Daily Digest 10/28/2022 (News From the FCC Meeting)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents

Digital Inclusion

Chairman Pallone Demands Answers From Internet Providers On Reports of Anti-Consumer Practices In Broadband Affordability Programs  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  House Commerce Committee
CBO Scores Small Business Broadband and Emerging Information Technology Enhancement Act of 2022  |  Read below  |  Research  |  Congressional Budget Office
Estimating participation in the Affordable Connectivity Program  |  Read below  |  Hernan Galperin  |  Research  |  University of Southern California
Leverage Libraries to Achieve Digital Equity for All  |  Read below  |  Michelle Frisque  |  Analysis  |  American Libraries Association


Restricting FCC Mapping Data  |  Read below  |  Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

State/Local Initiatives

Benton Foundation
Illinois Seeks Public Support for Broadband Plan  |  Read below  |  Kevin Taglang  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Wisconsin could receive up to $1.2 Billion to expand broadband coverage where service is lacking  |  Read below  |  Danielle Kaeding  |  Wisconsin Public Radio
Benton Foundation
Vermont's Community-Based Broadband Solutions Get a Boost from American Rescue Plan  |  Read below  |  Kevin Taglang  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Washington County (PA) to expand internet connections to 5,000 homes, schools, businesses  |  Read below  |  Kris Mamula  |  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


SpaceX, Amazon, and FCC Leaders Discuss Satellite Spectrum Rulemaking  |  Via Satellite

Social Media/Platforms/Content

Big Tech is failing to fight election lies, civil rights groups charge  |  Washington Post
Elon Musk Says Twitter Won’t Be ‘Free-for-All Hellscape,’ Addressing Advertisers’ Concerns  |  Wall Street Journal
Tech giants go to war with Apple  |  Axios
The Washington Post tried to get suppressed on TikTok. Here’s what happened.  |  Washington Post

Social media companies and common carrier status: a primer  |  Brookings

Emergency Communications

Attorney General James Urges FCC and the U.S. Wireless Industry to Expand Language Accessibility for Severe Weather Warnings  |  New York Office of the Attorney General


Cox Gigablast Advertising Claims Challenged – Some Upheld, Some Not  |  Read below  |  Joan Engebretson  |  telecompetitor


This chip transmits an internet’s worth of data every second  |  Read below  |  Pranshu Verma  |  Washington Post


Big Tech’s Dirty Supply Chains Undercut Climate Promises From HQ  |  Bloomberg


What do users want from their TV streaming? A new NPR/Ipsos poll has some answers  |  National Public Radio

News From the FCC Meeting

FCC to Further Strengthen Storm-Hardened Puerto Rico & USVI Networks  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission
FCC to Examine 12.7 GHz Band for Next-Gen Wireless  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission
FCC Proposes to Strengthen Security of Emergency Alert Systems  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission
FCC Seeks to Fill Challenging Gap in STIR/SHAKEN Robocall Defenses  |  Federal Communications Commission

Company News

Comcast Reports 3rd Quarter 2022 Results  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Comcast
Dish’s 5G network covers less than 30 percent of US population  |  Fierce
Verizon Turns Up Competitive Heat with 10 Year Price Guarantee for Home Internet  |  telecompetitor
Elon Musk Twitter Deal Completed, CEO and CFO Immediately Fired  |  Wall Street Journal
How Twitter Will Change as a Private Company  |  New York Times
What happens to your Twitter data when Elon takes over  |  Vox
Amazon Shares Skid on Weak Outlook Amid Recession Fears  |  Wall Street Journal
Facebook Parent Meta Shares Fall to New Multiyear Lows  |  Wall Street Journal
Apple Reports Record Revenue, Continuing Pandemic Streak  |  Wall Street Journal
T-Mobile’s Outlook Improves After Customer Gains Top Rivals  |  Wall Street Journal

News From Abroad

Russia threatens a retaliatory strike against US commercial satellites  |  Ars Technica
As Washington wavers on TikTok, Beijing exerts control  |  Washington Post
Today's Top Stories

Digital Inclusion

Chairman Pallone Demands Answers From Internet Providers On Reports of Anti-Consumer Practices In Broadband Affordability Programs

