Daily Digest 11/21/2023 (National Broadband Map 3.0)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents

Broadband Funding

President Biden Signs Farm Bill Extension, Stopgap Funding for USDA Broadband  |  Read below  |  Joan Engebretson  |  telecompetitor
Congress must act now to fund the Affordable Connectivity Program  |  Read below  |  Chip Pickering  |  Op-Ed  |  Hill, The

Data & Mapping

National Broadband Map 3.0: Thankful for Continued Improvements  |  Read below  |  FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission
New FCC Broadband Map, version 3  |  Read below  |  Mike Conlow  |  Analysis  |  Substack

Digital Discrimination

FCC Releases Digital Discrimination Report and Order  |  Federal Communications Commission


Benton Foundation
Achieving a Digitally Inclusive Ohio  |  Read below  |  Grace Tepper  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Rural Louisianans have felt shut out without broadband—the state has a plan to change that  |  Read below  |  Roby Chavez  |  PBS
Mass Priorities Looks To Shift Town Spending Through Targeted Ads; But Who Are They?  |  Read below  |  Calli Remillard, Noelle Annonen, Mackenzie Ryan  |  Enterprise, The
Promise Of High-Speed Fiber-Optic Network For Cape Cod Resurfaces  |  Read below  |  Tao Woolfe  |  Enterprise, The
Falmouth Broadband Seeks Director  |  Falmouth Broadband


Here's how states are tackling the broadband workforce gap  |  Read below  |  Masha Abarinova  |  Fierce


The Definition of Upload Speed  |  Read below  |  Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting


U.S. delegation stokes optimism on wireless and satellite goals at WRC-23  |  Space News


Annual Medicaid Survey  |  Institute for Medicaid Innovation

Platforms/Social Media/AI

In rare show of force, senators enlist U.S. marshals to subpoena tech CEOs  |  Read below  |  Cristiano Lima  |  Washington Post
Elon Musk’s X sues Media Matters over report on antisemitic content  |  Los Angeles Times
More Advertisers Halt Spending on X in Growing Backlash Against Musk  |  New York Times
Advertisers flee X, but Linda Yaccarino stays the course  |  Vox
Marketing Leaders Urge X CEO Linda Yaccarino to Step Down ‘Before Her Reputation Is Damaged’  |  Wrap, The
Ousted OpenAI chief Sam Altman inspires staff and investors as leader of the generative AI revolution  |  Financial Times
Meet the Board of OpenAI Who Pushed Out Sam Altman  |  Wall Street Journal
The Winners and Losers of OpenAI’s Wild Weekend  |  New York Times
Here’s what to know about Sam Altman’s ouster at OpenAI  |  Washington Post
What’s been going on at the company behind ChatGPT – and why it matters  |  Guardian, The
OpenAI Employees Threaten to Quit Unless Board Resigns  |  Wall Street Journal
Microsoft ‘pulled off a coup’ by hiring Sam Altman, analysts say  |  Washington Post
Epic Games C.E.O. Says Google Has ‘De Facto Control’ on Android App  |  New York Times
A secret Google deal let Spotify completely bypass Android’s app store fees  |  Vox
Op-ed: This Is Why Google Paid Billions for Apple to Change a Single Setting  |  New York Times
Amazon Launches Free AI Classes in Bid to Win Talent Arms Race  |  Wall Street Journal
Use of AI could create a four-day week for almost one-third of workers  |  Guardian, The

Kids & Media

Lacking a Federal Standard, States Try and Fail to Solve Problems Faced by Kids Online  |  Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
Teen Boys Are Falling for a Snapchat Photo Scam. Here’s How to Avoid It.  |  Wall Street Journal

Stories From Abroad

Facing pressure in India, Netflix and Amazon back down on daring films  |  Washington Post
Today's Top Stories

Broadband Funding

President Biden Signs Farm Bill Extension, Stopgap Funding for USDA Broadband

Joan Engebretson  |  telecompetitor

President Biden signed an extension to the Farm Bill as part of a new appropriations package aimed at averting a government shutdown. Executives from NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association and WTA—Advocates for Rural Broadband  Executives from NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association and WTA—Advocates for Rural Broadband explained that the bill authorizes US Department of Agriculture to continue to operate broadband programs included in the 2018 Farm Bill through September 2024. But despite some news reports stating that the Farm Bill broadband programs were funded through September, those programs are only funded through January 19. Both NTCA and WTA would like to see the ReConnect program moved into the Farm Bill when the bill is updated. Because Farm Bills are normally updated every five years, this would eliminate the need to reauthorize ReConnect funding every year. 

