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5G in China, BroadbandNow’s Q3 2020 Report, FiOS Subscriber Growth Reaches 5-Year High

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Photo of now-Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg from 2016 from the Wall Street Journal

There has been a huge amount of hype in the United States about being in a race with the Chinese over the deployment of 5G. But after seeing a recent South Korean news article, from the ChosunILBO, concluding that the Chinese 5G experiment might end up an economic bust, Doug Dawson, in a blog post for Pots and Pans, argues that the best U.S. strategy is to lay back and wait until 5G equipment gets cheaper and until new 5G cell sites are made energy efficient.

According to the South Korean article, 5G coverage isn’t seeing wide acceptance. The article cites a recent Chinese survey where over 73 percent of the public says there is no need to buy 5G phones. This matched the findings from another survey that also said the public saw no need for 5G.

Don’t miss the second event in “Broadband Breakfast’s ‘A No-Nonsense Guide to 5G’ Series,” on Wednesday, October 28, 2020, at 12 Noon ET: “National Security, 5G and Trusted Partners.” The series is sponsored by Samsung Electronics America.

The article highlights that Chinese 5G cell sites use a lot of energy. Starting in August, China Unicom took to shutting the cell sites down from 9 PM until 9 AM daily to save on electricity costs. They say each cell site is using triple the power of a 4G cell site, and there are a lot of sites to power.

It takes a huge number of millimeter wave cell sites to cover a city. According to the article, by the end of June 2020 the Chinese had installed 410,000 cell sites. The article estimates that to get the same coverage as today’s 4G that the network would eventually need over 10 million cell sites.

The article quotes Xiang Ligang, the director-general of the Information Consumption Alliance, a Chinese telecom industry association, who said the plans are to build one million new cell sites in each of the next three years.

Northeast states have the highest access to affordable broadband, reports BroadbandNow

On Tuesday, BroadbandNow released The State of Broadband in America study for the third quarter of this year, which reveals that states in the Northeast region have the highest access to broadband, and further, the most affordable broadband options.

Utilizing a new and improved definition of broadband, which increases minimum download speeds to 100 Megabytes per second and requires upload speeds of 25 Mbps, BroadbandNow’s report ranks states based on the availability of broadband.

The report finds the top five states with access to 100 Mbps/25 ranked from the highest rate are Washington, D.C., Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware and New York, with New Jersey faring the best for latency performance overall.

Meanwhile, the bottom five states, which includes one Northeastern state, ranked from the lowest rate are Montana, Wyoming, Maine, South Carolina and Alabama.

The quarterly study highlights access to affordable plans, which Northeastern states also lead the way in.

Rhode Island was found to have the highest level of access to affordable plans with speeds of at least 100 Mbps download / 25 Mbps upload, followed by Washington, D.C., New Jersey, New York, and Maryland.

Pent-up demand drives Verizon’s Fios internet subscriber growth to five-year high

Verizon’s Fios Internet subscriber growth crushed expectations in the third quarter of 2020, as the telco began to handle pent-up demand, which built up during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, reported Jeff Baumgartner for Light Reading.

Thanks in part to a restart of field installs, Fios Internet added 144,000 subscribers to Verizon’s fiber service in total, beating the expected amount of 37,000. The boon of subscribers extended the provider’s grand total to 6.11 million, up 4.1 percent from 5.86 million, a year earlier.

“That’s a five-year high,” Hans Vestberg, Verizon’s CEO, said of the Q3 results during an earnings call last week.

Even without the Q2 backlog fueled by the pandemic, Verizon still would have added “significantly north of 100,000” Fios Internet customers in Q3, thanks in part to the company’s relatively new Mix & Match bundles that lead with broadband, said Matt Ellis, Verizon’s CFO.

Extending Fios’ fiber service, which is currently only offered in seven states, remains one of the main complaints of Verizon customers today.

