Daily Digest 5/31/2022 (OK to Wear White)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents


Lifeline National Verifier Quarterly Eligibility Data  |  Read below  |  Research  |  Universal Service Administrative Company

Broadband Service

The Busy Hour and Data Caps  |  Read below  |  Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

State/Local Inititatives

California Bill Would Make New Broadband Networks More Expensive  |  Read below  |  Chao Liu  |  Analysis  |  Electronic Frontier Foundation
Gov. Walz (D-MN) Signs Agriculture Bill with over $200 million to support further broadband development in rural Minnesota  |  Associated Press
Meet Diamond State Networks, an Arkansas Statewide Fiber Network  |  Read below  |  Joan Engebretson  |  telecompetitor


Google Fiber told to drop speed, reliability claims after Charter challenge  |  Read below  |  Diana Goovaerts  |  Fierce


NCTA to FCC: Defend 6-GHz Interference Call  |  Multichannel News

Platforms/Social Media

The SEC, in letter to Elon Musk, says it is scrutinizing his Twitter share purchases  |  New York Times
Texas AG And Twitter Continue Feud Over Trump Ban  |  MediaPost
As young gunmen turn toward new social networks, old safeguards fail  |  Washington Post
Will Oremus: Want to regulate social media? The First Amendment may stand in the way.  |  Washington Post
TikTok and the defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard  |  New York Times
Anti-Vaxxer Urges Court To Revive Claims Against Twitter, President Biden  |  MediaPost
Greg Bensinger: How Illinois Is Winning in the Fight Against Big Tech  |  New York Times


Advocates Urge Congress to Support a Comprehensive Consumer Privacy Law that Safeguards Civil Rights Online  |  Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Geoffrey Fowler: I tried to read all my app privacy policies. It was 1 million words.  |  Washington Post
Davos crowd sees power and perils of data  |  Axios


Broadband providers have a people problem on their hands  |  Fierce
Apple Atlanta Workers Drop Bid for Union Vote, Claiming Intimidation  |  Bloomberg


How the Major Streamers Stack Up Right Now – in Subscribers and Revenue  |  Wrap, The
Can Paramount Go It Alone?  |  New York Times


Heidi Heitkamp Lobbies Against a Democratic FCC  |  American Prospect

Company News

Starry CEO says it could lend its tech to US, international ISPs  |  Fierce

Stories From Abroad

China Tops Google, YouTube Results on Covid Origins and Beijing’s Human-Rights Record  |  Wall Street Journal
Today's Top Stories


Lifeline National Verifier Quarterly Eligibility Data

During the first quarter of 2022, the Lifeline National Verifier received 4,457,395 applications. Of the applications received, 48% were fully qualified automatically, and 7% were qualified through manual documentation review. The overall qualification result is determined after eligibility is checked and includes further checks related to identity and duplicates. Of the applications submitted, 1,989,492 applications were determined to be “Not Qualified” because they did not meet the program criteria and were not resolved by the applicant within 45 days.


The Busy Hour and Data Caps

Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

As states are getting ready to create their broadband plans for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)’s $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program grants, we’re starting to see some interesting arguments being made by incumbents to influence state broadband plans. One of the aspects of the BEAD plan that hasn’t been discussed much yet is that the NTIA is stressing affordability. For example, the NOFO states several times that states must develop a middle-class rate plan. Everybody I know is scratching their head on what that means, but to the big internet service providers (ISPs), this must sound like rate caps – something they have vigorously fought everywhere. One aspect of high rates – data caps – is a big topic of discussion in the state. ISPs are making the claim that they’ve made many times that data caps are needed to manage the network. The rest of the ISP argument is that heavy broadband users are creating extra costs and should pay for the extra usage. But broadband costs are not related to the overall volume of broadband being delivered on a network; the cost is determined almost entirely by what network engineers call the busy hour.

[Doug Dawson is president of CCG Consulting.]


California Bill Would Make New Broadband Networks More Expensive

Chao Liu  |  Analysis  |  Electronic Frontier Foundation

The state of California is primed to bring 21st-century fiber access at affordable rates to every Californian. All of the recent state and federal efforts will help bring every Californian affordable fiber internet access. But a bill in the California legislature threatens to undo all of that good work. A.B. 2749, authored by Assemblymember Quirk-Silva, would prohibit the California Public Utilities Commission from requiring providers to offer affordable service to all Californians, and force them to wrongly treat fixed wireless offerings as equivalent to fiber infrastructure. It would also place a completely arbitrary 180-day review shot-clock on the review of applications to federal funding, which will short-circuit public provider efforts to deliver fiber. All these provisions run contrary to both the established goals of the Biden Administration and the Newsom administration to deliver affordable, future-proof fiber to all. A.B. 2749 has passed the Assembly and is now headed to the Senate. If this bill—which is supported by industry providers like AT&T and Frontier Communications—were to pass, areas that currently do not even have basic service, primarily rural and urban poor areas, would suffer most of all.

[Chao Liu is a legislative associate at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.]

Meet Diamond State Networks, an Arkansas Statewide Fiber Network

Joan Engebretson  |  telecompetitor

Thirteen Arkansas electric cooperatives have come together to establish Diamond State Networks, a fiber network that covers more than 64 percent of the state’s land mass. The network was created by interconnecting existing networks operated by the 13 companies. Plans include offering wholesale connectivity on the network to other service providers, as well as further network expansion. Collectively, the companies have invested or plan to invest more than $1.66 billion in fiber network infrastructure, which will serve nearly 600,000 potential customer locations. The co-managing members of Diamond State Networks are Mitchell Johnson, president and CEO of Ozarks Electric, and Jeremiah Sloan, president and CEO of Craighead Electric. “By bringing these networks together, we’re investing to build a middle mile network for long-term, far-reaching affordability and delivering high-performance connectivity to every corner of our state,” said Johnson. “Ultimately it will offer local internet service providers better access and capacity to deliver their services, and better opportunities to directly serve businesses with reliable connectivity wherever they are. We’re making it affordable to reach more areas with best-in-class technology to close the gaps from past limitations.”


Google Fiber told to drop speed, reliability claims after Charter challenge

Diana Goovaerts  |  Fierce

Google Fiber agreed to alter its advertisements after the National Advertising Division (NAD) determined a number of its speed claims were unsupported, including the assertion that its service can provide “faster download speeds than you'd get with traditional cable.” The decision followed a challenge from cable player Charter Communications. In addition to the aforementioned claim, NAD also ruled against Google’s claims that it offers up to 77 times faster uploads and up to 12 times faster downloads. Additionally, it recommended Google alter or drop statements that it offers speeds which are “faster in every direction” and that “everything you do goes much faster.” NAD’s review of Google Fiber’s ads also tackled assertions that its service is more reliable than cable. It found Google’s claims that it has “(way) fewer points of failure than cable internet” and “fewer outages than cable internet” to be unsubstantiated. Google said while it disagrees with aspects of the NAD’s ruling, it will respect its recommendations.

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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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