Friday, July 1, 2022
Headlines Daily Digest
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News From the FCC
How the internet got privatized and what the government could do to fix it | Protocol
Broadband Service Cost
Washington state seeking community feedback through digital equity survey | Washington State Department of Commerce
Antitrust, Privacy Bills Targeting Big Tech Are Up Against the Clock | CNET
Op-Ed | Section 230 Is a Last Line of Defense for Abortion Speech Online | Wired
The Metaverse in 2040 | Pew Research Center
The iPhone’s Creators Reveal the Consequences They Never Expected | Wall Street Journal
The status of the book in the age of digital media | Smart Set
Kids & Media
What Is the Right Age for a Kid to Get a Cellphone? | Education Week
Today's Top Stories
News From the FCC
Public Notice | Federal Communications Commission
The Broadband Data Task Force announced the opening of the inaugural Broadband Data Collection (BDC) filing window. Facilities-based broadband service providers may begin to file in the BDC system data that reflects where they make mass-market internet access service available as of June 30, 2022. Such data must be filed no later than September 1, 2022. Entities that choose to submit verified availability data in the inaugural filing window, such as authenticated state, local, and Tribal governmental entities primarily responsible for mapping or tracking broadband coverage in their areas, must also submit their data as of June 30, 2022, and no later than September 1, 2022. Filers should submit their data in the BDC system here. Information about the categories of broadband providers that must file availability data, the entities that may also submit verified availability data, and what data must be filed can be found here.
Press Release | Federal Communications Commission
The Federal Communications Commission announced it is committing nearly $159 million in two new funding rounds through the Emergency Connectivity Program, helping to close the Homework Gap. The funding supports applications from all three of the program’s application windows, supporting over 300,000 students across the country, including in Alabama, Guam, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Texas, and West Virginia. Nearly $2 million from the first and second application windows will provide support in the upcoming school year for approximately 15 schools and 4 libraries. For the third application window, the FCC is committing nearly $157 million that will support over 350 schools, 50 libraries, and 4 consortia. Total funding committed to date is nearly $5.3 billion.
Thomas Sullivan | Public Notice | Federal Communications Commission
The Federal Communications Commission granted the applications SpaceX Services to operate consumer and enterprise Ku-band Earth Stations in Motion (ESIM) and the application of Kepler Communications to operate unlimited Ku-band Earth Stations on Vessels (ESVs) in the territorial waters of the United States and aboard US-registered vessels throughout international waters worldwide. Both SpaceX and Kepler propose to use the 14.0-14.5 GHz band to transmit (Earth-to-space), and the 10.7-12.7 GHz band, including 12.2-12.7 GHz (generally known as the 12 GHz band), to receive (space-to-Earth). The grants are subject to a number of conditions some of which are related to the ongoing 12 GHz rulemaking proceeding. The FCC denied the Petitions to Deny or Defer in Part filed by RS Access in the two SpaceX and the Kepler proceedings, the Petitions to Deny or Hold in Abeyance filed by ViaSat in both SpaceX license proceedings, the DISH Network Corporation Petition to Deny Waiver Request filed in opposition to SpaceX’s enterprise application, and the DISH Petition to Deny in Part filed against the Kepler application. SpaceX and Kepler’s use of Ku-band frequencies is subject to the following requirements and conditions (see full list at the link below)
Diana Goovaerts | Fierce
Ookla released a new batch of Speedtest results which showed median download speeds for SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband service jumped 38 percent year on year in the US in first quarter 2022. Even with that boost, the service still only delivered downstream rates of 90.55 Mbps, leaving it well short of the 144.2 Mbps median posted by the industry as a whole. And Starlink’s upload speeds actually dropped 33 percent year on year to 9.33 Mbps in the recent quarter. All of this data begs the question: What happens if Starlink can’t meet the 100/20 Mbps speed obligations attached to its Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) projects? In December 2020, SpaceX emerged as a top winner in the Federal Communications Commission’s RDOF auction, which was designed to provide billions of dollars to support broadband deployments in unserved parts of the US. Of the $9.2 billion awarded in the Phase I auction, SpaceX won $885.5 million and committed to use the money to deliver its Starlink service to 642,925 locations across 35 states. RDOF rules set speeds of 25/3 Mbps as the minimum allowed for broadband service delivered by winners. However, participants were permitted to bid at four different performance tiers: 25/3 Mbps, 50/5 Mbps, 100/20 Mbps and 1 Gbps/500 Mbps. When the auction closed, the FCC noted 99.7 percent of locations were bid at 100/20 or higher, with 85 percent bid at the gigabit tier. That means Starlink will need to provide speeds of at least 100/20 in order to meet its obligations.
Marlene Dortch | Public Notice | Federal Communications Commission
The Federal Communications Commission modified the cost recovery rules for funding two forms of Internet-based telecommunications relay services (TRS)—video relay service (VRS) and Internet Protocol Relay Service (IP Relay). The FCC expanded the Interstate TRS Fund contribution base for support of those services to include intrastate as well as interstate end-user revenues of TRS Fund contributors, ensuring fair treatment of intrastate and interstate communications services and users in the funding of relay services.
