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Drew Clark: The Top 10 Broadband Stories of 2020, and What They Mean for 2021

Drew Clark

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The author of this article is Drew Clark, the editor and publisher of Broadband Breakfast and Of Counsel with The CommLaw Group

WASHINGTON, December 30, 2020 – Here are my reflections on the top 10 broadband stories of the past year, presented from number 10 to number one. I’ve also noted the Broadband Breakfast events, news, and expert opinion pieces tracking these topics as they evolve in 2021.

10. The fall of China

As might befit the year 2020, it began with many eagerly tracking the curious fate of a virus that first became known in Wuhan, China. In the eyes of the American broadband world, this year saw China fall from grace. Certainly Huawei and ZTE were already under close scrutiny last year. But in 2020, the American rejection became complete. The FCC and the Commerce Department have effectively foreclosed their future in America.

See Broadband Breakfast’s story next week on Huawei.

9. Spectrum sharing becomes a thing

Carriers and some broadband enthusiasts have been buzzing about 5G since well before 2020. But as policy-makers have dug into the issues associated with this technology transformation, more are discovering one of the most unique capabilities of the 5G wireless standard: “Spectrum slicing.” It’s just one facet of the world in which new technologies are enabling radio frequencies to be used in new and more innovative ways.

See Broadband Breakfast’s series, “A No-Nonsense Guide to 5G,” sponsored by Samsung Electronics America. The February 10, 2021 event is on “Spectrum Policies to Advance Better Broadband”.

8. Open access networks get some love

Broadband Breakfast readers have been aware of promise of open access networks for nearly a decade. But now, the rest of the broadband world is finally paying attention. From UTOPIA Fiber to SiFi Networks to new entrants like Next Level Networks, many alternative approaches are now being discussed. And new fiber investments make open access one of the go-to business models.

See Broadband Breakfast’s annual Digital Infrastructure Investment event, scheduled for Monday, April 19, 2021.

7. USF contribution levels and robocalls threaten the PSTN

It isn’t just robocalls that are corroding the value of the public switched telephone network. In December, the Federal Communications Commission announced that the contribution level is now 31.8 percent of telecommunications revenue. Between the contribution levels and robocalls, there is widespread agreement that it can’t last forever or the PSTN is doomed.

Broadband Breakfast is considering a series of events in 2021 on robocalls and USF contribution levels.

6. Broadband is infrastructure, and it needs a map!

Broadband Breakfast grew out of our sister effort, an audacious concept called Broadband Census, with the goal of mapping broadband speeds, prices, availability, reliability and competition at the household address level. Just as somebody needs a map to navigate the interstate highway system, tertiary highways, and neighborhood streets, those who would navigate our broadband infrastructure need a map of the backbone, middle-mile, and last-mile access networks. The internet world rightly sees broadband as a critical form of infrastructure. What it needs now is a living, breathing map and dataset, including public interconnection options for these broadband assets.

See Broadband Breakfast’s series, “Tools for Broadband Deployment,” sponsored by ADTRAN and Render Networks. The January 27, 2021, event is on “Mapping the Rural Broadband Buildout”.

5. Reverse-auctions and rural broadband

Although once heresy, since 1993 FCC spectrum auctions have become stable and accepted. They are a tool for the seller (the government) to get as much revenue from buyers (wireless companies) who bid up price for exclusive access to frequencies. There are some growth pains with reverse-auctions. In these, sellers (broadband companies) are bidding down the price that the buyer (the government) will pay to support broadband in Rural America. This has led to criticism recently about the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction, in which bidding recently concluded.

See “Broadband Breakfast Panelists Discuss How Rural Fund Recipients Can Prepare For Efficient Network Builds,” Broadband Breakfast, December 22, 2020.

4. Another lawsuit against Google and Facebook? Ho-hum

In less than a year, the notion has gone from tantalizing theory to a ho-hum reality: How many antitrust lawsuits have been filed against Google and Facebook? The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission began the year squabbling about who could punish them more. Republican and Democratic state attorneys general couldn’t shoot straight about who to sue and when. And U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr pressed for Justice Department action against Google before Election Day. Rest assured that the tech platform will have their day(s) in court. It won’t be easy to prove consumer harm against companies that thrive on innovation.

