Tuesday, October 13, 2020
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Gov Laura Kelly (D-KS) announced that 49 million dollars is being sent out to Kansas communities to provide or improve access to the internet. As the coronavirus crisis has highlighted the need for better internet access across the state, government officials are hoping the expansion project will help more Kansans get connected. The money is part of more than $1 billion in CARES Act funding that state leaders had to decide how to spend. There are 67 projects. One is $5.9 million to help a group of underserved cities in Southwest Kansas, including Plains, Fowler, and Meade. Another project is a $500,000 grant to provide fiber connectivity at the Garden City International Airport.
As a whole, the cable industry's upstream held up well during the Covid-19 pandemic, but with the increased use of video conferencing and other tools associated with work-from-home and online learning, cable operators need to accelerate their efforts on expanding the upstream according to CommScope CTO Tom Cloonan. "In the upstream, we've seen that it's grown by about 25% over what it was in February," Cloonan said. "So that's a big jump. That's just a massive, sudden, big jump that nobody had anticipated." Overall, most cable operators were able to adjust their configurations, node splits, and node segmentations during the March-to-April timeframe, but Cloonan said Covid-19 accelerated their plans to do mid-splits at 85MHz and high-splits to 204MHz for their upstreams. Currently, most cable operators have a return band of 5 MHz to 42 MHz on the upstream.
The future demand for data and the role of gigabit networks are central issues in the context of Next Generation Access (NGA) network roll-out. Based on a generic model, which allows to predict unconstrained future broadband demand in different regions and countries, the authors compare the results for Germany, the UK and the Flemish region, and discuss reasons for the different outcomes. The generic market potential model thereby allows to project the future demand for bandwidth from residential customers on the basis of applications and their bandwidth needs, user profiles and population structure on a household level. Despite a general trend towards an increasing need for broadband, there are clear differences. On the one hand, these point to the relevance of socio-demographic factors for broadband adoption. On the other hand, the relatively high proportion of refusals shows that there is still a need for further educational work on the part of public authorities and providers. Finally, it has to be stated, that our forecast relies on the assumption that connectivity and thus that the availability of area-wide gigabit capable broadband access does not represent a bottleneck.
When the telecommunications industry was liberalised in Europe and North America in the 1980s and 1990s, it inherited a legacy of monopoly providers whose footprint was national or multi-regional in its character. The regulatory framework, particularly that adopted in EU member states, reflected this pattern of relatively homogeneous deployment achieved, in part, by decades of cross-subsidised pricing and universal service goals. Perhaps because of this legacy, telecommunications regulators have often adopted the presumption that relevant markets are national in character, unless proven otherwise Although geographically-variegated regulatory remedies have been permitted (even in the face of allegedly national relevant markets) and adopted in many member states, many regulators have never done so, and overly cautious thresholds for permitting geographically based forbearance suggest a continued bias towards presuming national markets and remedies. We find that this presumption of uniformity and the tendency to aggregate geographic markets together is not supported by first principles of antitrust analysis, although there may have been strong practical reasons to apply this presumption in the past circumstances of the telecommunications and broadband industries. On the ground, however, there has arguably never been as much heterogeneity across geographies and across technological solutions that provide effective ultra-fast broadband speeds.
The next administration should revitalize the Federal Communications Commission and use its dormant regulations to break up monopolies in the telecommunications industry. The FCC once used its mandate to regulate abusive and exclusionary behavior by fostering a fair and competitive marketplace that serves the public interest. Between 1934 to 1975, the FCC implemented some of the most progressive anti-monopoly policies in our nation’s history. Although monopolies blight the current communications landscape, the wave of litigation against them is an encouraging sign. The antitrust report released by the House Antitrust Subcommittee also signals a new anti-monopoly commitment by lawmakers…The FCC has the ability to restructure consolidated telecommunications markets, without Congressional intervention. The agency has routinely been granted by courts a powerful affirmation to reinterpret their controlling statute, as was shown in the numerous cases concerning net neutrality. A new administration can nominate commissioners to enact new structural regulations to rein in and break up concentrated corporate. Fundamental change is possible.
[Daniel A. Hanley is a Policy Analyst at the Open Markets Institute]
House Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Communications Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA) launched an inquiry into the Department of Defense’s (DoD) apparent moves to own and operate a national 5G network and lease federal spectrum for commercial purposes. The inquiry comes after DoD released a Request for Information (RFI) that seeks input from industry on these topics, and multiple press reports that the timing of the RFI could be politically motivated. The lawmakers wrote to both the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) expressing their concern and requesting information.
In their letter to the NTIA, the two Committee leaders wrote that they fear DoD’s RFI represents an attempt to usurp NTIA’s authority. They also point out that two of the questions DoD asks in its RFI – how DoD can “own and operate 5G networks for its domestic operations,” and whether DoD “should consider spectrum leasing as an alternative to reallocation” – demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of the law. The Chairmen wrote that no government agency owns spectrum, and they question the Trump Administration’s political motives for making such inquiries. In their letter to GAO, the lawmakers express similar concerns, writing that any attempt by DoD to construct, operate or maintain a commercial communications network or lease government spectrum to commercial entities without the express permission of Congress could be unlawful. They have requested that GAO conduct a complete legal analysis.
The centerpiece of my 2018 remarks was the Federal Communications Commission Commission’s new 5G FAST plan. And when I say new, it was really new—as in, five days old. I had announced the plan at a White House Summit the previous Friday. Two years on, as we approach the end of my fourth year as FCC Chairman, we can take stock of how we’ve done when it comes to executing that plan.
