Today's Newsletter

Daily Digest 3/22/2023 (Willis Reed Jr)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents

COVID and Connectivity

The Role of a Robust Broadband Infrastructure in Building Economic Resiliency During the COVID-19 Pandemic  |  Read below  |  Raul Katz, Juan Jung  |  Research  |  Network On
Promoting Telehealth to Low-Income Consumers; COVID-19 Telehealth Program  |  Read below  |  Trent Harkrader  |  Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission

Broadband Funding

Buy America poses threat to US fiber deployments  |  Read below  |  Linda Hardesty  |  Fierce

State/Local Initiatives

Picking a Good Steward  |  Read below  |  Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

Consumer Protections

Consumer advocates, industry groups still quibbling over broadband label rules  |  Read below  |  Nicole Ferraro  |  LightReading


Strains Emerge Inside the Union That Beat Amazon  |  New York Times


US cell towers and small cells: By the numbers  |  Summary at  |  Mike Dano  |  LightReading


Treasury Department Mobilizes Semiconductor Supply Chain Investment Incentives with Key CHIPS Investment Tax Credit Guidance  |  Department of the Treasury
Commerce Department Outlines Proposed National Security Guardrails for CHIPS for America Incentives Program  |  Department of Commerce

Social Media/Platforms

Gov DeSantis Privately Called for Google to Be “Broken Up”  |  ProPublica
Sen Bennet Calls on Tech Companies to Protect Kids as They Deploy AI Chatbots  |  US Senate
Pulling the Plug on TikTok Will Be Harder Than It Looks  |  New York Times
TikTok Reassures Advertisers Over Ban Threat as Some Set Backup Plans  |  Wall Street Journal
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew Promises Firewall to Shield User Data  |  Wall Street Journal
These People Avoid the TikTok App, Not the TikTok Videos  |  Wall Street Journal
What Google Bard Can Do (and What It Can’t)  |  New York Times
Google Releases Bard, Its Competitor in the Race to Create A.I. Chatbots  |  New York Times


Editorial | A Big Donor, Nancy Pelosi and the FCC  |  Wall Street Journal


President Biden Yet to Withdraw Gigi Sohn’s FCC Nomination  |  Read below  |  John Eggerton  |  Broadcasting&Cable
President Biden Picks Fara Damelin for FCC Inspector General  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  White House
Today's Top Stories

COVID and Connectivity

The Role of a Robust Broadband Infrastructure in Building Economic Resiliency During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Raul Katz, Juan Jung  |  Research  |  Network On

The study proposes an economic growth econometric model that accounts for the role of fixed broadband in mitigating the economic losses resulting from COVID-19. Results show that had the national fixed broadband penetration been the same as that of the most-connected state (Delaware, 91.4%) rather than the actual level of 70.5%1 , the national GDP contraction in 2020 would have been 1% rather than the actual 2.2%. The analysis also indicates that those states with higher adoption of fixed broadband infrastructure were able to mitigate a larger portion of their 2020 economic losses due to pandemic-related restrictions. That is the case of states with higher broadband penetration, such as Delaware (91.4%) or New Jersey (90.5%), where high connectivity levels allowed for an important part of the economy to continue to function during lockdowns. At the other end, the most affected states during 2020 were Arkansas, New Mexico, and Mississippi, partly because of their low fixed broadband penetration.

Promoting Telehealth to Low-Income Consumers; COVID-19 Telehealth Program

Trent Harkrader  |  Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission

In this report, the Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau analyzes how the Connected Care Pilot Program and the COVID-19 Telehealth Program impacted healthcare providers’ use of telehealth services. Telehealth took on an increasingly critical role in healthcare delivery during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Additionally, advances in technology and broadband connectivity are transforming healthcare from a service delivered solely through traditional brick-and-mortar healthcare facilities to include connected care options delivered via a broadband Internet access connection directly to the patient’s home or mobile location. As a result, since the COVID-19 pandemic began in spring of 2020, many healthcare providers expanded their telehealth options or began offering telehealth for the first time. The COVID-19 Telehealth Program enabled healthcare providers to continue offering necessary care throughout the pandemic, and the ongoing Connected Care Pilot Program has increased participation in telehealth and improved healthcare outcomes. In considering whether and how to build on these programs, the FCC may want to consider a few general takeaways from the COVID-19 Telehealth Program and the Pilot Program. First, telehealth has become an invaluable component of health care. Additionally, the COVID-19 Telehealth Program appears to have generally been more attractive to applicants than the Pilot Program because it provided a more expansive definition of eligible services, which included reimbursement for connected devices, and offered 100% reimbursement for eligible devices and services. Next, it appears that some Pilot Program selectees underestimated the difficulty in implementing telehealth services in certain areas by not accounting for the resources necessary to educate patients who were unfamiliar with telehealth on how to use it.

Broadband Funding

Buy America poses threat to US fiber deployments

Linda Hardesty  |  Fierce

In his recent State of the Union address, President Joe Biden said all construction materials used in federal infrastructure projects — and he specifically mentioned fiber optic cables — must be made in America. On its face, that sounds like a nice policy that even Democrats and Republicans can agree on. Unfortunately, sometimes there are no US suppliers for certain components of fiber optic cables. New Street Research policy analyst Blair Levin wrote, “The Buy America policy if strictly enforced, could cause significant delays in actual deployments.”  One thing the Office of Management and Budget will be looking at is the percentage of any component that must be made in America. Currently, the threshold is 55% of a component. But OMB could move that threshold up or down. Fiber Broadband Association CEO Gary Bolton said the fiber optic glass is not the problem in terms of Buy America. The fiber optic glass, which looks a bit like a fishing line, is surrounded by coatings and support structures. These coatings and support structures use elements such as helium and neon and products such as petroleum, steel, and resins that are often sourced from outside the US.


