December 27, 2021 – Internet speeds in the United States rose dramatically on average over the past year, according to a new report.
An annual report from highspeedinternet.com found that average internet speeds increased to 99.3Mbps (download speed) from 2020’s average of 42.86Mbps.
The report, released this month, demonstrated how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic drove demand for faster internet speeds across the nation.
“Beyond faster speeds, people needed more mobile options to stay connected, and more people looked to get fiber internet after feeling frustrated with their cable or DSL connections,” said the report.
According to the report, customers connected to fiber internet were happiest with their connection as opposed to cable and DSL customers.
“Surprisingly, cable customers gave satisfaction ratings on par with DSL customers, despite the fact that cable internet offers much higher speeds. Perhaps cable users ran into more throttling as overall internet use increased, whereas fiber users don’t have to worry about throttling,” wrote the report. The report noted how fiber internet would be customers’ top choice if it were available in their community.
High Speed Internet’s report also surveyed the fastest internet providers of 2021. They found that Google Fiber “reigned “as the fastest internet provider in the US, but that Google is not as available in many places. Xfinity was the fastest provider with the most availability across the US, while Verizon was the fastest provider with the lowest latency.
US commerce secretary promises broadband improvement in Wisconsin
US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo promised better connectivity for Wisconsin residents.
She recognized that access to reliable, high-speed internet is an essential part of Americans’ economic participation.
“So many folks in Wisconsin live in rural communities, there is no broadband. If you live in a city, maybe you live in Milwaukee, there is broadband but it’s not affordable. We’ve got to fix all of that,” said Raimondo on Sunday.
According to the White House, only 5.5 percent of Wisconsin residents live in areas served by broadband providers. Even where infrastructure is available, broadband may be too expensive to be within reach, a White House fact sheet stated. Fourteen percent of Wisconsin households do not have an internet subscription. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will grant $100 million for the state to connect its most disconnected residents.
“I’ve talked to so many women during the pandemic who couldn’t hold down a traditional office job, but they started selling things online. They started a small business to sell online. They started services to businesses online. But they need broadband to do that,” said Raimondo.
Raimondo added that the work of laying the fiber cables needed to connect communities will create “thousands of new jobs in Wisconsin over the next several years.”
Bluepeak announces fiber expansion in Blackwell, Oklahoma
Internet service provider Bluepeak announced that it received franchise approval for a fiber network in Blackwell, Oklahoma.
Bluepeak will begin construction on the new high-speed network that will bring service to almost 3,000 residents and businesses in the city.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with the City of Blackwell to build a next-generation, fiber-to-the-home network,” said Bluepeak CEO Rich Fish. “Bluepeak is a different kind of provider with faster, more reliable speeds that will better connect homes, businesses and organizations across Blackwell.”
Last month the company announced plans to expand its fiber network in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
That project, which cost $25 million, will connect almost 23,000 residents to high-speed broadband.
In Blackwell, customers can purchase up to 5 gigabits of symmetrical bandwidth, while businesses can receive up to 10 gigabits of symmetrical bandwidth.
Blackwell city officials reacted enthusiastically to the partnership. “Providing city residents, businesses and industry with additional telecommunication options is paramount in this age of information. The City looks forward to working with Clarity Telecom, LLC/Bluepeak in the coordination of the installation of fiber on the City’s poles and underground fiber in its rights-of-way where no poles are present,” said Blackwell City Manager Jerry Wieland.
USDA Hires Lumen, Ligado Marketing Services, IRS Facial ID, New Public Knowledge Hire
The Department of Agriculture awarded Lumen a $1.2-billion, 11-year contract for data services.
January 20, 2022 – On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $1.2-billion network services contract with telecom Lumen Technologies.
The 11-year contract will provide the department with data transport service with remote access and cloud connectivity, leveraging Lumen’s fiber network to connect 9,500 USDA locations across the country and abroad to better manage agriculture in the country, the press release said.
“Lumen is bringing modern technology solutions that will make it easier for the USDA to accomplish its mission of promoting the production of nutritious food that nourishes our people, providing economic opportunity to rural Americans, and preserving our nation’s natural resources through smart forest and watershed conservation,” said Zain Ahmed, Lumen’s public sector senior vice president.
The contract was granted under the General Services Administration’s $50-billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions program.
Ligado Networks and Select Spectrum to strengthen critical networks
Mobile communications company Ligado Networks and spectrum brokerage and advisory firm Select Spectrum announced an agreement on Tuesday that will market and sell Ligado’s mid-band spectrum services for critical infrastructure.
“We know the critical infrastructure sector has an urgent need for dedicated access to licensed spectrum, and our mid-band spectrum, with both satellite and terrestrial connectivity, is uniquely positioned to meet this need and empower companies to operate private networks on a long-term basis,” said Ligado Networks’ CEO Doug Smith in a press release.
According to the agreement, Select Spectrum will search for those seeking to use Ligado’s licensed spectrum in the 1.6 GHz band in order to provide 5G capabilities to projects like power grid modernization and advanced transportation initiatives.
IRS to require facial recognition for taxes access
According to a Wednesday Gizmodo article, starting this summer online tax filers will have to submit a selfie to a third-party verification company called ID.me in order to make payments or file taxes online. Along with facial identification, users will also have to submit government identification documents and copies of bills to confirm their identity.
ID.me will use the selfie and compare it to the government identification document to verify the user. If the system fails to match the two documents, the user can join a recorded video to provide verification to the user.
