Daily Digest 5/9/2022 (Johnnie Anderson Jones)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents

Affordability

The Biden administration is capping the cost of internet for low-income Americans  |  Read below  |  Ayana Archie  |  National Public Radio
Biden’s Effort to Increase Internet Access Faces Hurdle: Getting the Word Out  |  Read below  |  Joshua Jamerson  |  Wall Street Journal

State/Local Initiatives

State Broadband Directors Have a Lot to Offer Each Other  |  Read below  |  Benjamin Kahn  |  Broadband Breakfast
Delaware’s State Chief Information Officer Promotes Tammy Shelton to Delaware Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program Manager  |  Delaware Department of Technology & Information
Ting Internet prepares to square off with Verizon Fios and Comcast in Virginia  |  Read below  |  Diana Goovaerts  |  Fierce

Community Anchor Institutions

How Can Universities Help Close the Digital Divide?  |  Read below  |  Brandon Paykamian  |  Government Technology

Wireless/Spectrum

Let's Keep Driving Forward on Connected Cars & Next-Gen Wi-Fi  |  Read below  |  Ian Adams, Kathleen Burke, Deborah Collier, Alan Inouye, Ryan Johnston, Andrew Jay Schwartzman, Joel Thayer  |  Op-Ed  |  RealClearPolicy
Wi-Fi on the plane: Here's how in-flight connectivity is changing (and costing)  |  USA Today
Dish doesn’t plan to ask for extension to 5G network build  |  Fierce

Platforms/Social Media

Elon Musk Faces FTC Antitrust Review on Twitter Alongside Stock Probe  |  Read below  |  Leah Nylen  |  Bloomberg
Inside Elon Musk’s Big Plans for Twitter  |  New York Times
Elon Musk expected to serve as temporary Twitter CEO after deal closes  |  CNBC
Unhealthy Social-Media Habits? Blame Your Early Childhood Experiences  |  Wall Street Journal

Labor

President Biden meets with Amazon Labor Union leader Christian Smalls at White House  |  Axios

How We Live Now

Gmail, Slack, Zoom and More—Tech Rules for New Grads and Everyone Else at Work  |  Wall Street Journal

Lobbying

American Association of Public Broadband is Formed to Promote Municipal Networks  |  Read below  |  Joan Engebretson  |  telecompetitor

Company News

Frontier sees fiber broadband additions in first quarter of 2022  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Frontier Communications
TDS to build fiber broadband network in Butte-Silver Bow, Montana  |  TDS Telecommunications

Stories From Abroad

EU to begin enforcement of Digital Markets Act in spring 2023  |  Vox
Canada’s $16 Billion Rogers-Shaw Telecom Deal at Risk Over Antitrust Concerns  |  Wall Street Journal
How millions of Russians are tearing holes in the Digital Iron Curtain  |  Washington Post
The War in Ukraine, as Seen on Russian TV  |  New York Times
Today's Top Stories

Affordability

The Biden administration is capping the cost of internet for low-income Americans

Ayana Archie  |  National Public Radio

The Biden administration will partner with internet providers to lower the cost of high-speed internet plans for low-income Americans. The Affordable Connectivity Program will provide plans of at least 100 Megabits per second of speed for no more than $30. An estimated 48 million Americans will qualify. Twenty internet providers—including national companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, as well as regional companies, such as Hawaiian Telecom and Jackson Energy Authority in Tennessee—have committed to the program. Americans will soon be able to visit www.getinternet.gov to determine their eligibility and sign up for the program. Those who receive benefits, such as the Pell Grant, Medicaid or SNAP may qualify. Agencies overseeing these programs will reach out to recipients of these benefits to see which households qualify for the ACP. Eligible households may also receive notifications from city or state agencies. Organizations such as United Way and Goodwill will also assist with outreach and enrollment.

Biden’s Effort to Increase Internet Access Faces Hurdle: Getting the Word Out

Joshua Jamerson  |  Wall Street Journal

A $14 billion federal program to increase access to high-speed internet faces an early hurdle: The people who need it most are the hardest to reach because they aren’t online. The roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law that President Biden signed last November includes $65 billion to build up the country’s broadband network—a need highlighted by the pandemic that sent many students and workers to their computers. But much of that money could take years to put to use, making the $30 subsidy one of the most immediately deliverable aspects of the law. More than 11 million Americans have signed up for the monthly subsidy, according to the Federal Communications Commission, which administers the subsidies. The aid is available to anyone whose income is 200% or less than federal poverty guidelines or whose household qualifies for a government assistance program such as food assistance or Medicaid. Federal Communications Commission officials acknowledged there has been limited outreach for both the temporary subsidy and the new one, citing “unique circumstances” of the Covid-19 pandemic. They say the agency is exploring new ways to market the program through community institutions such as school districts.

