Tuesday, May 16, 2023
Headlines Daily Digest
Treasury Department To Give Awards to Connect More Families and Businesses to High-Speed Internet
Leadership Conference Pens Letter in Support of the Affordable Connectivity Program
State and Local
The US Department of the Treasury approved federal funds for multi-purpose community facility projects and broadband infrastructure projects in Delaware and Idaho under the American Rescue Plan’s (ARPA) Capital Projects Fund (CPF). A key priority of the CPF program is expanding economic opportunities and providing internet connectivity in communities with unmet needs. The following descriptions summarize the Idaho and Delaware plans that Treasury approved:
- Delaware is approved to receive $65.9 million for Delaware’s Multi-Purpose Community Facility Program, which will provide funding for the construction and renovation of 29 nonprofit community facilities selected through a competitive grant process. These facilities will provide services or activities that directly enable work, education, and health monitoring in towns and cities with unmet needs across the state’s three counties. The plan approved by the Treasury Department today represents 58% of the state’s total allocation under the CPF program.
- Idaho is approved to receive $120 million for broadband infrastructure, which the state estimates will serve 35,000 locations. The Idaho Broadband Advisory Board (IBAB) Broadband Infrastructure Grant – CPF (BIG-CPF) is a competitive grant program designed to bring reliable broadband infrastructure to areas lacking access to internet with speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps. The plan approved by the Treasury Department today represents 93% of the state’s total allocation under the CPF program.
On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 230 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the US, and the 165 undersigned civil society organizations, municipal governments, and other interested groups, we write to request robust additional funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP’s current rate of expenditure is roughly $500 million per month. Based on this and projected growth, funding for the ACP could be exhausted by the second quarter of 2024, if not sooner. Without adequate and sustained funding, millions of vulnerable Americans relying on the program would see their internet bill jump or be disconnected entirely. Congress’s bipartisan $42 billion investment in broadband deployment will not meet the universal broadband deployment and adoption goal. Without action from Congress in 2023, millions of households could immediately lose service. In addition, the loss of ACP would reduce the efficacy of Congress’ groundbreaking $42 billion investment in the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program. A recent study concluded that the ACP reduces the size of the subsidy needed to incentivize broadband deployment in rural areas by 25 percent. ACP makes BEAD program dollars go farther. Sustained funding is critical as broadband companies and others consider the level of public and private investment needed to fulfill Congress’ goal of universal affordable broadband deployment and adoption.
AT&T and Public Library Association Collaborate to Increase Awareness and Adoption of Federal Broadband Benefits
AT&T and the Public Library Association (PLA) have launched a free self-paced online course to educate parents, caregivers and families about the federal broadband benefits available to qualifying households for discounted internet service from participating providers. To help bridge the digital divide, AT&T and PLA collaborated to develop an easily accessible and relatable course that provides an in-depth overview of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), the documents needed to apply, the process of applying, and how to use the benefit, if eligible. The online course is available now through AT&T ScreenReady and PLA’s DigitalLearn in English and Spanish. With support from AT&T, 50 libraries will be selected by PLA to provide in-person ACP workshops in the community. Up to 215 libraries will also be selected to provide in-person digital literacy workshops teaching basic technology skills. Library patrons can check with local libraries to learn about upcoming workshops supported by AT&T, which will begin in August 2023. The ACP course is the newest in a curated series of digital literacy courses offered by AT&T and PLA to help bring technology confidence and digital literacy skills to families and library patrons across the country. The initiative is part of the AT&T Connected Learning initiative and our 3-year $2 billion commitment made in 2021 to address the digital divide through investments in internet accessibility, affordability and the safe adoption of technology.
The Federal Communications Commission has released the Broadband Funding Map. The Broadband Funding Map allows users to identify, search, and filter federal funding programs by the Internet Service Provider receiving funding, the duration timeline, the number of locations included in the project, and the download and upload speeds. In addition to depicting where broadband funding exists, the Broadband Funding Map contains broadband availability data as of June 30, 2022—the same data that currently appear on the National Broadband Map. When the Commission releases more recent availability data on the National Broadband Map, the Broadband Funding Map will be updated as well.
DE-CIX to Support Connected Nation & Newby Ventures in Closing the Digital Divide in the US
DE-CIX, the world’s leading operator of Internet Exchanges (IXs), and Connected Nation Internet Exchange Points (CNIXP), a joint venture between nonprofit Connected Nation and Newby Ventures, are entering a strategic partnership for the establishment and operation of edge IXs in unserved and underserved markets across the US to significantly improve regional Internet performance. CNIXP’s objective is to build new carrier-neutral interconnection facilities in at least 125 regional hub communities in 43 states and 4 US territories with the primary support of public funding. The establishment of connectivity hubs—consisting of a neutral IXP facility and a robust, professionally operated and supported IX within the facility—has been demonstrated to provide significant economic advantages for cities and regions. An IX and its ecosystem of connected networks and data centers increase the speed and resilience of Internet connectivity by optimizing the routes for data transport and offering greater redundant data pathways. It also brings down the costs of connectivity and enables locally bound data to remain local, rather than needing to take long detours through distant hubs to reach its destination. Such local interconnection, in turn, fosters the growth of a local digital economy and encourages not only the attraction of new business to the community, but also enables the localization of content, clouds, and applications to serve residents and organizations through significantly lower latency connections.
Loveland Pulse, a municipal broadband network in Loveland (CO), has seen considerable success since turning up its first residential customer in June 2020, and the company will be expanding to neighboring communities. Loveland Pulse was formed in 2018 by the city of Loveland and its local utility with the goal of getting high-speed broadband available community-wide. Brieana Reed-Harmel, fiber manager for the company, explained, “The incumbents were picking and choosing the parts of the community they wanted to serve.” It was particularly problematic for the school district, which was unable to do standardized testing for all students at the same time because of capacity constraints. The Loveland Pulse network was funded, in large part, through a municipal bond offering. Loveland Pulse has been deploying GPON and XGS-PON and expects to have service available throughout Loveland in 2023; where the company offered symmetrical speeds up to 10 Gbps from the start.
About 960,000 Added Broadband in the First Quarter of 2023, According to Leichtman Research
Leichtman Research Group found that the largest cable and wireline phone providers and fixed wireless services in the US – representing about 96% of the market – acquired about 960,000 net additional broadband Internet subscribers in the first quarter (1Q) of 2023, compared to a pro forma gain of about 1,085,000 subscribers in 1Q 2022. These top broadband providers now account for over 112 million subscribers, with top cable companies having about 76.2 million broadband subscribers, top wireline phone companies having about 30.8 million subscribers, and top fixed wireless services having about 5 million subscribers. Overall, broadband additions in 1Q 2023 were 89% of those in 1Q 2022. The top cable companies added about 65,000 subscribers in 1Q 2023 – compared to about 485,000 net adds in 1Q 2022. The top wireline phone companies lost about 20,000 total broadband subscribers in 1Q 2023 – compared to about 65,000 net adds in 1Q 2022. Fixed wireless/5G home Internet services from T-Mobile and Verizon added about 915,000 subscribers in 1Q 2023 – compared to 530,000 net adds in 1Q 2022.
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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