Daily Digest 12/4/2023 (Sandra Day O’Connor)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents

Broadband Funding

25 Million homes will lose broadband discounts if Congress keeps stalling, FCC warns  |  Read below  |  Jon Brodkin  |  Ars Technica
The Affordable Connectivity Plan's funding shortage could spark legislative response  |  Read below  |  Julia King  |  Fierce
Spending on infrastructure has fallen in real terms in America  |  Read below  |  Economist, The
Mark Jamison | Broadband Pricing Under BEAD  |  University of Florida
Mark Jamison | Protecting Broadband Freedom: A Call for Light-Handed Regulation  |  American Enterprise Institute

Data & Mapping

Limited Waiver of Engineering Certification for Broadband Data Collection Extended with Conditions  |  Read below  |  Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission

State/Local Initiatives

Benton Foundation
Equity for the Digital Age: Maryland's Plan  |  Read below  |  Grace Tepper  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Illinois courts help secure Foundation for Rural Services-Community Service Grants  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Illinois Courts
Editorial | Who are Mass Priorities and why are they so fixated on Falmouth’s plans to create a municipal broadband network?  |  Enterprise, The


2023 Report on School Connectivity  |  Read below  |  Research  |  Connect K-12


Reps Salinas, Harshbarger Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Expand Telehealth Services for Rural Americans  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  House of Representatives


Viasat’s Broadband Arctic Extension Closer as Spacecraft Complete Key Tests  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Viasat
Dish’s Boost Wireless Expands, Now Covers 140 Million People  |  Read below  |  Carl Weinschenk  |  telecompetitor
Amazon Hires Elon Musk’s SpaceX for Three Rocket Launches  |  Wall Street Journal

Artificial Intelligence

Copyright law will shape how we use generative AI  |  Read below  |  Megan Morrone  |  Axios
Medical AI Tools Can Make Dangerous Mistakes. Can the Government Help Prevent Them?  |  Wall Street Journal
With ChatGPT turning 1, Americans wonder whether AI is coming for their jobs  |  National Public Radio
Opinion | What Sports Illustrated’s BotGate really means for journalism  |  Washington Post
Making an image with generative AI uses as much energy as charging your phone  |  MIT Technology Review
LinkedIn has AI to enhance profiles. It made some sound robotic.  |  Washington Post

Platforms/Social Media

Ousted propaganda scholar Joan Donovan accuses Harvard of bowing to Meta  |  Washington Post
News outlets turn to Reddit as Musk’s X descends into chaos  |  Washington Post
X ramps up new advertising strategy following Elon Musk’s tirade  |  Financial Times

Kids & Media

Press Release | NTIA Receives More Than 500 Comments on Protecting Kids Online  |  National Telecommunications and Information Administration
Meta is expanding child safety measures as government and press reports mount  |  Vox

Government & Communications

Video | 'Make them pay': Trump demands government punish MSNBC for critical coverage  |  msnbc


Sec Raimondo Says Commerce Needs More Money to Halt China Chip Drive  |  Bloomberg


Debate over federal telework fumes in House Government Operations Subcommittee  |  nextgov


US Pay-TV Subscriptions Outnumbered By Streaming Services For The 1st Time  |  MediaPost


FCC Extends Deadline to Submit Nominations and Recommitment Letters for Membership on the Native Nations Communications Task For  |  Federal Communications Commission

Stories From Abroad

China Secretly Transforms Huawei Into Most Powerful Chip War Weapon  |  Bloomberg
TikTok Promises Billions To Europe, Ramps Up Focus On Data Security  |  MediaPost
Telecommunications Defy Forecasts by Spending Billions Less in Canada Spectrum Auction  |  Bloomberg
Today's Top Stories

Broadband Funding

25 Million homes will lose broadband discounts if Congress keeps stalling, FCC warns

Jon Brodkin  |  Ars Technica

A federal program that provides $30 monthly broadband discounts to people with low incomes is expected to run out of money in April 2024, potentially taking affordable Internet service plans away from well over 20 million households. For months, supporters of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) have been pushing Congress to give the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) more funding for the program. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel urged lawmakers to act during a November 30, 2023 House Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing. In an opening statement, Chairwoman Rosenworcel said the ACP is providing discounts for over 22 million households. The FCC expects that number to reach 25 million by April 2024, when the program would run out of money. The Biden administration requested $6 billion to fund the program through December 2024. In November 2023, the governors of 25 US states and Puerto Rico urged Congress to extend the ACP. The governors' letter pointed out that the US is spending $42.5 billion to deploy new broadband connections and said the low-income discounts help incentivize Internet Service Providers to build in rural areas.

