Today's Newsletter

Daily Digest 12/1/2022 (Christine Anne Perfect)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents

Agenda

FCC Announces Agenda for December 2022 Open Meeting  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission
What’s in store for cybersecurity in Congress’s stretch run  |  Washington Post

Legislation

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Access to Rural Broadband  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  US Senate

Tribal Initiatives

Tribal Recovery Report  |  Read below  |  Research  |  Department of the Treasury
Biden-Harris Administration Announces More Than $73 Million in High-Speed Internet Grants for Tribal Lands  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  National Telecommunications and Information Administration
Biden-Harris Administration Launches New Initiatives to Modernize Electromagnetic Spectrum Access and Technological Resources on Tribal Lands  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Department of the Interior

State/Local Initiatives

Biden-Harris Administration Awards More Than $5.5 Million to Hawaii in ‘Internet for All’ Planning Grants  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  National Telecommunications and Information Administration
Gov Hutchinson Announces First State Partnership with EducationSuperHighway to Close Broadband Affordability Gap  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Arkansas Office of the Governor
Connecting communities one house, one business at a time  |  Read below  |  Paula Mohr  |  Farmer, The

Data & Mapping

Public Knowledge cites ‘inaccuracies’ in new broadband maps  |  Read below  |  Chris Teale  |  GCN
SHLB Coalition urges FCC to label anchor institutions as broadband serviceable locations  |  Read below  |  Nicole Ferraro  |  LightReading

Digital Equity

Remarks by Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves at the Advancing Equity and Wellbeing through Data  |  Department of Commerce
Office Hours Available To Ask Questions About The Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program Application Process  |  Federal Communications Commission

Cybersecurity

Web browsers drop TrustCor Systems, a mysterious company with ties to US military contractor  |  Read below  |  Joseph Menn  |  Washington Post
Internet Superpowers  |  Read below  |  Steve Johnson  |  Research  |  Belfer Center at Harvard Kennedy School

What’s in store for cybersecurity in Congress’s stretch run  |  Washington Post

Satellites

Starlink Speeds Dipped Slightly During Q3 2022 as the Space Race Heats up  |  Read below  |  Josh Fomon  |  Research  |  Ookla
Elon Musk’s satellites to be part of UK trial to get internet to remote areas  |  Read below  |  Nadeem Badshah  |  Guardian, The

Platforms/Social Media

State Sen. Scott Wiener: Elon Musk has created a toxic mess for the LGBTQ+ community. I would know.  |  MIT Technology Review
Twitter will recommend more tweets to everyone, even if you didn’t ask for them  |  Vox
From quitting to blocking: How to protect yourself on Musk’s Twitter  |  Washington Post
Elon Musk Says ‘Misunderstanding’ With Apple Is Resolved  |  New York Times
Twitter Becomes Stage for China Protests Despite Ban by Beijing  |  Wall Street Journal
TikTok Chief Touts Customer Data-Privacy Initiatives  |  Wall Street Journal
Mark Zuckerberg Says Apple Holds Too Much Control Over App Ecosystem  |  Wall Street Journal

Elections & Media

Benton Foundation
My Turn to Opine on the 2022 Elections  |  Read below  |  Michael Copps  |  Op-Ed  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Government Performance

USDA Should Set ReConnect Program Performance Goals and Improve Fraud Risk Management  |  Read below  |  Andrew Von Ah  |  Research  |  Government Accountability Office

Policymakers

In a Show of Unity, House Democrats Elect Rep Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) Minority Leader  |  New York Times
The GOP’s new path to the future  |  Read below  |  Derek Robertson  |  Politico

Industry/Company News

Ericsson Mobility Report November 2022: 1 Billion 5G Subscriptions Worldwide by Year's End  |  Ericsson
Visionary Broadband Expansion: Tackling the Rockies  |  telecompetitor
Breezeline’s New Hampshire fiber push takes it into Consolidated territory  |  Fierce
EPB and Qubitekk Launch Commercial Quantum Network to Accelerate Development and Adoption of Quantum Products  |  EPB

