Promoting Affordable Connectivity Program, Google Bars Truth Social, T-Mobile Wins 2.5 GHz Auction

Microsoft and CWA plan to host a traveling series of events promoting the ACP subsidy.

Promoting Affordable Connectivity Program, Google Bars Truth Social, T-Mobile Wins 2.5 GHz Auction
Photo of Microsoft President and Vice Chair Brad Smith

September 2, 2022 – Microsoft and Communications Workers of America will partner on a new initiative to increase enrollment in the Affordable Connectivity Program, the duo announced Thursday.

This fall, Microsoft and CWA plan to host a traveling series of events that will help residents apply for ACP subsidies. Service providers that offer internet at no out-of-pocket cost to ACP beneficiaries help approved individuals sign up for service as well. Events are currently scheduled for Detroit, Memphis, New York City, and rural North Carolina.

The ACP provides discounts on internet service bills: Up to $30 per month for most eligible applicants and up to $75 per month for eligible households on Tribal lands. ACP beneficiaries who purchase an eligible desktop computer, laptop, or tablet also qualify for a one-time discount of up to $100.

“Broadband has become the electricity of the 21st century. It’s a fundamental right that should not be beyond the reach of anyone in America,” Microsoft President and Vice Chair Brad Smith said. “We’re glad to be working with CWA to bring more broadband access to more Americans through the Affordable Connectivity Program.”

This partnership comes in the wake of a “groundbreaking” deal between Microsoft and CWA last June, in which Microsoft agreed to take “a neutral approach” towards unionization efforts by employees of recently-acquired gaming giant Activision Blizzard.

Truth Social still unavailable on Google Play

Google announced Tuesday that former President Donald Trump’s social media app, Truth Social, has not yet been approved for listing on the Google Play Store due to the app’s alleged lack of content moderation.

“On August 19 we notified Truth Social of several violations of standard policies in their current app submission and reiterated that having effective systems for moderating user-generated content is a condition of our terms of service for any app to go live on Google Play,” a Google spokesperson said.

According to Axios, Google objects primarily to Truth Social’s decision to allow threats of violence to remain on the platform. If Truth Social developers make the necessary changes to the app’s code, however, the app may soon be readily available to America’s roughly 130 million Android smartphone users.

Truth Social was launched after Trump was banned from Twitter following the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. It purports to be a safe haven for the MAGA movement to speak freely online.

Trump’s platform isn’t the only right-wing social-media start-up with controversial content-moderation policies. In 2021, Parler was removed from Apple’s App Store and Google Play and was blocked by Amazon Web Services due to its alleged failure to remove incitements to violence and illegal activity.

Parler revised its content moderation policies and was reinstated by AWS and the App Store only a few months after it was banned. Parler became available on Google Play on Friday.

T-Mobile the biggest winner in FCC’s 2.5 GHz spectrum auction

T-Mobile won far more licenses than any other winning bidder in the Federal Communications Commission’s 2.5 GigaHertz (GHz) spectrum auction, the agency announced Thursday.

The telecom giant was granted 7,156 licenses – at a total price tag of over $304 million. By contrast, the runners up in each category were North American Catholic Educational Programming Foundation (107 licenses) and PTI Pacific Inc. (almost $17.7 million).

The auction is a part of the FCC’s push to extend coverage to rural America. According to the agency’s press release, “77% of [the 63 winning bidders] qualified as small businesses or as entities serving rural communities, which will support the introduction of innovative new wireless services in their local communities.”

To “encourage the growth of wireless services on the lands of federally recognized tribes,” the FCC offers the “Tribal land bidding credit,” which provides a incentive to eligible winners based on the square kilometers and cost of their licenses.

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