Thursday, July 28, 2022
Headlines Daily Digest
News From Congress
Elections & Media
News From Congress
The Senate passed a bipartisan bill that would provide $52 billion in subsidies to domestic semiconductor manufacturers and invest billions in science and technology innovation, in a bid to strengthen the United States’ competitiveness and self-reliance in what is seen as a keystone industry for economic and national security. In a 64-33 vote, the Senate passed the $280 billion “CHIPS and Science Act,” the final iteration of a bill that was years in the making. About $52 billion would go to microchip manufacturers to incentivize construction of domestic semiconductor fabrication plants — or “fabs” — to make the chips, which are used in a wide variety of products, including motor vehicles, cellphones, medical equipment and military weapons. A shortage of semiconductor chips during the coronavirus pandemic has caused price hikes and supply-chain disruptions in several industries. The bill also includes about $100 billion in authorizations over five years for programs such as expanding the National Science Foundation’s work and establishing regional technology hubs to support start-ups in areas of the country that haven’t traditionally drawn big funding for tech. The bill next moves to the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has said it has support for passage. President Biden has said the legislation is one of the top priorities on his agenda and called for Congress to get the bill to his desk as soon as possible.
The House of Representatives passed three communications and technology bills:
H.R. 7132, the “Safe Connections Act of 2022,” was introduced by Reps. Annie Kuster (D-NH) and Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA). The legislation amends the Communications Act by requiring mobile service providers, after receiving a line separation request from a survivor of domestic violence, human trafficking, or other related crimes for a mobile service contract shared with an abuser, to separate the line of the survivor (and the line of any individual in the care of the survivor) from the shared mobile service contract or separate the line of the abuser from the shared mobile service contract when technically feasible. The bill passed by an en bloc vote of 336-90.
H.R. 7624, the “Spectrum Innovation Act of 2022,” was introduced by Chairman Doyle and 20 original bipartisan cosponsors. The legislation would make available additional frequencies in the 3.1–3.45 gigahertz band for non-federal use, shared federal and non-federal use, or a combination thereof. It also extends spectrum auction authority for the Federal Communications Commission and funds the Secure and Trusted Reimbursement Program and a newly authorized Next Generation 9-1-1 grant program from spectrum auction proceeds. The bill passed by an en bloc vote of 336-90.
H.R. 4990, the “Institute for Telecommunication Sciences Codification (ITS Codification) Act,” was introduced by Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA). The legislation amends the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Organization Act by providing statutory authority for the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS). It also requires the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information to establish an initiative at ITS to develop emergency communication technologies for use in locating individuals trapped in areas where mobile connectivity may not be available. The bill passed by voice vote.
The Spectrum Innovation Act of 2022 (HR 7624) would modify and extend the authority of the Federal Communications Commission to auction licenses for the commercial use of the electromagnetic spectrum and authorize certain federal agencies to spend some auction proceeds without further appropriation. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that enacting the bill would reduce net direct spending by $2.5 billion over the 2022-2032 period. Outlays after 2032 would increase by approximately $2.4 billion. Enacting the bill would not affect revenues. Two legislative changes account for the estimated increase in offsetting receipts. Title I would modify the parameters and planning procedures for an auction authorized by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) involving 350 megahertz of radio spectrum currently used by federal agencies. Title V would provide an 18-month extension of the FCC’s broad auction authority, currently scheduled to expire on September 30, 2022. On balance, CBO estimates, enacting those two provisions would increase receipts, net of potential relocation costs, by $7.9 billion over the 2022-2023 period. H.R. 7624 also would establish the Public Safety and Secure Networks Fund and require a portion of the proceeds from certain FCC auctions to be deposited into that fund. Title VI would establish a framework for spending some of those funds on programs administered by the FCC and the Department of Commerce. Applying those funding and allocation criteria, CBO estimates that enacting titles V and VI would provide about $7.7 billion in budget authority for the specified agency programs. CBO projects that about $5.3 billion of the total would be spent by 2032; the remainder would be spent in subsequent years.
The House of Representatives passed three consumer protection and commerce bills including:
H.R. 3962, the “Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2021,” was introduced by Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) and 32 original bipartisan cosponsors. The bill allows a notary public commissioned under state law to remotely notarize electronic records and perform notarizations for remotely located individuals. The bill passed by an en bloc vote of 336-90.
H.R. 4551, the “Reporting Attacks from Nations Selected for Oversight and Monitoring Web Attacks and Ransomware from Enemies Act,” or the “RANSOMWARE Act,” was introduced by Consumer Protection and Commerce Ranking Member Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). The bill 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. The bill passed by an en bloc vote of 336-90.
