Daily Digest 10/14/2022 (Broadband Pricing)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents


Biden-⁠Harris Administration Announces Action Plan to Accelerate Infrastructure  |  Read below  |  Public Notice  |  White House

Digital Equity

Sounding the Alarm: Disparities in Advertised Pricing for Fast, Reliable Broadband  |  Read below  |  Research  |  California Community Foundation
Anchor Institutions Play Key Role in Digital Literacy: Benton Senior Fellow  |  Read below  |  Sudha Reynolds  |  Broadband Breakfast

Broadband Funding

Biden-Harris Administration Awards $6.47 Million to Ohio in ‘Internet for All’ Planning Grants  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  National Telecommunications and Information Administration
Starry Defaults on Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Winning Bids  |  Read below  |  Joan Engebretson  |  telecompetitor
How to see if you qualify for discounted internet service  |  Washington Post
Cheri Beranek | Demystifying Speeds: Don't Get Fooled by "High-speed" Broadband  |  Newsweek

State and Local

Colorado Broadband Roadmap Details Five-Year Plan for Connecting Colorado Households to High-Speed Internet  |  Read below  |  Research  |  Colorado Governor's Office of Information Technology
Wisconsin struggles to get people to sign up for free internet  |  Read below  |  Rick Barrett  |  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
California Begins Construction on 10,000-mile Broadband Network to Bring High-Speed Internet Service to All  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  California Office of the Governor


Dish wants to conduct fixed wireless tests in 12 GHz band  |  Read below  |  Monica Alleven  |  Fierce
5G Cell Service Can Coexist With Planes, US Study Suggests  |  Bloomberg
Dish explores divestiture of Boost Mobile  |  Fierce


SpaceX says it can no longer pay for critical satellite services in Ukraine, asks Pentagon to pick up the tab  |  CNN
Amazon’s set to launch its prototype internet satellites in early 2023  |  Vox

Platforms/Social Media

Michael Hiltzik | The Supreme Court holds the internet’s fate in its hands, and you should be terrified  |  LA Times
Detailed targeting data from social media giant Meta offer a glimpse into America's deep political divide  |  Axios
How TikTok ate the internet  |  Washington Post


DigitalBridge CEO says immigration would ease telecommunications worker shortage  |  Read below  |  Linda Hardesty  |  Fierce


Justice Department, Federal Trade Commission and European Commission Hold U.S.-EU Joint Technology Competition Policy Dialogue  |  Department of Justice


Privacy Advocates Say New York City's Fix for the Digital Divide Is a Hyper-Surveillance Mess  |  Read below  |  Karl Bode  |  Vice


The Regulators of Facebook, Google and Amazon Also Invest in the Companies’ Stocks  |  Wall Street Journal
FTC Chair and Commissioners Issue Unanimous Joint Statement Regarding Agency Ethics  |  Federal Trade Commission

Stories From Abroad

China’s censors scrub the internet of evidence of a rare protest in central Beijing  |  Financial Times
Today's Top Stories


Biden-⁠Harris Administration Announces Action Plan to Accelerate Infrastructure

Public Notice  |  White House

The Biden-Harris Action Plan for Accelerating Infrastructure Projects describes federal actions to address these challenges accelerate the planning, design and construction of infrastructure projects across all sectors, including transportation, broadband, resiliency, and others. Organized by the themes of On Time, On Task and On Budget, the actions support more efficient processes, collaboration, sharing of best practices, targeted support to new recipients of federal funding, and focused efforts to root out the causes of delays and overruns. As part of this effort, The Department of Commerce (DOC) will initiate a Dig Once effort in cooperation with the Departments of Transportation and Energy. Dig Once entails interagency coordination on planning, design and construction to prevent multiple excavations for broadband, transportation and electrification projects. DOC will support state broadband offices to work with their counterparts in state energy and transportation departments to identify potential opportunities for project coordination. This effort will support the Federal Highway Administration’s December 2021 Broadband Infrastructure Deployment final rule that allows installation of broadband during road construction projects to minimize disruption and delay.

Digital Equity

Sounding the Alarm: Disparities in Advertised Pricing for Fast, Reliable Broadband

Over the last two years, in California and across the country, billions of public dollars have been allocated to end the digital divide. The Digital Equity LA coalition and the California Community Foundation (CCF) Digital Equity Initiative set out in this report to document what people are being asked to pay for home internet in diverse neighborhoods across Los Angeles County (CA). Pricing information was obtained directly from internet service provider (ISP) websites using residential addresses in each of the neighborhoods examined. The monopoly provider in much of LA County is Charter Communications, operating as Spectrum. Published pricing for Charter Spectrum service shows a clear and consistent pattern of the provider reserving its best offers - high speed at low cost - for the wealthiest neighborhoods in LA County. People who live in higher poverty neighborhoods are not only routinely offered slower service at higher prices, but are offered contracts with worse terms and conditions. For example, Charter Spectrum’s promotional offers - guaranteeing a period of time before prices will increase - are for two years in wealthy communities, but for just one year in high-poverty communities. Charter Spectrum's low-cost plans are not consistently advertised to households in high-poverty neighborhoods.

