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Broadband's Impact

Utah Poised to Be First State With Large-Scale Gigabit Networks: Speakers at Utah Broadband Summit

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PROVO, Utah, October 28, 2013 – The prospect and reality of Gigabit Networks throughout the country, beginning in Utah, are “creating bigger surface areas for the mind,” the chief technology officer of US IGNITE said here on Thursday.

Speaking at the Utah Broadband Summit here in Provo — selected a Gigabit city six months ago by Google Fiber — US IGNITE CTO Glenn Ricart said that Gigabit Networks offer untold benefits to individuals, businesses, universities and governments.

For example, Gigabit Networks allow companies to parse through “big data,” to offer services only available at an extremely low latency, and to “vitualize” a broadband network to suit customized needs for super high-speed bandwidth.

Utah, Ricart said, has a combination of advantages in the counties just north and south of Salt Lake City. In addition to Google’s commitment to Provo (home to Brigham Young University), Utah enjoys computer networking leadership through the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and a premier institutional Utah Education Network.

Additionally, a consortium of 16 cities along the Wasatch Front mountain range are members of UTOPIA, the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency, a Gigabit Network poised to offer service to more than a half-a-million residents and businesses.

Such a concentrated test bed for Gigabit Networks is hard to find, said Ricart, but Utah is poised “to make it happen.”

Ricart was the kickoff keynote speaker at the state broadband initiative summit here at the Utah Valley Convention Center. His organization, US IGNITE, is a national non-profit organization seeking to advance high-speed connectivity and software-defined networks.

Following lunch, the entire audience was addressed by University of Utah cybersecurity expert Matthew Might, and by Bhargav Shah, Senior Vice President of Overstock.com.

Comparing the adoption of super high-speed broadband to the rise of electricity consumption, Shah said that “disruptive technologies are becoming mainstream faster.”

In particular, he cited:

  • voice and data convergence
  • cloud computing
  • social media and networking
  • big data
  • mobile commerce
  • the internet of things

Speaking about Utah’s investment in technology and education, Shah said that the state has offered “incentives to attract technology companies, and hence tech talent in the near term” and “investment in education to fulfill demand for more technologies in the long term.”

Shah’s Overstock.com is a leading Utah-based internet retailer.

Might offered a sobering look at the challenges of cyber-warfare, offering many examples of cyber-attacks launched by terrorist organizations, and by the government of China and the United States. There is no easy fix to the problems of cyber-vulnerabilities, he said, other than continuing to invest in advanced mathematics.

Other breakout sessions throughout the day focused on topics including geographic information systems, broadband adoption, broadband planning for local governments, and commercial-grade broadband services.

During one noteworthy session, Steve Corbato, deputy chief information officer for the University of Utah, highlighted the university’s role as one of four notes on the ARPAnet, the Advanced Research Project Administration’s predecessor network to the internet.

In highlighting the technological advancements in applications, and in computer processing power, Corbato said that as a nation, “it is clear that the network is not keeping up with storage.”

Utah, however, enjoys a number of advantages, including Google Fiber, UTOPIA, and an abundance of fiber networks.

Referring to the recently opened facility of the National Security Administration in Bluffdale, Utah, between Salt Lake City and Provo, he said.

“If you want to know why NSA came to Salt Lake City, this fiber map is a critical reason,” said Corbato.

Between the two coasts, “the only places with a similar position are Chicago and Houston,” he said.

Corbato cited many reasons why the university believes so strongly in Gigabit Networks and advanced broadband. He said that broadband enables:

  • New modes of course delivery, including massively open online courses
  • Faculty competitiveness and retention
  • Staying connected with our alumni, including lifetime education
  • Delivering personalized medicine conveniently
  • Data gathering for field science
  • Supporting K-12 education in Utah
  • Accelerating the information technology economy in Utah

 

Breakfast Media LLC CEO Drew Clark is a nationally respected U.S. telecommunications attorney. An early advocate of better broadband, better lives, he founded the Broadband Census crowdsourcing campaign for better broadband data in 2008. That effort became the Broadband Breakfast media community. As Editor and Publisher, Clark presides over news coverage focused on digital infrastructure investment, broadband’s impact, and Big Tech. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Clark served as head of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, a state broadband initiative. Now, in light of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, attorney Clark helps fiber-based and wireless clients secure funding, identify markets, broker infrastructure and operate in the public right of way. He also helps fixed wireless providers obtain spectrum licenses from the Federal Communications Commission. The articles and posts on Broadband Breakfast and affiliated social media, including the BroadbandCensus Twitter feed, are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors.

Broadband's Impact

House Bill to Make Broadband Grants Non-Taxable Introduced

Sen. Mark Warner said last month he is working to pass a companion bill by year’s end.

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Photo of Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Penn.

WASHINGTON, December 7, 2022 – Reps. Mike Kelly, R-Penn., and Jimmy Panetta, D-Ca., on Wednesday introduced the Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act, the companion of a Senate bill of the same name, which would make non-taxable broadband funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the American Rescue Plan Act.

The bill’s supporters say it will increase the impact of Washington’s broadband-funding initiatives, the largest of which is the IIJA’s $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program. The IIJA allocated a total of $65 billion toward broadband-related projects.

