Daily Digest 7/13/2022

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents

Broadband Funding

How Biden’s “Internet for All” Initiative Can Actually Fulfill Its Mission  |  Read below  |  Bhaskar Chakravorti  |  Op-Ed  |  Harvard Business Review
When Will Affordable Connectivity Program Funding Run Out?  |  Read below  |  Paul Garnett  |  Analysis  |  Vernonburg Group
Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program Funding for Anchor Institutions  |  Read below  |  Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

State/Local Initiatives

Digital divide creates challenges in connecting older adults to post-pandemic resources  |  Read below  |  Ryan Matthey  |  KRCR
Detroit to Put $10 Million Toward Open-Access Fiber Network  |  Read below  |  Bryan Clark  |  Idaho Statesman
Mesa City Council Takes Landmark Vote to Bring High-Speed Internet Access to Every Premise in the City  |  City of Mesa


US House Unanimously Passes Bill to Provide Refurbished Government Computers to US Veterans  |  Read below  |  Rep Abigail Spanberger (D-VA)  |  Press Release  |  House of Representatives


FCC Approves Amdocs, Federated Wireless, Google, Key Bridge, And Sony To Support Spectrum Manager Leasing  |  Federal Communications Commission
Video: How Starlink and other satellite services are changing the shape of the internet  |  Vox
Mark Jamison: Congress Should Act Promptly to Reauthorize Radio Spectrum Auctions  |  American Enterprise Institute

Platforms/Social Media

Companies want Justice Department's Apple investigation to pick up pace  |  Axios
Twitter Sues Musk After He Tries Backing Out of $44 Billion Deal  |  New York Times
Plan C is a top abortion pill resource. It’s also sharing data with Facebook and Google.  |  Protocol


Google CEO says company will slow hiring amid economic conditions  |  Washington Post
The share of Americans working remotely because of COVID-19 is leveling off  |  Axios

Digital Assets

Request for Comment: Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets  |  Department of the Treasury


Publishers Battle Internet Archive Over Digital Library  |  Read below  |  Wendy Davis  |  MediaPost


Relentless waves of sophisticated phone and online scams are impacting people’s mental health  |  Washington Post

Stories From Abroad

Canada’s internet outage should encourage us to dismantle our telecom oligopoly  |  Read below  |  David Moscrop  |  Op-Ed  |  Washington Post
Today's Top Stories

Broadband Funding

How Biden’s “Internet for All” Initiative Can Actually Fulfill Its Mission

Bhaskar Chakravorti  |  Op-Ed  |  Harvard Business Review

The Biden administration has launched the Internet for All initiative, which may well be the boldest digital inclusion project in history, and aspires to close an essential gap in the world’s most valuable and second most evolved digital economy. The funding for the initiative draws from an unprecedented $65 billion sum from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act earmarked for the purpose of closing the digital divide. The program, as designed, could lead to a misallocation of resources, as well as inefficiencies and gaps in coordination and implementation. Right now there are three main challenges: the funding prioritizes covering miles over covering people, it lacks a national strategy and coordination framework, and many execution roadblocks will get in the way. Fortunately, each can be overcome. My recommendations:

  • Establish frameworks to facilitate the best choices between “covering miles” and “covering people.”

  • Develop a national strategy for goals, performance measures, and milestones.

  •  Bring key stakeholders together.

  • Organize capacity-building.

[Bhaskar Chakravorti is the Dean of Global Business at The Fletcher School at Tufts University and founding Executive Director of Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context.]

When Will Affordable Connectivity Program Funding Run Out?

Paul Garnett  |  Analysis  |  Vernonburg Group

On June 24, 2022, The Hill published our Op-Ed urging policymakers to fully fund the Affordable Connectivity Program. That Op-Ed predicted that funding for the program is likely to run out by mid-2024 and called for action at the state and federal levels to extend that funding. We’ve had some follow up questions on how we came up with our projections. Here we explain our projections. While there are three scenarios we believe is most likely to occur, without any intervention, Affordable Connectivity program funds will likely be exhausted by the middle of 2024. In the near term, state broadband offices should examine the total pool of federal broadband funds and allocate a portion of that funding towards extending the program for income eligible households in their states. In the longer term, Congress should find a solution to permanently fund the Affordable Connectivity Program.

Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program Funding for Anchor Institutions

Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

One of the aspects of the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program that many communities might have overlooked is that communities can request grants to bring fast broadband or improve existing broadband to anchor institutions. The BEAD Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) defines a community anchor institution as "an entity such as a school, library, health clinic, health center, hospital or other medical provider, public safety entity, institution of higher education, public housing organization, or community support organization that facilitates greater use of broadband service by vulnerable populations, including, but not limited to, low-income individuals, unemployed individuals, children, the incarcerated, and aged individuals. An Eligible Entity (the State Broadband Office) may propose to NTIA that additional types of institutions should qualify as CAIs within the entity’s territory." The first thing to note is that this expands the definition of anchor institution beyond the traditional list by adding organizations that facilitate the use of broadband by vulnerable populations. This means that the grants can be used to bring better broadband to organizations that want to help low-income individuals or others who need better broadband. This is an interesting concept that makes it possible to build broadband facilities to the offices of non-profits or perhaps a computer training center. My interpretation of the BEAD rules is that the grant funding could also be used to construct a training center and buy the needed computers.

