Today's Newsletter

Daily Digest 8/12/2022 (Summer Recess?)

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
Table of Contents

Broadband Funding

NTIA Awards Over $146 Million to Expand Broadband Access on Tribal Land in New Mexico  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  National Telecommunications and Information Administration
NTIA Announces over $50 Million in Grants to Two Alaska Native Entities  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Department of Commerce
EDA Invests $3.8 Million to Increase Broadband Connectivity in El Dorado County, California  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Economic Development Administration
Benton Foundation
Broadband Is Not Taking An August Recess  |  Read below  |  Kevin Taglang  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
     See also: As Industry Reacts to Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Rejections, What About the Other Big Unauthorized Bids?  |  telecompetitor
From a Silk Purse to a Sow’s Ear? Implementing the Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment Act  |  Read below  |  John Mayo, Gregory Rosston, Scott Wallsten  |  Analysis  |  Georgetown University

Broadband Service

Fast Fiber Networks Have Quietly Won the Broadband War  |  Read below  |  Stephen Shankland, Imad Khan  |  CNET

State/Local Initiatives

New York is leveraging state-owned fiber for first 'ConnectAll' build  |  Read below  |  Nicole Ferraro  |  Light Reading
Colorado Communities Work Together to Expand Rural Broadband  |  Read below  |  Katya Maruri  |  Government Technology
West Hollywood, California, Seeks Proposals for Citywide Broadband Infrastructure and Service  |  City of West Hollywood

Wireless/Spectrum

Chairwoman Rosenworcel says FCC is carefully analyzing interference risk in 12 GHz band  |  Fierce
NTIA and Department of Defense Select 5G Challenge Stage Two Winners and Stage Three Contestants  |  National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Privacy/Security

FTC Launches Effort to Expand Online Privacy Protections  |  Read below  |  John McKinnon  |  Wall Street Journal, Federal Trade Commission
The Hacking of Starlink Terminals Has Begun  |  Wired
One of 5G’s Biggest Features Is a Security Minefield  |  Wired

Platforms/Social Media

California Bill Targeting Social-Media Giants for Harm to Children Dies in Legislature  |  Wall Street Journal
Meta injecting code into websites visited by its users to track them, research says  |  Guardian, The
Amid backlash from privacy advocates, Meta expands end-to-end encryption trial  |  ars techncia
Report: Social Media’s Role In Amplifying Dangerous Lies About LGBTQ+ People  |  Center for Countering Digital Hate
Google announces changes to its search engine to reduce misinformation and boost information literacy  |  Google
Tommy Lee’s photo sparks Instagram censorship debate  |  LA Times

Media & Elections

Cybersecurity Toolkit to Protect Elections  |  Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
Gmail is now officially allowed to spam-proof politicians’ emails  |  Federal Trade Commission
Twitter announces steps to prevent disinformation ahead of the 2022 midterms  |  Twitter

Industry/Company News

Largest Internet Service Providers Added 670,000 Broadband Subscribers in Second Quarter 2022  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Leichtman Research Group
Internet service providers weigh in on the true cost of fiber  |  Read below  |  Masha Abarinova  |  Fierce
Quantum Fiber announces internet expansions in more than 20 major markets  |  Lumen
AT&T’s Elbaz reiterates commitment to open architecture  |  Fierce
Deutsche Telekom aims for 50% T-Mobile ownership before 2024  |  Fierce

Stories From Abroad

National Health Service ransomware attack: what happened and how bad is it?  |  Guardian, The
Google to pay $60 million fine for misleading Australians about collecting location data  |  Guardian, The
Today's Top Stories

Broadband Funding

NTIA Awards Over $146 Million to Expand Broadband Access on Tribal Land in New Mexico

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced over $146 million in funds awarded from the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 to Tribal entities in New Mexico. The awards will provide 5 Tribal entities with funds for high-speed internet projects through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. On August 8, NTIA announced over $51 million in awards to Tribes in the state of Alaska, these awards are another tranche of this vital funding. NTIA intends to continue to make awards throughout the summer and fall of 2022 in order to get these resources to communities in need. The agency has now made a total of 51 awards totaling more than $290 million in funding through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program.