Former Assistant Editor Jericho Casper graduated from the University of Virginia studying media policy. She grew up in Newport News in an area heavily impacted by the digital divide. She has a passion for universal access and a vendetta against anyone who stands in the way of her getting better broadband. She is now Associate Broadband Researcher at the Institute for Local Self Reliance's Community Broadband Network Initiative.

Broadband Roundup

Senate Bill Would Alter Google Advertising, DOJ Cybersecurity Policy Reversal, Comcast on Hybrid Fiber-Coax

Senate introduces bill breaking up Google’s digital advertising business

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Photo of Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, from March 2016 by Gage Skidmore used with permission

May 20, 2022 – On Thursday a bipartisan group of senators on the Judiciary Committee introduced a bill that would force Google to break up its industry-leading online advertising exchange.

The Competition and Transparency in Digital Advertising Act would prohibit large companies like Google from both operating an ad exchange and a supply- or demand-side platform, should they process more than $20 billion in ad transactions.

The bill would also require Facebook to divest some of its advertising business.

“Companies like Google and Facebook have been able to exploit their unprecedented troves of detailed user data to obtain vice grip-like control over digital advertising,” said bill sponsor Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.

In late 2020, a coalition of 10 state attorneys general brought a lawsuit against Google alleging that its market dominance lets it overcharge businesses seeking to place ads online.

Justice Department changes directions on cybersecurity prosecution policy

On Thursday the Department of Justice announced it would reverse its charging policy on a federal computer fraud law, saying it will not prosecute “good-faith security research” efforts.

The change by the department relates to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, defining good-faith research as “accessing a computer solely for purposes of good-faith testing, investigation, and/or correction of a security flaw or vulnerability” without any intention of harming the public.

Last year, Georgia police sergeant Nathan Van Buren was successful in appealing his conviction under the CFAA to the Supreme Court.

DOJ argued that he should not have taken a bribe to access a woman’s license plate information during a 2015 Federal Bureau of Investigation sting operation, while Van Buren claimed that he had legitimate access to the database.

Comcast plans to release hybrid fiber-coaxial multi-gig speeds in the coming months.

Comcast is preparing to roll out faster multi-gigabit speeds across its hybrid fiber-coaxial network, Fierce Telecom reported Thursday.

Multi-gig rollout is expected in the coming months.

At an investor conference Comcast CEO Dave Watson stated that his operator’s choice to roll out mid-split upgrades on the way to Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification 4.0 technology will allow it to take speeds to the next level.

“We have a very fast, very efficient path to multi-gig symmetrical at scale that we can do,” said Watson.

He feels comfortable that despite Comcast fiber deployments in select locations, the company feels comfortable that its HFC network will remain competitive.

He also reiterated previous comments that fixed wireless access service is not a threat and that it does not materially impact churn from fixed wireless competitors.

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Broadband Roundup

AT&T and DISH Agreement, FCC Adds More States in Robocall Fight, $50M from Emergency Connectivity Fund

Dish said its customers will now have access to AT&T’s gigabit fiber services.

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Photo of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

May 19, 2022 – On Wednesday, AT&T and Dish Network announced an internet distribution agreement in which Dish customers will have access to AT&T internet services, including its gigabit fiber services.

“Adding AT&T Internet to our robust lineup of TV and home integration services enhances our ability to provide better overall service, technology and value to our customers,” Amir Ahmed, executive vice president of DISH TV, said in a press release.

“At AT&T, we’re constantly thinking of ways we can better serve and provide for our customers. Through this new arrangement with DISH, we’re able to do just that by seamlessly offering our super-fast broadband services to more customers across the nation,” said Jenifer Robertson, executive vice president and general manager of mass markets at AT&T Communications.

“This is another step towards our goal of becoming the best broadband provider in America,” said Robertson.

FCC adds more state partners to tackle illegal robocalls

The Federal Communications Commission announced Thursday new partnerships with nine additional state attorneys general to combat illegal robocalls.

The agency said Iowa, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have all signed on to help with robocall investigations.

That raises the number of states that have signed a memoranda of understanding with the FCC to 36, after the agency last month signed on a handful more states for the initiative. The agency has already credited at least one state with helping it nail one suspected robocall violator.