State/Local

State Broadband Directors Have a Lot to Offer Each Other

Benjamin Kahn  |  Broadband Breakfast

Fellow broadband offices are one of the most valuable resources new state broadband directors can leverage, experienced directors say. During the Broadband Communities Summit, Connect Maine Authority Executive Director Peggy Schaffer said that communication between state broadband offices is critical so that states do not make the same mistakes twice. “The knowledge that [broadband offices] share is [a great resource],” she said. She added that this is particularly important for newer broadband directors who may not have much experience working in the sector. Texas Broadband Development Office Director Greg Conte echoed Schaffer’s statements. He said that one of the first things he did when he found himself in his position was call Schaffer to discuss what actions Maine did to get their communities connected. Conte added that broadband directors should not shy away from looking towards the communities they hope to serve for help. “Do not forget your local community partners — they know what they need.” Conte said. “Communities are going to be your best assets when you are on the ground building that last mile [infrastructure].” Montana’s Broadband Program Manage Chad Rupe emphasized that broadband directors that are new to the sector should avoid getting sucked into the trap of only listening to one voice in the community — whether that is a small provider, a municipal entity, or an incumbent provider.

Ting Internet prepares to square off with Verizon Fios and Comcast in Virginia

Diana Goovaerts  |  Fierce

Tucows CEO Elliott Noss revealed its Ting Internet business expects to begin construction of a new fiber network in Alexandria (VA) sometime in the current quarter, after winning a bid to cover tens of thousands of locations there. The deployment will tee it up to challenge incumbent cable provider Comcast as well as Verizon Fios, which is in the process of upgrading its copper lines in the area to fiber. Noss said Alexandria already includes 90,000 serviceable addresses and is expected to grow considerably with the construction of Amazon’s new HQ2 offices in nearby Arlington (VA). Ting Internet was named as a winning bidder in the City’s solicitation in March 2022, and Noss said it expects to execute a franchise agreement with the municipality and begin construction in Q2 2022. This timetable puts it slightly behind Verizon, which began upgrading its network in the area in March. However, according to information posted by the city, Verizon’s transition from copper to full Fios there is expected to take three to four years. The deal in Virginia was one of several Ting Internet struck recently as it works to rapidly expand its fiber footprint. The operator also inked an agreement in January 2022 to become the anchor tenant on a network being built by Colorado Springs Utilities which will eventually reach 200,000 serviceable addresses in Colorado. Last month, it followed up with the announcement that it plans to build fiber to 130,000 locations in Aurora (CO).

Community Anchors

How Can Universities Help Close the Digital Divide?

Brandon Paykamian  |  Government Technology

With Internet connectivity now viewed as a public necessity for telework and education, universities across the US are partnering with local governments and community organizations on initiatives to expand broadband access and close the digital divide once and for all. Much of these efforts involve working with local and state leaders to identify areas most in need of resources, which was the focus at Purdue University’s Center for Regional Development, where officials created data tools such as Purdue’s Digital Divide Index to identify key barriers to technology adoption in regions throughout Indiana. According to Director Roberto Gallardo, the aim is to pinpoint where the digital divide is most pronounced, as well as its main causes and strategies to close it. “We generate a lot of information to turn around and help communities better understand their digital landscape,” he said. “The Digital Divide Index considers socioeconomic indicators, like which areas of your county have higher poverty, disability or seniors,” he added. “These are variables that we know affect technology adoption.” Gallardo said the university recently surveyed residents to gain a deeper understanding of their concerns relating to costs and service satisfaction, as well as the scope of issues such as the K-12 homework gap that has increased amid shifts to and from remote learning during COVID-19. He said the center also works to spread awareness about broadband access and digital literacy programs in underserved communities throughout the state.

