Daily Digest 12/12/2023 (Google)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents

Digital Divide

92 Percent of U.S. Households Get an Internet Service at Home  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Leichtman Research Group

Broadband Funding

Benton Foundation
Ensuring Bids for ALL Eligible Locations in BEAD: The Challenge Ahead  |  Read below  |  Carol Mattey  |  Op-Ed  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Department of the Treasury Announces Approval of Federal Funds to Improve Workforce Training, Education, and Health Monitoring in Washington, DC  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Department of the Treasury
Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Grant Areas  |  Read below  |  Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

Net Neutrality

FCC Denies Request to Extend Open Internet Comment Deadline  |  Federal Communications Commission
Mark Jamison | Competition—Not Net Neutrality Regulations—Should Determine the Future of Broadband  |  American Enterprise Institute

State/Local Initiatives

Idaho Broadband Advisory Board Announces Capital Projects Fund Awards  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Idaho Department of Commerce
#ConnectSTL Digital Inclusion Coalition Kicks Off  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  St. Louis Development Corporation


US Starlink Data Points to Larger Addressable Base for LEO Broadband ISPs  |  Read below  |  Mark Giles  |  Research  |  Ookla


Google Loses Antitrust Court Battle With Makers of Fortnite Video Game  |  Read below  |  Nico Grant  |  New York Times
How Tucker Carlson helped persuade Elon Musk to reinstate Alex Jones on X  |  Washington Post
The forgotten bands going supersonic thanks to gen Z  |  Guardian, The

Kids & Media

Teens, Social Media and Technology 2023  |  Read below  |  Monica Anderson, Michelle Faverio, Jeffrey Gottfried  |  Research  |  Pew Research Center

Consumer Protections

NCTA: FCC Can’t Ban Cable Early Termination Fees and Billing Cycle Fees  |  Policyband


Microsoft and Labor Unions Form ‘Historic’ Alliance on AI  |  Bloomberg
Statement to the US Senate AI Insight Forum on “Risk, Alignment, and Guarding Against Doomsday Scenarios”  |  Information Technology & Innovation Foundation
Op-ed | Should A.I. Accelerate? Decelerate? The Answer Is Both.  |  New York Times


CHIPS Support for Critical U.S. National Security Project in Nashua, New Hampshire  |  Department of Commerce

Company News

Comcast rolls DOCSIS 4.0 into Philly  |  Light Reading
Small Kentucky Cable Company DUO Broadband to Shut Off Video  |  Policyband

News from Abroad

US Debates Data Policy to Avoid a Fragmented Global Internet  |  Read below  |  Shawn Donnan, Anna Edgerton  |  Bloomberg
Prohibiting inflation-linked price rises  |  Ofcom
Why the EU AI Act was so hard to agree on  |  MIT Technology Review
Today's Top Stories

Digital Divide

92 Percent of U.S. Households Get an Internet Service at Home

Press Release  |  Leichtman Research Group

Ninety-two percent of US households get an Internet service at home, compared to 83 percent in 2018 and 76 percent in 2008. Broadband accounts for 98 percent of households with an Internet service at home, and 90 percent of all households get a broadband Internet service- an increase from 81 percent in 2018 and 57 percent in 2008. Other related findings include:

  • 70 percent of broadband subscribers agree that their Internet service meets the needs of their household, while 5 percent disagree
  • 64 percent of broadband subscribers rate the quality of the speed of their Internet connection 8-10 (with 10 being excellent), higher than any year in the past decade, including 53 percent in 2018 and 58 percent in 2013. Just 3 percent rate speed 1-3 (with 1 being poor) 
  • 42 percent of broadband subscribers do not know the download speed of their service – compared to 59 percent in 2018
  • 22 percent of broadband subscribers report that their provider is the only one available in their area – compared to 27 percent in 2021
  • 87 percent of households use at least one laptop or desktop computer, and 96 percent of this group get an Internet service at home
  • Those that do not use a laptop or desktop computer at home account for 64 percent of all that do not get an Internet service at home

Broadband Funding

Ensuring Bids for ALL Eligible Locations in BEAD: The Challenge Ahead

Carol Mattey  |  Op-Ed  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

States are racing to finish their Initial Proposals for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's $40+ billion Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program. One of the things they need to be thinking about is how to design their programs so that they have viable applicants for all their eligible locations, not just most of them. This requires a radical shift in mindset from past grantmaking activities, when the state’s task was to award grants to improve service in discrete areas. NTIA has said time and time again, the Administration’s goal is to bring high-speed reliable internet to all. 95% coverage is not an A—it’s a failure. States like Colorado and Texas have discovered in prior funding programs that some geographies eligible for awards received no applications. That’s a problem that has to be solved.

