Daily Digest 3/3/2023 (Wayne Shorter)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents

Broadband Funding

Benton Foundation
NTIA Needs to Hear From You About Two New Digital Equity Programs  |  Read below  |  Kevin Taglang  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Millions of low-income families could soon face steeper broadband internet bills  |  Read below  |  Lillian Rizzo  |  CNBC
US Treasury has doled out nearly $5B from Capital Projects Fund  |  Read below  |  Masha Abarinova  |  Fierce
Kansas Gets $15 Million in Digital Equity Funds from Treasury  |  Read below  |  Zack Quaintance  |  Government Technology
FCC Announces Over $20 Million in Emergency Connectivity Funding  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission
House Commerce Republicans Demand Accountability on Biden’s Massive Spending and Inflation Agenda  |  Read below  |  Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Chairman Bob Latta (R-OH), Chairman Morgan Griffith (R-VA)  |  Letter  |  House Commerce Committee
FCC reminds ECF participants about ongoing obligations including document retention and production requirements  |  Federal Communications Commission

Broadband Service

About 3,500,000 Added Broadband From Top Providers in 2022  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Leichtman Research Group

Broadband Infrastructure

Chairwoman Rosenworcel's Response to Senator Capito Regarding Pole Attachments  |  Read below  |  FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel  |  Letter  |  Federal Communications Commission

Local Initiatives

Open Access Conduit in West Des Moines Brings Google Fiber, Choice to City Residents  |  Read below  |  Karl Bode  |  Institute for Local Self-Reliance


Better Broadband, Better Work: How America’s Excellent Internet Enables a Connected Workplace  |  Read below  |  Raul Katz, Juan Jung  |  Research  |  Network:On

Broadband & Housing

5 Facts About Affordable Rental Housing That Matter for Broadband  |  Read below  |  Anna Read, Kelly Wert  |  Analysis  |  Pew Charitable Trusts


Cox launches fixed wireless trial to provide internet in rural areas  |  Read below  |  Monica Alleven  |  Fierce
How T-Mobile Achieved 3.3 Gbps Speeds in a Commercial Network Test  |  telecompetitor


Biden National Cyber Strategy Seeks to Hold Software Firms Liable for Insecurity  |  Wall Street Journal
New Biden Cybersecurity Strategy Assigns Responsibility to Tech Firms  |  New York Times


Opinion | Why Are Ketamine Ads Following Me Around the Internet?  |  New York Times

Supply Chain

FCC reminds providers of advanced communications services that filing deadline for Supply Chain Annual Reporting requirement is March 31 |  Federal Communications Commission

Platforms/Social Media

The resistance to a TikTok ban is growing in Washington  |  Washington Post
Democratic Senators Call on Meta to Stop Plan to Release Metaverse App to Teens  |  Wall Street Journal


CNET Lays Off 10% of Staff Just Weeks After Launching Articles Written by AI  |  Wrap, The


Ericsson pleads guilty in US to federal bribery violations, agrees to pay $206 million penalty  |  CNBC


Robert Bork Jr | Congress Can Investigate Lina Khan: The House looked into FCC Chairman Kevin Martin on similar grounds  |  Wall Street Journal
Today's Top Stories

Sample Category

NTIA Needs to Hear From You About Two New Digital Equity Programs

Kevin Taglang  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

On March 1, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) sought public comment on the design and implementation of two components of the Digital Equity Act of 2021 (a part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act): the $1.44 billion State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program and the $1.25 billion Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program. The goal of the programs is to promote adoption and meaningful use of the Internet among underrepresented communities and populations, including low-income households, veterans, aging individuals, racial and ethnic minorities, rural residents and others. The NTIA’s strategy is to engage with partners, stakeholders, and most importantly, individuals with lived experiences who faced challenges of having access to and/or the skills and devices to fully utilize affordable, reliable, high-speed internet, to help achieve President Joe Biden’s goal to close the digital divide and transform the lives of all Americans. "But in order to achieve this objective," the NTIA's request reads, "we need to hear from you." This proceeding is your opportunity to inform how NTIA designs programs that work to achieve this national and community-driven opportunity for change.