Wireless

Let's Keep Driving Forward on Connected Cars & Next-Gen Wi-Fi

Ian Adams, Kathleen Burke, Deborah Collier, Alan Inouye, Ryan Johnston, Andrew Jay Schwartzman, Joel Thayer  |  Op-Ed  |  RealClearPolicy

These days, there isn’t a lot of harmony in the world of technology policy. But there is a bright spot of bipartisanship in a section of our airwaves: the 5.9 GHz band. In 2020, the Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to modernize the rules in this spectrum to allow both Wi-Fi and automotive safety tech to operate. This win-win was celebrated by proponents of car safety and broadband alike. But now the Department of Transportation (DOT) is working on a study that may purposely have been designed to undo this decision. At a time when broadband is more important than ever, we should not undo this popular and bipartisan policy. Rather than relitigate the FCC’s policy on a spectrum matter that is squarely in its jurisdiction, DOT should focus on helping the automotive industry deliver on those vehicle-safety promises, bringing the automotive industry’s new C-V2X technology to vehicles. Spectrum is a finite asset, and after a twenty-year grant of exclusive use of the band, the FCC was right to not allow this critical mid-band frequency to lay fallow any longer. Given the importance of the 5.9 GHz band to the country, the federal government must speak with a unified voice on spectrum. Congress should direct the DOT to drop this testing immediately.

[Ian Adams is Executive Director of the International Center for Law & Economics. Kathleen Burke is Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge. Deborah Collier is Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs at Citizens Against Government Waste. Alan Inouye is Senior Director of Public Policy & Government Relations at the American Library Association. Ryan Johnston is Policy Counsel for Federal Programs at Next Century Cities. Andrew Jay Schwartzman is Senior Counselor at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society. Joel Thayer is President of the Digital Progress Institute.]

Platforms/Social Media

Elon Musk Faces FTC Antitrust Review on Twitter Alongside Stock Probe

Leah Nylen  |  Bloomberg

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reviewing Elon Musk’s $44 billion Twitter takeover, a person familiar with the deal said, setting up a deadline in the next month for the agency to decide whether to conduct an in-depth review of the transaction. Under US merger law, Musk is required to notify the FTC and the Justice Department of the transaction and wait at least 30 days before closing to allow an investigation into potential antitrust concerns. The FTC can ask for additional information, issuing what’s known as a second request, which would further delay closing. Antitrust experts don’t expect the deal to raise antitrust concerns. However, Open Markets -– the anti-monopoly non-profit group where Democratic FTC Chair Lina Khan got her start in antitrust –- has urged the agency to block the deal, arguing that it would give Musk too much control over free speech platforms. Musk also owns Starlink, a satellite-based internet provider operated by SpaceX, which is being used to provide internet to Ukraine. The FTC is separately probing whether Musk should have notified the agencies when he acquired a 9 percent stake in the company in March 2022. The Tesla Chief Executive Officer didn’t file paperwork with the FTC, seeking to take advantage of an exemption in the law for voting securities acquired solely for investment purposes.

Lobbying

American Association of Public Broadband is Formed to Promote Municipal Networks

Joan Engebretson  |  telecompetitor

A new association to be known as the American Association of Public Broadband (AAPB) was recently announced. AAPB aims to advocate for municipal networks and is open to government agencies that are planning to build or that currently own or operate a municipal network, as reported by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. These networks could involve public-private partnerships. One of the group’s priorities will be to remove the anti-municipal broadband barriers currently in place in 17 states. AAPB has established a five-member board comprised of people who have been involved in successful municipal networks. In addition, the organization has raised $50,000. Government agencies can join AAPB for an annual fee of $1,000 and individual government employees can join for $300. The news about AAPB’s formation comes at a time when legislators have allotted an unprecedented level of funding for broadband builds, and municipal networks potentially could receive some of that funding. While laws in some states prevent or restrict municipal networks, other states have adopted legislation to encourage municipal networks. And at least one funding program — the NTIA Broadband Infrastructure Program — is open only to public-private partnerships between municipalities and private entities.

Company News

Frontier sees fiber broadband additions in first quarter of 2022

Press Release  |  Frontier Communications

Frontier Communications reported its first quarter 2022 financial results. The company added 54,000 fiber broadband customers in the quarter, resulting in growth of 10.4 percent from the first quarter of 2021. Frontier also built fiber to 211,000 locations. Ultimately, the company saw total revenue of $1.45 billion, down 10.7 percent from first quarter 2021. According to the company, its fiber broadband growth in 2022 has been offset by declines in subsidy, video, voice, and wholesale. Consolidated revenue was particularly impacted by the expiration of Connect America Fund II funding at the end of fourth quarter 2021. In total, the company is aiming to build fiber to 1 million new locations in 2022.

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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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