Department of the Treasury Announces Approval of Federal Funds to Improve Workforce Training, Education, and Health Monitoring in Washington, DC

Press Release  |  Department of the Treasury

The Department of the Treasury announced the approval of $22.5 million in federal funds for a multi-purpose community facility providing health care, education, and workforce services in Washington (DC) as a part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda. These federal resources will go towards the expansion of Whitman-Walker’s Max Robinson Center at the St. Elizabeth’s East Campus—an organization that provides critical health care services to underserved communities, particularly to the LGBTQ community. This funding, part of the American Rescue Plan’s Capital Projects Fund, will enable the center to increase access to health care services for residents through telehealth and in-person visits, accepting an estimated 10,000 new patients by 2025, in addition to the 5,000 patients currently served. Specifically, part of this investment will allow the Center to build two multipurpose community spaces that will support community health and wellness initiatives, as well as 63 exam, therapy, and consult rooms which will enable expanded telemedicine services. The expanded center will also provide public access to computer terminals and high-speed wireless broadband internet throughout the building. Community space in the center will be used to host resume building and interview skills workshops as well as education and training programs focused on community residents. 

Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Grant Areas

Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

When I first read the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act legislation that created the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) grants, I thought it was going to be a grant program that a whole lot of my clients would choose to ignore. The requirements in the legislation seemed overwhelming. But over the last year, my opinion mellowed because I assumed that State Broadband Offices (SBOs) would soften some of the rough edges of the federal rules. SBOs were supposed to meet with internet service providers (ISPs) and other constituencies to hear their concerns, and since ISPs are the ones that ultimately will accept the BEAD grants, I assumed SBOs would try to make rules that will lure ISPs to participate. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case, and many states are layering on additional rules that make these grants even less attractive to ISPs. It’s clear that these states did not sit with ISPs and discuss their ideas before publishing them. That is mindboggling because, at the end of the day, ISPs are the ones that can accept and implement grants. If grant rules don’t work for ISPs, they don’t work at all.


Idaho Broadband Advisory Board Announces Capital Projects Fund Awards

Press Release  |  Idaho Department of Commerce

The Idaho Broadband Advisory Board (IBAB) has awarded $120 million in funding from the Idaho Capital Projects Fund (CPF) to 18 broadband projects across Idaho, connecting over 30,000 homes and businesses. The IBAB and the State of Idaho funded broadband projects that assist with or improve distance learning, telehealth, telework, economic development and public safety. These awards meet the federal CPF criteria and improve internet connectivity in unserved and underserved locations. 

#ConnectSTL Digital Inclusion Coalition Kicks Off

Press Release  |  St. Louis Development Corporation

On December 5, 2023, the City of St. Louis, TechSTL, and the St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC) hosted the #Connect STL Digital Inclusion Summit. The event kicked off the #ConnectSTL Digital Equity & Inclusion Coalition, which seeks to encourage collaboration and cooperation with technology-driven businesses and community stakeholders interested in helping to bridge the digital divide in St. Louis. Filament lead workshops for the #ConnectSTL Coalition focusing on collaboration and outlining current projects and plans for moving forward with Digital Equity work. Aaron Deacon from KC Digital Drive and Janie Dunning from the Show Me Broadband Coalition presented. Click here to learn more about the Digital Equity Plan, which includes specific actions that can be taken to mitigate the digital divide and achieve digital equity for all St. Louisans.


