Daily Digest 1/3/2023 (Happy 2023)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents

COVID and Connectivity

How COVID-19 Impacted U.S. Residential Internet Perceptions  |  Read below  |  Jamie Greig, Hannah Nelson  |  Research  |  Journal of Information Policy
Changes in Mobile Broadband Infrastructure in Georgia During the COVID−19 Pandemic  |  Journal of Information Policy

Broadband Funding

Biden-Harris Administration Awards More Than $6 Million to Massachusetts in ‘Internet for All’ Planning Grants  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  National Telecommunications and Information Administration
State Broadband Offices Should Emphasize Adoption and Sustainability  |  Read below  |  Em McPhie  |  BroadbandBreakfast
More Assistance for Rural America  |  Read below  |  Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

Broadband Data & Mapping

Broadband Data Collection Window Opens January 3, 2023  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission
FCC’s National Broadband Map: Implications for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program  |  Read below  |  Colby Leigh Rachfal, Ling Zhu  |  Analysis  |  Congressional Research Service
Hill Asks FCC to Allow for More Broadband Map Challenges  |  Read below  |  John Eggerton  |  Next TV
Challenges in Measuring the Internet for the Public Interest  |  Read below  |  KC Claffy, David Clark  |  Research  |  Journal of Information Policy
FCC Cellular Broadband Mapping  |  Summary at Benton.org  |  Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

Broadband Competition

FCC Releases 2022 Communications Marketplace Report  |  Read below  |  Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission
Benton Foundation
Here's How the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Will Make it Easier to Shop for Broadband Service  |  Read below  |  Kevin Taglang  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Effects of Market Structure on Broadband Quality in Local US Residential Service Markets  |  Read below  |  Kenneth Flamm, Pablo Varas  |  Research  |  Journal of Information Policy
AT&T to Build Broadband Services Outside Its Current Markets  |  Read below  |  Will Feuer  |  Wall Street Journal


$4.1M project will expand broadband internet access for northern Dauphin County, Pennsylvania  |  PennLive
Should ISPs Consider Open-Access?  |  Read below  |  Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting


Verizon’s in the process of kicking the remaining customers off its old 3G network — the last one in the US.  |  Vox
A Macroeconomic Model of Federal and Commercial Spectrum Usage  |  Journal of Information Policy

Social Media/Platforms

Facebook parent Meta agrees to pay $725 million to settle Cambridge Analytica suit  |  Read below  |  Arjun Kharpal  |  NBC
Reps. Cicilline, Buck Release Bill to Hold Online Platforms Accountable for Promoting Extremism  |  Read below  |  Rep David Cicilline (D-RI), Rep Ken Buck (R-CO)  |  Press Release  |  House of Representatives
Twitter rival Mastodon rejects funding to protect non-profit status  |  Financial Times


House Members Ordered To Delete TikTok  |  MediaPost
TikTok Ban Debate Moves From Washington to Main Street  |  Wall Street Journal
Lawmakers Signal Inquiries Into DEA’s Use of Graphite, a Spyware Tool Produced by Israeli company Paragon  |  New York Times
An Exploratory Study of Cybersecurity in Working from Home: Problem or Enabler?  |  Journal of Information Policy
Op-ed: The Signal App and the Danger of Privacy at All Costs  |  New York Times


Chip Inventories Swell as Consumers Buy Fewer Gadgets  |  Wall Street Journal


Google’s goals for carbon-free power are impeded by state-regulated utilities, particularly in the Southeast, that lack a compet  |  New York Times


Report to Congress on Robocalls and Transmission of Misleading or Inaccurate Caller Identification Information  |  Federal Communications Commission
Representatives Pallone (D-NJ) and Rush (D-IL) Applaud House Passage of the Martha Wright-Reed Act  |  House Commerce Committee


