Funding Affordable Connectivity Program, 5th Circuit Social Media Stay, OpenAI and FTC, Tribal Ready Hires NTIA Coordinator

Congress should discontinue High-Cost, Lifeline, and ReConnect.

Funding Affordable Connectivity Program, 5th Circuit Social Media Stay, OpenAI and FTC, Tribal Ready Hires NTIA Coordinator
Photo of Joe Kane from ITIF

July 17, 2023 – A report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation released Monday calls for Congress to find $5 to 6 billion from current redundant broadband subsidy programs to fund the Affordable Connectivity Program, which is set to run out of money in 2024.

The ACP provides low-income households with a $30 or $75 subsidy per month for high-speed internet subscription.

“Federal broadband programs are dangerously out of balance,” said the director of broadband and spectrum policy at ITIF and author of the report Joe Kane. “Congress has created effective subsidy programs that render older programs duplicative and wasteful. Yet the old programs persist, siphoning funding away from more effective ones and increasing phone bills.”

According to the report, broadband deployment programs from the U.S. Department of Agriculture are duplicative, especially in the face of the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program which announced funding allocations to states in June. It pointed to the ReConnect program, the Lifeline program which discounts broadband services for low-income homes, and the High-Cost program as primary contributors to duplicative efforts.

The report breaks down average annual expenditures for the programs and recommends Congress to discontinue them and all other federal programs targeting broadband deployment or individual broadband affordability, excepting tribal programs. It then suggests that the funding be appropriated into the ACP, which then is modified to make up for any shortfall stemming from cutting other programs.

“Policymakers’ energy and time in this space would be better served fine-tuning and scaling digital inclusion efforts, rather than being obligated to lobby for BEAD and ACP, whose continuation should be a no-brainer,” said Kane.

Fifth Circuit pauses order restricting Biden’s tech contacts

The 5th Circuit Appellate Court announced Friday a temporary stay of a July 4 order that would put limitations on the Joe Biden administration’s communications with social media companies about content.

A federal judge in Louisiana restricted the Biden administration from communicating with social media platforms about content online. Trump-appointed Judge Terry Doughty said that parts of the government could not talk to social media companies for “the purpose of urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech.”

The ruling allowed the government to notify the platforms about posts detailing crimes, national security threats, or attempts by foreign entities to influence elections.

The stay puts on pause on these restrictions and comes after a request from the Justice Department which warned that the order could halt law enforcement efforts to maintain national security interests. Doughty had rejected a request to put his order on hold pending approval. The regulation is on hold “until further orders of the court.”

In its request that the 5th Circuit issue a stay, the Biden administration said that “the district court identified no evidence suggesting that a threat accompanies any request for the removal of content.” The stay was issued without comment by a panel of three 5th Circuit judges. A different panel from the court will hear arguments on a longer stay.

OpenAI to work with FTC as federal probe begins

Sam Altman, CEO of popular artificial intelligence platform ChatGPT, pledged in a tweet on Thursday to work with the Federal Trade Commission as the agency begins probe into the company.

The FTC’s request for documents was leaked on Thursday and seeks descriptions of complaints to the company and records related to a security incident disclosed in March. It asked OpenAI to provide detailed descriptions of complaints it received of products making “false, misleading, disparaging or harmful” statements about people.

“It is very disappointing to see the FTC’s request start with a leak and does not help build trust,” he wrote. “That said, it’s super important to us that our technology is safe and pro-consumer, and we are confident we follow the law. Of course we will work with the FTC.”

Altman touted the safety of the platform, said that ChatGPT was built on “year of safety research” to make it “safer and more aligned before releasing it.”

“We’re transparent about the limitation of our technology, especially when we fall short. Our capped-profits structure means we aren’t incentivized to make unlimited returns,” he continued.

The FTC’s request is the latest regulatory threat to OpenAI as the federal government races to regulate the new technology. An AI regulation framework was introduced in the Senate in June.

Tribal Ready hires former NTIA tribal coordinator

Broadband consultancy Tribal Ready hired Adam Geisler, the division chief for tribal connectivity and nation coordination at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Geisler helped deploy $2 billion to Indian Country through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program and is now working as chief operating officer at Tribal Ready, bringing decades of tribal relations and broadband experience to the firm. Tribal Ready, which launched in February, helps tribes plan, build and operate communications networks in unserved communities. Tribal Ready works in close partnership with, providing access to data and other broadband tools.

“He’s going to add some tremendous assets to what we’re doing. We’re over the moon about it,” Tribal Ready CEO Joe Valandra told Tribal Business News. “We’re really excited about it.”

States have an obligation to include tribes in the process of rolling out Broadband Equity Access and Deployment grants, set to be released sometime in the next year. It is critical for tribes to have access to these conversations, said Valandra.

Separately, hired Dustin Loup, former program manager at the National Broadband Mapping Coalition for the Marconi Society, as director of community development., a project of, is a sponsor of Broadband Breakfast.

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