Anchor Institutions Play Key Role in Digital Literacy: Benton Senior Fellow

Sudha Reynolds  |  Broadband Breakfast

Anchor institutions should teach digital skills to low-income communities because they play a pivotal role in getting communities connected, said Senior Fellow at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society John Horrigan. According to Horrigan, skills training within communities is critically important to teaching digital skills and literacy, which will contribute to bridging the digital divide. Horrigan said anchor institutions – such as schools and libraries – can play a significant role to help communities get online and increase their digital knowledge. He said anchor institutions could provide resources for digital skills training and are more likely to be trusted to deliver a message to the public about items such as low-cost internet offers. People with low income typically lack digital skills and literacy and are generally not able to afford a digital device for their home, according to a 2021 study co-conducted by Horrigan, which found 31 percent of low-income communities tend to trust public libraries most. Only 23 percent of those surveyed had low levels of digital skills, according to the study. The study also found that 55 percent of people surveyed were not confident in their ability to use the internet or access government services.

Broadband Funding

Biden-Harris Administration Awards $6.47 Million to Ohio in ‘Internet for All’ Planning Grants

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that Ohio received its first planning grants for deploying high-speed Internet networks and developing digital skills training programs under the Biden-Harris Administration’s Internet for All initiative. Ohio is receiving $6,470,550.76 in funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to plan for the deployment and adoption of affordable, equitable, and reliable high-speed Internet throughout the state. All 50 US states and six territories applied for planning grant funding for the Internet for All initiative's Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program and the Digital Equity Act program. Ohio is the second state to receive both its BEAD and Digital Equity planning grant. Grant awards for all 56 eligible entities will be announced on a rolling basis. A bipartisan group of Ohio elected officials have offered their support for these grants. Visit here to read their statements.

Starry Defaults on Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Winning Bids

Joan Engebretson  |  telecompetitor

The Federal Communications Commission said it was ready to authorize Starry's winning Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) bids in eight states. However, the company has told the FCC that it plans to default on all its winning bids, including those in one additional state. Starry had a winning bid totaling about $269 million. The news of the default came in an FCC public notice that also listed some other companies that had informed the FCC of plans to default on at least a portion of their winning bids. Defaulting companies are subject to a base forfeiture of $3,000 per census block group, but that amount could be adjusted upward or downward. Starry’s bid was based on using a combination of fiber and fixed wireless to deliver speeds up to 1 Gbps. 

State and Local

Colorado Broadband Roadmap Details Five-Year Plan for Connecting Colorado Households to High-Speed Internet

Colorado’s five-year plan for investing millions of federal funding to expand fast, reliable, and affordable broadband across the state. The Roadmap was developed in coordination with the Colorado Digital Government Strategic Plan to ensure all Coloradans, as well as future generations, have equitable opportunities to access the countless benefits provided by high-speed internet. CBO encourages feedback on the Broadband Roadmap and will continue to travel throughout the state talking about affordability, accessibility, and digital literacy. The public will have an opportunity to submit feedback on the Roadmap from October 11 to November 22, 2022. Find the Broadband Roadmap plus a video overview and public comment form here.

Wisconsin struggles to get people to sign up for free internet

Rick Barrett  |  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

About half of the Milwaukee (WI) households eligible for low-cost internet service are now enrolled in a federal program that offers it, but statewide enrollment is only around 25% and the program’s barely been used in many communities, according to new figures. Even in Milwaukee, where the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) has been heavily promoted, thousands of eligible households haven’t signed up for the benefit that provides $30 a month toward the cost of internet service, also known as broadband. Moreover, when combined with a discount ACP price from Charter Spectrum, AT&T, and other service providers, the service would be free. The signup rate of eligible households in Wisconsin has ranged from under 1%, sometimes in rural communities that lack internet access, to more than 70% in Brown Deer in Milwaukee County. Statewide, the rate was 25% of 894,005 eligible households, according to the national nonprofit group EducationSuperHighway. That’s just above the national average of 24%, less than Michigan at 26%, but better than Minnesota at 16%, Iowa’s 13%, and Illinois, 20%.