Congress must act now to fund the Affordable Connectivity Program

Chip Pickering  |  Op-Ed  |  Hill, The

There is an underreported threat looming if Congress doesn’t act soon: 21.5 million households in the U.S. could lose access to an affordable internet. The bipartisan Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) provides monthly subsidies for low-income Americans to get online. And it’s been a great success: the ACP has now connected nearly 60 million Americans to broadband, many of whom have never previously had internet access at home. However, funds are expected to run out by April 2024, leaving those millions of Americans suddenly without affordable access or access at all. The ACP plays a pivotal role in local communities, and ending the program would set us back years in our effort to overcome the affordability gap — a barrier that accounts for two-thirds of our nation’s digital divide. As we continue to build out our networks with billions of dollars in funding from the bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we need to ensure that Americans can afford to access these networks, so our investment does not go to waste. That’s why I ask our Congress to act swiftly to appropriate funds for the ACP. It’s the responsible thing to do for Americans. 

[Chip Pickering is CEO of INCOMPAS, previously, he was a six-term congressman representing Mississippi’s Third District]

Data & Mapping

National Broadband Map 3.0: Thankful for Continued Improvements

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission

Everyone associates this time of year with Thanksgiving, but, for those of us who occasionally visit FCC.gov, there’s another reason for anticipation when the calendar turns to November: new broadband maps. The third iteration of the National Broadband Map is now publicly available. Notable highlights include:

  • The number of unserved homes and businesses is going down.
  • Broadband buildouts are happening.
  • Challenges, verifications and audits are all making the Map better.
  • The fluctuations in our location data are getting smaller.
  • Stakeholder engagement continues to yield results.

New FCC Broadband Map, version 3

Mike Conlow  |  Analysis  |  Substack

The Federal Communications Commission's new version of the National Broadband Map includes a dramatic decrease in the number of Unserved and Underserved locations. We now have 7.1 million unserved locations and 3.0 million underserved location. The total of 10.1 million locations is a decrease of 16% from the 11.9 million locations that were unserved and underserved six months earlier. As Chairwoman Rosenworcel said in a blog post, I’m sure we’re seeing some of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund projects start to light up. But I also suspect we’re going to find Internet service providers cleaning up their coverage filings, making sure that everything they can serve is filed on the map. After all, soon one of these map versions is going to fund competitors for remaining unserved and underserved locations.


Achieving a Digitally Inclusive Ohio

Grace Tepper  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

In August 2023, Ohio released a draft Digital Opportunity Plan to the public for feedback. The plan, developed by BroadbandOhio, seeks to address the issues beyond connectivity—affordability, access to devices, and digital skills—that affect Ohioans' access to high-speed internet. Achieving a more digitally inclusive Ohio will empower people all across the state to fully engage in their communities, seek and maintain employment, better connect with loved ones, learn, and access healthcare and other essential services. This plan is Ohio's roadmap to reaching a more digitally inclusive state. BroadbandOhio is working to bring reliable, affordable, high-speed internet to every Ohioan, in their home and in their community. While broadband expansion projects are increasing connectivity across Ohio and improving access to high-speed internet, gaps in access to affordable internet, internet-enabled devices, and digital skills training and technical support remain barriers to communities’ use of this vital service. Ohio's vision of a more digitally equitable Ohio extends beyond connectivity; it encompasses equal opportunity to access quality education, healthcare, job opportunities, government services, and cultural resources online. By fostering collaborative partnerships and empowering under-resourced communities to accomplish its goals, Ohio will ensure that no one is left behind. By building an inclusive, connected, and technologically proficient society, BroadbandOhio aspires to create a thriving, resilient, and forward-looking Ohio that maximizes the potential of its residents. 

