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‘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.

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

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 [2024], 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.”

Reporter Justin Perkins is graduate of Howard University School of Law, with a focus on telecommunications and technology. He has in-house experience at the Federal Communications Commission, Comcast and NBC. He brings curiosity and insight to broadband news.

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AT&T Partners with Ericsson on OpenRAN, FCC Extends Engineering Waiver, New COO at Atlas Digital Group

AT&T is pushing for more interoperability of equipment on its wireless network.

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Photo of Ericsson 5G factory in Texas.

December 6, 2023 – AT&T announced Monday a partnership with Swedish mobile wireless equipment maker Ericsson to build out its open radio access network to get ahead of the race to allow the networks to work with various equipment suppliers. 

The five-year contract with Ericsson could see AT&T spend roughly $14 billion and eventually see 70 percent of its wireless network traffic travel over open platforms by late 2026. 

Beginning in 2025, AT&T said it will be coordinating with multiple suppliers on the development of the Open RAN ecosystem, including Intel, Dell, Corning, and Fujitsu. 

“AT&T’s and Ericsson’s multiyear joint commitment to Open RAN deployment comes at a pivotal moment in the 5G innovation cycle,” the telecom said in a press release. “This move to an open, agile, programmable wireless network positions AT&T to quickly capitalize on the next generation of wireless technology and spectrum when it becomes available. 

“These innovative technologies will enable lower-power, sustainable networks with higher performance to deliver enhanced user experiences,” it added. “Ericsson’s open architecture will provide a foundation and springboard for developers driving innovation through open and programmable networks and bringing new suppliers into the industry. This will foster modernization and competition in the U.S. wireless equipment market.”

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the head of the Federal Communications Commission have said that open RAN deployments would allow network owners to move away from proprietary technologies to diversify the supply chain and reduce security risks.  

The NTIA is currently in the midst of distributing money from the $1.5-billion Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund, which is intended to help telecoms transition to open, interoperable wireless networks. 

Ericsson plans to use the 5G smart factory in Lewisville, Texas to provide equipment to the project.

FCC extends waiver to allow the use of non-professional certified engineers 

The Federal Communications Commission filed an order Thursday extending the use of a waiver that permits telecommunication companies to use non-professional certified engineers to sign off on broadband data collection. 

The use of the waiver was set to expire on September 15th of this year for broadband data recorded as of June 30th 2023, but now will extend for three more filing periods to be used for data collected up to December 31, 2024. 

The FCC reasoned that extending the use of the waiver “strikes an appropriate balance by giving providers limited relief from the PE requirement, on the condition that they are able to expeditiously provide to the Commission, when requested, underlying network information that supports their availability data.”

Industry associations USTelecom and the Competitive Carriers Association filed a petition in August to extend for three filing periods the use of a waiver that does not require provider’s broadband data filings to be verified by a licensed professional engineer. They argued that requiring sign-off from a licensed professional engineer would burden smaller providers. 

The FCC put in place a rule requiring mapping data to be signed off by a certified engineer and a corporate officer, but would accept a single signature sign off if the signatory could qualify both of those positions. 

In 2020 Congress passed the Broadband DATA Act, which required the FCC to create a new set of rules to regulate how biannual broadband service data was collected and distributed. As a part of that act, service providers were required to submit verification from a “corporate officer” that any data they had collected was accurate. 

Atlas Digital Group appoints new COO

Atlas Digital Group, an e-commerce company serving the broadband industry, announced Monday that Chad Neuhaus will be taking on a new role as the company’s chief operating officer. 

Neuhaus will manage the implementation of operational strategies, promoting quality control across deliverables and working with senior management members to work on continued development strategy, explained a press release. 

I’m ready to contribute to an outstanding team and help the company achieve even stronger performance as we roar into 2024,” said Neuhaus. 

Prior to joining Atlas Digital Group, Neuhaus served for 23 years in various roles at telecommunications companies, including Altice and AT&T, a press release said. 

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Nvidia Navigates Export Rules, FCC on High-Cost, Kansas Awards Fiber Grants

Department of Commerce continues to combat the export of U.S. semiconductors to adversarial nations

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Photo of U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo

December 4, 2023 – Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Saturday that the department is ready and willing to impose further export restrictions on any products made by graphics card maker NVIDIA that assists adversarial nations in developing their artificial intelligence capabilities, according to a story from Fortune

“If you redesign a chip around a particular cut line that enables them to do AI, I’m going to control it the very next day,” Raimondo said at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, according to Fortune. 

Nvidia, which has been focusing on its development as an AI company, has restructured its advanced chips to access the Chinese market, which is worth at least $400 million in sales. In response to exports restrictions imposed by Commerce in August 2022, Nvidia tweaked its A100 chip series to comply with U.S. rules, limiting the processing capabilities and re-releasing the chips under a new name, the A800 series.

In October 2023, Commerce imposed additional licensing requirements based on performance threshold to limit the export of high-performance computing chips, to include the A800 series. Less than a month later, Nvidia had introduced a series of GPUs with limited computing capabilities in compliance with Commerce export requirements, made available to Chinese customers.

Commerce has said it is trying to limit risks of the chips being used in foreign military operations.

In response to Secretary Raimondo’s recent claims, Nvidia told Broadband Breakfast, “We are engaged with the U.S. government and, following the government’s clear guidelines, are working to offer compliant data center solutions to customers worldwide.”

