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‘Significant Resources’ on FCC Map, Association Wants More Data in Map, Minority Grant

FCC chairwoman said challenges to map data only a tiny fraction of locations identified.



Photo of Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel speaking at the Mobile World Conference 2022 in Barcelona

February 13, 2023 – The head of the Federal Communications Commission said in a letter to lawmakers earlier this month that the agency has spent “significant resources” since it released the first version of the dataset underlying its broadband map.

Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in the February 3 letter that those resources included “manual review above and beyond the baseline methodology used to identify additional [broadband serviceable locations],” after the agency found “few discrete instances” where the data did not meet its expectations, including outdated or unavailable information.

The chairwoman also added more detail into the number of challenges it received to its first version of the dataset, called the “fabric.” She said internet service providers and more than 20 states submitted bulk challenges to that version, with 22 states “or other government entities” submitting 1,114,100 individual challenges to the data before a second version of the fabric was released earlier this year. Those challenges were “predominately” to add missing locations, she said.

But Rosenworcel added that these challenges sought corrections for records “corresponding to less than 1% of the total number of locations identified” in the first version. And the resources invested since have substantially increased locations in states including Alaska and Nevada.

“Of these 1.11 million challenges, more than half were for locations that were either already included in Version 1 of the Fabric or that CostQuest, the vendor selected to develop the Fabric in accord with the Broadband DATA Act, had independently identified through its own efforts for inclusion in Version 2 of the Fabric,” she noted.

The letter was in response to another from 26 senators that noted their constituents, including state and local governments and internet service providers, have complained about the accuracy of the map.

“We encourage you to make sure that providers are accountable for their reports – not just after the fact if they are found to have overreported coverage, but on the front end even prior to the map being finalized,” the lawmaker letter said.

“We therefore ask, for example, that you not allow a provider to claim coverage at locations where challengers can demonstrate they have tried to request service and been told the service is unavailable or cannot be delivered within 10 business days,” the letter added. “Likewise, if a challenger submits robust testing data or publicly available coverage data indicating that a provider’s signals cannot in fact be received at a given location as promised, this should disqualify the provider from claiming to serve that location.”

The agency released its first version of the map in November and subsequently opened up a second round of data collection on January 3.

Industry association wants data on other federal broadband programs in FCC maps

Industry association INCOMPAS wants the FCC to incorporate in its broadband map an “overlay of information” that includes where money from federal and state broadband programs is allocated.

The organization noted in a letter to the commission Friday that the infrastructure law that created the newest federal broadband initiatives requires the regulator to coordinate with other agencies on deployment funding.

“As such, adding information about the areas funded to the map will provide more transparency to the public, allow for improved coordination between the agencies to avoid duplicative efforts, and ensure that the funding is used efficiently and effectively to provide as much connectivity to solve the digital divide in the U.S.,” said the association, which met with agency officials on Wednesday.

The FCC is currently working on making fixes to the data underlying the broadband map, which will be used by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to allocate money from the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program by June 30.

NTIA announced $3M grant to Puerto Rico university

The NTIA announced Thursday that the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, a university in Puerto Rico, will receive a roughly $3 million grant from the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program.

The money will help the university fund its Accessing Broadband Connectivity program, which is intended to “expand educational instruction and remote learning opportunities, spur economic development, and create opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship by building the high-speed Internet and digital capacity at Sagrado,” an NTIA release said.

“La Universidad del Sagrado Corazón plays a critical role in getting affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet service – and the tools to use it – to its students and the surrounding community,” said NTIA head Alan Davidson. “With this grant, the university will increase Internet service speeds and provide digital skills training to its students so they can fully access the benefits Internet service brings.”

Gilberto Marxuach-Torrós, the university’s president, said in the release that this is a “transformational” grant that will enable the university to make a “quantum leap to the highest industry standards.”

The CMCP program was infused with $268 million from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 for expanding internet access to eligible historically Black colleges and universities, tribal colleges or universities, and minority-serving institutions.

The NTIA expects to allocate the remaining funds of the program in the first quarter of this year.

Broadband Roundup

License Authorization Proposal, White House Cybersecurity Initiatives, Georgia Adds Fiber Provider to Committee

The proposal follows a November order temporarily halting certain foreign licenses.




