Daily Digest 7/25/2022 (Tribal Broadband Access)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents

Digital Divide

GAO Finds National Strategy and Coordination Framework is Needed to Increase Tribal Broadband Access  |  Read below  |  Andrew Von Ah  |  Research  |  Government Accountability Office

Broadband Funding

NTIA Announces More Than $10 Million in Grants to Expand Broadband to Minority-Serving Colleges and Universities  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  National Telecommunications and Information Administration
Rural Health Care Program Funding Year 2022 Demand Can Be Fully Satisfied with Unused Funds  |  Read below  |  Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission
FCC Proposes Fines of $4.3 Million Against 73 Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Applicants for Defaults  |  Read below  |  Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission


Fiber Broadband Association thinks FCC idea for new broadband minimums 'already obsolete'  |  Read below  |  Dan O'Shea  |  Fierce


Why Fiber Is the Key to Getting Faster 5G Everywhere  |  Read below  |  Marguerite Reardon  |  CNET
Karl Bode | The FCC’s new broadband mapping effort might be one big waste of money  |  Daily Dot

Net Neutrality

Why Congress must prioritize restoring net neutrality  |  Read below  |  Editorial  |  San Jose Mercury News, East Bay Times


Don’t Look Now, but Congress Might Pass an Actually Good Privacy Bill  |  Wired
T-Mobile agrees to $350 million settlement over its massive 2021 data breach  |  Vox
Editorial: TikTok proves why we need privacy and foreign software policies  |  Washington Post

Emergency Communications

FCC to Investigate Frontier Outages in Arizona  |  Multichannel News


Planning for Churn  |  Read below  |  Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting


Vermont Announces More Than $48 Million in New Broadband Investments  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Vermont Department of Public Service


South Carolina lawmakers want to banish abortion talk from the Internet  |  Ars Technica


Why Big Tech Is Making a Big Play for Live Sports  |  New York Times
Apple settles lawsuit against Chicago’s ‘Netflix Tax’  |  Vox
Disney Shows First R-Rated Movies on Disney+  |  Wall Street Journal
AT&T CEO Signals HBO Max Bundle Could Return to Top-Tier Mobile Plans  |  Hollywood Reporter
One America News gets dumped by Verizon, the only major carrier it had left  |  Vox
Ties Between Alex Jones and Radio Network Show Economics of Misinformation  |  New York Times


Gen Z Designers Made It Big on Depop. Now They’re Graduating.  |  New York Times

Company News

Verizon reports low fiber gains in second quarter 2022 results  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Verizon
WOW!’s Wireless Offering with Reach Mobile Now Available Network-Wide  |  WOW!
Altice USA Considers Selling Suddenlink for Up to $20 Billion  |  Bloomberg

Stories From Abroad

Inside Ukraine’s Thriving Tech Sector  |  New York Times
Pro-Russia authorities will ban Google in occupied regions of Ukraine  |  Vox
China Has a Problem With Data Leaks. One Reason Is Its Surveillance State.  |  Wall Street Journal
Today's Top Stories

Digital Divide

GAO Finds National Strategy and Coordination Framework is Needed to Increase Tribal Broadband Access

Andrew Von Ah  |  Research  |  Government Accountability Office

Broadband is critical to modern life. Despite federal efforts, broadband access on Tribal lands has traditionally lagged behind the rest of the country. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to review federal efforts for improving broadband on Tribal lands. This report examines: (1) the extent to which federal funding programs have supported the deployment of broadband infrastructure on Tribal lands; (2) barriers tribes and providers face in accessing federally funded programs to serve Tribal lands; and (3) the extent to which federal agencies focus on Tribal issues related to broadband access. GAO is making two recommendations: (1) that the Executive Office of the President should specifically address Tribal needs within a national broadband strategy and (2) that the Department of Commerce create a framework within the American Broadband Initiative for addressing Tribal issues. The Executive Office of the President did not agree or disagree with the GAO's recommendation, but highlighted the importance of tribal engagement in developing a strategy. Commerce agreed in part with its recommendation.


