Daily Digest 11/22/2023 (Herbert Gold)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Headlines Daily Digest

Headlines will return on Monday, Nov 27. Happy Thanksgiving!

Don't Miss:

FCC's December Agenda

Online Anger: Which Broadband Brands Get Customers the Most Riled Up?

We No Longer Need a Big Carrier’s Wireless Plan

Benton Foundation Charles Benton Digital Equity Champion Awards

Table of Contents


FCC December 2023 Open Meeting Agenda  |  Read below  |  FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communciations Commission
Chairwoman Rosenworcel Announces Proposal in Continued Fight Against Video Service Junk Fees to Promote Competition  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communciations Commission

Broadband Funding

You’ve (maybe) got mail  |  Read below  |  Myah Ward, Lauran Egan, Benjamin Johansen  |  Politico
States will soon dole out federal funding for broadband internet. Not every state is ready for the task  |  Read below  |  Brian Whitacre  |  Op-Ed  |  Fast Company
AT&T execs stress importance of BEAD geographic areas  |  Read below  |  Linda Hardesty  |  Fierce
30-Day Public Comment Period for Florida’s BEAD Initial Proposal Volume II to Access More Than $1.16 Billion in Broadband Fundin  |  Florida Department of Commerce


We No Longer Need a Big Carrier’s Wireless Plan. Discount Ones Are the Way.  |  Read below  |  Brian Chen  |  New York Times


Why Altman and Musk pose a problem for Washington  |  Read below  |  Derek Robertson  |  Politico


FTC Authorizes Compulsory Process for AI-related Products and Services  |  Federal Trade Commission
Report on the Impact of Artificial Intelligence and Associated Technologies on Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Verification  |  Department of State
Report | Benefits and Risks of Generative Artificial Intelligence  |  State of California
Sam Altman to be reinstated as head of OpenAI just days after his firing  |  Los Angeles Times
Behind the Scenes of Sam Altman’s Wild Ouster From OpenAI  |  Wall Street Journal
Ilya Sutskever: The OpenAI Genius Who Told Sam Altman He Was Fired  |  Wall Street Journal

Platforms/Social Media

Elon Musk provides yet another platform for far-right attacks  |  Washington Post
Rightwing personalities use X to bring antisemitic theories to light in US  |  Guardian, The
Twitter’s Former Head of Trust and Safety Finally Breaks Her Silence  |  Wired
Democrats accuse X of profiting off misinformation in Israel-Gaza war  |  Washington Post
Opinion | The GOP rallies around Musk after his self-inflicted antisemitism mess  |  Washington Post
White House joins the social media platform Threads  |  Washington Post
Opinion | This Is Why Google Paid Billions for Apple to Change a Single Setting  |  New York Times
Amazon lays off Alexa employees as 2010s voice-assistant boom gives way to AI  |  Ars Technica
Spotify Unveils New Streaming Royalty Policies  |  Variety
I Tried Meta’s Ad-Free Instagram Subscription. This Is What It Was Like.  |  Wall Street Journal

Industry News

Online Anger: Which Broadband Brands Get Customers the Most Riled Up?  |  Read below  |  Carl Weinschenk  |  telecompetitor
Fixed wireless expands the overall broadband market  |  Read below  |  Linda Hardesty  |  Fierce


Benton Foundation
Charles Benton Digital Equity Champion Awards  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  National Digital Inclusion Alliance
Silicon Valley Congresswoman Anna Eshoo is retiring  |  San Jose Spotlight
Today's Top Stories


FCC December 2023 Open Meeting Agenda

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communciations Commission

Here’s what to expect at the Federal Communications Commission's December open meeting.

  • We’re going after junk fees that harm consumers and hamper competition.
  • We’re cracking down on illegal robotexts.
  • We’re making smartphones more accessible to consumers with hearing loss.
  • We’re removing barriers to broadband deployment.
  • We’re improving health care in rural communities.
  • We’re protecting consumer data.
  • We’re protecting local TV programming.
  • We will also consider an item from our Enforcement Bureau.

