Friday, May 6, 2022
Headlines Daily Digest
White House Issues Two Quantum Directives Set To Bolster American Infrastructure | nextgov
Stories From Abroad
The Federal Trade Commission has moved to stop internet service provider Frontier Communications from lying to consumers and charging them for high-speed internet speeds it fails to deliver. Under a proposed order with the FTC and two California law enforcement agencies, Frontier will be prohibited from tricking consumers about its slow internet service and required to support its speed claims. Frontier must also provide current customers with free and easy cancellations when it fails to deliver the promised speeds. In addition to prohibiting the conduct outlined in the complaint, other provisions of the proposed order:
- require Frontier to substantiate its internet speed claims at a customer-by-customer level for new and complaining customers and notify customers when it is unable to do so;
- require Frontier to ensure it can provide the internet service speeds it advertises before signing up, upgrading, or billing new customers;
- prohibit Frontier from signing up new customers for its DSL internet service in areas where the high number of users sharing the same networking equipment causes congestion resulting in slower internet service; and
- require the company to notify existing customers who are receiving DSL internet service at speeds lower than was advertised and allow those customers to change or cancel their service at no charge.
I’m not sure that most people understand the extent to which our online experience has moved to the cloud – and this movement to the cloud means we’re using a lot more bandwidth than in the recent past. A huge number of online functions now reside in the cloud, when only a few years ago a lot of processing was done on our computers. The shift to the cloud is still an ongoing transition and there are still plenty of software packages that are not processed in the cloud, but it’s obvious that everything will eventually be in the cloud. Having software and applications in the cloud has made a big change in home bandwidth usage. If I have Twitter open in the background there are constant updates coming to my computer. The industry refers to this traffic as machine-to-machine traffic where updates are made between computers and the cloud without users taking any active steps to request an update. I read recently that Cisco says that this is the fastest growing segment of broadband usage as more and more functions are migrating to the cloud. It’s unlikely that cloud traffic will ever come close to overtaking video traffic in terms of the number of bits being sent, but it’s one of the reasons that homes are using more broadband every year.
[Doug Dawson is president of CCG Consulting.]
The Hispanic Federation and Comcast NBCUniversal have partnered to help community organizations in 20 cities, including Philadelphia (PA), battle the digital divide that sets Latinos behind in the workforce. Hispanics are significantly less digitally literate than white Americans, meaning they are less likely to know how to use a computer or have internet access. Latinos make up 14 percent of the overall workforce but represent 35 percent of workers with no digital skills, according to the organizations. Adults who reported no computer use, who were unwilling to take an assessment on a computer or failed a basic computer test were considered not digitally literate by a US Department of Education report from 2018. That report found the rate of Hispanics who are not digitally literate to be three times that of white people. The organizations announced $635,000 in grants for 20 community nonprofits that will provide training. In Philadelphia, Aspira PA and Esperanza US are receiving grants. They also announced the launch of the Latino Digital Center of Excellence, a bilingual center that can be used by all workforce development agencies to teach people digital skills.
Tens of billions of dollars in federal funding are poised for new broadband infrastructure deployment over the next five years. But a crucial step in allocating funds from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program - for states and local governments - lies in knowing where fast, affordable, reliable broadband access currently is, so that they know where to drive new investment. The Federal Communications Commission’s historical and repeated failure to put together an accurate national broadband map threatens to significantly hold up the process. Even under the best-case scenario, we’re not likely to see better maps for at least a year to come. Unfortunately, we don’t know how the process will shake out quite yet. The new FCC maps represent a significant departure, but many states aren't waiting around and have begun to develop their own broadband maps. In classifying the various state-led efforts, we've developed a new resource we're releasing today to serve as an easy reference guide. It shows how states are going about mapping Internet access, and which ones we think are doing it better than others. We’re calling it our United State(s) of Broadband Maps.
