Daily Digest 2/28/2020 (Digital Prosperity)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents


FCC Seeks Comment on Competition in the Communications Marketplace  |  Read below  |  Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission
OTI Urges FTC, DOJ to Take Stronger Posture on Vertical Mergers  |  New America


What Are States Doing to Close the Digital Divide?  |  Read below  |  Kevin Taglang  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Digital prosperity: How broadband can deliver health and equity to all communities  |  Read below  |  Adie Tomer, Lara Fishbane, Angela Siefer, Bill Callahan  |  Research  |  Brookings
Net Neutrality Docket is Now FCC's Busiest  |  Read below  |  John Eggerton  |  Multichannel News
Senate Passes Secure Networks Act to Scrub Huawei and ZTE From USF-Funded Broadband Buildouts  |  Multichannel News
Jim Harper -- 3 years later, privacy rules specifically for internet service providers remain bad policy  |  American Enterprise Institute


FCC Probe Finds Mobile Carriers Didn’t Safeguard Customer Location Data  |  Read below  |  Drew FitzGerald, Sarah Krouse  |  Wall Street Journal
Slicing Up the Airwaves  |  Read below  |  Alexandra Levine  |  Politico
T-Mobile conducts layoffs as it prepares to complete Sprint merger  |  Read below  |  Jon Brodkin  |  Ars Technica
Sen Thune: Building a 5G Workforce is Critical to Nationwide Deployment  |  US Senate
Commissioner Carr Praises 5G Workforce Legislation  |  Federal Communications Commission
Opinion -- What does 5G offer that 4G doesn’t?  |  USA Today


Justice Department faults Google for turning over evidence too slowly in antitrust probe, hinting at possible legal action  |  Washington Post
Facebook hire aims to infuse ethics into product design  |  Axios
Data analytics firm OneAudience allegedly paid app developers so it could harvest data from Facebook users  |  ZDNet
Eric Schmidt: Silicon Valley Could Lose to China. We can’t win the technology wars without federal government’s help.  |  New York Times
Op-ed: The dangers of tech company ethics  |  Hill, The

Elections & Media

There's no election law about social media disclosures — but there oughta be  |  Read below  |  Mark MacCarthy  |  Op-Ed  |  Hill, The
ABC News Creates New Visual Verification Team to Combat ‘Doctored Video’ and Fake News  |  Wrap, The
President Obama demands TV stations stop airing 'despicable' anti-Biden ad from Pro-Trump PAC that misuses his words  |  USA Today
Bloomberg campaign is putting out more memes on private Instagram accounts — and running faster than Facebook can keep up  |  New York Times

Emergency Communications

AT&T updates FirstNet numbers, says it has closed coverage gap with Verizon  |  Urgent Communications
YouTube TV will drop all Sinclair-owned Fox regional sports networks on February 29  |  Wrap, The


Unions Push FTC to Study if Amazon Warps the Economy  |  New York Times

Stories From Abroad

Facebook, Google and Twitter Rebel Against Pakistan’s Censorship Rules  |  New York Times
Today's Top Stories


FCC Seeks Comment on Competition in the Communications Marketplace

Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission

In the last quarter of every even numbered year, the Federal Communications Commission must publish a Communications Marketplace Report that, among other things, assesses the state of competition in the communications marketplace, including competition to deliver voice, video, audio, and data services among providers of telecommunications, providers of commercial mobile service, multichannel video programming distributors, broadcast stations, providers of satellite communications, Internet service providers, and other providers of communications services. In assessing the state of competition, the FCC must consider all forms of competition, including the effect of intermodal competition, facilities-based competition, and competition from new and emergent communications services. The FCC must also assess whether laws, regulations, regulatory practices, or demonstrated marketplace practices pose a barrier to competitive entry into the communications marketplace or to the competitive expansion of existing providers of communications service.

The FCC now seeks seeks input on the state of the communications marketplace to inform the required assessment of the state of competition in the communications marketplace in its 2020 Communications Marketplace Report to Congress. Specifically, the FCC seeks data, information, and comment on a wide range of issues relevant to the state of competition in the communications marketplace. The FCC requests that commenters submit information, data, and statistics for 2018 and 2019, as well as information on any notable trends and developments that have occurred during early 2020. Industry stakeholders, the public, and other interested parties are encouraged to submit information, comments, and analyses. To facilitate analysis of competitive trends, parties should submit relevant current and historic data that are comparable over time.

GN Docket No. 20-60

Comments Due: April 13, 2020

Reply Comments Due: May 13, 2020


What Are States Doing to Close the Digital Divide?

Kevin Taglang  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Strong, collaborative relationships between stakeholders are the cornerstone of Minnesota's efforts to expand broadband access. West Virginia has promoted broadband expansion by examining and eliminating barriers to deployment. Colorado has made a significant investment in broadband planning at the regional level. In 2017 the Tennessee Legislature created the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Grant Program to support broadband deployment in unserved areas of the state. Virginia employs two programs to achieve "functionally universal" broadband coverage. Wisconsin has found that small broadband providers can be important partners and community collaborators in grant programs focused on unserved and underserved areas. 

