Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Headlines Daily Digest
State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Helping Communities Recover from the Pandemic
States Collaborate with Education Leaders on Digital Equity Plans
Podcast: Reclaiming local news in the age of the internet | Brookings
Sen Cruz Has Some Questions About Platform Recommendation Systems | Senate Commerce Committee
5G hits the streets of New York | NetworkWorld
Telehealth Boosts Postpartum Visit Attendance Among Black Patients | mHealth Intelligence
Congress' new push to protect kids online | Axios
CoSN Files Comments with FCC on Use of E-rate Funds for Cybersecurity | Consortium for School Networking
Google Rolling Out 5 Gig Service | Google
Liberty Global buys 5% stake in Vodafone worth $1.5 billion | Financial Times
Recap: Sohn Nomination Hearing III | Read below | Kevin Taglang | Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to Retire at the End of Her Term | New York Times
President Biden Nominates Rebecca Kelly Slaughter for New Term as FTC Commissioner | White House
Christine Wilson | Why I’m Resigning as an FTC Commissioner | Wall Street Journal
Stories From Abroad
The South Korean case of deploying rural broadband via fiber networks through universal service and public-private partnerships | Summary at Benton.org | Hyeongjik Lee, Seonkoo Jeong, Kwanghee Lee | Research | Telecommunications Policy
Today's Top Stories
Press Release | Department of the Treasury
The State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) provided under President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act continue to play a crucial role in allowing county governments to stabilize their budgets, respond to the pandemic, and invest in their communities. SLFRF provides more than $65 billion in flexible aid to county governments, representing the first time in history this level of direct Federal support has gone to every county across the nation. SLFRF is allowing state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments to make key investments in infrastructure projects that respond to needs that were highlighted by the pandemic and that will support future economic growth. Overall, more than 2,500 governments have budgeted more than $20 billion for over 6,000 critical infrastructure projects that support expanded access to high-speed internet and clean water. SLFRF is helping counties to further supercharge the historic federal investments in infrastructure delivered by the Biden-Harris Administration through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and complementing the American Rescue Plan investment in expanded affordable highspeed internet access through Treasury’s Capital Projects Fund. Counties investing in infrastructure include:
Box Elder County, UT has spent $1.5 million to provide engineering, permitting, and construction resources for last-mile infrastructure investments to bring high-speed internet service to underserved rural communities in the county. This will help stabilize rural access to remote education, health care, and economic opportunity where privately-funded expansion is not feasible due to distances and low density.
Carroll County, MD budgeted $15 million to make investments in broadband infrastructure in response to COVID-19 when households and businesses lacking reliable high speed service were at a significant disadvantage in areas such as educational, economic, and health opportunities. Carroll County will increase access to the 12% of Carroll households and businesses currently unserved by a high-speed connection by providing 100/100 mbps service that will include an option for low-income customers.
Erie County, NY allocated $34 million to address the broadband needs of unserved areas, improve services in underserved areas of the community, and enable broadband deployment county-wide. The fiber optic backbone will be owned by the county but managed and controlled by ErieNet, a not-for-profit local development corporation. ErieNet will be open for any viable entity to use or provide services to support broadband technologies and services.
Doug Dawson | Analysis | CCG Consulting
One of the most interesting aspects of the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) grants is that the funding is intended to make sure that everybody gets broadband. There is one section of the grant rules that talk about how the funding can be used to serve areas as small as a single home:
"A 'project' may constitute a single unserved or underserved broadband-serviceable location, or a grouping of broadband-serviceable locations in which not less than 80 percent of broadband-serviceable locations served by the project are unserved locations or underserved locations."
"An 'Unserved Service Project' may be as small as a single unserved broadband-serviceable location."
There are small pockets of folks that have been left out of other broadband expansion projects. I’m curious about how small areas like this one can fit into the complicated BEAD grant rules. I’m sure the two different internet service providers (ISPs) that decided not to build these areas would do so if they got enough funding – which should be available from BEAD. But I can’t picture any ISP going through the massive hassle of plowing through the BEAD application and the myriad of rules to get the money to serve fifteen homes.
Nicole Ferraro | LightReading
The Federal Communications Commission is contracting communications firm Porter Novelli Public Services (PNPS) to carry out a "consumer education plan" in order to broaden public awareness of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The FCC detailed its plans to work with PNPS in a contract opportunity posted on Sam.gov, with an award date of February 1, 2023. The FCC "requires a contractor capable of providing a variety of services that will assist and complement our ongoing work of educating eligible households to enroll in the ACP," reads the notice. While an estimated 48 million households qualify for the ACP, just 15.5 million homes are enrolled. "Thus, a significant number of qualifying households have not yet enrolled in the ACP. Extensive outreach by a wide range of outreach partners is therefore needed to help maximize the potential impact of the ACP." Concerns about under-enrollment in the ACP have been raised for months. Various groups and stakeholders have pointed to issues ranging from a lack of awareness to complicated signup processes to a lack of multilingual educational materials and well beyond. PNPS was the only vendor to submit a proposal and was awarded that contract on December 6, 2022. The firm is now being hired by the FCC to execute the consumer education plan.
Press Release | Federal Communications Commission
Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel sent letters to the nation’s 9 largest providers of Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) seeking information on how these alerts can start to support more languages beyond English and Spanish. WEA messages provide geographically targeted, text-like messages to mobile devices alerting consumers of imminent threats to safety in their area. Since the program became operational in 2012, it has been used more than 70,000 times to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, or other critical situations. Currently, WEA supports only alerts in English and Spanish.
Kevin Taglang | Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Gigi Sohn, President Joe Biden's long-stalled nominee to the Federal Communications Commission fired back at her critics at a Senate Commerce Committee nomination hearing, saying that the telecommunications industry shouldn't be allowed to choose its own regulators. "Unfortunately, that is the exact intent of the past 15 months of false and misleading attacks on my record and my character," she testified. "My industry opponents have hidden behind dark money groups and surrogates because they fear a pragmatic, pro-competition, pro-consumer policymaker who will support policies that will bring more, faster, and lower-priced broadband and new voices to your constituents."
Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said, "If we want someone on the Federal Communications Commission who is truly committed to the job, then I believe Ms. Sohn fits that bill. She has a very long history at being part of the process at the FCC and she is qualified. She will help deliver for the American people and she has a keen eye on something that all members of this committee care passionately about and that is affordable, accessible broadband....Sohn has a history of putting the public interest first, regardless of whether that means supporting policies endorsed by Republicans or Democrats. She is well-known for convening a broad range of stakeholders from both sides of the aisle on almost every part of the debate that we are looking at. Regulatory framework, broadband deployment, broadcasting, and mass media in the marketplace."
[much more at the link below]
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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