Daily Digest 4/15/2019 (Tiger Woods)

Benton Foundation
Table of Contents

FCC Meeting

FCC Repeals Policy That Raises Rural Phone Rates  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission
Public Knowledge Commends FCC for Eliminating Rule Raising Rural Phone Rates  |  Public Knowledge
FCC Takes Steps to Make Millimeter Wave Spectrum Available for 5G and Other Advanced Services  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission
FCC Seeks Comment on Bidding Procedures for Third 5G Spectrum Auction  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission
FCC Proposes to Modernize Rule for Over-the-Air Reception Devices to Prepare for 5G Future  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission
FCC Eliminates Phone Industry Regulations  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission
FCC Eliminates Channel Lineup Requirements Applicable to Cable Operators  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission
If we want to be modern, working on a machine-readable format for the public file should come next  |  Read below  |  FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Comission
H Block Order on Reconsideration  |  Federal Communications Commission

White House on 5G/Rural Broadband

President Donald Trump Is Taking Action to Ensure that America Wins the Race to 5G  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  White House
Watch: President Trump Remarks on 5G Wireless Network Deployment  |  C-SPAN
Chairman Pai proposes $20 billion for “up to” gigabit-speed rural broadband  |  Read below  |  Jon Brodkin  |  Ars Technica
FCC Chairman Pai Remarks at 5G White House Event  |  Read below  |  FCC Chairman Ajit Pai  |  Speech  |  Federal Communications Commission
Watch: How the FCC is trying to pave the way for widespread 5G technology  |  News Hour
FCC Chairman Pai: Banning Huawei protects 5G  |  Fox Business
Fact Sheet: Promoting US Leadership on 5G at White House Event  |  Federal Communications Commission
Public Knowledge Urges Congress to Question FCC’s 5G Plan  |  Read below  |  Harold Feld  |  Press Release  |  Public Knowledge
Here's What Conservative Tech Groups are saying about Trump's Big 5G Push  |  Daily Caller
Shane Tews: Government engagement is needed for 5G mobile technologies to reach their potential  |  American Enterprise Institute
AT&T Applauds Administration for Commitment to Maintaining US Leadership in 5G  |  AT&T

More on Broadband/Internet

Sens Blackburn, Bladwin introduced the Internet Exchange Act  |  Read below  |  Sen Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)  |  Press Release  |  US Senate
Mississippi Public Service Commission Member: FCC must update how it gathers data on broadband access  |  Sun Herald
Stressed-out laser diode may deliver 200Gb/s data rates  |  Ars Technica


T-Mobile promises 5G will cover 99% of California homes after Sprint merger  |  VentureBeat
Avoidable Outage Continues to Plague NYC Wireless Network  |  Government Technology


Senator Markey Introduces Comprehensive Privacy Legislation  |  Read below  |  Sen Ed Markey (D-MA)  |  Press Release  |  US Senate
Tracking Phones, Google Is a Dragnet for the Police  |  Read below  |  Jennifer Valentino-Devries  |  New York Times
Big Tech Lobbying Gutted an Illinois Bill That Would Ban Recording You Without Consent  |  Read below  |  Rob Dozier  |  Vice


How Big Tech stays ahead  |  Read below  |  Axios
A new form of American capitalism  |  Read below  |  Jim Vandehei  |  Axios

Public Broadcasting

Podcast: If Congress cancels federal funding for PBS, rural areas will be hurt the most, says CEO Paula Kerger  |  Vox


Why the Assange Arrest Should Scare Reporters  |  Rolling Stone
What law is Julian Assange accused of breaking?  |  Washington Post


For many rural residents in US, local news media mostly don’t cover the area where they live  |  Read below  |  Elizabeth Grieco  |  Research  |  Pew Research Center
The Seattle Times is launching a community-funded investigative team  |  Poynter
Bernie Sanders Accuses Liberal Think Tank of Smearing Progressive Candidates  |  New York Times
Center for American Progress: Sen Bernie Sanders is trying to 'muzzle' journalists  |  Hill, The


The Internet’s Enduring Free Speech Legacy  |  Read below  |  Stuart Brotman, Shiela Hawkins  |  Journalism History
Kids Love These YouTube Channels. Who Creates Them Is a Mystery.  |  Wall Street Journal


As Hollywood Embraces Diversity, Jobs for Female Directors Remain Sparse  |  New York Times