3. COVID-19 turns “teleworking” into “working” and “distance learning” into “learning”

The novel coronavirus has accelerated the trend toward “teleworking” and “distance learning” by five to 10 years. Employers will be hard-pressed to demand that workers come to the office, or that students sit in a school desk, after 2020. But so many questions are unanswered: How should we distance learn effectively? What kinds of virtual private networks fail to work without strong upload speeds? How can broadband be effectively adopted and used?

See more about Broadband Breakfast Live Online, our weekly online discussion series that we launched on March 13, 2020, because of the coronavirus.

2. Equity demands universal broadband

The COVID-19 pandemic has also emphasized the dire consequence of the lack of universal broadband. The need for everyone to have Better Broadband, Better Lives is clear and pressing. Without it, we are exacerbating America’s inequities. It is time to put a stronger emphasis on the combined effect that federal, state, local and private sector actions can take to make a difference.

In 2021, one of the key themes of our Broadband Breakfast Live Online series will be “Broadband Equity, Adoption and Use.”

1. Donald Trump’s final farce: The demand to repeal Section 230

Four years of governance by the Trump administration is finally coming to an end. In the three weeks that remain, hold on and hang tight. It is ironic that a president who promised infrastructure investment (and failed, except for Opportunity Zones) is leaving office ranting against Section 230. Whatever you think of it, the law is a landmark for enabling social media and internet interactions. Trump’s taking the military budget hostage as a demand for its repeal is absurd. Everyone from the populist right to the progressive left seems to have some reason for wanting Section 230 gutted or gone. The issue isn’t going away (at least very quickly), and neither is the core insight behind Section 230: It is simply too important an enabler for communication on broadband networks.

See Broadband Breakfast’s series from July 2020, “Section 230: Separating Fact from Fiction,” sponsored by the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

Health

Digital Health Companies Adapted With Agility to Meet Outstanding Demands During the Pandemic

Derek Shumway

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on

Screenshot of Kinsa CEO Inder Singh

WASHINGTON, December 30, 2020 – Here are my reflections on the top 10 broadband stories of the past year, presented from number 10 to number one. I’ve also noted the Broadband Breakfast events, news, and expert opinion pieces tracking these topics as they evolve in 2021.

10. The fall of China

As might befit the year 2020, it began with many eagerly tracking the curious fate of a virus that first became known in Wuhan, China. In the eyes of the American broadband world, this year saw China fall from grace. Certainly Huawei and ZTE were already under close scrutiny last year. But in 2020, the American rejection became complete. The FCC and the Commerce Department have effectively foreclosed their future in America.

See Broadband Breakfast’s story next week on Huawei.

9. Spectrum sharing becomes a thing

Carriers and some broadband enthusiasts have been buzzing about 5G since well before 2020. But as policy-makers have dug into the issues associated with this technology transformation, more are discovering one of the most unique capabilities of the 5G wireless standard: “Spectrum slicing.” It’s just one facet of the world in which new technologies are enabling radio frequencies to be used in new and more innovative ways.

See Broadband Breakfast’s series, “A No-Nonsense Guide to 5G,” sponsored by Samsung Electronics America. The February 10, 2021 event is on “Spectrum Policies to Advance Better Broadband”.

8. Open access networks get some love

Broadband Breakfast readers have been aware of promise of open access networks for nearly a decade. But now, the rest of the broadband world is finally paying attention. From UTOPIA Fiber to SiFi Networks to new entrants like Next Level Networks, many alternative approaches are now being discussed. And new fiber investments make open access one of the go-to business models.

See Broadband Breakfast’s annual Digital Infrastructure Investment event, scheduled for Monday, April 19, 2021.

