BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: The journalism publication CJR weighs into the below-the-radar-battle over rural broadband, highlighting the now-here prospect of a gaping digital divide between the urban and the rural areas of our country.
Iowa: Rural broadband, and the unknown costs of the digital divide, from CJR.org
Ahead of the November 6 elections, CJR invited writers to spotlight stories that deserve closer scrutiny, in their states and beyond, before voters cast their ballots. Read other dispatches from “States of the Union” here.
The last time I almost died was in February. A late winter thaw had made me overconfident in the roads, and so I’d gone out in search of an abandoned pioneer church just outside of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. One hour into the journey and I was stuck on a dirt road, my Mazda caught in an icy rut as sleet came down in sheets. There was no one around for miles. My phone, which has the fanciest data plan Verizon can muster, had no service, no data. I couldn’t see any houses. There was no one to hear me scream.
According to US News and World Report, Iowa is the most connected state in the nation, which presumably means they have a high percentage of households with access to high-speed internet. But the data used for that analysis is deeply flawed. It is easy to find yourself completely unconnected from the wires and signals that pull us all together through our computers and mobile devices.
For those of us in America who are extremely online, it’s easy to think of the internet as the source of our problems—misinformation, Twitter bots, Russian hacking, social media stress. The real source, however, is the huge gap in information services. Despite bipartisan support on the issue, the crisis of America’s digital divide has failed to become a headline grabber or garner any real action from politicians as midterms approach. This information disparity undermines our democracy, hampers how we do journalism, and shapes how Americans interact with the news.
Commerce Vote on Sohn Wednesday, Facebook Abandoning its Crypto Technology, Low EBB Awareness
The Senate Commerce Committee will vote on Sohn’s renomination after confirmation efforts stalled last year.
January 28, 2022 – On Wednesday the Senate Commerce Committee will vote on President Joe Biden’s nomination of Gigi Sohn to the Federal Communications Commission.
Sohn, the co-founder of intellectual property nonprofit Public Knowledge, was renominated by Biden earlier this month after the Commerce committee failed to advance her nomination at the end of last year.
Much of the opposition to Sohn’s nomination has centered around Republican pushback on comments Sohn had made about conservative media.
Additionally on Wednesday, the committee will vote on Biden’s nominee to the Federal Trade Commission Alvaro Bedoya.
Like Sohn, Bedoya saw his nomination stalled late last year as Republicans opposed comments he had made on conservative media.
Both the FCC and FTC are split 2-2 in terms of the partisanship of their voting members, limiting the ability of their Democratic chairs to enact their policy agendas.
Facebook’s cryptocurrency project fizzles
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Facebook is selling the technology behind the Diem Association, the company’s cryptocurrency project, amid concerns over its ability to provide security and privacy.
Silvergate Capital Corporation, a California bank that works with bitcoin and blockchain companies, will reportedly buy the technology for $200 million.
In an earlier effort to appease regulators the bank and Diem had agreed to issue some stablecoins, which are considered less volatile and are backed by hard dollars.
Diem, previously called Libra, was originally conceived as a simple way for users to spend money and partnered with PayPal, Visa and Stripe to demonstrate institutional financial backing to officials and distance the venture from Facebook as criticisms against the platform mounted.
In October 2019, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told U.S. House members that he would support delaying the cryptocurrency’s release until all regulators approved of it.
AT&T survey on Emergency Broadband Benefit’s reach
An AT&T-commissioned survey found that as of October 2021 a majority of individuals in the company’s 21-state footprint were not aware of the Emergency Broadband Benefit, Fierce Telecom reported Wednesday.
Only 12% of survey respondents were aware of the program started by the FCC during the coronavirus pandemic to help fund low-income people’s internet connectivity.
The survey also found disparities in program awareness between different age groups and ethnicities.
The EBB was able to gain the participation of most internet service providers and roll over their participation to the ACP once it became available at the start of this year.
FCC Axes China Unicom, Tucows Has New Software Business, Texas County Broadband Initiative
The FCC on Thursday revoked the operating authorization of China Unicom, in latest effort to weed out national security threats.
January 27, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday revoked the operating authority of telecom China Unicom Americas due to national security concerns.
In the press release, which coincided with the commission’s January open meeting, the FCC said China Unicom Americas must discontinue domestic and international services in the U.S. within 60 days of the order.
The decision was made, the release said, after nearly a year of review of the company’s responses to inquiries, the public record and a public interest analysis following a March 2021 finding by the commission that the company “failed to dispel serious concerns” about its ties to the Communist government in China.
The decision, which comes after an FCC vote in October to revoke the operating license of China Telecom, is part of a larger effort by the agency and President Joe Biden’s administration to weed out national security risks.
