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Broadband Roundup: Grant Restrictions in N.C., Public Knowledge Backs Internet Archive, Streaming Services Customer Satisfaction

Jericho Casper

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Photo of Doug Dawson, president of CCG Consulting, courtesy of Broadband Communities

June 11, 2020 — “Beware of grant gotchas,” warned CCG Consulting President Doug Dawson, observing in a blog post that one of the most disappointing aspects of the broadband grant world is the fine print that makes awarded money difficult to use as intended.

After Caswell County, North Carolina was awarded a $1.54 million grant to bring broadband to 1,194 homes in the area, the grant was yanked due to a change in the grant rules. To understand the cause of this occurrence, Dawson looked into the fine print of North Carolina’s state broadband program, Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology.

Dawson’s investigation revealed that the funding was revoked after the state informed the awarded internet service provider that they must guarantee 100 percent of the cost of the project to receive the grant, including the portion of the grant being supplied by the State.

This practice was nearly utilized by the FCC on winners of the $16.4 RDOF grants. The agency initially proposed the idea that chosen providers should be required to match awarded funds, either by personally holding the cash or supplying a line of credit.

This requirement would have inhibited most ISPs from applying for an RDOF grant, and the following industry uproar killed the idea in a matter of weeks.

Public Knowledge commends Internet Archive’s e-book lending program

The spread of COVID-19 put a strain on access to information, as many individuals rely on public resources to obtain necessary knowledge. To combat this, Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library, temporarily suspended the waitlist function for its e-book lending program, allowing users to have immediate access.

On Wednesday, Internet Archive announced the end of its National Emergency Library lending program and returned to its traditional controlled lending model, which allows digital copies to be loaned out to one person at a time.

Public Knowledge commended Internet Archive’s support of consumers during the pandemic in a press release on Wednesday.

Since Internet Archive first began its digital e-book sharing initiative, local libraries and other institutions have stepped up, making efforts to increase the circulation of digital books. Now that the demand for digital books is being met by other providers, Internet Archive will return its model to normalcy.

Public Knowledge continues to urge policymakers to support legislation that makes more print books available electronically, particularly those necessary for research, education, and scholarship.

Streaming services receive highest customer satisfaction scores

COVID-19 has dramatically altered the way Americans utilize high-speed internet service and in-home entertainment options.

According to the 2019-2020 American Customer Satisfaction Index telecommunications report, released Tuesday, video streaming remains the public’s favorite form of entertainment, recording a customer satisfaction score of 76 out of 100. The medium’s score surpassed customer satisfaction ratings of subscription TV by 12 points.

Disney+ secured the top spot as the most popular video streaming service, with a customer satisfaction rating of 80.

Among the telecom industries reported on, three show significant improvement in customer satisfaction: subscription TV, ISPs, and video-on-demand.

While subscription TV is making gains in customer satisfaction, led by Verizon’s Fios and AT&T’s U-verse, subscription TV maintains the lowest customer satisfaction scores out of all 46 measured industries.

Customer satisfaction with internet service providers surged 4.8 percent, to reach a customer satisfaction score of 65. Eight out of 11 providers measured revealed customer satisfaction gains.

Verizon Fios strengthened its hold atop the service provider industry, as customers continue to be impressed with the provider’s reliable service.

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