On April 19, Governor JB Pritzker (D-IL) signed the 2023 Illinois state budget into law. Included in the 500+ page legislation is the Broadband Infrastructure Advancement Act (P.A. 102-0699), the state's overarching procedures to make use of coming federal monies to support broadband deployment projects. The legislation is also a radical departure from the Illinois Broadband Deployment, Equity, Access, and Affordability Act of 2022 (SB 3683) which we highlighted for you back in March. Illinois now seeks to be in full compliance with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the launch of the Chicago Digital Equity Council, a cross-sector, community-driven effort to understand and tackle the nuanced barriers to digital equity and close Chicago (IL)’s digital divide once and for all. Chicago’s digital divide is a racial equity issue. Through a comprehensive community engagement strategy, the Digital Equity Council will make recommendations to close this gap, reaching a state of digital equity where all Chicagoans have the digital skills, tools, and resources they need to fully participate in society, democracy, and the economy. The Digital Equity Council was born out of Chicago Connected, a first-of-its-kind broadband program that has connected over 64,000 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students to at-home high-speed internet and made free digital learning resources available to families. The Digital Equity Council will build upon Chicago Connected’s historic progress in the K-12 space to pinpoint and tackle the barriers to digital equity Chicago residents face citywide. The Digital Equity Council is led by a group of community leaders, community-based organizations (CBOs), government entities, and digital equity subject matter experts. Known as the Guiding Team, this cross-sector leadership group is working to reimagine the relationships among people, programs, and organizations to achieve systemic change. With representation from communities across the City, this team ensures that Chicagoans most burdened by the digital divide are at the table and centered in decision-making.
A group of municipal officials have formed a new advocacy group for municipal broadband in the United States, dubbed the American Association for Public Broadband (AAPB). "For decades, municipal networks have achieved success across the country. Now, with AAPB, we have a clear unified voice," the group noted on its new website. "We work collaboratively with communities, policymakers, service providers and other industry groups to advance high-speed broadband deployments in the United States." Part of the group's work aims to spread muni broadband success stories to decision-makers to balance cautionary stories. Founding members of the new group include Highland Communication Services in Illinois; Traverse City Light and Power in Michigan; Kitsap PUD in Washington; Ridgefield Economic and Community Development Commission in Connecticut; and UTOPIA Fiber in Utah.
When Covid-19 began to sweep across the country in March 2020, schools in every state closed their doors. Remote instruction effectively became a national policy for the rest of that spring. A few months later, however, school districts began to make different decisions about whether to reopen. Across much of the South and the Great Plains as well as some pockets of the Northeast, schools resumed in-person classes in the fall of 2020. Across much of the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast, school buildings stayed closed and classes remained online for months. These differences created a huge experiment, testing how well remote learning worked during the pandemic. Academic researchers have since been studying the subject, and they have come to a consistent conclusion: Remote learning was a failure. According to researchers at the Harvard Center for Education Policy Research, students who attended in-person school for nearly all of 2020-21 lost about 20 percent worth of a typical school year’s math learning during the study’s two-year window. Students who stayed home for most of 2020-21 fared much worse. On average, they lost the equivalent of about 50 percent of a typical school year’s math learning during the study’s two-year window.
Charter Communications announced that it is working with the Los Angeles (CA) Unified School District (LAUSD) to help thousands of families who lack robust internet connectivity at home enroll in the Spectrum Enterprise Stay Connected K-12 solution, which is provided at no cost for students. The Stay Connected K-12 offering is part of the District’s broader efforts to help close the digital divide in its communities and make it easier for all students to fulfill their academic potential. Stay Connected K-12 provides schools the ability to offer high-speed, reliable broadband internet access directly to their students in their own homes so learning and teaching are uninterrupted. Participating families are not billed for the service. Stay Connected K-12 also maximizes flexibility for districts, allowing them to add students to the program when needed, with no minimum term commitment on any of the connections. Charter is partnering with LAUSD officials to help make families aware of the Stay Connected K-12 service and quickly connect students. After signing up to participate, families will receive Spectrum modems by mail and should follow the simple self-install instructions. Customer support is available 24 hours a day.
Reps Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Bob Latta (R-OH), along with Sens Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and John Thune (R-SD) the Spectrum Innovation Act of 2022 (H.R.7624), legislation that would free up new airwaves for wireless broadband use by the public. The Spectrum Innovation Act would free-up new airwaves in the 3.1-3.45 GHz band for wireless broadband use for the public, which means faster speeds and more responsive networks for consumers. In addition to up to 200 megahertz of spectrum auctioned for mobile broadband, this bill will help usher in new, innovative, and flexible spectrum uses. “Our entire economy runs on mobile broadband technology today,” Congressman Doyle observed. “Congress must make as much spectrum as possible available for improved broadband service for consumers and for promoting new, innovative use of our airwaves. The Spectrum Innovation Act would do just that.”