Rural Louisianans have felt shut out without broadband—the state has a plan to change that

Roby Chavez  |  PBS

An estimated 475,000 households across Louisiana have never had high-speed, affordable, reliable internet. The state has been working at a "feverish pace" to change that. In all, Louisiana will receive nearly $2 billion for projects, including grants from the Federal Communications Commission, U.S. Treasury, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The state has drawn from a number of sources to improve access. It used pandemic relief dollars from the American Rescue Plan to create the Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunity (GUMBO) program, which offers grants to providers to subsidize the expansion of broadband to 80,000 homes, businesses, schools, and other locations. The state has also benefited from the federal Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, another creation of the bipartisan infrastructure law. In total, Louisiana is expected to receive $1.35 billion from the BEAD program, the eighth-largest allocation in the country. 

Mass Priorities Looks To Shift Town Spending Through Targeted Ads; But Who Are They?

Calli Remillard, Noelle Annonen, Mackenzie Ryan  |  Enterprise, The

Mass Priorities is the group calling on local governments to prioritize improvements in water quality, education, and bridge infrastructure over investments in government-owned broadband networks. It is making its message known with a half-million-dollar, three-month advertising barrage, which kicked off on October 31. What is not clear, though, is where the freshly launched group got its money. The Mass Priorities website says that it is a project of the Domestic Policy Caucus, which Policy Director Christopher Thrasher confirmed. That group, however, is not in Massachusetts or even New England—it is based out of Minnesota and has numerous direct ties to the lobbying industry and hard-to-trace, out-of-state funding, also known as “dark money.”

Promise Of High-Speed Fiber-Optic Network For Cape Cod Resurfaces

Tao Woolfe  |  Enterprise, The

Verizon is looking to install a high-speed, fiber-optic network on Cape Cod, focusing first on unspecified, underserved areas. Ellen Cummings, Verizon’s regional director of state and governmental affairs, made the announcement at a meeting hosted by the Cape Cod Technology Council. Cummings was asking for the council’s support in applying for a portion of millions in federal funds to help pay for the project. More specifically, about $145 million in grant money would be awarded in $20 million installments and would be administered by the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) and funded by the US Department of Treasury. The formal name of the project is the Broadband Infrastructure Gap Networks Grant Program. The project “aims to expand connectivity to unserved and underserved locations throughout the state to help bridge the digital divide, with a particular focus on communities with substantial low-income households and disadvantaged populations,” according to MBI’s website.


Here's how states are tackling the broadband workforce gap

Masha Abarinova  |  Fierce

What are states doing to mitigate the broadband worker shortage? In some cases, they’re looking at the prison system for prospective technician hires. Thomas Tyler, deputy director of Louisiana’s broadband office, mentioned how a community college in the northern part of Louisiana stood up a career development program for prisoners who were getting released. MJ Barton, Tribal and Programs Outreach Manager at the Oklahoma Broadband Office, said her state “has skill centers” in its prisons and is looking at programs “that will help lift someone else up and give them an opportunity.”


The Definition of Upload Speed

Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is in the process of increasing the definition of broadband from today’s paltry 25/3 Megabits per second (Mbps) to 100/20 Mbps. This article looks at the FCC’s decision to consider 20 Mbps as the definition of upload. The 20 Mbps definition is a political compromise that has nothing to do with the broadband speeds that households and businesses need. Several of the big cable companies are currently implementing mid-split technology upgrades that I’ve seen reported as delivering from 100 Mbps to 300 Mbps upload speeds depending upon the local conditions in a cable company network. But cable companies will likely continue to fight to keep the 20 Mbps definition because they will not want to upgrade their networks in smaller and non-competitive markets. The FCC should consider a faster definition of broadband just because of the changes in technology. There is no reason to set a low definition of 20 Mbps upload that only rewards ISPs that want to stick with older technology. 


In rare show of force, senators enlist U.S. marshals to subpoena tech CEOs

Cristiano Lima  |  Washington Post

A Senate panel announced Monday it subpoenaed the CEOs of Elon Musk’s X, Discord and Snap to testify at a hearing on children’s online safety next month after “repeated refusals” by the tech companies to cooperate with its investigation into the matter. The move marks a major escalation by lawmakers probing how social media platforms may harm children’s mental health, an area of broad bipartisan interest on Capitol Hill. The committee announced that it also expects Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew to appear voluntarily. Meta and TikTok declined to comment. While top tech executives such as Zuckerberg have repeatedly testified in Congress on an array of issues in recent years, they have typically appeared voluntarily. The committee said that in a “remarkable departure from typical practice,” it had to “enlist the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service to personally serve the subpoenas” to the CEOs of Discord and X, formerly Twitter, after their chief executives “further refused to cooperate.”

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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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