Daily Digest 11/10/2023 (Elizabeth Therese Brennan)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents

Broadband Funding

Biden-⁠Harris Administration Celebrates Historic Progress in Rebuilding America Ahead of Two-Year Anniversary of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  White House
Sen Fetterman Advocates for More Effective Federal Broadband Access, Calls on FCC to Investigate Issues in Program  |  Read below  |  Sen John Fetterman (D-PA)  |  Letter  |  US Senate
More Than 21 Million Reasons Congress Needs to Act  |  Read below  |  Jennifer Prather  |  Editorial  |  USTelecom
Broadband Infrastructure Playbook 3.0  |  Read below  |  Analysis  |  Fiber Broadband Association, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association
How the FCC’s CAF II Program Became a Money Sink  |  Read below  |  Jake Neenan  |  Analysis  |  Broadband Breakfast

Digital Equity/Digital Discrimination

Black Churches Play a Key Role in Connecting Rural Communities to Broadband Internet  |  Read below  |  Adelle Banks, Yonat Shimron  |  Daily Yonder
Industry hints at possible legal challenges to Federal Communications Commission's digital discrimination rules  |  Read below  |  Nicole Ferarro  |  Light Reading

Broadband Speeds/Service

FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel Responds to Lawmakers Regarding Recent GAO Report  |  Read below  |  FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel  |  Letter  |  Federal Communications Commission
5 Terabyte+ Extreme Power Users Pose new Challenge to Broadband Networks  |  Read below  |  Research  |  OpenVault

Net Neutrality

FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel Responds to Members of Congress Regarding FCC Safeguarding and Securing the Open Internet Proceeding  |  Read below  |  FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel  |  Letter  |  Federal Communications Commission


Rep Hinson Introduces the Defend Our Networks Act  |  Read below  |  Rep Ashley Hinson (R-IA)  |  Press Release  |  House of Representatives


Benton Foundation
Fulfilling Oklahoma's Digital Promise  |  Read below  |  Grace Tepper  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Second Round of ROBIN Grant Recommendations  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Michigan High-Speed Internet Office
Superior (WI) City Council approves ordinance making broadband internet a public utility  |  Read below  |  Kenny Johnson  |  WDIO
Vexus Fiber is building 12,000 passings per month in LA, NM, TX  |  Read below  |  Masha Abarinova  |  Fierce
Lawmakers and residents rally against LinkNYC 5G kiosks  |  Read below  |  Justine Re  |  NY1

Now Open! Cities Ready for Infrastructure Partners  |  National League of Cities


Representative Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) Introduces Bill to Increase Transparency Online and Support Products Made in America  |  Read below  |  Representative Carlos Gimenez (R-FL)  |  Press Release  |  House of Representatives


Cable Company Speed Claims  |  Read below  |  Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting


Pathways Forward: Learnings and Takeaways in Digital Access  |  Read below  |  Cheri Coryea, Michael Zimmerman  |  Research  |  Patterson Foundation


Justice Department Secures $25 Million Landmark Agreement with Apple to Resolve Employment Discrimination Allegations Based on Citizenship Status  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Department of Justice


Google offered Netflix a sweetheart deal to pay just 10 percent on Google Play  |  Vox

Artificial Intelligence 

Sens Wyden (D-OR) and Crapo (R-ID) sent letters to three federal agencies probing into their use of artificial intelligence  |  nextgov

Microsoft Temporarily Blocked Internal Access to ChatGPT, Citing Data Concerns  |  Wall Street Journal

Can an AI Device Replace the Smartphone? Former Apple execs launch wearable Ai Pin that uses ChatGPT  |  Wall Street Journal

NSF and partners kick off the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource Pilot Program  |  National Science Foundation


The new Meta whistleblower adds to an uneven year for online safety laws  |  Vox

Sens Hawley, Paul clash on Senate floor over TikTok ban  |  Hill, The

Health & Media

Opinion | It’s Not Kids With the Cellphone Problem, It’s Parents  |  New York Times