Press Release  |  House Commerce Committee

House Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) wrote to 13 internet service providers expressing deep concerns over reports of providers engaging in abusive, misleading, fraudulent, or otherwise predatory behaviors through the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The Chairman demanded answers from Altice USA, AT&T, Charter, Comcast, Cox Communications, Dish Network, Excess Wireless, Frontier, Lumen/CenturyLink, Maxsip, Q Link, T-Mobile, and Verizon. To assist with the Committee’s oversight of the EBB and ACP programs and ensure their continued success, Chairman Pallone requested a host of information, including:

  • The number of beneficiaries each company has enrolled;
  • Descriptions of the process used to enroll new consumers;
  • The number of complaints, and the nature of those complaints, each company has received regarding their administration of these programs;
  • The process each company uses to resolve complaints;
  • What awareness each company had of instances, if any, where the benefit was applied late resulting in erroneous consumer bills;
  • What, if any, prohibitions the companies have put into place on upselling; and
  • What, if any, protections or training the companies have implemented to ensure the faithful application and administration of these programs?

CBO Scores Small Business Broadband and Emerging Information Technology Enhancement Act of 2022

Research  |  Congressional Budget Office

The Small Business Broadband and Emerging Information Technology Enhancement Act of 2022 (S. 3906) would require the Small Business Administration to hire a coordinator for and train employees on broadband and emerging information technologies and to complete a study and report to Congress. The act also would require small business development centers to help entrepreneurs access broadband and other emerging information technologies. CBO estimates that enacting S. 3906 would not affect direct spending or revenues. CBO has not estimated the discretionary costs of implementing the legislation. The legislation contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

Estimating participation in the Affordable Connectivity Program

Hernan Galperin  |  Research  |  University of Southern California

How can policymakers best estimate Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) eligibility and participation rates? The key finding here is that using 200% of the Federal Poverty Level as the only eligibility criteria significantly undercounts eligible households and therefore inflates participation rates. Further, the undercount varies significantly across states (which we hypothesize is linked to whether states expanded Medicaid eligibility after 2010). At the same time, more accurate eligibility estimations are only possible at the (Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMA) level, resulting in significant loss in geographical granularity in the analysis of ACP participation, since Universal Service Administrative Company reports data at the zip code level. The research thus proposes the use of an adjustment factor to better approximate the true number of ACP-eligible households at the zip5 level.

Leverage Libraries to Achieve Digital Equity for All

Michelle Frisque  |  Analysis  |  American Libraries Association

New federal programs and resources through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act  provide an unprecedented opportunity to build on the existing infrastructure and expertise of our nation’s libraries to inform state digital equity plans and accelerate broadband adoption and skills building for all nationwide. Libraries provide:

  • Reach with a physical presence in communities of all sizes, as well as in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, military bases, and more that provide high-speed internet access, computers, specialty software applications, central meeting spaces, and trusted hubs for information and community referrals for people across diverse backgrounds and interests;
  • Expertise and resources with trained staff experienced in tackling digital equity gaps, boosting literacies and digital skills needed to survive and thrive in today’s networked world, and developing collections and resources relevant to local needs; and
  • Sustainable, flexible collaboration ranging from digital equity coalitions to state workforce development plans to telehealth collaborations that strengthen networks and support sustainability.

These assets align with the goals of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and must be leveraged as part of upcoming state planning efforts, as well as efforts to boost awareness of and enrollment in the Affordable Connectivity Program. Not only do library staff have deep experience enabling digital access and skills building, they have a proven track record of stewarding public funding to successfully meet the needs of local residents of all ages and backgrounds.