NTIA Announces More Than $10 Million in Grants to Expand Broadband to Minority-Serving Colleges and Universities

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced it has awarded the first five grants as part of the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program (CMC). Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves announced the grants at an event in New York with Mercy College, one of the first grant recipients. These grants, totaling $10,642,577.03, will be used to fund internet access, equipment, and to hire and train information technology personnel. The CMC program specifically directs $268 million from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 for expanding high-speed internet access and connectivity to eligible colleges and universities. The awardees include Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) across the United States. NTIA is continuing to review the more than 200 applications received during the application window, which closed December 1, 2021. Additional awards will be announced on a rolling basis as they go through NTIA’s review process. More information about the awardees and grants is provided on InternetForAll.Gov.

Rural Health Care Program Funding Year 2022 Demand Can Be Fully Satisfied with Unused Funds

Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission

In June 2018, the Federal Communications Commission adopted rules to address increasing demand in the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program. Specifically, the FCC: (1) increased the annual RHC Program funding cap; (2) provided for the annual RHC Program funding cap to be adjusted for inflation; and (3) established a process to carry-forward unused funds from past funding years for use in future funding years. The FCC also directed its Wireline Competition Bureau to announce a specific amount of unused funds from prior funding years to be carried forward to increase available funding for future funding years. In August 2019, the FCC clarified that the Bureau must determine the proportion of unused funding available in consultation with the Office of the Managing Director. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) projects that, as of June 30, 2022, $380.50 million in unused funds is available for use in future funding years beginning in funding year 2022. Pursuant to the FCC’s direction and rules, the Bureau, in consultation with the Office of the Managing Director, directs USAC to carry forward up to $380.50 million in unused funds from prior funding years to the extent necessary to satisfy funding year 2022 RHC Program demand. All l eligible RHC Program funding requests filed during the funding year 2022 application filing window can be fully funded without prioritization. 

FCC Proposes Fines of $4.3 Million Against 73 Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Applicants for Defaults

Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission proposed $4,353,773.87 in fines against 73 applicants in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction (Auction 904) for apparently violating FCC requirements by defaulting on their bids between July 26, 2021 and March 10, 2022. The FCC provided clear guidance in its rules and notices on the monetary forfeitures associated with defaults in Auction 904. The bid defaults prevented 1,702 census block groups with 129,909 estimated locations in 36 states from seeing timely new investments in broadband infrastructure. The proposed action, formally called a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) contains only allegations that advise a party on how it has apparently violated the law and may set forth a proposed monetary penalty. The FCC may not impose a greater monetary penalty in this case than the amount proposed in the NAL. Neither the allegations nor the proposed sanctions in the NAL are final FCC actions. The party will be given an opportunity to respond and the FCC will consider the party’s submission of evidence and legal arguments before acting further to resolve the matter.


Fiber Broadband Association thinks FCC idea for new broadband minimums 'already obsolete'

Dan O'Shea  |  Fierce

Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel recently proposed raising the minimum broadband speed requirement in the US to 100 Mbps for downloads and 20 Mbps for uploads. The move was generally well-received, but long overdue at a time when median download and upload speeds among US service providers still rank below several other nations. Still, Fiber Broadband Association President and CEO Gary Bolton said the FCC’s ongoing focus on speed minimums is a misguided approach. “Our industry has moved beyond the ‘speed test’ and is now focused on the ‘experience test,'" said Bolton. "We would encourage the FCC to not set ‘new’ broadband definitions that are already obsolete, but to look toward the future and establish definitions that will support the vision and innovation of the Metaverse and beyond.” Bolton continued, "Fortunately, we are at the beginning of the largest investment in broadband in history with nearly $130 billion in State and Federal subsidies that are being deployed. That funding will largely fund fiber projects that will deliver nearly unlimited broadband capacity and ultra-low latency...In short, the FCC’s plan to move their definition of broadband from 25/3 Mbps to 100/20 Mbps is a moot point."