Government & Communications

Nancy Pelosi says Trump’s tweets “cheapened the presidency” — and the media encourages him  |  Vox
State Department to take a step into the digital age in effort to counter disinformation  |  Washington Post


FTC Charges Telemarketing Operation with Misleading Job Seekers and Making Millions of Illegal, Unsolicited Calls  |  Federal Trade Commission


FCC “consumer advisory” panel includes ALEC, big foe of municipal broadband  |  Read below  |  Jon Brodkin  |  Ars Technica
Pete Buttigieg Revived South Bend With Tech. Up Next: America  |  Read below  |  Paul Tullis  |  Wired

Stories From Abroad

As China Hacked, US Businesses Turned A Blind Eye  |  National Public Radio
In England, 5G-connected cows test milking parlor of the future  |  Reuters
Facebook and Google Get an Unusual Crew of Allies in Europe  |  Wall Street Journal
Today's Top Stories

News from FCC Meeting

FCC Repeals Policy That Raises Rural Phone Rates

Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission eliminated a rule that would have imposed a nearly 50% increase in local telephone rates for many rural consumers on July 1. Known as the “rate floor,” the 2011 rule was aimed at limiting universal service support received by rural carriers whose rates are below a set minimum rate. However, the practical effect of the rate floor has been to artificially raise telephone rates for many rural Americans, including elderly and low-income Americans, and consumers who keep a phone for limited purposes, such as 911 calls. Absent action by the FCC, the rate floor was scheduled to rise from $18 to $26.98 on July 1, nearly a 50% increase for rural consumers. Elimination of the rate floor was supported by a diverse coalition of stakeholders, including the AARP, the National Consumer Law Center, and the National Tribal Telecommunications Association.

By eliminating the rate floor, the FCC has repealed a de facto federal government mandate that increased rates paid by rural Americans. The action is consistent with the FCC’s statutory responsibility to ensure that rural consumers receive quality services at just, reasonable, and affordable rates, and that rural carriers continue to receive the predictable and sufficient universal service support needed to serve high-cost areas. 

FCC Takes Steps to Make Millimeter Wave Spectrum Available for 5G and Other Advanced Services

Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission continued its efforts to make millimeter wave spectrum available for 5G, the Internet of Things, and other advanced spectrum-based services, including satellite broadband services. The Fifth Report and Order adopted takes two actions. First, the Commission adopted rules to allow Fixed-Satellite Service earth stations to be individually licensed to transmit in the 50 GHz spectrum band. This action will allow Fixed-Satellite Service operators to provide faster, more advanced services to their customers. Second, the Commission established a coordination process to accommodate the military’s potential need for additional sites in the Upper 37 GHz band, while protecting the interests of non-Federal licensees in this band. The steps taken are an integral step toward the auction of the Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz and 47 GHz spectrum bands slated to begin later in 2019. The actions taken are building blocks of the nation’s 5G future and will contribute to economic growth, job creation, and our nation’s global competitiveness.

FCC Seeks Comment on Bidding Procedures for Third 5G Spectrum Auction

Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission seeks comment on the proposed application and bidding procedures for the third 5G spectrum auction (Auction 103). This auction of airwaves in the Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz spectrum bands will be the largest spectrum auction in our nation’s history. It will make available high frequency millimeter wave spectrum which will promote the development of 5G, the Internet of Things, and other advanced spectrum-based services.

The Public Notice adopted proposes to offer 100 megahertz blocks of spectrum licensed by Partial Economic Area service area. The FCC also proposes bidding procedures for the clock and assignment phases of the auction. The clock phase would allow bidding on generic blocks in two categories—one for 37 GHz and 39 GHz, and one for 47 GHz—in each PEA. The clock phase would serve both to determine winners of generic spectrum blocks and to determine the amount of incentive payments due to those incumbent licensees in the 39 GHz band that opt to relinquish their spectrum usage rights. The assignment phase would allow bidding for frequency-specific license assignments, while ensuring contiguous block assignments.

FCC Proposes to Modernize Rule for Over-the-Air Reception Devices to Prepare for 5G Future

Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission proposed to update its rule for over-the-air reception devices to help spur 5G deployment. As it stands, the Commission prohibits certain state and local restrictions that unreasonably impair the ability of users to deploy small, next-generation networking devices on their own property. However, the current rule does not reflect the shifts in the wireless infrastructure landscape for the development of 5G networks and technologies. Therefore, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted proposes to eliminate the restriction that currently excludes hub and relay antennas from the scope of this rule. This proposal could help spur infrastructure deployment, including in underserved rural and urban areas. The NPRM also seeks comment on how best to implement the proposed rule. Finally, the NPRM proposes to retain an exception to the rule for safety or historic preservation purposes. Revising the regulatory framework for over-the-air reception devices would allow fixed wireless providers to deploy hub and relay antennas more quickly and efficiently and help spur investment in and deployment of needed infrastructure in a manner that is consistent with the public interest.