[Michelle Frisque is a broadband consultant for the American Library Association]


Restricting FCC Mapping Data

Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

The Federal Communications Commission rejected dozens of requests from broadband providers to keep confidential the method that the providers use to identify broadband coverage areas. This was prompted by the FCC requiring each provider to explain to the agency how it determined broadband coverage areas in the latest round of gathering data for the FCC broadband maps. Several dozen broadband providers then asked the FCC to keep those responses confidential, with most providers arguing that the method of how customers are counted reveals proprietary data about the broadband providers' networks. The FCC rejected all such arguments and commented that the public needs to know how customers and coverage areas are determined if there is to be any meaningful review and challenge of the FCC mapping data. The FCC is referring to the new mapping process as the Broadband Data Collection (BDC) initiative, and the mapping fabric, meaning the underlying data that supposedly shows the location of every building in the country where somebody could order broadband. All of this matters because the FCC has already started the process of allowing challenges to the mapping fabric. One of the biggest hurdles to the fabric challenge is that the FCC mapping fabric data is not widely available for the public to examine. The FCC mapping data is not being made available to the general public. This makes challenging the maps difficult for rural counties, which mostly don’t have the resources to take the time to understand, let alone challenge the maps. 

Keeping the data proprietary means that the general public can’t participate in this challenge. I can’t think of a single reason why this data isn’t available to everybody. But I can think of two reasons to keep the data restricted. First, this will tamp down on a raft of news articles talking about errors in the mapping fabric. The second reason is to give CostQuest the chance to monetize the process. In my opinion, these are both unacceptable ways to treat data that was created with taxpayer money.


Illinois Seeks Public Support for Broadband Plan

Kevin Taglang  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Back in April, Illinois enacted legislation, the Broadband Infrastructure Advancement Act (P.A. 102-0699), that requires overarching procedures to make use of coming federal monies to support broadband deployment projects. The new law requires the Illinois Office of Broadband to establish program eligibility and selection criteria by administrative rules for any grants for broadband deployment, broadband expansion, broadband access, broadband affordability, and broadband improvement projects. The administrative rules will establish programmatic information, including addressing application requirements and eligibility criteria. The Illinois Office of Broadband now seeks comment on its proposed rules that aim to create added certainty in advance of federal funding available to the state through the American Rescue Plan Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Comments in the proceeding are due Monday, November 21.

Wisconsin could receive up to $1.2 Billion to expand broadband coverage where service is lacking

Danielle Kaeding  |  Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin government and industry stakeholders met to discuss how the state can best spend up to $1.2 billion Wisconsin may receive for expanding high-speed internet. The funding comes as around 1.3 million people in Wisconsin still can’t access or afford broadband service. Around 650,000 residents lack access to high-speed internet or speeds of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. The Wisconsin Broadband Office also estimates another 650,000 people statewide can’t afford broadband. However, Wisconsin could receive anywhere from $700 million to $1.2 billion as part of grants available through the Broadband Equity, Access & Deployment (BEAD) program. Wisconsin’s share of funding will be based on Federal Communications Commission maps, which have been criticized for containing incomplete data. Until recently, the FCC has been collecting data on the number of people served by census blocks. If even one person had high-speed internet within a block, the entire census tract was considered to have access to broadband coverage. Wisconsin is also set to receive up to $30 million over the next five years under a state capacity grant program through the Digital Equity Act.

Vermont's Community-Based Broadband Solutions Get a Boost from American Rescue Plan

Kevin Taglang  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

The Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB) was established by Act 71 (2021), legislation relating to accelerated community broadband deployment, to coordinate, facilitate, support, and accelerate the development and implementation of universal community broadband solutions. The board develops policies and programs to accelerate community efforts that advance the state’s goal of achieving universal access to reliable, high-quality, affordable, fixed broadband achieving speeds of at least 100 Mbps symmetrical. On October 26, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the approval of over $90 million for broadband projects in the state of Vermont under the American Rescue Plan’s (ARPA) Capital Projects Fund (CPF). Vermont will use its funding to connect nearly 14,000 homes and businesses to affordable, high-speed internet. Vermont estimates the funds will connect 13,818 households and businesses—representing 22% of locations still lacking high-speed internet access. Vermont's broadband strategy focuses on funding the efforts of Communications Union Districts (CUDs), organizations of two or more towns that join together as municipal entities to build communication infrastructure together. Vermont’s award will fund the Vermont Community Broadband Construction Grant Program, a formula grant program that provides funding to communities for the construction of locally defined and prioritized broadband infrastructure projects through CUDs. The $90 million represents 80% of the state’s total allocation under the Capital Projects Fund program. Vermont submitted plans for the remaining 20% of funds and those plans are currently under review by Treasury.

