Monday, August 22, 2022
Headlines Daily Digest
Stories From Abroad
With the federal Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program's (BEAD) $42 billion to expand high-speed internet access across the country, Lehigh County officials will audit municipalities to assess the state of residents’ internet access and report the county’s needs to the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority. Two main issues highlighted by county officials during the COVID-19 pandemic are the accessibility to, and equity of, broadband service. Rural communities in Lehigh County struggle with access to broadband and urban communities struggle with the affordability of broadband. To address these issues, Lehigh County will leverage the canvassing capabilities of local broadband providers: Astound and Service Electric. Joanne Guerriero, vice president of marketing and sales for the Pennsylvania market of Astound, said she agreed that affordability and accessibility have been issues for local communities, and that Astound would be open to any partnership or discussions with local municipalities to improve those conditions. Though, it is unknown when the county will be ready to report to the state, as they continue to seek partners to assist with the audit process in the next couple of months.
Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted (OH-R), who is also Director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation (OWT), awarded four training providers located throughout the state with $592,215 to support 410 broadband or 5G-related credentials through the Individual Microcredential Assistance Program (IMAP). This is the third round of the initiative, which helps Ohioans who are low income, partially unemployed, or totally unemployed participate in a training program and receive one or more credential(s) for free. The selected providers—which include two four-year universities, a career center, and a joint vocational school district—will be reimbursed up to $3,000 for each completed technology-focused credential issued. The most recent round of IMAP provided funding specifically for credentialing programs is a part of a larger effort by OWT and BroadbandOhio to grow the workforce needed to expand broadband access and 5G in Ohio. The “Strengthening Ohio’s Broadband & 5G Workforce” Strategy, lays out a plan for filling the estimated 1,250 jobs needed to expand broadband access and the 32,000 jobs needed to deploy 5G across Ohio. Training will be offered in-person and online, allowing Ohioans to take advantage of the program from anywhere in the state.
Telemedicine’s ultimate success will depend in large part on technology—how seamless patients will find the process, and the digital divide that now keeps many physicians from offering telehealth services and patients from accessing them. While well-capitalized academic medical centers have invested heavily in hardware, software, help-desk staff and social-equity initiatives, smaller practices with fewer resources are falling behind when it comes to providing telemedicine. Health systems want to increase access to telemedicine for disadvantaged groups, such as nonwhite, poor and rural patients. Another issue holding some patients back is lack of trust in the process, particularly among patients who haven’t had a telehealth appointment, says Kristin Rising, director of the Center for Connected Care at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia. Dr. Rising says she and her team are working on an effort to target patients who would benefit from education and outreach related to telemedicine. “Telemedicine is more accessible for patients, and it is faster for getting care,” she says. “But the issue is getting people to understand that.”
T-Mobile has been advised to stop implying that a consumer can save up to 50% on their home internet services compared to major competitors like Verizon. The recommendation comes from the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) National Programs. Verizon was the one that raised the issue with the organization, which provides dispute resolution services. In big letters, it says “Save Up to 50%.” Underneath that in smaller lettering – and probably noticeable only if you have a way to stop the commercial for a closer look – it shows the comparison to the National FCC Broadband Urban Broadband Rate Benchmark. Upon analyzation, the NAD determined that T-Mobile's reference to the "FCC Urban Broadband Rate Survey" does not represent the actual price that any consumers pay, but rather is a benchmark rate set by the FCC to ensure equitable pricing for rural areas. Further NAD stated that the benchmark rate derived from this survey is not a good fit for the challenged savings claim. NAD also determined that the “Up to 50%” savings claim is unsupported because few consumers are paying the $105 a month that T-Mobile uses as its basis for comparison from the FCC’s benchmark rates. T-Mobile told NAD that it will take its advise into account in future advertising and that T-Mobile remains a supporter of the self-regulatory process that NAD oversees.
In the first quarter of 2022, the big cable companies added 482,000 customers while telecommunications companies (telecos) added over 50,000 customers. In what is a surprise to the industry, that growth has disappeared in the second quarter, and all of the big broadband providers collectively lost almost 150,000 customers. That’s a loss of 60,000 customers for the cable companies and 88,000 for the big telcos. The other big news is that the fixed wireless access (FWA) products of T-Mobile and Verizon added 816,000 customers in the second quarter to bring the sector to net growth of 668,000 customers. This is huge news – FWA is booming while the big ISPs are standing still. The FWA product is home broadband delivered using cellular frequencies. T-Mobile and Verizon are aggressively marketing the product, which is touted to have download speeds over 100 Mbps. The market is going to get even hotter when AT&T and Dish networks enter the market in a big way. Ultimately, second quarter numbers illustrate the following: the net loss for cable companies--upon decades of quarterly growth--is very surprising; fiber continues to expand its customer base; and T-Mobile has become the 9th largest broadband provider in the country.
New broadband provider Brightspeed is now planning fiber expansion work in more than a dozen states, outlining its ambition to reach tens of thousands of new locations across South Carolina and Kansas. The operator is targeting up to 14,000 passings in South Carolina, with plans to hit an additional 36,000 passings by the end of its five-year buildout; and in Kansas, as it aims to reach 10,000 new passings and an additional 45,000 locations. Both states are looking at completion by 2023 or later. Brightspeed previously laid out plans to reach 1 million passings by the end of 2023 and 3 million within five years following the close of its acquisition of Lumen Technologies’ ILEC assets in 20 states. Over the past few months, it has announced builds in North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Alabama, Ohio, Louisiana, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Arkansas in addition to the newly unveiled projects in Kansas and South Carolina. Asked whether the presence of fiber overbuilders might impact its plans, the representative indicated it is "not especially concerned" about such competitors in the areas it is targeting.
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