Daily Digest 6/8/2022 (Barry Sussman)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents

Broadband Funding

Benton Foundation
Treasury Helps Broadband for Everyone in Louisiana  |  Read below  |  Kevin Taglang  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
What $2.5 billion can buy: The effect of the Broadband Initiatives Program on farm productivity  |  Read below  |  Yang Bai, Ryan Yang Wang, Krishna Jayakar  |  Research  |  Telecommunications Policy
The Extra Costs of BEAD Funding  |  Read below  |  Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

State/Local Initiatives

$400 million in COVID recovery funds will bring broadband to rural Tennessee communities  |  Read below  |  Chelsea Beimfohr  |  WKRN
$13 million in broadband grants will support 86 Massachusetts entities  |  Read below  |  Brent Addleman  |  Center Square
Pennsylvania’s definition of broadband hasn’t changed in nearly 20 years  |  Read below  |  Charlotte Keith  |  Spotlight PA
Baltimore Looks to Expand Internet Access by Building Its Own Network  |  Read below  |  Todd Shields  |  Bloomberg
Amidst aging infrastructure, Ashland seeks to modernize city-owned internet  |  Read below  |  Roman Battaglia  |  Jefferson Public Radio
Brightspeed zeroes in on North Carolina for initial fiber build  |  Read below  |  Diana Goovaerts  |  Fierce
Hutchinson Mayor Jade Piros de Carvalho appointed director of the new Kansas Office of Broadband Development  |  Hutchinson News
Alaska Communications to Launch 2.5 Gigabit Broadband Service  |  TVTechnology


Internet Service Providers Rank Last for Customer Satisfaction  |  C|Net


People’s Republic of China State-Sponsored Cyber Actors Exploit Network Providers and Devices  |  Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
Surfshark: United States Is The Most Data-Breached Country  |  MediaPost


California Privacy Protection Agency Proposes Broad Privacy Rules  |  MediaPost


How Updates in iOS 16 and Android 13 Will Change Your Phone  |  New York Times

Emergency Communications

FEMA Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Wireless Emergency Alerts on Integrated Public Alert and Warning System  |  Federal Emergency Management Agency

Platforms/Social Media

SCOTUS Asks Biden Administration To Weigh In On Facebook Fight With Spyware Company  |  MediaPost
Texas AG enters Musk/Twitter fight by ordering Twitter to provide spam data  |  Ars Technica
Instagram’s sensitive content filters are changing  |  Vox


How Much TV Will Gen Zers Watch Along With Other Digital Platforms?  |  MediaPost

Stories From Abroad

Deutsche Telekom will use low-band spectrum to boost rural 5G  |  Fierce
Today's Top Stories

Broadband Funding

Treasury Helps Broadband for Everyone in Louisiana

Kevin Taglang  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Louisiana is aiming to close the digital divide in the state by 2029. Getting there could cost over $1 billion. This week, the state partnered with the U.S. Department of Treasury to help reach that goal. On June 7, Treasury approved Louisiana for $176.7 million of support from the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund (CPF). The funding will help connect nearly 88,500 homes and businesses currently lacking access to internet at speeds of 25/3 Mbps through the state’s the new Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO) program, a multi-phase, broadband infrastructure competitive grant program. Louisiana estimates that projects receiving funding from this CPF award will close the digital divide for approximately 25% of all locations lacking high-speed internet access in the state.

What $2.5 billion can buy: The effect of the Broadband Initiatives Program on farm productivity

Yang Bai, Ryan Yang Wang, Krishna Jayakar  |  Research  |  Telecommunications Policy

This paper investigates whether the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP), implemented as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) had a positive impact on farm productivity, defined as farm sales per farm employment, in the counties that received any BIP funding. The effect of BIP on the growth of farm sales was examined for the 2008–2010, 2008–2011, 2008–2012 and 2008–2013 periods. The selection bias (the probability that a county received BIP funding) was accounted for using the inverse probability weighting regression method (IPW). The findings suggest that BIP funding had a significant but short-term impact on per employment farm sales.

The Extra Costs of BEAD Funding

Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

There are a lot of extra costs for a broadband provider to accept Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program funding including Environmental and Historic Preservation Reviews, Letters of Credit, Prevailing Wages, Requirements on Contractors, Reporting Requirements, and Taxes. I have to laugh when I look at these requirements and see that reaching that single remote location might get layered with hundreds of thousands of dollars of extra costs. The biggest drawback of expensive grant compliance is that it drives up the cost of every grant project. And that means that the BEAD money won’t stretch as far to bring broadband to as many homes. For an individual grant applicant, the extra cost translates into the need for more out-of-pocket matching funds – which in some cases will be enough to make a project infeasible. The many extra grant requirements feel like we’re applying a pound of prevention to solve an ounce of risk. Any one of the various grant requirements can probably be justified, but when taken as a whole, the grant requirements are adding extra cost and hassle that will make many ISPs pass on the opportunity.