Their common goal: broadband so available that we all can take it for granted. As Jordan Beezley of Colorado's Department of Regulatory Agencies says, "It's like electricity. I don't have to think about whether or not the house I'm going to buy has electricity or whether or not that electricity will work. Once we are at that point [with broadband], I think we've won." States are taking steps to spur investment in middle- and last-mile broadband infrastructure and close gaps in adoption. Whether they have focused on broadband for many years or have started their programs more recently, states are connecting areas where traditional models for broadband deployment have not worked. “States matter,” said Kathryn de Wit, manager of the broadband research initiative at The Pew Charitable Trusts. “For the better part of a decade, states have been rolling up their sleeves and making meaningful progress on bridging the digital divide. As leaders at all levels of government look for solutions to address broadband challenges, they can learn from states."  In new research released this week, the Pew Charitable Trusts looks at how states are closing the digital divide, delving deep into nine states: California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Here are the important takeaways from Pew's report

Digital prosperity: How broadband can deliver health and equity to all communities

Adie Tomer, Lara Fishbane, Angela Siefer, Bill Callahan  |  Research  |  Brookings

Over the past year, Brookings Metro and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance pursued research to understand the connections between broadband and health and equity, assess the gaps in broadband access and adoption, the market and policy barriers that lead to those gaps, and promising points of intervention for local, state, and federal leaders to deliver shared value to individuals and entire communities. If broadband is essential infrastructure, the country’s digital divide confirms the challenges to bringing its benefits to every person, regardless of demographics or geography. Tens of millions of people do not have an in-home broadband subscription, a mobile data subscription, or both. These gaps are especially wide among rural, low-income, and nonwhite households. These gaps represent a potent mix of limited service areas, expensive subscriptions and equipment, and a lack of digital skills. Overcoming these barriers requires awareness of persistent digital divides based on community conditions and improved collaboration across the private, public, and civic sectors. Fortunately, lessons from across the country confirm the potential success of interventions related to access, affordability, and digital skills. This work extends beyond larger financial investments, too. Building coalitions, adjusting communication techniques, and developing new statistical evidence can all accelerate trust between key actors, educate on the social impact broadband can deliver, and create opportunities to design new solutions.

Net Neutrality Docket is Now FCC's Busiest

John Eggerton  |  Multichannel News

The Federal Communications Commission's request for comment on its net neutrality deregulation has become the busiest docket at the commission, drawing over three thousand comments in the past 30 days. According to a thumbnail survey, the comments continue to be general ones calling for the return of the rules and Title II classification, rather than on the specifics of the FCC request.


FCC Probe Finds Mobile Carriers Didn’t Safeguard Customer Location Data

Drew FitzGerald, Sarah Krouse  |  Wall Street Journal

Apparently, the Federal Communications Commission is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in fines from the country’s top cellphone carriers after officials found the companies failed to safeguard information about customers’ real-time locations. The FCC informed AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon of pending notices of apparent liability. Such notices aren’t final, and the companies can still argue they aren’t liable or should pay less. It would ultimately fall on the Justice Department to collect any penalties.

The FCC is expected to announce the proposed fines on Feb 28. The fine are expected to total just over $200 million.

Slicing Up the Airwaves

Alexandra Levine  |  Politico

Reps. Billy Long (R-MO) and Susan Brooks (R-IN) are siding with the wireless industry and asking Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to reserve a portion of the 6 GHz airwaves for auctioning off spectrum for licensed use. The two House Commerce Committee members emphasized the importance of 5G-friendly mid-band spectrum and said the FCC should “consider the feasibility of licensing a portion of the 6 GHz band in a timely manner.” The lobbying battle here is between wireless heavyweights and a mix of cable and tech giants, given that the latter would strongly prefer the FCC save the whole 6 GHz band for unlicensed uses like Wi-Fi. Reps. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA) pushed this view in a recent letter. The utilities that occupy these airwaves, meanwhile, worry about potential disruption from opening the band at all.

T-Mobile conducts layoffs as it prepares to complete Sprint merger

Jon Brodkin  |  Ars Technica

T-Mobile has laid off a number of employees within its Metro by T-Mobile prepaid business. The extent of the layoffs is unclear. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) union expects more layoffs after the merger is completed. The union said that the merger approval "will put 30,000 jobs at risk." "Wall Street analysts project that the merger will result in massive job cuts from the elimination of duplicative retail stores," the CWA wrote. "When pressed on the issue at a Senate hearing [in June 2018], T-Mobile CEO John Legere conceded that 'there'll be a rationalization of jobs in the first year'—a corporate-speak admission that the merged company plans to lay off thousands of workers." The CWA analysis identified 11,800 prepaid jobs at T-Mobile and Sprint that could be eliminated, along with 13,700 jobs in the companies' postpaid businesses and another 4,500 at their headquarters. The analysis was conducted before the merger plan was altered to divest Sprint's prepaid business to Dish Network, which could limit job cuts.

Elections & Media

There's no election law about social media disclosures — but there oughta be

Mark MacCarthy  |  Op-Ed  |  Hill, The

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg broke no law when he paid campaign workers $2,500 a month to promote his candidacy from their personal social media accounts without requiring them to disclose this sponsorship. After Twitter suspended 70 of these accounts for “platform manipulation,” his campaign voluntarily asked its workers to identify themselves on their social media accounts. As the newspaper comic strip used to say, there oughta be a law! The Federal Elections Commission does, and its current rules for social media companies do not require campaign influencer disclosures. Congress can fix this, and at the same time close other social media loopholes that threaten the integrity of our electoral process.  

[Mark MacCarthy is senior fellow at the Institute for Technology Law and Policy at Georgetown Law.  Previously, he was senior vice president for public policy at the Software & Information Industry Association.]

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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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