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Broadband's Impact

Ad Spending in Georgia Runoff, FAA Announces New Drone Rules, COVID Relief Bill’s Broadband Provisions

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Photo of Sen. David Perdue from Wikipedia

In 2016, political ad spending hit $1.1 billion and it is projected to hit $2.7 billion in 2020, according to Advertising Analytics. The majority of those dollars will be spent on digital video ads placed on a variety of websites including Google, YouTube and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, with the hope of swaying voters who remain undecided.

With eight days to go until the Georgia Senate runoff elections and with early voting underway, Democrats have begun closing in on what was previously a pronounced GOP ad spending advantage in the state.

With just over a week left in the contests, ad spending is up to nearly $540 million overall for the consequential elections that will determine which party has control of the Senate.

Republicans lead Democrats in total Georgia ad spending, including reservations since November 10 and through the runoff, by about $281.7 million to $256.6 million.

Democratic candidates have raised money almost entirely through the strength of grassroots donations. Jon Ossoff has spent over $100 million in ads, while Reverend Raphael Warnock is at nearly $90 million, compared to about $53.7 million spent by Senator Kelly Loeffler and $45.7 million for Senator David Perdue, the Republican candidates.

When it comes to spending by outside groups on behalf of the candidates for Senate, Republicans lead Democrats by nearly 3-to-1 — $180.5 million to $63.1 million.

Outside sponsors wasted little time to influence the two crucial contests after incumbent candidates Perdue and Loeffler failed to hit the 50 percent threshold on Election Day, setting up elections against their Democratic challengers, set to take place January 5.

Major outside GOP donors include American Crossroads, the Republican super PAC founded by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Peachtree PAC, which, despite the name suggesting homegrown roots, is an arm of the Senate Leadership Fund.

American Crossroads has so far spent over $48 million on digital ads promoting the Republican candidates, while the Senate Leadership Fund has spent over $46.8 million and Peachtree PAC has spent over $42.8 million.

Meanwhile, the strength of the Democratic candidates’ fundraising and resulting ad budgets has diminished the GOP outside spending advantage. Warnock and Ossoff each brought in more than $100 million in a two-month period, setting a blistering fundraising pace in their quest to topple two Republican incumbents in Georgia.

FAA outlines new rules for drones, eases restrictions on flying drones at night

The Federal Aviation Administration issued new guidelines on Monday allowing drones to operate at night and over people. The change in rules will likely expand the use of the machines for commercial deliveries.

The new rules will also require remote identification technology so that the machines are identifiable from the ground. The FAA said this standard will address security concerns and make drones easier to track.

“These final rules carefully address safety, security and privacy concerns while advancing opportunities for innovation and utilization of drone technology,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao in a statement.

The changes, once in effect, will amend current policies that previously forbade drone operations over people and at night, unless the FAA granted a waiver.

Industry representatives have largely welcomed the FAA’s new rules. The Consumer Technology Association commended the FAA for releasing the “long-awaited final rules” in a statement, calling it a major milestones as drones become more integrated into national airspace.

“Properly implemented, these rules will enhance safety and security by allowing authorities to identify drones flying in their jurisdictions, while supporting expanded and beneficial uses of drones across the U.S.,” said Doug Johnson, vice president of technology policy at CTA.

The new rules will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register next month.

Free State Foundation recaps COVID relief bill’s broadband funding provisions

In a recent publication, the Free State Foundation’s Andrew Long recapped the broadband funding provisions included in the COVID-19 relief bill, signed by President Donald Trump on Sunday night. The $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief and government funding bill includes nearly $7 billion for broadband-related initiatives.

“Areas of focus include an emergency discount on broadband Internet access service for low-income and economically impacted households, funding to “rip and replace” insecure communications network equipment, broadband deployment grants for Tribal lands and unserved areas, additional money for telehealth, and much-needed funds for updated broadband coverage maps,” writes Long.

Long includes a statement by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai applauding “Congress for including a number of provisions that advance critical national priorities in communications policy” and saluting “Congressional leaders for working together in a bipartisan manner to reach agreement on this consequential legislation that will help protect our national security, close the digital divide, advance telehealth, and promote American leadership in 5G.”

FSF has long called for Congress to fund much needed broadband maps. FSF President Randolph May and Long noted in “Congress Should Fund Needed Broadband Maps This Session,” a recent Perspectives piece from FSF Scholars, that the money required to fund mapping efforts, until now, had not been appropriated.