Millions of low-income families could soon face steeper broadband internet bills

Lillian Rizzo  |  CNBC

Over the past two years, millions of low-income US households have received broadband internet at a discount through two consecutive government programs. But they could soon lose that benefit. More than 16 million US households are currently enrolled in the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) which offers a $30 discount on broadband services to qualifying low-income households. Funding for it is expected to run out in 2024. The program has signed up one-third of eligible households. Polling shared by the Digital Progress Institute, a bipartisan policy research firm, found that voters on both sides of the aisle largely support the continuation of the ACP. It is up to Congress to decide whether the program gets funded again. One of the deciding factors will be the efficacy of the programs over the past two years. However, two-thirds of the eligible population remain unenrolled. For some, the process of signing up, which requires submitting private information online, by mail, or on the phone with an internet service provider, feels too cumbersome or invasive.

US Treasury has doled out nearly $5B from Capital Projects Fund

Masha Abarinova  |  Fierce

Much of the hype around broadband funding is focused on the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, but money continues to flow from the Capital Projects Fund (CPF). To date, the US Treasury Department has awarded nearly $5 billion from the CPF across 33 states. That amount is almost half of the Treasury Department’s $10 billion allotment for the fund. States that have received funding thus far expect to connect 1.4 million households as a result. The CPF was created in March 2021, but Treasury only began approving state funding requests June 2022. The Treasury Department expects to dole out most of the remaining $5 billion in 2023. Projects using the CPF dollars must be completed by the end of 2026. As for whether federal funding can bridge the digital divide, Wender is optimistic the government's various program will ultimately connect or provide access “to virtually every location in the U.S.” However, success also depends on the state of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), the FCC’s low-income broadband subsidy program. Should the ACP run out of money, it would have a “cascading effect.” Not only would low-income households lose out on their internet connections, but it would also impact revenue for ISPs, said Wender. “It will dry up a revenue stream that you all are counting on as you’re going to these areas that you previously thought were not profitable,” he added.

Kansas Gets $15 Million in Digital Equity Funds from Treasury

Zack Quaintance  |  Government Technology

The US Treasury Department awarded Kansas $15 million for digital equity work, with the money going toward public Wi-Fi, digital skills training, and more. In addition, 20 other states have applied for digital equity funding from the same source, with other awards expected to be made soon. “Kansas is just the first of many more to come,” said Joseph Wender director of the Treasury Department's Capital Projects Fund (CPF), which is part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). What makes this announcement significant is that the Kansas award is specifically for digital equity — and just digital equity, not broadband infrastructure, as is more common for grants of this size that involve digital inclusion. The way the CPF was written into law leaves a lot of discretion to governors’ offices. As such, coordination is crucial to helping states obtain the available digital equity money, Wender advised.

FCC Announces Over $20 Million in Emergency Connectivity Funding

Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission committed over $20 million in a new funding round through the Emergency Connectivity Program (ECP), which provides digital services for students in communities across the country. This funding commitments support applications from all three filing windows benefiting approximately 190,000 students across the country, including students in California, Florida, Maine, Oklahoma, Washington, and Wisconsin. This commitment will support over 90 schools, 8 libraries, and 5 consortia. In this funding round, nearly $375,000 will support applications from the first two application windows and $19.8 million for applications from the third application window. The funding can be used to support off-campus learning, such as nightly homework, to ensure students across the country have the necessary support to keep up with their education.

To date, the program has helped provide over 17 million students with digital connections to their schools, provided support to approximately 11,000 schools, 1,000 libraries, and 100 consortia, and provided nearly 13 million connected devices and over 8 million broadband connections. Of the over $6.6 billion in funding commitments approved to date, approximately $4.14 billion is supporting applications from Window 1; $833 million from Window 2; and $1.65 billion from Window 3.

