Daily Digest 7/19/2022 (Claes Thure Oldenburg)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents


FCC Announces Supply Chain Reimbursement Program Approved Applications  |  Read below  |  Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission
FCC needs an additional $3 billion for Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program, Chairwoman Rosenworcel Says  |  Read below  |  FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel  |  Letter  |  Federal Communications Commission

Digital Divide

The US Has a Historic Opportunity to Bridge the Digital Divide  |  Read below  |  Alisa Valentin  |  Op-Ed  |  Wired

Broadband Service

The definition of broadband internet may change. Here’s why.  |  Read below  |  Chris Velazco  |  Analysis  |  Washington Post
Improving Network Resiliency  |  Read below  |  Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

State/Local Initiatives

North Carolina Awards $23 Million to Expand Broadband Access in 12 Counties  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  North Carolina Office of the Governor
Gov Justice announces another $20.8 million in grant funding for major broadband projects across West Virginia  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  West Virginia Office of the Governor
Washington Dept of Commerce soliciting proposals from firms interested in providing Digital Navigator services to communities  |  Washington State Department of Commerce
Hennepin County, Minnesota, libraries tackle tech disparities  |  Read below  |  CeCe Gaines  |  Kare11


Georgia State, 18 Other Institutions Sign Educator Preparation Programs for Digital Equity and Transformation Pledge  |  Read below  |  Carlton Fletcher  |  Albany Herald


More Device Usage by Wireless Customers Means More Streaming and Data Problems, JD Power Finds  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  JD Power
Verizon is rolling out faster 5G in more places, but you’ll have to guess where  |  Vox
New Street Research analysts: Elon Musk’s Twitter withdrawal helps Dish’s efforts at 12 GHz  |  Fierce


Report | Is the United States Really One of the Most Competitive Economies in the World?  |  Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

Platforms/Social Media

Amazon Sues Facebook Group Administrators Over Fake Reviews  |  Wall Street Journal
Twitter Says Elon Musk’s Opposition to Expedited Trial Is a Tactical Delay  |  Wall Street Journal


Homeland Security records show 'shocking' use of phone data, ACLU says  |  Politico
Analysis | Examining the intersection of data privacy and civil rights  |  Brookings

Consumer Protections

Text scams surge as robocalls decline, report finds  |  USAToday


Facebook’s workforce grew more diverse when it embraced remote work  |  Washington Post


Lizette Alvarez | Fake news speaks many languages, but it’s particularly fond of Spanish  |  Washington Post


Amazon is giving Prime Video a face-lift.  |  New York Times

Company News

Twitter faces a daunting global agenda  |  Axios


House Commerce Republicans Urge Biden to Nominate an FCC Inspector General  |  House of Representatives

Stories From Abroad

Chinese Regulator to Fine Didi More Than $1 Billion Over Data-Security Breaches  |  Wall Street Journal
Today's Top Stories


FCC Announces Supply Chain Reimbursement Program Approved Applications

Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau announces the approved applications for reimbursement submitted in the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program. The funding made available through these approvals will support providers of advanced communications services as they remove potential national security vulnerabilities from their systems. A total of 181 applications seeking approximately $5.6 billion in gross program support were filed in the Reimbursement Program. The full list of program applicants can be found here.

FCC needs an additional $3 billion for Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program, Chairwoman Rosenworcel Says

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel  |  Letter  |  Federal Communications Commission

Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said the FCC needs an additional $3 billion to fund the removal and replacement of telecommunications equipment from Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE over national security concerns, which would bring the total cost of the program to $4.98 billion. In a letter to Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Rosenworcel said without extra funds, the FCC would use the "prioritization scheme" specified by Congress for the program. "Absent an additional appropriation, the Commission will apply the prioritization scheme Congress specified in the [Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021]," said Rosenworcel. "Because demand within the first prioritization group exceeds available funds for the Reimbursement Program, the Commission will prorate reimbursement funds equally to each eligible applicant in the first prioritization group. The pro-rata factor for those allocations will be approximately 39.5% of demand."

