Wednesday, November 25, 2020
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House Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Republican Leader Bob Latta (R-OH), and Republican subcommittee members wrote to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting an audit of and asking several questions about the Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program within the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA). The representatives say they have concerns about overbuilding, interagency coordination, and the mismanagement of appropriated funds. The letter was signed by Reps Walden, Latta, Pete Olson (R-TX), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Billy Long (R-MO), Bill Flores (R-TX), Susan Brooks (R-IN), Tim Walberg (R-MI), and Greg Gianforte (R-MT).
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) is seeking conditions be imposed by the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) in regards to Frontier's Chapter 11 reorganization plan. PURA is tasked with reviewing Frontier's bankruptcy plan. CWA is trying to make sure the bankruptcy plan improves services and keeps jobs in Connecticut.
The Maine Broadband Coalition launched the speed testing initiative Nov 23. In addition to finding out their own upload and download speeds, users will help the coalition identify slow spots around the state where the speeds are not up to snuff. That will help the group determine where upgrades are needed or places where the internet is largely inaccessible. In addition to neighborhood bragging – or bemoaning – rights, the speeds will be shared with the coalition, which will assemble the results on maps to show where Mainers are getting high-speed access and where their connections are falling short.
The Government Accountability Office was asked to assess the technologies associated with 5G and their implications. This report discusses (1) how the performance goals and expected uses are to be realized in U.S. 5G wireless networks, (2) the challenges that could affect the performance or usage of 5G wireless networks in the U.S., and (3) policy options to address these challenges.
The report also highlights key challenges to 5G and present policy options to address them. For example, 5G is expected to greatly increase data transmission, which would require more radio frequency spectrum—a scarce resource. To help, policymakers could promote research into more efficient use of radio spectrum. GAO developed six policy options in response to these challenges, including the status quo. They are presented with associated opportunities and considerations in the following table. The policy options are directed toward the challenges detailed in this report: spectrum sharing, cybersecurity, privacy, and concern over possible health effects of 5G technology.
OneWeb has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy under new ownership and says it will begin launching more broadband satellites in December 2020. Similar to SpaceX Starlink, OneWeb is building a network of low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites that can provide high-speed broadband with much lower latencies than traditional geostationary satellites. After a launch in December, launches will continue throughout 2021 and 2022, and OneWeb is now on track to begin commercial connectivity services to the UK and the Arctic region in late 2021 and will expand to delivering global services in 2022.
The Federal Communications Commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau denied a petition for reconsideration of the Bureau’s June 30, 2020 order designating ZTE as a company posing a national security threat to the integrity of communications networks or the communications supply chain. After reviewing the record, the Bureau found no basis for reconsideration. As a result, the FCC’s $8.3 billion a year Universal Service Fund cannot be used to purchase, obtain, maintain, improve, modify, or otherwise support any equipment or services produced or provided by ZTE as well as its parents, affiliates, and subsidiaries.
House Democrats and Republicans are finding common ground on a set of principles for countering tech monopolies that they believe could drive a bipartisan push in the new Congress to update antitrust law. Representatives from both parties are finding it easier to agree on antitrust policy ideas than on proposals about content moderation and liability, where the two parties couldn't be further apart despite agreeing on the need for change. Democrats and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel have zeroed in on at least four ideas:
- More funding for key antitrust enforcers, chiefly the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department, so they can take on wealthy, heavily lawyered tech companies.
- Changing the burden of proof for proposed mergers so that companies whose market share passes a certain threshold are assumed to be monopolies and must prove their deal does not harm competition.
- Data portability requirements for platforms, so that consumers can move their information from one service to another.
- Prohibitions on platform bias and "self-preferencing," which is when information services display their own listings above those of competitors.
For now, Apple's new M1 chip — fast, power-smart, and literally cool — is just a major hardware upgrade that's winning rave reviews. But down the road, the M1 will pave the way for new Apple devices that could bridge the divide between Mac and iPhone/iPad computing and transform the devices we use every day. he M1's success is a shot across the bow to Apple's competitors, and not just to Intel, whose semiconductors Apple is leaving behind after 15 years. Microsoft and Qualcomm have been trying — and struggling — to make a similar leap with Windows, but the M1's success shows that Apple still holds on to its innovation lead. Apple's success should be a wakeup call not just to Intel but also to Microsoft and Qualcomm.
Eleven new lawmakers under the age of 45 were elected to the 117th Congress, joining other under-45s leading on tech issues, including Silicon Valley Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO). Here’s what to know about some of the newcomers’ views on and ties to tech:
- Republican Madison Cawthorn, who at 25 will become the youngest member of Congress after winning in North Carolina's 11th District, has already positioned himself as a crusader against tech market power and alleged anti-conservative social media bias.
- Republican Nancy Mace, who pulled off something of a surprise victory in South Carolina's 1st District and was the first woman to graduate from The Citadel, has also planted a flag in the tech bias debate.
- Democrat Sara Jacobs, who won in California’s 53rd Congressional District, is the granddaughter of tech billionaire Irwin Jacobs, founder and former chairman of the telecom giant Qualcomm.
- Democrat Cori Bush, who won Missouri’s 1st Congressional District to become the state’s first Black congresswoman, made economic justice a top campaign issue, taking aim at the billionaires who’ve become even bigger billionaires during the pandemic.
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 Robbie McBeath (rmcbeath AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.
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