Mike Conlow | Analysis | Substack
I’ve long been confused by the term “technological neutrality” in broadband deployment conversations. Advocates would say that if a provider can hit certain performance benchmarks, it doesn’t matter what technology is used. But all these technologies are not created equal. Using provider-reported performance benchmarks alone ignores valuable data on the access technology. For example, there are 210,000 housing units where the best available technology is DSL yet they are still considered served by 100/20 broadband and thus ineligible for any funding under the IIJA. Even if the provider-claimed “maximum advertised speed” of 100Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload is true, that is not an Internet connection I’d rely on in my home. It is painful to think that even after the investments the IIJA will make, we could still have rural Americans reliant on DSL to reach the Internet. Looking at it from the other side, cable networks provide good home broadband. In Census blocks covering 97% of the housing units where cable is the best available option, those housing units are “served” by broadband, meaning speeds better than 100/20. Generally, plans are available up to ~900/35. DOCSIS 4.0 and its promise of symmetrical bandwidth, fiber that runs deep through the middle mile, and investments in better queue management to reduce latency means some of these copper cable networks have a lot of life left. Do we really want federal funds going to the 3% of these networks that are “underserving” their subscribers with worse than 100/20 Internet?
[Mike Conlow writes about technology, policy, politics, and economics in various combinations in 'Mike's Newsletter'.]
Doug Dawson | Analysis | CCG Consulting
I’ve been getting the question lately about raising broadband rates. I don’t think there is a decision that smaller internet service providers (ISPs) agonize over more than the idea of increasing prices to customers. The question is obviously being raised now due to inflation. The need for rate increases during times of inflation is basic math. If your predominant product is broadband, and if costs are rising, you either raise rates or suffer a loss of margin – there isn’t any other alternative after you have done whatever belt-tightening you might do with expenses. The only other alternative to rate increases is to sell a lot more broadband, but as broadband markets get mature, this gets to be harder to do. We are approaching a nationwide broadband penetration rate of 90 percent, and at some point, everybody who is willing to pay for broadband will have it. My advice to ISPs has always been to make small rate increases over time, something small like 25 cents per year, rather than waiting until raising rates is a crisis and dramatic. But if you’ve waited until you have no option but to raise rates, then don’t be timid. Raise the rates to what is needed, and don’t be afraid to explain to your customers why you had to do so.
[Doug Dawson is president of CCG Consulting.]
Research | Fiber Broadband Association
This study describes how one small community in western Massachusetts addressed the need for reasonably priced high-speed symmetrical broadband service through the installation of a fiber optic infrastructure that not only serves the city but has prompted and facilitated similar fiber adoption throughout the region. Through a carefully conceived and cleverly executed plan sponsored by a local utility, Westfield (MA) became one of the first cities in the state to offer 1-Gbps symmetrical Internet connectivity to residents, schools, hospitals, and businesses. While the region continues to benefit from existing service, a full 10-Gbps will soon be available through a simple software upgrade for existing equipment.
Doug Mohney | Fiber Broadband Association
One of Missouri's electric co-ops is showing the rest of the world how to sustainably deliver fiber broadband to low population density regions. United Fiber, a subsidiary of United Electric Cooperative, started deploying fiber in 2011 and has built a network of 3,200 miles delivering gigabit connectivity to nearly 25,000 residential and commercial customers. In the process, the broadband operation has generated $25 million in annual revenue, funds that are being used to lower customer electric rates. United Fiber’s broadband dream was jumpstarted by having existing utility infrastructure in the form of electric poles installed and maintained over 80 years and an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grand and loan award of $21 million to build out service in rural areas. Other funding came in 2019 and 2021 through the Connect America Fund II and Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, adding an additional $28 million in capital monies for the expansion of its fiber network. Serving Rural Northwest Missouri, United found over 40 communities near its electric market area that didn’t have broadband. United found it could successfully deploy fiber in more population-dense towns nearby, using the revenues to “average out” costs between more and less dense areas.
Jon Chesto | Boston Globe
Massachusetts state officials have spent years expanding broadband access in rural communities. Now, their focus needs to turn to urban neighborhoods. That’s the major takeaway from a new report funded by the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership and researched in collaboration with local think tank MassINC. The report underscores how large portions of cities such as Lawrence and Fall River (MA) still lack adequate broadband access — something that the Competitive Partnership members, some of the state’s most prominent corporate chief executives, say should be considered an essential utility. The report combines two sets of data: previously reported Census figures that show the number of homes without Internet service and newly reported figures from Microsoft and analyzed by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council showing the number of households that lack broadband-level speeds. Taken together, these numbers tell a startling story in many cities: 59 percent of homes in Chelsea lack adequate broadband service, for example, and 56 percent in Fall River. The numbers are also high in Springfield (54 percent)and Lawrence (50 percent), as well as Salem, New Bedford, and Pittsfield (all 48 percent). Boston is at 43 percent, compared with the state average of 34 percent. While rural broadband efforts have focused on stringing wires through remote communities, urban broadband access can be a more complex issue. Many households in these cities have broadband lines running on their streets, but the report notes they might have inadequate wiring inside buildings, too many users on the same connection, or no ability to pay for a high-speed plan.
Erin Murphy | Gazette, The
An influx of federal funding for high-speed internet expansion has created an opportunity in Iowa that must be met, agriculture and business leaders in Iowa said during a June 29 roundtable discussion with Andrew Berke, the special representative for broadband with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Iowa's discussion was the 21st such event in as many states that he has participated in, he said, as states prepare for how to spend $42 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to expand high-speed, broadband internet access to underserved areas. Just how much of that federal money Iowa will receive has yet to be determined. Rural high-speed internet in Iowa long has been a priority for politicians on both sides of the aisle. Farmers need fast and reliable internet for precision agriculture, and more recently the need became even more pronounced during the pandemic as school kids switched to online instruction, people turned to telehealth to see their doctors and more employees worked from home. Berke said a formula has been established to determine how much each state will receive from the federal aid, based on each state's needs to expand broadband internet access to underserved areas. He said once states are awarded their share of the funding, they will have nine months to create a federally-approved plan and up to four years to complete the expansion projects.
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