House Commerce Republicans Demand Accountability on Biden’s Massive Spending and Inflation Agenda

Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Chairman Bob Latta (R-OH), Chairman Morgan Griffith (R-VA)  |  Letter  |  House Commerce Committee

House Commerce Committee Chair Cathy Rodgers (R-WA) and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA), along with the chairs of the subcommittee of jurisdiction, wrote letters to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Energy (DOE), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), requesting a full accounting of how they’ve spent taxpayer dollars. The Chairs specifically requested funding information from: the American Rescue Plan Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the CHIPS and Science Act, and the  Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), including but not limited to: 

1. The total amount of funding from each Act that has been obligated to date.

2. A list of each financial award funded, in part or in full, by these laws, including the following information for each award:

a.    All recipients for which funding has been expended.

b.    All recipients for which funding has been obligated.

c.     The amount of funding that has been obligated for each recipient.

d.    A description of the project funded.

e.    The type of award (i.e., grant, loan, etc.).

3. The number, job title, compensation, and duties of any employees, contractors, or consultants who have been hired or engaged using the funding, in whole or in part.

4. An accounting of the funds that have not yet been obligated.

The request to the FCC includes an accounting of:

  • $98 million to implement the Broadband DATA Act, as well as the status of the broadband map development;
  • $450 million for the COVID-19 telehealth program;
  • $3.2 billion for the Emergency Broadband Benefit;
  • $7.17 billion for the Emergency Connectivity Fund program; and
  • $14.2 billion for the Affordable Broadband Benefit.

The request to the NTIA includes an accounting of:

  • $300 million for the Broadband Infrastructure Program 
  • $3 billion for tribal broadband deployment 
  • $285 million for the Connecting Minority Communities Program
  • $42.45 billion for the Broadband, Equity, Accessibility, and Deployment (BEAD) Program
  • $2.75 billion for digital equity grants
  • $1 billion for middle mile infrastructure

A reply is requested by March 16.

About 3,500,000 Added Broadband From Top Providers in 2022

Press Release  |  Leichtman Research Group

The largest cable and wireline phone providers and fixed wireless services in the US – representing about 95% of the market – acquired about 3,500,000 net additional broadband Internet subscribers in 2022, compared to a pro forma gain of about 3,725,000 subscribers in 2021. These top broadband providers account for about 110.5 million subscribers, with top cable companies having 75.6 million broadband subscribers, top wireline phone companies having 30.8 million subscribers, and top fixed wireless services having 4.1 million subscribers. Findings for the year include:

  • Overall, broadband additions in 2022 were 94% of those in 2021,
  • The top cable companies added about 515,000 subscribers in 2022 – compared to about 2.8 million net adds in 2021,
  • The top wireline phone companies lost about 180,000 total broadband subscribers in 2022 – compared to about 210,000 net adds in 2021,
    • Wireline companies had about 2.4 million net adds via fiber in 2022, offset by about 2.6 million non-fiber net losses.
  • Fixed wireless/5G home Internet services from T-Mobile and Verizon added about 3,170,000 subscribers in 2022 – compared to about 730,000 net adds in 2021.


Chairwoman Rosenworcel's Response to Senator Capito Regarding Pole Attachments

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel  |  Letter  |  Federal Communications Commission

On April 6, 2022, Sen Shelley Moore Capito wrote to Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel about pole attachment and replacement regulations in West Virginia. On February 22, Chairwoman Rosenworcel reminded Sen. Capito that, since 2020, West Virginia regulates pole attachments at the state level. This means that the state retains complete authority to deviate from the federal regime to suit the particular needs of West Virginia. In 2022, the FCC issued a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that sought comment on questions concerning the allocation of pole replacement costs between utilities and attachers. In particular, the FCC sought comment about whether it needs to provide greater clarity around when a pole must be replaced to accommodate new communications equipment, and on other economic and legal issues that may arise with pole replacements. The Further Notice also sought comment on whether there are other reforms the FCC can make to speed up the process for negotiations over pole replacements and attachments, because certainty is good both for the providers seeking to build broadband networks and for the electric companies that own most of the utility poles. FCC staff is currently reviewing the record in this proceeding.



