Daily Digest 5/27/2022 (Ray Liotta)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Friday, May 27, 2022

Headlines Daily Digest

Benton Foundation Affordable Connectivity Program Commitments by Internet Service Providers

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Three-in-Four Voters Favor Reinstating Net Neutrality

Internet Drama in Canada

Headlines will return Tuesday, May 31. Enjoy the long weekend.

Table of Contents

Digital Equity

Benton Foundation
Affordable Connectivity Program Commitments by Internet Service Providers  |  Read below  |  Grace Tepper  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Net Neutrality

Three-in-Four Voters Favor Reinstating Net Neutrality  |  Read below  |  Research  |  University of Maryland

State/Local Intitiatives

Consolidated Partners with Vermont Municipality on Fiber Network  |  Read below  |  Carl Weinschenk  |  telecompetitor

Platforms/Social Media

Lawmakers Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to Encourage Competition in Social Media  |  Read below  |  Sen Mark Warner (D-VA)  |  Press Release  |  US Senate
A bipartisan legislative effort to rein in the nation’s largest tech companies is facing fresh resistance from a faction of Sena  |  Politico
Ohio Attorney General Can Proceed With Claim That Google Search Is A 'Common Carrier'  |  Read below  |  Wendy Davis  |  MediaPost


Chipmaker Broadcom to Acquire Software Maker VMware in $61 Billion Enterprise Computing Deal  |  New York Times


Digital Dollar Could Coexist With Stablecoins, Fed Vice Chairwoman Says  |  Wall Street Journal

Company/Industry News

Altice USA says its cable network isn’t going anywhere despite fiber push  |  Read below  |  Diana Goovaerts  |  Fierce
Brightspeed sets its sights on 1 million homes passed by the end of 2023  |  Fierce
Cable Gained the Lion’s Share of First Quarter Wireless Subscriber Gains  |  telecompetitor
Telecom tower companies express optimism about wireless buildouts despite the economy  |  Fierce
Hanging up on an era: Last public pay phone in NYC removed from streets  |  WABC

Stories From Abroad

Internet Drama in Canada  |  Read below  |  Shira Ovide  |  Analysis  |  New York Times
Shira Ovide | Digital Threads Between the US and China  |  New York Times
Winning the web: How Beijing exploits search results to shape views of Xinjiang and COVID-19  |  Brookings
Today's Top Stories

Digital Equity

Affordable Connectivity Program Commitments by Internet Service Providers

Grace Tepper  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

On May 9, 2022, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris announced that they have secured commitments from 20 internet service providers to lower high-speed internet costs for US consumers. The providers are all participating in the Affordable Connectivity Program, a $14.2 billion federal program created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to subsidize broadband service for low-income households. This is the second part in a series looking at the price reductions or speed increases of the twenty companies featured in the Biden Administration's announcement. In our first article, we looked at 11 companies and their new affordability commitments. Here, we take a look at the other 9 providers, arranged by number of subscribers.

Net Neutrality

Three-in-Four Voters Favor Reinstating Net Neutrality

Research  |  University of Maryland

A large, bipartisan majority of Americans (73%) support reinstating net neutrality, including 82% of Democrats, 65% of Republicans, and 68% of Independents. Support for net neutrality, while very high now, is a bit lower than in 2017 and 2018 when net neutrality was in place voters were asked about repealing it (83% and 86% respectively).  This drop may be due to what social scientists call a “status quo bias,” which is a general tendency to favor the status quo.


Consolidated Partners with Vermont Municipality on Fiber Network

Carl Weinschenk  |  telecompetitor

Consolidated Communications is partnering with the Southern Vermont communications union district (CUD) to provide symmetrical gigabit speed broadband services to almost 12,000 Bennington County (VT) homes by the end of summer 2022. A CUD is a non-profit municipal entity that provides or aims to provide broadband in Vermont to two or more towns that are underserved or unserved. A CUD can fund operations through grants, debt and donations — but not taxes. Consolidated said that the Bennington County project is part of its plan to expand service to 200,000 homes in the state by the end of 2025. The Bennington project is the first phase of the partnership between Consolidated and the Southern Vermont CUD. The ultimate goal is to serve the entire CUD, which is comprised of 14 rural towns. In the first phase of the project, Consolidated is investing its own funds and using a subsidy from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) to serve 400 of the 12,000 homes that are considered to be unserved in and near Bennington and Shaftsbury (VT).

