The Federal Communications Commission is preparing to begin gathering information for its 2021 Broadband Deployment Report.
Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 charges the FCC with preparing an annual report to determine whether broadband internet services are being deployed on a reasonable and timely basis to all Americans.
The 2021 report will focus on developments that have been made since 2019. Publicly available data from 2019 shows that significant progress has been made in extending broadband internet access.
By June 2019, the U.S. and Canada grew to 130 percent 4G LTE market penetration.
At the end of 2019, it was reported that 94 percent of the U.S. population had access to wired broadband services with download speeds of at least 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) and 91 percent had access to wired broadband services with speeds of at least 100 Mbps.
It was also reported that in 2019 alone, fiber broadband became available to an additional 6.5 million U.S. homes.
These positive trends may dilute the fact that there is much work left to be done in closing the digital divide.
Many have called for Congress and the FCC to follow through on several pending proposals to remove regulatory barriers to investment and ensure timely deployment of broadband Internet services to all Americans, as well as to modernize broadband maps.
Ohio broadband expansion program bars municipally owned networks from participating
Ohio’s HB 13, titled “Establish Residential Broadband Expansion Program,” would create the state’s first-ever residential broadband expansion program, Muninetworks reported.
The law aims to address the internet access gap facing the state, as at least a million Ohioans currently lack internet access.
HB 13 establishes a number of conditions that must be cleared for projects to be eligible for funding.
The areas included cannot have already been awarded money from other federal programs, such as the Connect America Fund or the FCC’s upcoming Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.
The bill also establishes a score mechanism that privileges unserved and underserved areas and provides extra consideration for projects aimed at “distressed areas.”
Some have warned that certain provisions in the bill could prove problematic. The proposed law bars municipally owned networks and electric cooperatives from participating in the $20 million pot of funds aimed at extending internet access to areas with significant connectivity challenges, excluding a number of publicly owned networks and utilities from participating.
Republicans and Democrats don’t make a case for regulating Big Tech
The House Judiciary Committee, which recently brought together the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google in a historic July hearing, may not have a case for antitrust regulation, reported AEIdeas’ Mark Jamison.
Republicans took issue with the CEOs for alleged political bias in content moderation and possible partiality toward China.
Democrats argued that the four tech companies were exploitive and highlighted anti-competitive behavior, attempting to brand them as monopolists, bullies and thieves.
However, arguing the CEOs are monopolists and finding that their companies have monopoly power are two different things, Jamison wrote.
Going forward, Jamison recommended that Republicans develop a more carefully researched record on political bias and that Democrats support antitrust agencies in their research to determine whether the companies are harming consumers.
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