Gizmodo’s article claimed that both the IRS and ID.me could not provide a method to access user accounts without providing a face scan. This could be problematic for tax filers that don’t have access to certain technologies.
Public Knowledge hires new senior policy analyst
Non-profit public interest group Public Knowledge announced Tuesday that it has brought on Lisa Macpherson as senior policy analyst.
According to a press release, Macpherson’s “experience driving digital marketing transformation on behalf of brands led to concerns over the broader impacts of digital technology on individual well-being, civil society, journalism, and democracy.”
National Privacy Law, Digital Infrastructure Firm’s $8B Raise, Wicker Wants Spectrum Cooperation
Business groups are asking Congress to supersede state laws by passing privacy legislation that sets a national standard.
January 19, 2022 – As states begin to pass their own privacy laws, business groups are asking the federal government to pass legislation that would mitigate confusion by creating a national standard, reports MediaPost Communications.
The Association of National Advertisers, Interactive Advertising Bureau, and the U.S. Chamber of Congress are just a few of the business groups that are asking for a national privacy law.
“As the Federal Trade Commission considers a privacy rulemaking that would add a further layer of complexity to the state patchwork, it is critical that Congress pass one single national standard”, the groups stated in a letter that was signed by 15 national organizations and then by local business groups from across the country, the MediaPost report said.
California, Virginia, and Colorado are just a few of the states that have passed their own version of a privacy law, and while they all serve a similar purpose, they have various nuances that the business groups said they believe will be difficult to navigate for their businesses and for consumers across state lines, MediaPost reports.
In addition, there are members of Congress who are also asking for a national plan for consumer privacy.
Digital infrastructure firm DigitalBridge raises over $8 billion
DigitalBridge Investment Management, an investment firm in digital infrastructure, raised a higher-than-expected $8.3 billion, according to a Wednesday press release, illustrating interest in projects including fiber builds.
“The Fund has already invested in nine portfolio companies across towers, easements, hyperscale data centers, edge infrastructure, indoor DAS infrastructure and fiber, running reliable, mission-critical network infrastructure for many of the world’s leading hyperscale cloud providers and mobile network operators,” the release said.
The round comes as the federal government pushing billions of dollars into infrastructure, including broadband and as the pandemic has shown a need for remote capabilities driven by broadband.
Republican lawmaker calls for NTIA-FCC cooperation on spectrum
Senator Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, sent a letter earlier this month to the head of the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration asking them to consider a renewed agreement to work together on spectrum management.
The January 13 letter to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and new NTIA head Alan Davidson said their “relationship can be strengthened” on matters related to the shared use of radiowaves between federal and non-federal users by refreshing the memorandum of understanding that was last updated in 2003.
“In light of recent disputes over spectrum allocations, it is more important than ever that the [FCC and NTIA] work together to promote spectrum policy that best serves the dual goals of furthering commercial innovation and enabling the mission-critical operations of federal agencies,” the letter said.
Airlines’ 5G Warning, 3.45 GHz Winners, Bongino YouTube Suspension
Airlines claim the need to cancel a many flights because of interference between altimeters and 5G transmitters.
January 18, 2022 — Major American airlines are saying that they will need to cancel a significant number of flights from possible interference between aircraft altimeters and 5G signals this week, according to multiple news reports.
Verizon and AT&T, which are deploying 5G services around airports using the C-band spectrum, had already agreed to a deployment delay earlier this month at the behest of the airlines, but are planning of turning on service this week.
The signals that come from the 5G service risk “interfering with safety equipment pilots rely on to take off and land inclement weather,” said the CEOs of major American airlines in a letter to United States officials, according to NBC News.
“The nation’s commerce will grind to a halt” and leave “tens of thousands of Americans” stranded overseas, the letter said, adding “immediate intervention is needed to avoid significant operational disruption to air passengers, shippers, supply chain and delivery of needed medical supplies.’”
Industry group Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association stated that “5G is safe and the spectrum is currently in use in nearly 40 other nations.”
FCC announces winning bidders in 3.45 GHz auction
The Federal Communications Commission announced Friday the winning bidders for the 3.45 GHz auction, frequencies important for 5G services.
The top five winners were AT&T with winning bids worth just over $9 billion; Weminuche won bids worth just over $7 billion; T-Mobile took nearly $3 billion worth; Three Forty-Five Spectrum nabbed $1.4 billion worth; and United States Cellular Corp took licenses valued at nearly $600 million.
According to a press release from the FCC, 13 of the 23 companies that won bids are “small businesses or as entities serving rural communities.”
Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said that enabling “commercial use of this spectrum is important to America’s continuing economic recovery and 5G leadership.” The gross proceeds of this auction were over $22.5 billion.
Dan Bongino latest conservative voice ousted from tech platform
Alphabet’s YouTube temporarily suspended conservative commentator Dan Bongino‘s channel due to misinformation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, making him the latest voice from the right to be removed for that purpose.
The Hill reported that Bongino declared masks “useless” in the fight against COVID-19, which was in direct violation of YouTube’s COVID-19 policy, which “specifically prohibits content denying the effectiveness of wearing masks, which the vast majority of the scientific community agrees reduces the risk of infection.”
The suspension, which includes him being removed from a program that allows him to get paid for his uploads, lasts a week with a second offense leading to a two-week suspension, and a third to a permanent ban.
The ban follows social media company Twitter’s removal of Georgia Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, which was followed by Republican Kentucky Senator Rand Paul removing himself from YouTube earlier this month.
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