OMB Finalizes Significant Overhaul in Federal Regulations  |  Read below  |  Jim Tankersley  |  New York Times


Sen Manchin announces he will not seek reelection to US Senate  |  Charleston Gazette-Mail

Sen Joe Manchin: Why I Won’t Be Seeking Re-Election to the Senate: Both parties have come under the domination of the extremes.  |  Wall Street Journal

Stories From Abroad

After big drop in Internet Service Provider competition, Canada mandates fiber-network sharing  |  Read below  |  Jon Brodkin  |  ars techncia

Google, Meta, TikTok defeat Austria’s plan to combat hate speech  |  Read below  |  Ashley Belanger  |  ars techncia

In Mexico, Surveillance Orders That Read Like a Political Power List  |  New York Times

President’s War Against ‘Fake News’ Raises Alarms in South Korea  |  New York Times

Meta Strikes Deal to Return to China After 14 Years  |  Wall Street Journal

Today's Top Stories

Biden-⁠Harris Administration Celebrates Historic Progress in Rebuilding America Ahead of Two-Year Anniversary of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

Press Release  |  White House

Two years ago, President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—a once-in-a-generation investment in America’s infrastructure and competitiveness. Since then, the Biden-Harris Administration has been breaking ground on projects to rebuild our roads and bridges, deliver clean and safe water, clean up legacy pollution, expand access to high-speed internet, and build a clean energy economy. Through his Investing in America agenda, a core pillar of Bidenomics, President Biden is delivering an “Infrastructure Decade” that is unlocking access to economic opportunity, creating good-paying jobs, boosting domestic manufacturing, and growing America’s economy from the middle up and bottom out – not the top-down. The Administration has already enabled more than 21 million low-income households to access free or discounted high-speed internet service through the Affordable Connectivity Program. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act invests $65 billion to help ensure that every American has access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet—regardless of their income, race, religion, or zip code. The Affordable Connectivity Program is already saving more than 21 million households up to $30 a month on their internet bills, and more households enroll every day. The Administration is urging Congress to provide additional funding for this program so that low-income seniors, students, and families can continue to receive free and discounted internet service through 2024. In June, the Biden-Harris Administration announced over $40 billion in funding allocations to each U.S. state, territory, and D.C. for affordable, reliable high-speed Internet infrastructure. This funding comes atop $1 billion for middle-mile infrastructure, which will build more than 12,000 miles of fiber across 250 counties, and $2 billion for rural high-speed internet, with 121 awards going to 36 states across the country. In Missouri, Michigan, and Mississippi, construction is already underway on projects funded by the Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program. These projects, funded with $28 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will connect 7,100 people, 660 farms, and 149 businesses directly to fiber networks. Commerce has also awarded 148 Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP) grants, totaling more than $886 million, and serving over 280 Tribal Governments, which will connect more than 65,000 Tribal households. Together, these investments mirror federal government’s historic investment in rural electrification during the 1930s, when the US connected nearly every home and farm in America to electricity and millions of families and our economy reaped the benefits.

Summary on Benton.org

Sen Fetterman Advocates for More Effective Federal Broadband Access, Calls on FCC to Investigate Issues in Program

Sen John Fetterman (D-PA)  |  Letter  |  US Senate

I write regarding reports from my home state—the commonwealth of Pennsylvania—of payment issues with the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). As my colleagues and I work to find long-term funding solutions for ACP, both the FCC and companies that administer and benefit from ACP must do right by Americans who rely on the it. I’ve heard from constituents across the commonwealth that some of these households have encountered issues receiving their benefits. Specifically, some service providers are requiring that users show proof of one month of service before qualifying for the discount. As a result, families are being forced to foot the bill of the first month—a cost that some can’t afford. This is wrong. ACP exists to cover these costs. If the providers force them to pay, it means the program is not living up to its original mission. With this concern in mind, please provide answers to the following questions:

  • Is the FCC aware of this issue?

  • Is the FCC currently investigating if this is happening and which service providers may be participating in this practice? And if not, does the FCC have plans to do so?

