Daily Digest 7/19/2019 (Earl Comstock)

Benton Foundation
Table of Contents


Under the Radar Broadband Policy  |  Read below  |  Robbie McBeath  |  Analysis  |  Benton Foundation
Locally Run ISPs Offer the Fastest Broadband in America  |  Read below  |  Karl Bode  |  Vice
Why national preemption has become a technology policy flash point  |  Read below  |  Darrell West  |  Analysis  |  Brookings Institution
I Compete With Facebook, and It’s No Monopoly  |  Read below  |  Mark Weinstein  |  Op-Ed  |  Wall Street Journal


FCC Seeks Comment On Petition For Declaratory Ruling or Rulemaking on Unwanted Texts  |  Read below  |  Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission
We Tested 5G Across America. It’s Crazy Fast—and a Hot Mess  |  Wall Street Journal
Mobile 5G in Citizens Broadband Radio Service Band Looms Closer with New Standards  |  telecompetitor
C-Band Alliance Says C-Band Revamp Needs Its Members' Buy-In  |  Multichannel News


Michael Hiltzik: If a $5-billion fine won’t shake Facebook, what can bring it to heel?  |  Los Angeles Times
Facebook decided which users are interested in Nazis — and let advertisers target them directly  |  Los Angeles Times


What’s at Stake - Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making on Cable Franchising  |  Alliance for Community Media


My browser, the spy: How extensions slurped up browsing histories from 4 million users  |  Ars Technica
Sen Schumer calls for investigation into FaceApp over security concerns and Russia ties  |  Washington Post


Analysis: States don't have enough money to secure the 2020 election  |  Washington Post
Congress is still in the dark about the Trump administration’s offensive hacking policy  |  Washington Post
What happens when a country’s entire adult population is hacked?  |  Technology Review

Emergency Communications

Commissioner O'Rielly Letter on 9-1-1 Fees to Albert Bryan, Jr., Governor of the Virgin Islands of the United States  |  Federal Communications Commission


Local news deserts are getting some relief  |  Axios

Communications and Democracy

Americans say the nation’s political debate has grown more toxic and ‘heated’ rhetoric could lead to violence  |  Pew Research Center


Department of Commerce Policy Director Earl Comstock on His Way Out  |  Read below  |  Nancy Cook, Margaret Harding McGill  |  Politico
USTelecom Renews Contract of CEO Jonathan Spalter for Three Additional Years  |  Multichannel News

Company News

Sinclair Completes Largest Junk-Bond Sale Since 2016  |  Wall Street Journal
Comcast Multifamily Unit Announces ‘Smart Communities’ Project in Chicago  |  Multichannel News

Stories From Abroad

European Commission fines US chipmaker Qualcomm €242 million for engaging in predatory pricing of 3G baseband chipsets  |  European Commission
Analysis: Europe is still in the lead when it comes to cracking down on big tech  |  Washington Post
Op-ed: Europe is targeting Big Tech with new taxes. It’s straining the transatlantic alliance.  |  Washington Post
Brussels clears Vodafone’s €19bn Liberty Global deal  |  Financial Times
Is Huawei a Security Threat? Vietnam Isn’t Taking Any Chances  |  New York Times
4G is coming to the London Underground’s tunnels next year  |  Vox
Today's Top Stories


Under the Radar Broadband Policy

Robbie McBeath  |  Analysis  |  Benton Foundation

Nearly drowned out by all the Big Tech hearings and unPresidential tweets this week were developments in broadband deployment. We learned of more funding for rural broadband and a proposal to improve broadband deployment data collection. But we were also reminded of the problems and challenges that still exist in reaching the most disconnected areas.

Locally Run ISPs Offer the Fastest Broadband in America

Karl Bode  |  Vice

A new PCMag 1study once again highlights how community-run internet service providers (ISPs) offer better, faster broadband than their private sector counterparts. All told, six of the ten fastest ISPs were either directly run by a local community, or involved some form of partnership between the public and private sectors.