Chairwoman Rosenworcel Announces Proposal in Continued Fight Against Video Service Junk Fees to Promote Competition

Press Release  |  Federal Communciations Commission

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced a proposal to eliminate video service junk fee billing practices by cable operators and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) service providers and study their impact on consumer choices. The proposal will be voted on during the December 13, 2023 Open Meeting. TV video service subscribers may terminate service for any number of reasons, including moving, financial hardship, or poor service. Early termination fees require subscribers to pay a fee for terminating a video services contract prior to its expiration date, making it costly for consumers to switch services during the contract term. Recently, the Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy encouraged the Commission to consider “prohibiting unjust or unreasonable early termination fees for enduser communication contracts; enabling consumers to more easily switch providers” in order to promote competition and lower prices. In addition to today’s proposal, the FCC is also implementing Broadband Consumer Labels and has proposed ‘all-in-pricing’ for cable and satellite services.

Broadband Funding

You’ve (maybe) got mail

Myah Ward, Lauran Egan, Benjamin Johansen  |  Politico

President Joe Biden announced what he called a “big step” toward internet for all, rolling out a $42 billion investment to deliver broadband to unserved and underserved communities. “With this funding, along with other federal investments, we’re going to be able to connect every person in America to reliable high-speed Internet by 2030,” President Biden said of the funds, allotted through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. But now, almost five months since the announcement, some broadband policy experts, advocates and progressives have been sounding the alarm that the program may not accomplish what the president proposed. One concern is that as private equity firms move into the broadband industry, they’ll position their providers to win the fresh round of government funding, squeezing out small and midsize bidders. Advocates fear that the requirements to apply for funding will leave only private equity with the financial bona fides to meet them. The early tension points illustrate the typical, and challenging, growing pains that come along with implementing a plan of this scale.

States will soon dole out federal funding for broadband internet. Not every state is ready for the task

Brian Whitacre  |  Op-Ed  |  Fast Company

The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program differs from previous federal broadband programs because it promised to allocate the funding to individual states and allow them to figure out the best way to distribute the funds. Once states receive their broadband funding, they still have to set up a mechanism to request proposals from internet service providers, grade the proposals that come in, and oversee the challenge process for rejected proposals that is likely to follow. Some of the initial 20% of the funding that states receive will be used for those purposes. Only after the awards are made and challenges settled will the providers ramp up their workforces, purchase the relevant equipment, and begin work. So while the broadband funding holds great promise for the 11.2 million locations across the country that do not have access to a high-quality broadband connection, many still have a long wait ahead of them.

[Brian Whitacre is a professor and the Neustadt Chair in the department of agricultural economics at Oklahoma State University]

AT&T execs stress importance of BEAD geographic areas

Linda Hardesty  |  Fierce

In response to claims that Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) funding wouldn't amount to much, Jeff Luong, VP of Network Engineering at AT&T said that the combination of public funds in addition to private investments will be a lot of money that will allow for “the industry, and us as a country, to expand connectivity.” Asked what he would recommend to states that are trying to figure out the best solution, Luong said, “The best way for states to approach that challenge is to create a process, a system that encourages as many providers to participate as possible. The more carriers that participate in the program the more areas will be proposed. The whole process is: the carriers get to propose their location, but ultimately it is the state that helps define what areas they will allocate the funding for. And it’s a negotiation process.” Luong cited a recently completed project in Vanderburgh County, Indiana, as an example of a successful public/private partnership. AT&T worked with Vanderburgh County to deliver fiber broadband to 20,000 residents in a largely rural, farming area. For the project Vanderburgh County used $9.9 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and AT&T covered the remaining $29.7 million. Luong said the example shows that if governments allow some negotiation, that results in the best outcome, “rather than drawing boxes on a map without a clear understanding of where different carriers have assets.”


We No Longer Need a Big Carrier’s Wireless Plan. Discount Ones Are the Way.

