Daily Digest 7/27/2022 (Chip Bill Advances)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents


Senate Advances $280 Billion Bill Subsidizing Chip Manufacturing, Technology  |  Read below  |  John McKinnon, Natalie Andrews  |  Wall Street Journal

Broadband Funding

Forging the Future of Digital Agriculture  |  Read below  |  Economic Development Administration
Small Broadband Providers and the Affordable Connectivity Program  |  Read below  |  Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting


Opinion | Fix the Rural Broadband Map  |  Progressive Farmer

State/Local Initiatives

Gov. Edwards Announces a Major Federal Investment in Broadband Expansion Statewide and New Digital Literacy Pilot Programs  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Louisiana Office of the Governor
Kansas Launches Capital Project Fund Broadband Infrastructure Program  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Kansas Department of Commerce
Vermont announces $48 million in broadband grants to communications union districts  |  Read below  |  Fred Thys  |  VTDigger
Baltimore city’s broadband and digital equity director leaves amid office shuffle  |  Read below  |  Donte Kirby  |  Technically Baltimore
A Closer Look at State-Level Broadband Advancement Efforts in Michigan, New York and Virginia  |  Government Technology
Minnesota farmers share farm bill priorities at congressional listening session  |  Minneapolis Star Tribune
Brownsville (TX) signs broadband agreement: Lit Communities to pay for building ‘last mile’  |  Brownsville Herald
Fairlawn City Council approves agreement with Summit County to extend FairlawnGig to 31 Communities  |  FairlawnGig
Student teams compete on plans to expand broadband in NW Missouri  |  University of Missouri
Construction begins on Fort Dodge Fiber, the city’s new municipal broadband network  |  Messenger, The


DirecTV Tells FCC that Dish Network 5G Plan Will Wreak Havoc on Its Satellite TV Signals  |  Next TV


The roadmap to telehealth efficacy: Care, health, and digital equities  |  Read below  |  Nicol Turner Lee, Niam Yaraghi, Samantha Lai  |  Research  |  Brookings
CBO Scores H.R. 4040, the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act of 2022  |  Congressional Budget Office

Platforms/Social Media

Tech Antitrust Bill Threatens to Break Apple, Google’s Grip on the Internet  |  Bloomberg
Google, like Amazon, will let police see your video without a warrant  |  Vox
Facebook workers fear cuts after blunt warnings from Zuckerberg, leaders  |  Washington Post
Instagram knows you don’t like its changes. It doesn’t care.  |  Washington Post
Gen Z goes its own way in new social media era  |  Axios

Kids & Media

What should social media giants do to protect children?  |  Guardian, The
Kate Forscey | It’s About Time: Bringing Federal Policy Up to Speed with Our Youths’ Online Experience  |  Digital Progress Institute


California Bill Would Use PBS-NPR Model To Support Local Media  |  MediaPost


Democrats Slam Hulu for ‘Rejecting’ Ads Condemning Anti-Abortion Republicans and Gun Lobby: ‘Political Censorship’  |  Wrap, The
Hulu Drops Censorship Of One Political Ad, But Core Issue Remains  |  MediaPost
US Court of Appeals for DC Circuit Vacates FCC Rule Requiring Broadcasters to Verify Foreign Governmental Sponsorship  |  JD Supra
TiVo: Viewers use an average of 9 streaming services  |  Fierce


Nation’s Mayors Launch Standing Committee on Technology and Innovation to Strengthen City Broadband Deployment, Cybersecurity Defenses, and Digital Services  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  

Stories From Abroad

Russia is quietly ramping up its Internet censorship machine  |  Wired
Today's Top Stories


Senate Advances $280 Billion Bill Subsidizing Chip Manufacturing, Technology

John McKinnon, Natalie Andrews  |  Wall Street Journal

The Senate voted 64 to 32 to advance a $280 billion package of subsidies and research funding to boost US competitiveness in semiconductors and advanced technology. The vote required 60 votes to advance in the evenly divided Senate. Seventeen Republicans joined with all but one member of the Democratic caucus present to move the bill forward. Four senators were absent. A final Senate vote is expected as early as July 27, and then the bill must be approved by the House. The package is set to give a big boost to domestic chip production, seen by the White House and leaders in both parties as critical to the US supply chain and national security, as most semiconductors are imported from overseas. Shortages have also helped drive prices sharply higher for cars and other goods in recent years, and proponents say the bill will help cool consumer costs.

