BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: Rep. Anna Eshoo on Thursday introduced three separate measures designed to expedite broadband access. The Conduit Deployment Act and the CLIMB Once Act are common-sense measures that enjoy strong support from many players in the industry, at least at a general level. The Community Broadband Act is also a common-sense measure to remove roadblocks, although incumbents frequently oppose public sector involvement in broadband projects.
In addition to these three measures, Eshoo has also sponsored Accelerating Wireless Broadband Development by Empowering Local Communities Act of 2019, H.R. 530, which would overturn Federal Communications Commission regulations limiting the ability of local governments to regulate the deployment of 5G wireless infrastructure. The legislation has the support of more than 125 local governments and 130 public utilities in 47 states.
Eshoo Reintroduces Three Bills to Expand Broadband Access, from Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.:
Today, Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo reintroduced three bills during Infrastructure Week to expand access to broadband.
“Broadband access is an integral part of today’s modern infrastructure and it is as essential to our economy as the roads and bridges that connect us,” Eshoo said. “These three bills will cut down on the time and cost of deploying new broadband infrastructure and empower communities to advance broadband deployment and expansion.”
The three bills reintroduced by Rep. Eshoo are:
- The Broadband Conduit Deployment Act, commonly ‘dig once,’ is bicameral, bipartisan legislation that mandates the inclusion of conduit—plastic pipes which house fiberoptic cables—during road construction receiving federal funding.
- The Community Broadband Act is bicameral legislation that removes roadblocks for public-private partnerships and locally-owned broadband systems.
- The Clearing Local Impediments Makes Broadband Open to New Competition and Enhancements (CLIMB ONCE) Act helps local communities streamline the pole attachment process to make the deployment of broadband faster, cheaper, and more competitive.
Rep. Eshoo is a longtime advocate for broadband access for all Americans. Her legislative efforts provide commonsense solutions to expand access to high-quality broadband and empower local communities to deploy cost-effective solutions that work best for their own communities.
(Photo of Rep. Anna Eshoo, speaking at the Broadband Breakfast Club on January 15, 2013.)
Baltimore Needs Grassroots Help to Bridge Digital Divide, Experts Say
‘Baltimore lags behind many cities when it comes to the number of households with home internet connections.’
WASHINGTON, July 5, 2022 – Local leaders from Baltimore said at a Benton Institute event that there needs to be an alignment with the community and leadership when it comes to closing the digital divide.
“Baltimore lags behind many cities when it comes to the number of households with home internet connections,” said Amalia Deloney from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, which invests in projects to improve the quality of life in the city. The foundation estimates that 74,116 households don’t have internet access.
The event’s speakers pointed to digital redlining, in which segments of racial minority and lower income Americans are disconnected from services or can be considered living in low priority areas.
Jason Hardebeck, director of Baltimore’s Office of Broadband and Digital Equity, said the city is a “pioneer in redlining,” and “a century later, we still see the effect on the digital divide.”
To address this, Deloney said the foundation’s approach to the digital divide in Baltimore by starting at the social level through its Digital Equity Leadership Lab. This is a program for Baltimore residents to “increase their understanding of the internet and strengthen their ability to advocate for fast, affordable and reliable broadband.”
The program aims to train and build leadership within the community to advocate for closing the digital divide. It points to a strategy of bringing “advocates together with community leaders,” as “digital equity is social, not a technological problem,” said Colin Rhinesmith, founder and director of the Digital Equity Research Center.
Michelle Morton from the National Telecommunications Infrastructure Association also said local leaders need to work with community members to have a bottom-up approach. “You have to work with the people doing the work on the ground.
“Their voices matter,” said Morton.
Mayor Brandon Scott has allocated $35 million from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act to close the digital divide across Baltimore “by the end of this decade.”
Metaverse Can Serve as a Supplement, Not Replacement, For Educators: Experts
The virtual world where avatars can meet as if they were in real life can be a companion for education.
WASHINGTON, June 29, 2022 – Experts said at a Brookings Institution event said Tuesday that while the “metaverse” can go a long way toward improving education for some students, it should serve as a supplement to those educational goals.
