Daily Digest 7/21/2022 (BEAD Estimates)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents


House Commerce Committee Passes Consumer Protection Bills  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  House of Representatives
10 Attorneys General Write Congress in Support of American Data Privacy and Protection Act, Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act  |  California Office of the Attorney General

Broadband Funding

How far might broadband funding go? Estimating and visualizing the BEAD program  |  Read below  |  Mike Conlow  |  Analysis  |  Substack
Charter Grabs Half of Latest North Carolina Rural Broadband Grants  |  Read below  |  Phil Britt  |  telecompetitor
Comcast is Big Winner in Latest West Virginia Broadband Grant Funding  |  Read below  |  Bernie Arnason  |  telecompetitor
INCOMPAS Releases New USF Fact Sheet, Calls on FCC to Act Now to Save Program  |  Incompas

State/Local Initiatives

Massachusetts issues a Request for Proposals for an open access fiber network  |  Read below  |  Linda Hardesty  |  Fierce
Older Minnesotans being left behind by increasingly online world  |  Read below  |  Ann Bussey  |  Op-Ed  |  Duluth News Tribune
AT&T and Indiana Plan to Deliver Fiber to Parts of Nine Counties  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  AT&T


Wireless Price Hikes Fatten Profits for Phone Carriers With Few Risks  |  Read below  |  Scott Moritz  |  Bloomberg
Unlicensed Spectrum and Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program Grants  |  Read below  |  Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting
As 3G service ends in the US, what options remain for people who need more time to transition their phone?  |  CNET


Facebook Internal Memo on Rivals Undercuts Antitrust Defense  |  Bloomberg


US, UK Launch Innovation Prize Challenges in Privacy-Enhancing Technologies to Tackle Financial Crime and Public Health Emerg  |  National Science Foundation

Elections & Media

Misleading Information and the Midterms  |  Read below  |  Spandana Singh, Quinn Anex-Ries  |  Research  |  New America

  See also: Researchers: Digital Literacy Doesn’t Stop the Spread of Misinformation  |  Scientific American


FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel Responds to Reps Latta and McMorris Rodgers Regarding FCC's 2023 Budget and Staffing Requests  |  Read below  |  FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel  |  Letter  |  Federal Communications Commission


Amazon Breaks Lobbying Record Amid Antitrust Fight  |  Bloomberg
5G for 12 GHz Coalition Welcomes New Member Starry, Bringing Membership to 37  |  5G for 12 GHz Coalition

Stories From Abroad

TikTok is fastest growing news source for UK adults, Ofcom finds  |  Guardian, The
European Commission Proposal for Tech to Pay Telecom Costs Gets More Pushback  |  Bloomberg
Today's Top Stories


House Commerce Committee Passes Consumer Protection Bills

Press Release  |  House of Representatives

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce passed six consumer protection bills during a full Committee markup on July 20, 2022. Among these are:

  • The American Data Privacy and Protection Act (H.R. 8152) provides consumers with foundational data privacy rights, creates strong oversight mechanisms, and establishes meaningful enforcement.
  • The Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2021 (H.R. 3962) allows a notary public commissioned under state law to remotely notarize electronic records and perform notarizations for remotely located individuals.
  • The Informing Consumers About Smart Devices Act, (H.R. 4081) requires manufacturers of internet-connected devices that are equipped with a camera or microphone to disclose to consumers that a camera or microphone is part of the device.
  • The RANSOMWARE Act (H.R.4551) requires the Federal Trade Commission to report on cross-border complaints received that involve ransomware or other cyber-related attacks committed by certain foreign individuals, companies, and governments.

Broadband Funding

How far might broadband funding go? Estimating and visualizing the BEAD program

Mike Conlow  |  Analysis  |  Substack

Combining “cost to serve” estimates for any un- and under-served location in US with data on the number of un- and underserved we can estimate how far broadband funding might go. The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program won't provide any funding where the Federal Communications Commission has committed Rural Digital Opportunity Fund support. And the National Telecommunications and Information Administration hopes to not provide 100% of the costs for new networks—I’m assuming that private capital provides 25% of the remaining necessary funding. With these assumptions, we can fund networks for all unserved areas with just over $10 billion. Even assuming locations cost more to connect than previously estimated and that new Federal Communications Commission maps identify more locations that are unserved, the $42 billion available in BEAD would cover about 65% of the existing un- and underserved. 