Broadband Funding

Forging the Future of Digital Agriculture

When the Wabash Heartland Innovation Network (WHIN) launched in late 2017 to develop north-central Indiana into a global epicenter for digital agriculture and the Internet of Things (IoT), it turned to Dr. Johnny Park for leadership. Since 2018, Park has served as CEO of WHIN and its pacesetting efforts in a 10-county area of the Hoosier state. Park joined WHIN from Spensa, a successful IoT agtech startup he founded. Named by Forbes as one of the Top 25 Most Innovative Ag-Tech Startups of 2017, Spensa used IoT devices and data analytics to help growers better manage agronomic pests such as insects, weeds, and disease. His early career was spent on the engineering faculty of his alma mater, Purdue University, and he also served on the Advisory Council on Agriculture, Small Business and Labor of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Recently, under Park’s leadership, the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded WHIN a $1.7 million grant to expand broadband connectivity in rural Indiana. This initiative is expected to create or retain more than 200 jobs and generate more than $10 million in private investment.

Small Broadband Providers and the Affordable Connectivity Program

Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

Several small broadband providers are having trouble navigating the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Care Program (ACP). They are wondering if they should drop their participation. There is no one major specific complaint about the administration of the program but a string of problems. The ACP rules are overly complex. There doesn’t seem to be any training available to providers joining the program. The ACP system returns unhelpful error messages when something doesn’t work. Why are these kinds of issues problematic for smaller providers? Bigger companies can assign a team to a program like this and give the teams enough time to figure out the nuances. Small providers have tiny staffs, particularly in the backoffice. Small providers can’t devote the many hours and days needed to solve the ACP puzzle. 


Gov. Edwards Announces a Major Federal Investment in Broadband Expansion Statewide and New Digital Literacy Pilot Programs

Press Release  |  Louisiana Office of the Governor

Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA) announced a $130 million investment from the American Rescue Plan to bring more affordable and accessible internet to more than 66,000 households and small businesses through Internet Service Providers in 50 parishes. Applications for the first phase of the grant were submitted through Louisiana’s broadband grant program called Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO). The total investment from the American Rescue Plan is $176 million, out of which $130 million is being used for this first phase. Parishes not included in this first round will have another opportunity to participate in the program. (see all GUMBO awards) Fierce reports that a small local telecom called Star Communications emerged the top winner of grants but top tier players AT&T, Altice USA, Charter Communications and Comcast each also walked away with a hefty chunk of change.

To address the estimated 462,000 Louisianians who lack basic digital literacy skills, ConnectLA, the Louisiana Board of Regents, the Louisiana Department of Education and the State Library of Louisiana have partnered to establish pilot programs in multiple parishes to reduce the digital illiteracy rate in those parishes by 50 percent over five years. Today, Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Kim Hunter Reed announced the launch of five Digital Literacy & Inclusion Pilot sites embedded in rural and urban library branches.  The pilot sites are designed to not only increase access to high-speed digital resources, but also improve the overall computer and internet literacy of individuals living near those library locations.  Parishes housing the five Digital Literacy & Inclusion Pilot sites include: East Carroll, Jefferson, Livingston, Rapides and West Feliciana. Each site is set to receive $20,000 to assess their community’s needs for digital literacy and provide instructional opportunities such as skills assessment, self-directed on-line learning, and digital skill building. These activities will be conducted by a team of 55 professional librarians and staff appointed to serve as Digital Navigators (DNs).  DNs for the pilot sites have already completed more than 11 hours of training through the National Digital Inclusion Alliance and Northstar Digital Literacy to ensure the successful launch of each program’s activities.