  • In the FCC’s interpretation, does this action violate statute authorizing ACP?

Summary on Benton.org

More Than 21 Million Reasons Congress Needs to Act

Jennifer Prather  |  Editorial  |  USTelecom

As the past few years have made clear, access to high-speed broadband is critical to daily life. While the biggest broadband provisions of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) focused on building physical broadband networks, legislators clearly understood all the infrastructure in the world would be meaningless if those struggling financially couldn’t afford connectivity. That’s why Congress created the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) as part of the IIJA, to make free or very low-cost broadband service possible to eligible households. Policymakers across the political spectrum widely tout the ACP as essential to ensuring that affordability does not impede connectivity. Yet the ACP funding level is now running dangerously low, with existing funds likely to be depleted early next year — more than 21 million households are counting on Congress to ensure their connectivity continues uninterrupted and that they’re not left on the wrong side of the digital divide. Congress should ensure that low-income households across the country can stay connected to these opportunities powered by broadband. In other words, Congress should make it clear that the ACP is a commitment Americans can count on and keep this important program funded.

[Totelcom Communications CEO Jennifer Prather also chairs USTelecom’s Leadership Committee.]

Summary on Benton.org

Broadband Infrastructure Playbook 3.0

Analysis  |  Fiber Broadband Association, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association

Playbook 3.0 combines four deep-dive modules that aim to help state broadband offices as they make decisions on key aspects of the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program and complete their initial proposals for NTIA review before a December 27 deadline. The Broadband Infrastructure Playbook 3.0 includes the following modules that offer solutions to some of the most challenging BEAD proposal requirements:

  • Permitting: Access to State and Local Rights-of-Way and Infrastructure

  • Achieving Digital Opportunity through BEAD Grants (Extremely High Cost per Location Threshold)

  • Broadband Mapping Challenge Processes

  • Cybersecurity and Supply Chain Risk Management Under the BEAD Program

Summary on Benton.org

Black Churches Play a Key Role in Connecting Rural Communities to Broadband Internet

Adelle Banks, Yonat Shimron  |  Daily Yonder

Early in the pandemic, Black churches often struggled to make the switch to remote services for lack of broadband in their area. Even if a church had the wherewithal to livestream services or hold meetings on video platforms, congregants lacked the connections to take advantage. A 2020 Pew Research Center study showed that while 92 percent of evangelical Christians and 86 percent of mainline Protestants could watch services online, only 73 percent of worshippers in the historically Black traditions said the same. Today in the rural South, 38 percent of Black households do not have access to broadband, compared with 23 percent of white households, according to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Black clergy and faith leaders in the rural South have been working for years to bridge the digital divide in their communities and congregations, and the Affordable Connectivity Program, a pandemic-era federal program, gave those efforts a boost by offering discounted internet access. But fewer than half of the estimated 49 million Americans who are eligible have enrolled, and now questions loom about the program’s long-term funding by Congress.  

Summary on Benton.org

How the FCC’s CAF II Program Became a Money Sink

Jake Neenan  |  Analysis  |  Broadband Breakfast

In the months before President Joe Biden signed the historic infrastructure law on November 15, 2021, Republicans and Democrats wrangled over how much to spend on broadband. Democratic lawmakers sought $100 billion, while their Republican counterparts countered with $65 billion. The final score was $65 billion, with $42.5 billion of that earmarked for infrastructure in the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program. Crucially, the BEAD Program adopted a new definition of what adequate broadband would look like: 100 Megabits per second download and 20 Megabits per second upload. It turns out, that speed threshold is serving as a key reason why money from BEAD and other programs will be used to cover already-subsidized projects under an older Federal Communications Commission program that has only recently completed some broadband builds using older technology. Broadband Breakfast has analyzed the data and spoke with experts and former FCC officials about the pitfalls and problems with the Connect America Fund Phase II, or CAF II, a $10 billion funding program that started in 2014.

