Daily Digest 11/27/2023 (Marty Krofft)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents


FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for December Open Meeting  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission


Benton Foundation
A Plan for Connecting New Jersey  |  Read below  |  Kevin Taglang  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Minnesota turkey farmers say expanded rural broadband could help detect bird flu sooner  |  Read below  |  Christopher Vondracek  |  Minneapolis Star Tribune
Ezee Fiber Makes $200 Million Investment in Texas Expansion  |  Read below  |  Phil Britt  |  telecompetitor
70% of Colquitt County (GA) to Be ‘Fiber Ready’ in 2024  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Windstream
Mission Accomplished: Pulse Fiber Internet is now available throughout Loveland  |  Summary at Benton.org  |  Press Release  |  Pulse
Wilkes/RiverStreet Scores Big Loan For Fiber Broadband Projects  |  Read below  |  Joan Engebretson  |  telecompetitor

Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality: What It Means for Your Everyday Internet Access and Streaming Speeds  |  Read below  |  Corinne Reichert  |  C|Net
Network slicing and net neutrality  |  Read below  |  Christopher Yoo  |  Research  |  Telecommunications Policy

Supply Chain

President Biden Announces New Actions to Strengthen America’s Supply Chains, Lower Costs for Families, and Secure Key Sectors  |  White House


Elliott Investment Management Renews Push for Change at Crown Castle  |  Wall Street Journal


SpaceX says it’s ready to test satellite-to-phone system with T-Mobile  |  Fierce
NTIA Reply Comments in FCC Proceeding on Facilitating Capabilities for In-Space Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing  |  National Telecommunications and Information Administration
Analysts size up Dish’s spectrum portfolio  |  Fierce


Kids & Media

At Meta, Millions of Underage Users Were an ‘Open Secret’  |  New York Times
Meta Designed Products to Capitalize on Teen Vulnerabilities  |  Wall Street Journal
How Your Child’s Online Mistake Can Ruin Your Digital Life  |  New York Times


Five days of chaos: What just happened at OpenAI?  |  Los Angeles Times
Altman firing showed influence of effective altruism and its view that AI development must slow down; his return marked its limi  |  Wall Street Journal
OpenAI and X: Promises of populist technology, shaped by a single man  |  Washington Post
Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella, the Unexpected Winner in the Craziest Week in AI  |  Wall Street Journal

Platforms/Social Media

Some X ‘misinformation super-spreaders’ may be eligible for ads payouts  |  Vox
4 Tips to Spot Misinformation on the Web  |  Wired
X May Lose Up to $75 Million in Revenue as More Advertisers Pull Out  |  New York Times


The New Economics of Buying or Renting Audiobooks  |  Wall Street Journal

How We Live Now

Welcome to Hochatown, the Town Created by Airbnb  |  New York Times


Here Are the Members of Congress Giving Up Their Seats, Setting Up a 2024 Fight  |  New York Times
Members of Congress Head for the Exits, Many Citing Dysfunction  |  New York Times
Melani Griffith appointed as Chief Growth Officer for Google Fiber  |  Google Fiber

Stories From Abroad

Promotion of high-capacity broadband in the face of increasing global stress  |  Read below  |  J Scott Marcus, Alicia Garcia Herrero, Lionel Guetta-Jeanrenaud  |  Research  |  Telecommunications Policy
Gazans Are Trying to Stay Online Under Siege. New Tech Is Struggling to Help.  |  Vice
China Tried to Keep Kids Off Social Media. Now the Elderly Are Hooked  |  Wired
Measuring the digital economy in Vietnam  |  Telecommunications Policy
Today's Top Stories


FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for December Open Meeting

Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commision

Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced that the items below are tentatively on the agenda for the December Open Commission Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, December 13, 2023:

