Cable operators, bracing for a slowdown after the robust broadband growth during the height of the pandemic may be in for a surprise. Federal money from the American Rescue Plan could help maintain, and in some cases spur, high-speed data additions in both urban and rural markets, according to MoffettNathanson principal and senior analyst Craig Moffett. Cable operators added more than 4 million broadband customers in 2020, the sector’s biggest growth spurt in a decade and one that occurred as penetration levels were in the 80% range.
Cable broadband operators want the Federal Communications Commission to confine its emergency E-rate Universal Service Fund broadband subsidies, where possible, to existing providers rather than spending on new infrastructure deployments, and to provide a streamlined application process.
Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel didn't make any big news at her first post-meeting press conference Feb 17, but she did confirm that she is still a fan of network neutrality rules and no fan of the Trump Administration petition to the FCC to regulate social media using Sec. 230. With the commissioner currently at a 2-2 political tie, she pointed out that will obviously have an impact on big ticket items. Chairwoman Rosenworcel pointed out that she had made it clear she did not favor FCC action the Sec.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) said that he plans to reintroduce the Internet Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act. The bill would invest $100 billion to close the digital divide. Rep. Clyburn, who created the Rural Broadband Task Force, said he had lined up support in the House and Senate for his bill, which would be re-introduced in the House in the next couple of weeks.
More fans of network neutrality rules have asked the Federal Communication Commission to return its bright-line rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization, saying eliminated those rules has negatively impacted connectivity at a time -- during the COVID-19 pandemic -- when connectivity is a key public interest priority.
Perhaps no chief executive lobbied harder than Comcast’s Brian Roberts for the Federal Communications Commission's 2017 rollback of net neutrality rules under Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
Executives from ACA Connects, NCTA-the Internet & Television Association, INCOMPAS, and WISPA (the wireless internet service providers association) met with staffers in the Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau to present a unified front on some key elements of the proposed Emergency Broadband Benefit Program recently created by Congress. The executives want the FCC to allow providers who are new to participating in federal support programs to be eligible for the new funds and get the training to be able to participate in the applications process from "day one.
Cable operators smashed records in 2020, adding more than 4 million customers in the first nine months of that year, fueled in part by the pandemic. But as hopes rise that COVID-19 will loosen its grip on the country, sending more people back to offices and schools and potentially softening broadband gains, many providers are looking toward the fringes of their footprints and extending their networks deeper into less-populated areas for growth. Extending the footprint, or making “edge-outs,” is nothing new for the industry.