FCC Eliminates Phone Industry Regulations

Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission granted certain telephone companies relief from regulations. In response to a petition filed by USTelecom, the FCC using its authority under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to forbear from enforcing rules and statutory provisions that are no longer needed to protect the public interest, the FCC therefore decided to:

  • No longer enforce a rule that small, rural carriers set up separate affiliated companies to provide in-region long-distance service.
  • No longer enforce service provisioning deadlines and the related requirement that carriers submit reports about their legacy “special access” services.
  • No longer enforce the requirement that Bell companies provide nondiscriminatory access to poles, ducts, conduits, and rights-of-way. This obligation remains covered by Section 224 of the Communications Act.

This Order does not address USTelecom’s additional request for forbearance from statutory provisions and FCC rules related to unbundled network elements and resale. That request remains pending, and the statutory deadline for FCC action is Aug 2, 2019

FCC Eliminates Channel Lineup Requirements Applicable to Cable Operators

Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission eliminated two rules pertaining to cable operators’ channel lineups. Specifically, it eliminated a rule which requires cable operators to maintain at their local office a current listing of the cable television channels that each cable system delivers to its subscribers. Secondly, it eliminated the requirement that certain cable operators make their channel lineup available through their FCC-hosted online public inspection file. The FCC concluded that these requirements are unnecessary as channel lineups are readily available to consumers today through a variety of other means, including the websites of individual cable operators, third-party websites, on-screen electronic program guides, and paper guides. The FCC also noted that its rules separately require cable operators to send channel lineup information to cable subscribers at least once a year and make that information available upon request at any time. 

If we want to be modern, working on a machine-readable format for the public file should come next

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Comission

We have more work do if want to truly modernize the public file system that is the subject of our decision April 12. These filings include things like station authorizations, contour maps, ownership reports, equal employment opportunity filings, reports on children’s television programming, materials related to investigations and complaints, and joint sales agreements. They also include a political file that features sponsorship information concerning political advertisements paid for by candidates, groups, and individuals; details on when they run; and what issues of national importance they discuss. In 2012, the Federal Communications Commission decided it was time to begin uploading the contents of these public inspection files online. But now the hard truth: this system is dated. These filings are not machine-readable. They cannot be processed by a computer. That means it is all but impossible to use this system to study trends in everything from media ownership to political advertising. We should update the public file system for the digital age. It should be searchable, sortable, and downloadable. It should be transparent and useful for the public. So in our media modernization initiative, let me offer my colleagues a suggestion: if we truly want to be modern, working on a machine-readable format for the public file should come next.

News from White House-FCC Event

President Donald Trump Is Taking Action to Ensure that America Wins the Race to 5G

Press Release  |  White House

Thanks to President Donald Trump, America is now leading the global race to deploy secure and reliable 5G. President Trump’s policies empower the wireless industry to innovate and invest in America’s 5G capabilities, further bolstering our economy and creating millions of jobs.

America First -- To 5G. President Trump is ensuring that America wins the global race to 5G and remains the world leader in information and communications technology. The Administration is developing a National Spectrum Strategy focused on more effective and efficient spectrum management that will allow America to reach the full potential of 5G. The National Spectrum Strategy will ensure a balanced approach to spectrum management to support critical government services and future spectrum uses. To ensure rural America is not left behind, the Federal Communications Commission aims to create a new $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund that will extend high-speed broadband to 4 million homes and small businesses. The United States is working internationally on telecommunication security principles that will foster reliable 5G network and supply chain development.