As part of the agreement, the parties will “share evidence, coordinate investigations, pool enforcement resources, and work together to combat illegal robocall campaigns and protect American consumers from scams,” according to the FCC.

“We are better positioned to help protect consumers from scammers than ever before,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “Together we are stronger. Together we will continue our work to protect American consumers.”

The FCC already has robocall investigation agreements with Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

FCC commits additional $50 million from Emergency Connectivity Fund

The FCC announced on Wednesday that it has approved an additional $50 million from the Emergency Connectivity Fund program that is intended to help students with virtual learning.

The FCC said this funding will go to help 46 schools, seven libraries and two consortia across the country for students in American Samoa, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The FCC estimates that, so far, nearly $4.9 billion has been committed to connect over 12.6 million students across the country.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel added in a press release that “this program is providing funding for nearly 11 million connected devices and 5 million broadband connections throughout the country and moving us closer toward closing the Homework Gap.

“With help from the Emergency Connectivity Fund, millions of students across the country now have online tools to support their education,” added Rosenworcel.

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Broadband Roundup

FCC June Meeting, Ookla Speeds at Airports, FCC Cautioned About Overstepping on Digital Discrimination

The FCC laid out its agenda for the June open meeting.

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Screenshot of TechFreedom President Berin Szóka

May 18, 2022 – In a press release Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission announced the agenda for its June 2022 open meeting.

The FCC will explore ideas for wireless innovation at sea following increasing demand for spectrum to support offshore operations. The FCC will consider offshore spectrum policies to ensure efficient use of scarce spectrum resources.

In 2018, the FCC launched an inquiry to explain why some wireless 911 calls were misrouted to the wrong call center. The past four years showed a decrease in the frequency of this error but not its elimination. The FCC will seek comment on improvements that would reduce misrouted 911 calls and improve emergency response time.

During the June open meeting, the FCC will also consider preserving established local radio programming on FM6 radio service, if they meet certain conditions.

Ookla speedtest shows divide on speeds for Wi-Fi at airports

Analytics company Ooka analyzed airport Wi-Fi speeds at some of the busiest airports in the world and found that all surveyed airports met the recommended speed for streaming on mobile, but found a large divide between them.

The four fastest free airport Wi-Fis were all located in the United States: San Francisco International, Seattle-Tacoma International, Dallas/Fort Worth International, and Chicago O’Hare International. Following that came Dubai International, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, and Los Angeles International.

According to Speedtest Intelligence data, there is a wide gap between median speeds of the first 8 airports and the other airports on the list with the fasted being 176.25 Mbps. Airport lounges were found to have faster Wi-Fi on average than the airport itself.

Ookla, a sponsor of Broadband Breakfast, used its Speedtest Intelligence, which provides global insights into fixed broadband and mobile performance data using billions of consumer-initiated tests.

Tech lobbyists says FCC must not overstep authority to prevent digital discrimination

Tech lobbyist TechFreedom filed comments on Monday claiming that the Federal Communication Commission is overstepping its authority to regulate digital discrimination, following the FCC’s inquiry on how to prevent such a practice.

“If Congress had wanted the FCC to implement a new civil right law for broadband, it would have legislated a clear prohibition on discrimination – the essential element in all civil rights laws,” TechFreedom President Berin Szóka said in a release. “Instead, Congress wrote a law entirely about ‘facilitation.’”

The FCC’s inquiry follows an order under the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act to make rules to “facilitate” equal access to broadband and “prevent digital discrimination.”

“It is simply not plausible that Congress could have intended to change how broadband deployment is regulated in an obscure amendment tacked onto a spending bill on the Senate floor with no discussion or legislative history,” Szóka argued.

He concluded that there are other routes the FCC can take to prevent digital discrimination and facilitate equal access. Szóka called on the commission to “focus on directing funding towards remedying unequal access to broadband and preventing potential digital discrimination- not only under the infrastructure act but also the FCC’s various other broadband programs.”

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