2022 in Review  |  White House
Chairman Pallone Highlights Energy and Commerce Committee Accomplishments for the 117th Congress  |  House Commerce Committee
2022: A Year of Big Moves for NTIA  |  Read below  |  Administrator Alan Davidson  |  Press Release  |  National Telecommunications and Information Administration


Divided Government Set to Return With Start of 118th Congress  |  Wall Street Journal
What the split Congress can actually accomplish in 2023  |  Vox
Key Tests Loom in 2023 for US Antitrust Enforcers  |  Wall Street Journal
The tech trends to watch for in 2023  |  Washington Post
The Tech That Will Invade Our Lives in 2023  |  New York Times


Tim Wu, an Architect of Biden’s Antitrust Push, Is Leaving the White House  |  New York Times
One of 2022’s Notable Nine: Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC  |  Read below  |  Jeff Foust, Sandra Erwin, Jason Rainbow, Debra Werner  |  Space News
Chairwoman Rosenworcel Names Six Members to the Board of Directors of USAC  |  Read below  |  Public Notice  |  National Telecommunications and Information Administration
FCC Ends Year Deadlocked, Unable To Advance Net Neutrality  |  Read below  |  Wendy Davis  |  Analysis  |  MediaPost

Stories From Abroad

Remote and Indigenous Broadband: A Comparison of Canadian and US Initiatives and Indigenous Engagement  |  Read below  |  Heather Hudson, Rob McMahon  |  Research  |  Journal of Information Policy
Tom Wheeler: Big Tech giving European consumers what they deny Americans  |  Brookings
Power of Incentives and Optimal Time of Investment in a Building-Blocks Approach to Regulation of a NZ Open-Access FTTH Network  |  Journal of Information Policy
Today's Top Stories

COVID and Connectivity

How COVID-19 Impacted U.S. Residential Internet Perceptions

Jamie Greig, Hannah Nelson  |  Research  |  Journal of Information Policy

This study analyzes how the COVID-19 pandemic has altered individual perceptions of Internet service providers (ISPs) and Internet importance, reliability, and status as an essential public utility (EPU). The authors found that lower-income, younger, women and racial-ethnic minority participants had lower ISP and Internet reliability perceptions. The pandemic increased the perception of the Internet as an EPU by 15% and access to in-home Information and Communication Technology was significantly related to perceptions of Internet importance and reliability. Significantly, women perceived higher importance of household Internet than men, specifically for education, employment, and telehealth. Additionally, racial-ethnic minorities relied on the Internet for entertainment and education more than white participants. The authors provide recommendations for public utility models of the Internet, Internet-reliant technology adoption campaigns, and policy that targets sociodemographic/geographic barriers to Internet access.

Broadband Funding

Biden-Harris Administration Awards More Than $6 Million to Massachusetts in ‘Internet for All’ Planning Grants

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that Massachusetts received its first “Internet for All” grants for deploying high-speed Internet networks and developing digital skills training programs under the Biden-Harris Administration’s Internet for All initiative. Massachusetts is receiving $6,003,760.60in funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to plan for the deployment and adoption of affordable, equitable, and reliable high-speed Internet service throughout the state. Massachusetts will receive $4,999,996.99 in Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) grants to fund various activities including: 

  • Developing of a 5-year action plan to close the broadband Internet availability gap;
  • Identifying unserved and underserved locations;
  • Asset mapping across Massachusetts to catalog high-speed Internet service adoption, affordability, equity, access and deployment;
  • Conducting community surveys to better understand barriers to Internet adoption;
  • Developing a data-driven strategy to achieve universal broadband access;
  • Creating a Massachusetts-specific digital needs assessment;
  • Awarding subgrant funding to the MassTech/Massachusetts Broadband Institute.

Massachusetts will receive $1,003,763.61 in Digital Equity Act grants to fund various activities including:

  • Developing a statewide digital equity plan to close the digital equity gap;
  • Hiring a digital equity inclusion specialist to create and execute the digital equity strategy;
  • Working with a consortium of higher education institutions;
  • Engaging with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance to seek advice and best practices.


