Daily Digest 7/26/2022 (Why are US internet prices so high?)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents

Broadband Prices

You can get free broadband in L.A. if you’re a lower-income consumer. Here’s what to ask for  |  Read below  |  Jon Healey  |  Los Angeles Times
Why are US internet prices so high? The answers are many and complex  |  Read below  |  Mark Pattison  |  Catholic News Service


The Proliferation of Microtrenching  |  Doug Dawson
Raj Singh: The Case for a Common Sense Broadband Investment Strategy  |  Broadband Communities

Local/State Initiatives

Closing Baltimore’s Digital Broadband Divide: Hollins House  |  Read below  |  Sean Buckley  |  Broadband Communities
Arizona Commerce Authority announces $100 million in broadband grants to 20 awardees in rural and urban Arizona  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Arizona Commerce Authority
New Hampshire taps federal funds to expand broadband  |  Read below  |  Christian Wade  |  Center Square
Yellowstone Fiber looks to BEAD, ARPA to speed Montana broadband build  |  Read below  |  Diana Goovaerts  |  Fierce
Thomson Township (MN) pledges American Rescue Plan Act funds to broadband projects  |  Pine Journal


Eutelsat, OneWeb Agree $3.4 Billion Deal to Rival SpaceX  |  Read below  |  Benoit Berthelot, Thomas Seal  |  Bloomberg


AT&T ramps up 5G mid-band buildout  |  Fierce
I Have 5G at Home, So Why Can't I Get 5G Home Internet?  |  C|Net

Net Neutrality

Daniel Lyons: Title II Bill May Not Guarantee Net Neutrality, Raises Other Concerns  |  American Enterprise Institute


T-Mobile settles to pay $350 million to customers in data breach  |  Associated Press
Wireless Stakeholders Urge Congress to Fully Fund the FCC’s Reimbursement Program  |  Competitive Carriers Association
Legislating Data Loyalty  |  Notre Dame Law Review Reflection

Emergency Communications

AT&T’s expanded weather center now supports FirstNet  |  Fierce

Platforms/Social Media

Republican AGs Warn Google Against Curbing Links To Anti-Abortion Centers  |  Media Post
Sunset of the social network  |  Axios
Influencers are setting up groups on chat apps  |  Washington Post


Hulu Rejects Dem Candidate's Ad Over 'Sensitive' Issues  |  Media Post
NFL+ Enters Sports Streaming Wars As League Launches New Service  |  Hollywood Reporter


President Biden may scrap choice for Federal Communications Commission  |  Fox Business
Is The Gigi Sohn FCC Nomination Dead?  |  Radio Ink

Stories From Abroad

US Department of Commerce and Balkans Work Toward a Resilient and Secure 5G Ecosystem  |  Department of Commerce
Let’s Do More Than Just Talk About Bridging the Digital Divide  |  Read below  |  Paul Atkinson  |  Op-Ed  |  Broadband Communities
Global shortage of fibre optic cable threatens digital growth  |  Financial Times
Ever younger ‘kidfluencers’ face online dangers  |  Financial Times
Today's Top Stories


You can get free broadband in L.A. if you’re a lower-income consumer. Here’s what to ask for

Jon Healey  |  Los Angeles Times

Tim Hebb lives in one of more than 1.6 million households in Los Angeles that qualify for a new federal subsidy program for high speed internet service. And according to the Biden administration, he ought to be able to use that $30-a-month subsidy to get free access — 20 of the largest U.S. broadband providers had agreed to provide connections with up to 100 megabits-per-second download speeds for no more than the subsidy amount. And in fact, Hebb did line up a free broadband connection from Spectrum, the cable TV operator serving most of Los Angeles County, but it wasn’t easy. Broadband advocates say that they’re hearing complaints from other consumers too who’ve been frustrated in their efforts to use the new Affordable Connectivity Program subsidies. Their foibles are one factor behind the low percentage of qualified Californians who are using the Affordable Connectivity Program subsidies: 28% statewide, and 32% in L.A. County. Another factor, though, is that the subsidies aren’t well publicized. Some internet service providers tout them on their websites, but if you don’t have an internet connection, you can’t see those promotions. To raise awareness, state and local officials, consumer advocates and a number of the larger internet service providers plan to step up the outreach in August. The effort will include delivering information about the Affordable Connectivity Program directly to households participating in Medi-Cal, CalFresh and the National School Lunch Program, who automatically qualify for the broadband subsidy.