Summary on Benton.org

Industry hints at possible legal challenges to Federal Communications Commission's digital discrimination rules

Nicole Ferarro  |  Light Reading

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is scheduled to vote Nov 15 on an order on preventing digital discrimination, but a new round of industry filings, plus commentary from FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, suggests there may be legal challenges ahead to the new rules. According to filings with the FCC, industry groups and service providers are taking issue with the agency’s definition of digital discrimination, along with other aspects of the draft order. And the language of their filings suggests potential legal challenges ahead if the FCC votes on the current draft order without changes. Blair Levin, who formerly served at the FCC, told broadband providers "don't lose sleep" over the rules, saying it is "even more benign than we had anticipated." Specifically, said Levin: "It refrains from making any accusations against any company and declines to consider any historic acts by ISPs as in violation of the digital discrimination rules. It also sets up an internal FCC process that will reduce public knowledge about allegations."

Summary on Benton.org

FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel Responds to Lawmakers Regarding Recent GAO Report

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel  |  Letter  |  Federal Communications Commission

On April 25, 2023, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report entitled “Broadband Speed: FCC Should Improve its Communication of Advanced Telecommunications Capability Assessments.” The report examines the extent to which the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has communicated how it reviews its minimum fixed-broadband speed benchmark, and how it determines whether to update the benchmark, and the extent to which the minimum speed requirements of selected federal and state broadband programs differ from the FCC’s benchmark, and stakeholders’ views on any implications of these differences. The GAO recommends that the FCC Chair “should provide consistent communication in [the FCC’s] reporting of how it determines whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed and when updating the related metrics it uses to assess broadband speeds and deployment.” The FCC agrees that transparency and consistency are important principles to follow as we determine whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion to all Americans. In response to GAO’s recommendation, on July 19, 2023, I shared a revised draft Section 706 Report Notice of Inquiry which seeks comment on ways the FCC can provide consistent and transparent communications to the public about how it reviews, and determines whether to update, the advanced telecommunications capability evaluation metrics required by Section 706.

Summary on Benton.org

5 Terabyte+ Extreme Power Users Pose new Challenge to Broadband Networks

Research  |  OpenVault

A new category of extreme power users who consume more than 5 Terabytes (TB) per month of broadband data has been identified in the 3Q 2023 OpenVault Broadband Insights (OVBI) report. Extreme power users consume six times more data for online gaming than do users of 1 TB or less per month; however, they consume the least amount of social media data when compared to users in other high-usage categories categories. The power user category has been defined and redefined multiple times since 2010, initially as consumption of >250 GB of data in 2010 and later as >1 TB of data in 2017 and >2 TB of data (super power users) in 2018.

Summary on Benton.org

FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel Responds to Members of Congress Regarding FCC Safeguarding and Securing the Open Internet Proceeding

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel  |  Letter  |  Federal Communications Commission

On October 17, 2023, Republican Members of the House Commerce Committee wrote to Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel expressing their disappointment and opposition to the FCC opening a proceeding to reclassify fixed and mobile broadband as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. On October 31, Chairwoman Rosenworcel replied saying "Everyone, everywhere in this country needs access to broadband to have a fair shot at 21st century success... That is why the FCC acted on October 19, 2023, to initiate a proceeding to ensure a fast, open, and fair internet and to restore the agency’s authority over broadband service. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that we adopted proposes to reinstate enforceable, bring-line rules to prevent blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. These rules would ensure that the internet remains open and a haven for creating without permission, building community beyond geography, and organizing without physical constraints. They are also rules that have been upheld in court. In other words, our legal system has already pronounced the rules we have proposed lawful and proper under the Communications Act."

