Friday, October 14, 2022
Headlines Daily Digest
Biden-Harris Administration Awards $6.47 Million to Ohio in ‘Internet for All’ Planning Grants
Colorado Broadband Roadmap to Connect Colorado Households to High-Speed Internet
Sounding the Alarm: Disparities in Advertised Pricing for Fast, Reliable Broadband
State and Local
Stories From Abroad
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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 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 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
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.
© Benton Institute for Broadband & Society 2022. Redistribution of this email publication — both internally and externally — is encouraged if it includes this message. For subscribe/unsubscribe info email: headlines AT benton DOT org
Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
for Broadband & Society
1041 Ridge Rd, Unit 214
Wilmette, IL 60091
headlines AT benton DOT org
The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society All Rights Reserved © 2022