Why Fiber Is the Key to Getting Faster 5G Everywhere

Marguerite Reardon  |  CNET

While we're still a long way from seeing any of the much-hyped futuristic applications that 5G was supposed to bring, like autonomous vehicles or augmented reality, even the promised higher download speeds and super responsive networks have been inconsistent or simply unavailable to most people, especially those who live outside big cities or dense suburban communities. But there's a potential answer to the 5G coverage issue: more fiber. There's reason to be hopeful on the fiber front. The federal government plans to pour more than $42.5 billion into broadband as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law in 2021. The money, which is being distributed through the US Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration directly to states, is supposed to ensure all Americans have access to affordable, consistent high-speed internet. Experts have called it a historic opportunity to finally end the digital divide. While the program appears intent on getting fiber connected directly to people's homes, wireless experts say it could also provide a much-needed boost to core infrastructure that can be tapped for mobile 5G in less densely populated areas and rural regions.

Net Neutrality

Why Congress must prioritize restoring net neutrality

Editorial  |  San Jose Mercury News, East Bay Times

It’s been 18 months since President Joe Biden was inaugurated. Yet restoring crucial net neutrality rules that are the foundation for an open internet continues to languish in Washington (DC). The problem stems from Democratic lawmakers’ inability to confirm Biden’s nominee, Gigi Sohn [Senior Fellow and Public Advocate at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society], to the Federal Communications Commission. She is needed to break the 2-2 deadlock on the FCC that continues to block action on net neutrality and broadband privacy regulations. Democrats should force a vote in the Senate on Sohn’s nomination. And Congress should quickly pass legislation that would ensure that the FCC provide basic broadband consumer protections that ensure an open internet.


Planning for Churn

Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

One of the factors that need to be considered in any business plan or forecast is churn – which is when customers drop service. I often see internet service providers (ISPs) build business plans that don’t acknowledge churn, which can be a costly oversight. There is a maxim among last-mile fiber networks that nobody ever leaves fiber to go back to a cable company network. That’s not entirely true, but it’s a recognition that churn tends to be lower on a last-mile fiber network than with other technologies. I wrote a recent blog that asked if broadband is recession-proof. That was really asking if customers drop broadband when they lose jobs or see household income drop. The reality is that some folks have no choice but to drop fiber if things get tough enough. Churn is one of the details of operating an ISPs that many new ISPs don’t get for a while. But it’s vital to have a strategy. It’s far cheaper to somehow catch a new customer when they move to town. It’s far less costly to catch the new tenant moving into a building that always has a drop.

[Doug Dawson is president of CCG Consulting.]


Vermont Announces More Than $48 Million in New Broadband Investments

Gov Phil Scott (D-VT) joined the Vermont Congressional Delegation, the Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB), and several Cpmmunications Union Districts (CUDs) to announce an additional $48.8 million in broadband construction grant awards. This will bring the total investment in broadband buildout in Vermont to nearly $100 million since the launch of the VCBB in August 2021. These funds have supported the capacity and oversight capabilities of the CUDs, successfully addressed COVID-related supply chain issues, and will now result in the construction of the backbone network that will pave the way to providing universal, statewide, 100/100 Mbps service in the CUDs that have been awarded construction grants. $47.8 million in construction grants is being awarded to CVFiber, DVFiber, Maple Broadband, and NEK Broadband, with an additional $441,000 pre-construction grant awarded to Otter Creek. In May 2021, $16 million in construction grants were approved for NEK Broadband and WCVT/Bolton. Combined, these funds will pay for buildout of over 1,400 miles of network fiber and fiber to the premise (FTTP) in all or parts of 29 towns.

Company News

Verizon reports low fiber gains in second quarter 2022 results

Press Release  |  Verizon

Verizon reported its second quarter 2022 results on July 22. Total revenue for the company was $33.8 billion, relatively flat from second-quarter 2021. Its net income was $5.3 billion, a decrease of 10.7 percent from second-quarter 2021. Total broadband net additions reached 268,000, including 256,000 fixed wireless net additions. This was an increase of 39,000 from first-quarter 2022, and fixed wireless net additions increased 62,000 from first-quarter 2022. Verizon had 36,000 Fios Internet net additions. For wireless, the company saw total wireless service revenue of $18.4 billion, a 9.1 percent increase year over year. Total retail postpaid churn was 1.03 percent, and retail postpaid phone churn was 0.81 percent. The company had 12,000 postpaid phone net additions.

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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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