California Begins Construction on 10,000-mile Broadband Network to Bring High-Speed Internet Service to All

Press Release  |  California Office of the Governor

On the heels of Gov Gavin Newsom (D-CA)’s $6.5 billion investment to expand broadband infrastructure and enhance internet access for unserved and underserved communities, the Governor announces construction began in rural San Diego County (CA) on the first leg of the 10,000-mile broadband network aimed at bringing high-speed internet services to all Californians. Construction began October 13 on State Route 67 near Poway in San Diego County. The planned network, which will be the nation’s largest, will cover the entire state to help bring reliable, high-speed internet access to the millions of Californians who do not have it now. Roughly one in five Californians do not have access to reliable and affordable high-speed internet. Once complete, funding for “last mile” efforts will support internet connections from “middle mile” lines to homes and businesses, as well as efforts to ensure individuals can afford broadband service where it already exists.


Dish wants to conduct fixed wireless tests in 12 GHz band

Monica Alleven  |  Fierce

Dish Wireless wants to conduct tests using the 12 GHz band to evaluate coexistence in the band – it’s just waiting for the FCC to say yea or nay. They have a working 12 GHz radio that they want to use as part of the demonstration and they’re now waiting for the FCC to act on the request, according to Jeff Blum, EVP of External and Legislative Affairs at Dish. Dish is leading the effort at the FCC to get the rules changed so that the 12 GHz band can be used for 5G; under current, decades-old rules, it’s not allowed. Dish was joined in a webinar with representatives from RS Access, Public Knowledge, Incompas and the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, where they made the case for why the 12 GHz band is ideal for 5G.  The 12.2-12.7 GHz band – not to be confused with the 12.7-13.25 GHz band that is on the FCC’s agenda for its October 27 meeting – is the subject of an FCC proceeding – one that SpaceX/Starlink argue should be shut down because they don’t want anyone messing with Starlink users that, they say, rely on the band. Yet Blum says, “We want to share this band. We don’t want to fight with Starlink or OneWeb or DirecTV.” Blum added that Dish thinks sharing is possible in the band.


DigitalBridge CEO says immigration would ease telecommunications worker shortage

Linda Hardesty  |  Fierce

DigitalBridge is an investment company, whose US assets include about 368,000 miles of fiber, about 250,000 macro cell sites and about 48,000 small cells. Globally, it owns nearly 450 data centers. It owns 29 companies around the world with a total of about 29,000 employees. CEO Marc Ganzi recently commented on the telecommunications labor shortage. “Our biggest problem, I can't get people back to work,” Ganzi said. “I can't get people to micro-trench ditches. I can't get people to climb poles. I can't get people to build cell towers fast enough. We have a massive labor shortage issue. Supply chains are correcting themselves, but our biggest challenge today is keeping up with customer demand.” And he talked about the usual solutions such as training more people and tapping veterans. But Ganzi was then pointedly asked a question that others seem too afraid to ask: Is it time to allow more immigration to the US? Ganzi said it’s not a popular idea, unfortunately. “Look, immigration can be good,” he said. “I mean, we've sourced a lot of great RF engineers from places like India and the Middle East where they're highly educated, they're vastly underpaid in their countries. Look: if Americans aren't going to take those jobs, then we need, you know, next woman up or next man up. I don't think our economy can sit and wait. We've had some of those challenges and immigration's one possible lever that we have.”


Privacy Advocates Say New York City's Fix for the Digital Divide Is a Hyper-Surveillance Mess

Karl Bode  |  Vice

Millions of dollars later, LinkNYC still hasn’t fixed the city’s stubborn digital divide or the privacy issues raised half a decade ago. LinkNYC, unveiled in 2014, was an ambitious plan to replace the city’s dated pay phones with “information kiosks” providing free public Wi-Fi, phone calls, device charging, and a tablet for access to city services, maps, and directions. The kiosks are funded by “context-aware” ads based on a variety of data collected from New Yorkers. Despite widespread criticism that the program failed to deliver on many of its original goals, the city is now expanding the project with new 5G kiosks, once again claiming the effort will deliver widespread, affordable broadband access to disadvantaged New Yorkers. The corporate consortium tasked with overseeing the project, CityBridge, originally promised to deploy more than 7,000 kiosks uniformly across all five boroughs. Instead, it sluggishly deployed roughly 1,900 kiosks, predominately in Manhattan, doubling down on the digital divide the program was intended to address. The LinkNYC privacy policy indicates kiosks collect MAC addresses, “general location” data, IP addresses, browser data, time zone settings, browser plug-in types and versions, operating system and platform information, and other “device identifiers.” While the policy says much of this data has been “anonymized,” where arguments state that the term is generally meaningless.

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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 Grace Tepper (grace AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.

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