July 29, 2021—The White House announced Thursday that a bipartisan group in the Senate has arrived at a finalized infrastructure bill that will include $65 billion of investment in broadband.
Though the final amount remains unclear, senators in this group have stated that the bill will likely come out to approximately $1.2 trillion in total and confirmed the amount for broadband infrastructure. President Joe Biden initially announced $100 billion for broadband in March, but that was negotiated down by the Republicans to $65 billion.
The White House also stated that the bill would require funding recipients to offer affordable plans, improve transparency, and facilitate price comparison shopping for consumers.
Details are still scarce, but the statement also indicated that the bill would pass the Digital Equity Act to end digital redlining and create a permanent program to assist in closing the digital divide for low-income households.
According to reporting by Fierce Telecom, the bill would also devote $40 billion to infrastructure deployments and $11.75 billion to continue funding the EBB. Despite the fears of some operators to the contrary, Fierce Telecom also reported that wireless carriers will be eligible for funding.
Fiber Connect 2021 wraps up
Between July 26 and July 28, the Fiber Broadband Association held its Fiber Connect event in Nashville, Tennessee, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.
As one of the earliest conferences to pick back up as an increasing number of people get vaccinated, Fiber Connect became a bellwether for the attitudes and energy for in-person events. More than 2,000 people registered for the event, and the FBA was required to close registrations ahead of the event to prevent overcrowding.
The standing-room-only tradeshow featured dozens of exhibitors from across the telecom sector. Every sector of the industry from data analysis consultants to electrical co-ops to internet service providers were present for the show.
The conference also hosted a series of panels and addresses that featured speakers such as the FBA’s own Garry Bolton, Matt Collins of Calix, and President and CEO of Windstream Tony Thomas. These and other heavyweights in the industry discussed myriad topics ranging from open access to the industry’s potential post-pandemic recovery.
Washington bill removing barriers to community-led broadband efforts goes into effect
Washington State’s bill to remove barriers to community-led broadband builds went into effect this past Sunday.
The bill would undo decades-old regulations that pigeonholed the capabilities of community broadband developments. And while community-owned public utility districts have been allowed to build-out and deploy broadband infrastructure in Washington, they were forbidden from serving as ISPs to the regions they served. Only established incumbents and other for-profit entities were allowed to take advantage of the infrastructure.
Under the new law, PUDs would be allowed to “construct, purchase, acquire, operate, and maintain telecommunications facilities.”
The bill passed in the House on April 24 and in the Senate the next day. Both votes were divisive—with the votes for the final amended versions going 65 to 32 in favor in the House and 27 to 22 in favor in the Senate. It was signed into law on May 13 and was slated to go into effect on July 25.
AT&T Speeds Tiers, Wisconsin Governor on Broadband Assistance, Broadband as Public Utility
AT&T now has a 5 gigabit speeds for residential and business customers in 70 additional markets.
January 25, 2022 – AT&T announced Monday the launch of symmetrical 2-gigabit and 5-gigabit residential and business broadband services to over 70 US markets.
The speed packages come with unlimited data with no additional equipment fees and don’t require annual contracts. The monthly price for the 2-Gig service is $110 per month for residential, or $225 per month for businesses, and the 5-Gig package is $180 per month for residential or $395 per month for businesses.
AT&T also boasts that it has reached 10-Gig speeds in the lab, but have yet to roll it out to customers.
Wisconsin governor encourages residents to apply for broadband assistance
Governor Tony Evers on Monday encouraged residents to apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program, a program that was administered by the Federal Communications Commission late last year and acts as an extension of the Emergency Broadband Benefit program.
According to BroadbandNow data, in Wisconsin, only about 20 percent of the estimated 650,000 eligible households were enrolled in the program, which represents approximately 1.6 million people and provides discounts of up to $30 a month for eligible households and up to $75 a month for homes on tribal lands.
Eligible households are also able to receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet.
The FCC on Friday adopted new rules for the program, which includes limiting the subsidy to one per households to get more homes connected and making it easier for providers, who collect the money, to qualify for the upgraded program.
U.S. Senate candidate calls for broadband to be considered public utility
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Sarah Godlewski published Tuesday a plan that included a call for a push to make broadband a public utility.
Currently, 173,000 Wisconsinites do not have access to any internet provider, and 836,000 Wisconsinites only have access to one provider.
Godlewski promised that if she is elected to the Senate, she would “engage” and “ensure that Washington politicians finally start hearing Wisconsin’s rural voices.”
“In the 21st century, broadband internet access can no longer be treated as a luxury. [Goldewski] wants to make the internet a public utility in order to provide everyone in Wisconsin with guaranteed access to reliable and affordable internet service,” a Tuesday press release said.
New Multitenant Proposal Praised, Dutch Fine Apple, Cameron Comms Expands in Louisiana
Associations including INCOMPAS and WISPA applaud new multitenant proposal.
January 24, 2022 – Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel‘s proposal Friday to impose new rules that would ban some, but stopped short of other, exclusivity agreements between internet service providers and multitenant units is being lauded by some.
The proposal would ban exclusive revenue sharing agreements, in which the landlord gets a share of service provider contracts; require providers disclose to tenants “in plain language” the existence of exclusive marketing arrangements; and clarifies rules to allow for multiple service providers to use building wires to deliver service. The proposal will now go to a vote by the commission.