The Affordable Connectivity Plan's funding shortage could spark legislative response

Julia King  |  Fierce

Representative Yvette Clarke (D-NY) hinted that she will introduce new legislation before the end of 2023 to address a significant funding gap for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP, which offers free or discounted high-speed internet to qualifying households, is expected to run out of money in April of 2024. Clarke and several other representatives addressed that issue at a House Energy & Commerce Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Oversight Hearing. “I plan to fight hard to make sure Congress provides the Commission with the administration's full funding request for the ACP,” said Clarke, referring to the Biden administration’s recent request for $6 billion from Congress to ensure the continuation of the ACP. “And to that end, I look forward to introducing legislation on that very subject before Congress concludes its work for the year.”

Spending on infrastructure has fallen in real terms in America

  |  Economist, The

Bringing broadband to under-served parts of rural America is one element of a giant infrastructure program that began in 2021 when President Joe Biden signed it into law. It was hailed as a historic opportunity to repair America’s bridges, rebuild its roads for electric vehicles and update its power grid and communications technology. However, instead of the anticipated surge, total infrastructure spending has fallen by more than 10% in real terms since the passage of the law. The most charitable explanation is that it takes time for big projects to get going. Construction is often behind schedule, and many of the biggest expenditures will come near the end of the infrastructure law’s five-year term. The problem is that inflation has been rampant in the construction sector, making delays that much more pernicious. However, delays are also a product of the infrastructure law itself. It included strict “Buy America” rules, requiring builders to source things at home to boost domestic manufacturing, and loaded on requirements to promote racial equity, environmental sustainability and fair wages. Despite the many frustrations, there are some bright spots. Several long-delayed projects are in motion. It is also important to recall the recent historical context: for decades American presidents failed to pass any significant infrastructure legislation. That makes the Biden administration’s efforts akin to “an athlete warming up to the game,” says Adie Tomer, of the Brookings Institution. “It takes time to get it right but they are absolutely doing it.”

Data & Mapping

Limited Waiver of Engineering Certification for Broadband Data Collection Extended with Conditions

Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission's Broadband Data Task Force, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, the Wireline Competition Bureau, and the Office of Economics and Analytics responded to a Petition for Extension of Waiver filed by the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) and USTelecom – The Broadband Association (USTelecom). The Petitioners request that the FCC renew the 2022 Waiver that temporarily waived the Commission’s requirement that the accuracy of a provider’s biannual Broadband Data Collection (BDC) filings be certified by a Professional Engineer (PE), subject to the condition that such filings be certified by an otherwise-qualified engineer who does not have the PE credential. The FCC grants the Petition to extend the limited waiver of the Commission’s rule for three filing periods (data as of December 31, 2023, June 30, 2024, and December 31, 2024), subject to certain conditions. Any provider availing itself of this waiver must: have its BDC submission certified by an engineering professional with the qualifications specified in the 2022 Waiver; preserve, for the applicable “as-of” filing date(s), certain categories of underlying network information for each submission filed under the waiver; and upon request, expeditiously provide this network information to the FCC.


Equity for the Digital Age: Maryland's Plan

Grace Tepper  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

In its draft Digital Equity Plan, the  Maryland Office of Statewide Broadband (OSB) recognizes that digital equity is crucial in today’s interconnected world. Maryland's plan is guided by a vision to achieve equity in the digital age, ensuring that no one is excluded or left behind due to disparities in access, skills, or resources. Broadband access and digital equity are integral to the well-being of the State of Maryland in the 21st century, serving as a linchpin for economic opportunity and community development, offering a pathway to increased innovation, entrepreneurship, and overall prosperity. The State of Maryland envisions a future where every individual, regardless of their location or background, has full access to high-speed internet connectivity and the tools necessary to harness its transformative potential. In this vision, urban and rural communities alike can fully participate in the digital economy. In this vision, comprehensive infrastructure investment will eliminate connectivity gaps, bridging the urban-rural divide and fostering a connected ecosystem that empowers residents, businesses, and governments to thrive in a digital society. In this vision, digital equity goes beyond infrastructure, emphasizing digital literacy and skills development as critical components. Citizens are equipped with the knowledge to confidently navigate the digital landscape, access online resources, and protect their privacy and security. Digital skills training is integrated into educational curricula, workforce development programs, and community initiatives to create an informed and empowered citizenry. Furthermore, the vision envisions targeted support for underserved communities, ensuring that they are not left behind in the digital transformation. The state's plan is open for public comments until tomorrow, December 2, 2023.

Illinois courts help secure Foundation for Rural Services-Community Service Grants

Press Release  |  Illinois Courts

The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) announced that two Illinois Probation Departments/County Court Services Departments were each awarded a $5,000 grant from the Foundation for Rural Services-Community Service Grants Program. The Foundation for Rural Services (FRS) is a nonprofit organization that works with the National Telephone Cooperative Association (NTCA) Rural Broadband Association to sustain and enhance the quality of life in rural America. Effingham County Probation Department’s ‘Discovery to Recovery Outpatient Substance Abuse Program’ will “provide new equipment to program participants, expand digital inclusion programming, and enhance probation and treatment compliance by expanding telehealth alternatives.” A smart board will be purchased for the Discovery to Recovery classroom. Woodford County Court Services will “bring broadband internet access to underserved probation clients and improve technology for probation officers who facilitate evidenced-based programs for their clients.” A computer lab for clients will be established in order for clients to access treatment, perform employment searches, and fulfill education or probation requirements. A smart board will be purchased for Woodford County Probation Officers to conduct evidenced-based programs for clients.