News From Abroad

EU threatens Musk with Twitter ban as firm defends new approach to moderation  |  Ars Technica
EU Official Warns Elon Musk Changes Needed at Twitter  |  Wall Street Journal
Starlink prices in Ukraine nearly double as mobile networks falter  |  Ars Technica
Google Sued by 130,000 Alleged Victims of Its Ad Dominance  |  Bloomberg

The fight against China's protest censorship  |  Axios

Ultra-broadband investment and economic resilience: Evidence from the Covid-19 pandemic  |  Telecommunications Policy

Today's Top Stories

Sample Category

FCC Announces Agenda for December 2022 Open Meeting

Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission announced the agenda for its December 2022 open commission meeting. The FCC will consider:

  1. Preventing Digital Discrimination: A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would take the next step in the FCC’s efforts to promote equal access to broadband by seeking comment on potential rules to address digital discrimination of access to broadband, consistent with Congress’s direction in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. (GN Docket No. 22-69)
  2. Satellite Application Processing: A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on changes to its rules, policies, or practices to facilitate the acceptance for filing of satellite and earth station applications under Part 25 to help FCC processing stay apace with the number of innovative satellite applications in the new space age. (IB Docket No. 22-411, 22-271)
  3. Improving Wireless 911 Call Routing: A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding a proposal to require wireless carriers and covered text providers to implement location-based routing on their networks in order to reduce misrouting of wireless 911 calls and texts and improve emergency response times. (PS Docket No. 18-64)
  4. Improving Accessible Phone Services: A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order on Reconsideration to propose Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) Fund compensation for Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS), propose a technical amendment to the compensation formula for Internet Protocol Relay Service (IP Relay), and resolve petitions for reconsideration of a prior order setting IP CTS compensation. (CG Docket Nos. 22-408, 03-123, 13-24)
  5. Enforcement Bureau Action

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Access to Rural Broadband

Press Release  |  US Senate

Sens. John Thune (R-SD), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Deb Fischer (R-NE) introduced the Rural Internet Improvement Act. This bipartisan legislation would streamline and bolster US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development broadband programs and ensure that their funding is being targeted to rural areas that need it the most. The legislation would:

  • Streamline USDA’s broadband authorities by merging and codifying the popular Rural e-Connectivity Pilot Program (ReConnect) with USDA’s traditional broadband loan and grant program;
  • Ensure ReConnect funding is going to areas most in need of reliable broadband service by limiting funding to areas where at least 90 percent of households lack access to broadband service;
  • Enhance the participation of all types of broadband providers in the ReConnect Program by removing unnecessary barriers;
  • Increase transparency by improving the challenge process in the ReConnect Program;
  • Improve the coordination between USDA and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on broadband programs; and
  • Require USDA to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the FCC and National Telecommunications and Information Administration to facilitate outreach to rural residents and businesses of available federal programs that promote broadband access, broadband affordability, and broadband inclusion.

Tribal Recovery Report

Research  |  Department of the Treasury

A look at how Tribal governments are using financial support through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to provide critical recovery assistance and improve the health and well-being of Tribal citizens. The $20 billion in ARPA State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) allocated to Tribal governments represents the largest single infusion of federal funding into Indian Country. The efforts highlighted reveal the vast and impressive reach SLFRF has had as a catalyst for recovery. For example, the Osage Nation is implementing a substantial broadband project to assist in telehealth, distance learning opportunities, affordable internet service, economic growth, and digital inclusion efforts where demands for internet access have grown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces More Than $73 Million in High-Speed Internet Grants for Tribal Lands

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced it has awarded nine grants as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP). These new grants, totaling more than $73 million, bring the total of the program to $1.655 billion awarded to 121 Tribal entities. With funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, these grants will expand high-speed Internet service network deployment and digital skills training to improve access to education, jobs, and healthcare on Tribal lands. Tribes in six states received grants – California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Nevada, and Washington. 