“For far too long monopolies have locked out broadband competition and blocked faster speeds, lower prices, and better service to a hundred million Americans who live in apartments and condo buildings. We are encouraged to hear that Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has taken action to move forward on an Order in the proceeding,” Chip Pickering, CEO of Internet and Competitive Networks Association (INCOMPAS), said in a statement.
“We look forward to working with Chairwoman Rosenworcel and the entire FCC to forge a bipartisan decision that will enable every customer to choose their broadband provider and will lead to more competition bringing faster speeds, better customer service, and lower prices.”
In its own statement Monday, the Wireless Internet Service Provider Association applauded the proposal. “WISPA members have long-sought to open up the underserved Multi-Dwelling/Multi-Tenant marketplace to more providers,” the statement said. “We believe that the Chairwoman’s work represents great forward progress on the matter, which, when completed, should help consumers experience better and more affordable offerings for their broadband services.”
In submissions to the FCC late last year, housing and public interest groups urged the agency to ban all forms of exclusivity agreements, including marketing and revenue sharing arrangements, that they said lessened service provider competition for tenants.
Dutch antitrust authorities fine Apple
Dutch antitrust authorities have fined Apple €5 million after the company failed to adhere to an order to support third-party, alternative payment systems.
The Authority for Consumer Markets issued the fine on Monday a little more than a week after Apple said it would comply with the body’s order on Jan. 15; the ACM maintains Apple failed to comply. Apple was originally ordered to make changes back in December.
Though Apple is appealing the fine, according to Reuters, ACM said that the company would face weekly fines beginning at €5 million, going up to €50 million.
Cameron Communications expands in Louisiana
American Broadband Holding Company subsidiary Cameron Communications announced Monday its expansion into Westlake, Louisiana where it will deploy fiber-to-the-premises services and gigabit speeds for both residents and businesses.
The expansion into Westlake is a part of a broader initiative to further serve rural communities in the region, the company said in a statement.
“We believe everyone should have access to quality and reliable internet service and are excited to provide the Westlake community with an offering that brings the future of communications and entertainment into their homes and businesses,” Cameron Communications General Manager Bruce Petry said in the statement. “We understand the needs of Westlake customers because we have decades of expertise serving this region of the state and navigating the challenges that come with it.”
Cameron Communications is based out of southern Louisiana but maintains networks throughout the state and in several localities in Texas.
Biden’s Involvement in 5G, Residential 5 Gbps in Northwest, New Technology Advisory Council
The president urged wireless carriers to comply with the aviation industry’s requests for further delays on new network launches.
January 21, 2022 – President Joe Biden says he pushed wireless carriers to accommodate aviation companies’ concerns about the networks’ launch of 5G that occurred Wednesday.
Biden encouraged carriers to give airlines even more time to examine their aviation equipment for possible interference with 5G before the new network updates were launched.
Verizon and AT&T announced Tuesday that they would limit 5G service around some airports, giving in to some of the aviation industry’s concerns.
Both companies had initially planned to launch their network changes on January 5 but further delayed launch at the request of airlines. January 5 was already a delayed launch date, with the companies having earlier planned rollout for 2021.
“What I’ve done is pushed as hard as I can to have the 5G folks hold up and abide by what was being requested by the airlines until they could more modernize over the years, so 5G would not interfere with the potential of a landing” said Biden following the events of Wednesday’s launch.
He says he spoke with Verizon and AT&T on the same day the launch took place.
The president did not mention any government fixes to the conflict, saying it was an argument between “two private enterprises,” despite speculation that following the messy fight the administration may develop a national spectrum strategy or the Federal Communications Commission and National Telecommunications and Information Administration may release updated memoranda on the issues.
Ziply Fiber offers 5 Gigabit per second residential service
Internet service provider Ziply Fiber announced it has begun offering ultra-high-speed 5 Gigabit per second (Gbps) and 2 Gbps residential fiber internet service to customers in several cities across the Northwest.
The expansion in Washington state, Oregon and Idaho makes Ziply Fiber the first company to introduce a 5 Gbps speed for residential services, the company said.
In its announcement Thursday, the company says the expansion will bring service to nearly 170,000 residential customer addresses across 60 cities and towns.
Ziply Fiber began building out fiber in Northwest markets in 2020 and has announced construction of 57 fiber projects since then.
The company plans to introduce its 5 Gbps and 2 Gbps service in Montana later in Q1 of 2022.
FCC sets stage for new TAC membership
The FCC has appointed a new group of members to serve on its Technology Advisory Council and set a February 28 date for its first meeting with the new class.
“The advisory council provides technical expertise to the Commission to identify important areas of innovation and develop informed technology policies,” according to the FCC.
Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced the new membership Wednesday with the commission’s press release calling them “a diverse group of leading technology experts.”
Dean Brenner, a former Qualcomm executive, will serve as chairman of the council, Michael Ha, chief of the policy and rules division in the Office of Engineering and Technology, will continue to serve as the designated federal officer and Martin Doczkat, chief of the electromagnetic compatibility division in the OET, is the alternate designated federal officer.
Rosenworcel highlighted that the council will work on advancing 6G research as well as numerous other issues such as examining both supply chain vulnerabilities and global standards development.
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