February 8, 2021—Montana state Democrats have announced a legislative package that aims to fill the rural broadband gap.
State Rep. Katie Sullivan has introduced LC 2670, a bill that would see the creation of either a broadband manager or an advisory board under the state’s executive. The goal of this body would be to create a roadmap for future legislation designed to improve broadband infrastructure in Montana.
In addition to outlining plans for the future, Democrats are also trying to determine how best to secure investment in developing broadband infrastructure.
Rep. Tyson Running Wolf has put forward LC 1548, a bill that would seek to establish new lines of credit that could be used to fund various endeavors aimed at enabling broadband expansion. These lines of credit would be overseen by the broadband manager or advisory board Representative Sullivan aims to create.
Additionally, Rep. Derek Harvey has proposed a “dig once” initiative known as LC2940. Like other “dig once” policies from around the country, LC 2940 would require the Montana Department of Transportation to communicate with telecom providers to coordinate road construction and fiber laying activities to minimize cost.
An additional bill in this package is Representative Kelly Kortum’s LC 1539. This legislation would incentivize the production of new tech jobs by allowing communities to purchase broadband infrastructure. In addition to incentivizing tech jobs, this effort would also promote remote work, the bill says.
Adam Kovacevich offers thoughts for a new era of tech
There is no denying that the beginning of the Biden Administration signals the dawn of a new era for the tech industry.
The past four years represented a departure from the Obama Administration’s rose-tinted approach to tech policy, and now it is President Joe Biden’s chance to set the tone for how his administration will approach the issues facing the sector.
In his piece for Protocol, Adam Kovacevich outlined his recommendations for big tech and the course itcan chart alongside the administration. Kovacevich’s first recommendation to big tech was to seek out opportunities to help the Biden Administration accomplish its biggest goals, namely “beating the coronavirus, aggressive action against climate change, [and] tackling racial and income inequality.”
Kovacevich pointed to Amazon’s offer to aid in the distribution of vaccines as a prime example of the actions that this sector can be taking to aid the administration.
Kovacevich also recommended that if tech companies want to accomplish their goals, they need to hitch their wagon to progressive causes. During this administration, tech companies will need to be able to demonstrate that their goals (whether they are producing autonomous vehicles, investing in telemedicine, or expanding broadband coverage) can accomplish Biden’s stated goals, such as reducing inequality and emissions, increasing wages, and improving American infrastructure. Kovacevich points to these policy areas as crucial examples of opportunities that tech companies need to capitalize on.
As the new administration begins to settle in, Kovacevich also advised tech companies to begin to “wave the U.S. flag” and recommit to promoting U.S. interests and leadership on the world stage. He also sought to remind the tech industry that “Democrats like policymaking,” and that they need to be active at the policy-making table if they want to have input on issues such as consumer privacy and addressing the future of Section 230.
Kovacevich’s final piece of advice to the tech industry was to seek out “voluntary wins,” or actions taken by the sector to police themselves so that the federal government does not have to step in and do it.
One such example of the tech industry already engaging in this behavior is Apple dropping Parler, a platform that housed conspiracy theorists, from the Appstore—a move that has been lauded by progressives as taking a stand against extremism.
Parler CEO and founder John Matze out
Parler’s CEO and founder John Matze was fired by the website’s board. This came as the latest twist in the controversial platform’s short history, as it was dropped by Amazon in January following the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, in addition to providing a safe space for extremism and hateful speech.
In an interview with National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, Matze stated that he “did not participate in this decision,” and that he believes that his firing came because of a disagreement he had with conservative donor and board member, Rebekah Mercer.
Matze claimed that his vision for Parler would require the website to crack down on domestic terror groups, those who call for or attempt to incite violence, and even those who disseminate QAnon conspiracies.
Matze stated that he felt as though the Capital riot was a clear indication that Parler had to take a more active role in moderating the content shared on the platform and that things would only get worse if the website failed to act.
Matze’s firing comes at a crucial time as various entities in the tech sector are attempting to navigate how they will work with or against President Biden’s goals during his administration.
House Passes Ban on Chinese Equipment, 3.45 GHz Auction Reaches Reserve Price, Against a ‘Wi-Fi Tax’
Bipartisan Senate bill clears the House, FCC auction prices climb higher, tech groups oppose newly proposed fee
October 22, 2021—The House of Representatives passed the Secure Equipment Act of 2021 on Wednesday, with a goal of mitigating perceived national security threats from equipment manufacturers, particularly Chinese companies.
The bill would require the Federal Communications Commission issue rules prohibiting new equipment licenses to potentially dangerous companies on the agency’s “Covered Equipment or Services List.”
Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., initially introduced the act before its passage in the Senate. The House version of the bill was introduced by Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana.