Open Access Conduit in West Des Moines Brings Google Fiber, Choice to City Residents

West Des Moines (IA) is making steady progress on a $60 million open-access fiber-optic conduit system to expedite the delivery of affordable fiber citywide. And they’re doing it with the help of Google Fiber. West Des Moines is a suburb of Des Moines with a population of 67,000. Like so many US communities, locals have long complained of high broadband prices, spotty coverage, and terrible customer service by the area’s entrenched local monopolies. Iowa studies routinely identify substandard broadband access as a top regional complaint. So, as in many communities across the US, West Des Moines leaders decided to do something about it, in the form of a new public-private partnership with Google. The $60 million bond-funded project will result in a citywide fiber conduit, which will be made available to any Internet service provider (ISP) interested in serving the city in a bid to dramatically boost local broadband competition. The city is hopeful that ISP access costs ultimately cover the full build cost of the fledgling network. Other ISPs that have never served the city before, including locally owned and operated Mi-Fiber, have also stated they’ll pay to access the conduit.

Better Broadband, Better Work: How America’s Excellent Internet Enables a Connected Workplace

Raul Katz, Juan Jung  |  Research  |  Network:On

The purpose of this study was to analyze the role of remote working enabled by a robust broadband infrastructure. The objective was to find out the effects of remote working on quality of life and in reducing emissions before and during the pandemic. We found broadband-enabled remote working to significantly increase the quality time of workers, defined as the time spent with family members. When higher remote working frequency occurs (three working days and more), the net reduction in emissions seems to prevail. During 2020, on average, every worker that started to work from home (rather than commuting) contributed to reduce emissions in 0.045 metric tons. our results highlight the need to close the digital divide and to ensure everyone can adopt a highquality internet connection in the United States.

5 Facts About Affordable Rental Housing That Matter for Broadband

Anna Read, Kelly Wert  |  Analysis  |  Pew Charitable Trusts

Many residents of federally assisted multifamily—also called affordable rental—housing lack access to broadband service and face persistent challenges in getting a connection. But new federal funding presents opportunities to help families in affordable housing gain high-speed internet and all the benefits that come with it. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act  (IIJA) included billions of dollars to help bring broadband service to more Americans, including those in affordable rental housing. Here are five key things state leaders, internet service providers, and other stakeholders need to know about federally assisted multi-family housing and the people who live in it:

  1. "Federally assisted housing” encompasses many property types, and multiple agencies
  2. Assistance-eligible households are disproportionately likely to have no or slow internet service.
  3. The age of the federally assisted housing stock hinders connectivity.
  4. Outdated guidance, low funding, and complex enrollment limit programs’ impact.
  5. Federal funding can bridge broadband gaps.

Cox launches fixed wireless trial to provide internet in rural areas

Monica Alleven  |  Fierce

Cable operator Cox is looking for new ways to serve rural communities within its footprint. Cox is conducting a proof-of-concept, fixed-wireless trial using 5G technology outside of Macon (GA), Tucson (AZ), and Oklahoma City (OK) to deliver high-speed internet to customers in underserved and rural communities. “We're committed to creating digital equity in the communities we serve. We're hopeful this is another tool we can provide to help connect people to what matters most,” said a Cox spokesperson. In 2020, the company acquired Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum for $212 million. 

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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), Grace Tepper (grace AT benton DOT org), and David L. Clay II (dclay AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.

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Kevin Taglang

Kevin Taglang
Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
Benton Institute
for Broadband & Society
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