Diana Goovaerts

USDA Admin Berke talks broadband demand, Farm Bill, and ReConnect program

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a major hand in broadband matters. The agency's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) is responsible for overseeing a number of rural broadband funding programs, including the well-known multi-billion-dollar ReConnect loan and grant initiative. Andrew Berke has only recently taken the reigns as RUS Administrator, having been appointed by President Biden in October 2022.

Could the 2023 Farm Bill deliver even more broadband funding?

Congress already allocated $65 billion for broadband in 2021 via the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), but as negotiations over the 2023 Farm Bill get underway some are angling for even more cash to boost rural broadband. According to the Congressional Research Service, the Farm Bill is a sprawling piece of legislation covering agricultural and food programs that are revisited every five years or so. The last Farm Bill was passed in late 2018, meaning it is up for renewal in the back half of 2023.

WISPA says NTIA BEAD rules could lead to $8.6B waste

Time is running out for wireless internet service providers (WISPs) to change the government’s mind about unlicensed spectrum. With pressure mounting, Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) CEO David Zumwalt sent a fresh letter to the head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) warning its current rules could lead to $8.6 billion in broadband subsidy money being spent on areas that are already covered by fixed wireless access services using unlicensed airwaves.

FCC broadband map challenges near 350,000 as deadline looms

States have already submitted more than 300,000 location challenges since the Federal Communications Commission opened the door for them to request corrections to its new and improved broadband map. But as a deadline for availability challenges looms, some states said they’ve encountered issues with the submission process. The FCC said that while individual challenges are visible on its broadband map interface, it is not reporting aggregate figures about the challenges it has received. More than 344,000 challenges have been filed between nine states.

Lumos drops $100 Milliion to expand its fiber network into South Carolina

Lumos is looking to enter its third state as the operator works toward a goal of reaching 1 million fiber passings by 2026. Specifically, it’s planning to spend $100 million to build out 1,200 miles of infrastructure in South Carolina, focusing on the Columbia metro region. The company’s fiber is already available to around 200,000 locations across North Carolina and Virginia. CEO Brian Stading plans to finish overbuilding its legacy ILEC footprint with fiber by early 2023 and thereafter expand into new communities both within the two states and elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic region.

What’s going on with Verizon’s One Fiber project?

Verizon’s One Fiber Build dates back to 2016, when the operator decided it would rather own than lease the fiber running to its cell towers. The logic was that the same transport network could be used for wireless towers, residential broadband, and business services. Verizon’s messaging around its One Fiber build has been – to put it kindly – a bit messy. Back in June 2021, President of Global Networks and Technology Kyle Malady said Verizon was 80% finished with core construction on its new sprawling backbone.

Blair Levin: Sohn’s FCC odds improve with new Congress, but there’s a catch

The third time might be the charm for [Senior Fellow and Public Advocate at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society] Gigi Sohn. New Street Research analyst Blair Levin predicted Sohn will once again be approved by the Senate Commerce Committee “relatively quickly.” If Sohn does finally make it to the Federal Communications Commission, Levin said she could help advance action on issues like net neutrality, digital discrimination, and spectrum.

Here's why the definition of a 'passing' matters for broadband grants

What counts as a fiber passing, anyway? It seems the answer varies slightly by operator, though most consider a passing to be any location which can be connected to fiber running along the main road. A Consolidated representative said passings are locations that are in “close proximity” to its network.

States, courts – not Congress or the FCC – could rule telecom policy in 2023

Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will have plenty of telecommunications issues on their plate as the country heads into 2023. Tax breaks for grant funding; ReConnect reform; Pole attachment problems; and perhaps even net neutrality – again. But New Street Research’s Blair Levin said a handful of truly pressing policy issues appear poised to be decided by the states and courts. According to Levin, a recent ruling by the Supreme Court in the West Virginia v.

Q&A: Senator Thune on his new broadband oversight effort

Senator John Thune (R-SD) is no stranger to broadband issues. The senator previously served as Chairman for the Senate Commerce Committee and today helps oversee the telecom industry as the ranking member on the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband. Sen Thune launched a new broadband oversight effort, sending letters to more than 30 industry associations including CTIA, NTCA, NCTA, and WIA, public interest groups, and free market advocates seeking feedback on the current state of broadband regulation. What prompted it?