Daily Digest 11/10/2022 (FCC and VA)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents

Digital Equity

FCC Partners With The Department Of Veterans Affairs To Facilitate Veterans' Access To The Affordable Connectivity Program And Lifeline |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission
Benton Foundation
Philanthropy Builds Capacity So Equity Is at the Forefront of Broadband Infrastructure Dollars Spent in California  |  Read below  |  Adrianne Furniss  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society


CostQuest says NY locations missing from FCC broadband map a fraction of total count  |  Read below  |  Diana Goovaerts  |  Fierce


Lowndes County, Georgia, starts $40 million broadband project  |  Valdosta Daily Times


The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Fixed Wireless Dilemma  |  Read below  |  Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting


National Advertising Division finds Comcast wireless ads are misleading  |  Fierce


Smartphones Are Like Cars. So Why Don’t We Maintain Them?  |  New York Times


LeGeyt: NAB Wants FCC to Look at Regulating Streaming Video  |  Next TV

Platforms/Social Media

Elon Musk’s Twitter Did Not Perform at Its Best on Election Day  |  New York Times
Musk’s First Email to Twitter Staff Ends Remote Work, Warns “difficult times ahead”  |  Bloomberg
Fake Celebrity Twitter Accounts Get Verified, Confuse Everyone on First Day of Twitter Blue  |  Wrap, The
Twitter’s Moderation Boss Is an Unlikely Ally of Elon Musk  |  Wall Street Journal
On Twitter, Elon Musk Details His Plans for Twitter’s Business  |  New York Times
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg blames shoppers returning to stores in part for Meta’s economic woes  |  Washington Post
Tom Wheeler: Could Elon Musk grow to like regulation?  |  Brookings


Data Privacy Is Different for Gen Z  |  Morning Consult
California’s New Child Privacy Law Could Become National Standard  |  Stateline
Today's Top Stories

Digital Equity

FCC Partners With The Department Of Veterans Affairs To Facilitate Veterans' Access To The Affordable Connectivity And Lifeline Programs

Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission has launched a database connection with the Veterans Benefits Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, to make it easier for veterans to sign up for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and Lifeline. The connection will enable automatic eligibility verification of Veterans receiving qualifying pension benefits. Veterans who have their eligibility automatically determined by the FCC’s National Verifier will not need to submit additional eligibility documentation to enroll in the two programs. The FCC and Veterans Benefit Administration have an agreement for the automatic eligibility verification of Veterans receiving qualifying pension benefits who seek to apply for the FCC’s ACP and Lifeline programs.

Philanthropy Builds Capacity So Equity Is at the Forefront of Broadband Infrastructure Dollars Spent in California

Adrianne Furniss  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Building a critical mass of informed and organized community voices in the broadband policymaking arena to balance the historical presence of private industry is a long-term capacity challenge in California—and in other states. How do digital equity advocates make their voices heard during the rulemaking process for California’s $6 billion statewide broadband rollout? The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has new resources and authorities to be a partner to local governments and other agencies in closing the digital divide. Right now, the CPUC is determining specific applications and mechanisms for distributing state dollars for middle- and last-mile infrastructure and the loan loss program through regulatory rulemaking and eventually local implementation defined by those rules. The formal CPUC rulemaking process is a complex technical exercise favoring those voices most familiar with the intricacies of the broadband sector and how to engage the CPUC itself. To ensure that equity is at the forefront of how every broadband infrastructure dollar is spent in the state, a group of philanthropies created a pooled fund to address the immediate, midterm, and long-term needs of digital equity advocates and practitioners in California. Housed at the Michelson 20MM Foundation, the Digital Equity Pooled Fund—which has a minimum institutional commitment for participation and will grant dollars until December 31, 2024—is a collaboration between multiple funders who are focused on advancing digital equity in California.


CostQuest says NY locations missing from FCC broadband map a fraction of total count

Diana Goovaerts  |  Fierce

New York State’s broadband office recently made headlines when it revealed it found more than 31,000 locations missing from the foundational fabric the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is using to produce new broadband coverage maps. But while that figure might seem like a lot, a CostQuest representative said that number amounts to less than 1% of the state’s total location count. The FCC hired CostQuest to provide a map of all the serviceable locations in the country over which the agency could layer coverage data supplied by operators. By combining the two, the FCC is aiming to create a more accurate accounting of unserved locations in each state. The FCC unveiled an initial version of the fabric in September 2022 and opened the door for states, operators, and other interested parties to challenge it. New York State took it up on the offer, stating it found 31,798 locations missing from the CostQuest-supplied fabric. The state identified the locations by comparing data from its own broadband maps to the FCC data. All of the 31,000-plus locations which were missing were among the 138,598 locations listed as unserved on the state’s map. CostQuest VP Mike Wilson said the company couldn’t address whether the FCC would accept or reject New York’s challenge. But he noted the locations it identified represented “about 0.66% of the total of more than 4.7 million locations” it counted in the state for the first version of the fabric. Wilson explained this figure falls “in line with what we would expect as a potential error rate” for the initial fabric. He added, “Version 2 and future versions of the Fabric will bring continual improvements."


The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Fixed Wireless Dilemma

Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

I’m working with a number of rural counties that are trying to come to grips with the long-term implications of Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) awards in their counties going to internet service providers' (ISP) that plan to deliver broadband using fixed wireless technology. Most of them are not sure what to make of the situation for the following reasons:

  • First, the big worry about the RDOF award winners is that the Federal Communication Commission gave RDOF winners a relaxed construction obligation compared to most other grants. An RDOF recipient has six years to build the full broadband solution – meaning some folks won’t see a solution until 2027 or 2028. 
  • There is a concern that the FCC has a poor history of follow-through with subsidy awards, such as the many locations that were slated to get Connect America Fund II (CAF II) upgrades that don’t seem to have been upgraded – with no apparent reaction or consequences from the FCC. The fear is RDOF winners will cherry-pick the easiest areas and not bother with the rest and some folks will never get served.
  • Another concern is that, in many cases, the RDOF awards were given in counties where there are one or more local ISPs willing to build fiber with grant assistance. These counties feel that the FCC snatched away a fiber solution instead of putting the RDOF awards on hold. The concern several of them have expressed is the sustainability of fixed wireless. They’ve all heard that wireless technology has a shelf life of perhaps seven years, and they worry if the RDOF winners are going to be willing and able to pay for upgrades ten or eleven times during the rest of the century.
  • Finally, the ISPs in these counties are dismayed at what can best be described as the checkerboard way that the RDOF was awarded. The RDOF award areas are rarely nice contiguous service areas but are scattered pockets of Census blocks. ISPs can see that it is going to be extra challenging to find other grant funding to bring a solution to other areas. In many cases, they’ll have to spend their own money to build across RDOF areas in order to create a coherent fiber network.

Some counties are concerned that the RDOF winners have not reached out to them to discuss these concerns and to convey their plans for bringing the promised faster broadband. I know that many of these awards were just made this summer, but there has been sufficient time for the RDOF winners to have met with local officials to convey their plans.

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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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