WASHINGTON, January 30, 2020 – Even though broadband is often considered a part of interstate commerce, city leaders need to take gaps in the law into their own hands by legislating on broadband topics, said panelists at a session on cities and states at the State of the Net conference on Tuesday.
Policies on issues like micromobility and scooters obviously need to be handled at the local level, said Tech:NYC Executive Director Julie Samuels.
Brooks Rainwater, director of the Center for City Solutions, said cities have even addressed facial recognition policy, a sphere that he said the federal government should have already legislated on. Rainwater expressed frustration with national efforts that preempt the activities of states and cities.
At the same time, Electronic Frontier Foundation Senior Legislative Counsel Ernesto Falcón injected his “frustration” against congressional inaction. Cities have passed their own ordinances as a natural reaction to the issues that broader government has failed to address, he said.
Falcón said 90 percent of Americans think they have “no control” over what happens to their data on the internet, and because of this, cities are the level at which consumers feel that their needs are most heard. “Federal conversations aren’t really tied to what the daily person worries about,” said Samuels.
Rick Cimerman, vice president of state affairs of the cable association NCTA, pushed back against the assertions that cities are the right place to decide broadband policy.
Cities should not be “messing” with federal “electrons that are flowing through the air,” he said, claiming that city measures on privacy are “a step too far.”
He qualified his response by ceding that scooters are a good example of activities for which cities should be responsible. He found recent privacy legislation passed by the state of Washington’s House of Representatives agreeable, although he disagreed with edits made to that measure in the Washington State Senate.
Rainwater insisted that cities should “establish a floor” and not necessarily a ceiling when it comes to internet privacy law.
He also challenged Cimmerman’s views on net neutrality by referencing Verizon’s action in throttled California firefighters’ data communications in the midst of a wildfire. Cimmerman said Verizon’s actions were not an example of broadband throttling, but rather a misunderstanding of contract.
State Broadband Maps Show Significantly Fewer Served Locations than Does FCC’s Map
There is a ‘massive difference’ between federal Form 477 data and state maps in Georgia and North Carolina
WASHINGTON, September 30, 2022 – State broadband maps from North Carolina and Georgia show significantly fewer served locations than do the Federal Communications Commission’s existing data, said a panel at a Fiber Broadband Association web event Wednesday.
For us there is “a massive difference” between Form 477 data and Georgia’s data, said Eric McRae associate director of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia. McRae said the number of Georgians the FCC identifies as unserved is “miniscule,” while the state’s estimate is between 1 and 1.2 million unserved.
North Carolina also found the federal data lacking: “There are thousands of people that are technically in FCC considered served blocks that typed in their address and said they had no access or came in with 1 megabit or horrible speeds,” said Ray Zeisz, senior director of the Technology Infrastructure Lab at North Carolina State University’s Friday Institute. “We verified, certainly, that the data was overstated.”
With the two state-mapping leaders, J. Randolph Luening, founder and CEO of Signals Analytics, presented the findings of his recent report, which compares data from Georgia and North Carolina’s maps to the FCC’s Form 477 data.
Luening’s report outlines the contrasting methods employed by North Carolina and Georgia. North Carolina collected – and published – the results of 109,000 speed tests, measuring download and upload speeds, latency, and jitter. The Tar Heel State also gathered information on technology type, service provider, and other relevant factors.
Georgia’s process is more like the FCC’s current map-making process: It created a fabric dataset and solicited coverage data from providers on an iterative basis. The Peach State published its data in block-by-block form.
Unlike the maps generated from Form 477 data, Georgia’s maps show the percentage of served locations in each census block. “We’ve been able to get a very accurate count of the number of unserved locations that we have in the state of Georgia,” McRae said.
Imprecisions and inaccuracies in Form 477 data were largely responsible for the inception of the FCC’s current location-by-location mapping project. The Commission is still constructing this map and will accept challenges to the accuracy of its fabric dataset on a rolling basis. The map will be used to apportion among the states $42.45 billion from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program.
McRae and Zeisz agreed a state must launch its own mapping initiative to check the accuracy of federal maps and ensure receipt of its fair share of BEAD funding.
As LEO Industry Grows, FCC Adopts Rule to Limit Space Debris
The vote on space debris comes as an increasing number of LEO satellites are gearing up for launch.
WASHINGTON, September 29, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday unanimously adopted an order that requires operators of low-Earth orbit satellites to dispose of their spacecraft within five years of mission completion.
The new “five-year rule” applies to all low-Earth orbit satellites that are planned to be disposed of via uncontrolled reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere. It replaces a non–legally binding recommendation that LEO satellites be removed within 25 years. The adopted order follows the commission’s 2020 further notice of proposed rulemaking that sought comment on the 25-year benchmark.
The commission said it hopes the five-year rule will limit the amount of debris in space. “We recognize the merits of shortening the 25-year period and agree with commenters who argue that a shorter benchmark would promote a safer orbital debris environment,” the order said.
FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel argued the order would remove an impediment to innovation. “Right now there are thousands of metric tons of orbital debris in the air above—and it is going to grow,” her statement read. “We need to address it. Because if we don’t, this space junk could constrain new opportunities.”
“Our space economy is moving fast,” she added. “The second space age is here. For it to continue to grow, we need to do more to clean up after ourselves so space innovation can continue to respond.”
An FCC press release following the order’s adoption on Thursday noted, “There are more than 4,800 satellites operating in orbit as of the end of last year, and the vast majority of those are commercial low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites.” According to that release: “The satellite and launch industry is now an estimated $279 billion-a-year sector.”
LEO satellites are a relatively new source of broadband connectivity. Amazon’s Project Kuiper plans to launch a “constellation” of 3,236 low-Earth orbit satellites the company says will bring broadband service to unserved and underserved areas. Last Spring, Amazon announced it agreements with Arianespace, Blue Origin, and United Launch Alliance for 83 launches.
The FCC approved Kuiper’s constellation application in 2020. Last year, the commission approved Boeing’s proposed constellation of LEO satellites for connectivity. Other companies such as OneWeb and ATS SpaceMobile have also been active in the LEO space.
SpaceX’s Starlink program, the most high-profile satellite player, recently lost a $885.5 million grant from the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund in August – a decision panned by Commissioner Brendan Carr. Starlink appealed the setback earlier this month.
Other measures adopted at Thursday’s meeting
At Thursday’s meeting, the FCC also unanimously approved three other measures. The commission adopted an order to improve access to communication services for incarcerated individuals with disabilities, an order that will improve the clarity of emergency alerts, and a notice of proposed rulemaking to modernize regulations for television broadcast stations.
Public–Private Partnership Model ‘Most Effective Way’ to Address Digital Divide: AT&T Rep
The company’s president of broadband access and adoption initiatives lauded AT&T’s public-private partnerships.
September 28, 2022 – Touting its fiber build in an Indiana county, an AT&T representative said Wednesday that public–private partnership models for broadband expansion are the “most effective way” to bridge the digital divide.
Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Las Vegas, Jeff Luong, president of the telecoms giant’s broadband access and adoption initiatives, said broadband builds should incorporate multiple revenue streams and allow local communities to adapt to their own unique circumstances.
Luong said his preferred model blends public funds with private funds and the localized expertise of community leaders with the technical expertise of companies like AT&T. He said that AT&T has contracted to build fiber networks using the public–private partnership model in several states, including Indiana, Louisiana, and Texas.
Luong highlighted his company’s partnership with Vanderburgh County, Indiana, where AT&T is building a fiber network. The deal was struck last year and is scheduled to be completed in 2023. AT&T will own and operate the network, investing $29.7 million to the county’s $9.9 million. The county’s contribution comes from the American Rescue Plan Act.
And while he acknowledged the importance of federal investments, Luong emphasized the role of private investments in expanding broadband.
“The bulk of network investment comes from the private sector,” he said. “The upcoming federal [Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment] program has $42 billion to spend on broadband over four plus years. Let’s not forget the top three mobile carriers have [a] combined capital expenditure of more than $50 billion in just this past year,” he said.
- Tech Against Texas Social Media, Alabama Middle Mile Grant, IP3 Awards Bestowed
- State Broadband Maps Show Significantly Fewer Served Locations than Does FCC’s Map
- As LEO Industry Grows, FCC Adopts Rule to Limit Space Debris
- Shielding Broadband Grants from Taxes, American at ITU, Google Fiber Multi-Gig Speeds
- Public–Private Partnership Model ‘Most Effective Way’ to Address Digital Divide: AT&T Rep
- In Video Session, Christopher Mitchell Digs Into Community Ownership and Open Access Networks
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