7. USF contribution levels and robocalls threaten the PSTN

It isn’t just robocalls that are corroding the value of the public switched telephone network. In December, the Federal Communications Commission announced that the contribution level is now 31.8 percent of telecommunications revenue. Between the contribution levels and robocalls, there is widespread agreement that it can’t last forever or the PSTN is doomed.

Broadband Breakfast is considering a series of events in 2021 on robocalls and USF contribution levels.

6. Broadband is infrastructure, and it needs a map!

Broadband Breakfast grew out of our sister effort, an audacious concept called Broadband Census, with the goal of mapping broadband speeds, prices, availability, reliability and competition at the household address level. Just as somebody needs a map to navigate the interstate highway system, tertiary highways, and neighborhood streets, those who would navigate our broadband infrastructure need a map of the backbone, middle-mile, and last-mile access networks. The internet world rightly sees broadband as a critical form of infrastructure. What it needs now is a living, breathing map and dataset, including public interconnection options for these broadband assets.

See Broadband Breakfast’s series, “Tools for Broadband Deployment,” sponsored by ADTRAN and Render Networks. The January 27, 2021, event is on “Mapping the Rural Broadband Buildout”.

5. Reverse-auctions and rural broadband

Although once heresy, since 1993 FCC spectrum auctions have become stable and accepted. They are a tool for the seller (the government) to get as much revenue from buyers (wireless companies) who bid up price for exclusive access to frequencies. There are some growth pains with reverse-auctions. In these, sellers (broadband companies) are bidding down the price that the buyer (the government) will pay to support broadband in Rural America. This has led to criticism recently about the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction, in which bidding recently concluded.

See “Broadband Breakfast Panelists Discuss How Rural Fund Recipients Can Prepare For Efficient Network Builds,” Broadband Breakfast, December 22, 2020.

4. Another lawsuit against Google and Facebook? Ho-hum

In less than a year, the notion has gone from tantalizing theory to a ho-hum reality: How many antitrust lawsuits have been filed against Google and Facebook? The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission began the year squabbling about who could punish them more. Republican and Democratic state attorneys general couldn’t shoot straight about who to sue and when. And U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr pressed for Justice Department action against Google before Election Day. Rest assured that the tech platform will have their day(s) in court. It won’t be easy to prove consumer harm against companies that thrive on innovation.

3. COVID-19 turns “teleworking” into “working” and “distance learning” into “learning”

The novel coronavirus has accelerated the trend toward “teleworking” and “distance learning” by five to 10 years. Employers will be hard-pressed to demand that workers come to the office, or that students sit in a school desk, after 2020. But so many questions are unanswered: How should we distance learn effectively? What kinds of virtual private networks fail to work without strong upload speeds? How can broadband be effectively adopted and used?

See more about Broadband Breakfast Live Online, our weekly online discussion series that we launched on March 13, 2020, because of the coronavirus.

2. Equity demands universal broadband

The COVID-19 pandemic has also emphasized the dire consequence of the lack of universal broadband. The need for everyone to have Better Broadband, Better Lives is clear and pressing. Without it, we are exacerbating America’s inequities. It is time to put a stronger emphasis on the combined effect that federal, state, local and private sector actions can take to make a difference.

In 2021, one of the key themes of our Broadband Breakfast Live Online series will be “Broadband Equity, Adoption and Use.”

1. Donald Trump’s final farce: The demand to repeal Section 230

Four years of governance by the Trump administration is finally coming to an end. In the three weeks that remain, hold on and hang tight. It is ironic that a president who promised infrastructure investment (and failed, except for Opportunity Zones) is leaving office ranting against Section 230. Whatever you think of it, the law is a landmark for enabling social media and internet interactions. Trump’s taking the military budget hostage as a demand for its repeal is absurd. Everyone from the populist right to the progressive left seems to have some reason for wanting Section 230 gutted or gone. The issue isn’t going away (at least very quickly), and neither is the core insight behind Section 230: It is simply too important an enabler for communication on broadband networks.