Digital Divide

The US Has a Historic Opportunity to Bridge the Digital Divide

Alisa Valentin  |  Op-Ed  |  Wired

Access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet is a civil right. For those who remain on the wrong side of the digital divide, economic, educational, and civic engagement opportunities are increasingly out of reach. The consequences of not being connected impact more than the households that remain offline; it has a rippling effect throughout the country, particularly as it relates to our economic future. Yet in an era when so many aspects of our lives are dependent on a high-speed internet connection, a disproportionate number of Black, Latinx, Indigenous, low-income, and rural communities remain offline. Previous efforts at outreach and centering these communities have been lacking, and policies that have not focused on equity when addressing the digital divide have excluded marginalized communities from the benefits of broadband. Broadband policies that fail to bake in equity stall progress and impede the United States’ ability to compete globally. It is imperative that we learn from past failures and address all aspects of the digital divide through an equity lens, including availability, adoption, and access to economic opportunities.

[Alisa Valentin is the Senior Director of the Technology and Telecommunications Policy at the National Urban League.]

Broadband Service

The definition of broadband internet may change. Here’s why.

Chris Velazco  |  Analysis  |  Washington Post

After years of the same old thing, the rules of broadband internet may finally get rewritten. Under the current definition, set by the Federal Communications Commission in 2015, internet service counts as “broadband” if it delivers download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second (or Mbps) and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps.  Seven years and one worldwide health disaster later, all eyes are on the FCC to see if it will change that definition again. Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel proposed raising minimum broadband speeds in the United States to 100 Mbps for downloads and 20 Mbps for uploads in a notice of inquiry shared with her fellow commissioners as part of an annual internet service evaluation. Back when FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler affirmed the 25/3 broadband standard, some internet access advocates already thought those speeds felt out of date, a poor reflection of our deepening need to be online. Those concerns are even more palpable in 2022, now that the glut of content to stream has grown even bigger, and we’ve collected even more gadgetry that requires some kind of lifeline to the web. Rosenworcel’s proposed speeds represent a significant jump over the earlier definition, though according to network research firm Ookla, they still fall short of the national median fixed broadband speeds in the United States. But even that could change in time: The chairwoman’s notice of inquiry also raised the idea of an even higher “national goal of 1 Gbps/500 Mbps for the future.” But floating these notions is one thing; bringing them to life is another.

Improving Network Resiliency

Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

The Federal Communications Commission is requiring changes that it hopes will improve the reliability and resiliency of cellular networks to be better prepared for and respond better to emergencies. The FCC's order cites recent emergencies like Hurricane Ida, the earthquakes in Puerto Rico, severe winter storms in Texas, and worsening hurricane and wildfire seasons. This makes me wonder if we might someday see similar requirements for internet service providers (ISPs) and broadband networks. The FCC wants to leverage the industry-developed Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework as a starting point for introducing new rules it is calling the Mandatory Disaster Response Initiative (MDRI). The new rules require cellular network owners to regularly test their emergency capabilities and file a report with the FCC after every declared emergency to describe in detail how the carrier ended up responding to the emergency. It’s a change that is overdue because, as the FCC notes, lives are dependent during an emergency on a functioning cellular network. However, one issue the order doesn’t address is that large parts of rural America still have poor or nonexistent cellular coverage. For these folks, a broadband connection is their lifeline to the world in the way that a cellular connection is vital to others during and after an emergency.

[Doug Dawson is president of CCG Consulting.]


North Carolina Awards $23 Million to Expand Broadband Access in 12 Counties

Gov Roy Cooper (D-NC) announced that nearly 7,000 households and 374 businesses in North Carolina are set to receive high-speed internet thanks to more than $23.4 million in grants. The North Carolina Department of Information Technology’s (NCDIT) Broadband Infrastructure Office has awarded Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) grants to expand broadband infrastructure in 12 counties. The grants are part of Gov Cooper’s plan to invest nearly $2 billion in federal and state funds to close the digital divide in North Carolina. The GREAT program provides matching grants to internet service providers and electric membership cooperatives that partner with individual counties to compete for funding to expand high-speed internet service to unserved areas of the state.

