Friday, October 27, 2023
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The Kansas Office of Broadband Development’s goal is to ensure that no Kansan is left behind in the digital world. Kansas's draft Digital Equity Strategic Plan outlines specific strategies and objectives to achieve this goal, including digital skills training, affordable service plans, and broadband-ready devices as top priorities. The plan also emphasizes the transformative power of technology, which can positively impact various areas such as healthcare, education and civic engagement. The state is accepting public comments on the draft digital equity plan until November 2, 2023. The state's vision for digital equity: Ensure all Kansans can enjoy their universal rights to education, healthcare, employment, social services, and participation in the digital economy at home. These rights hinge on equitable access to quality and reliable high-speed broadband at affordable prices, the training required to support digital skills, and the devices and sustainable technical assistance needed to strive and thrive across the entire state.
The upside to the House GOP’s 22 days of paralysis is that the election of Speaker Mike Johnson offers a reset. That ought to mean a fresh approach to the spending battle, one based on a powerful rallying cry that too many Republicans have forgotten: “priorities.” The White House is offering the perfect assist, having shipped to Congress the past week a $106 billion supplemental appropriation request for Ukraine, Israel and the border, followed by a separate demand for $56 billion in fictitious “emergency” spending—which it hopes gets wrapped together. Dollars to defeat Russian and Iranian aggression are necessary. Yet with $33 trillion in debt, there is no room for both guns and butter. If President Biden intends to backstop two foreign wars, the obvious concession is a substantive reduction of domestic spending. According to the White House, it is “critical” that the Federal Communications Commission get another $6 billion for the Affordable Connectivity Program, a fraud-racked Covid-era boondoggle that aimed to close the “digital divide” but has in reality blown $17 billion subsidizing the Netflix habits of people who already had high-speed broadband. Nary a dime of this is justifiable, which helpfully provides House Republicans the opportunity to draw new lines in the name of priorities. One step is to identify clearly and toss out any provision that doesn’t truly count as emergency spending or directly relate to Ukraine or Israel. Another is to make clear that Democrats will be required to make choices, and that money to counter growing international threats will require the White House and Senate Democrats to swallow even deeper cuts in upcoming appropriations bills than those in the spring debt-ceiling deal.
The open access fiber network business model consists of a network operator who builds, manages and owns the fiber network and multiple ISPs who sell wholesale access to the network and resell it to residential and business customers. The ISPs are responsible for all the customer acquisition and support costs/activities, while the network operator is responsible for network operations. This type of shared network model is very popular in Europe largely because regulators have mandated it to level the competitive playing field. By mandating a shared network approach, regulators lowered the entry barriers, enabling a wider range of ISPs to enter the market. In the U.S., the open access network model has yet to catch on, but that appears to be changing. US regulators do not require the likes of Comcast, Verizon or AT&T to open up their broadband networks to third party ISPs. In addition to the lack of regulatory mandates, U.S. operators have had little reason to launch an open access business to overbuild an existing DSL (digital subscriber line over telephone lines) market with a new DSL network. Now that fiber technology has arrived in scale, it is now starting to make sense for companies to leverage the technology and build open access networks where the incumbent network is DSL, and to a lesser extent, hybrid fiber-coaxial cable.
Competitive Carriers Association CEO Tim Donovan said he’s encouraged by the White House’s request to Congress to fill the $3 billion gap in the Federal Communications Commission’s Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program, aka “Rip and Replace.” But it’s critical that the funding gets allocated ASAP, he added. Of course, when legislation actually clears both the House and Senate is anyone’s guess. The Senate Appropriations Committee has a hearing scheduled on Oct 31 to review the administration’s national security supplemental request. Donovan said he’s hopeful something will pass in 2023. “We’re going to continue our outreach with the administration and Congress to continue to press the case on just how urgent and important it is that this funding be made available,” Donovan said. “It’s a national security issue, and we’re on the clock.”
Comcast reported results for the third quarter (Q3) ended September 30, 2023. The company reported the domestic broadband average rate per customer increased by 3.9 percent and drove domestic broadband revenue growth of 3.8 percent. Fierce reported that Comcast continued to lose broadband subscribers in the third quarter, with executives predicting slightly higher losses for Q4. However, the company touted an uptick in broadband average revenue per user (ARPU). Domestic broadband net losses were 18,000, a slight sequential improvement from 19,000 losses in Q2 but a sharp decline from the 19,000 net additions in Q3 2022. Total domestic wireless line net additions were 294,000 and total domestic video customer net losses were 490,000. As for passings, Comcast in Q3 reached over 62 million homes and businesses passed, representing a 1.5 percent year-on-year increase.
Verizon Communications reported third-quarter results and raised its free cash flow guidance for 2023. The company's performance was highlighted by continued wireless service revenue growth, total broadband net additions, and improving profitability. Total broadband net additions of 434,000, representing the fourth consecutive quarter that Verizon reported more than 400,000 broadband net additions. Total broadband net additions included 384,000 fixed wireless net additions, an increase of 42,000 fixed wireless net additions from third-quarter 2022. Verizon now has approximately 10.3 million total broadband subscribers, including nearly 2.7 million subscribers on its fixed wireless service. Verizon reported 72,000 Fios Internet net additions, an increase from 61,000 Fios Internet net additions in third-quarter 2022.
Oct 29––The CyberShare Summit (NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association)
Oct 30––Alerting Security Roundtable (FCC)
Oct 30––Tribal Business of Broadband (Institute for Local Self-Reliance)
Oct 31––The Future of Private Networks (New America)
Nov 1––Truth, Trust, and Democracy: Leadership in the Information Ecosystem (Shorenstein Center)
Nov 2-3––Michigan Broadband Summit (Merit Network)
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), Grace Tepper (grace AT benton DOT org), and David L. Clay II (dclay AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.
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