The Federal Communications Commission has so far approved over 230 COVID-19 related Special Temporary Authorities (STAs). What has been the result? During the pandemic, we’ve been very pleased by the performance of our nation’s wireless networks. For example, according to Ookla, notwithstanding increased demand, in April average mobile broadband download speeds in the United States were actually faster than they were in February, before the pandemic hit, and they’ve gotten faster since. I believe that much of this success is due to the policies that we put in place well before the pandemic, market-based policies that encouraged investment in broadband networks and made it easier to deploy infrastructure. But making more spectrum available during the pandemic has also made a positive impact.
Nearly 9,000 residents of public housing in Los Angeles will receive free broadband internet access for the rest of the 2020-21 school year as part of a new partnership between the city, Microsoft, and the startup internet service provider Starry. Starting in early Nov, residents of the Jordan Downs, Nickerson Gardens and Imperial Courts housing projects in Watts and the Pueblo del Rio complex in Central Alameda will be able to sign up for the service. They join residents of the Mar Vista Gardens, who have had access since Aug. The new partnership comes as L.A. schoolchildren settle into another month of remote learning, and parents and public policymakers alike worry that lower-income students will be left even further behind as they struggle to keep up at home.
Millions of children are encountering all sorts of inconveniences that come with digital instruction during the coronavirus pandemic. But many students are facing a more basic challenge: They don’t have computers and can’t attend classes held online. A surge in worldwide demand by educators for low-cost laptops and Chromebooks — up to 41 percent higher than last year — has created monthslong shipment delays and pitted desperate schools against one another. Districts with deep pockets often win out, leaving poorer ones to give out printed assignments and wait until winter for new computers to arrive. That has frustrated students around the country, especially in rural areas and communities of color, which also often lack high-speed internet access and are most likely to be on the losing end of the digital divide.
Trapped between the financial hardships of the pandemic and the technological hurdles of online learning, the millions of low-income college students across America face mounting obstacles in their quests for higher education. Some have simply dropped out while others are left scrambling to find housing and internet access amid campus closures and job losses. The impact on struggling students can be seen most clearly at the nation’s roughly 1,400 community colleges, where nearly half of students start seeking degrees. Enrollment there declined by 8 percent this fall, compared with a 2.5 percent drop in undergraduate enrollment over all. Most community college students work and many are parents. Home internet access and computers are sometimes unaffordable for them.
Microsoft adopted a whole slew of "fairness principles" for its Windows app store. The list of principles does look like a decent set of guidelines for both consumers and developers—but it also looks a whole lot like Microsoft is taking the metaphorical ball, throwing it at Apple's face, and daring their iCompetitor to make the next move. The principles essentially promise that Windows will keep on doing what it already does with regard to app distribution, interoperability, payment systems, and everything else. Microsoft said explicitly that its principles draw on work by the Coalition for App Fairness, a trade group that came together in September to push for changes to the App Store policies. That coalition's founding members include companies such as Basecamp, Spotify, and Epic, all of whom have had extremely public fights with Apple over its policies in recent months. he developers who have challenged Apple argue that the company is doing the exact opposite of what Microsoft just promised to keep doing.
The Federal Communications Commission's Enforcement Bureau announced that Axel Rodriguez is the Commission’s new Field Director, leading the Bureau’s field office staff in its work combatting harmful interference to authorized uses of the airwaves, supporting restoration of communications after disasters, and investigating rule violations and other illegal activities. Field agents are the eyes and ears of the FCC across the country, and their work is crucial to ensuring that wireless communications operate as expected. Rodriguez took this position after having served since 2013 as a supervisor in the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology lab. Prior to joining the FCC, he worked as an electronics engineer for the Defense Information Systems Agency, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, and in the Army Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy branch. Rodriguez also has two decades of both active duty and reserve experience in the US military including as a cyber warfare officer, communications director, and battalion signal officer. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Lehigh University and master’s degrees in engineering and electrical engineering from the University of Maryland and George Washington University respectively. Rodriguez officially began work as field director late in September.
The Enforcement Bureau’s Field Director oversees 13 field offices. FCC field staff are responsible for on-the-ground investigations and engaging with those who may have violated the Commission’s rules.
The Federal Communications upcoming new address is:
45 L Street NE
Washington, DC 20554
Europe’s internet infrastructure is riddled with gaps and bottlenecks, exposed over the past seven months by surging hospital admissions to the rise of home working and explosion of e-commerce. Governments are now deciding how to intervene, after predicting the introduction of faster networks could lead to an annual benefit of 113 billion euros ($133 billion). Building more robust infrastructure would stimulate stricken economies and spur the growth of new industries. The UK risks losing 173 billion pounds ($223 billion) over the next decade if it falls behind on 5G, according to think tank the Centre for Policy Studies. The problem is, telecom companies aren’t ready to step up. Beset by low profitability and an exodus of investors, they’re struggling to fund even current rates of network investment, allowing southeast Asian nations and the US to pull ahead in the broadband speed race. So governments are starting to rethink whether consumers are best served by price wars and caps on investment returns that erode the profits companies need to invest in better services.
Benton (www.benton.org) provides the only free, reliable, and non-partisan daily digest that curates and distributes news related to universal broadband, while connecting communications, democracy, and public interest issues. Posted Monday through Friday, this service provides updates on important industry developments, policy issues, and other related news events. While the summaries are factually accurate, their sometimes informal tone may not always represent the tone of the original articles. Headlines are compiled by Kevin Taglang (headlines AT benton DOT org) and Robbie McBeath (rmcbeath AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.
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