Chinese state-backed firms Huawei and ZTE are among the companies included in the FCC’s list of technology companies that the agency has deemed a national security threat. The agency was required by the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019 to detail which companies it believes to pose a severe threat to U.S. safety.
The new measure would make it impossible for U.S. telecommunications carriers to continue using equipment from companies deemed threats by the FCC if that equipment was purchased with private or non-federal government dollars. That practice was previously allowed, even those using such equipment with federal funds had already been effectively banned.
FCC 3.45 GHz auction proceeds reach reserve price
The 3.45 GHz auction at the FCC hit the agency’s reserve price of $14.77 billion Wednesday.
Many doubts existed about whether the auction would not hit the reserve price and become the first to do so in the FCC’s history.
Should this auction follow the same progression as this year’s C Band auction, it is possible proceeds could reach $20 billion. Current proceeds total $16.43 billion.
Success of the auction would come as a large relief to AT&T, which is projected to be the auction’s largest spender ahead of T-Mobile and Dish.
Analysts at New Street Research stated that they believe it is likely that the auction will meet the reserve price and that the actions of the Department of Defense will serve as a strong indicator of the auction’s success because it uses the mid-band spectrum that is most sought after by carriers.
CCIA opposes a proposed ‘Wi-Fi tax’
The Computer & Communications Industry Association on Thursday in submitting comments to the FCC on Thursday in opposition to a proposal that would charge regulatory fees to users of unlicensed spectrum.
The CCIA was joined in its opposition by the Internet Association, Digital Media Association and Incompas.
The organizations said that the FCC’s proposed fees would “effectively result in something like a Wi-Fi tax.”
CCIA said that the proposal would be “unworkable to implement” and that it exceeds the legal authority and mission of the FCC. Further, they state it would also harm innovators who use unlicensed spectrum to create services for consumers.
‘Squid Game’ Exposes Traffic Problem, Virginia’s $2B Broadband Investment, West Virginia Mapping
Netflix hit’s traffic struggle, Virginia expects $2B from P3, op-ed says FCC expects states to get good maps before FCC.
October 20, 2021––A South Korean broadband company is suing Netflix to cover the cost of the surge in traffic from its hit television show “Squid Game.”
The show, which according to Netflix has more than 100 million streams, became a global hit last month.
The Financial Times reports that SK Broadband, owned by SK Telecom, South Korea’s largest mobile operator, argues that streaming platforms should pay for the congestion on its networks.
The company said that the traffic Netflix generated on its network increased to 1.2 trillion bits of data processing per second since September, an increase that’s equal to 24 times the company’s normal traffic over three years. The company said its network had to be upgraded twice to accommodate the traffic surge caused by customers streaming the show on Netflix.
Local law in South Korea requires the companies with more than 1 million users and using more than 1 percent of total network traffic to pay internet fees to distribute the maintenance costs incurred by broadband providers.
Netflix accounted for almost 5 percent of internet traffic in the fourth quarter and had more than 1.7 million paid subscribers. SK Broadband argues that Netflix must pay more in network usage fees.
Virginia announces $2 billion public-private broadband partnership
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said Tuesday that the state expects more than $2 billion in funding for high-speed broadband investments after announcing a public-private partnership with local governments and private internet service providers, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Northam announced that the state received requests to fund 57 projects to expand broadband across 84 localities across Virginia, totaling $943 million in grants. It would be matched by $1.15 billion in private and local government funds.
“Broadband is as critical today as electricity was in the last century,” said Northam. “Making sure more Virginians can get access to it has been a priority since I took office, and the pandemic has pushed us all to move even faster.
“Virginia is now on track to achieve universal broadband by , which means more connections, more investments, more online learning and expanded telehealth options, especially in rural Virginia,” he said.
Northam and the Virginia general assembly appropriate $700 million of the $4.3 billion that Virginia received under the federal emergency aid package to accelerate Virginia’s universal broadband coverage goal. The expected completion has been moved up from 2028 to 2024.
The plan is expected to bring internet access to more than 250,000 homes and businesses.
The state is using federal emergency aid from the American Rescue Plan Act to close the digital divide in Virginia.
Op-Ed: West Virginia being asked to produce quality broadband maps before FCC
Advocates for more accurate maps say that the federal government is hypocritical in asking West Virginia for more accurate maps than the Federal Communications Commission can produce.
“The state is being asked to produce accurate maps, which the federal government knows full well its own agency did not produce” for the state the invest millions of dollars in federal American Rescue Plan funding for broadband expansion, writes a Wednesday op-ed in the Weirton Daily Times.
The FCC has been under fire for flaws in its broadband mapping data, which was relied upon to produce winners for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which forced the commission to clean-up the result of the reverse auction after finding that some of the money would go toward wasteful spending.
