Connect with us

Broadband's Impact

Stakeholders and Tech Experts Gather to Discuss the Future of Internet Governance

Published

on

Screenshot of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai from the webcast

July 23, 2020 — Tech policy experts gathered virtually Wednesday and Thursday for IGF-USA 2020, a digital event held by the Internet Governance Forum to facilitate conversations between internet stakeholders.

Panelists discussed issues relevant to the future of internet governance, such as policies surrounding security, encryption, disinformation and accessibility.

There was disagreement among panelists early on, as some argued the tech industry delivered support to consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic, while others contended that the industry could have done more.

Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted, director of InnovateOhio, highlighted the mixed experiences of Americans during the pandemic.

“If you have access to quality high speed internet, a job that allows you to telework and kids with great teachers and connectivity, it went well for you,” Husted said. “If you live in an area where you can’t access those things, not so much.”

Screenshot of IGF-USA 2020 panelists

Panelists called for increased policy efforts to continue working towards closing the digital divide.

Many called for increased communication among stakeholders. “We believe wholeheartedly if we are going to solve [the] digital divide, we need every stakeholder to get involved,” said Francella Ochillo, executive director of Next Century Cities.

Vint Cerf, chief internet evangelist for Google, argued that overall, the internet stood up to increased trials and demands during the pandemic, but many did not agree.

Some panelists argued that increased internet usage created the perfect online environment for malicious activity, scams and disinformation, exposing what many perceived to be a lack of internet governance in the United States.

Others found that the internet, specifically social media platforms, did not successfully combat increased security concerns brought about by pandemic misinformation and disinformation.

“Platforms have the power to misguide, driving misinformation in ways we’ve never seen before,” said Nicol Turner-Lee, senior fellow at the Brookings Institute.

Panelists discussed the looming impacts of certain governance initiatives, such as potential changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Syd Terry, legislative director for Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., expressed doubt about whether platforms will be able to oversee and regulate user generated content on their own, saying that he had repeatedly been told this was difficult by platform leaders.

Governance of 5G Infrastructure  

Panelists called for increased U.S. leadership in the deployment of 5G in order to avoid national security threats.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai reported the number of small cells has quadrupled under his leadership, saying “the FCC is very aggressively executing the 5G FAST Plan.”

Yet panelists claimed that the U.S. is currently utilizing non-trustworthy telecommunications technology, made by Chinese companies, in its 5G supply chains.

“Why would you give control of the most critical aspect of your infrastructure to a company controlled by a country that has demonstrated time and time again that they do not have your interest in mind?” questioned Christopher Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “We must provide an alternative.”

Panelists agreed if the U.S. must act quickly domestically, or risk forfeiting its leadership in 5G.

 

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.

Published

on

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.”

Continue Reading

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.

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Broadband's Impact

Federal Communications Commission Mandates Broadband ‘Nutrition’ Labels

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

Published

on

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

Continue Reading

Signup for Broadband Breakfast

Get twice-weekly Breakfast Media news alerts.
* = required field

Broadband Breakfast Research Partner

Trending