  1. Protecting Consumers from Early Termination and Billing Cycle Fees – The Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would adopt rules to protect consumers from video service junk fees, including early termination fees and billing cycle fees. (MB Docket No. 23-405)
  2. Targeting and Eliminating Unlawful Text Messages – The Commission will consider a Second Report and Order, Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Waiver Order to combat illegal robotexts by facilitating blocking of illegal robotexts, codifying do-not-call rules for texting, and closing a loophole that allows certain callers to inundate consumers with unwanted robocalls and robotexts.  The item also seeks comment on further efforts to combat illegal robocalls and robotexts. (CG Docket Nos. 21-402, 02-278, 17-59)
  3. Achieving 100% Wireless Handset Model Hearing Aid Compatibility – The Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that tentatively concludes that hearing aid compatibility for 100% of wireless handset models is an achievable objective and seeks comment on proposals to implement this requirement. (WT Docket No. 23-388)
  4. Faster Pole Attachment Processes for Broadband Deployment – The Commission will consider a Fourth Report and Order, Declaratory Ruling, and Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to promote the deployment of broadband infrastructure by making the pole attachment process faster, more transparent, and more cost-effective by adopting rules allowing for faster resolution of pole attachment disputes and providing pole attachers with more detailed information about the poles they plan to use as part of their broadband buildouts. The Commission will also seek comment on ways to further facilitate the approval process for pole attachment applications and make ready to enable quicker broadband deployment. (WC Docket No. 17-84)
  5. Improving the Rural Health Care Program – The Commission will consider a Third Report and Order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Rural Health Care Program.  The improvements under consideration would reduce burdens on, and enhance flexibility for, program participants, simplify existing program rules, and free up for other uses unclaimed program support. (WC Docket No. 17-310)
  6. Data Breach Notification Rules – The Commission will consider a Report and Order to update the Commission’s data breach notification rules in order to ensure that providers are held accountable in their obligations to safeguard sensitive customer information, and provide customers with the tools needed to protect themselves in the event that their data is compromised. (WC Docket No. 22-21)
  7. Implementing the Low Power Protection Act – The Commission will consider a Report and Order to implement the Low Power Protection Act by providing eligible low-power television stations with an opportunity to apply for primary status and protect their ability to deliver local programming. (MB Docket No. 23-126)
  8. Enforcement Bureau Action – The Commission will consider an enforcement action.


A Plan for Connecting New Jersey

Kevin Taglang  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

The New Jersey Office of Broadband Connectivity (OBC) is spearheading the state's effort to implement New Jersey’s vision for digital equity. OBC recently released a draft Digital Equity Plan titled Connecting New Jersey. The plan offers a view of the state’s needs, resources, vision, and ambition regarding digital equity. OBC is seeking feedback through November 30, 2023. After receiving feedback, OBC will update the draft and expects to finalize the New Jersey Digital Equity Plan by early 2024. New Jersey's digital equity vision is for every resident to have the confidence and competence to harness the power of the internet, devices, and digitally accessible services. Digital equity can help New Jersey bridge economic and achievement disparities among all residents, enabling them to lead fulfilling lives with dignity.

Minnesota turkey farmers say expanded rural broadband could help detect bird flu sooner

Christopher Vondracek  |  Minneapolis Star Tribune

Despite political momentum for rural broadband buildouts, many Minnesota farms still lack the internet technology that might otherwise ease the arduousness of working a farm. In 2023, Minnesota politicians touted record investments in broadband infrastructure, including more than $700 million in federal and state funding. The goal: wiring the entire state with high-speed internet, much like last century's expansion of rural electrification. Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan (D-MN) said the state aims to hook up families with faster connectivity, whether they live in Minneapolis or the farthest "reaches of the north woods." "As equipment becomes more advanced, our farms, our soybean fields, our cornfields, and our transportation systems are increasingly relying on strong internet connection," Lt. Gov. Flanagan said. Poor internet connection on farms causes a range of problems—from minor lifestyle inconveniences to more meaningful limitations.

Ezee Fiber Makes $200 Million Investment in Texas Expansion

Phil Britt  |  telecompetitor

Houston (TX)-based Ezee Fiber is investing $200 million in the continued expansion of its high-speed, 100% fiber optic network in Fort Bend County, a fast-growing area in southeast Texas. The investment pushes forward the company’s plans to reach an additional 125,000 Fort Bend County homes in 2024. The high-speed fiber internet is expected to be available to residents of Mission Bend, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Pearland and surrounding communities by the end of the third quarter of 2024. With the expansion, there will be a wide range of construction and engineering career opportunities throughout those markets. To minimize local disruption, the construction will proceed by geographic zones, bringing the company’s multi-gig internet product to thousands of new homes every month. Residents will receive construction updates by mail and door hangers prior to construction so that they can plan appropriately.

