US Customs and Border Protection racked up a win late last month, according to its most recent press release. On August 31st, the agency seized 2,000 counterfeit "Apple Airpod Earbuds" destined for Nevada at New York's JFK International Airport. The only problem: those are OnePlus Buds, as you can see in the poor images DHS provided.
Despite all the carrier-infused hype, we're still in the early days of 5G in the US. A crux for the new network is that it currently mostly only works on extremely low or extremely high frequencies, so it's either barely faster than 4G or super-fast, but hardly able to penetrate walls. The federal government seems to recognize this issue, as it has announced that it will hand over a portion of previously military-exclusive midband frequencies to the FCC, which should help carriers create both more robust and faster 5G networks.
U.S. President Donald Trump will reportedly sign an executive order as early as today that would modify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — a critical law that protects online platforms that moderate or censor offensive content from charges such as libel and First Amendment violations. The order appears tailored to hurt the largest platforms like Facebook and Twitter the most.
Congress has told voice service providers to shut down robocallers and instate call blocking by default. The FCC has mandated just the same. Now, 12 voice service providers have agreed to a series of principles drawn by attorneys general from all 50 states and the District of Columbia that include offering that call blocking to consumers for free, implementing STIR/SHAKEN across their networks, and cooperating in investigations.
Huawei is being given another 90-day reprieve by the U.S. government, following the Temporary General License (TGL) issued back in May. That provides the company with three more months to continue purchasing goods from U.S. companies. While this extension might sound like a step towards dropping the Entity List import/export ban for good, the government is clear that the extra few months are merely meant to "afford consumers across America the necessary time to transition away from Huawei equipment."
After years of back-and-forth boardroom negotiations, handshakes with government officials, a failure along the way, and many doses of hard bargaining, Sprint and T-Mobile are on track to merge and form a wireless carrier with a total of 137 million subscribers. The Department of Justice recently greenlit the deal, all we're waiting for now is the FCC vote. Today, the countdown has begun as commission chairman Ajit Pai announced his support for the combination.
The White House has announced that it will split its next round of tariffs on Chinese imports into two parts. The first part, which will mostly affect farming, livestock, and foodstuffs, will come into effect as previously scheduled on September 1. However, in a bid to perhaps offset a major blow to Chinese industry during the holiday season, a number of items — including electronics such as smartphones and laptops — will not have tariffs applied until December 15.
Huawei and its U.S.-based suppliers remain on eggshells as the Trump administration has yet to issue special permits allowing domestic companies to ship product to the Chinese tech manufacturer — this is going on as Huawei's temporary reprieve from an Commerce Department import ban is headed into its last week. Now, there's word from Bloomberg's sources that the White House is stalling on approving the permits.
Beyond the political luggage generated in the midst of the protracted U.S.-China trade dispute, the American import ban that Huawei has to deal with is laden with doubt from tech critics who chide D.C. with inhibiting innovation in mobile phones. Lest we forget, though, that the Department of Justice is pursuing the Chinese tech behemoth for stealing trade secrets and fraud in relation to Iran sanctions breaches. Now, we're learning of leaked documents that tie Huawei to business conducted in another adversarial country: North Korea.