State Broadband Offices Should Emphasize Adoption and Sustainability

Em McPhie  |  BroadbandBreakfast

As states begin to receive funds from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Act, they need to lay the groundwork for high adoption and fiscal sustainability said Brookings Institute panelists. The majority of the BEAD program’s $42.5 billion in funding has yet to be disbursed, and state allocations are expected by June 2023. But without efforts to drive adoption, the government’s investment in connectivity will fall short, panelists agreed. “Overwhelmingly, we know that if you are low-income in America, you are less likely to have access to a broadband connection… [It’s] not just about building out these connections — we really do need to be thinking about long-term solutions to affordability,” said Kathryn de Wit, project director for the Broadband Access Initiative at The Pew Charitable Trusts. Beyond affordability, other barriers to adoption include a lack of digital literacy, costs associated with devices, and concerns about privacy. Treating digital equity and access to technology as a priority rather than a “nice-to-have” would have benefits reaching far beyond individual consumers, de Wit said.


More Assistance for Rural America

Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

The Biden Administration launched an initiative, the Department of Agriculture's Rural Partners Network,  that has some interesting benefits for rural communities. The goal is to help rural areas maximize the benefits available from the federal government. The new program is putting federal employees directly in rural communities and making them available to help rural communities navigate the confusing federal bureaucracy. As an example, one of the primary roles of the Rural Partners Network is to help local communities find and apply for grants. I know this would be extremely useful just in the area of broadband. The program promises to help rural people and communities work with the Departments of Commerce, Education, and Interior, the Treasury, the Small Business Administration, and dozens of other agencies.

Data & Mapping

Broadband Data Collection Window Opens January 3, 2023

Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission

The Broadband Data Task Force announced that the Broadband Data Collection filing window for submitting broadband availability and other data as of December 31, 2022, will open on Tuesday, January 3, 2023. Starting on Jan 3, facilities-based broadband service providers may begin to file in the BDC system data that reflects where they made mass-market broadband internet access service available as of December 31, 2022. Such data must be submitted no later than March 1, 2023. Entities that choose to submit verified availability data in this filing window, such as authenticated state, local, and Tribal governmental entities who are primarily responsible for mapping or tracking broadband coverage in their jurisdictions, must also submit their availability data as of December 31, 2022, no later than March 1, 2023. Filers should submit their data in the BDC system here. Providers who are already licensees of the Fabric will receive an email from CostQuest providing them with access to the new Fabric data on a rolling basis as the opening of the filing window approaches

FCC’s National Broadband Map: Implications for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program

Colby Leigh Rachfal, Ling Zhu  |  Analysis  |  Congressional Research Service

Access to high-speed internet (i.e., broadband) has been a focus of congressional interest for decades as a significant—and growing—number of daily activities are conducted online. However, without accurate data, broadband maps may not reliably indicate need, and federal assistance may be provided to areas that already have sufficient service, leaving other areas unserved or underserved. The accuracy of the National Broadband Map is a key concern for many in Congress. On December 21, 2022, a group of 26 Senators wrote a letter to the FCC Chairwoman “to ensure the FCC’s national broadband maps satisfy the goals of the Broadband DATA Act and provide an accurate and reliable depiction of broadband availability across the nation, which plays a major role in decisions about the distribution of broadband infrastructure funding.” Congress could mandate an extension of the challenge process timeline for BEAD allocations if it finds that necessary to ensure all stakeholder concerns could be addressed before funds are awarded and distributed. Congress could also consider requiring the FCC to initiate a proceeding to gather public input on the resolution of challenges.