The metaverse refers to a platform of 3D virtual worlds where avatars, or virtual characters, meet as if they were in the real world. The concept has been toyed with by Facebook parent Meta and is being used as a test for the educational space.
“The metaverse is a world that is accessible to students and teachers across the globe that allows shared interactions without boundaries in a respectful optimistic way,” Simran Mulchandani, founder of education app Project Rangeet, said at Tuesday’s event.
Panelists stated that as the metaverse and education meet, researchers, educators, policymakers and digital designers should take the lead, so tech platforms do not dictate educational opportunities.
“We have to build classrooms first, not tech first,” said Mulchandani.
Rebecca Kantar, the head of education at Roblox – a video game platform that allows players to program games – added that as the metaverse is still emerging and being constructed, “we can be humble in our attempt to find the highest and best way to bring the metaverse” into the classroom for the best education for the future.
Anant Agarwal, a professor at MIT and chief open education officer for online learning platform edX, stated the technology of the metaverse has the potential to make “quality and deep education accessible to everybody everywhere.”
Not a replacement for real social experiences
Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, senior fellow of the global economy and development at the Center for Universal Education, said that while the metaverse brings potential to improve learning, it is not a complete replacement for the social experience a student has in the classroom.
“The metaverse can’t substitute for social interaction. It can supplement.”
Mulchandani noted the technology of the metaverse cannot replace the teacher, but rather can serve to solve challenges in the classroom.
FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel Emphasizes 100 Percent Broadband Adoption
‘It’s about making sure wireless connections are available in 100 percent of rural America,’ said the chairwoman.
PARK CITY, Utah, June 28, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission is making progress towards bringing “affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband to 100 percent of the country,” Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said at the Rural Wireless Infrastructure Summit here on Tuesday.
Rosenworcel pointed to the $65 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act now being deployed across the country, with a particular focus on unconnected rural and tribal areas.
Although the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration will take the lead with these funds, the FCC’s new broadband coverage maps will be important in implementing state digital equity plans.
In her remarks, Rosenworcel also discussed how the upcoming 2.5 GigaHertz spectrum auction will involve licensing spectrum primarily to rural areas.
At the July FCC open meeting, said Rosenworcel, the agency is scheduled to establish a new program to help enhance wireless competition. It is called the Enhanced Competition Incentive Program.
The program aims to build incentives for existing carriers to build opportunities for smaller carriers and tribal nations through leasing or partitioning spectrum. Existing carriers will be rewarded with longer license terms, extensions on build-out obligations, and more flexibility in construction requirements.
“It’s about making sure wireless connections are available in 100 percent of rural America,” she said.
She also indicated her commitment to work with Congress to fund the FCC’s “rip and replace” program to reimburse many rural operators’ transitions from Chinese-manufactured telecommunications equipment. She also touted the role that open radio access networks can plan in more secure telecommunications infrastructure.
In other news at the conference, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr addressed the role of funding broadband operations in rural America, the challenges of workforce training, and ensuring that rural carriers have access to high-cost universal service support.
In a session moderated by AmeriCrew CEO Kelley Dunne, panelists from the U.S. Labor Department, the Wireless Infrastructure Association and Texas A&M Extension Education Services addressed the need to offer a vocational career path for individuals for whom a four-year degree may not be the right choice. AmeriCrew helps U.S. military veterans obtain careers in building fiber, wireless and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark contributed to this report.
- Baltimore Needs Grassroots Help to Bridge Digital Divide, Experts Say
- FiberLight Buy, T-Mobile Shuts Down Older Networks, AT&T and Dish Lead US O-RAN Alliance
- FCC Opens Broadband Data Collection Program
- FCC Commissioner Supports Rural Telco Efforts to Implement ‘Rip and Replace’
- States Must Ease Zoning, Permit Regulations for Broadband Buildouts
- Broadband Prices Decline, AT&T’s Fiber Build in Texas, Conexon Partners for Build in Georgia
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