Brian Chen  |  New York Times

With plans ranging from $60 to $200 a month for individuals and families, the price of a cellphone is soon eclipsed by the recurring service bills. What if I told you that it no longer had to be this way? Your phone bill could shrink to as little as $25 a month if you picked a wireless plan from a lesser-known service provider known as a discount carrier. The cheaper plans, based on my tests, offer sufficiently fast internet speeds and reliable phone service. It takes some courage and technological know-how to make the switch, but the potential savings outweigh the downsides. On the surface, these budget carriers—which include Cricket WirelessStraight TalkBoost MobileMint Mobile, and Visible—lack a cool factor. They do not operate their own cell networks; instead, they lease wireless services from the big carriers and market them toward retirees. The no-frill plans often have trade-offs, including slower download speeds, since Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers have priority access to faster network performance. Yet in the past few years, so much has changed that I can now confidently recommend discount phone plans for most people, including white-collar professionals and Instagram-obsessed youths. 


Why Altman and Musk pose a problem for Washington

Derek Robertson  |  Politico

The collision of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover and the recent chaos at OpenAI reveals something even bigger than social media’s shifting tectonic plates—the extent of the society-shaping power wielded by a very small cadre of Silicon Valley titans. Individual personalities—and individual fortunes—matter far more in the world of Silicon Valley startups than they do in corporate America’s more consensus-oriented, traditional bureaucracies. Once, industrial names like Morgan or Rockefeller or Ford drove national policy from their boardroom chairs, a version of America we might have thought we’ve put to rest. Not in tech: Today we take it for granted that Bezos, Zuckerberg and Musk are more or less synonymous with their corporate empires. The lesson for not just America, but humanity writ large, is that a very small group of people have come to wield total, personalized control over many of the systems—whether Musk’s social media platform or Altman’s intelligence machines—that are shaping society’s present and future.

Industry News

Online Anger: Which Broadband Brands Get Customers the Most Riled Up?

Carl Weinschenk  |  telecompetitor

The electronics/technology sector ranks second on a list of industries that elicit the most emotional language among online commenters, according to an analysis of online reviews from Trustpilot conducted by online learning provider Preply. The electronics/technology sector was outranked only by the travel/vacation sector. What is causing anger among these online consumers? Preply analyzed the overall anger quotient for each brand to find out the top 100 anger-provoking brands. AT&T was number 18 out of 20.  Charter’s Spectrum brand and Verizon Wireless also were among the electronic/tech companies that were found to elicit the most online anger. 

  • “Fees,” “beware,” and “lied” are the emotional language terms used most frequently in reviews. 
  • “Scam,” “fraud,” and “joke” are the main accusatorial words used in reviews. 
  • Customer service is the chief complaint among consumers, more so than the actual product or service that consumers received. 

Fixed wireless expands the overall broadband market

Linda Hardesty  |  Fierce

The telecommunications industry has been adding fixed wireless access (FWA) subscribers at a clip of between 900,000 and 1 million per quarter over the past five quarters, according to New Street Research. And the analysts say, “We expect similar results over the next two quarters, with T-Mobile targeting around 500,000 per quarter and Verizon targeting 375,000-400,000 per quarter.” FWA has claimed more than 80% of industry broadband adds in the U.S. over the last six quarters. Analysis by Recon Analytics, focused on residential subscribers, found that close to 20% of FWA gross adds are new to broadband; almost double the share for the broadband market overall. This means that FWA is expanding the fixed broadband market.


Charles Benton Digital Equity Champion Awards

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance is accepting applications for the 2024 Digital Equity Champion Awards. Named for Charles Benton, the founder of Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, NDIA created the awards to recognize leadership and dedication in advancing digital equity: from promoting the ideal of accessible and affordable communications technology for all Americans to crafting programs and policies that make it a reality. NDIA presents two awards: the Digital Equity Champion Award recognizes an outstanding individual who has made a difference in the field of digital equity, while the Digital Equity Emerging Leader Champion Award acknowledges an up-and-coming leader. The awards are presented during the annual NDIA Net Inclusion conference on February 13-15, 2024 in Philadelphia. Submit your nominations or self-nomination by December 7, 2023 at 6pm ET.

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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.

© Benton Institute for Broadband & Society 2023. 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

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Kevin Taglang
Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
Benton Institute
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