70% of Colquitt County (GA) to Be ‘Fiber Ready’ in 2024

Press Release  |  Windstream

Fiber internet provider Kinetic plans to make 70% of Colquitt County (GA), or more than 17,000 homes and businesses, “fiber ready” in 2024 in a $32.5 million public-private partnership. Some 40% of the county, or more than 9,700 homes and businesses, including in county seat Moultrie, are already eligible for Kinetic’s fiber broadband, which provides internet speeds of up to 8 gigabits per second. Kinetic plans to add nearly 7,400 more customers with the new construction. The communities benefiting from the new construction are Moultrie, Berlin, Doerun, Funston and Norman Park. Kinetic plans to lay more than 440 miles of optical fiber cable as it works its way through all the communities to bring high-speed internet to customers. It has already laid more than 180 miles of fiber cable. The company will use about $21.4 million in state grant money from the federal government. The money comes from the U.S. Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program, part of the federal American Rescue Plan COVID-19 stimulus package. Kinetic will invest $11.1 million and cover any cost overruns.

Wilkes/RiverStreet Scores Big Loan For Fiber Broadband Projects

Joan Engebretson  |  telecompetitor

RiverStreet Networks, a sister company of rural provider Wilkes Communications, has received a $191.1 million loan from CoBank that will go, in part, to refinance legacy US Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service financing and, in part, to deploy fiber broadband in rural areas of North Carolina and Virginia. Wilkes Communications has been the incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) in Wilkes County (NC) for over 60 years, while RiverStreet serves customers in other counties. Eric Cramer, president and CEO of Wilkes/RiverStreet, said that the total project cost will be $330 million, with 82% of total costs funded through a variety of federal, state, and local grants. In addition, $100 million from the CoBank loan will be used toward the project. Of that, $30 million already has been spent. The projects will include converting the remaining 25% of Wilkes/RiverStreet customers that are connected to the internet via copper to fiber.

Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality: What It Means for Your Everyday Internet Access and Streaming Speeds

Corinne Reichert  |  C|Net

One of the longest-running debates about internet access has entered a new phase, and the way it unfolds could directly affect everything you do online. You might remember the net neutrality debate from a decade ago. Originally voted in by the Federal Communications Commission during the Obama administration, net neutrality guidelines were subsequently ended by Donald Trump's FCC in 2017. Now a new push for it is back under President Joe Biden. FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel proposed restoring net neutrality rules in September, but there's a long road ahead still. Net neutrality is the principle that all internet traffic is treated equally -- meaning your broadband provider won't slow down or speed up sites you visit according to whether those sites pay extra money to have their traffic prioritized, or whether they have a special relationship with your provider. 

Network slicing and net neutrality

Christopher Yoo  |  Research  |  Telecommunications Policy

Whether network slicing complies with the net neutrality rules currently in force in Europe and previously applicable in the U.S. presents a key issue in the deployment of 5G. In many ways, both regimes frame the issues in a similar manner, with the exceptions for reasonable traffic management and specialised services likely to play the most important roles. Both regimes also focus on similar considerations, including whether measures are based on technical rather than business considerations and the distinction between measures aimed at improving the performance of the entire network or specific applications, although both distinctions are problematic in some respects. Both regimes also emphasize application agnosticism and end-user choice, with European law finding the former implicit in the latter. At the same time, European and U.S. law reflect some key differences: the regimes cover different types of entities, frame the issues in terms of nondiscrimination versus throttling and paid prioritization, take different positions on whether measures must be limited to temporary or exceptional circumstances, and place different weight on the impact of the rules on investment and on the relevance industry standards. The relatively undeveloped state of both legal regimes means that the ultimate answers must await enforcement decisions and actions by national regulatory authorities, and any subsequent judicial challenges to those decisions.

Stories From Abroad

Promotion of high-capacity broadband in the face of increasing global stress

J Scott Marcus, Alicia Garcia Herrero, Lionel Guetta-Jeanrenaud  |  Research  |  Telecommunications Policy

Geopolitical tensions have compounded supply chain disruptions that were already visible during the pandemic in ways that make achievement of ubiquitous broadband even more difficult and potentially more expensive than in the past. Promotion of broadband deploymentadoption and use are all important for both fixed and mobile broadband; however, different policy levers are needed in each case, on both the supply and demand sides. The market will not always deliver complete solutions. On the supply side, there is a role for regulation, targeted industrial policy and public finance. Promotion of competition, combined with prompt and efficient provision of access to resources such as electromagnetic spectrum and access to land and rights of way, can be particularly important. The demand side calls for different measures, including ensuring not only widespread availability of personal computers or smart phones, but also training and demand aggregation. Broadband availability can potentially also be boosted by judicious use of economic recovery funds, and potentially also from new tax revenues arising from global tax reforms agreed within the G20 and the OECD. This paper seeks to provide examples of contemporary best practice, based on examples drawn primarily from countries that are members of the G20.

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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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Kevin Taglang
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Benton Institute
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