Picking a Good Steward

Doug Dawson  |  Analysis  |  CCG Consulting

The hardest question I get asked by counties and cities is how to know if they can trust an ISP to fulfill its promises. I suggest a series of questions that makes them dig deeper into the real nature of a given ISP and why they want the local funding.

  • Does the ISP do a good job today in other markets? 
  • Will the ISP you partner with today still be around in a decade? 
  • Is the ISP trying to grow too quickly? 
  • Where does the money come from? When you partner with somebody like this, are you really partnering with the ISP with the known name or with a venture capitalist hidden in the background?
  • Are you being offered a too-good deal? Is the ISP dangling money to a community to cover for other weaknesses? 
  • Can I trust an ISP who has done a lousy job for many years but now swears they are different?

Consumer Protections

Consumer advocates, industry groups still quibbling over broadband label rules

Nicole Ferraro  |  LightReading

Requirements for forthcoming consumer broadband labels are nearly finalized, but a new batch of Federal Communications Commission filings shows there are still key points of disagreement between public interest groups and industry organizations representing internet service providers (ISP). Consumer advocates including Next Century Cities and Consumer Reports expressed opposing views from industry groups like NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) on some of those matters. Here are some of those remaining sticking points:

  • Promotional Rates and Discounts: As per FCC rules published in November, the broadband labels would require ISPs to display the full, non-discounted broadband plan rate. But in a joint filing from Next Century Cities and Consumer Reports, the public interest organizations argued that "a link puts this content just out of reach for those that do not have the time or digital literacy skill to hunt for additional information." Instead, filings from NTCA and WISPA, as well as USTelecom and ACA Connects, argue that including discounted and promotional rates on the label would risk confusing consumers and overwhelming providers.
  • Label Languages: Consumer advocates and industry representatives also disagree on making broadband labels available in multiple languages. Consumer advocates and industry representatives also disagree on making broadband labels available in multiple languages. Industry groups, on the other hand, are pushing the FCC to stick with its existing rules, comparing broadband nutrition labels to food and drug nutrition labels: "the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA"), upon whose nutrition labels the broadband labels are based, does not impose requirements for the publication of food nutrition or even pharmaceutical information in non-English languages, despite the fact that food and pharmaceutical consumption can implicate actual life and death consequences," said WISPA and NTCA.
  • Performance and Reliability Data: Another area the FCC sought input on was whether it should require additional performance and reliability data on broadband labels. A study conducted last year by Carnegie Mellon University's CyLab showed consumers wanted broadband labels to display speed data for "poor" and "normal" performance times as well as service reliability data. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) urged the FCC in its latest filing "to include this metric on the label to give consumers and digital inclusion practitioners a complete picture of the service." But citing filings from other groups representing broadband providers, WISPA and NTCA argued against including reliability metrics, noting that reliability "is not a function of poor network quality, as one commenter suggests, but of an infinite number of external and unpredictable events that can occur at any time."


President Biden Yet to Withdraw Gigi Sohn’s FCC Nomination

John Eggerton  |  Broadcasting&Cable

The Biden administration appears to be in no hurry to withdraw the nomination of Gigi Sohn, its first choice for the third Democratic seat on the five-member Federal Communications Commission, or perhaps it was caught somewhat off guard by the need to find a new candidate. It has been more than two weeks since the embattled withdrew her name for consideration. Blair Levin said a growing list of people apparently interested in the open seat suggests it would be a fair assumption that the White House did not have a plan B. “It may be sometime before it selects a new nominee, further delaying the moment when the Democrats obtain an FCC majority,” Levin said. Given that it took the administration some four months after Sohn was vetted to pull the trigger on her initial nomination, it could just be that the bureaucratic wheels are turning with their usual all-deliberate speed.

President Biden Picks Fara Damelin for FCC Inspector General

Press Release  |  White House

President Joe Biden nominated Fara Damelin to be Inspector General of the Federal Communications Commission. Currently, Damelin serves as Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General (OIG), a nationwide organization with over 500 oversight professionals dedicated to protecting HUD’s programs and beneficiaries from fraud, waste, and abuse. She leads a cross functional team in executing the Inspector General’s (IG) priorities and strategic initiatives, developing OIG-wide oversight products, and implementing diversity, employee engagement, and professional development programs. Before joining HUD OIG, Damelin was Deputy Inspector General for AmeriCorps’ OIG, where she was responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the office, developing and implementing strategies to meet the IG’s priorities and goals, and serving as Whistleblower Protection Coordinator.

Submit a Story

Benton ( 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), Grace Tepper (grace AT benton DOT org), and David L. Clay II (dclay AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.

© Benton Institute for Broadband & Society 2023. 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

Kevin Taglang

Kevin Taglang
Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
Benton Institute
for Broadband & Society
1041 Ridge Rd, Unit 214
Wilmette, IL 60091
headlines AT benton DOT org

Share this edition:

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society All Rights Reserved © 2023