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Broadband Roundup: Consumer Groups Oppose Project Libra, Comcast on Shapefile Mapping, Windstream Goes Wireless

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The Hill reports that dozens of consumer advocacy groups have called for congressional committees and regulatory agencies to impose a moratorium on Facebook’s cryptocurrency project. Among the 33 groups include Public Citizen, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Digital Democracy.

In their letter the groups wrote that the risks posed by Facebook’s Libra Project are “too great to allow the plan to proceed with so many unanswered questions.” Furthermore, they argued that neither the U.S. regulatory system nor the regulatory systems of other nations are “prepared to address these questions.”

One of the questions the coalition posed was how easily the cryptocurrency could be used for money laundering and whether it’s covered by consumer protection laws.

Facebook’s new subsidiary, Calibra, supposedly aims to help those lacking access to established financial services. However, the company’s reputation has been devastated by privacy scandals and disinformation campaigns in Washington.

When asked for comment, Facebook did not immediately respond. However, a company executive is expected to testify in Congress later this month.

Comcast and cable industry supports shapefile approach to broadband mapping

Broadcasting and Cable reports that Comcast met with Federal Communications Commission officials last week, urging them to adopt a shapefile broadband mapping approach.

In their meeting, Comcast executives pointed out that shapefiles "accurately reflect coverage in partially served census blocks that may not be depicted correctly in the current broadband map."

NCTA, who originally proposed this method, wanted a more granular approach to mapping that would also cut down on underbuilding and overbuilding. They also said that revisions in reporting requirements should make clear that “areas where a provider can respond to a request for service in a standard installation interval without special construction charges should be reported as served.”

The FCC is under bipartisan pressure from Congress to improve its broadband mapping. Last month, Chairman Ajit Pai indicated to Congress that he was circulating a Report and Order for a vote to provide more granular and accurate broadband maps. Although he did not specify the exact approach the FCC would take, Pai said that broadband providers would be required to report "where they actually offer service below the census block level.” The FCC will also incorporate public feedback in their efforts, he said.

Windstream gins up fixed wireless deployments in Iowa

Telecompetitor reports that Windstream plans to expand fixed wireless deployment in Iowa. Currently, Windstream said it has 102 fixed wireless sites in the state. These deployments were made possible partly due to funds from the Connect America Fund program.

Fixed wireless offers a less costly alternative to deploying fiber-to-the-home to support high-speed service and, according to Windstream President and CEO Tony Thomas, fixed wireless supports faster speeds than alternatives that rely on copper wiring.

The company spent $26.6 million in the recent auction of millimeter wave spectrum in the 24 GHz and 28 GHz bands. Windstream is also in the process of renegotiating a network lease agreement with Uniti due to its ongoing bankruptcy case.

In Tuesday’s press release, Windstream said that this spectrum covers 5 million households and “paves the way for gigabit internet service over fixed wireless infrastructure.” Thomas also noted that Windstream has deployed large amounts of fiber that could be used for backhaul throughout the state.

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