FSF welcomed the legislation providing the Federal Communications Commission with the full $65 million amount requested by Chairman Pai.

Broadband's Impact

Broadband Breakfast on October 27, 2021 — When ‘Greenfield’ Fiber Meets ‘Brownfield’ Multiple Dwelling Units

What options do owners of, operators in, and tenants within MDUs have for better-quality broadband?

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Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can watch the October 27, 2021, event on this page. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021, 12 Noon ET — “When Greenfield Fiber Meets Brownfield Multiple Dwelling Units”

Bringing fiber to the premises is sometimes only half the battle. For example, bringing fiber to an MDU may not mean that every tenant will get better-quality broadband. In the case of multiple dwelling units or multi-tenant housing, it isn’t easy to completely rewire an existing building with fiber-to-the-unit. Further, the Biden Administration and the Federal Communications Commission are pushing real estate owners to eliminate or minimize exclusive MDU broadband contacts. What options do the owners of, operators in, and tenants within MDUs have to enjoy both competitive and better-quality broadband?

Panelists:

  • Kevin Donnelly, Vice President, Government Affairs, Technology and Strategic Initiatives, National Multifamily Housing Council
  • Jenna Leventoff, Senior Policy Counsel, Public Knowledge
  • Pierre Trudeau, President and Chief Technology Officer, Positron Access
  • Other Guests have been invited
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast

Kevin Donnelly is Vice President for Government Affairs, Technology and Strategic Initiatives at the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and represents the interests of the multifamily industry before the federal government focusing on technology, connectivity, risk management and their intersection with housing policy. Kevin is a part of NMHC’s Innovation and Technology team and leads its Intelligent Buildings and Connectivity Committee.  Kevin has spent over 15 years in the public policy arena at leading real estate trade associations and on Capitol Hill. Kevin received his BA from Rutgers University and his Masters in Public Management from Johns Hopkins University.

Jenna Leventoff is a Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge, where she focuses on broadband deployment and adoption. Prior to joining Public Knowledge, Jenna served as a Senior Policy Analyst for the Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC) at the National Skills Coalition, where she led WDQC’s state policy advocacy and technical assistance efforts on state data system development and use. She also served as an Associate at Upturn, where she analyzed the civil rights implications of new technologies, and as Manager and Legal Counsel of the International Intellectual Property Institute, where she led the organization’s efforts to utilize intellectual property for international economic development. Jenna received her J.D, cum laude, and B.A from Case Western Reserve University.

Pierre Trudeau is President and Chief Technology Officer, Positron Access.

Drew ClarkEditor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast, also serves as Of Counsel to The CommLaw Group. He has helped fiber-based and fixed wireless providers negotiate telecom leases and fiber IRUs, litigate to operate in the public right of way, and argue regulatory classifications before federal and state authorities. He has also worked with cities on structuring Public-Private Partnerships for better broadband access for their communities. Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

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National Non-Profit to Launch Joint Initiative to Close Broadband Affordability and Homework Gap

EducationSuperHighway is signing up partners and will launch November 4.

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Evan Marwell, founder and CEO of Education Super Highway.

WASHINGTON, October 18, 2021 – National non-profit Education Super Highway is set to launch a campaign next month that will work with internet service providers to identify students without broadband and expand programs that will help connect the unconnected.

On November 4, the No Home Left Offline initiative will launch to close the digital divide for 18 million American households that “have access to the Internet but can’t afford to connect,” according to a Monday press release.

The campaign will publish a detailed report with “crucial data insights into the broadband affordability gap and the opportunities that exist to close it,” use data to identify unconnected households and students, and launch broadband adoption and free apartment Wi-Fi programs in Washington D.C.

The non-profit and ISPs will share information confidentially to identify students without broadband at home and “enable states and school districts to purchase Internet service for families through sponsored service agreements,” the website said.

The initiative will run on five principles: identify student need, have ISPs create sponsored service offerings for school districts or other entities, set eligibility standards, minimize the amount of information necessary to sign up families, and protect privacy.

The non-profit said 82 percent of Washington D.C.’s total unconnected households – a total of just over 100,000 people – have access to the internet but can’t afford to connect.

“This ‘broadband affordability gap’ keeps 47 million Americans offline, is present in every state, and disproportionately impacts low-income, Black, and Latinx communities,” the release said. “Without high-speed Internet access at home, families in Washington DC can’t send their children to school, work remotely, or access healthcare, job training, the social safety net, or critical government services.”