2023 Report on School Connectivity

Research  |  Connect K-12

The past decade has been marked by unprecendented challenges and opportunites for digital transformation in K-12 education. Today, the broadband landscape continues to thrive for education and the impact is inspiring. 74 percent of all districts are now meeting or exceeding the Federal Communications Commission’s recommended bandwidth goal of 1 Megabit per second per student, an increase of 57.4 percent since 2020. Prices continue to decrease, making upgrades more affordable. The median cost per megabit across all schools has continued to drop to just $1.01. Nationally, the price per megabit that school districts are paying for access varies greatly. On the high end, districts in Alaska pay a median $203.39 per megabit while in Utah, districts pay as low as $0.29 per megabit. This variance can be explained, in part, to the lack of competitive fiber-to-the-premises and fiber transport options


Reps Salinas, Harshbarger Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Expand Telehealth Services for Rural Americans

Press Release  |  House of Representatives

Representatives Andrea Salinas (D-OR) and Diana Harshbarger (R-TN) introduced the bipartisan Home-Based Telemental Health Care Act, legislation that would expand access to remote mental health and substance use services in rural America, especially for individuals working in the farming, fishing, and forestry industries. US Senators Mike Rounds (R-UT) and Tina Smith (D-MN) are leading a companion bill in the Senate. The Home-Based Telemental Health Care Act would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in coordination with the Rural Health Liaison of the Department of Agriculture, to award grants to entities to establish mental health and substance use services for rural Americans in their homes, particularly those working in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations. It would also authorize up to $10 million for each fiscal year through 2027 using current funds. The legislation is endorsed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), NAMI Oregon, National Rural Health Association, American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, Oregon Council for Behavioral Health, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, and Friends of Family Farmers.


Viasat’s Broadband Arctic Extension Closer as Spacecraft Complete Key Tests

Press Release  |  Viasat

Viasat, Inc. announced the second satellite in the upcoming Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission has completed thermal vacuum testing at Northrop Grumman’s Dulles, VA, site: a significant milestone as the project looks to connect the Arctic region with high speed broadband in the second half of 2024. The mission, led by the Space Norway subsidiary Heosat, will see two satellites deployed in a highly elliptical orbit (HEO) in the world’s first HEO mission carrying a broadband commercial service payload. The two satellites will extend Viasat’s high-speed global network across the Arctic region. Once launched, these new payloads will increase Viasat’s fleet size to 20, with an additional eight under development. The Arctic has rapidly growing connectivity needs to serve governments, shipping companies, commercial airlines, and scientists. In October 2023, the UK Government’s Environmental Audit Committee called for a greater political focus on the region and further research into the potential for environmental and economic impacts of changing weather patterns. Alongside GX10a and b, the spacecraft will host payloads for the Norwegian Armed Forces and the US Space Force.

Dish’s Boost Wireless Expands, Now Covers 140 Million People

Carl Weinschenk  |  telecompetitor

Dish’s Boost Mobile wireless network now covers 89 markets, with a footprint of 140 million people. The company recently added 12 new markets: Billings, MT; Cincinnati, OH; Columbia, SC; Denver, CO; Philadelphia, PA, Fayetteville, NC; Jacksonville, FL; Minneapolis, MN; Portland, OR; Shreveport, LA, Tucson, AZ; and Washington, DC. Dish bought the Boost Mobile business, which at the time was prepaid only, from T-Mobile as a condition of T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint. The deal closed in 2020. Dish owns spectrum and is moving traffic onto that network as it is built. The company also has agreements with AT&T and T-Mobile to use their networks to support the service where Dish’s own network is not available. When Dish acquired the Boost Mobile business, the company committed to cover 70 percent of the U.S. population with 5G by 2023. In June 2023, Dish said that it had met that threshold. 


Copyright law will shape how we use generative AI

Megan Morrone  |  Axios

In the year since the release of ChatGPT, generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been moving fast and breaking things, and copyright law is only beginning to catch up. Intellectual property law has shaped the internet for three decades. Now, it will shape the way we use generative AI. In August 2023, a federal court in Washington, D.C. ruled that copyright law only extends to humans, meaning that any work of art created with AI and without human input can't be copyrighted. Once humans alter that AI-created material in any way, the legal waters get murky, and we still have no idea how the law will handle disputes over attribution and disclosure. The U.S. Copyright Office posted a notice of inquiry and recently published submitted comments on AI-related questions, including the use of copyrighted works to train AI models, the ability to copyright anything generated with AI, and how to treat AI that's designed to imitate the the style of human artists.

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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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