Tucows new communication service software
Toronto-based telecom Tucows on Thursday launched Wavelo, a software business it says will help other telecommunications companies aspects of their business, including the network and subscription and billing management.
“In today’s competitive landscape, operators need optionality from their software,” Wavelo CEO Justin Riley said. “They deserve solutions that keep pace with their network innovation and that are flexible enough to integrate seamlessly within their existing operations. Wavelo was launched to do just that.”
Gray County, Texas developing plan for better broadband
The Gray County Broadband Committee is asking the broader community Thursday for input through a survey on how it should develop a “technology action plan that will provide both immediate and long-term solutions for improving internet access.”
The committee, which includes stakeholders in business, education, government and healthcare, said in a press release it hopes to “identify unique challenges and opportunities for expanding high-speed internet” in the county.
The county said it is partnering with Connected Nation Texas on the initiative, which is funded by the Texas Rural Funders
Fear of Big Tech in Auto Industry, Montana Hires Lightbox, USTelecom Hires Media Affairs Director
Technology advocacy groups are concerned about big technology companies entering the auto industry.
January 26, 2022 – A letter signed by nearly 30 technology advocacy groups and sent to government and agency officials Tuesday is warning of the dangers of tech companies entering the automobile industry, The Hill reports.
“Make no mistake: The expansion of Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook into the auto sector spells trouble for workers and consumers…As automation expands, these [auto workers] jobs are at risk and Big Tech cannot be trusted to lead that transition,” the letter said, according to the report.
Recipients of the letter signed by the likes of the American Economic Liberties Project and Demand Progress include Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, and Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Lina Khan.
The Hill also reports that the groups are concerned about the treatment and usage of data and private information if these big technology companies do successfully expand their reach.
Montana is taking mapping matters into their own hands
Montana’s Department of Administration said Monday that is has hired location analytics company Lightbox to build a statewide broadband map, following in the footsteps of Georgia and Alabama in getting ahead of federal efforts to improving insight into what areas are underserved.
“The completed map will provide a detailed analysis of current broadband service levels throughout Montana while protecting proprietary data and will be used for allocating $266 million to unserved and underserved communities throughout Montana,” a press release said.
“Lightbox is a proven national leader in cost effective and efficient detailed mapping for state level broadband programs,” said Department of Administration Director Misty Ann Giles in the release. “This platform will serve as a key component to help ConnectMT reach its goal of deploying broadband throughout Montana to bridge the digital divide.”
USTelecom hires new senior director of media affairs and digital engagement
USTelecom, an association that represents telecom-related businesses, announced Wednesday the appointment of Emma Christman to senior director of media affairs and digital engagement.
Christman is joining the USTelecom communications team after working as the director of external affairs and engagement at Glen Echo Group. While there, USTelecom says she provided “a range of clients strategic counsel, content creation, media outreach and other services.”
Prior to her time at Glen Echo Group, Christman worked at Dewey Square Group as a senior associate and at Mobile Future as a community outreach director.
- Federal Appeals Court Upholds California’s Net Neutrality Rules
- FCC Announces New RDOF Accountability and Transparency Measures, Additional Funding
- Commerce Vote on Sohn Wednesday, Facebook Abandoning its Crypto Technology, Low EBB Awareness
- Former Federal Trade Commission Chairman Says Biden is Inappropriately Exhorting the Agency
- Federal Communications Commission Approves New Provider Transparency Requirements
- Facebook is Failing Iranians, and Iran’s Leaders Are About to Launch a Censored Internet
Signup for Broadband Breakfast
Broadband Roundup4 months ago
Cox’s Wireless Deal with Verizon Dies, Apple Appeals Epic Games Case, AT&T’s Fiber Investment
Broadband Roundup4 months ago
AT&T Hurricane Survey, FCC Announces $1.1B from Emergency Connectivity Fund, Comcast’s Utah Plans
Broadband Roundup4 months ago
Facebook Changes and Second Whistleblower, Comcast’s Spam Call Feature, AT&T Picks Ericsson for 5G
Broadband Roundup4 months ago
O’Rielly ‘Perplexed’ By Delay in Rosenworcel Decision, China Mobile Domesticating Contracts, AT&T Partners with Frontier
Expert Opinion4 months ago
Mike Harris: Investing in Open Access Fiber Optics is Investing in the Future
Spectrum3 months ago
More Experts Weigh In On Possibility 12 GHz Band Can Be Shared with 5G Services
Artificial Intelligence1 month ago
Henry Kissinger: AI Will Prompt Consideration of What it Means to Be Human
Broadband's Impact4 months ago
Steve Lacoff: A New Standard for the ‘Cloudification’ of Communications Services