Platforms/Social Media

Lawmakers Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to Encourage Competition in Social Media

Sen Mark Warner (D-VA)  |  Press Release  |  US Senate

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) led a bipartisan group of colleagues in reintroducing the Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act (S.4309), legislation that will encourage market-based competition to dominant social media platforms by requiring the largest companies to make user data portable – and their services interoperable – with other platforms, and to allow users to designate a trusted third-party service to manage their privacy and account settings, if they so choose. The legislation would increase market competition, encourage innovation, and increase consumer choice by requiring large communications platforms (products or services with over 100 million monthly active users in the U.S.) to:

  • Make their services interoperable with competing communications platforms.
  • Permit users to easily port their personal data in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
  • Allow users to delegate trusted custodial services, which are required to act in a user’s best interests through a strong duty of care, with the task of managing their account settings, content, and online interactions.  

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Josh Hawley (R-MO), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) joined Sen. Warner in introducing the legislation.

Ohio Attorney General Can Proceed With Claim That Google Search Is A 'Common Carrier'

Wendy Davis  |  MediaPost

A state court judge in Ohio is allowing Attorney General David Yost to proceed with an effort to prohibit Google from prioritizing its services or products in search results. In a ruling issued May 24, Delaware County Common Pleas Court Judge James Schuck declined to dismiss Yost's claim that Google's search engine is a “common carrier.” “The court believes, at this stage of the proceeding, that the state should have the ability to take discovery, develop its case, and present evidence to support its claim,” Schuck wrote. The decision comes one day after a federal appellate panel said in a separate case that social media platforms are not common carriers. Schuck's ruling stems from a lawsuit brought by Yost in June 2021, when he alleged that Google should be considered both a “common carrier” and a “public utility” -- comparable to a gas or electric company -- because it dominates the online search market. Last August, Google urged Schuck to dismiss the complaint at an early stage, arguing that even if the company dominates search, as Yost alleged, that fact wouldn't prove the claims in his lawsuit.

Company News

Altice USA says its cable network isn’t going anywhere despite fiber push

Diana Goovaerts  |  Fierce

Much ado has been made about the cost benefits that can come from operators shutting down their old copper and cable networks as they overbuild with fiber. But while Altice USA has joined the ranks of those pursuing extensive fiber rollouts, CFO Michael Grau said it’s not planning to ditch its cable assets anytime soon. Grau explained there are several reasons why its cable network will be sticking around. The first is purely logistical. While the operator recently unveiled plans to blanket around two-thirds of its footprint with fiber by the end of 2025, Grau said it will take some time to migrate its customer base off cable and onto fiber. To date, Grau noted “almost all the fiber customers we’ve gotten have been as a function of gross adds in the fiber footprint” rather than from customer migrations. However, he said the operator plans to launch a “much more proactive” migration effort within the next three to four weeks. Altice USA ended Q1 2022 with 81,000 fiber subscribers. CEO Dexter Goei has said it is aiming to reach 200,000 fiber subscribers by the end of 2022. According to Grau, Altice’s extensive Wi-Fi network is another reason for keeping the cable network afloat. He pointed to the Wi-Fi offering, which runs on its cable assets, as a “powerful” service offering and said “it would be hard to take that away” from consumers.

Stories From Abroad

Internet Drama in Canada

Shira Ovide  |  Analysis  |  New York Times

There are useful lessons from a saga over home internet service in Canada. What has been a promising, albeit imperfect, system that increased choices and improved internet service for Canadians is poised to fall apart. Barring a last-minute government intervention, many smaller internet providers in Canada are likely to significantly increase their prices and lose customers or shut down. The dream of more competition leading to better internet service for Canadians is on life support. What’s happening in Canada reveals why we need smart internet policy to be paired with strong government oversight to have better and more affordable internet for all — and it shows what happens when we lose that. The US has botched it for years, and that’s one reason America’s internet service stinks. Canada may be a real-world experiment in what happens when muddled government regulation undermines internet policy that has mostly been effective.

[Shira Ovide writes the On Tech newsletter for the New York Times.]

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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) and Grace Tepper (grace AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.

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