Concerns About Tribal Funding from NTCA, Ed Markey and Twitter Verification, T-Mobile 5G

NTCA is concerned federal broadband funding in tribal areas may not be enough for long-term support.

Concerns About Tribal Funding from NTCA, Ed Markey and Twitter Verification, T-Mobile 5G
Photo of Sen. Ed Markey from September 2020 by Matt Stone from the Boston Herald

November 14, 2022 – NTCA, The Rural Broadband Association, and other parties expressed concern to the Federal Communications Commission that federal funding opportunities may not have the legs to carry the long-term connectivity of tribal areas.

“Generational funding opportunities provided for by COVID relief laws and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act present unprecedented opportunities to deploy broadband infrastructure in Tribal regions,” said the letter, which follows a November 9 meeting with agency officials. “However, less clear is the provision of ongoing support that will enable the longer-term sustainability of those networks and the affordability of services offered over them.

“The parties expressed their concern that newly built networks in deeply rural areas such as Tribal lands will not be financially viable on an ongoing basis as the costs to operate those networks exceed amounts that can be reasonably recovered solely through end-user rates, thereby undermining clear Congressional intent to close the digital divide in Indian Country.

The parties recommended solutions could include “Tribal broadband factors that adjust support and/or buildout obligations for companies serving Indian Country,” adding connectivity in tribal regions are “significantly higher than National costs.”

Other involved parties in the meeting included Mescalero Apache Telecom, Inc, Mescalero Apache Tribe, Tohono O’odham Utility Authority, and Akiak Holdings, LLC.

Markey writes to Musk over concern about being impersonated on Twitter

Senator Edward Markey, D-Mass., said in a letter Friday to Twitter head Elon Musk that his new rule requiring users to pay $8-per-month to get a verification badge is faulty, after a Washington Post reporter was able to verify an account she created under his name.

“Apparently, due to Twitter’s lax verification practices and apparent need for cash, anyone could pay $8.00 and impersonate someone on your platform,” the letter said. “Selling the truth is dangerous and unacceptable. Twitter must explain how this happened and how it will prevent it from happening again.”

Beside how the reporter was able to obtain verification, the letter requests answers to questions including, “How did the paid-for blue check verification process differ from the free verification process that preceded it?…Is Twitter planning to reintroduce a verification system?…If so, please explain how it will work, whether it will be free or paid-for, and how it will prevent the verification of fake accounts.”

Markey requested answers by November 25.

Twitter paused its verification service briefly until after the midterm elections on Tuesday after employees expressed concerned about election interference.

In October, Musk closed his $44-billion purchase of Twitter, after which he fired the top executives and instituted the new verification service.

T-Mobile expands 5G service locations

T-Mobile announced Thursday it will expand coverage of its 5G Home Internet service to an additional six million households across 70 locations in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The $50-per-month plan provides unlimited high-speed internet over its 5G network, expanding access to the service to 40 million nationwide.

“Access to high-speed internet should be a given, yet millions of people across the country still have little to no choice when it comes to their home broadband,” Mike Katz, T-Mobile’s chief marketing officer, said in a press release.

“As reliance on internet access has skyrocketed in recent years, many ISPs have continued to underserve customers – year after year. Today, T-Mobile is taking another step to close the Digital Divide and increase access, bringing our Home Internet service to millions more homes across the Midwest. We’re leveraging the power of 5G to help customers break free from Big Internet.”

The company also announced Friday that it has lit up its standalone 5G network nationwide.

T-Mobile ranked as the fastest mobile operator in the third quarter, according to Ookla.

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