Tuesday, March 5, 2019
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Stories From Abroad
In the weeks ahead, we will continue to bring legislation to the Floor that puts the American people first. On March 6, we will launch the Save The Internet Act, working with Senate Democrats to introduce legislation to restore Net Neutrality at 11:15 a.m. in the Rayburn Room of the US Capitol. The text of the proposed legislation has not been released.
About 57 percent of Newport News (VA) households had broadband in 2017, according to the Census Bureau. There are a few places southeast Newport News residents can find free Wi-Fi, such as the McDonald’s. Community resources include computer labs at Ridley Place’s Family Investment Center and the Pearl Bailey Public Library on Wickham Avenue, although both have limited hours. For children who are members, Boys and Girls clubs also can provide an opportunity to get online. Hundreds of students in Newport News have gained internet access in the last couple of years thanks to schools and cell phone provider Sprint. Newport News Public Schools started participating in the Sprint 1Million project last school year. Sprint provides mobile devices — either a Wi-Fi hotspot, cellphone or tablet — for free to high school students who don’t have internet access. The district issued about 640 devices in 2018. Newport News director of library services Sonia Alcantara-Antoine said city libraries are working on a plan to loan out Wi-Fi hotspots.
Sen Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Gov Jim Justice (R-WV) joined representatives from Facebook for an annuncement regarding Facebook’s plans to build a fiber optic cable that will run through parts of West Virginia. The project is expected to begin in 2019 and will result in an approximate 275-mile route in West Virginia, providing the state with enhanced fiber optic connectivity. “Today’s announcement with Facebook is an important step toward ensuring our state has the critical infrastructure to support broadband deployment, and I know it will help so many in our state, especially the rural communities that are unserved," said Sen Capito. The construction, which is expected to last roughly 18 to 24 months, will begin in Ashburn (VA) and end in Columbus (OH) connecting two major internet exchanges. As a result of the project, broadband providers will be able to expand middle-mile networks into communities along the route, and it will establish West Virginia as a preferred route for fiber backbone construction.
As internet speeds continue to lag in rural parts of the state, Oregon lawmakers are contemplating a new fee on cellphone service to help pay for expanded broadband in remote and underserved communities. OR House Bill 2184 would raise about $10 million a year to fund broadband projects through grants and loans. Advocates say it would cost cellphone subscribers between $4 and $12 a year. The bill will face fierce opposition from the wireless industry, though, which says it will fight to keep OR cellphone fees low. The industry says it doesn’t make sense to tax one kind of service – wireless phones – to subsidize a completely different kind of wired internet service.
In Jan, Gov Phil Bryant (R-MS) signed off on a bill by the Mississippi Legislature that gave approval for electric cooperatives in the state to provide broadband internet service. The Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act, however, was just the first step. The co-ops must now find ways to fund such projects. Michael Callahan, CEO of Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi, said getting the co-ops to expand into internet service will be a “tough process.” “We’re doing our due diligence,” he said. “We’re all looking at this, spending money on surveys, doing studies, talking to consultants ... we understand there’s a need. But we can’t escape the law of economics. We have to build a business plan that stands up to lenders loaning money and we can pay it back over time without putting our members at risk. That’s our primary purpose, to serve our electric customers. But I’m proud to say all 25 distribution companies in the state are looking at this.”
Members of the National Association of Counties' Telecommunications and Technology Policy Steering Committee expressed frustration over lack of internet and cellphone service in many parts of the country, but there was one bright spot: NACo plans to launch a mobile app, dubbed “TestIT,” geared toward getting accurate information when it comes to who has broadband — and more importantly who does not. NACo partnered with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the Rural Community Assistance Partnership to develop the app to identify areas with low connectivity to help ensure adequate funding for broadband infrastructure. App users will be able to test their broadband speeds with the push of a button.
