Verizon Early Access to Spectrum, Senate Encouraged to Pass Prison Phone Bill, $56M in Delaware Broadband –

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Verizon said accelerated access to C-band spectrum will allow it to get 5G to customers faster.
March 22, 2022 – Verizon said Monday that it has reached more agreements to get early access to mid-band spectrum in the C-band, according to a press release.
These deals involve spectrum that was originally scheduled to be cleared by December 2023. Verizon is expecting to deploy 5G service “on at least 60 MHz of spectrum and up to 100 MHz of spectrum in some areas.” Markets included in the expansion plans include Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver and Washington, D.C.
“This early spectrum clearance is just the latest development that allows us to bring 5G Ultra Wideband to our customers faster,” said Kyle Malady, executive vice president and president of global network and technology. “We’ve been able to accelerate deployment because we’re driving more efficiency and coverage from the C-band spectrum, leveraging opportunities like the one we are announcing today, and leveraging our already in place infrastructure.”
The Federal Communications Commission will auction slices of mid-band 2.5 GHz spectrum for 5G in late July.
Public Knowledge, a non-profit public interest group, urged the Senate in a press release Tuesday to pass legislation that extends the Federal Communications Commission’s authority over both intrastate and interstate calls to end predatory pricing for calling incarcerated people.
The Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act of 2021 was introduced by Senator Tammy Duckworth, D-IL, and requires that the agency ensure call prices to and from incarceration facilities are “just and reasonable” no matter what technology is used.
“This bill marks an important and long-overdue step in addressing an area rife with abuse, and one that often impacts communities of color,” Al Kramer, senior fellow at Public Knowledge, said in the release. “We applaud Sen. Duckworth for championing the needs of incarcerated people and their families no matter what phone technology is used or whether the calls cross state lines. We urge the Senate to pass this bill to provide just phone rates for incarcerated people.”
Delaware announced Thursday $56 million for broadband deployment, with the funding going to Comcast, Verizon, and Mediacom.
The money came through the American Rescue Plan Act and is part of Delaware’s $110 million program that aims to deliver universal broadband access across the entire state. In this project, broadband is expected to be extended to over 11,600 locations.
Comcast won $33.1 million, Verizon won $11.8 million, and Mediacom won $11.1 million in grant funding. Companies are required to commit to paying for at least 25 percent of the project and must deploy speeds of at least 100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up – the new federal standard according to the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act.
“This grant will help Verizon deploy our best in class all-fiber network technology to deliver our flagship Fios Home Internet service — with speeds up to 940 Mbps and no data caps — to roughly 3,000 locations,” said Tony Lewis, vice president of public policy for Verizon, in the release.
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Reporter Megan Boswell studied editing and publishing at Brigham Young University. She has a passion for clear, concise communications and loves interacting with people of all backgrounds. She is always looking for her next favorite book.
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‘NTIA is calling for rules that stop the unnecessary and harmful collection and use of personal information.’
November 23, 2022 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration said Tuesday in a filing with the Federal Trade Commission that it wants privacy limits on the ways companies collect and use personal information.
The Commerce agency recommended companies minimize the data collected, restrict companies from using data for alternative purposes such as targeted advertising, take comprehensive approaches to new privacy protections, and consider stricter limits on biometric technologies.
The FTC is currently seeking comment on whether it should implement new rules on companies’ data collection and sales practices.
“NTIA is calling for rules that stop the unnecessary and harmful collection and use of personal information. Companies need guardrails about what they can build,” said NTIA head Alan Davidson.
In July this year, Davidson said privacy laws continue to be an issue in the US. He advocated for the first national federal privacy bill, which is currently before Congress.
Analysys Mason, a management consultancy focused on telecommunication and technology, released a prediction Wednesday that said the telecommunication industry will face challenges, including inflation problems, in 2023.
Consumers may feel the pinch from higher retail prices due to inflation, the analysis finds, which could result in political pressure to moderate price increases, the study found.
“Combined with high investment costs and questions about potential returns, the market outlook is challenging as the telecoms industry tries to steer its path through price rises, rolling out network availability and launching new services,” said Larry Goldman, Analysys Mason chief analyst.
The NTIA announced Tuesday that Rhode Island will receive $5.5 million to build high-speed internet infrastructure.
“The funding will advance a coordinated strategy to get all Rhode Islanders connected to high-speed, reliable, affordable broadband service and close the digital divide,” said Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed.
The money is coming from programs spawned by the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, which includes $65 billion for broadband infrastructure.
NTIA also said Tuesday that it awarded two grants of nearly $5.6 million to Merced Community College and California State University Sacramento from the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program.
Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said these investments will help offer more online learning programs and train digital navigators in its program to work directly with surrounding communities on digital inclusion.
Global UC is the first company to be removed by the FCC from receiving call traffic for robocall violations.
November 22, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission announced Tuesday that telephone company Global UC will be cut off from other networks because it failed to meet the standards set out by the commission to prevent illegal robocalls and caller ID spoofing.