Biden-Harris Administration Launches New Initiatives to Modernize Electromagnetic Spectrum Access and Technological Resources on Tribal Lands

Press Release  |  Department of the Interior

The Departments of the Interior and Commerce and the Federal Communications Commission announced a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to advance electromagnetic spectrum access opportunities and the deployment of broadband and other wireless services on Tribal lands. Additionally, the Department of the Interior is establishing a new Office of Indigenous Communications and Technology (OICT) to assist Tribal Nations and Tribal entities in managing and developing new technological and wireless services on Tribal lands to advance true self-determination over digital resources. The new MOU will provide a framework to explore new opportunities to develop wireless services and intergovernmental coordination, including spectrum access and data exchange over Tribal lands, in support of Tribal political and economic self-determination in the digital era. OICT will focus on the facilitation of robust partnerships between Tribes and the tech industry that will advance new Tribal economic development initiatives, including electric vehicles, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) used for mapping, surveying and other services. Building upon the Interior Department’s unique role and fiduciary duty to manage Tribal lands and resources, OICT will also review new electromagnetic spectrum leasing opportunities to advance Tribal self-determination, help develop national Tribal broadband policy guidance through on-going, consistent intergovernmental coordination, and provide technical assistance for the establishment of wireless, digital and technological projects on Tribal lands and Native Hawaiian homelands.

Biden-Harris Administration Awards More Than $5.5 Million to Hawaii in ‘Internet for All’ Planning Grants

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that Hawaii received its first “Internet for All” grants for deploying high-speed Internet networks and developing digital skills training programs under the Biden-Harris Administration’s Internet for All initiative. Hawaii is receiving $5,570,883.00 in funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to plan for the deployment and adoption of affordable, equitable, and reliable high-speed Internet service throughout the state. Hawaii will receive $5 million to fund various activities including: 

  • Identifying unserved and underserved households;
  • Increasing capacity of the State Broadband Office;
  • Engaging locally with the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to better understand barriers to adoption for unserved and underserved communities. 

Hawaii will also receive $570,883.00 to fund various activities including: 

  • Development of the Digital Equity plan for Hawaii through the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism;
  • Outreach with the State Broadband Office to stakeholders in unserved and underserved communities;
  • Development of collaborative partnerships among stakeholders to achieve digital equity in Hawaii.

Gov Hutchinson Announces First State Partnership with EducationSuperHighway to Close Broadband Affordability Gap

Press Release  |  Arkansas Office of the Governor

Gov Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) announced a state partnership with national non-profit EducationSuperHighway to develop programs and implement best practices to address broadband affordability in the state. An estimated 214,760 Arkansas’ households have access to a home broadband connection but are offline because they can't afford to connect. This broadband affordability gap is the number one cause of the nation’s digital divide, keeps 18 million U.S. households offline, and disproportionately impacts low-income, Black, and Latino Americans. Over the past year, closing the broadband affordability gap has become a national priority. The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) allocated $65 billion to expand high-speed internet access. This includes $14.2 billion for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a federal broadband benefit that provides eligible households with a monthly discount of up to $30 per month (up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands) and a one-time $100 discount toward a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. Over 600,000 Arkansas households are eligible for the ACP, yet only 124,000 (20% of those eligible) have enrolled. EducationSuperHighway will partner with the Arkansas State Broadband Office, housed within the Arkansas Department of Commerce, to plan, implement, and execute the Affordable Connectivity Program awareness and engagement campaign.

Connecting communities one house, one business at a time

Paula Mohr  |  Farmer, The

Often compared to the quest for rural electrification in the 1930s, the push for high-speed internet access in rural areas continues across the US. Federal and state programs have provided billions of dollars to bridge the digital divide in areas with low populations. Philanthropic foundations also have heavily invested in efforts, such as the American Connection Corps. ACC specifically focuses on supporting its fellowship program that places young adults in rural areas to work alongside local community leaders on broadband development, digital access and digital literacy. ACC falls under the umbrella of Lead for America, co-founded in 2018 by four young college-educated adults interested in returning to and revitalizing their home communities. 