Photo of Brad Kilbey, CEO of Accelecom from Louisville Business Journal

March 29, 2023 – The head of the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday proposed new rules that would allow the commission to more regularly assess and revoke the license authorizations of foreign companies.

If rules would require foreign-owned companies to go through a periodical review and renewal process in consultation with national security experts in the executive branch, the FCC said in a press release.

“Across the board, the FCC is taking clear and decisive action to address national security risks in our communications networks,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “That is why it is so  important to have the agency regularly review foreign companies’ authorizations to provide telecommunications services in the United States. If a provider poses a threat that cannot be mitigated, we will take the steps necessary to remove their access to our networks.”

The proposal follows a November order from the commission that halted the issuance of licenses to companies that have equipment deemed a security threat.

The proposal is just the latest in a string of actions from the FCC and Washington to tackle what they say are threats from companies who are beholden to adversarial nations.

White House announces cybersecurity for space initiatives

The White House announced Tuesday a number of initiatives to address cybersecurity in the space industry, including the release of a report and the convening of workshops and a symposium.

The initiatives were announced during a Space Systems Cybersecurity Executive Forum hosted by the National Cyber Director and the National Space Council.

The Office of the National Cyber Director will hold workshops in regional hubs for the space industry to get policy perspectives on cybersecurity, according to a readout from the event.

Meanwhile, the National Institute of Standards and Technology will finalize a report before September, which will provide a “method for applying the NIST Cybersecurity Framework to commercial space activities and a set of cybersecurity outcomes, requirements, and suggested controls,” the readout said.

Finally, the readout noted that the Commerce Department will hold a Space Cybersecurity Symposium in Washington D.C., which is expected to include public and private space and cybersecurity stakeholders.

Accelecom will help provide better broadband access to rural area in Georgia

Wholesale and business fiber provider Accelecom announced on Wednesday that it will join the Georgia Broadband Advisory Committee to help bring reliable internet to rural communities in Georgia, according the press release on Wednesday.

“Accelecom is bringing secure, reliable and scalable high-speed internet services to underserved and unserved areas of the state,” said Brad Kilbey, CEO for Accelecom, in a press release. “We look forward to working with Georgia Technology Authority and partners to pave a modern broadband path to more connected healthcare, education, and ag-tech services that spur innovation and economic development.”

According to the press release, many rural communities in state of Georgia still lack access to high-speed internet.

Governor Brian Kemp announced in January more than $234 million in 29 preliminary grant awards for broadband internet expansion through the state’s Capital Projects Fund Grant Program.

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Broadband Roundup

Order on Spyware, WISPA Adds VP of Government Affairs, Michael Baker Hosts Webinars

An executive order bans the federal government from using spyware deployed for human rights abuses.



March 28, 2023 – President Joe Biden on Monday signed an executive order prohibiting the federal government from using commercial spyware that poses a risk to national security or has been used by foreign actors for human rights abuses.

The types of spyware – which is used to discretely access electronic devices remotely – captures by the order includes those that have been sued to monitor a U.S. person without consent or used for political repression or torture. The ban applies to all federal government departments and agencies.

The order also requires new reporting and information sharing within the executive branch to help agencies navigate the requirements.

“The proliferation of commercial spyware poses distinct and growing counterintelligence and security risks to the United States, including to the safety and security of U.S. Government personnel and their families,” the White House said in a statement.

“U.S. Government personnel overseas have been targeted by commercial spyware, and untrustworthy commercial vendors and tools can present significant risks to the security and integrity of U.S. Government information and information systems,” it added.

The order will be a key talking point during the Summit for Democracy, where Biden will host leaders from Costa Rica, the Netherlands, South Korea and Zambia, according to the statement.

WISPA adds vice president of government affairs

The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association said Tuesday it added Matt Mandel as vice president of government affairs.

Mandel will oversee the industry association’s congressional and executive branch advocacy and its state-based portfolio, its said in a press release.

“WISPs have always been at the forefront of closing the digital divide and are constituents of the communities in which they operate,” David Zumwalt, president and CEO of WISPA, said in a release. “Matt’s work will be integral to bringing their experiences and core values to policymakers at the Federal and State levels, and fostering the continued growth and viability of the industry and the hard-to-reach localities they serve.”