Summary on Benton.org

Rep Hinson Introduces the Defend Our Networks Act

Rep Ashley Hinson (R-IA)  |  Press Release  |  House of Representatives

Due to their close ties to the Chinese government, Huawei and ZTE equipment presents significant risks to U.S. national security and domestic communications networks. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has already prohibited the purchase of Huawei and ZTE products and banned the use of FCC funds to expand or maintain networks containing any Huawei or ZTE equipment, and ordered telecommunications carriers to tear out equipment made by Huawei and ZTE. However, this equipment is still embedded throughout U.S. networks. It is estimated that there are 24,000 pieces of Chinese-made communications equipment embedded in U.S. networks. Discarding this compromised equipment is critical to protecting Americans' privacy, as well as our national security, from Chinese Communist Party spying. Congresswoman Ashley Hinson (R-IA)—along with Representatives Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), John Moolenaar (R-MI), Brittney Pettersen (D-CO), and Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA)—introduced the Defend Our Networks Act uses unobligated COVID-19 funds to replace Chinese-made telecommunications products with secure equipment to ensure Americans have reliable and private connectivity. 

Summary on Benton.org

Fulfilling Oklahoma's Digital Promise

Grace Tepper  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

The Oklahoma Broadband Office (OBO) released the state's draft Digital Equity Plan with one goal in mind: to fulfill Oklahoma's Digital Promise. That promise, more specifically, is to ensure all Oklahomans can access and use affordable internet to advance health care, education, business, agriculture, public safety, and community development. The draft Digital Equity Plan describes the strategies, objectives, and actions that the OBO will take to achieve this promise. OBO is accepting public comments on the draft plan until November 13, 2023. Oklahoma's vision is that Oklahomans will have access to the information, resources, and skills needed to participate in society to the fullest and to remain competitive in a digital marketplace. Oklahoma's mission or Digital Promise is to close the digital divide by encouraging and facilitating partnerships across sectors, offering targeted grants to communities and organizations that address digital equity gaps, and by supporting communities’ digital equity planning and programming.

Summary on Benton.org

Second Round of ROBIN Grant Recommendations

Press Release  |  Michigan High-Speed Internet Office

The Michigan High-Speed Internet Office MIHI announced its second round of recommendations for the Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks (ROBIN) grant program, which will provide $238 million in federal funding through the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund to support the deployment of high-speed internet to approximately 100,000 unserved locations throughout the state. Not all second round grant recommendations are expected to be funded or receive their full funding pending the outcome of a 45-day comment and objection window, where anyone may file a comment or objection to one or more of the recommendations. The comment and objection window will be open until Thursday, December 21, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. 

ROBIN Batch 2 Grant Recommendations




Ottawa County

Aspire Networks 1, LLC. (DBA Highline)

Upper Peninsula Region

Astrea Connect

Eastern Chippewa County







DMCI Broadband

ROBIN - 2023

Frontier North

Clinton County























Thumb Electric Cooperative

TEC Region

Summary on Benton.org

Superior (WI) City Council approves ordinance making broadband internet a public utility

Kenny Johnson  |  WDIO

The Superior (WI) City Council approved an ordinance that has made broadband internet a public utility. This means that the city can go through with the construction of its own broadband internet service for residents. Slow and expensive internet has been a major problem for Superior residents. Having broadband as a public utility was the project’s final step before construction could start. Residents will be able to choose to be on the city’s internet service when it is completed.

Summary on Benton.org

Vexus Fiber is building 12,000 passings per month in LA, NM, TX

Masha Abarinova  |  Fierce

Regional operator Vexus Fiber is expanding its network across Louisiana, New Mexico, and its home state of Texas, and it’s planning to roll out multi-gig service by the start of 2024. CEO Jim Gleason said Vexus is constructing fiber on a pace of around 12,000 new homes passed per month, spanning roughly a dozen markets in Texas, three in Louisiana, and three in New Mexico. Thus far, the company has “a little over” 300,000 fiber passings and is aiming to reach “north of a million” passings over the next five years. Gleason said the forthcoming multi-gig rollout is fueled by a $2.5 million network upgrade that was completed in the summer of 2023.