See Broadband Breakfast’s series from July 2020, “Section 230: Separating Fact from Fiction,” sponsored by the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

Continue Reading

Education

How Virtual Learning Is Being Reinvigorated Through Tech, From CES 2021

Samuel Triginelli

Published

on

WASHINGTON, December 30, 2020 – Here are my reflections on the top 10 broadband stories of the past year, presented from number 10 to number one. I’ve also noted the Broadband Breakfast events, news, and expert opinion pieces tracking these topics as they evolve in 2021.

10. The fall of China

As might befit the year 2020, it began with many eagerly tracking the curious fate of a virus that first became known in Wuhan, China. In the eyes of the American broadband world, this year saw China fall from grace. Certainly Huawei and ZTE were already under close scrutiny last year. But in 2020, the American rejection became complete. The FCC and the Commerce Department have effectively foreclosed their future in America.

See Broadband Breakfast’s story next week on Huawei.

9. Spectrum sharing becomes a thing

Carriers and some broadband enthusiasts have been buzzing about 5G since well before 2020. But as policy-makers have dug into the issues associated with this technology transformation, more are discovering one of the most unique capabilities of the 5G wireless standard: “Spectrum slicing.” It’s just one facet of the world in which new technologies are enabling radio frequencies to be used in new and more innovative ways.

See Broadband Breakfast’s series, “A No-Nonsense Guide to 5G,” sponsored by Samsung Electronics America. The February 10, 2021 event is on “Spectrum Policies to Advance Better Broadband”.

8. Open access networks get some love

Broadband Breakfast readers have been aware of promise of open access networks for nearly a decade. But now, the rest of the broadband world is finally paying attention. From UTOPIA Fiber to SiFi Networks to new entrants like Next Level Networks, many alternative approaches are now being discussed. And new fiber investments make open access one of the go-to business models.

See Broadband Breakfast’s annual Digital Infrastructure Investment event, scheduled for Monday, April 19, 2021.

7. USF contribution levels and robocalls threaten the PSTN

It isn’t just robocalls that are corroding the value of the public switched telephone network. In December, the Federal Communications Commission announced that the contribution level is now 31.8 percent of telecommunications revenue. Between the contribution levels and robocalls, there is widespread agreement that it can’t last forever or the PSTN is doomed.

Broadband Breakfast is considering a series of events in 2021 on robocalls and USF contribution levels.

6. Broadband is infrastructure, and it needs a map!

Broadband Breakfast grew out of our sister effort, an audacious concept called Broadband Census, with the goal of mapping broadband speeds, prices, availability, reliability and competition at the household address level. Just as somebody needs a map to navigate the interstate highway system, tertiary highways, and neighborhood streets, those who would navigate our broadband infrastructure need a map of the backbone, middle-mile, and last-mile access networks. The internet world rightly sees broadband as a critical form of infrastructure. What it needs now is a living, breathing map and dataset, including public interconnection options for these broadband assets.

See Broadband Breakfast’s series, “Tools for Broadband Deployment,” sponsored by ADTRAN and Render Networks. The January 27, 2021, event is on “Mapping the Rural Broadband Buildout”.

5. Reverse-auctions and rural broadband

Although once heresy, since 1993 FCC spectrum auctions have become stable and accepted. They are a tool for the seller (the government) to get as much revenue from buyers (wireless companies) who bid up price for exclusive access to frequencies. There are some growth pains with reverse-auctions. In these, sellers (broadband companies) are bidding down the price that the buyer (the government) will pay to support broadband in Rural America. This has led to criticism recently about the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction, in which bidding recently concluded.

See “Broadband Breakfast Panelists Discuss How Rural Fund Recipients Can Prepare For Efficient Network Builds,” Broadband Breakfast, December 22, 2020.

4. Another lawsuit against Google and Facebook? Ho-hum

In less than a year, the notion has gone from tantalizing theory to a ho-hum reality: How many antitrust lawsuits have been filed against Google and Facebook? The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission began the year squabbling about who could punish them more. Republican and Democratic state attorneys general couldn’t shoot straight about who to sue and when. And U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr pressed for Justice Department action against Google before Election Day. Rest assured that the tech platform will have their day(s) in court. It won’t be easy to prove consumer harm against companies that thrive on innovation.

