Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Headlines Daily Digest
Stories From Abroad
Three senators urged the Federal Communications Commission to administer the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP) in a way that helps address the longstanding digital divides that block too many Americans from securing a reliable, affordable broadband connection. In their letter, the senators encourage the FCC to design the program in a way that helps to establish a “durable, scalable model for future digital equity efforts,” and lays out specific steps to ensure that all Americans can access this essential 21st century tool. The letter from Senators King, Hassan and Warner goes on to lay out additional steps that the FCC should take in order to maximize the reach and impact of the EBBP both during this crisis and in the long-term. Specifically, the Senators highlight the value of collaborating, with state and community partners, urge the commission to set the eligibility criteria as broadly as reasonably possible, and emphasize the importance of supporting newer or smaller broadband services, many of which operate in historically underserved areas.
In the Fall of 2020, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance partnered with the Salt Lake City Public Library and Urban Libraries Council to bridge the Digital Divide in Salt Lake City through the launch of a Digital Navigators pilot project. To prepare for direct service in Dec 2020, program leadership at the City Library and NDIA worked collaboratively to develop several tools for Digital Navigators to use as they recorded and addressed the needs of community members in Salt Lake City. On March 1, NDIA is proud to share template versions of these tools for the broader digital inclusion community.
Available as downloadable resources on the Digital Navigators webpage, these newly added forms represent the backbone of the Digital Navigators model. With the help of our expert working group, the scope of a Digital Navigator interaction—from the initial conversation, to the troubleshooting process, and the conclusion—has been transformed into a series of forms. These forms serve as a script for a Digital Navigator to follow as they help a community member through their technology-related issue. Digital Navigators is a replicable, scalable program designed to assist organizations that serve their communities across increased barriers to digital access resulting from COVID-19.
President Biden’s two immediate predecessors had ambitious goals to rebuild the country’s infrastructure, but both left office having made little progress in fixing the nation’s bridges, roads, pipes, and broadband. President Donald Trump announced so many meaningless infrastructure weeks that the term became a running joke of his administration. While the goal of addressing the United States’ infrastructure is bipartisan, the details are not. That includes how much to spend, what programs count as “infrastructure” and, most important, whether to raise taxes to pay for it. As a result, President Biden could have an even tougher time gaining Republican support for an infrastructure bill than what he has faced in his first big legislative push, a $1.9 trillion economic aid package that passed the House with every Republican voting no and that faces a similar fate in the Senate. Unless the parties can agree on how to fund an infrastructure plan, President Biden might have to try to push through another sprawling spending package with only Democratic votes. The task could prove exceptionally difficult given the competing pressures the president will face from centrists and progressives in his party — and the absence of a pandemic emergency to help fuse those factions in support of the bill.
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), a Rural Development agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), issued a final rule to establish the Rural eConnectivity Program. The Rural eConnectivity Program provides loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas. This rule describes the eligibility requirements, the application process, the criteria that will be used by RUS to assess applicants’ creditworthiness and outlines the application process. In addition, the Agency is seeking comments on the final rule. : This final rule is effective April 27, 2021. Comments due on or before April 27, 2021.
The Office of Management and Budget seeks comments on continuing information collection requirements applicable to internet service providers (ISPs) in the Federal Communications Commission's Restoring Internet Freedom Report and Order. The rule requires ISPs to disclose their congestion management, application-specific behavior, device attachment rules, and security practices, as well as any blocking, throttling, affiliated prioritization, or paid prioritization in which they engage. The rule also requires ISPs to disclose performance characteristics, including a service description and the impact of nonbroadband internet access services data services. Finally, the rule requires ISPs to disclose the price of the service, privacy policies, and redress options. The rule requires ISPs to make such disclosures available either via a publicly-available, easily accessible website or through transmittal to the FCC, which will make such disclosures available via a publicly-available, easily accessible website. The information collection will assist the FCC in its statutory obligation to report to Congress on market entry barriers in the telecommunications market.
Altice USA snapped up Morris Broadband, a provider of high-speed Internet and cable TV services to customers in North Carolina. The deal, which is valued at $310 million, will expand Altice’s operations in North Carolina where it already has a presence through its 2015 acquisition of Suddenlink. Morris Broadband is a division of Morris Communications, which is a privately held media company based in Georgia that also owns newspapers, radio stations and billboards. The company has about 36,500 residential and business customers in western North Carolina and its broadband footprint includes approximately 89,000 homes passed giving it about a 35% broadband penetration rate. Altice said that with this purchase of Morris Broadband, North Carolina will be the sixth largest state for the company’s operations in terms of number of residential customers. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter and Altice said that it expects to realize the full value of the transaction within two years of closing.
The National Hispanic Media Coalition eager to build on our last thirty-five years of advocacy to remedy harms done to our gente, and build a better, more equitable future. This includes eliminating hate, discrimination, and racism towards Latinx and marginalized communities, and safeguarding the democracy of the United States of America.
- Digital Rights are Civil & Human Rights
- Broadband Access
- Net Neutrality
- Platform Accountability
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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