Hill Asks FCC to Allow for More Broadband Map Challenges

John Eggerton  |  Next TV

The bipartisan leadership of the Senate Commerce Committee wants stakeholders to have more time to challenge the accuracy of the Federal Communication Commission's new broadband availability map given what they said were the “significant flaws’ already discovered in the draft map. The FCC has conceded the mapping is an iterative process that will be improved by stakeholder challenges. The senators said, “it is absolutely critical that states, tribes, localities, and stakeholders have the necessary time to help ensure that the FCC’s final maps accurately reflect unserved and underserved areas.” They cited some examples where the FCC maps don't jive with a Microsoft analysis of where broadband is and isn't, and are clearly troubled by the disparity. For example, they say, in Washington state, 60% of the residences and businesses in one town on Tribal lands were missing from the FCC map, while in Mississippi, the state broadband office says a “tremendous amount” of addresses were missing in “high-growth” areas.


Challenges in Measuring the Internet for the Public Interest

KC Claffy, David Clark  |  Research  |  Journal of Information Policy

The goal of this article is to offer framing for conversations about the role of measurement in informing public policy about the Internet. Researchers reviewed different stakeholders’ approaches to measurements and associated challenges, including the activities of US government agencies. Overall, researchers found that advances in measurement in the public interest will have to address the following challenges: objectivity of measurements and associated inferences; legitimate business interests in secrecy; respect for privacy, the role of the research community, and sustainability. There are limits to what any given community or even set of stakeholders can do to overcome barriers to Internet measurement in the public interest. There are many actors in the ecosystem—researchers and the academic context within which they sit (with their priorities for publication, funding, advancement, and tenure), service providers, governments, advocates for various objectives ranging from privacy to improved access, and funding agencies. Changing the landscape of network measurement would require adjustment in many parts of this ecosystem. In the researchers' view, the question is not whether there needs to be a measurement of the Internet in the public interest, but instead, how to achieve it sustainably and constructively.


FCC Releases 2022 Communications Marketplace Report

Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission

The communications marketplace is in a substantial state of change and re-examination. During the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic drove millions of people to work and learn remotely, and consumers’ demand for fixed and mobile broadband, video, and audio services increased significantly. At the same time, there were considerable developments in the regulatory, technological, and business environment that will likely influence competition in the sector in the coming years. The FCC sees an emerging set of issues and opportunities presented by these changes in the marketplace: some trends that are encouraging and others that may pose challenges. First is the potential for more competitive broadband markets. Second is change in the wireless sector in the 5G era. Third is the rapid expansion of LEO satellite constellations and the emergence of new players in the commercial satellite industry.

Here's How the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Will Make it Easier to Shop for Broadband Service

Kevin Taglang  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

On November 14, 2022, the Federal Communications Commission adopted new rules requiring broadband internet service providers to display, in the form of labels, information regarding their service plans. The goal is to provide information that empowers consumers to choose services that best meet their needs and match their budgets and ensures that they are not surprised by unexpected charges or service quality that falls short of their expectations. Here we look at the FCC's new requirements and next steps in improving consumer access to clear, easy-to-understand, and accurate information that is central to a well-functioning marketplace and encourages competition, innovation, low prices, and high-quality services. (Once final regulatory steps are completed, these rules will likely become effective by the end of 2023.)

Effects of Market Structure on Broadband Quality in Local US Residential Service Markets

Kenneth Flamm, Pablo Varas  |  Research  |  Journal of Information Policy

Does the entry and exit of competitors to/from broadband services markets have large effects on the quality of broadband plans offered to consumers? Answers to this question inform the design of subsidies to improve broadband in underserved areas and antitrust policy. Researchers found strong evidence that market structure (competition) is very important in explaining the evolution of maximum available speeds available from legacy technology Internet service providers (ISPs) serving US urban census blocks over 2014–2018. Differences in the 2018 market structure seem to be by far the most important predictor of variation in improvements to legacy broadband service quality registered across U.S. duopoly census blocks over this period. Maximum offered legacy ISP speeds with a single fixed wireless ISP entrant have a negative, but statistically insignificant effect, which we speculate is due to the lower quality service entrant shifting the competitive focus toward price, and away from higher speed. With exit, and a duopoly census block devolving into a legacy monopoly, the maximum legacy ISP speed offered dropped by about 320 Mbps. Going from two to three legacy ISPs adds about 60 Mbps. A second fiber entrant resulted in about 90 Mbps added to the maximum speeds available from a legacy ISP. 