The Senate Commerce Committee approved two bipartisan bills to protect children online, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director nominee, Dr. Arati Prabhakar, the Transportation Security Administration Administrator nominee, David Pekoske, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce nominee, Susie Feliz, and Donald R. Cravins, the nominee to be Undersecretary of Commerce for Minority Business Development. Led by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the Kids Online Safety Act would give parents greater control over their children’s online activity and require that platforms give kids the option to opt out of algorithmic recommendations and other potentially harmful features. The bill would also require that companies vet their products for risks to children and take steps to address them. The Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act, led by Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), would expand existing protections for children’s privacy by banning companies from collecting the data of users 13 to 16 years old without their consent and creating an “eraser” button allowing children to remove their data from digital services.
The Federal Communications Commission committed over $77 million in two new funding rounds through the Emergency Connectivity Program, helping to close the Homework Gap. These latest funding rounds are part of an ongoing support from the program, which launched in 2021 and has provided schools and libraries three different “application windows,” for schools and libraries to apply for support. These funding commitments support applications from all three application windows, supporting over 175,000 students across the country, including Colorado, Kansas, Ohio, Tennessee, Puerto Rico, and Washington. To date, the FCC has committed over $5.6 billion to schools and libraries across the country. This announcement includes over $2.5 million from the first and second application windows providing support in the upcoming school year for 6 schools and 2 libraries. For the third application window, the FCC is committing nearly $75 million that will support over 150 schools, 20 libraries, and 5 consortia.
Former House Commerce Committee Chairman Freg Walden (R-OR) has a simple answer for small cable operators that are hard pressed to know how to navigate the bureaucratic quagmire to broadband finding: get to know the decisionmakers. He said that to win those funds, small operators are going to have to learn how their state government machinery works. “[E]ach state is going to be a little different, some will be better staffed and ready for this money,” Walden said. “You’re going to have to work and get to know who makes those decisions in your state and how do you take advantage of it.” That means not just getting to know the heads of the state agencies that distribute funding, Walden added, but local and state legislators as well, who can be supportive in dealing with the various bureaucracies involved with each application. “The extent to which you can build partnerships when you go in, [is] probably the better,” Walden said. “Most elected officials don’t like to choose among their children, so if you can move up, you’ll have a stronger case to make and they will too to whoever is going to make the decision in the state.”
Most broadband grant programs do not publish open grant applications for the public to see. But we are in a time when a broadband provider that is awarded funding for bringing a new broadband network is likely to become the near-monopoly provider in a rural area for a decade or two to come. The public ought to get to see who is proposing to bring them broadband so that these decisions are not made behind closed doors. It turns out that the Nebraska Public Service Commission posts grant applications online. I think that every agency awarding last-mile grant funding should be doing the same. I talked to several grant offices about this issue, and they told me that they are not comfortable disclosing financial information about a grant applicant. That’s a valid concern, but a grant application can easily be structured so that financial information is in a separate attachment that could be kept confidential if requested by the applicant. I would note that some grant applicants I work with like electric cooperatives would welcome disclosing everything as a way to compare them with other applicants.
T-Mobile US posted a steep second-quarter loss as costs tied to its network overhaul and legal expenses piled up, but the wireless carrier raised its outlook for the year as it added more of its most valuable customers. The company posted a net gain of 723,000 postpaid phone subscribers in the quarter. The second-quarter postpaid phone-customer-gain figure excluded about 284,000 connections that were lost as the company shuttered its 3G network, disconnecting users who hadn’t yet upgraded to a newer phone.
Postpaid and Broadband Customers
- Postpaid net account additions of 380,000 increased 32,000 year-over-year.
- Postpaid net customer additions of 1.7 million increased 380,000 year-over-year.
- Postpaid phone net customer additions of 723,000 increased 96,000 year-over-year, including higher gross additions and industry-leading churn improvement. Postpaid phone churn of 0.80% improved 7 basis points year-over-year and 13 basis points sequentially.
- Prepaid net customer additions of 146 thousand increased 70 thousand year-over-year. Prepaid churn of 2.58% was the lowest in company history and improved by 4 basis points year-over-year.
- High Speed Internet net customer additions of 560,000 were a record-high, and T-Mobile ended the quarter with more than 1.5 million High Speed Internet customers.
- Total net customer additions of 1.8 million increased 450,000 year-over-year and the total customer count increased to a record-high of 110 million.
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
Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
for Broadband & Society
1041 Ridge Rd, Unit 214
Wilmette, IL 60091
headlines AT benton DOT org
The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society All Rights Reserved © 2022