Summary on Benton.org

Lawmakers and residents rally against LinkNYC 5G kiosks

Justine Re  |  NY1

LinkNYC 5G kiosks are part of a citywide program to provide free high-speed internet and other services to people in the city. Stretching more than 30 feet in the air, the kiosks offer free Wi-Fi, free charging, nationwide phone service, and other digital services. Some residents of Carnegie Hill on the Upper East Side say new LinkNYC 5G towers are slated there too, and would violate the historic look of the neighborhood, which stretches from East 86th Street to East 96th Street and from Third Avenue to Central Park. The installation of the 32-footers started in July 2022, and the agreement with the city requires the overwhelming bulk of the new kiosks to be built north of 96th Street in Manhattan or outside of Manhattan. But opponents, including elected leaders, say there are other options that are less obtrusive and more aesthetically pleasing.

Summary on Benton.org

Representative Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) Introduces Bill to Increase Transparency Online and Support Products Made in America

Representative Carlos Gimenez (R-FL)  |  Press Release  |  House of Representatives

Congressman Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) and Representative Andy Kim (D-NJ) introduced the bipartisan Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) Online Act to ensure that products that are sold online list their country of origin to protect American consumer’s right to know where the products they buy are made and promote American-made goods. Unlike products that are purchased in-person, goods that are sold online are not required to list their country of origin. This legislation closes this legal loophole and increases e-commerce transparency by updating labeling laws so online shoppers have the same protection and right to seller location information as in-person shoppers. Specifically, the bill requires country of origin labeling be clearly stated in the website’s description of the product and a clear disclosure of the country in which the seller of the product is located. 

Summary on Benton.org

Cable Company Speed Claims

Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

My perception of internet service providers (ISPs) and cellular advertising is that companies push the envelope more every year in trying to make claims that can give them a marketing edge over the competition. What’s funny about many ads is that carriers try to differentiate themselves from their competitors, even though their peers are delivering essentially the same product to the market. The competition between cable companies and fiber overbuilders, however, is not based on equivalence. There is a clear technical advantage of a 300 Mbps broadband connection on fiber versus the same connection from a cable company. Cable companies know when a fiber network shows up in a market that they will lose customers who care about signal quality, but cable company marketers never stop trying to make a pitch that makes them sound better than fiber. One of the latest examples comes from Comcast, which has started to advertise itself as the 10G ISP. Verizon took exception to Comcast’s advertising and asked the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs to get Comcast to stop using the term 10G. NAD ruled that the 10G term was not factual and said Comcast should stop using it. The participants in the NAD generally comply with NAD rulings, but this time, Comcast is appealing the ruling. As an outsider, it’s pretty easy to agree with Verizon in this case. The 10G term was based on some theoretical future upgrade to meet the CableLabs 10G specifications, and Comcast’s coaxial networks today cannot achieve that speed. The only example of where Comcast has a 10 Gbps capability today is where it has upgraded to a 10 Gbps fiber platform—a tiny portion of the overall Comcast network.

Summary on Benton.org

Pathways Forward: Learnings and Takeaways in Digital Access

Cheri Coryea, Michael Zimmerman  |  Research  |  Patterson Foundation

Regardless of a funder’s mission, addressing the pressing concerns of digital access touches everything we do as a society. With great interest from funders with diverse missions, The Patterson Foundation (TPF) launched a series of eight funder workshops cohosted with The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. This report shares our learnings, takeaways, and resources from each Funder Workshop. Targeting data from funder workshop participation in the three essential elements of digital access: connectivity, devices, and a combination of skills, support, and literacy allowed us to understand how funders support digital access. By adding two additional areas of interest, advocacy and tech support, we gained a full picture of where funders spend their time considering investing in the digital divide. The current results reflect a considerably even level of investment in the three essential elements; connectivity (29.3%), devices (25%), and skills/support/ literacy at 30.7%. Raising the confidence in funder investment in these areas is essential.