Public Knowledge cites ‘inaccuracies’ in new broadband maps

Chris Teale  |  GCN

Just days after the Federal Communications Commission released an initial draft of a national map showing the availability of broadband internet, some groups are criticizing what they see as the map’s shortcomings. A letter from Public Knowledge dated Nov. 22 called for various improvements to the FCC’s mapping process, which it said had some “inaccuracies.” Public Knowledge said the procedures for states, local communities, and even individuals to challenge the broadband availability map needs to be clarified, as many stakeholders expressed “confusion” over the challenge process. The group also said that the FCC should better explain how it would use local challenges against speeds, if the reported speed on the map is not actually offered by internet service providers. The organization questioned the satellite broadband availability data, which it said “misleadingly indicates that the vast majority of the country is served.” Instead, Public Knowledge said the FCC should update its maps to provide a “more realistic picture of broadband availability.” While satellite internet has shown promise, the nonprofit said, in practice satellite providers cannot serve most locations in the country with broadband. Additionally, community institutions like schools and libraries were left off the FCC’s maps of residential service

SHLB Coalition urges FCC to label anchor institutions as broadband serviceable locations

Nicole Ferraro  |  LightReading

With just over a month remaining until the Federal Communications Commission's deadline for broadband map challenges, the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition is raising concerns over how the map displays community anchor institutions (CAIs) and is asking the FCC to revise its process. According to an ex parte letter, representatives from SHLB recently met with members of the FCC's Broadband Data Task Force to discuss the fact that the FCC's broadband map automatically flags anchor institutions like schools and hospitals as being non-broadband serviceable locations (BSLs). This is because the FCC's data collection process only focuses on the availability of mass market broadband services. "The Commission has decided that because community anchor institutions generally subscribe to non-mass-market, enterprise-grade services, they would not be identified as BSLs in the initial version of the Fabric," according to SHLB. However, SHLB asserts that it is "factually incorrect" that all CAIs subscribe to non-mass-market services, noting that museums, churches, community centers and some libraries often purchase mass market broadband. "With the default being that all CAIs are flagged as non-BSL in the Fabric, we are concerned that broadband providers will not report on the availability of service at these locations, even if those locations subscribe to mass-market service," said SHLB. "As a result, we fear that such locations may not be adequately considered for future broadband funding allocations."

Web browsers drop TrustCor Systems, a mysterious company with ties to US military contractor

Joseph Menn  |  Washington Post

Mozilla’s Firefox and Microsoft’s Edge said they would stop trusting new certificates from TrustCor Systems that vouched for the legitimacy of sites reached by their users, capping weeks of online arguments among their technology experts, outside researchers and TrustCor, which said it had no ongoing ties of concern. Other tech companies are expected to follow suit. “Certificate Authorities have highly trusted roles in the internet ecosystem and it is unacceptable for a CA to be closely tied, through ownership and operation, to a company engaged in the distribution of malware,” Mozilla’s Kathleen Wilson said. “Trustcor’s responses via their Vice President of CA operations further substantiates the factual basis for Mozilla’s concerns.” TrustCor has a small staff in Canada, where it is officially based at a UPS Store mail drop although the company has infrastructure in Arizona as well. Several technologists said that they found TrustCor evasive on basic matters such as legal domicile and ownership, which they said was inappropriate for a company wielding the power of a root certificate authority, which not only asserts that a secure, https website is not an impostor but can deputize other certificate issuers to do the same.

 

Internet Superpowers

Steve Johnson  |  Research  |  Belfer Center at Harvard Kennedy School

As inventions go, the Internet stacks up with the best of them: the lightbulb, automobile, maybe even fire. However, it’s time for policymakers to look carefully at how its swift transformation of society has affected freedom. Today’s disconcerting answer is that it breaks some essential tools for a civilized society. Furthermore, it equips people with “superpowers” that further rob individuals of their agency. Regulation focused on data privacy and misinformation misses this larger societal threat; public authorities must attend to civilizing the Web. The United States needs an agency devoted to empowering citizens to self-govern in cyberspace for generations to come. This call will reinforce US strategic defenses against cyberattacks (for example, by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the recent Cyberspace Solarium Commission). As this essay explains, bolstering the civility and transparency of our cyber lives also promises to reduce our vulnerability to such attacks.  

