Opinions and ideas about broadband policy, universal service, economic development, politics, culture, and more offered by our members and others within and outside of the telecom community
How Easy is it for Low-Income Customers to Find Information about the Affordable Connectivity Program?
February 25, 2022
By Grace Tepper, Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
All of the major telephone companies are participating in both the Affordable Connectivity Program and the Lifeline Program for low-income consumers, the federal subsidy program for phone and broadband service administered through the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) and overseen by the Federal Communications Commission. While almost all of the telephone companies listed here have a dedicated page for the Affordable Connectivity Program and the Lifeline Program on their websites, customers will find that information with varying levels of ease. Depending on the company, it isn't always so easy to find out about their participation in these programs. . . . When comparing telephone companies to cable providers participating in the Affordable Connectivity Program, cable companies come out on top. (Emphasis Added by IF). Cable companies overall are being more transparent about their participation. Six out of nine major cable companies featured the Affordable Connectivity Program prominently on their home websites compared to two out of the eight telephone companies.
From the FCC website, Chairman Rosenworcel's February 22 notes on the March FCC meeting:
With a big assist from Congress, the FCC has been working non-stop to make high-speed internet and broadband-enabled services more accessible for all. Just last week, we announced that more than 10 million U.S. households have enrolled in the Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program, the largest-ever initiative to help families and people across the country afford broadband. With our March agenda, we build on this progress in a variety of ways.
We’re examining digital discrimination. Your zip code shouldn’t determine your access to broadband. Internet access is a must-have for work, healthcare, school, and beyond, but some communities are experiencing unequal opportunities to subscribe to high-speed internet service. (Click here to read more)
Ted Cruz Grills FCC Nominee Gigi Sohn
The February 28 edition of the Independent Telecom Report commented on the February 9 confirmation hearing for Gigi Sohn: "No FCC nominee in at least the last 16 years was subjected to the type of questioning that characterized Cruz’s behavior; his performance at the hearing has become characteristic of Cruz at any hearing he attends. " Watch the video and judge for yourself.
White House wants universal broadband by 2030, but funding could take years to deliver
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said she is committed to the administration’s goal of universal broadband by 2030, but cautioned that distributing funds from the new infrastructure law to meet that deadline could take years. (Read more here)
Did the FAA cry wolf
January 21, 2022
In the sixth century B.C., Greek storyteller Aesop told the tale of a boy tasked with watching his village’s sheep herd who sought attention by crying out a false warning that a wolf was threatening the flock. Some have asked whether the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cried wolf about the use of new 5G wireless spectrum threatening aircraft safety. Supporting that query is confusion about why the FAA dumped this issue on the Biden administration just as the new 5G airwaves were about to be put into service.
(Read more here)
THE DEBATE ON UNIVERSAL SERVICE FUND REFORM: A PRIMER
By Juan Londoño,
Technology & Innovation Policy Analyst at the American Action Forum
Through several decades, the federal government has funded a variety of initiatives to ensure that all Americans have reliable access to the latest communication technologies. The Universal Service Fund (USF) and its associated programs are, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the “cornerstone” of the Communications Act of 1934, and by extension, other federal efforts to bridge the digital divide. While efforts to promote universal service initially supported the deployment and adoption of telephony, in recent years the fund’s focus expanded from telephone service to “advanced services,” including broadband. The continuous shift in priorities has sparked debates over the fund’s structure, mainly its funding, which currently relies on charges to telecommunications service providers.
This primer outlines the current functioning of the USF, the programs that benefit from it, and the three major reform proposals that are being discussed. (Read more here)
Commentary From The Free State Foundation
By Seth L. Cooper and Andrew K. Magloughlin
On December 1, the Senate Commerce Committee voted to approve one of President Joe Biden's nominees to the FCC, and it held a hearing on another, possibly paving the way for a Democrat-majority Commission to try to reimpose net neutrality regulation on broadband Internet services.
(Read more here)