Monday, May 1, 2023
Headlines Daily Digest
Broadband Communities Summit 2023
30 years ago, one decision altered the course of our connected world
States’ Push to Protect Kids Online Could Remake the Internet
House Approves Latta’s Bill to Help Farmers Access Wireless Technologies
Kids & Media
Government & Communications
30 years ago—on April 30, 1993—something called the World Wide Web launched into the public domain. The web made it simple for anyone to navigate the internet. All users had to do was launch a new program called a "browser," type in a URL, and hit return. This began the internet's transformation into the vibrant online canvas we use today. Anyone could build their own "web site" with pictures, video and sound. They could even send visitors to other sites using hyperlinked words or phrases underlined in blue. This became one of the web's most game-changing features, putting different corners of our digital knowledge-base just a mouse click away. The World Wide Web was the brainchild of Tim Berners-Lee, a 37-year-old researcher at a physics lab in Switzerland called CERN. CERN owned Berners-Lee's invention, and the lab had the option to license out the World Wide Web for profit. But Berners-Lee believed that keeping the web as open as possible would help it grow.
FCC Seeks Comment on Proposed 2023 Mandatory Data Collection for Incarcerated People's Communications Services
The Federal Communications Commission seeks comment on the contours and specific requirements of the proposed 2023 Mandatory Data Collection for incarcerated people’s communications services (IPCS). This public notice is an effort to help implement the Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act of 2022 (Martha Wright-Reed Act or Act). In recent years, the FCC has collected data from providers of calling services for incarcerated people as part of its ongoing efforts to establish just and reasonable rates for those services that reduce the financial burdens imposed on incarcerated people and their loved ones, while ensuring that providers are fairly compensated for their services. In requiring or allowing the FCC to consider certain types of costs, the new Act contemplates that the FCC would undertake additional data collection. To ensure that it has the data it needs to meet its substantive and procedural responsibilities under the Act, the FCC delegated authority to Wireline Competition Bureau/Office of Economics and Analytics to “update and restructure” the Commission’s most recent data collection “as appropriate in light of the requirements of the new statute.”
What can make people enthusiastic about broadband? What if a community, using the creation orientation, views broadband as the means to build or invent things that didn’t exist before? Essential Families is a 501c3 nonprofit that provides virtual parental education and mental healthcare services. The organization conducted a telehealth pilot in one of the poorest communities in Kansas City (MO) with stellar results. The Northwest Regional Telehealth Resource Center (NRTRC) and the Utah Education and Telehealth Network (UETN) noted the rapid growth of telehealth due to COVID-19, but knew not everyone who needed it had Internet access or computing devices. The agencies created and publicized the Find Telehealth app so that residents in the Northwest region were aware of public community facilities offering dedicated telehealth access points (TAPs).
[Craig Settles assists cities and co-ops with business planning for broadband and telehealth.]
Worcester, Massachusetts, looks into feasibility of municipal broadband despite high costs
While a municipal broadband system in Worcester (MA) could cost the city upwards of $250 million, officials are still considering the feasibility of such a project to address gaps in digital access among residents. Chairwoman and City Councilor Etal Haxhiaj requested the city administration conduct a feasibility study to “serve as a blueprint for a broadband master plan that outlines policies, designs, business and financial model options,” as well as apply for the state’s Municipal Digital Equity Planning Program to help learn what digital equity gaps exist in Worcester. Currently, Charter Communications’ Spectrum and Verizon are the only internet providers in Worcester. That money would have to come from the city itself, as state and federal government programs helping municipalities build similar systems are generally aimed at more rural areas that do not already have internet access. However, Worcester Chief Information Officer Michale Hamel said, another possibility would be to work with a private internet service provider to build a fiber network for the city.
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed Reps. Bob Latta (R-OH5) and Robin Kelly’s (D-IL2) bipartisan legislation, H.R. 1339, the Precision Agriculture Satellite Connectivity Act. H.R. 1339 would require the Federal Communications Commission to review its current satellite rules to determine if rule changes can be made to promote precision agriculture. This latest effort builds upon Latta’s Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act, included in the Farm Bill and signed into law in 2018, which established the Precision Agriculture Task Force. The bill now awaits Senate approval.
In order to visit some websites, internet users Louisiana have to provide proof that they were at least 18. That’s because Louisiana lawmakers had passed legislation last year requiring publishers of online material that could be “harmful to minors” to verify that their users were adults. Louisiana is at the forefront of a sweeping national push to insulate young people from potentially harmful content by requiring certain online services to bar or limit minors on their platforms. As a result, people in many other states may soon find that they, too, need to use credentials like digitized drivers’ licenses to access a host of services, including popular social media apps. The proposed restrictions, introduced by at least two dozen states, could alter not only the online experiences of children and adolescents. They could also remake the internet for millions of adults, ushering in a tectonic cultural shift to a stricter, age-gated online world.
Charter Communications reported its financial and operating results for first quarter 2023. Broadband results include:
- First quarter total residential and small and medium business ("SMB") Internet customers increased by 76,000. As of March 31, 2023, Charter served a total of 30.5 million residential and SMB Internet customers;
- First quarter total residential and SMB mobile lines increased by 686,000. As of March 31, 2023, Charter served a total of 6.0 million mobile lines;
- As of March 31, 2023, Charter had a total of 32.2 million residential and SMB customer relationships, which excludes mobile-only relationships.
- Charter continues to work with federal, state, and local governments to bring Spectrum Internet to unserved and underserved communities. During the first quarter of 2023, Charter activated 44,000 subsidized rural passings.
T-Mobile US reported its first-quarter 2023 results on April 27, 2023. In total, service revenues of $15.5 billion grew an industry-leading 3 percent year-over-year, including industry-leading postpaid service revenue growth of 6 percent year-over-year. Net income of $1.9 billion grew 172 percent year-over-year. The company's broadband figures include:
- Postpaid net account additions of 287,000;
- Postpaid net customer additions of 1.3 million;
- Postpaid phone net customer additions of 538,000, a higher share of industry net adds year-over-year;
- Postpaid phone churn of 0.89 percent, only operator to improve year-over-year;
- High-Speed Internet net customer additions of 523,000.
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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