Why national preemption has become a technology policy flash point

Darrell West  |  Analysis  |  Brookings Institution

Some experts are arguing that digital services by their very nature represent interstate commerce and therefore are best dealt with by Congress. In order to avoid the fragmentation of state-centered markets, it is necessary to have uniform standards, not state or local statutes. Given the current composition of the US Supreme Court, a majority of justices could endorse that interpretation of the interstate commerce clause and sharply limits the ability of state and local governments to impose rules on digital services or technology innovation. Chief Justice John Roberts now is the swing vote on technology policy. He very well could be the one who decides the parameters of American federalism in regard to digital policy. That should worry consumer rights organizations and local progressives who are fighting to restrict unfair or discriminatory practices. Of course, if 2020 becomes a successful Democratic year, the political equation may shift again. Progressive Democrats will want to pass new national rules on a variety of digital policies, while Republicans would revert to their traditional stance favoring states rights and local control.

I Compete With Facebook, and It’s No Monopoly

Mark Weinstein  |  Op-Ed  |  Wall Street Journal

I strongly oppose the idea of breaking up Facebook. I don’t believe Facebook is a monopoly. The way to keep social media truly competitive is to reinstate net neutrality. That would even the playing field and allow startups to compete on equal footing with giants like Facebook and Google. If internet service providers start charging for special privileges such as internet “fast lanes,” deep-pocketed companies would be able to squeeze out smaller competitors that can’t afford such costs. While Facebook should be held to account for transgressions such as privacy violations and election interference, breaking up the company wouldn’t solve these problems. It would likely create a handful of mini-Facebooks that engage in the same practices. Let the free market, secured by net neutrality, do its work. As users discover new social networks that fit their values and tastes, they, not regulators, will decide which ones thrive. Millions are already making their voices heard.

[Mark Weinstein is founder and CEO of MeWe.] 

June 27, 2019


FCC Seeks Comment On Petition For Declaratory Ruling or Rulemaking on Unwanted Texts

Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau seeks comment on a petition for declaratory ruling or, alternatively, rulemaking filed by Paul Armbruster. Specifically, Armbruster seeks a ruling “confirming that a cellular phone customer can revoke consent to receive any and all unwanted text messages from their cell service provider.” According to the Petition, Armbruster was informed by his wireless service provider that “customers are not able to opt-out of receiving certain purely informational texts.” He acknowledges that “cellular carriers need not obtain additional consent from their cellular subscribers prior to initiating autodialer and artificial and prerecorded message calls for which the subscriber is not charged.” He contends, however, that this exemption from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act prohibition on making such calls without the prior express consent of the called party does not affect a consumer’s right to revoke consent at any time and through any reasonable means.

CG Docket No. 02-278

Comment Date: August 19, 2019 Reply Comment Date: September 3, 2019


Department of Commerce Policy Director Earl Comstock on His Way Out

Nancy Cook, Margaret Harding McGill  |  Politico

The White House is pushing Commerce policy director Earl Comstock out of the Trump administration -- the first round of house-cleaning after the 2020 census debacle and clashes over tech policy. In recent months, Comstock has apparently angered President Donald Trump’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, White House lawyers, members of the National Security Council, and officials at the National Economic Council, citing both Comstock’s handling of the 2020 US census’s citizenship question and the internal debate over spectrum policy as key areas of disagreement. A feud among President Trump's advisers over 5G wireless spilled into public view in March, when the Commerce Dept raised concerns that Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai's effort to free up more 5G airwaves for the wireless sector would interfere with the government's use of nearby airwaves for weather forecasting. The White House ultimately sided with the FCC in that debate. But that did not end the internal infighting, as Chairman Pai accused the department of “blocking our efforts at every single turn” during a Senate oversight hearing in June. He said the relationship between the FCC and Commerce Dept has deteriorated since David Redl abruptly resigned his post as head of the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Early in his tenure at Commerce, Comstock also quietly opposed the FCC’s repeal of Obama-era net neutrality regulations by backing a congressional effort to restore the rules.

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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 Robbie McBeath (rmcbeath AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.

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