Kansas Launches Capital Project Fund Broadband Infrastructure Program

Press Release  |  Kansas Department of Commerce

The Capital Project Fund program was developed to bring broadband infrastructure that will deliver speeds that meet or exceed symmetrical speeds of 100 Mbps to unserved areas across Kansas.  All locations within the census blocks being served and funded through this program will be required to adhere to minimum speeds listed above.  Fiber-optic infrastructure projects that focus on achieving last-mile connections will be prioritized. Middle mile will be funded only if required for the last-mile build. The Capital Project Fund program is intended to address the following priorities:

  • Broadband infrastructure deployment designed to directly enable work, education, and healthcare monitoring
  • Address a critical need that resulted from or was made apparent or exacerbated by the COVID-19 public health emergency
  • Address a critical need of the community to be served by it

The Capital Project Fund: Broadband Infrastructure Program will be opened on July 25, 2022

Vermont announces $48 million in broadband grants to communications union districts

Fred Thys  |  VTDigger

Gov Phil Scott (R-VT) announced $48 million in new grants to Vermont’s communications union districts, the municipal organizations working to connect homes that are without a reliable wireline connection to fiber-optic cable. Vermont has an ambitious plan that combines private investment and public funds to connect every resident with fiber-optic cable. For the largely rural regions of the state without access to high-speed internet, Vermont is relying on a strategy of allowing municipalities to band together into communications union districts to build fiber-optic service. Christine Hallquist, executive director of the Vermont Community Broadband Board, said including the $48 million announced July 22, the organization has awarded $96 million in grants to these communications union districts since August 2021. That figure includes $9.2 million to buy materials up to a year ahead of time in an effort to avoid supply-chain problems and to lock in prices during a period of inflation.

Baltimore city’s broadband and digital equity director leaves amid office shuffle

Donte Kirby  |  Technically Baltimore

Technologist Jason Hardebeck is no longer serving as the City of Baltimore’s director of broadband and digital equity. And Hardebeck’s former department, the Mayor’s Office of Broadband and Digital Equity (BDE), will no longer be housed within the Mayor’s Office. BDE is now located within the Baltimore City Office of Information and Technology (BCIT). Kenya Asli, BCIT’s director of strategic initiatives, will be the interim director of broadband and digital equity until a permanent hire for the position is found. Under the new restructuring, whoever fills this new position will serve under Baltimore City Chief Information Officer Todd Carter.


The roadmap to telehealth efficacy: Care, health, and digital equities

Nicol Turner Lee, Niam Yaraghi, Samantha Lai  |  Research  |  Brookings

The United States has long struggled with a health care system that is both expensive and often inaccessible when it comes to providing certain populations with equitable care. The White House and Congress acted quickly to transition patients to telehealth during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the future adoption and use of telehealth will depend on how the U.S. health care system addresses coverage and reimbursement, medical licensure, and service modalities. Equally important is policy coherence, or a “telehealth 2.0 roadmap”, to effectively harmonize the goals of value-based care, health disparities, and digital access. This approach to telehealth can improve patient outcomes, offer more inclusive telehealth adoption, and increase ways in which health care is delivered and received as the nation continues to mitigate the public health crisis. In this paper, we propose flexibilities within the current health care system that accommodate the changes imposed by new technologies, as well as continued government incentives to drive more competitive options and alternatives for health care delivery. In the end, we argue that government must continue to promote the use of remote health care and leverage national investments in broadband infrastructure to drive the complementary use of telehealth with traditional health care. We also propose that current modality flexibilities remain in place, especially as the nation undergoes efforts to close the digital divide. Finally, telehealth must be positioned and implemented in coordination with value-based payments to ensure patient access to meaningful care that can be bolstered and not substituted by existing and emerging health care technologies.


Nation’s Mayors Launch Standing Committee on Technology and Innovation to Strengthen City Broadband Deployment, Cybersecurity Defenses, and Digital Services

Press Release  |  

The US Conference of Mayors (USCM) President Miami Mayor Francis Suarez named Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell as the first chair of the organization’s new Standing Committee on Technology and Innovation. The new committee will examine broadband deployment, cybersecurity, and city digital services, as well as promote best practices and help set the Conference’s policy on these and other related issues. The Committee’s initial work in the coming months will prioritize a focus on broadband, especially accessing funding included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) for infrastructure deployment and digital equity. Additionally, it will concentrate on the threat of cybersecurity attacks that continue to plague cities across the country. The Committee’s purview will also include issues such as government procurement, the gig economy, disinformation on the internet, artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency, the metaverse, consumer privacy, smart cities, and data governance.

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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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