Starlink Speeds Dipped Slightly During Q3 2022 as the Space Race Heats up

Josh Fomon  |  Research  |  Ookla

Approximately 400,000 households now subscribe to Starlink worldwide. Perhaps a victim of their own success, Starlink download speeds dropped once again in Canada (at least 14%) and the US (at least 17%) from Q2 to Q3 2022, while speeds remained roughly the same in Chile quarter over quarter. Starlink upload speeds remained roughly unchanged in all three countries we surveyed during Q3 2022, improving marginally in Canada and Chile, and essentially staying the same in the US. During the same period, fixed broadband performance raced ahead, improving at least 8% to 115.18 Mbps in Canada, at least 4% to 207.04 Mbps in Chile, and at least 8% to 164.13 Mbps in the US.

Elon Musk’s satellites to be part of UK trial to get internet to remote areas

Nadeem Badshah  |  Guardian, The

Elon Musk’s satellite Starlink technology is to be part of a UK government trial to get better internet connectivity to remote parts of the country. Starlink will initially be trialled at three remote locations—Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire Moors national park, Wasdale Head in the Lake District, and two sites within Snowdonia national park. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said it was continuing to look at the capability of the system, as well as looking at other solutions and services with different suppliers.

My Turn to Opine on the 2022 Elections

Michael Copps  |  Op-Ed  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

The most significant effect on political parties this year was the $16 billion estimated to have been spent on these elections, further entrenching the ability of big business and the special interests to have their way in Congress, the state houses, judgeship elections, and local community races. If we cannot find our way—very soon—to significantly reduce or eliminate the polluting and destructive power of money in our politics, democracy’s days are numbered. The US Senate is hardly poised to lead us to significant democratic reforms. One thing it can do, though, is confirm the many nominations still pending, so as finally to fill the many slots in the Administration that have remained empty for nearly two years now. One of these long-pending, non-confirmed nominations is Gigi Sohn for a Commissioner slot on the Federal Communications Commission. There is no excuse for the shabby treatment she has received at the hands of the Senate Commerce Committee. Senate Leadership should confirm her NOW.

[Michael Copps served as a commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission from May 2001 to December 2011 and was the FCC's Acting Chairman from January to June 2009.]

USDA Should Set ReConnect Program Performance Goals and Improve Fraud Risk Management

Andrew Von Ah  |  Research  |  Government Accountability Office

Since 2019, the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) ReConnect program has awarded millions of dollars in grants and loans to broadband providers for expanding service in rural areas. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) makes three recommendations to USDA on how to improve the ReConnect Program:

  • The Secretary of Agriculture should direct ReConnect program officials to establish program-specific performance goals and use them to manage the program.
  • The Secretary of Agriculture should document that the Office of the Chief Risk Officer is the dedicated entity to design and oversee fraud risk management activities in the ReConnect program and outline this office's responsibilities consistent with leading practices as provided in our Fraud Risk Framework.
  • The Secretary of Agriculture should ensure that the Office of the Chief Risk Officer conducts and documents a fraud risk assessment for the ReConnect program that aligns with the leading practices outlined in our Fraud Risk Framework.

The GOP’s new path to the future

Derek Robertson  |  Politico

A new approach to tech policy is taking root in the GOPand it’s not what you might expect from the party of Alan Greenspan and Friedrich Hayek. Led by a handful of ambitious, policy-minded senators, a group of conservatives is embracing the idea of subsidizing the tech industry and advanced manufacturing—with an eye toward building a competitive edge over China, and revitalizing the hollowed-out industrial centers that have given the party its Trump-era populist verve. Their tolerance, if not thirst, for government intervention might have been anathema in years past (and to some of their current peers). But as the overall regulatory apparatus increasingly finds itself racing to keep up with industry, so too has the GOP. That’s allowed technocratic conservatives like Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), a chief driver of what would become this year’s CHIPS and Science Act, or Sen.-elect J.D. Vance (R-OH), who ran his whole campaign as a sort of pilot project for tech-minded, statist Republican politics, to stake out new territory at the cutting edge of conservative think-tank world.

Submit a Story

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


Kevin Taglang

Kevin Taglang
Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
Benton Institute
for Broadband & Society
1041 Ridge Rd, Unit 214
Wilmette, IL 60091
847-328-3040
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 © 2022