Kelly said the proposal “ensures federal grant dollars, especially those made available to local governments through pandemic relief funding, will give constituents the best return on their investment.”

“This legislation allows for existing grant funding to be spent as effectively as possible,” Kelly added.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., sponsored Senate’s version of the bill in September and said last month he is working to push it through by year’s end.

“Representative Panetta’s and Kelly’s bill to eliminate the counter-productive tax on broadband grants is right on the money,” said Jonathan Spalter, president and CEO of trade group US Telecom. “Closing the digital divide in America – especially in our hardest-to-reach rural communities – will require every cent of the $65 billion Congress has dedicated for that critical purpose.”

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Digital Inclusion

Broadband is Affordable for Middle Class, NCTA Claims

According to analysis, the middle class spends on average $69 per month on internet service.

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Photo of Rick Cimerman, vice president of external and state affairs at NCTA

WASHINGTON, November 22, 2022 – Even as policymakers push initiatives to make broadband less expensive, primarily for low-income Americans, broadband is already generally affordable for the middle class, argued Rick Cimerman, vice president of external and state affairs at industry group NCTA, the internet and television association. 

Availability of broadband is not enough, many politicians and experts argue, if other barriers – e.g., price – prevent widespread adoption. Much focus has been directed toward boosting adoption among low-income Americans through subsidies like the Affordable Connectivity Program, but legally, middle-class adoption must also be considered. In its notice of funding opportunity for the $42.5-billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration required each state to submit a “middle-class affordability plan.”

During a webinar held earlier this month, Cimerman, who works for an organization that represents cable operators, defined the middle class as those who earn $45,300–$76,200, basing these boundaries on U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics for 2020. And based on the text of an Federal Communications Commission action from 2016, he set the threshold of affordability for broadband service at two percent of monthly household income.

According to his analysis, the middle class, thus defined, spends on average $69 per month on internet service. $69 is about 1.8 percent of monthly income for those at the bottom of Cimerman’s middle class and about 1.1 percent of monthly income for those at the top. Both figures fall within the 2-percent standard, and Cimerman stated that lower earners tended to spend slightly less on internet than the $69-per-month average.

Citing US Telecom’s analysis of the FCC’s Urban Rate Survey, Cimerman presented data that show internet prices dropped substantially from 2015 to 2021 – decreasing about 23 percent, 26 percent, and 39 percent for “entry-level,” “most popular” and “highest-speed” residential plans, respectively. And despite recent price hikes on products such as gas, food, and vehicles, Cimerman said, broadband prices had shrunk 0.1 percent year-over-year as of September 2022.

Widespread adoption is important from a financial as well as an equity perspective, experts say. Speaking at the AnchorNets 2022 conference, Matt Kalmus, managing director and partner at Boston Consulting Group, argued that providers rely on high subscription rates to generate badly needed network revenues.

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Broadband's Impact

Federal Communications Commission Mandates Broadband ‘Nutrition’ Labels

The FCC also mandated that internet service provider labels be machine-readable.

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Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

WASHINGTON, November 18, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday afternoon ordered internet providers to display broadband “nutrition” labels at points of sale that include internet plans’ performance metrics, monthly rates, and other information that may inform consumers’ purchasing decisions.

The agency released the requirement less than 24 hours before it released the first draft of its updated broadband map.

The FCC mandated that labels be machine-readable, which is designed to facilitate third-party data-gathering and analysis. The commission also requires that the labels to be made available in customers’ online portals with the provide the and “accessible” to non-English speakers.

In addition to the broadband speeds promised by the providers, the new labels must also display typical latency, time-of-purchase fees, discount information, data limits, and provider-contact information.

“Broadband is an essential service, for everyone, everywhere. Because of this, consumers need to know what they are paying for, and how it compares with other service offerings,”  FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. 

“For over 25 years, consumers have enjoyed the convenience of nutrition labels on food products.  We’re now requiring internet service providers to display broadband labels for both wireless and wired services.  Consumers deserve to get accurate information about price, speed, data allowances, and other terms of service up front.”

Industry players robustly debated the proper parameters for broadband labels in a flurry of filings with the FCC. Free Press, an advocacy group, argued for machine-readable labels and accommodations for non-English speakers, measures which were largely opposed by trade groups. Free Press also advocated a requirement that labels to be included on monthly internet bills, without which the FCC “risks merely replicating the status quo wherein consumers must navigate fine print, poorly designed websites, and byzantine hyperlinks,” group wrote.

“The failure to require the label’s display on a customer’s monthly bill is a disappointing concession to monopolist ISPs like AT&T and Comcast and a big loss for consumers,” Joshua Stager, policy director of Free Press, said Friday.

The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association clashed with Free Press in its FCC filing and supported the point-of-sale requirement.

“WISPA welcomes today’s release of the FCC’s new broadband label,” said Vice President of Policy Louis Peraertz. “It will help consumers better understand their internet access purchases, enabling them to quickly see ‘under the hood,’ and allow for an effective apples-to-apples comparison tool when shopping for services in the marketplace.”

Image of the FCC’s sample broadband nutrition label

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