Chairman Pai proposes $20 billion for “up to” gigabit-speed rural broadband

Jon Brodkin  |  Ars Technica

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is proposing a $20.4 billion rural broadband fund that could connect up to four million homes and small businesses over the next ten years. The new program will be part of the Universal Service Fund (USF), and it will be similar to an existing USF program that began during the Obama administration. In 2015, the USF's Connect America Fund (CAF) awarded $9 billion for rural broadband deployment—$1.5 billion annually for six years—in order to connect 3.6 million homes and businesses. Carriers that accepted the CAF money are required to finish the broadband deployments by the end of 2020. Chairman Pai's proposed "Rural Digital Opportunity Fund" will be the follow-on program, an FCC spokesperson said. The new fund will distribute the money in a reverse auction, a type of competitive bidding process. If the resulting broadband deployment is similar to the previous program, it would end up providing wired broadband in some areas and fixed wireless in others.

At $2 billion a year over ten years, the fund will provide more money each year over a longer period of time than the CAF program it would replace. It will also fund higher-speed services. The CAF funding only required carriers, including AT&T and CenturyLink, to deploy broadband with speeds of at least 10Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream. In Nov 2018, Chairman Pai said he's proposing to raise the standard for subsidized deployments from 10Mbps/1Mbps to 25Mbps/3Mbps. But the program announced April 12 will also try to go beyond the 25Mbps/3Mbps minimum. Chairman Pai's office said the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund will "provide up to gigabit-speed broadband in the parts of the country most in need of connectivity."

FCC Chairman Pai Remarks at 5G White House Event

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai  |  Speech  |  Federal Communications Commission

Today, 5G is a success story—an American success story. How are we getting the job done? As the lead agency on 5G, the Federal Communications Commission is pursuing a three-part strategy called the 5G FAST Plan. First, we’re freeing up spectrum, the invisible airwaves that carry wireless traffic. Second, we’re making it easier to install wireless infrastructure. Third, we’ve taken action to encourage the deployment of optical fiber.

But in the race to 5G, our early success is still—early. We still need to do more. And we will. Today, I’m announcing two new steps the FCC will take to build on our momentum. First, the FCC intends to start its third 5G spectrum auction on Dec 10, 2019. This will be the largest spectrum auction in our nation’s history. We’ll be selling 3,400 megahertz in three different bands. For those who aren’t wireless experts, that’s a lot of spectrum. Second, to help build the infrastructure of the future, the FCC aims to create a new $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund at the FCC. This money will extend high-speed broadband to up to four million homes and small businesses in rural America. These next-generation networks will bring greater economic opportunity to America’s Heartland and will help support future 5G technologies.

Public Knowledge Urges Congress to Question FCC’s 5G Plan

Harold Feld  |  Press Release  |  Public Knowledge

On April 12, the Federal Communications Commission announced a plan for promoting 5G which includes the nation’s largest spectrum auction in Dec 2019 and the promised future creation of a $20.4 billion rural broadband investment fund, “The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund,” to help close the digital divide. Harold Feld said, "April 12’s announcement raises many questions. Most importantly, where will this money come from and over how many years? Is the Administration promising to provide new money for rural broadband through existing authority, or is the Administration going to need to ask Congress to provide new money? How will this differ from the Connect America Fund? The Obama Administration began a process of auctioning spectrum for 5G in 2016, and repurposed the existing Universal Service Fund for rural telephone service to create the “Connect America Fund” for rural broadband deployment. Because Chairman Pai eliminated all sources of FCC authority over broadband in the “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” in 2017, it is difficult to see how the Administration can do anything but modify the existing Obama-era programs.

"While updating these programs may prove helpful, they will not do much to change the unfortunate state of rural broadband in the short-term or do much to accelerate 5G deployment without real reform to directly address new deployment. For this reason, we urge Congress to press Chairman Pai for further details, and to work on new funding for rural broadband in accordance with the principles developed by the Broadband Connects America Coalition. Chairman Pai and the Trump Administration have an unfortunate history of promising big things for rural broadband with great fanfare, but have either failed to deliver, or simply taken credit for programs developed by the Obama Administration. Hopefully, this will not be the case again.”


Sens Blackburn, Bladwin introduced the Internet Exchange Act

Sen Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)  |  Press Release  |  US Senate

Sens Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the Internet Exchange (IX) Act (S 1166), which will help to improve internet access for consumers, especially those in rural areas. Internet Exchanges (IXs) are physical locations where networks come together – they allow subscribers of different internet service providers to communicate with one another. IXs also provide opportunities for content delivery networks (CDNs) and others to cache content closer to end-users, thus reducing latency and increasing network efficiency to improve the online experience for consumers, especially in rural areas. IX facilities also provide opportunities for data centers and cloud computing to be collocated at IX sites, thus increasing efficiency and boosting local economies. Currently, IXs are concentrated in big cities and in the coastal states.

The bill has two primary sections:

  1. Authorizes matching grants to be administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a division of the Department of Commerce, to help establish new IX facilities where none exist, or to help an existing one expand if it is the only IX facility in a core based statistical area.
  2. Permits eligible recipients under the E-Rate program (for schools and libraries) and Telehealth program to use such funds to contract with a broadband provider to obtain a connection to an IX facility, or to pay for the costs of maintaining a point of presence at an IX facility. 


Senator Markey Introduces Comprehensive Privacy Legislation

Sen Ed Markey (D-MA)  |  Press Release  |  US Senate

Sen Edward Markey (D-Mass.) introduced comprehensive federal privacy legislation to protect American consumers’ personal information. The Privacy Bill of Rights Act would establish rules for both online and offline companies and bans the use of individuals’ personal information for harmful, discriminatory purposes, such as housing and employment advertisements targeted based on demographics like race and gender. It also includes cybersecurity standards and provides the Federal Trade Commission with rulemaking authority. Specifically, the Privacy Bill of Rights Act:

  • Prohibits companies from using individuals’ personal information in discriminatory ways
  • Requires companies to protect and secure the personal information that they hold
  • Establishes a centralized FTC website that tells consumers about their privacy rights and requires companies to use easy to read short-form notices provided directly to consumers
  • Ensures companies collect only the information they need from consumers in order to provide the requested services
  • Enables State Attorneys General to protect the interest of their residents and bring action against companies that violate the privacy rights of individuals. Individuals will also have a private right of action empowering them to defend their own privacy rights. 

Tracking Phones, Google Is a Dragnet for the Police

Jennifer Valentino-Devries  |  New York Times

In an era of ubiquitous data gathering by tech companies, your personal information — where you go, who your friends are, what you read, eat and watch, and when you do it — is being used for purposes many people never expected. As privacy concerns have mounted among consumers, policymakers and regulators, tech companies have come under intensifying scrutiny over their data collection practices. Technology companies have for years responded to court orders for specific users’ information. The new warrants go further, suggesting possible suspects and witnesses in the absence of other clues. Often, Google employees said, the company responds to a single warrant with location information on dozens or hundreds of devices. Law enforcement officials described the method as exciting, but cautioned that it was just one tool.

Big Tech Lobbying Gutted an Illinois Bill That Would Ban Recording You Without Consent

Rob Dozier  |  Vice

An Ilinois bill that sought to empower average people to file lawsuits against tech companies for recording them without their knowledge via microphone-enabled devices was defanged this week after lobbying from trade associations representing Silicon Valley giants. On April 10, the Illinois State Senate passed the Keep Internet Devices Safe Act, a bill that would ban manufacturers of devices that can record audio from doing so remotely without disclosing it to the customer. But after lobbying from trade associations that represent the interests of Google, Amazon—makers of the microphone-enabled Google Home and Alexa smart speakers, respectively—and Microsoft, among other companies, the interests of big tech won out. In the bill’s original form, users could file a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s office that could lead to penalties of up to $50,000. But after technology trade associations, led by the Internet Association objected, claimed that the state’s definition of a “digital device” was too broad, and that the Act would lead to “private litigation which can lead to frivolous class action litigation,” the bill was scaled back.


How Big Tech stays ahead

  |  Axios

The harsh reality behind Big Tech's power consolidation is clear in these five trends:

  1. Data begets data, and that begets power
  2. Size begets more heft and dollars.
  3. Automation screws a lot of workers.
  4. Algorithms favor the fortunate in big business.
  5. Tech is also making big, bigger in media.

    A new form of American capitalism

    Jim Vandehei  |  Axios

    It’s no longer debatable: The system makes the big, bigger and the rich, richer. The rest of America stagnates or suffers. Since 1980, the incomes of the top 1%tripled, the top 10% doubled, and the bottom 60% of prime-age workers were flat. This may manifest on the campaign trail as a referendum not only on reversing the tax cuts and implementing a Green New Deal, but then moving in the exact opposite direction — President Donald Trump as the last gasp of trickle-down economics. It's hard to imagine a more worthy debate at a more important time for America. It's tempting to fixate on Trump. But the real action is the policy and philosophical debate unfolding before us.