The advanced chips are central components to the rise of artificial intelligence, autonomous machines, cloud and high-performance computing.

FCC issues guidance to high-cost support recipients 

The Federal Communications Commission released guidance Wednesday for recipients of high-cost support, outlining the coordination necessary between the recipients, state broadband offices and Tribal entities to avoid overbuilding in areas supported by multiple broadband programs. 

The FCC notes that the recipients of the high-cost programs, which include the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, Enhanced Alternative Connect America Cost Model, and Connect America Fund, must participate in the broadband map challenge process as states prepare to deliver money from the $42.5-billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program.

“Full participation of high-cost support recipients in BEAD Program challenge processes is critical to ensuring that the FCC’s high-cost funding is not duplicated by the BEAD Program,” the FCC said in the guidance. 

“Participation in the BEAD Program challenge process also ensures state broadband offices receive information about high-cost program supported deployments beyond the valuable information provided on the Broadband Funding Map,” it added. 

These recipients should coordinate with their respective state broadband office by taking steps to ensure that the National Broadband Map accurately reflects the locations they serve, the speeds they provide to the locations, and the technologies they are using to serve those locations, the FCC emphasized. 

In addition, the FCC guidance emphasizes that high-cost support recipients should engage with each relevant Tribal government annually to obtain the necessary consent, permits, and other approvals as soon as practicable, even if the recipient has not begun deployment. 

The Tribal engagement obligation set by the FCC represents an opportunity for Tribal governments and high-cost support recipients to coordinate on many issues critical to the deployment and adoption of communications technologies on Tribal lands.

Kansas awards $28.5 million in state broadband grants

Kansas announced it is awarding $28.5 million in broadband grants Wednesday to 12 internet service providers through the state’s Lasting Infrastructure and Network Connectivity program. All of the funding dedicated to broadband infrastructure is going toward deploying fiber technology.

One of the largest awards is to the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, a native American tribe, which will bring fiber-to-the-home connectivity to all of the nation’s 204 residences, as well as to 10 Tribal government services locations on the PBPN reservation. 

Additionally, included in the awards is funding for Kansas’ first carrier-neutral Internet Exchange Point, which will be located on the campus of Wichita State University. The IXP stands to reduce IP transit pricing to below 10 cents per megabit, an expected 90% reduction in cost as compared to current transport and transit pricing through Kansas City, Missouri. 

The awards will also expand middle mile infrastructure through two economically distressed counties in north central Kansas. 

The state funds will be matched by the ISPs for a total of $33.9 million in additional investments.

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Supply Chain Improvements, Bill for Broadband in Public Parks, FCC Grants Alert System Compliance Extension

The Biden administration announced Wednesday a list of new measures to promote supply chain resiliency.

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Photo of Congressman Raúl Grijalva, taken by Gage Skidmore 2018. 

November 30, 2023 – President Joe Biden announced at an inaugural meeting Wednesday new measures to improve national supply chain resilience, many of which are targeted at bettering semiconductor manufacturing. 

These new measures will see the development of a geospatial mapping protocol that will be used to account for and track trade disruptions of raw materials, with a special focus on ones that are involved in semiconductor manufacturing.

Additionally, the US plans to develop a resilience center to assess risks and supply chain vulnerabilities specifically inside national ports alongside looking at how to better implement CHIPS and Science funding.

In July of 2022, the Biden administration signed into law the CHIPS and Science Act, which was broadly supported by lawmakers, putting $52 billion into semiconductor research and development and a 25 percent investment tax credit to promote manufacturing. 

More recently, Biden has announced tech innovation hubs supported by CHIPS Act funds, four of which will focus directly on improving semiconductor production and manufacturing. 

Legislation put forth to expand broadband to public parks 

Congressman Bruce Westerman, R-Arkansas, and Congressman Raúl Grijalva, D-Arizona, introduced legislation Wednesday that would bring broadband connectivity to public parks and lakes. 

The Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences Act would include increasing broadband connectivity in those visitor centers and surrounding areas as well as create digital passes for visitors to use when going to those parks. 

“The increasing popularity of outdoor recreation is a boon for local economies and job creation, but we must make sure our public land management agencies have the tools, resources, and staff they need to keep up,” said Grijalva. 

The broader legislation looks to improve access to public lands and waters, modernize visitor experiences and reduce overcrowding. 

FCC granted emergency alert development extensions to broadcasters

The Federal Communications Commission granted extensions to certain national broadcasters Wednesday, allowing them more time to acquire equipment needed to comply with national emergency alert system requirements. 

There are two ways that broadcasters can transmit emergency messages, either to devices connected to the internet using what is called the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System or over audio channels, which is referred to as the legacy emergency alert broadcast system. 

Historically, messages sent via IPAWS transmit more information to the recipient than ones that are formatted for being transmitted via the legacy system. Because of that, in 2022 the FCC required emergency broadcasters to alert constituents via the IPAWS unless they were unable to. 

Broadcasters were required to comply with this by December 12 of this year. However the National Association of Broadcasters and REC Networks, a broadcast advocacy group, filed a joint request for a 90-day compliance extension.

They explained that Sage Alerting Systems, a manufacturer of firmware needed to encode and decode emergency messages, is not able to meet supply demands for broadcasters to update equipment by the December 12 deadline. 

As a result, the FCC waived the deadline and granted a 90-day extension to emergency broadcast participants who are customers of Sage Alerting Systems. 

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