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Senate finishing crafting $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal, including $65 billion for broadband

Senate Democrats and Republicans unveiled a roughly $1 trillion proposal to improve the country’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections, setting in motion a long-awaited debate in the chamber to enact one of President Biden’s economic policy priorities. The roughly 2,700-page piece of legislation, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, includes $65 billion to expand broadband Internet access nationwide and ensure those who do have connectivity can afford their monthly payments.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

July 2021 brings us things to celebrate, things to denigrate, and things to absolutely deplore. On the good side, we have come to see that high-speed broadband has become an essential component of modern-day infrastructure. The ambitious broadband proposals of the Biden Administration have rightly gained strong public support, not just in one party, but both. We are also witnessing the reinvigoration of public agencies to protect the public interest, something Biden made clear in his Executive Order on competition.

The American Jobs Plan

The American Jobs Plan is an investment in America that will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure, and position the United States to out-compete China. Specifically, President Biden’s plan will:

What Will the FCC Do Next with Lifeline?

What constitutes a lifeline in 2021? Is it a phone? A smartphone? A fixed-location broadband connection? Or some combination of all these services?

Why is the FCC Talking about a USF Cap?

The Benton Foundation unequivocally opposes any proposals from the Federal Communications Commission that would allow the FCC to shirk its responsibilities to meet its Congressionally-mandated mission. The FCC is supposed to ensure:

The FCC Ignores Reality in 5G Proposal

The Coalition for Local Internet Choice and the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors asked for my view of the Federal Communications Commission’s pending order, proposing to cap the fees that state and local governments may charge for small-cell attachments. According to the FCC’s draft order, these price‐caps will save the industry $2 billion in costs to operate in metropolitan areas—which will translate into $2.5 billion in new wireless investment, primarily in rural areas. Here are my concerns:

Regulatory Oversight and Privacy Policy for an Open Internet Ecosystem

In my previous post, I highlighted four reasons why the U.S needs a unified policy framework for an open Internet ecosystem: 1) lack of competition/incentive and the ability to discriminate; 2) collection of and control over personal data; 3) lack of transparency; and 4) inadequacy of current laws and enforcement. Many of these problems can be addressed with targeted legislative and regulatory interventions.

The U.S. Needs a New Policy Framework for an Open Internet Ecosystem

[Analysis] In a new article for the Georgetown Law Technology Review, I seek to jumpstart a conversation about how to shape an Internet ecosystem that will serve the public interest. First, let me lay out the rationale for a new, unified policy framework for an open Internet: 1) Lack of Competition/Incentive and Ability to Discriminate, 2) Collection of and Control over Personal Data, 3) Lack of Transparency, and 4) Inadequacy of Current Laws and Enforcement.

Statement of Chairman Ajit Pai On Sinclair/Tribune Transaction

Based on a thorough review of the record, I have serious concerns about the Sinclair/Tribune transaction. The evidence we’ve received suggests that certain station divestitures that have been proposed to the FCC would allow Sinclair to control those stations in practice, even if not in name, in violation of the law. When the FCC confronts disputed issues like these, the Communications Act does not allow it to approve a transaction. Instead, the law requires the FCC to designate the transaction for a hearing in order to get to the bottom of those disputed issues.

Democrats push for federal probe of alleged ad collusion between Google and Facebook

Four Democratic members of Congress are calling for an investigation into whether an alleged secret 2018 agreement between Google and Facebook concerning digital advertising violated federal antitrust law. Sen Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Rep Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and Rep Mondaire Jones (D-NY) wrote a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Acting US Attorney General Nicholas Ganjei asking them to determine whether federal charges might be warranted.