Charter Grabs Half of Latest North Carolina Rural Broadband Grants

Phil Britt  |  telecompetitor

The North Carolina Broadband Infrastructure Office awarded $23.4 million in Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) grants to expand broadband infrastructure in 12 counties, which will boost service for nearly 7,000 households and 374 businesses. With the awards, North Carolina joins Arizona, Maryland, Wisconsin, and several other states that are releasing funds for broadband expansion. Half of the 12 awards went to Charter Spectrum. The cable company has taken an aggressive approach to obtaining government funding for rural broadband expansion. In addition to its $1.2 billion take from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, Charter is pursuing additional programs, including winning $50 million in Kentucky in June 2022. North Carolina received 305 applications for this $350 million round of GREAT grants. Grant requesters have to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program.

Comcast is Big Winner in Latest West Virginia Broadband Grant Funding

Bernie Arnason  |  telecompetitor

West Virginia Gov Jim Justice (R-WV) announced preliminary approval for close to $21 million in funding for six broadband infrastructure projects in the state. Comcast was the largest winner of this latest West Virginia broadband funding. The $21 million in grants are part of an ongoing broadband infrastructure funding program in the state, labeled the Major Broadband Project Strategies (MBPS) program, which itself is a part of the Governor’s “Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy.” Comcast is by far the largest grant winner in this round, gaining $14.7 million of the $20.8 million to build 304 miles of fiber that will eventually reach 1,402 addresses in West Virginia. Comcast kicked in over $6 million in matching funds. The Comcast West Virginia project will focus on addresses in Brooke, Hancock, Marshall, and Ohio (WV) Counties, which are located in the northern panhandle region of the state. Other grant winners include Shentel ($1.1 million), Frontier ($1.6 million), DQE Communications ($1 million), and Citynet ($2.2 million). Large cable companies like Comcast have become much more active in targeting rural broadband expansion funding provided by state and federal governments. Charter is by far the most active, having already won over a billion dollars from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.


Massachusetts issues a Request for Proposals for an open access fiber network

Linda Hardesty  |  Fierce

The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) from broadband network operators to operate, manage, market, maintain and extend the current approximately 1,100 mile MassBroadband 123 Network. The MassTech Network is a state-owned, open-access, carrier-grade, middle-mile telecommunications network that became operational in early 2014. The network consists of 952 miles of constructed fiber, 192 miles of leased fiber, and strand counts on the backbone that vary between 72 and 288 strands. MassTech is conducting an open, competitive procurement process to select an operator, and proposals will be evaluated according to a combination of technical and financial criteria. Proposals are due on September 9, and a video conference will be held on July 27. The award date is anticipated to be on October 31. The Massachusetts group wants to enter into a 15-year contract in which the selected operator will have the right to operate a wholesale and retail business, and invest in and expand beyond the existing network. MassTech is an independent public instrument of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts chartered by the Commonwealth to serve as a catalyst for growing its innovation economy.

Older Minnesotans being left behind by increasingly online world

Ann Bussey  |  Op-Ed  |  Duluth News Tribune

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the importance of digital equity with the acceleration of digital transformation occurring in workplaces, education, and commerce. However, virtual as the new normal is exposing an age-based digital divide within our state of Minnesota. Older adults have lower access to the internet, fewer digital skills, and more limited use of technology. The digital divide contributes to increased social isolation, the severity of chronic diseases, and an overall diminished quality of life. The problem is worse in rural areas than metro areas. There is a timely opportunity, however, for Minnesota to achieve equitable digital inclusion and increase digital literacy. The Library Services & Technology Act of 1996 (LSTA) established a federal grant program to identify priorities centered on technology infrastructure. Under the leadership of the State Library Services, Minnesota’s library network of 356 public locations has historically provided community-based digital devices and training resources. Every five years, the LSTA requires state library agencies to submit a five-year grant plan identifying state priorities for LSTA funds. With the 2022-2025 five-year plan due this summer, Minnesota has the opportunity to prioritize digital inclusion and digital literacy programs that champion Minnesota’s rural older adults.

[Ann Bussey of Side Lake is a fellow for Project REACH (Rural Experts Advancing Community Health).]

AT&T and Indiana Plan to Deliver Fiber to Parts of Nine Counties

Press Release  |  AT&T

The state of Indiana and AT&T are collaborating on a plan to bring a fiber network to nearly 6,100 homes, businesses and farms in parts of nine Indiana counties. The $13 million project is contingent upon a final contract between the state of Indiana and AT&T. Extensive design and engineering work will begin immediately following the execution of a final agreement between AT&T and the state. AT&T is also currently working with both Vanderburgh County and the City of Boonville (IN) to bring AT&T Fiber to those communities through public-private partnerships.


