Robbie McBeath

Top 10 Broadband & Society Stories of 2019

High-Performance Broadband delivers opportunities and strengthens communities. In the Digital Age, open, affordable, robust broadband is the key to all of us reaching for — and achieving — the American Dream. But since the mid-1990s, the U.S. has struggled with a persistent dilemma called the digital divide — the unfortunate reality that for too many people, meaningful connectivity is out of reach.

A Preview of the FCC's July Open Meeting: Taking the "E" Out of EBS and TV

Perhaps the biggest news of the week was the agenda for the Federal Communications Commission's July 10 Open Meeting, which FCC Chairman Ajit Pai laid out in a blog post on June 18, 2019. I'm traveling to New York this week; below is a shorter-than-usual weekly that takes a look at how Chairman Pai plans to take education out of the Educational Broadband Service -- and broadcast television.

FCC Proposes Capping Fund Used to Close the Digital Divide

On Friday, May 31, the Federal Communications Commission launched a proceeding to seek comment on establishing an overall cap on the Universal Service Fund (USF). USF programs provide subsidies that make telecommunications and broadband services more available and affordable for millions of Americans. The NPRM asks a lot of questions over how to cap the programs. But a crucial one we ask: Does this NPRM actually move the U.S. closer to closing the digital divide?

House Commerce Democrats Propose $40 Billion for Broadband Buildout In Newest Version of Infrastructure Bill

The week was jam-packed with broadband news [Seriously, see the Quick Bits and Weekend Readsbelow]. There was an oversight hearing of the Federal Communications Commission, Rep.

Without the Right Spectrum, Is 5G All That?

Over the past few years, news of 5G – fifth generation wireless technologies – has grabbed too many headlines to count.

Can “Slapping ‘New and Improved’ on CAF” Close the Digital Divide?

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai joined President Donald Trump at the White House for an announcement about action to “ensure that America wins the race to 5G.” In addition to promoting fifth generation wireless technology, Chairman Pai announced a new $20 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund at the FCC. That sounds like a huge step forward for expanding rural broadband -- so why was it tacked on to the 5G news? 5G is really a fiber network with antennas at the end.

A Vortex of Problems with Big Tech

In the last Weekly Digest, I presented a retrospective of a major policy story from 2018: The democratic harms of “Big Tech.” This week, a polar vortex accompanied a vortex of more privacy abuses from Big Tech, and further concerns about the very bigness of Big Tech.

2018: A Turning Point for "Big Tech"

Earlier this month we examined how partisan division at the Federal Communications Commission impedes progress towards closing the digital divide. Now, we review another big telecom policy story from 2018: the democratic harms of “Big Tech”. In 2018, we got a better, but more disturbing, understanding of the size and influence of large technology companies (Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft), and particularly how social media platforms affect our democratic discourse and elections.

Elections Matter: Who’s Who in Telecommunications Policy in the 116th Congress

The 116th Congress is underway. In the background of a partial government shutdown, lawmakers are getting their committee assignments. At Benton, we keep a close eye on two key Congressional panels because of their jurisdiction over many telecommunications issues and oversight of the Federal Communications Commission: 1) the House Commerce Committee's Communications and Technology Subcommittee, and 2) the Senate Commerce Committee. Here's a look at some key telecom policymakers -- and their priorities -- in the 116th Congress. 

Takeaways From Attorney General Nominee Williams Barr's Confirmation Hearing

William Barr’s nomination as President Doanld Trump’s attorney general is in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which conducted a confirmation hearing Jan 15. Below are some key communications policy takeaways: