Daily Digest 10/13/2020 (Joe Leonard Morgan)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents


Kansas governor announces broadband projects, plan for future  |  Read below  |  Alec Gartner, Rebekah Chung  |  KSNT
While 10G is cable's future, better upstream speeds are its present  |  Read below  |  Mike Robuck  |  Fierce
Regional differences in residential demand for very high bandwidth broadband internet in 2025  |  Read below  |  Sonia Strube Martins, Christian Wernick  |  Research  |  Telecommunications Policy
Technological and geographic heterogeneity in broadband markets: The challenge for regulation  |  Read below  |  Kalyan Dasgupta, Theo Gibson, Mark Williams  |  Research  |  Telecommunications Policy
FCC Transitions Intercarrier Compensation to "Bill-and-Keep" to Increase Efficiencies in Call Routing and Reduce Incentives for  |  Federal Communications Commission
Order responding to Petitions for Review of Private Line Order re: USF Contributions  |  Federal Communications Commission
FCC Releases Circuit Capacity Data for US-International Submarine Cables as of Dec 31, 2019  |  Federal Communications Commission


The FCC Has Untapped Powers. The Next Administration Needs to Use Them  |  Read below  |  Daniel Hanley  |  Op-Ed  |  Washington Monthly
Government kept to the sidelines as Google got big. Now regulators have the chance to rein the company back in.  |  Washington Post
Feds may target Google’s Chrome browser for breakup  |  Politico


House Commerce Leaders Question Legality, Political Motivations Behind DoD's Inquiry Into Nationalized 5G Spectrum  |  Read below  |  Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA)  |  Letter  |  House Commerce Committee
Remarks Of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai At The 9th Annual Americas Spectrum Management Conference  |  Read below  |  FCC Chairman Ajit Pai  |  Speech  |  Federal Communications Commisson
Remarks Of FCC Chief Of Staff Matthew Berry At Spectrum Management Conference Panel On "Covid-19—What Impact And Lessons For The Spectrum Community?"  |  Read below  |  Matthew Berry  |  Speech  |  Federal Communications Commisson
Tech companies step up to bring free Wi-Fi to L.A. public housing residents  |  Read below  |  Sam Dean  |  Los Angeles Times
Cellphone Carriers Lobby Against Pentagon Plan for National 5G Network  |  Wall Street Journal
Auction Theorists Win the 2020 Nobel in Economics  |  New York Times
America Is Paying ‘Hyper-Overcharged’ Prices for Wireless: There Are No ‘Truly Unlimited’ Plans.  |  Bruce Kushnick


The Digital Divide Starts With a Laptop Shortage  |  Read below  |  Kellen Browning  |  New York Times
No Home, No Wi-Fi: Pandemic Adds to Strain on Poor College Students  |  Read below  |  Dan Levin  |  New York Times


Apple Does Not Need to Return Fortnite to App Store, Judge Rules  |  New York Times
Microsoft thumbs its nose at Apple with new “app fairness” policy  |  Read below  |  Kate Cox  |  Ars Technica, Microsoft
Facebook can't catch misinformation it's already identified as false, activist group says  |  CNN
Facebook Tweaked Its Rules, but You Can Still Target Voters  |  Wired
Facebook Bans Content Denying the Holocaust on Its Platforms  |  Wall Street Journal
Christopher Mims: ‘Too Complex to Break Up’ Is the New ‘Too Big to Fail’  |  Wall Street Journal
Op-ed: Google and Facebook Have a News Labeling Problem  |  Columbia Journalism Review
Does the House Antitrust Report Mean That Tech Is Evil?  |  Wired

Elections & Media

Cyber Command has sought to disrupt the world’s largest botnet, hoping to reduce its potential impact on the election  |  Washington Post
Microsoft seeks to disrupt Russian criminal botnet it fears could seek to sow confusion in the presidential election  |  Washington Post
Twitter flags, limits sharing on Trump tweet about being ‘immune’ to coronavirus  |  Vox
Twitter blocks retweets of misleading content from US election candidates  |  Financial Times
As Trump Flouts Safety Protocols, News Outlets Balk at Close Coverage  |  New York Times


Opinion: Trump’s continuing vandalism of the Voice of America  |  Washington Post


Silicon Valley is famously liberal. Then, investors and employees started clashing over race.  |  Washington Post
The numbers behind tech's big diversity gaps  |  Axios


Microsoft Lets Employees Work From Home Permanently  |  Wrap, The


Disney Elevates Streaming Business in Major Reorganization  |  Wall Street Journal


FCC Announces Axel Rodriguez as New Field Director  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission
The FCC's New Address  |  Read below  |  Marlene Dortch  |  Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission

Stories From Abroad

Pandemic Exposes Europe’s Creaking Internet for All to See  |  Read below  |  Chiara Albanese, Thomas Seal, Rodrigo Orihuela  |  Bloomberg
YouTube more representative of Britain than television, says company's UK boss  |  Guardian, The
Richard Tang: Zen and the art of internet maintenance  |  Financial Times
Pakistan, a Close Ally of China, Blocks TikTok  |  Wall Street Journal
EU regulators are drawing up list of tech companies that could face rules aimed at curbing their market power  |  Financial Times
Today's Top Stories


Kansas governor announces broadband projects, plan for future

Alec Gartner, Rebekah Chung  |  KSNT

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.

While 10G is cable's future, better upstream speeds are its present

Mike Robuck  |  Fierce

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.

Regional differences in residential demand for very high bandwidth broadband internet in 2025

Sonia Strube Martins, Christian Wernick  |  Research  |  Telecommunications Policy

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.

Technological and geographic heterogeneity in broadband markets: The challenge for regulation

Kalyan Dasgupta, Theo Gibson, Mark Williams  |  Research  |  Telecommunications Policy

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 FCC Has Untapped Powers. The Next Administration Needs to Use Them

Daniel Hanley  |  Op-Ed  |  Washington Monthly

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 Leaders Question Legality, Political Motivations Behind DoD's Inquiry Into Nationalized 5G Spectrum

Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA)  |  Letter  |  House Commerce Committee

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.

Remarks Of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai At The 9th Annual Americas Spectrum Management Conference

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai  |  Speech  |  Federal Communications Commisson

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. 

Remarks Of FCC Chief Of Staff Matthew Berry At Spectrum Management Conference Panel On "Covid-19—What Impact And Lessons For The Spectrum Community?"

Matthew Berry  |  Speech  |  Federal Communications Commisson

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.

Tech companies step up to bring free Wi-Fi to L.A. public housing residents

Sam Dean  |  Los Angeles Times

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.


The Digital Divide Starts With a Laptop Shortage

Kellen Browning  |  New York Times

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. 

No Home, No Wi-Fi: Pandemic Adds to Strain on Poor College Students

Dan Levin  |  New York Times

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 thumbs its nose at Apple with new “app fairness” policy

Kate Cox  |  Ars Technica, Microsoft

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 BasecampSpotify, 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. 


FCC Announces Axel Rodriguez as New Field Director

Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission

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 FCC's New Address

Marlene Dortch  |  Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications upcoming new address is:

45 L Street NE

Washington, DC 20554

Stories From Abroad

Pandemic Exposes Europe’s Creaking Internet for All to See

Chiara Albanese, Thomas Seal, Rodrigo Orihuela  |  Bloomberg

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.

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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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