NTIA Announces over $50 Million in Grants to Two Alaska Native Entities

Press Release  |  Department of Commerce

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that it has awarded two grants as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. These grants, totaling approximately $51 million, are awarded to Doyon, Limited and Ahtna Intertribal Resource Commission in Alaska. These grants will fund high-speed internet connections to 581 unserved Alaska Native households across numerous villages in the Doyon region of Alaska and enable high-speed internet adoption in eight Tribal governments of the Ahtna region for activities including telehealth, distance learning, telework, and workforce development. The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, makes $980 million available for grants to eligible Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian entities for broadband deployment, digital inclusion, workforce development, telehealth, and distance learning. NTIA has now made a total of 46 awards totaling more than $143,066,000 million in funding through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. 

EDA Invests $3.8 Million to Increase Broadband Connectivity in El Dorado County, California

The Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded a $3.8 million Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Recovery Assistance grant to El Dorado County (CA) to increase internet connectivity. This project will expand the reach of high-speed internet in portions of El Dorado County, promoting job creation and economic diversification in the region. This EDA grant will be matched with $420,270 in local funds. This project is funded under the CARES Act, which provided EDA with $1.5 billion for economic assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.

Broadband Is Not Taking An August Recess

Kevin Taglang  |  Analysis  |  Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Each year, Congress recesses for the month of August. While the work—or, at least, the news—of Washington generally slows down in this period, all indications are that policymakers—and, most importantly, policy implementors—will be very busy throughout the summer of 2022 working on universal broadband and provisions of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Here's what we're seeing and expecting from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). 

From a Silk Purse to a Sow’s Ear? Implementing the Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment Act

John Mayo, Gregory Rosston, Scott Wallsten  |  Analysis  |  Georgetown University

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) included some $42.45 billion to ensure “access to affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband” throughout the United States. However, $42 billion is unlikely to be sufficient to serve all households. To maximize the number of households receiving service, awards need to ensure sufficient quality at the lowest cost. In addition, because the bulk of the money is to subsidize initial setup costs in high-cost areas, providers should not expect ongoing support for customers who can afford typical broadband prices and the regulatory structure should make that clear. Now, as the warm glow of the IIJA's passage gives way to the implementation phase––to be carried out under the auspices of the Broadband Equity, Access and Development (BEAD) Program––it is critical that policymakers think very carefully about the program design to reduce the chances of repeating the mistakes of prior efforts to achieve universal service. The current vision of the implementation plan embodies several features that should be rethought. Here we highlight two that are central to the ultimate success or failure of the BEAD Program. The program should be designed to: (1) promote high-quality build-out at the lowest possible cost and (2) reflect “best practices” of modern regulation.

Service

Fast Fiber Networks Have Quietly Won the Broadband War

Stephen Shankland, Imad Khan  |  CNET

Government subsidies and pandemic-era telecommuting have quietly fueled the growth of broadband fiber networks, propelling the fast connection technology from an exotic, expensive technology niche to the mainstream. In the US, the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund and Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment programs encouraged internet service providers to bring higher-speed access to places that previously wouldn't have been profitable to serve. Government support also has helped improve broadband in Sweden, Lithuania, Italy and other European nations. A global pandemic, which turned our homes into offices and schoolrooms, also encouraged the upgrade to faster broadband. Work video conferences and Zoom school lessons demanded more data -- often at the same time -- than we had previously needed. An explosion in the use of streaming video services like Netflix, HBO Max, Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus added to the demand for fiber at home.

State/Local

New York is leveraging state-owned fiber for first 'ConnectAll' build

Nicole Ferraro  |  Light Reading

Rural residents in upstate New York will soon benefit from a municipal open access fiber network, courtesy of the state's new $1 billion ConnectAll grant program and many years of advanced planning by local county officials. Back in May 2022, New York Gov Kathy Hochul (D-NY)'s office announced a $10 million pilot project as the first to be funded through ConnectAll. The initial pilot would target fiber builds in the village of Sherburne in Chenango County, the town of Nichols in Tioga County, the town of Diana in Lewis County and the town of Pitcairn in St. Lawrence County (NY). "New York's new ConnectALL program is investing $10 million to target areas where existing state-owned fiber can create a fiber bridge between large data centers (first mile) and individual homes (last mile), primarily in rural areas that are not serviced by private broadband providers," said the governor's office. As part of the pilot, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) will manage initial fiber deployments in each county by leveraging state-owned fiber networks.