AT&T to Build Broadband Services Outside Its Current Markets

Will Feuer  |  Wall Street Journal

AT&T will launch broadband services in states it doesn’t currently serve by forming a joint venture with BlackRock to fund the rollout of fiber-optic networks in new markets. The venture with BlackRock Alternatives will be called Gigapower LLC and aims to reach an initial 1.5 million customer locations across the US. The companies didn’t disclose the financial terms of the deal or the states they would seek to serve. The joint venture will be in addition to ATT's current goal of reaching more than 30 million fiber locations, including businesses, by the end of 2025. 



Should ISPs Consider Open-Access?

Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

There are suddenly a lot of open-access networks springing up around the country. Traditionally, open-access networks have been built by local governments such as the public utility districts (PUDs) in Washington. Today, there are also open-access networks being built by commercial network owners. I’ve been asked by several internet service providers (ISPs) if they should consider operating on an open-access network. Here are a few of the most important factors to consider about operating on an open-access network:

  • Capital Expenditures: One of the primary reasons to think about using somebody else’s network is the savings from not having to fund and built a new network.  For small ISPs without a lot of borrowing capacity, an open-access network might be one of the easiest ways to get more customers.
  • Economy-of-scale: Another reason to consider operating on somebody else’s network is that anything that makes your ISP larger adds to economy-of-scale. There is a big benefit to spreading the costs of overheads like OSS/BSS systems and corporate staff costs over as many customers as possible.
  • Trust: One of the scary parts of being on an open-access network is being captive to the processes and prices charged by the network owner. 
  • No Technology Advantage: It’s an odd situation for an ISP to be operating on a fiber network and yet have no technology advantages over many of your competitors. 

Platforms/Social Media

Facebook parent Meta agrees to pay $725 million to settle Cambridge Analytica suit

Arjun Kharpal  |  NBC

Facebook parent Meta has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a class action lawsuit that claimed the social media giant gave third parties access to user data without their consent. It is the “largest recovery ever achieved in a data privacy class action and the most Facebook has ever paid to resolve a private class action,” said Keller Rohrback L.L.P, the law firm representing the plaintiffs. The class action lawsuit was prompted in 2018 after Facebook disclosed that the information of 87 million users was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, a consultancy firm linked to former President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign. The case was broadened to focus on Facebook’s overall data-sharing practices. Cambridge Analytica, which shut down after the allegations in 2018, was controversial because the data it harvested from Facebook was used to inform political campaigns. After the revelations, the Federal Trade Commission opened a probe into Facebook over concerns that the social media firm had violated the terms of a previous agreement with the agency, which required it to give users clear notifications when their data was being shared with third parties.


Reps. Cicilline, Buck Release Bill to Hold Online Platforms Accountable for Promoting Extremism

Rep David Cicilline (D-RI), Rep Ken Buck (R-CO)  |  Press Release  |  House of Representatives

Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI) and Ken Buck (R-CO) introduced the Platform Integrity Act (HR 9695), a bipartisan bill to correct the judicial misinterpretation of a provision of the Communications Decency Act [47 U.S.C. 230(c)(1), if you're scoring at home] by recognizing that online platforms may be held responsible for the content that they promote on their platforms. It does not create any new cause of action or basis for liability; it simply clarifies that section 230(c)(1)’s liability exclusion does not extend to content that platforms themselves take an active role in proliferating. The Platform Integrity Act makes clear that platforms have no excuse for amplifying extremism online. The Platform Integrity Act would:

