a new rate plan in France that cuts the monthly rate in half but imposes a 250 GB threshold for possible speed deprioritization.

8/2/2022: 2 Key Federal Telecom Agencies Promise to Play Nice With Wireless Spectrum, PCMag

Two federal offices about two miles apart in D.C. pledged to work better together in spectrum planning. That might seem like an obvious thing to do, but the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration last updated this memorandum of understanding in 2003.

Story as seen in Chrome on a Pixel 5a phone, showing its lead illustration: a photo of people waiting on line at an airport.8/3/2022: Don’t Get Stranded: How to Watch for Flight Delays and Get Around Them, PCMag

A discussion on PCMag’s Slack workspace about coping with travel hiccups led to me asking if I could write this story, and not just because I’d like to recoup my added travel costs from my unplanned extra night in Toronto in June.

8/3/2022: How Verizon ‘fixed wireless’ and T-Mobile home broadband is converting cable customers, USA Today

After a reality-check interview with an analyst who reminded me that fiber scales so much better to meet demand than fixed wireless can, this column on the progress of T-Mobile and Verizon’s 5G-based home broadband got a bit less enthusiastic about its potential.

8/4/2022: S02 E32 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

My main contribution to this discussion was talking about my Starlink story, but if you watch the video of the podcast you can also see me scowl at a Lightning cable.

8/5/2022: DOT Moves to Strengthen Rules on Refunds for Flight Changes, Cancellations, PCMag

Speaking of travel delays, I returned to the subject to cover a set of proposed Department of Transportation rules that would clarify what counts as a significant schedule change and a cancelled flight–and require either non-expiring trip credits or straight-up refunds for travel canceled because of a future pandemic.

Weekly output: pay-TV predictions, T-Mobile’s work-from-home bundle

I try to space out the posts here so the blog doesn’t go too many days without an update. Since I write these weekly-output posts on Sundays, in an ideal blogging universe I’d publish each week’s other, less self-promotional post around mid-week. In this imperfect and stressed world, however, I often wind up not getting that second post up until Saturday. And this week, the non-weekly-output post went up Sunday afternoon–because as I rushed to finish writing that ode to two good newsletters Saturday evening, I forgot that the Block Editor here has a confirmation dialog you need to click through before a post gets published.

3/2/2021: Analyst Report: The Pay-TV Bundle Looks Even More Doomed—And Streaming Won’t Save It, Forbes

I wrote up a MoffettNathanson report with grim predictions for pay-TV bundles.

Screenshot of story as seen in an Android phone's Chrome browser.3/5/2021: T-Mobile wants your employer to give you home-office wireless broadband, Fast Company

T-Mobile’s announcement of a new bundle of services for larger government and business customers to buy for their working-from-afar employees glossed over a lot of details. I failed to fill in the blanks about the speeds of the upcoming Home Office Internet 4G/5G service that leads off T-Mobile’s “WFX” offering, but I did manage to document how extensively this fixed-wireless connectivity can block services not obviously related to people’s work. As in, the list of sites cut off by default includes Netflix and Amazon and even T-Mobile’s own T-Vision streaming-TV app.