3. COVID-19 turns “teleworking” into “working” and “distance learning” into “learning”

The novel coronavirus has accelerated the trend toward “teleworking” and “distance learning” by five to 10 years. Employers will be hard-pressed to demand that workers come to the office, or that students sit in a school desk, after 2020. But so many questions are unanswered: How should we distance learn effectively? What kinds of virtual private networks fail to work without strong upload speeds? How can broadband be effectively adopted and used?

See more about Broadband Breakfast Live Online, our weekly online discussion series that we launched on March 13, 2020, because of the coronavirus.

2. Equity demands universal broadband

The COVID-19 pandemic has also emphasized the dire consequence of the lack of universal broadband. The need for everyone to have Better Broadband, Better Lives is clear and pressing. Without it, we are exacerbating America’s inequities. It is time to put a stronger emphasis on the combined effect that federal, state, local and private sector actions can take to make a difference.

In 2021, one of the key themes of our Broadband Breakfast Live Online series will be “Broadband Equity, Adoption and Use.”

1. Donald Trump’s final farce: The demand to repeal Section 230

Four years of governance by the Trump administration is finally coming to an end. In the three weeks that remain, hold on and hang tight. It is ironic that a president who promised infrastructure investment (and failed, except for Opportunity Zones) is leaving office ranting against Section 230. Whatever you think of it, the law is a landmark for enabling social media and internet interactions. Trump’s taking the military budget hostage as a demand for its repeal is absurd. Everyone from the populist right to the progressive left seems to have some reason for wanting Section 230 gutted or gone. The issue isn’t going away (at least very quickly), and neither is the core insight behind Section 230: It is simply too important an enabler for communication on broadband networks.

See Broadband Breakfast’s series from July 2020, “Section 230: Separating Fact from Fiction,” sponsored by the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

Continue Reading

Broadband's Impact

AMD Keynote at CES 2021 Touts Computing Power’s Role in Connectivity During Pandemic

Derek Shumway

Published

on

Photo of AMD's Lisa Su during CES 2021 keynote speech from Tech Power Up

WASHINGTON, December 30, 2020 – Here are my reflections on the top 10 broadband stories of the past year, presented from number 10 to number one. I’ve also noted the Broadband Breakfast events, news, and expert opinion pieces tracking these topics as they evolve in 2021.

10. The fall of China

As might befit the year 2020, it began with many eagerly tracking the curious fate of a virus that first became known in Wuhan, China. In the eyes of the American broadband world, this year saw China fall from grace. Certainly Huawei and ZTE were already under close scrutiny last year. But in 2020, the American rejection became complete. The FCC and the Commerce Department have effectively foreclosed their future in America.

See Broadband Breakfast’s story next week on Huawei.

9. Spectrum sharing becomes a thing

Carriers and some broadband enthusiasts have been buzzing about 5G since well before 2020. But as policy-makers have dug into the issues associated with this technology transformation, more are discovering one of the most unique capabilities of the 5G wireless standard: “Spectrum slicing.” It’s just one facet of the world in which new technologies are enabling radio frequencies to be used in new and more innovative ways.

See Broadband Breakfast’s series, “A No-Nonsense Guide to 5G,” sponsored by Samsung Electronics America. The February 10, 2021 event is on “Spectrum Policies to Advance Better Broadband”.

8. Open access networks get some love

Broadband Breakfast readers have been aware of promise of open access networks for nearly a decade. But now, the rest of the broadband world is finally paying attention. From UTOPIA Fiber to SiFi Networks to new entrants like Next Level Networks, many alternative approaches are now being discussed. And new fiber investments make open access one of the go-to business models.

See Broadband Breakfast’s annual Digital Infrastructure Investment event, scheduled for Monday, April 19, 2021.