It is the first time the FCC has made such a decision, after it proposed in October to remove Global UC and other companies from receiving call traffic because of alleged violations of the robocall framework known as STIR/SHAKEN. Global UC will be removed from the Robocall Mitigation Database, which includes companies that share their call traffic with each other.
“We have reached the point where we are ready to remove companies if they fail to abide by the rules and heed our warnings,” Loyaan Egal, chief of the FCC’s enforcement bureau, said in a release.
“While this is a steep and impactful penalty, it underscores the importance we place on complying with our rules, which are designed to eliminate the ability of bad actors to use the U.S. communications networks to harm consumers,” Egal added.
The Federal Communications Commission announced Monday a further two funding opportunities from two programs of its Affordable Connectivity Program.
On Thursday, the FCC announced four complementary grant programs to market the broadband subsidy program as well as the release of a notice of funding opportunity for both the National Competitive Outreach Program and the Tribal Competitive Outreach Program, worth up to $60 million and $10 million, respectively.
On Monday, the FCC announced the notice of funding opportunity for the remaining two programs, each offering up to $5 million in grants: the Your Home, Your Internet outreach grant and the ACP Navigator pilot program. Applications after due January 9, 2023.
The Your Home, Your Internet program provides funding to qualifying local, state and tribal housing agencies, non-profit organizations, community-based organizations, and tenant associations to encourage residents who receive federal housing assistance to apply for the ACP.
The ACP Navigator pilot program, in partnership with the Universal Service Administrative Company, grants local schools districts and government agencies temporary access to USAC’s National Verifier— a centralized application system to quantify potential qualifying residents.
“Through federal housing assistance, millions of Americans have access to a home. It’s time to help them take advantage of ACP to access affordable Internet as well,” said Commissioner Geoffrey Starks.
The agency announced this summer the Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program to raise awareness for the $14.2-billion program, which subsidizes monthly internet bills – of up to $30 per month and $75 per month for residents on tribal lands – and provides a $100 discount on device purchases for low-income applicants. The commission has said that there are millions more Americans who are eligible but have not signed up — in part because they are not aware.
Software and network services company Ciena announced Tuesday it is buying California-based hardware supplier Tibit Communications for $210 million and Massachusetts-based software company Benu Networks for an undisclosed amount.
Tibit and Benu both deploy single-source fiber conduit to distribute broadband network access to multiple end users including residential, commercial and public, known as passive optical network technology.
Ciena said the acquisition will help expand PON connectivity to residential areas, businesses, and public transportation. The merger will be paid in cash and Ciena will agree to employee retention agreements, according to the release.
“The acquisitions of Tibit Communications and Benu Networks will extend our ability to support customers’ next-generation metro and edge strategies as service providers globally accelerate investments to modernize their networks and improve connectivity at the network edge,” Scott McFeely, senior vice president of Ciena global products and services, said in the release.
“Tibit’s high-speed PON technologies and Benu’s subscriber management products, combined with Ciena’s current access and edge portfolio, will enable us to offer broader, more complete, and fully integrated broadband access solutions that combine routing, subscriber management, and PON features and functionality.”
The telecoms got into a rift with the FAA over interference possibilities with 5G deployments around airports.
November 21, 2022 – UScellular told the Federal Communications Commission last week not to make changes to its C-band spectrum rules, following concerns that 5G signals would interfere with aircraft around airports.
The telecoms and the Federal Aviation Administration have been working together to mitigate concerns about 5G deployments around airports using the C-band spectrum causing interference with radio aircraft equipment. As such, telecom UScellular urged the FCC not to amend any of the spectrum’s rules.
“Uscellular recommended that the FCC reject calls for modifications to its C-band rules, as changes at this stage will certainly cause deployment delays despite making progress with the FAA, harming Americans who need 5G service the most,” the letter, dated November 19, said.
In May, UScellular said it would work with Swedish telecom equipment provider Ericsson to build out its 5G network using the C-band spectrum.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration said Thursday in a press release that it awarded 18 grants worth about $225 million through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program.
The new money is expected to connect over 21,000 unserved Native American households, businesses and anchor institutions. The states that received the new grants are Alaska, Arizona, California, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, South Dakota and Virginia.
“These grants – made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – highlighted the Biden administration’s unprecedented commitment to close the digital divide in Native communities,” said Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in a statement.
With the latest grant, the program has awarded $1.5 billion to 112 tribal groups.
Mississippi is reported to have the most overpriced internet in the country, according to a report from VPN provider Surfshark.
The company’s “Internet Value Index” is calculated by dividing each state’s internet speed by internet affordability to determine the states that are overpaying for internet access, according to a press release. The IVI is influenced by factors such as economic position, population density, percentage of urban area, and if a state is landlocked.
While the US average is near 0.6, Mississippi ranks below 0.4 on the IVI. New Jersey is 72 percent above the US average, ranking as having the most affordable internet that is fairly priced for residents. New Jersey’s IVI is precisely 1.0, according to the data from Surfshark.
“3 out of 4 rural states are at a disadvantage when it comes to getting fair internet prices, further isolating them from the opportunities that wealthier and more urban states have,” said Agneska Sablovskaja, lead researcher at Surfshark.
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