US Starlink Data Points to Larger Addressable Base for LEO Broadband ISPs

Mark Giles  |  Research  |  Ookla

The telecommunications industry continues to watch SpaceX Starlink’s expansion and performance closely, as the number of subscribers to its broadband service grows and other satellite providers enter the fray. While median download performance remains a key benchmark, we see strong demand to understand how Starlink is balancing net new additions with its network capacity as the service scales, and how LEO Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) performance stacks up against the competition, particularly in rural locations. Key takeaways include:

  • Starlink isn’t shooting for the stars, but is successfully managing to balance capacity and demand. Starlink median download performance in the U.S. was 64.54 Mbps in Q3 2023, a marginal decline quarter on quarter, though Starlink did show strong increases in September, October and November.
  • Starlink’s US LEO broadband performance eclipses that of geostationary orbit (GEO) satellite internet providers. Starlink offers a significant boost on GEO satellite broadband speeds, but its multi-server latency is where Starlink really shines.
  • Starlink’s performance in rural US locations orbits at a similar level to the competition. While it can’t match leading cable or fiber providers on median speeds or multi-server latency, Starlink offers a very viable alternative in locations where cable and fiber access networks aren’t present. 
  • The constellation of Speedtest Starlink samples highlights significant urban LEO broadband demand. While still skewing towards rural locations if we adjust for population, almost 60% of Speedtest Starlink samples were recorded in urban locations in the US. 


Google Loses Antitrust Court Battle With Makers of Fortnite Video Game

Nico Grant  |  New York Times

A jury ruled that Google violated antitrust laws to extract fees and limit competition from Epic Games and other developers on its Play mobile app store, in a case that could rewrite the rules on how thousands of businesses make money on Google’s smartphone operating system, Android. After deliberating for a little more than three hours, the nine-person federal jury sided with Epic Games on all 11 questions in a monthlong trial that was the latest turn in a three-year legal battle. The jury in San Francisco found that Epic, the maker of the hit game Fortnite, proved that Google had maintained a monopoly in the smartphone app store market and engaged in anticompetitive conduct that harmed the videogame maker. Google could be forced to alter its Play Store rules, allowing other companies to offer competing app stores and making it easier for developers to avoid the cut it collects from in-app purchases. Judge James Donato of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California will decide the remedies needed to address Google’s conduct in 2024. Google said it would appeal the verdict.

Kids & Media

Teens, Social Media and Technology 2023

Monica Anderson, Michelle Faverio, Jeffrey Gottfried  |  Research  |  Pew Research Center

Despite negative headlines and growing concerns about social media’s impact on youth, teens continue to use these platforms at high rates—with some describing their social media use as “almost constant." Here’s a look at the key findings related to online platforms:

  • YouTube continues to dominate. Roughly nine-in-ten teens say they use YouTube, making it the most widely used platform measured in our survey.

  • TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram remain popular among teens: Majorities of teens ages 13 to 17 say they use TikTok (63 percent), Snapchat (60 percent) and Instagram (59 percent). 

  • Teens are less likely to be using Facebook X (formerly known as Twitter) than they were a decade ago: only 33 percent reported using Facebook, which once dominated among teens. 

  • Teens’ site and app usage has changed little in the past year. The share of teens using these platforms has remained relatively stable since spring 2022, when Pew last surveyed on these topics. 

News from Abroad

US Debates Data Policy to Avoid a Fragmented Global Internet

Shawn Donnan, Anna Edgerton  |  Bloomberg

The White House is racing to overcome internal differences and hash out a new policy over how the US and other governments should view the rapid rise of global data flows that are fueling everything from artificial intelligence to advanced manufacturing. In a series of sessions due to begin on December 13, 2023, President Joe Biden’s national security and economic teams will meet with companies, labor and human rights advocates, and other experts on the digital economy as part of a review launched last month, according to people directly involved. At issue is laying out a clear US position on the rules for the global internet as governments confront an accelerating amount of data flowing across borders with mounting economic, privacy, income inequality and national security consequences. Coming just days after the European Union agreed to new regulations for artificial intelligence, the Biden administration’s push highlights how governments are racing to figure out their role in a fast-evolving digital economy and competing to lead the conversation.

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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 Zoe Walker (zwalker AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.

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