Mandel has years of experience in telecommunications policy, according to the release, spending over seven years at the Wireless Infrastructure Association as senior vice president of government and public affairs. Previous to that, he was vice president of government affairs at the Glover Park Group, a business management consultancy firm based in Washington D.C.

Michael Baker International launches monthly webinar series

Michael Baker International, an engineering, planning and consultancy firm, announced Tuesday the launch of its Connecting Communities Playbook monthly webinar series, which features various topics on federal grant programs and will take place on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. EST.

The series begins May 2 with a discussion about creating an initial proposal for grants from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, the $42.5 billion program administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administrative. Expected allocation of the funds to the states is June 30.

The next webinar is on June 6 about building sustainable ecosystems for digital equity, then a July 11 talk on tips for securing broadband funding, a discussion on the BEAD subgrantee on August 1, developing a digital navigator program on September 5, the do’s and don’ts of a BEAD audit on October 3, and broadband grants compliance and best practices on November 7.

“Each of the series’ six sessions is designed to assist broadband leaders at the local, state and federal level, as well as telecommunications organizations, with navigating the emerging digital equity landscape,” a press release said. “The series will provide an interactive approach to broadband education and resources, encouraging audience participation and providing answers to frequently asked questions in real time.”

Michael Baker International is a sponsor of Broadband Breakfast.

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Broadband Roundup

Biden Administration Tour, NTIA Funding Internet for Two Tribal Nations, Ting Partnership in California

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will visit a fiber manufacturer in North Carolina.




Photo of Joe Biden from 2021

March 27, 2023 President Joe Biden and cabinet members will begin an “Investing in America” tour on Tuesday in Durham, North Carolina, which will highlight the president’s agenda for items including the CHIPS and Science Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the American Rescue Plan Act, according to a White House brief on Friday.

Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo will travel to North Carolina to visit manufacturers producing fiber optic cable, while Biden will visit Wolfspeed in Durham, North Carolina, a semiconductor manufacturer, which recently announced a $5 billion investment to build the facility and create 1,800 new jobs in the state.

The new laws are “unleashing a manufacturing boom, helping rebuild our infrastructure and bring back supply chains, lowering costs for hardworking families, and creating jobs that don’t require a four-year degree across the country,” according to the brief.

Before the president starts the tour, the White House “will hold a cabinet meeting on Monday, where members from across the administration will come together to discuss how their agencies are working together to implement the president’s agenda to expand economic opportunities across the country,” the brief added.

In Biden’s the State of the Union address in February, he emphasized the importance of ”made in America” rules, especially for fiber optic cables.

NTIA announces $25.7 million to fund two tribal nations

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced Thursday it has awarded two grants totaling more than $25.7 million to two tribal nations for internet and broadband, according to a press release.

As part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota will receive $11.4 million fund and the Pueblo of Acoma in New Mexico will receive $14. 3 million.

“Tribal communities often face high barriers to Internet adoption that hinder their ability to thrive in the modern digital economy,” said NTIA head Alan Davidson in the release. “Today’s grants to the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Pueblo of Acoma will reduce these barriers for more than 1,500 Tribal households, connecting them to economic and educational opportunities that many of us take for granted.”

The Federal Communications Commission partnered with the Institute of Museum and Library Services last February to raise awareness about the agency’s E-Rate subsidy program, which is federal program used to supply libraries with funding for internet infrastructure and has come under fire for a lack of expansion to tribal communities.

Ting partners to bring fiber to California, Arizona areas

Fiber internet provider Ting, a division of Tucows, announced on Thursday it will partnership with Ubiquity, a company that invests and manage digital communications infrastructure, to bring fiber internet to Carlsbad, California and Mesa, Arizona, according to a Tucows press release.

“Our partnership with Ubiquity allows us to connect more residents and businesses to fiber, faster, while being efficient with construction resources,” said Elliot Noss, CEO of Tucows and Ting, in the release. “We’re excited to work with a team that shares our vision of what future-proofed communities can look like now, and into the future.”

Ubiquity began construction of the network in early 2023 in both Carlsbad, California and Mesa, Arizona. The tenant partnership between these two internet companies “is expected to result in up to 150,000 available fiber addresses across both markets over the build term”, according to the Tucows’s release.

The companies also partnered in 2019 to build in the markets of Solana Beach and Encinitas of Southern California.

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