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Broadband Roundup: Commissioner Geoffrey Starks on Digital Equity, EU Regulations, Infrastructure in Massachusetts

Jericho Casper

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Photo of European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager by Ståle Grut used with permission

Ongoing nationwide Black Lives Matter protests have highlighted Federal Communications Commission responsibilities and revealed what policy implementations are lacking, according to Commissioner Geoffrey Starks.

“As not only a Commissioner of the FCC, but as a Black father of two young children who deeply cares about my country and my community, I know that our policymakers must do more to include Black people & other communities of color and create a better world for future generations,” Starks tweeted on Tuesday.

Starks signaled that increasing diverse media representation, restructuring media ownership and prioritizing digital equity are necessary agency responses to fighting systematic racial inequality.

Diverse ownership within the media landscape allows minority communities to promote and take control of their own stories, he added. Prioritizing minority ownership today is necessary to addressing historic racial discrimination and exclusion, as African Americans were omitted from access to initial broadcast licenses.

EU Commission gathers views for updated internet regulation

The European Commission is in the process of brainstorming a modern regulatory framework for the contemporary digital age.

The Commission released a consultation on Tuesday, which will inform the Commission's proposals for the Digital Services Act package, expected to be released at the end of the year. The consultation covers issues such as safety online, freedom of expression, fairness and a level-playing field in the digital economy.

The call for regulation is being driven by the desire to ensure a competitive and open online business environment. The Commission hopes to offer to all European businesses a level playing field.

Currently, a few large online platforms act as gatekeepers to smaller online businesses.

“We are committed to build a safe and innovative digital future with purpose for them,” said Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager.

The current regulatory framework for digital service is 20 years outdated, remaining unchanged since 2000. The Commission hopes to alleviate risks to users with the new policy.

Last-mile infrastructure grant awarded in two Massachusetts communities

The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and the Massachusetts Broadband Institute approved a new grant to expand broadband coverage in two underserved towns.

The grant is being made under the MBI’s Flexible Grant Program, launched in October 2017, which seeks to create flexible solutions to address broadband gaps in Massachusetts’ remaining unserved communities.

The municipalities of Egremont and Monterey played an important role in the broadband adaption, detailing “action plans” which entailed the responsibilities of each party involved.

Fiber Connect, city leaders in Egremont and Monterey, and Massachusetts Broadband Institute staff then worked through the proposals to settle on a funding agreement. The agreement is coming at a time when broadband connectivity has been deemed critical.

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