Why are US internet prices so high? The answers are many and complex

Mark Pattison  |  Catholic News Service

The cost for broadband service in the United States is high, and getting higher. In most metropolitan areas of the United States, residents are lucky to have two competing providers from which to choose. A third player in large metro markets is rare, but it's been seen before. The US bishops have argued for greater internet access for all. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops, during the coronavirus pandemic, was a member of an informal coalition that sought to expand access to the internet in unserved and underserved areas. Parents scrambled to find hotspots so their children could do their homework and keep current on their assignments and this led to a lot of fast-food parking lot homework sessions to access the eateries' Wi-Fi. Americans living just beyond an established network were given five-figure quotes by internet service providers to get connected. Assuming one does get internet connectivity, the quality of the experience can be lacking a certain something. Speed, perhaps. Internet service providers boast of "speeds of up to" in their advertising. But rarely if ever do they disclose an average or a median speed for consumers' internet connection. Guaranteeing a speed "floor" seems quaint. One reason for the absence of speed: the lack of net neutrality.


Closing Baltimore’s Digital Broadband Divide: Hollins House

Sean Buckley  |  Broadband Communities

The Hollins Market neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland, is a desirable place to live and work. It takes its name from Hollins Market, the oldest public market building still in use in Baltimore, which is in the heart of the neighborhood. Hollins Market is also the location of Hollins House, a high-rise apartment building that houses seniors and people with disabilities. Most Hollins House residents qualify for Section 8 public housing vouchers, which help people with low incomes rent homes on the private market. A large number of residents are refugees or military veterans. Recently restored after an extensive renovation, the property provides secure entry, a spacious community room with a kitchen, a gym, onsite laundry, a library with computers and free internet access, and a covered patio. It also offers easy access to public transportation and medical facilities. Thanks to Project Waves, a nonprofit organization that operates as an internet service provider (ISP), residents of the multifamily housing development have access to up to 1 Gbps broadband – free.

Arizona Commerce Authority announces $100 million in broadband grants to 20 awardees in rural and urban Arizona

Press Release  |  Arizona Commerce Authority

The Arizona Commerce Authority announced 20 awardees of the Arizona Broadband Development Grant Program (ABDG), investing $100 million to expand high-speed broadband to Arizona’s unserved or underserved areas. The Arizona Commerce Authority allocated $75.7 million to 14 awardees in rural counties and $23.6 million to six awardees in urban counties, spurring $112.8 million in local matching funds. Grants were awarded through a competitive process based on criteria such as return on investment and local support. When completed, the grant projects will increase connections for homes, businesses, public safety agencies, medical facilities, schools, libraries and more while catalyzing new economic development and enhancing opportunities for sectors such as tourism, trade, and agriculture. Examples of projects include installing high-speed fiber-optic infrastructure, deploying Wi-Fi access points and networking equipment for broadband internet, and expanding existing and middle-mile fiber networks.

New Hampshire taps federal funds to expand broadband

Christian Wade  |  Center Square

New Hampshire is diverting millions of dollars in federal pandemic relief funds to expand broadband internet coverage to rural and underserved communities. A proposal approved by the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee on July 22 authorizes the state to spend $51.3 million to create the Broadband Connect Program. This initiative will provide taxpayer-funded incentives to internet service providers to expand infrastructure in communities that lack access to high-speed broadband service. The plan will require internet providers to bid on the contract, and Gov. Chris Sununu's administration began soliciting bids in June 2022. Overall, the funding will help connect up to 15,000 homes and businesses – about 50% of locations in New Hampshire that are still lacking high-speed internet. The fiscal committee also approved a plan to spend $800,000 to map regions of the state where internet service remains spotty or nonexistent as the program is implemented. It also allocated about $130,000 to hire new staff to monitor the spending, as required under the federal funding. Funding for the program comes from the federal Capital Projects Fund, which was created as part of the American Rescue Plan Act to connect more households to the internet.