Washington County (PA) to expand internet connections to 5,000 homes, schools, businesses

Kris Mamula  |  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Officials from Washington County (PA) are pressing ahead with an ambitious internet access expansion plan by earmarking up to $50 million to connect 5,000 homes, schools, and businesses. The project, which is the latest phase of a plan to connect all of the county, will unfold over six to nine months, leverage additional capital funds from vendors, and target poorly served areas for service, including the eight municipalities comprising the McGuffey School District, which is the most underserved school system in the county. Altogether, 700 miles of fiber optic cable will be strung in the latest phase, with at least 15 vendors receiving requests for proposals. At McGuffey School District, where nearly half the student body is economically disadvantaged and up to 80% of some communities are without an internet connection, Superintendent Andrew Oberg called broadband access “one of our generation’s great civil rights issue, the haves and have nots.” McGuffey school buses and vans, equipped with mobile internet hot spots, have parked at libraries, parks, and other public areas to allow residents to sign onto the internet for school work, Superintendent Oberg said. Of the total estimated $50 million for the Washington County project, $30 million has been allocated from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding that the county has received. Washington County is also seeking funding through the newly formed Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, which will be a broker in distributing the state’s share of $42.45 billion from the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program.


Cox Gigablast Advertising Claims Challenged – Some Upheld, Some Not

Joan Engebretson  |  telecompetitor

The National Advertising Division (NAD) of Better Business Bureau National Programs has upheld some claims made by Cox in television and radio advertising for its Gigablast internet service but has advised Cox to make changes to the advertisements. BBB National Programs is a non-profit organization that resolves disputes between advertisers. The decision came in response to a challenge from AT&T. In the ads, Cox states that it has gigabit available everywhere – a claim that NAD said is true throughout areas where the advertising has run. NAD also accepted Cox’s claim that less than half of AT&T Fiber customers have access to speeds of at least 1 Gbps because of the limited availability of AT&T services based on fiber-to-the-premises. NAD noted, however, that Cox upload speeds are only 35 Mbps and advised Cox to indicate that in its advertising. According to a press release, NAD noted that “consumers seeking gig-speed (or faster) internet services should understand both the upload and download speeds, particularly because the upload and download speeds are so different. Both upload and download speeds may be relevant to a consumer’s interest in gig-speed internet.”


This chip transmits an internet’s worth of data every second

Pranshu Verma  |  Washington Post

Scientists from universities in Sweden and Denmark transmitted nearly double an internet’s worth of data through a fiber optic cable in one second using a laser-powered chip — a world record. The chip achieved dizzying speeds by using a single laser and a specialized light-creating device to transmit data over fiber optic cables. The number of data researchers sent, roughly 1.84 petabytes, far exceeds the roughly 1 petabyte of data transmitted over the entire internet every second (A petabyte of data is roughly a million gigabytes). If commercialized, experts said, the chip could spark faster broadband speeds and computing power for consumers. Most notably, it would reduce the amount of energy it takes to run the internet, which accounts for roughly 10 percent of global electricity consumption and is growing. The chip tested by Scandinavian researchers would drastically help the amount of data the internet could transfer. The benefit is in the chip’s simple design. Along with a fiber optic cable that is specialized, but not incredibly hard to get, makes it possible for companies to use this method to transmit data in the future. However, the design is still in the research phase and could take years to become mainstream.

News From the FCC Meeting

FCC to Further Strengthen Storm-Hardened Puerto Rico & USVI Networks

Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission proposed a plan to extend certain Universal Service Fund support to eligible mobile and fixed carriers in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands to ensure consumers have access to advanced telecommunications services in the face of hurricanes and other natural disasters. With the effects of Hurricane Fiona clearly evident, the proposal seeks to build on the FCC’s Bringing Puerto Rico Together Fund and the Connect USVI Fund and continue support for the restoration, hardening, and expansion of resilient communications networks on the islands. Without FCC action, some of the existing support is scheduled to end starting in June 2023. The Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comment on a plan providing transitional support for strengthening and hardening the networks on the islands to withstand storm damage and have redundant capabilities. The Further Notice seeks comment on providing transitional support for current mobile support recipients for up to 24 months following the end of Stage 2 support in June 2023, or until a long-term mobile funding mechanism is created. For fixed broadband network providers, the item proposes to extend phase-down support that is scheduled to end in June 2023 for providers who were not awarded long-term competitive support in a given area.