$400 million in COVID recovery funds will bring broadband to rural Tennessee communities

Chelsea Beimfohr  |  WKRN

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development is using $400 million worth of coronavirus recovery funds to fund new broadband infrastructure projects in remote areas. 218 internet service providers applied for the grant money, which is more than double what it’s been in previous years. The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development plans to announce the grant winners during summer 2022.

$13 million in broadband grants will support 86 Massachusetts entities

Brent Addleman  |  Center Square

Gov. Charlie Baker (R-MA) announced that $13 million in Community Compact Grants will support 86 entities within the Municipal Fiber grant program. The funds are to be used to construct or complete municipal fiber networks to create efficient management of information technology infrastructure while creating opportunities to progress economies of scale through bandwidth purchases and other security programs. Lt. Gov. Karen Polito said the grants will rapidly change the landscape of information technology and associated supporting infrastructure for communities and the government to better serve residents. 

Pennsylvania’s definition of broadband hasn’t changed in nearly 20 years

Charlotte Keith  |  Spotlight PA

Everyone in Pennsylvania has access to broadband—at least, according to the definition set by state lawmakers in the early 2000s. But ask residents of rural areas about their internet speeds, and you’ll likely hear about slow connections and outdated technology. In 1993, the state legislature approved a sweeping measure they hoped would guarantee universal access to high-speed internet in Pennsylvania. The law cut a deal with the existing landline phone companies, who agreed to make broadband available across the entire state — even in unprofitable rural areas — in exchange for less regulation and the chance to earn higher profits. Ten years later, with the law due to expire, legislators debated whether to renew it. That involved setting themselves an impossible task: trying to predict the internet speeds of the future. The 1993 law defined broadband as a minimum download speed of 1.544 megabits per second — blazing fast at the time. By the early 2000s, though, some industry experts warned lawmakers that the original standard would soon be obsolete. By 2015, the state’s final deadline for companies to upgrade their networks, the federal standard for download speeds was 16 times faster than Pennsylvania’s. 

Baltimore Looks to Expand Internet Access by Building Its Own Network

Todd Shields  |  Bloomberg

Baltimore has an audacious goal to build a city-owned broadband service that could give its poorest residents equal access to digital resources for education, medical services and jobs. The plan lands the port city an hour from the nation’s capital squarely in the middle of a national debate over who deserves a chunk of the $95 billion in federal funding Congress allocated to close the digital divide. It also pits local officials against Comcast, the cable giant that already serves the city. “Access is too important to leave to the market and private actors. These guys had decades to solve the problem and they haven’t,” said Jason Hardebeck, a former tech executive who is the city’s broadband chief. “We will never get ahead of the curve if we don’t treat it as public infrastructure.”

Amidst aging infrastructure, Ashland seeks to modernize city-owned internet

Roman Battaglia  |  Jefferson Public Radio

Ashland, Oregon, created the Ashland Fiber Network in the late 1990s, after discovering the city’s only internet provider wouldn’t upgrade its infrastructure to meet rising demands. Ashland decided to offer its own internet service. Now all this equipment is starting to become outdated. While AFN was a pioneer for city-owned internet at its inception, the service has since fallen behind other municipal fiber networks. For the current system to work, a long chain of networking devices need to be strung up throughout the city to translate the signal between fiber-optics and cable. AFN is now following in the footsteps of others and learning how the company can make the system easier to upgrade in the future. But with major upgrades come major costs. It could take up to $10 million to replace all those cable boxes around the city with fiber-optics. The Ashland city council is considering entering into a public-private partnership, which would mean the city giving away some of its stake in the network to a private company and allowing them to run the day-to-day operations of the service.

Brightspeed zeroes in on North Carolina for initial fiber build

Diana Goovaerts  |  Fierce

Brightspeed is set to acquire assets in 20 states from Lumen Technologies (formerly CenturyLink) later in 2022, but has already homed in on one of those as the focal point for its planned $2 billion fiber build. The operator revealed North Carolina will be the home of an initial project which aims to reach 300,000 locations across 30 counties by the end of 2023. Target markets include the Greenville, New Bern, Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, High Point and Winstem-Salem areas. The initiative is part of Brightspeed’s larger goal to reach 1 million new fiber passings.

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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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Kevin Taglang
Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
Benton Institute
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