Summary on Benton.org

After big drop in Internet Service Provider competition, Canada mandates fiber-network sharing

Jon Brodkin  |  ars techncia

In an attempt to boost broadband competition, Canada's telecommunication regulator, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), is forcing large phone companies to open their fiber networks to competitors. Smaller companies will be allowed to buy network capacity and use it to offer competing broadband plans to consumers. Evidence received during a comment period "shows that competition in the Internet services market is declining," the CRTC announced. CRTC hasn't made a final decision on fiber resale. But in the meantime, until a more permanent ruling is made, large telephone companies in Ontario and Quebec will be "required to provide competitors with access to their fibre-to-the-home networks within six months," the CRTC said. Fiber-provider Bell protested the ruling by announcing "its intention to reduce capital expenditures by over $1 billion in 2024-25, including a minimum of $500 to $600 million in 2024, money the company had planned to invest in bringing high-speed fibre Internet to hundreds of thousands of additional homes and businesses in rural, suburban and urban communities."

Summary on Benton.org

OMB Finalizes Significant Overhaul in Federal Regulations

Jim Tankersley  |  New York Times

Officials at the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), a branch of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), have overhauled how the federal government assesses the costs and benefits of regulation and some government spending programs, clearing a path for more aggressive efforts to fight climate change and help the poor. OIRA finalized a new and complicated set of rules that would change how federal agencies tally and weigh the potential value and harm of new regulations related to climate change, taxation, the distribution of disaster relief assistance, and more. The newly issued changes to the guidelines will require regulators to pay more attention to economic inequality, the shifting economics of a warming planet, and other data sources that progressive economists have long complained are missing from the government’s cost-benefit analyses. But the simplest way to sum up their effects is generationally: They would enable the government to impose more costly regulations for Americans today, in hopes of saving money and lives in the future.

Summary on Benton.org

Justice Department Secures $25 Million Landmark Agreement with Apple to Resolve Employment Discrimination Allegations Based on Citizenship Status

Press Release  |  Department of Justice

The Justice Department secured a landmark agreement with Apple to resolve allegations that Apple illegally discriminated in hiring and recruitment against U.S. citizens and certain non-U.S. citizens whose permission to live in and work in the United States does not expire. Under the agreement, Apple is required to pay up to $25 million in backpay and civil penalties, the largest award that the department has recovered under the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The settlement agreement resolves the department’s determination that Apple violated the INA’s anti-discrimination requirements during Apple’s recruitment for positions falling under the permanent labor certification program (PERM). The PERM program is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It allows employers to sponsor workers for lawful permanent resident status in the United States after completing recruitment and meeting other program requirements. Any U.S. employer that utilizes the PERM program cannot illegally discriminate in hiring or recruitment based on citizenship or immigration status. The department’s investigation, which started in February 2019, found that Apple engaged in a pattern or practice of citizenship status discrimination in recruitment for positions it hired through PERM, and that the company’s unlawful discrimination prejudiced U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, lawful permanent residents, and those granted asylum or refugee status. 

Summary on Benton.org

Google, Meta, TikTok defeat Austria’s plan to combat hate speech

Ashley Belanger  |  ars techncia

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that Austria cannot force Google, Meta, and TikTok to pay millions in fines if they fail to delete hate speech from their popular social media platforms. Austria had attempted to hold platforms accountable for hate speech and other illegal content after passing a law in 2021 requiring tech giants to publish reports as often as every six months detailing content takedowns. Like the European Union's recently adopted Digital Services Act, the Austrian law sought to impose fines—up to $10.69 million—for failing to tackle illegal or harmful content. However, soon after Austria tried to enforce the law, Google, Meta, and TikTok—each with EU operations based in Ireland—challenged it in an Austrian court. The tech companies insisted that Austria's law conflicted with an EU law that says that platforms are only subject to laws in EU member states where they're established. CJEU agreed with tech companies, deciding that the language of Austria's law was too general and abstract, potentially applying to too many platforms without distinction. The court ruling said that allowing Austria to enforce the law risked restricting "the free movement of information society services" between EU member states and undermining "mutual trust" between member states.

Summary on Benton.org

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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), 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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Benton Institute
for Broadband & Society
1041 Ridge Rd, Unit 214
Wilmette, IL 60091
headlines AT benton DOT org

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