FCC to Examine 12.7 GHz Band for Next-Gen Wireless

Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission voted to launch a proceeding to explore repurposing up to 550 megahertz in the 12.7 to 13.25 GHz band (12.7 GHz band) for next-generation wireless services. The FCC expects that this inquiry is the first step in providing for more intensive use of the 12.7 GHz band, unlocking a significant expanse of valuable mid-band frequencies that may play a key role in delivering on the promise of next-generation wireless services, including 5G, 6G, and beyond. This new proceeding is the latest in a series of FCC initiatives to ensure that mid-band spectrum is available for current and future consumer and business wireless needs. Mid-band spectrum offers an ideal blend of capacity and coverage and can support faster speeds and wider coverage. The 12.7 GHz band is believed to be ideally suited for mobile broadband use as it is already allocated for terrestrial mobile services on a primary basis domestically. The Notice of Inquiry seeks information on how the FCC could encourage more efficient and intensive use of the 12.7 GHz band. Thus, the Notice of Inquiry asks about methodologies to promote coexistence or sharing between potential new entrants and existing users, whether some or all of the current incumbents should be relocated to provide a clean slate for more intensive use of some or all of the band, and about licensing approaches.

FCC Proposes to Strengthen Security of Emergency Alert Systems

Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission proposed rules to bolster the operational readiness and security of the nation’s public alert and warning systems, the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts. These systems warn the public about emergencies through alerts on their televisions, radios, and wireless phones. In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted, the FCC proposes to:

  • Protect against cyberattacks by requiring Emergency Alert System participants, such as broadcasters and cable providers, to report incidents of unauthorized access to their Emergency Alert System equipment to the Commission within 72 hours. This would allow the Commission to work with participants and other government agencies to resolve an equipment compromise before it is exploited to send false alerts.
  • Promote security by requiring Emergency Alert System participants and the wireless providers that deliver Wireless Emergency Alerts to annually certify that they have a cybersecurity risk management plan and implement sufficient security measures for their alerting systems.
  • Guard against false alerts by requiring participating wireless providers to transmit sufficient authentication information to ensure that only valid alerts are displayed on consumer devices.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking also seeks comment on the effectiveness of the agency’s current requirements for ensuring that Emergency Alert System equipment is ready to transmit alerts, and whether there are any alternative approaches that improve readiness

Company News

Comcast Reports 3rd Quarter 2022 Results

Press Release  |  Comcast

According to Comcast's 3rd quarter 2022 report results, Comcast delivered solid growth in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and adjusted earnings per share (EPS), generated significant free cash flow, invested in the businesses’ future, and returned a record amount of capital to our shareholders. In cable, the company grew adjusted EBITDA by more than 5% and achieved its highest adjusted EBITDA margin on record despite a challenging competitive environment. Additionally, Comcast experienced the following highlights in broadband:

  • Cable Communications total customer relationships of 34.4 million and total broadband customers of 32.2 million were consistent with the prior quarter and increased 0.9% and 1.5%, respectively, compared to the prior year period,
  • Cable Communications wireless customer line net additions were 333,000, the best quarterly result on record,
  • Cable Communications started rolling out multi-gig broadband speeds in markets across the US and will launch even faster, multi-gig symmetrical speeds beginning in 2023,
  • Total customer relationships increased by 145,000. Residential customer relationships increased by 121,000 and business customer relationships increased by 25,000,
  • Total broadband customer net additions were 277,000, total video customer net losses were 1.6 million and total voice customer net losses were 884,000. In addition, Cable Communications added 968,000 wireless lines in the current period.

Submit a Story

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

Kevin Taglang

Kevin Taglang
Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
Benton Institute
for Broadband & Society
1041 Ridge Rd, Unit 214
Wilmette, IL 60091
headlines AT benton DOT org

Share this edition:

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society All Rights Reserved © 2022