Wireless Price Hikes Fatten Profits for Phone Carriers With Few Risks

Scott Moritz  |  Bloomberg

Millions of wireless customers are opening recent phone bills to find AT&T and Verizon raised rates on older service plans. Both Verizon, and to a lesser degree T-Mobile US Inc, have also increased monthly fees. While customers aren’t happy about it, they’re not racing for the exits. And that could pay off for the carriers. “[Telecom companies] want to use this inflationary period to reset their pricing models upward,” said Tammy Parker, an analyst with GlobalData. “So far however, many subscribers are sticking with what they have, even if that means paying more than they used to.” It took a pandemic, kinks in the global supply chain, skyrocketing inflation and the elimination of a fourth competitor, Sprint, but the tables have finally turned for the wireless industry. After years of price battles to attract and keep customers, including phone giveaways and perks like free video streaming, carriers are, for the moment, in a position to take away those treats and raise rates without any immediate backlash. AT&T and Verizon are scheduled to report earnings, and while the price increases didn’t go into effect until the last weeks of the quarter, the results may show slight benefits in the form of a boost to revenue and margins.

Unlicensed Spectrum and Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program Grants

Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

There is a growing controversy brewing about the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)’s decision to declare that fixed wireless technology using only unlicensed spectrum is unreliable and not worthy of funding for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program grants. The Wireless Internet Service Providers' Association (WISPA), the lobbying arm for the fixed wireless industry, recently stated that the NTIA has made a big mistake in excluding WISPs that use only unlicensed spectrum. I’m just speculating, but I have to think that was part of the reason for the NTIA decision – interference can mean that the delivered speeds are not reliably predictable. By contrast, it’s practically impossible to deploy a poor-quality fiber network – it either works, or it doesn’t. I have no insight into the discussions that went on behind the scenes at the NTIA, but I have to think that a big part of the NTIA’s decision was based upon the many WISPs that are already unreliable. The NTIA decision means unlicensed-spectrum WISPs aren’t eligible for grants – but they are free to compete for broadband customers. WISPs that offer a high-quality product at a good price will still be around for many years to come.

[Doug Dawson is president at CCG Consulting.]

Elections & Media

Misleading Information and the Midterms

Spandana Singh, Quinn Anex-Ries  |  Research  |  New America

Since 2020, misinformation and disinformation related to election and voter suppression have continued to spread at a growing rate across online platforms. While internet platforms ramped up attempts to combat such information during the 2020 elections, many of these efforts appear to have been temporary measures. In anticipation of the 2022 US midterm elections, this report evaluates how online platforms are combating misleading election information against a selection of recommendations made by the Open Technology Institute in 2020. Using this data, the report demonstrates which platforms have made the most progress on tackling misleading election information, which platforms are falling behind, and where companies need to invest more resources.


FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel Responds to Reps Latta and McMorris Rodgers Regarding FCC's 2023 Budget and Staffing Requests

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel  |  Letter  |  Federal Communications Commission

Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel sent letters to Reps Bob Latta (R-OH) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) on June 30, 2022, in response to their letter on the FCC’s fiscal year 2023 proposed budget and full-time equivalent employees. Rosenworcel said the request for increased staffing reflects its work to ensure the FCC can fulfill its duties and implement new directives from Congress, including: the Broadband DATA Act; the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act; COVID-19 relief legislation; and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. "Ensuring appropriate spending levels to support the congressional mandates is a top priority for the agency and I have worked closely with our professional staff to develop a FY23 managerial plan that is both balanced and cost-effective," said Rosenworcel. "Moreover, I believe the American people deserve a technologically savvy and capable FCC, with the resources to handle a fast-evolving communications landscape and ensure that our nation remains globally competitive."

Submit a Story

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.

© Benton Institute for Broadband & Society 2022. Redistribution of this email publication — both internally and externally — is encouraged if it includes this message. For subscribe/unsubscribe info email: headlines AT benton DOT org

Kevin Taglang

Kevin Taglang
Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
Benton Institute
for Broadband & Society
1041 Ridge Rd, Unit 214
Wilmette, IL 60091
headlines AT benton DOT org

Share this edition:

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society All Rights Reserved © 2022