Daily Digest 1/23/2019 (Boston's Broadband Needs)

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Table of Contents


How Smart Strategy and Rigorous Analysis Enable Boston to Save While Effectuating City and Public Broadband Needs  |  Read below  |  Andrew Afflerbach  |  Analysis  |  CTC Technology & Energy
ITIF's Doug Brake Op-ed: Democrats, Please End the Long National Net Neutrality Nightmare  |  Morning Consult
Average US Household Broadband Data Consumption Hit 268.7 Gigabytes in 2018, a 33% increase from 2017  |  Open Vault


A T-Mobile-Sprint merger would be onerous for California's working families  |  Read below  |  Jessica Gonzalez  |  Op-Ed  |  Los Angeles Times
AT&T Lays Out Its Strategy for 5G in Business  |  AT&T


Robocalls: Big Telecom's Big Problem  |  New Center


If 5G Is So Important, Why Isn’t It Secure?  |  Read below  |  Tom Wheeler  |  Op-Ed  |  New York Times
What do Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand have in common? Cybersecurity chops  |  Read below  |  Joseph Marks  |  Analysis  |  Washington Post
DHS issues emergency order to civilian agencies to squelch cyberhijacking campaign analysts say could be linked to Iran  |  Washington Post


Supreme Court won’t hear a lawsuit over defamatory Yelp reviews, Sec. 230 of Communications Decency Act  |  Vox
A viral story spread. The mainstream media rushed to keep up. The Trump Internet pounced.  |  Washington Post
Social media is rotting democracy from within  |  Read below  |  Zack Beauchamp  |  Analysis  |  Vox


Department of Labor accuses Oracle of rampant exclusion of black and Hispanic people in hiring and higher pay for white men  |  Guardian, The


Users rely on traditional news amid misinformation crisis  |  Axios


Netflix becomes first streaming company to join the MPAA  |  Vox
The campaign to dethrone Netflix  |  Axios
Viacom Gets Into Streaming By Acquiring Pluto TV  |  Broadcasting&Cable
The magic streaming budget number: $38  |  Axios

Government Performance

Government shutdown halts the Trump FCC’s deregulation agenda  |  Read below  |  Tom Wheeler  |  Analysis  |  Brookings Institution

Government & Communications

White House Deputy Press Sec: Press briefings will resume when 'we need to come to the podium'  |  Hill, The
President Trump: Kentucky students ‘have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be’  |  Hill, The
Rep Tlaib (D-MI): 'Right wing media is now targeting my little sister'  |  Hill, The
Library of Congress Needs Volunteers to Digitize Its Records  |  nextgov


Google, Facebook spend big on US lobbying amid policy battles  |  Reuters

Stories From Abroad

Did Australia Poke a Hole in Your Phone’s Security?  |  New York Times
China’s Plan for Tech Dominance Is Advancing, Business Groups Say  |  Wall Street Journal
Tensions Rise Over US Arrest of Iranian News Agency’s American Journalist  |  New York Times
How Huawei Wooed Europe With Sponsorships, Investments and Promises  |  New York Times
Today's Top Stories


How Smart Strategy and Rigorous Analysis Enable Boston to Save While Effectuating City and Public Broadband Needs

Andrew Afflerbach  |  Analysis  |  CTC Technology & Energy

Like most cities, Boston (MA) needs an expanded fiber optic network to serve the fast-growing needs of City schools, police, and other departments—plus a range of applications like public safety cameras. Boston understood its needs—but needed more clarity on its choices. Would it be possible to affordably lease all the fiber it might need for decades to come? Or should it build its own fiber—expanding the existing City network known as BoNET? The City took a strategic approach to the issue—choosing to develop a plan to meet City broadband needs and simultaneously accomplish other policy goals, as cost-effectively as possible. To do this, Boston chose a model in which it would use its buying power to incent private sector deployment of massive fiber capabilities. Some of the fiber would go to satisfy City needs, and the balance would then be available to private Internet service providers for services deeper into the community, for backhaul, and for other uses that will improve broadband outcomes in the City.

[Andrew Afflerbach, PhD, PE, is CEO & Chief Technology Officer of CTC Technlogy & Energy]


A T-Mobile-Sprint merger would be onerous for California's working families

Jessica Gonzalez  |  Op-Ed  |  Los Angeles Times

A proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, the country’s third- and fourth-largest wireless operators, would have a profound impact on Californians. Wireless prices will rise so the merger will be particularly onerous for customers on tight budgets. In California especially, low-income customers tend to be people of color and immigrants. The merger would therefore disproportionately burden this vulnerable group — many of whom rely on cellphones as their only form of internet access. A significant portion of these customers use cellphones to meet basic needs. Taking from the poor (disproportionately people of color) to give to the rich (predominantly white people) is a form of structural racism. If regulators approve this merger, they will further entrench existing inequalities in the telecom sector, where companies are notorious for failing to adequately serve communities of color. The FCC, the Justice Department and the California Public Utilities Commission are considering conditions to mitigate the merger’s many harms. But let’s get real. Mitigations rarely work, and government bodies haven’t been able to enforce them. Regulators should reject this merger outright.