Colorado Communities Work Together to Expand Rural Broadband

Katya Maruri  |  Government Technology

At least 14 communities — and potentially more soon — in Colorado have banded together to help establish better broadband access for rural residents of the state, and they recently shared some insights into their work. Members of the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (NWCCOG) met on August 9 to discuss collaborative efforts. The idea that rural communities are stronger when they work together on broadband was central to the discussion, supported with some concrete examples of where this has been the case in Colorado. At the center of the discussion was Project THOR, which comprises a middle-mile network establishing carrier-class connectivity between various communities across Northwest Colorado, for communities such as Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs (CO), along with several towns in counties such as Eagle, Grand, Jackson, Pitkin and Summit (CO). As part of the project, local governments in these cities and towns have hired Mammoth Networks as a network operator to connect over 400 miles of existing public and commercial fiber to provide service to underserved communities.

Privacy

FTC Launches Effort to Expand Online Privacy Protections

The Federal Trade Commission will consider new federal rules to expand online privacy protections by targeting online surveillance and lax data-security practices by technology companies. The FTC will examine a range of concerns about the online environment, including the widespread use of algorithms to manipulate and leverage data, security practices that leave data vulnerable to hackers, and the growing evidence that some platforms might be “addictive to children and lead to a wide variety of mental health and social harms.” The FTC also will examine possible discriminatory effects of algorithms based on legally protected characteristics such as race, gender, religion, and age—and tactics companies use to coerce consumers into sharing their data. The FTC’s action, on a 3-2 vote divided along partisan lines, spurred immediate criticism that the agency is taking on a role better suited for Congress. If adopted, the rules could impose significant new responsibilities on businesses that handle consumer data, including potentially barring certain kinds of data collection and handling practices. While the FTC’s rule-making process is just beginning, opposition is already lining up from the US Chamber of Commerce, NetChoice (an industry-supported group that advocates for free-market principles on the internet), and Members of Congress.

Industry News

Largest Internet Service Providers Added 670,000 Broadband Subscribers in Second Quarter 2022

Press Release  |  Leichtman Research Group

Leichtman Research Group (LRG) found that the largest cable and wireline phone providers and fixed wireless services in the US – representing about 96 percent of the market – acquired about 670,000 net additional broadband Internet subscribers in second quarter 2022, compared to a pro forma gain of about 1,000,000 subscribers in second quarter 2021. These top broadband providers account for about 110 million subscribers, with top cable companies having about 75.6 million broadband subscribers, top wireline phone companies having about 32.2 million subscribers, and top fixed wireless services having about 2.2 million subscribers. Overall, broadband additions in second quarter 2022 were 67 percent of those in second quarter 2021. The top cable companies lost about 60,000 subscribers in second quarter 2022 – compared to about 840,000 net adds in second quarter 2021. The top wireline phone companies lost about 85,000 total broadband subscribers – compared to about 50,000 net adds in 2021. Wireline Telcos had about 490,000 net adds via fiber, and about 575,000 non-fiber net losses. Fixed wireless/5G home Internet services from T-Mobile and Verizon added about 815,000 subscribers – compared to about 120,000 net adds in second quarter 2021.

Internet service providers weigh in on the true cost of fiber

Masha Abarinova  |  Fierce

With all the buzz of late about internet service providers (ISPs) doubling down on fiber builds, there’s the question of whether fiber is cost-efficient enough to bridge the digital divide. Gary Johnson, CEO and general manager at Paul Bunyan Communications, noted fiber’s front-end costs don’t compare to its long-term benefits. “When we put in fiber networks we know it’s in there for decades,” Johnson said. “We’re not going to be rebuilding it, we’re burying all our infrastructure. So it’s got a long tail in terms of that investment.” Tom Maguire, COO at Brightspeed, echoed those thoughts, acknowledging that while fiber as a standalone technology looks expensive, assessing its total cost of ownership is key. “When we started putting fiber in the ground it was B-PON, now we’re up to XGS-PON and the optical distribution network didn’t change at all.” That, Maguire added, speaks to fiber’s future-proof capabilities – especially as the amount of bandwidth people consume continues to climb. Brightspeed has a bevy of fiber build plans, most recently announcing expansions in MissouriLouisiana and five other states.

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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.


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Kevin Taglang

Kevin Taglang
Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
Benton Institute
for Broadband & Society
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