Daily Digest 1/11/2023 (Bernard Blakeman Hounshell)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents


Biden Broadband Billions Likely in House GOP's Oversight Sights  |  Read below  |  John Eggerton  |  Multichannel News


As Infrastructure Money Lands, the Job Dividends Begin  |  Read below  |  Lydia DePillis  |  New York Times

Universal Service Fund

Blair Levin on why the USF is a ticking time bomb  |  Read below  |  Marsha Abarinova  |  Fierce

Data & Mapping

Will the FCC Maps Get Better?  |  Read below  |  Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting


Satellite internet is going mainstream. So are its challenges  |  Read below  |  Rebecca Heilweil  |  Vox
FCC Votes to Establish Space Bureau & Office of International Affairs  |  Read below  |  Marlene Dortch  |  Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission


Best Buy-Owned Phone Service Faces Angry Customers After 3G Network Shutdown  |  Read below  |  Will Feuer, Thomas Gryta  |  Wall Street Journal

Kids & Media

Meta to Stop Letting Advertisers Target Teens by Gender  |  Read below  |  Kurt Wagner  |  Bloomberg
Teens and Pornography  |  Common Sense

Platforms/Social Media

Twitter has always been a hotspot for climate change misinformation. On Musk's watch, it's heating up.  |  USA Today
With Many Retailers Offering Online Sales, Phony Sites Blend In  |  New York Times


The Elections That Will Matter in 2023  |  New York Times
Rep Katie Porter (D-CA) Is Running for Senate  |  New York Times

Government & Communications

C-SPAN Seeks Fuller Access to House Floor After Dramatic Speaker Vote  |  Wall Street Journal

How We Live Now

What does 'hmu' mean? Get to know Internet, texting acronym  |  USA Today

Industry/Company News

Cable companies eye mobile to save the bundle  |  Read below  |  Sara Fischer  |  Axios
Bluespan Builds Hybrid Fiber/Wireless Network for Arizona, Washington Communities  |  Summary at Benton.org  |  Broadband Communities Magazine
Three Michigan Companies Announce New 90+ Mile Fiber Route from Southfield to Lansing  |  Summary at Benton.org  |  Press Release  |  123Net


Gigi Sohn's Critics Prepare for New Pushback Against FCC Nominee  |  Read below  |  John Eggerton  |  Broadcasting&Cable
Colorado seeks Digital Navigator Program Administrator  |  Colorado Department of Labor and Employment
OTI Seeks Senior Policy Counsel and Policy Director  |  New America

Stories From Abroad

How Germany became Europe’s leading Big Tech trust buster  |  Financial Times
How Finland Is Teaching a Generation to Spot Misinformation  |  New York Times
Today's Top Stories


Biden Broadband Billions Likely in House GOP's Oversight Sights

John Eggerton  |  Multichannel News

With Rep Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) finally getting enough votes to be elected Speaker of the House and that body cleared for the takeoff of Republican committee leadership, look for that leadership to launch Federal Communications Commission and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) oversight hearings. Of particular interest is the Biden administration's mechanisms for handing out tens of billions of government — meaning taxpayer — dollars in broadband subsidies. That oversight could come on at least two fronts — the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability (formerly Oversight and Reform) and the House Commerce Committee, which has principal jurisdiction over communications issues. But Republicans also have a goal: to make sure that money goes to connecting the unconnected, rather than overbuilding existing service, and without waste, fraud or abuse.


As Infrastructure Money Lands, the Job Dividends Begin

Lydia DePillis  |  New York Times

There's a wave of jobs that will result from $1.2 trillion in direct government spending from the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Two subsequent initiatives — $370 billion in incentives and grants for lower-emissions energy projects provided by the Inflation Reduction Act, and $53 billion in subsidies for semiconductor manufacturing funded by the CHIPS Act — are expected to leverage tens of billions more in private capital.  The primary purpose of the three laws isn’t to stimulate the economy; they are mainly intended to combat climate change, rebuild infrastructure and reduce dependence on foreign semiconductors. But they will affect the labor market, including a reallocation of workers across sectors. The funding comes as the economy is decelerating, and it may avert a sharper dip in employment.

The infrastructure law includes $42.5 billion for expanding broadband access and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration expects work on the cables and cellphone towers to start in 2024. The Government Accountability Office estimated that 23,000 more people would be needed when deployment peaked. The Communications Workers of America, a union that represents about 130,000 telecommunications workers, said that members had often left for other occupations as industry conditions deteriorated and that many would come back for the right salary and benefits.

Universal Service Fund

Blair Levin on why the USF is a ticking time bomb

Marsha Abarinova  |  Fierce

The year 2023 could prove to be a volatile year for the Federal Communications Commission as it wrestles with a number of lawsuits concerning its Universal Service Fund (USF) program. Should federal circuit courts rule the USF is unconstitutional, it would harm the households relying on USF subsidies and potentially the future of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), according to New Street Research (NSR). In short, the USF framework is at risk of imploding, NSR’s Blair Levin said. If one or more of the courts declares the USF illegal and subsequently suspends the program, it would bring about “immediate damage” to the institutions and low-income families depending on those funds. The FCC will no longer be able to raise money to address USF purposes, said Levin. The USF currently supports four key programs serving different vulnerable market segments: the Connect America Fund (rural areas), Lifeline (low income consumers), E-Rate (schools and libraries), and Rural Health Care.

Data & Mapping

Will the FCC Maps Get Better?

Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

It is unfortunate timing that the new Federal Communications Commission broadband map was issued in the middle of the process of trying to determine the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) grant funding. Congress said that the amount of funding that will go to each state must be based upon the FCC map – and the first draft is clearly flawed. However, assuming that that grant funding question gets resolved somehow, there remains the bigger issue of whether the new FCC map will ever accurately portray broadband availability. Getting a better map requires improving the three basic flaws: the mapping fabric that defines the location of possible customers, the claimed coverage that defines where broadband is available, and the broadband speeds available to customers. The mapping fabric will get better over time if state and local governments decide this is something that is important to fix. Additionally, the coverage challenge is only going to get better if broadband providers report honestly. But I doubt that the map will ever be significantly better than the old one. I think after the flurry associated with allocating the BEAD grant funding ends that most people and local governments will quickly lose interest in the map challenge process.


Satellite internet is going mainstream. So are its challenges

Rebecca Heilweil  |  Vox

Space internet has the reputation for slow service. With its questionable signal strength and hardly Netflix-friendly bandwidth, the internet that’s beamed down from low-Earth orbit is the kind of thing you only turn to as a last resort or if you’re stuck on a long-haul flight. But in 2023, satellite-based internet is getting a major revamp. Private companies and governments are getting serious about their space internet projects. SpaceX has planned multiple launches—like the one with 51 satellites that is scheduled to take off from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California—that will send satellites into orbit to support its Starlink networkEach new batch joins the thousands of satellites SpaceX has already sent into orbit, including those of Starlink competitor, OneWeb. Amazon, meanwhile, plans to incorporate more than 3,000 satellites into its Project Kuiper satellite internet constellation and should launch its prototype satellites early this year. The expected surge in new satellites will make space internet a bigger presence in our day-to-day lives this year.

FCC Votes to Establish Space Bureau & Office of International Affairs

Marlene Dortch  |  Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission released an Order adopting the plan to establish a Space Bureau and Office of International Affairs. The planned reorganization will better support the needs of the growing satellite industry, promote long-term technical capacity at the FCC, and help the agency navigate 21st century global communications policy. As part of this plan, the agency will be eliminating the current International Bureau and incorporating that team into the new bureau and office. This action is the latest initiative in the FCC’s Space Innovation agenda. As part of this agenda, the FCC has taken action to speed up regulatory review processes, increase the size of the FCC’s satellite division by 38 percent, create new opportunities for competition in the delivery of satellite broadband services, and modernize spectrum policy to better meet the needs of the next generation Space Age. The FCC will next seek Congressional and other approvals for the planned reorganization and make formal notice in the Federal Register.


Best Buy-Owned Phone Service Faces Angry Customers After 3G Network Shutdown

Will Feuer, Thomas Gryta  |  Wall Street Journal

Best Buy’s Jitterbug Flip phone stopped working for some customers after the start of the new year following the planned shutdown of Verizon’s 3G network on December 31, 2022. “As a result of network updates made on January 2, [2023] some customers with a Jitterbug Flip phone are experiencing a disruption to their service,” Best Buy said. The company is working to resolve the issue and noted that Jitterbug Flip2 phones, Jitterbug smartphones, and Lively-branded devices aren’t impacted. In a message to affected customers, Lively said it expects to provide an update by January 10, 2023. It didn’t give an estimate of when service would be restored or how many customers had issues with their devices. Lively told those customers to use a different device to contact 911 in the case of an emergency.

Kids & Media

Meta to Stop Letting Advertisers Target Teens by Gender

Kurt Wagner  |  Bloomberg

Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, said advertisers will no longer be able to use a teenager’s gender to target them with promoted messages on its sites. The updated settings are scheduled to go into effect in February and will mean advertisers can market to teens based only on age and location. Meta previously stopped advertisers from targeting teenagers based on their Facebook or Instagram activity, such as the Pages they like. The changes will apply to those 13 to 17 years old.

Industry/Company News

Cable companies eye mobile to save the bundle

Sara Fischer  |  Axios

The country's biggest cable companies have been leaning into mobile plans as pay-TV subscriptions plummet and growth from broadband begins to plateau. This matters because cable operators are betting that mobile plans in their bundles will make it harder for consumers to quit their other services. In particular, Cox Communications, a subsidiary of Axios' parent company, launched Cox Mobile, a new service that's available to all of its 5.6 million US internet customers. Cox follows several other big cable companies—including Comcast, Charter and Altice—which launched mobile plans to help offset legacy businesses challenges in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively. Overall, fixed broadband businesses have helped cable companies stay afloat as cord-cutting accelerated, but that safety net is beginning to fade as subscriber growth tapers off. The new cable bundle is a rollup of broadband and mobile internet services, with pay-TV as an offering that exists only for those still interested in paying for linear TV.


Gigi Sohn's Critics Prepare for New Pushback Against FCC Nominee

John Eggerton  |  Broadcasting&Cable

The opponents of [Senior Fellow and Public Advocate at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society] Gigi Sohn's nomination to the Federal Communications Commission are bringing out their familiar artillery in their effort to keep her off the agency, where she would be the third Democrat, giving the Biden administration the majority it would need to tackle partisan issues, notably network neutrality rules. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) launched an attack on her character and her politics, while Fox News Channel also ran a story taking aim. Sen Cruz — ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which votes on FCC nominations — said it was the committee's duty to conduct a “full and thorough vetting process” now that the president has thrown Sohn’s hat into the ring for a [third] time. Sen. Cruz said there needs to be “updated paperwork, meetings with Senators and staff, and a new public hearing.”

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