West Virginia’s effort to expand broadband is led by the state Department of Economic Development. State Economic Development Secretary Mitch Carmichael said that if self-reported maps show no service in an area “you can bet your life there’s no service there.”
“There’s a lot more at stake as the department works to get these maps right. It is no exaggeration to say that the future of education and employment in West Virginia is riding on it,” said the Times. “Good luck, then, to Carmichael and his department as they work to clean up yet another federal government mess that has left the Mountain State struggling for too long.”
New Senate Antitrust Bill Reaction, Charter Making Executive Changes, T-Mobile, Verizon Top Charts
Trade association doesn’t like new antitrust bill, Charter makes changes at the top, T-Mobile leads wireless, Verizon on wireline.
October 19, 2021 – A Senate antitrust bill introduced Monday that would empower the Federal Trade Commission to further regulate technology companies will harm start ups and small business, according to the Consumer Technology Association.
The trade association, which represents companies across the tech sector, said the American Innovation and Consumer Choice Act – introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa – will “cause irreparable harm to small businesses and startups and put U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage against China and other nations eager to overtake our country as global tech leader.”
The bill would prohibit “dominant platforms” from favoring their own products and services to the detriment of competition, stop conduct that is harmful to small businesses including preventing interoperability with big platforms, requiring payment to receive preferential treatment on the big platform, bias search results, and misuse business data to compete against the small companies.
Amazon, for example, was accused of having taken the information of products of smaller companies on its platforms to create their own competing products.
According to the release, the bill received the support of at least 10 other Senators across party lines and companies including Spotify and Roku.
But the CCA said the bill, in empowering the FTC, would allow it to “ignore the consumer welfare standard, while imposing massive fines with minimal due process.
“Further, the bill will take away features and functions that millions of Americans love and use in their everyday lives,” the CCA statement said. “Say goodbye to Amazon Prime free shipping, Google maps in search results, preinstalled iPhone apps and many more.”
The House already has before it six antitrust bills that are awaiting votes.
Charter makes executive changes
Charter announced Tuesday that it is promoting chief financial officer Chris Winfrey to chief operating officer and Jessica Fischer will move from executive vice president to the COO position.
John Bickham will be vice chairman before he retired at the end of 2022, the company also announced in a press release, while chief product and technology officer Rich DiGeronimo will oversee the company’s network operations as an additional responsibility.
“I have worked with John for three decades and at every turn, his knowledge, leadership and steady hand have not only contributed greatly to the success of the companies we led, but made a profound impact on the growth of our industry,” said CEO Tom Rutledge. “I am grateful that John will continue to serve Charter in this new capacity as a strategic advisor to me and the executive team, and his guidance will help ensure a successful transition for Chris into the COO role.”
T-Mobile gets top billing for wireless, Verizon for wireline
According to an Ookla report Monday, T-Mobile ranked as the fastest mobile operator in the country in the third quarter with a median download speed of 62.35 Megabits per second, as Verizon took home the top rank for wireline download speeds at 178.38 Mbps.
For wireless, AT&T was second in speed at 47.42 Mbps, followed by Verizon at 39.91 Mbps. T-Mobile also ranked first in 5G performance with a median speed of 135.17 Mbps, followed by Verizon at 78.94 Mbps and then AT&T at 72.46 Mbps. T-Mobile was also top in 5G availability with 64.4 percent, with AT&T second at 44.8 percent and Verizon third at 34.3 percent.
T-Mobile completed its merger with Sprint last year. It proposed that the combined entity was the only way the companies could compete against the top players and offer a competitive 5G product.
On the wireline side, Cox was second to Verizon on download speed at 168.56 Mbps, followed by Comcast’s Xfinity at 161.87 percent, Spectrum fourth at 143.57 Mbps, AT&T Internet at 132.48 Mbps, and CenturyLink at 59.80 Mbps.
New Jersey had the fastest median download speed on wireline at 158.19 Mbps, followed by New York at 147.46 Mbps, California at 142.56 Mbps, Florida at 141.88 Mbps, and Texas at 140.15 Mbps.
- Federal Trade Commission Will Likely Not Be Able to Implement Competition Rules, Panelists Say
- House Passes Ban on Chinese Equipment, 3.45 GHz Auction Reaches Reserve Price, Against a ‘Wi-Fi Tax’
- LEO Satellite Technology Should Be in All Schools, Gigabit Libraries Network Says
- Housing, Public Interest Groups Oppose Multitenant Exclusivity Agreements
- Broadband Breakfast on October 27, 2021 — When ‘Greenfield’ Fiber Meets ‘Brownfield’ Multiple Dwelling Units
- Federal Communications Commission Dispenses $544 Million in Rural Broadband Funds
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