[Jessica J. González is the deputy director and senior counsel for Free Press]


If 5G Is So Important, Why Isn’t It Secure?

Tom Wheeler  |  Op-Ed  |  New York Times

The Trump administration’s so-called “race” with China to build new fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks is speeding toward a network vulnerable to Chinese (and other) cyberattacks. So far, the Trump administration has focused on blocking Chinese companies from being a part of the network, but these efforts are far from sufficient. We cannot allow the hype about 5G to overshadow the absolute necessity that it be secure. The simple fact is that our wireless networks are not as secure as they could be because they weren’t designed to withstand the kinds of cyberattacks that are now common. This isn’t the fault of the companies that built the networks, but a reflection that when the standards for the current fourth-generation (4G) technology were set years ago, cyberattacks were not a front-and-center concern. The Trump administration has been told that cybersecurity is an “existential risk.” The new Congress should use its oversight power to explore just why the administration has failed to protect against that risk, especially when it comes to the next generation of networks.

[Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 2013 to 2017, is a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School]

What do Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand have in common? Cybersecurity chops

Joseph Marks  |  Analysis  |  Washington Post

With Sen Kamala Harris (D-CA) joining the field of 2020 hopefuls, all Democratic senators now running for president have pushed for major cyber policy reforms -- from cracking down on election interference to stemming the flood of data breaches. Sen Harris was a co-sponsor of the Secure Elections Act (S 2261) while Sen Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) backed a separate bill that would have launched a 9/11 Commission-style investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Sen Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), meanwhile, introduced legislation, the Data Breach Prevention and Compensation Act (S 2289), in the wake of the massive Equifax data breach to ratchet up consequences for credit ratings agencies that fail to protect people’s data.

In the 2020 election cycle, cybersecurity could prove an important issue to the Democratic base: Democrats are both more concerned about election security and more skeptical of the government’s ability to manage a major cyberattack than Republicans, according to recent public opinion polls. And the 2020 candidates entering the race with lengthy cyber policy records have the potential to be judged on their accomplishments on this complex topic -- and are likely to face tough questions about Russian hacking and disinformation operations, election security and Chinese intellectual property theft.


Social media is rotting democracy from within

Zack Beauchamp  |  Analysis  |  Vox

It is easier to spread misinformation on social media than to correct it, and easier to inflame social divisions than to mend them. The very nature of how we engage with Facebook and the rest now helps far-right, authoritarian factions weaken the foundations of democratic systems — and even give themselves an easier pathway to seizing power. It seems we have to admit a somewhat uncomfortable truth: Social media, in the way that it’s used now, is an authoritarian medium.

It’s best to think of the nature of social media as a medium that gives authoritarians an advantage, but not an insurmountable one. It can end up favoring pro-democracy forces, in certain situations and under the right conditions. But if both sides are equally skilled, the authoritarians should have a leg up. The deluge of information on social media overwhelms current platforms’ potential to spread important information. Social media right now is functioning as a kind of parody of the classic “marketplace of ideas” mode of the public square. Instead of the best ideas winning out in free debate, there are so many bad ideas that the good ones simply get drowned out.

Government Performance

Government shutdown halts the Trump FCC’s deregulation agenda

Tom Wheeler  |  Analysis  |  Brookings Institution

The companies that have been the beneficiaries of the Trump Federal Communications Commission’s deregulation are now discovering that a government that does nothing cannot serve their interests. Amazing as it may seem to those who have built their careers by proclaiming “government overreach,” closing the doors of the FCC hurts their businesses. For instance, consider the following examples of how the FCC shutdown is hurting telecommunications companies: The proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint has stopped dead in its tracks, the proposed merger of broadcast giants Nexstar and Tribune is also on ice, and the push for 5G wireless that the Trump FCC calls a national security-tinged “race” with China is slowed if the Commission cannot approve new 5G-capable phones and infrastructure. It is important to recognized that this is not a situation where employees walk back in and pick up where they left off a few days before. Over the course of a month (or more) so much new has piled up on the Commission’s plate that the first thing to do upon returning is to assess the new pile, the second step is to catch up on other developments in the intervening period, then the third step is to reprioritize. Only after that step-by-step process can the Commission get back to full productivity. Even if the Trump shutdown ends tomorrow, its effects at the Trump FCC will be felt for a long time to come.

[Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 2013 to 2017, is a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School]

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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) and Robbie McBeath (rmcbeath AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.

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