[Doug Dawson is president of CCG Consulting.]


Digital divide creates challenges in connecting older adults to post-pandemic resources

Ryan Matthey  |  KRCR

As the world inches towards full emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic, California says older adults were hit the hardest in the past couple of years. The digital divide was partly the reason why. Director of the California Department of Aging (DOA), Susan DeMarois, says extreme isolation, resource availability, and elder abuse for those 60 years old and older have all increased since 2020. That's on top of this population experiencing the highest mortality rate for the virus. DOA, the governor, state legislator, and federal government have collaborated since 2019 to reverse those already rising statistics. DeMarois says one in every four Californians are expected to be 60 years older by the year 2031. While DeMarois says DOA will always offer its services and resources in modes most accessible to all kinds of Californians, she acknowledges that the transition from primarily mail, newspaper and phone services is leaving some people over 60 missing out on the information provided in the now digital-first world.

Detroit to Put $10 Million Toward Open-Access Fiber Network

Bryan Clark  |  Idaho Statesman

After Bruce Patterson’s success designing a network to serve the residents of Ammon (ID), he decided to depart and work to help other cities build similar open-access networks. Perhaps the most significant taker is the city of Detroit (MI) which is planning to use $10 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to build a pilot open-access fiber network that will serve a neighborhood of about 3,200 households. And while Detroit city officials have done lots of their own innovation to build a network suited to local needs, they’ve kept their eyes on the system built in the Idaho town of 16,000. “The city we’re getting the most inspiration from, bar none, is Ammon,” said Joshua Edmonds, Detroit’s director of digital inclusion. ”Bruce Patterson’s service has been invaluable. That experience there has made him a national asset.” Edmonds said the open-access model offers additional benefits for residents of Detroit. Roughly 30 percent of city residents live in poverty, and that is the biggest obstacle to broadband access. The affordability problem isn’t unique to Detroit. It’s now the most common obstacle to Internet access around the country.


US House Unanimously Passes Bill to Provide Refurbished Government Computers to US Veterans

Rep Abigail Spanberger (D-VA)  |  Press Release  |  House of Representatives

The House of Representatives unanimously passed Rep Abigail Spanberger (D-VA)’s bipartisan bill that would help provide surplus computers to nonprofit computer refurbishers — who would then repair and distribute these federal computers to veterans and others in need. Spanberger’s Computers for Veterans and Students Act would allow certified, nonprofit refurbishing organizations to directly obtain, refurbish, and distribute repairable, surplus government computers to serve veterans, students, and seniors in need of a device. Additionally, the legislation would require each nonprofit computer refurbisher receiving computers to provide training programs in the use of this technology. The legislation is backed by several nonprofit organizations that help veterans and students receive these refurbished computers — including Tech for Troops, a Virginia-based, veteran-staffed, and veteran-operated organization.

Stories From Abroad

Canada’s internet outage should encourage us to dismantle our telecom oligopoly

David Moscrop  |  Op-Ed  |  Washington Post

A recent telecommunications outage left millions of Canadians without access to internet and cell services for hours. It was a stunning reminder that Canada must revolutionize the industry and dismantle the oligopoly that runs it. On July 8, more than 10 million customers of Rogers Communications were left without internet and cell services when a maintenance update went sideways. At least two days later, some customers were still without service, while others had unreliable access. It was the second time in 15 months the Rogers service failed. The system breakdown was more than a mere disruption to streaming services or texting friends. The country’s social, political and economic infrastructure was compromised. Canada’s telecommunications industry is critical to the country, an essential component to the systems through which we live our lives. The Rogers outage demonstrated once more that leaving the operation and security of telecommunications to a handful of corporations — which are more than happy to use the constrained market to bilk customers — is unwise and dangerous. As disconcerting as the Rogers failure was, some good might come of it yet. Maybe people have finally had enough of being used and abused by a handful of unaccountable companies in an industry everyone relies upon. Maybe we’ll see a shift in how we think about telecom services — and what we do to make them work for us.

[David Moscrop is a contributing columnist for The Washington Post.]


Publishers Battle Internet Archive Over Digital Library

Wendy Davis  |  MediaPost

Major book publishers are pressing a judge to rule that an 11-year-old digital lending program established by the nonprofit Internet Archive infringes copyright. “Masquerading as a not-for-profit library, Internet Archive digitizes in-copyright print books on an industrial scale and distributes full-text digital bootlegs for free,” lawyers for Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, John Wiley & Sons, and Penguin Random House write in papers filed with US District Court Judge John Koeltl in the Southern District of New York. The companies are asking Koeltl to award them summary judgment in the legal battle. But the Internet Archive counters that its digital lending program doesn't infringe copyright, arguing the initiative is protected by fair use principles. “The Internet Archive and the hundreds of libraries and archives that support it are not pirates or thieves,” the nonprofit, represented by the digital rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation, argues. “They are librarians, striving to serve their patrons online just as they have done for centuries in the brick-and-mortar world.” The arguments come in a dispute dating to June of 2020, when the publishers sued the Internet Archive for lending digital books over the web. Since 2011, the Internet Archive has been lending e-books through its “controlled lending program,” which involves loaning one digital copy at a time for each hard copy that's been scanned and digitized.

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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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