Yellowstone Fiber looks to BEAD, ARPA to speed Montana broadband build

Diana Goovaerts  |  Fierce

Yellowstone Fiber already has $65 million in private funding in hand to build an open access network in Montana, but is now seeking to tap into millions more in federal funding to accelerate the pace of its rollout. Formerly known as Bozeman Fiber, the operator teamed with UTOPIA Fiber in late 2021 and announced plans to deliver fiber to more than 20,000 locations across the city of Bozeman, Montana. It subsequently rebranded as Yellowstone Fiber and kicked off construction in February 2022. The company's original deployment plan would’ve seen it start work in the city’s urban core and fuel deployments in more rural areas using subscriber revenue generated by those initial rollouts. By tapping into federal funding provided to the state via the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), Yellowstone Fiber could reach those rural areas two to three years faster than originally expected. Thus far, Yellowstone has applied for $10 million in ARPA funding through the state’s ConnectMT program. Yellowstone wants to use the funding to cover 15 unserved and 1,522 underserved locations in Gallatin County. Cable operator Charter Communications is also seeking funding for Gallatin County, requesting more than $11 million to cover 63 unserved locations and 2,111 underserved locations across the county within a 23 month timeframe.


Eutelsat, OneWeb Agree $3.4 Billion Deal to Rival SpaceX

Benoit Berthelot, Thomas Seal  |  Bloomberg

Eutelsat Communications SA and OneWeb Ltd. are set to combine in an all-share deal valuing the UK satellite operator at $3.4 billion, a step toward creating a European champion to rival the likes of Elon Musk’s SpaceX. OneWeb shareholders will hold 50% of Eutelsat, which will continue to be listed in Paris and will ask to be listed on the London Stock Exchange.  Both the UK and French governments have stakes in OneWeb and Eutelsat respectively, and the UK will continue to own a special share, giving it certain veto rights over strategic decisions such as the location of the firm’s headquarters. The UK government has agreed a range of national security rights, and for OneWeb to prefer procurement for manufacturing from businesses in the UK. Although shareholders will split the company, the deal bears the hallmarks of a takeover by Eutelsat. OneWeb will keep its own branding and operate the low-orbit business of the combined group, which will have a primary listing in Paris. Eutelsat chairman Dominique D’Hinnin is set to be chairman of the combined entity, with his OneWeb counterpart Sunil Bharti Mittal as co-chair and vice president. Eutelsat Chief Executive Officer Eva Berneke will run the new group. 

Stories From Abroad

Let’s Do More Than Just Talk About Bridging the Digital Divide

Paul Atkinson  |  Op-Ed  |  Broadband Communities

In recent years, many governments have launched programs to help close the connectivity gap and bring digital technologies to the previously unconnected. But even with such significant strides forward, much of the world remains unconnected, especially in remote areas. Almost 37 percent of the world’s population – 2.9 billion people – are still completely offline. The focus, however, can’t be only on addressing the lack of physical infrastructure to connect these regions, although that remains a priority. In tandem with these initiatives, community-led education drives must be encouraged to inform the unconnected of the genuinely transformative power of digital technologies. Rural communities’ use of digital technologies remains complex. To deliver socially transformative digital inclusivity, governments must help create ecosystems in which core infrastructure improves quality of life. 

  1. Establish high-speed broadband access and wireless connectivity everywhere.
  2. Create imaginative, new, rural-use cases with meaningful, scalable benefits, such as e-tutoring, investing in agritech, and using “send to email” conversations in WhatsApp.
  3. Humanize technology with a community model of using digital services closely with a set of local digital champions, to help demystify technologies in these communities.

[Paul Atkinson is the CEO of optical network business for STL]

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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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