Sens Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Rev Raphael Warnock (D-GA) introduced legislation to restore the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) decades-long authority to return money to consumers victimized by illegal scams, fraud and other unfair or deceptive practices. In April 2021, the Supreme Court slashed the FTC’s “Section 13(b)” authority which the commission utilized to return $11.2 billion dollars to consumers in the five years prior to the decision. The Consumer Protection Remedies Act of 2022 fully restores the FTC’s ability to obtain monetary and other relief for consumers under Section 13(b) of the FTC Act by going directly to federal court. The legislation protects consumers and fosters a fair marketplace by 1) allowing the FTC to go to court and ask the judge to order scammers and lawbreakers to return the money they unlawfully took from consumers and give up their ill-gotten gains so that it is not profitable to break the law; 2) Permitting the FTC to go to court to seek monetary remedies for consumers who were harmed because of anticompetitive conduct, in addition to unfair and deceptive or other unlawful conduct; and 3) confirming that the FTC may sue for injunctions and consumer redress for prior conduct, not just ongoing conduct, to stop lawbreakers from reverting back to their unlawful conduct. It also affirms 13(b)’s due process protections with impartial court-ordered redress 13(b) by 1) ensuring that the FTC must argue its case in front of a neutral federal judge, with the opportunity to appeal contested decisions through the federal judiciary; and 2) requiring that refunds or other relief be “in the public interest,” as determined by the judge.
WISPA hired David M. Zumwalt as President and CEO of the Association, effective June 1, 2022. Zumwalt will oversee the Association’s strategic and daily affairs, including staff for advocacy, membership, policy, and events. Prior to arriving at WISPA, Zumwalt served as the Chief Operating Officer of Broadband VI, a major ISP in the US Virgin Islands offering fixed wireless and fiber-connected services, where he was recruited to prepare the company for scale. He held full P&L responsibility, helped guide the company to its historic $84.5 million FCC Connect USVI win, and provided operations leadership during and after its acquisition by a unit of Liberty Latin America in 2021. Earlier, he served as the CEO/Executive Director of the University of the Virgin Islands Research and Technology Park Corporation (RTPark), an instrumentality of the USVI government formed to establish and grow a vibrant knowledge-based sector in the Territory’s economy. He led policy, workforce investment, infrastructure, and market outreach initiatives and guided RTPark to become a rare example of a sustainable three-way partnership with private sector, governmental, and university stakeholders.
WISPA represents the interests of the evolving Internet service provider that deploys fixed wireless, fiber and hybrid networks. WISPA’s members range from small innovative entrepreneurs to large providers, solutions providers, and manufacturers.
Last year when Facebook blocked news in Australia in response to potential legislation making platforms pay publishers for content, it also took down the pages of Australian hospitals, emergency services and charities. It publicly called the resulting chaos “inadvertent.” Internally, the pre-emptive strike was hailed as a strategic masterstroke. Facebook documents and testimony filed to US and Australian authorities by whistleblowers allege that the social media giant deliberately created an overly broad and sloppy process to take down pages—allowing swaths of the Australian government and health services to be caught in its web just as the country was launching Covid vaccinations. The goal, according to the whistleblowers and documents, was to exert maximum negotiating leverage over the Australian Parliament, which was voting on the first law in the world that would require platforms such as Google and Facebook to pay news outlets for content. Despite saying it was targeting only news outlets, the company deployed an algorithm for deciding what pages to take down that it knew was certain to affect more than publishers, according to the documents and people familiar with the matter. It didn’t notify affected pages in advance they would be blocked or provide a system for them to appeal once they were. The documents also show multiple Facebook employees tried to raise alarms about the impact and offer possible solutions, only to receive a minimal or delayed response from the leaders of the team in charge.
This study presents an ex-post comparative assessment of the relative performance of three Latin American broadband network emblematic projects implemented through public-private projects (PPP). Results show that the relative performance of these projects is extremely sensitive to differences in contractual design and regulatory approaches applied in each case. The detailed examination and comparative analysis of these experiences allowed us to extract important lessons in terms of design and implementation of PPP in the telecommunications sector. In particular, our analysis finds that imperfect financing and demand risk allocations in projects can jeopardize their operational and financial sustainability. As well, the examination of these experiences allows us to conclude that in markets characterized by continuous economic and technological transformations, vertical separation restrictions imposed for reducing the risk of increasing market power and concentration may not be justified. As well, analysis shows that in such evolving contexts, a more flexible and adaptable regulatory approach is recommendable. Finally, our analysis reveals the role of complementary policies in the context of the implementation of countries’ digital strategies, as a means that contribute to ensure the accomplishment of broadband accessibility national targets.
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.
© Benton Institute for Broadband & Society 2022. Redistribution of this email publication — both internally and externally — is encouraged if it includes this message. For subscribe/unsubscribe info email: headlines AT benton DOT org
Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
for Broadband & Society
1041 Ridge Rd, Unit 214
Wilmette, IL 60091
headlines AT benton DOT org
The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society All Rights Reserved © 2022