  • Offer a simple and common-sense clarification of the scope of 47 U.S.C. 230(c)(1) by removing a bar to recovery for victims who have suffered harm from acts of terrorism, hate, or extremism enabled by online platforms’ content suggestions.
  • Reject the judicial misinterpretation of 47 U.S.C. 230(c)(1) whereby courts have concluded, for example, that the statute bars victims of terrorist attacks from seeking relief from a social-media company for its proactive role connecting the perpetrators through friend- and content-suggestion algorithms.
  • Adopt the correct interpretation of the statute reflected in the separate opinion of the late Honorable Robert Katzmann in Force v. Facebook, Inc., 934 F.3d 53 (2d Cir. 2019), wherein he concluded that “it strains the English language” to construe 47 U.S.C. 230(c)(1) “to say that in targeting and recommending [extremist] writings to users,” “thereby forging connections” and “developing new social networks,” online platforms are protected from liability by the statute.
  • Apply only to content that the platform actively promotes, leaving in place Section 230(c)(2)’s protection of platforms’ good-faith application of terms of service and community guidelines.


2022: A Year of Big Moves for NTIA

Administrator Alan Davidson  |  Press Release  |  National Telecommunications and Information Administration

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is like a start-up within the federal government, despite being nearly 45 years old. We delivered on programs to improve Internet connectivity while also notching big wins on spectrum policy, international standards, and other important tech policy issues. Highlights from the year included:

  • Launching the “Internet for All” campaign, and releasing key funding notices – ahead of schedule – for our major access, digital equity, and middle mile programs.
  • Hiring Federal Program Officers to cover every state and territory participating in Internet For All to ensure each has a point of contact within NTIA for help with their broadband funding needs.
  • Celebrating planning grant awards at events with 15 states and territories and alongside nine bipartisan governors.
  • Traveling to more than 35 states so our senior leaders could learn about the unique challenges each community faces in connecting the unconnected.

Here’s a look at NTIA By The Numbers in 2022:

  • $1.7 billion in grants to more than 200 Tribal entities, projected to connect more than 135,000 households, as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP).
  • 139-25, the vote in favor of Doreen Bogden-Martin.
  • Approximately 90,000 federal spectrum frequency assignments processed by the NTIA Office of Spectrum Management in 2022
  • 100% of the US states and territories signed up for the broadband infrastructure grant programs
  • One-third of NTIA employees newly hired since January of 2022.
  • $304 million in planning grants to all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, to help leaders prepare for the funding to come from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.



One of 2022’s Notable Nine: Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC

Jeff Foust, Sandra Erwin, Jason Rainbow, Debra Werner  |  Space News

Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel is simultaneously raising the profile of space within the Federal Communications Commission and the FCC within the space industry. In November 2022, Chairwoman Rosenworcel announced plans to create a new Space Bureau within the agency. Space topics, like licensing satellites, had for decades been a part of the FCC’s International Bureau, but she argued the proposed reorganization would free up resources to address the growing number of satellites, particularly in broadband mega-constellations. “You can’t just keep doing things the old way and expect to lead in the new,” she said in a speech announcing the proposed reorganization. A little more than a month earlier, Rosenworcel and her fellow commissioners voted unanimously on a new rule for deorbiting satellites. Both moves show that the FCC wants to take a bigger role in commercial space regulation. The industry has welcomed some of those efforts, including the proposed Space Bureau. Some, though, are wary of other efforts, including the new deorbiting rule and recent dockets on FCC roles in the satellite servicing field. They worry the FCC could be seeking to expand its role even as the National Space Council develops its own approach to overseeing new space activities. 


Chairwoman Rosenworcel Names Six Members to the Board of Directors of USAC

Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel appointed seven members to the Board of Directors of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). The three-year term for these positions begins on January 1, 2023.