    For many rural residents in US, local news media mostly don’t cover the area where they live

    Elizabeth Grieco  |  Research  |  Pew Research Center

    Roughly six-in-ten self-described urban residents (62%) say their local news media mainly cover the area they live in, while a majority of those who describe themselves as rural residents (57%) say the opposite is true – their local news media mostly cover some other area, a concern raised by many journalism watchers following newsroom cutbacks and media consolidation. Self-described suburbanites are more evenly split. Urban residents are also more likely than those in rural and suburban areas to feel that their local news media have a lot of influence on their communities: 44% of urban residents say so, compared with 30% of those in rural areas and 38% in suburban areas.

    Residents in the three types of communities also differ on how important they think the internet is for getting local news. Urban residents are more digitally focused in their local news habits, placing greater emphasis on the internet for local news. About four-in-ten urban residents (37%) say the internet is their most important source of local news, compared with 32% in suburban areas and 26% of those in rural areas. They are also more likely than rural residents to often get news from websites and apps (29% for urban vs. 23% for rural, along with 27% of suburban residents).


    The Internet’s Enduring Free Speech Legacy

    Stuart Brotman, Shiela Hawkins  |  Journalism History

    Over 20 years ago, the US Supreme Court unanimously decided Reno v. American CivilLiberties Union (ACLU), which found the communications decency provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to be unconstitutional. Applying a strict scrutiny judicial review standard under the First Amendment, the Supreme Court concluded that unlike broadcasting (where the FCC’s “indecency” content regulation consistently has been upheld due to the unique characteristics of that medium), no government regulation would be constitutionally permissible—even for online child protection. This means that there continues to be no content restrictions (aside from child pornography) on what Internet users in the United States can send or receive online. Time and technological changes have demonstrated that the Reno decision continues as a critical element in explosive Internet development. An open terrain for content, with a First Amendment firewall from government intrusion in place, contributes greatly to the powerful forces of its online supply and demand. The Reno precedent represents a free speech legacy for all those using the Internet as a vital source of news, information, and entertainment.

    [Stuart N. Brotman is the Howard Distinguished Endowed Professor of Media Management and Law and Beaman Professor of Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Shiela Hawkins is a doctoral candidate in the College of Communication and Information at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.]


    FCC “consumer advisory” panel includes ALEC, big foe of municipal broadband

    Jon Brodkin  |  Ars Technica

    A committee that advises the Federal Communications Commission on consumer-related matters now includes a representative of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which lobbies against municipal broadband, net neutrality, and other consumer protection measures. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced his Consumer Advisory Committee's new makeup on April 10. One new member is Jonathon Hauenschild, director of ALEC's Task Force on Communications and Technology. He and other Consumer Advisory Committee will serve two-year terms. ALEC writes model state laws and urges state legislatures to adopt them, and it has helped convince about 20 states to pass laws that make it difficult or impossible for cities and towns to offer broadband service. Hauenschild, who wrote on Twitter that he's "looking forward to helping advise the FCC on consumer matters," has told the FCC in filings that it should stop regulating net neutrality and preempt state and local broadband laws. He's argued that California's net neutrality law is "disastrous." On the topic of municipal broadband, he argued that states should ensure that municipalities have "tried all other options before launching a municipal network including public-private partnerships." The FCC's 27-member Consumer Advisory Committee "provides advice and recommendations to the Commission on a wide array of consumer matters specified by the Commission." 

    The group's membership for 2019 and 2020 does include some consumer advocates, such as representatives of the National Consumers League, Consumer Reports, the Consumer Federation of America, and the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates.  But the committee is also heavy on industry lobbyists. AT&T is on the committee, as are the four most prominent lobby groups representing home and mobile broadband providers. NCTA and ACA—which both dropped the word "cable" from their names in order to improve their reputations—are representing the cable industry. Phone companies are represented by USTelecom and mobile lobby group CTIA.

    Pete Buttigieg Revived South Bend With Tech. Up Next: America

    Paul Tullis  |  Wired

    Pete Buttigieg brought data, flow charts, and McKinsey-esque analysis to South Bend (IN) government—as well as a bit of philosophical humanism. Since he became mayor seven years ago, unemployment in the city has fallen, from 13 percent in 2010 to 3.2 percent last fall—below the national rate—and South Bend has seen its first significant population increase in half a century. Mayor Buttigieg invested city dollars in transforming its largest factory—the prosaically named edifice known as Building 84—into 800,000 square feet of offices where tech and biotech companies are now headquartered. Other former factories are being converted to apartments, and downtown has seen its first new construction in almost 30 years.

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