Over 120 regional and national carriers have signed up for the initiative.

The initiative is another in a national effort to close the “homework gap.” The Federal Communications Commission is connected schools, libraries and students using money from the Emergency Connectivity Fund, which is subsidizing devices and connections. It has received $5 billion in requested funds in just round one.

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Broadband's Impact

Steve Lacoff: A New Standard for the ‘Cloudification’ of Communications Services

The cloudification of communications services makes it easy to include voice, data, SMS, and video within any existing service.

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The author of this Expert Opinion is Steve Lacoff, general manager of Avalara for communications

The line of demarcation between what has traditionally been considered a telecommunications service was once very clear. It was tangible – there were wires, end points, towers, switches, facilities. Essentially, there was infrastructure required to relay voice or data from point A to point B.

Today that line is fuzzy, if not invisible. The legacy infrastructure remains, but an industry of cloud-based services that don’t require the physical connections has exploded. Voice, data, SMS, and video conferencing can now be conveniently delivered OTT. Enabled by simple API integrations, businesses can embed just one of these services or a complete communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) into an app, service, or product.

Cloudification is a game changer

This “cloudification” of communications services makes it easy to include voice, data, SMS, and video within any existing application, product, or service. These are essential components for many business models.

Consider these services we have come to rely on in our daily lives: food or grocery delivery, ride services, and business and personal communications. These require multiple methods of communication with shoppers, drivers, co-workers, watch party groups, and external business partners.

The exciting news is there is no end in sight. Use cases will continue to evolve and growth will continue to skyrocket. The scale cloud delivery accommodates is massive. These untethered, easy to embed communications services are a critical differentiator for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer buyers, and the lifeblood of the businesses providing both the end user subscriptions and the APIs.

In fact, one industry juggernaut saw H1 YoY video application service demand grow nearly 600% in 2020.

Not surprisingly, as business demand for these services increases smaller CPaaS players continue to enter the market to quickly snag market share. According to a recent IDC study, “the global market revenue for CPaaS reached $5.9bn in 2020, up from $4.26bn in 2019, and is expected to reach $17.71bn by 2024.”

Merger and acquisition activity is aligned with this hockey stick growth forecast. Large telcos, SaaS providers, and even other CPaaS providers are all on the hunt. Whether they want to add additional features to punch up their products or eliminate the competition in a very tight, nuanced market, the end game is clear – as the market expands, the players will ultimately contract leaving only the most competitive offerings.

Don’t let communications tax take you by surprise

One of the least understood risks when adding cloud-based voice, data, SMS, or video conferencing to an existing product or service is new eligibility for and exposure to the complex world of communications taxation. Making mistakes can get costly very quickly.

Here are some of the key pitfalls to keep an eye on:

  • Expanded nexus: Understanding communications tax nexus is different – and exceptionally more complicated – than sales tax. There are approximately 60,000 federal, state, local, and special taxing jurisdictions, each with uniquely complex rules that tend to change at their own pace. Rules are very different for each service.
  • More complex calculations: The more communications services you provide via API, the more complicated communications taxes will be. Each feature can be taxed at different rates in each individual jurisdiction, or the whole bundle can be taxed at one rate. It’s critical to monitor monthly to avoid audit issues.
  • Maintaining overall compliance: Just as tax rates and rules need to be maintained, so must tax and regulatory filing forms in each jurisdiction. Some of these are very long and require significant detail.  They must be filed in a timely, accurate cadence to avoid additional audit risk.

Bottom line: Don’t assume, be prepared! As these communications services become more pervasive a larger swath of technology providers will find themselves liable for communications tax. The more your business falls behind, the more it can cost you.

It pays to be proactive and prepared. Tax and legal advisory experts can help determine your level of risk, and tax and compliance software providers can help you keep up with changing rules and regulations. Don’t underestimate the ongoing value of networking with peers who are either struggling to answer the same questions or have already overcome the hurdles you’re facing today.

Steve Lacoff is General Manager of Avalara for Communications. With a focus on data, VoIP, and video streaming, Steve has spent 15 years in various product and marketing leadership roles in communications and technology industries, including Disney’s streaming services and Comcast technology solutions. Steve now drives business strategy on today’s changing industry landscape and associated tax impacts. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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