Gov Justice announces another $20.8 million in grant funding for major broadband projects across West Virginia

Gov Jim Justice (R-WV) announced the preliminary approval of over $20.8 million in grant funding to begin a series of six broadband infrastructure projects across the state through the Major Broadband Project Strategies (MBPS) program. The MBPS program is a branch of Justice’s Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy – a plan to invest over $1 billion in state and federal funds to make broadband connectivity available for the first time to 200,000 West Virginia homes and businesses. This latest announcement marks the first round of grants awarded through the MBPS program. The approved projects will result in more than 628 miles of new fiber infrastructure, providing broadband connectivity to 5,849 homes and businesses in West Virginia. The state’s total investment of $20,845,157 will leverage an additional $13,279,926 from other funding sources, for a total broadband infrastructure investment of $34,125,083 for this round alone.

Hennepin County, Minnesota, libraries tackle tech disparities

CeCe Gaines  |  Kare11

Countless people come to Minneapolis (MN) Central Library to check out a book, surf the web or even escape the hot summer air. Library staff is nearby – waiting to serve you in any way possible so you can leave with your needs met, even if those needs take a little longer to figure out. Hennepin County (MN) employees like Crystal Hunter-Porte have been learning about the problems impacting the people who walk through the doors. Some days it's the heat, but other days, it's access to the internet. Library leaders say between a quarter and a third of households in Hennepin County don't have access to home broadband. Hunter-Porte and her team have been helping fix that problem through the Digital Navigation Program. It's a new service at Hennepin County Libraries that connects people to internet resources. Hennepin County residents who don't have internet access can come to any of the county's 41 libraries and submit an internet request form. That form goes directly to digital navigators who will meet one-on-one with you and help with your technology needs.


Georgia State, 18 Other Institutions Sign Educator Preparation Programs for Digital Equity and Transformation Pledge

Carlton Fletcher  |  Albany Herald

Georgia State University announced it has signed the EPPs for Digital Equity and Transformation Pledge, committing to prepare educators with the skills to successfully use technology for learning in face-to-face, hybrid and online classrooms. The EPPs for Digital Equity and Transformation Pledge is a partnership between the US Department of Education and the International Society for Technology in Education. By signing the pledge, Georgia State joins 18 institutions committed to preparing teachers to thrive in digital learning environments; preparing teachers to use technology to pursue ongoing professional learning; preparing teachers to apply frameworks to accelerate transformative digital learning; equipping all faculty to continuously improve expertise in technology for learning, and collaborating with school leaders to identify shared digital teaching competencies.


More Device Usage by Wireless Customers Means More Streaming and Data Problems, JD Power Finds

Press Release  |  JD Power

As wireless customers continue to increase their phone and device usage, more problems in network quality are being cited and the perception of network quality is declining. The most common reported problem is slow or failure to load content, according to the JD Power 2022 US Wireless Network Quality Performance StudySM—Volume 2, released July 14. The study is based on responses from 34,174 wireless customers. Carrier performance is examined in six regions: Mid-Atlantic, North Central, Northeast, Southeast, Southwest and West. In addition to evaluating the network quality experienced by customers with wireless phones, the study also measures the network performance of tablets and mobile broadband devices. The study was fielded from January through June 2022. Verizon Wireless ranks highest in five regions evaluated in the study, achieving the fewest network quality problems per 100 connections in call quality; messaging quality; and data quality in the Mid-Atlantic, North Central, Northeast, Southeast and West regions. AT&T ranks highest or is tied in all factors in the Southwest region with a score of 11 problems per 100 connections, achieving the fewest network quality problems in call quality in the region.

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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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