  • Representative for commercial mobile radio service providers, Indra Sehdev Chalk, Director, Federal Regulatory Affairs, T-Mobile USA, Inc.;
  • Representative for cable providers, Christine Sanquist, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Charter Communications;
  • Representative for schools that are eligible to receive discounts pursuant to section 54.501 of the Commission’s rules, Dr. Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director, American Association of School Administrators;
  • Representative for libraries that are eligible to receive discounts pursuant to section 54.501 of the Commission’s rules, Amber Gregory, Manager of E-Rate Services, Arkansas State Library;
  • Representative for incumbent local exchange carriers (Bell Operating Companies), Stephanie Polk, Vice President of Customer Success and Advocacy, Lumen Technologies; and
  • Representative for state consumer advocates, Jeffrey Jay Waller, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Alaska Office of the Attorney General, Regulatory Affairs & Public Advocacy Section

The USAC Board of Directors will hold its next meetings on January 30 and 31, 2023.


FCC Ends Year Deadlocked, Unable To Advance Net Neutrality

Wendy Davis  |  Analysis  |  MediaPost

More than one year ago, President Joe Biden nominated longtime net neutrality proponent and consumer advocate Gigi Sohn [Senior Fellow and Public Advocate at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society] to the Federal Communications Commission. The full Senate has yet to vote on her confirmation. That failure has left the FCC politically deadlocked with two Republican commissioners and two Democratic ones. While the FCC has been able to agree on relatively noncontroversial policies, the political tie at the agency has left it unable to move forward with more contentious issues -- including net neutrality. President Biden consistently said he supports a return to the former net neutrality rules, which prohibit broadband carriers from blocking or throttling traffic, and from charging higher fees for prioritized delivery. Those rules, which were passed in 2015, were repealed during the Trump administration. Former FCC head Ajit Pai, who shepherded the repeal, claimed the rules depressed investment -- a claim disputed by the pro-neutrality advocacy group Free Press. Consumer advocates have been pressing for a full Senate vote on Sohn for more than a year. In 2023, assuming the White House doesn't withdraw her nomination, the Senate will have another opportunity to vote on Sohn. Whether lawmakers plan to do so any time soon remains unclear.

Stories From Abroad

Remote and Indigenous Broadband: A Comparison of Canadian and US Initiatives and Indigenous Engagement

Heather Hudson, Rob McMahon  |  Research  |  Journal of Information Policy

This article compares funding and other broadband policies for rural and Indigenous regions in Canada and in the United States, concluding with lessons from Canadian and US policy and regulatory experiences that could be relevant for broadband policy development in other countries with rural and Indigenous regions. There are many similarities in regulations and policies in the US and Canada concerning Indigenous and rural broadband. Both have several government funding programs to upgrade or extend rural broadband, including to Indigenous/Tribal communities. In both countries, Indigenous organizations, including Indigenous providers, have advocated for policies to extend affordable broadband, and to require consultation by carriers that receive government funding or licenses to serve Indigenous lands. There are also some important differences:

  • Unlike the US, Canada has no national policy of providing operational subsidies for rural providers or low-income users;

  • There are no units responsible for Indigenous matters within federal telecommunications agencies (CRTC and ISED) in Canada, whereas there is a unit (ONAP) within the Federal Communication Commission;

  • In Canada, the CRTC provides funding for nonprofit (including Indigenous) organizations for participation in regulatory proceedings; there is no comparable funding for nonprofit participation in FCC proceedings;

  • The FCC has primarily relied on reverse auctions for allocating broadband funds in the US, while Canadian agencies primarily use comparative selection;

  • The FCC has approved some incentives for expediting broadband installation in the US such as OTMR. There is no comparable policy in Canada.

  • Consultation with Indigenous governments/communities is required for providers seeking to serve or access Tribal/Indigenous lands in the US, but may not be enforced. Such conditions are not generally required in Canada, although they may be included in some federal broadband funding guidelines.

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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 Grace Tepper (grace AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.

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