The President Donald Trump re-election campaign sparked widespread confusion inside the Trump administration and the cellular wireless industry March 1 when it advocated for a nationwide "wholesale" 5G network, which is 180 degrees from official White House policy. The Trump campaign is now walking back the statement from Kayleigh McEnany, national press secretary for Trump’s 2020 campaign, saying they did not intend to set new policy. McEnany said, "The White House sets the policy on 5G and all issues. Naturally, the campaign fully supports the president’s priorities and his policy agenda. There is no daylight between the White House and the campaign." Apparently, 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale has been arguing for an "open wholesale market with a privatized company that is not a carrier" because he believes it would be politically advntageous to Trump in 2020. "A 5G network that connected rural America to high-speed internet would increase turnout and let the president talk directly to rural Americans," an anonymous source added, paraphrasing Parscale's private views.
South Carolina is expanding access to telemedicine — or, put broadly, health care done via the internet. This virtual way of seeing a doctor or managing health is seen as a solution to deteriorating health care services in rural parts of the state. SC’s government has spent $68 million in one-time commitments since 2013 on telemedicine. But it’s no secret that progress is stunted if people don’t have internet access. Some 537,000 people in South Carolina don’t have an adequate internet connection at home — about 11 percent of the state’s population, and 26 percent of the rural population. Even as experts hope for a future when everyone can access health care from their cellphones, those without internet may still be missing out.
The National Security Agency has quietly shut down a system that analyzes logs of Americans’ domestic calls and texts, according to a senior Republican congressional aide, halting a program that has touched off disputes about privacy and the rule of law since the Sept. 11 attacks. The agency has not used the system in months, and the Trump administration might not ask Congress to renew its legal authority, which is set to expire at the end of the year, according to the aide, Luke Murry, the House minority leader’s national security adviser.
Facebook has been accused of abusing a security feature in order to weaken user privacy, after the social network was found using phone numbers initially handed over for account safety for other purposes. The company now faces criticism that it will be harder to convince users to take other necessary security measures if users view this as an abuse of trust. Since 2011, Facebook has asked users for their phone numbers in order to enable “two-factor authentication”, a common account security feature that sends a text message whenever a login is attempted. The social network even required the feature to be used by the moderators of large Facebook pages, telling them they had to hand over a phone number in order to prevent the page from being easily stolen by a canny hacker. But in the years after the social network first enabled two-factor authentication, Facebook began to use the phone numbers users had provided for other purposes. Now, users who once added their phone number for security are faced with a privacy setting that asks them who can look them up using that number. Similarly, Facebook shares that information with Instagram, encouraging users to update their profiles on its sister service if they have a new phone number on the main Facebook app.
An investigation reveals in detail how Tea-Party connected conservative activists used the appearance of local newspapers to promote messages paid for or supported by outside or undisclosed interests. Steve Gill, for example, is the political editor of the Tennessee Star, but he also owns a media consulting company that at least one candidate and one Political Action Committee (PAC) paid before receiving positive coverage in the Tennessee Star. Several Star writers have in the past or currently work for PACs or political campaigns that they write about, without disclosing that fact. Though its owners claim that the Tennessee Star is funded by advertising revenue, it appears to be supported by wealthy benefactors. Whatever the Tennessee Star is, it is not a local newspaper producing transparent journalism.
Gill, Michael Patrick Leahy, and Christina Botteri have been expanding their version of journalism to other battleground states in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. They are, they say, co-founders of a new, Delaware-registered company, Star News Digital Media, Inc., whose explicit strategy is to target battleground states with conservative news. So far, Leahy, Gill, and Botteri have added The Ohio Star and The Minnesota Sun to their network of purportedly local newspapers. These papers are effective carbon copies of the Tennessee Star.
Allow me to make a few brief points about why Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) is an important organization whose longevity should be celebrated. First, WICT opens doors. Second, WICT develops talent. Third, WICT creates role models. WICT demands our attention and deserves our respect. For four decades, you have empowered women in the cable industry and the sector is better for it. Congratulations on your 40th anniversary. Here’s to many more.
In recent years, and in line with European Commission plans, telecommunication operators have been facing the need to deploy high-speed, fiber-based infrastructure. What is the socio-economic impact of these new investments on growth and local development? What are their effects on the labor market outcomes, in terms of firm productivity and entrepreneurship? What is the role of regulation and competition in spurring the deployment and the adoption of ultra-fast broadband networks? In this survey, we review the existing literature on ultra-fast, fiber-based broadband network, devoting special attention to the results and to the methodology used in the most recent studies.
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