7. USF contribution levels and robocalls threaten the PSTN

It isn’t just robocalls that are corroding the value of the public switched telephone network. In December, the Federal Communications Commission announced that the contribution level is now 31.8 percent of telecommunications revenue. Between the contribution levels and robocalls, there is widespread agreement that it can’t last forever or the PSTN is doomed.

Broadband Breakfast is considering a series of events in 2021 on robocalls and USF contribution levels.

6. Broadband is infrastructure, and it needs a map!

Broadband Breakfast grew out of our sister effort, an audacious concept called Broadband Census, with the goal of mapping broadband speeds, prices, availability, reliability and competition at the household address level. Just as somebody needs a map to navigate the interstate highway system, tertiary highways, and neighborhood streets, those who would navigate our broadband infrastructure need a map of the backbone, middle-mile, and last-mile access networks. The internet world rightly sees broadband as a critical form of infrastructure. What it needs now is a living, breathing map and dataset, including public interconnection options for these broadband assets.

See Broadband Breakfast’s series, “Tools for Broadband Deployment,” sponsored by ADTRAN and Render Networks. The January 27, 2021, event is on “Mapping the Rural Broadband Buildout”.

5. Reverse-auctions and rural broadband

Although once heresy, since 1993 FCC spectrum auctions have become stable and accepted. They are a tool for the seller (the government) to get as much revenue from buyers (wireless companies) who bid up price for exclusive access to frequencies. There are some growth pains with reverse-auctions. In these, sellers (broadband companies) are bidding down the price that the buyer (the government) will pay to support broadband in Rural America. This has led to criticism recently about the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction, in which bidding recently concluded.

See “Broadband Breakfast Panelists Discuss How Rural Fund Recipients Can Prepare For Efficient Network Builds,” Broadband Breakfast, December 22, 2020.

4. Another lawsuit against Google and Facebook? Ho-hum

In less than a year, the notion has gone from tantalizing theory to a ho-hum reality: How many antitrust lawsuits have been filed against Google and Facebook? The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission began the year squabbling about who could punish them more. Republican and Democratic state attorneys general couldn’t shoot straight about who to sue and when. And U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr pressed for Justice Department action against Google before Election Day. Rest assured that the tech platform will have their day(s) in court. It won’t be easy to prove consumer harm against companies that thrive on innovation.

3. COVID-19 turns “teleworking” into “working” and “distance learning” into “learning”

The novel coronavirus has accelerated the trend toward “teleworking” and “distance learning” by five to 10 years. Employers will be hard-pressed to demand that workers come to the office, or that students sit in a school desk, after 2020. But so many questions are unanswered: How should we distance learn effectively? What kinds of virtual private networks fail to work without strong upload speeds? How can broadband be effectively adopted and used?

See more about Broadband Breakfast Live Online, our weekly online discussion series that we launched on March 13, 2020, because of the coronavirus.

2. Equity demands universal broadband

The COVID-19 pandemic has also emphasized the dire consequence of the lack of universal broadband. The need for everyone to have Better Broadband, Better Lives is clear and pressing. Without it, we are exacerbating America’s inequities. It is time to put a stronger emphasis on the combined effect that federal, state, local and private sector actions can take to make a difference.

In 2021, one of the key themes of our Broadband Breakfast Live Online series will be “Broadband Equity, Adoption and Use.”

1. Donald Trump’s final farce: The demand to repeal Section 230

Four years of governance by the Trump administration is finally coming to an end. In the three weeks that remain, hold on and hang tight. It is ironic that a president who promised infrastructure investment (and failed, except for Opportunity Zones) is leaving office ranting against Section 230. Whatever you think of it, the law is a landmark for enabling social media and internet interactions. Trump’s taking the military budget hostage as a demand for its repeal is absurd. Everyone from the populist right to the progressive left seems to have some reason for wanting Section 230 gutted or gone. The issue isn’t going away (at least very quickly), and neither is the core insight behind Section 230: It is simply too important an enabler for communication on broadband networks.

See Broadband Breakfast’s series from July 2020, “Section 230: Separating Fact from Fiction,” sponsored by the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

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